Organizational Rankings: Future Talent – Philadephia

The Philadelphia Phillies organization has done a nice job of developing its own players, as witnessed by the likes of Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Jimmy Rollins. That pipeline, though, has been slowed in recent years. The club lacks the can’t miss prospect at the top of the system, although outfielder Domonic Brown is a very talented player and could develop into an above-average player.

Trades for the likes of Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay have weakened the system. The re-trade of Lee for a collection of prospects including Juan Ramirez, Phillippe Aumont, and Tyson Gillies does not come close to replacing the likes of Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor, and Travis d’Arnaud.

With all that said, there are some interesting names in the minor league system, including pitchers Trevor May, Scott Mathieson, and Brody Colvin, as well as catcher Sebastian Valle, first baseman Jonathan Singleton, and outfielder Anthony Gose. Many of those players, though, are very raw.

The club is definitely veteran-heavy at the MLB level. Starting pitcher J.A. Happ is one of the few players 27 years of age or younger. The youngest hitter on the 40-man roster is shortstop Brian Bocock (age 25), a fringe big leaguer who was claimed off waivers during the off-season.

Although not a major player in the world market, the club has nine international prospects on its Top 30 prospect list, according to Baseball America. The organization’s draft results have been modest over the past three seasons but the club remains loyal to scouting director Marti Wolever, who is in his ninth season as scouting director. First round picks Joe Savery (2007) and Anthony Hewitt (2008) have been disappointments, while the club lacked a first-round selection in 2009. It’s no secret that the club likes to gamble with prep picks. Over the last three drafts, the club has selected just three four-year college players in the Top 3 rounds and with its over-slot deals (20 picks in total). That puts a heavy burden on the player development system, and the jury is still out on that.

Once the main core of star players start to fade out or become too expensive, Philadelphia could be in trouble. The minor league depth is certainly showing signs of wear and tear. The organization has also had trouble developing impact pitching with the likes of Cole Hamels, Brett Myers (now with Houston), and Carlos Carrasco (Cleveland) failing to reach their potentials. Former prep phenom Gavin Floyd did not start pitching well until he reached the Chicago White Sox organization.

The Phillies’ Major League roster is a World Series threat entering 2010, but cracks are starting to show on the foundation.



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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects, depth charts and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.


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Brad Johnson
Member
Member
6 years 3 months ago

Another way to take the analysis is to look at the strong Major League core that should be heavily contributing for a few more years and the huge amount of raw talent piled up in the lower minors. With 3 years of development on those toolsy prospects, a number of them are likely to develop into cost controlled contributors. There’s more potential for a near-seamless transition than many people credit the Phillies for. The biggest worry is and remains the lack of huge-power Ryan Howard-types.

What you see as cracks in the foundation may very well be merely cracks in the paint.

Kyle
Guest
6 years 3 months ago

Took the words out of my mouth.

I remain dubious as to Ruben Amaro’s ability to maximize the team’s ability for a Braves-like run of dominance, but as long as he doesn’t actively screw up at every turn, the Phillies should be able to make a relatively painless transition from the current core to the future.

neuter_your_dogma
Guest
neuter_your_dogma
6 years 3 months ago

Overall not a bad assessment, but I do have a few comments. . .

“The organization has also had trouble developing impact pitching with the likes of Cole Hamels, Brett Myers (now with Houston), and Carlos Carrasco (Cleveland) failing to reach their potentials” Huh? What potentials would those be? MVP of WS and NCLS like Hamels? Carrasco was never projected to be more than a “3rd starter,” and was 22 when traded by the Phillies. Myers? OK, arguably he never reached his full potential, but I can name you 3 pitchers from every organization who fell shorter than Myers.

“The club lacks the can’t miss prospect at the top of the system, although outfielder Domonic Brown is a very talented player and could develop into an above-average player.” Brown is a consensus top 20 prospect.

“Trades for the likes of Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay have weakened the system.” Yes, but they got Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay. Given your opinion onthe declining nature of the Phillies’ core, these “win it now” trades were good moves. Also, if you look at the Lee trade, basically it was:

Juan Ramirez, Phillippe Aumont, and Tyson Gillies and 1/2 season of Lee for Carrasco, Knapp, Donald and Marson. Good move Phillies.

And the Halladay trade:

Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor, and Travis d’Arnaud for Halladay at a below market 3 year extention. No giving up the farm for a rent-a-player here.

“Once the main core of star players start to fade out or become too expensive, Philadelphia could be in trouble” Well, um, ok. But as long as those contracts can reasonably expire and the Phillies can play the FA market, then eh.

“Former prep phenom Gavin Floyd did not start pitching well until he reached the Chicago White Sox organization.” Floyd is hardly a superstar and according to all projections he is due for some major FIP regression.

IMO, the Phillies maximized their farm talent by building their now veteran core, while using other pieces to obtain some of the best talent in baseball.

Mike
Guest
Mike
6 years 3 months ago

4 straight years with an xFIP under 3.70 and I’d say Hamels has reached his potential.

Mark
Guest
Mark
6 years 3 months ago

If you are going to mention pitchers under 27 and list Happ why not list Hamels too? The SP ages are 33, 26, 27, 29 and 48 (hehehehe). Other than Moyer those ages aren’t terribley indicative a staff about to break down.

Man, seeing Moyer’s age makes me shake my head in amazement everytime…Just the fact that he will pitch in the majors, even poorly, is amazing.

Dan
Guest
Dan
6 years 3 months ago

I don’t know yet if Kendrick will be anything but a spot starter, but the dude is only 23, and will likely get a chance this year (I’m assuming someone will be injured at some time this year), so take that for whatever it’s worth.

don
Guest
don
6 years 3 months ago

Kendrick is 25. I don’t think he’ll amount to much either, but who knows.

The Hit Dog
Member
The Hit Dog
6 years 3 months ago

Um yea. Please tell me listing Cole Hamels as a pitcher who has failed to “reach his potential” is either a typo or a joke.

NEPP
Guest
NEPP
6 years 3 months ago

Exactly, how ridiculous is that? What are you expecting out of him exactly?

Bobo
Guest
Bobo
6 years 3 months ago

Question to the authors — With regards to future talent is the intent only to look at the teams current minor league inventory OR does it include the teams ability to acquire free agent players? Teams like the Phils (and Yanks, Red Sox, etc) have a huge advantage in buying MLB free agents just because of their revenue, that is a very big strategic advantage. I wasn’t sure where that was addressed

bflaff
Guest
bflaff
6 years 3 months ago

It’s best not to get too worked up over these things. The Phils aren’t sabermetrically approved, so everything they do is graded (down) on a curve. Enjoy the pennants.

snapper
Guest
snapper
6 years 3 months ago

We’ll see. If the Red Sox get ranked above the Yankees, I’ll buy into your “curve” theory.

Dan
Guest
Dan
6 years 3 months ago

Geez. I usually love fangraphs stuff but this is kinda ridiculous. The picture it paints is that players fall off the proverbial offensive cliff at the age of 31. It’s not like these guys are going to go from the best offense in the NL to the worst. Give me a break. Howard, Utley, Vic, and Rollins will be at least productive enough to be NL pennant contenders for this and next year. With the top ranked med staff in the game and a ridiculous amount of talent at Lakewood and Williamsport there is no reason the Phillies can’t be contenders for the next five or six years when Utley, Rollins and Halladay are in decline. Hamels’ development? I’d say it’s been pretty pretty good. As a bonus, Gillies and Aumont have been fantastic this spring so that trade may help out yet. I’d say many people would think of the Phillies as a top 5 org.

Faithdies
Guest
Faithdies
6 years 3 months ago

There is just something about the Phillies that irks sabremetric minded people/blogs. Teams like the Angels and Phillies are always consistently undervalued from a sabremetric point of view and teams like the A’s and Mariners are always overrated. I would hope they would use it as a learning experience and improve their projection systems.

B
Guest
B
6 years 3 months ago

Ooof this is article is a pretty poorly researched post.

Mentioning Happ at 27, but skipping out how how Hamels is only 26. Then talking about how Hamels has failed to live up to expectations only 1 year after carrying a team on his back to a world series win at age 25.

Plus no mention of a bunch of possible impact prospects. Guys who are clear top 10-12 prospects in the org: Jared Cosart, Domingo Santana, & Jiwan James.

neuter_your_dogma
Guest
neuter_your_dogma
6 years 3 months ago

Agreed. Especially Santana, who crushed the GCL as a 16(?) year old.

Dan
Guest
Dan
6 years 3 months ago

It also takes a dig at Wolever with no mention of the 2008 draft which as of now is looking like a big coup. Besides Hewitt, who was a mistake, it netted Jason Knapp, Anthony Gose, Trevor May and Jarred Cosart all potential impact guys while also netting potential useful parts like Mike Schwimer, Mike Cisco, Jon Pettibone and Colby Shreve. In retrospect 2007 doesn’t look too bad now either with James having the potential to be a stud while Mike Taylor and Travis D’arnaud turned into Doc Halladay.

B
Guest
B
6 years 3 months ago

Vance Worley, & Mike Stutes as well. I’m almost certain Stutes ends up in the majors, probably out of the pen but he’ll be in the bigs more than likely.

TheUnrepentantGunner
Guest
TheUnrepentantGunner
6 years 3 months ago

People have already mentioned it, but Mark deserves to get additionally bashed for the fact that in-spite of an “off-year”, if you look at fangraphs own metrics, Cole was still a top 30 pitcher if you look at WAR and FIP.

so sure they missed on myers (who is a head-case and was a pure gamble), and carrasco (see myers).

but they hit on hamels, who also had head-case type issues (or at least that was the perception), and i’d say they did the same on drabek, who also had the bad character tag.

if anything, the pattern for the phillies seems to be taking hotheads with big potential at pitcher and hoping they can rein in their character.

bsizzle
Member
bsizzle
6 years 3 months ago

Carlos Carrasco is 23 years old. I’m not sure what sort of potential you’re supposed to reach by age 23. I’m skeptical, but who’s to say he doesn’t become a perennial all star in Cleveland?

NEPP
Guest
NEPP
6 years 3 months ago

I hope all of Philly’s pitchers “Fail to reach their potential” like Hamels. That would be brutal.

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