The Phillies organization has a pair of impressive left-handed arms at the top of the list, followed by some interesting, but largely inexperienced, prospects.
The Phillies organization has developed some interesting arms in recent years with the likes of Jarred Cosart (traded to Houston), Brody Colvin (regressed), and Biddle — who has risen to the top of the organization. The lefty has a big, strong frame and has been durable throughout his three-year career, pitching more than 134 innings each of the last two years. The former first round draft pick has a four-pitch repertoire and his best offering is an 88-93 mph fastball. Biddle, 21, also has a promising curveball, as well as a slider and changeup.
The southpaw’s command is solid and his control improved noticeably in 2012. He struck out 151 batters in 143 minor league innings last year but he could stand to work down in the zone more consistently and trim his fly-ball rate. Biddle will move up to double-A in 2013 and could reach the majors late in the year or at some point in 2014. He has the ceiling of a No. 2 or 3 starter capable of providing 200+ innings.
Morgan, a 2011 third round pick, saw his prospect value explode last year. He opened the year with a challenge-assignment to high-A ball where he struck out 140 batters (with just 28 walks) in 123 innings. He earned a promotion to double-A late in the year and made six starts. Like fellow left-handed prospect Jesse Biddle, Morgan has a four-pitch repertoire. It includes an 89-94 mph fastball, curveball and two potentially-plus offerings in a slider and changeup.
The southpaw is not quite as physical as Biddle but he held up for 159 innings in 2012. The Alabama native has good control and his command is at least average. Morgan, 23, will likely open 2013 back in double-A but should see triple-A in the second half of the year, unless injuries unexpectedly crop up. He has the ceiling of a No. 3 starter.
A personal favorite of fellow FanGraphs prospect analyst Mike Newman, Quinn has plus-plus speed on the base paths and he’s a potentially-plus defender at shortstop, although he played mostly the outfield as an amateur. The Florida native has above-average arm strength and plus range but is still learning the intricacies of the position.
Quinn, who turns 20 in May, has a solid offensive debut in shorts-season ball in 2012 despite being fairly new to switch-hitting. He’s not a huge guy but he has solid gap pop. He’ll open 2013 in low-A ball and will look to develop into one of the top shortstop prospects in the game — and the Phillies’ shortstop of the future.
Pettibone stands 6’5” with a strong frame but he’s not a fire-baller. His fastball works in the 88-92 mph range and his second-best offering is a changeup. He also throws a slider with above-average potential. Pettibone has solid command and above-average control.
The right-hander doesn’t have a huge ceiling but he’s durable and could provide a ton of innings as a No. 4 starter at the big league level. His high ground-ball rates help to compensate for his lack of a strikeout pitch. Pettibone should open 2013 in triple-A but he has a solid shot at pitching in the majors when injuries strike the veteran starting rotation.
Asche is the first of two intriguing third base prospects in the system. A fourth rounder out of the University of Nebraska in 2011, the prospect hit below .200 with little pop during his pro debut. Even so, he earned an opening day assignment to high-A ball last year and reached double-A in the second half of the year. Defensively, he’s solid but unspectacular with a good arm and average range.
Asche, 22, has a solid left-handed stroke and good bat speed. He doesn’t generate a ton of pop and has average-at-best power potential for a third baseman. He’s also too aggressive at the plate but he produces decent contact rates. After a solid performance in the Arizona Fall League, Asche is probably ready for triple-A with an eye towards taking over the hot corner for the Phillies in 2014.
Franco, 20, is two levels behind Cody Asche but the Dominican Republic native has a higher ceiling. The batter has impressive right-handed power potential, although he gets too pull happy at times and struggles with breaking balls. He also needs to be more selective.
Defensively, Franco has a powerful arm and handles everything hit to him, but he has modest range thanks to his questionable body and well-below-average foot speed. It’s possible that his body could soften up too much as he ages, forcing him across the diamond to first base. Franco will move up to high-A in 2013. He has his fair share of warts, but the corner infielder is very young and could eventually blow past Asche as the third baseman of the future.
A former San Francisco Giants draft pick, Joseph came to the Philly’s organization in the Hunter Pence deal from last season. An offensive-minded backstop, he had a modest season with the bat at the double-A level in 2012 while splitting the year between the two organizations. Joseph has an aggressive approach at the plate that works against him at times and leads to low on-base rates. He could see his power numbers increase if he waits for better pitches to drive and gets into more favorable pitch counts. His has plus raw power.
Behind the plate, Joseph projects as an average defender thanks to his strong arm and solid receiving skills. He’s a big guy with a thick lower half and doesn’t move around very well. The Arizona native has passed fellow catching prospect Sebastian Valle on the depth chart and should open the season in triple-A. With the 25-game suspension to veteran big league starter Carlos Ruiz, Joseph could see the majors early in the year if projected fill-in Erik Kratz gets off to a slow start.
Acquired last year from the Los Angeles Dodgers during the Shane Victorino swap, Martin had two disappointing seasons between 2010 and ‘11. He rebounded in ’12, but still has a lot of work to do. The right-hander has plus velocity and it sits in the 92-94 mph range and touches 97. His slider has plus potential and both his curveball and changeup could become average offerings.
Martin has yet to dominate in the minors because he struggles with both his command and control; it got so bad in 2011 that he was banished to the bullpen. At 23 years of age, and with three minor-league options remaining, Martin has time to improve in those areas and his solid athleticism gives him a shot. If things fail to click, he could end up as an eighth-inning reliever. He should open 2013 in triple-A and will likely spend the entire year there.
Ruf exceeded all expectations in 2012 after opening the year as organizational cannon fodder. A former 20th round draft pick, the slugger put 38 balls over the fence in double-A, while hitting .317, and it earned him a promotion to the majors in September. He added another three taters in 33 at-bats and now enters spring training as the favorite in left field for the Phillies, although he’ll face competition from Domonic Brown.
Ruf’s lone plus tool is his power and he’s not likely to be a .300 hitter in the majors but he’s improved his approach at the plate and should produce a respectable batting average – as long as he keeps the strikeout rate at a reasonable level. Originally a first baseman, he’s blocked by Ryan Howard so left field is the only opportunity the rookie has, barring injury. In the field, Ruf has below-average range and a fringe-average arm. Ruf is still learning routes and to read the ball effectively.
The club’s first selection in the 2012 amateur draft (40th overall in the supplemental first round), Watson has an impressive pitcher’s frame and a solid delivery. His fastball sits in the 88-93 mph range and can hit 94-96 mph at times. His curveball has plus potential and his changeup should be at least average.
Watson, 19, displays solid control for his age and experience level. He was diagnosed with diabetes after turning pro but has learned to control it. The right-handed California native will open 2013 in extended spring training before potentially returning to rookie ball, or moving up to the New York Penn League. He has the ceiling of a No. 3 starter.
A big-dollar international signee in 2011, Tocci is a four-tool prospect with his power being his lone below-average skill. Standing 6’2’’, the Venezuelan is rail-thin but he projects to hit for average and some gap power because he has good bat speed, a line-drive swing and isn’t afraid to use the whole field, even as a teenager. His plus speed helped him go nine-for-11 in steals in rookie ball. It also benefits him immensely in the field.
Tocci, 18, is a plus defender in center field with outstanding range and a strong arm. He’s also instinctual and makes it look easy. Extremely raw, the young hitter will return to extended spring training in 2013 before moving up to the New York Penn League, a league dominated by college-aged pitchers. Tocci is years away from reaching the majors but he could develop into the club’s center-fielder-of-the-future.
Giles has perhaps the biggest fastball in the organization and has quickly moved up the depth charts as a 2011 seventh round draft pick. The right-hander has a fastball that can touch 98-99 mph. He entered pro ball with just one usable pitch but has made significant strides with his slider that now has the potential to develop into an above-average offering.
Giles, 22, has effort to his delivery, and struggles with both his command and control. He walked 50 batters in 82.0 innings but also struck out 111 between two A-ball levels. Giles will probably return to high-A ball to open 2013 but could see double-A by the end of the season. He has the makeup and intensity to develop into a high-leverage reliever.
An eighth round draft pick out of the University of Mississippi in 2011, Wright has improved significantly since turning pro. The lefty is a former two-way player so the full-time focus on his mound work has no doubt helped his development. Wright, who has a strong pitcher’s frame, has more velocity than most left-handers and can dial his heater up into the 93-94 mph range. He also has a potentially-plus curveball.
Wright, 23, needs to improve his control and also sharpen his changeup, although he’s held his own against right-handed batters to this point. He’ll move up to double-A in 2013 and has the ceiling of an innings-eating No. 3 or 4 starter. Wright could see the majors at some point in 2014.
You wouldn’t know it by looking at his home run column (two dingers) from 2012, but Greene has massive power potential from the left-hand side. The Georgia native slugged 22 doubles in 70 games during his debut season in the New York Penn League. He also took a healthy number of walks but struck out at a rate of more than once per game. Unless he learns to handle breaking balls better and closes some holes in his swing, he’s not likely to hit for much of an average.
Greene, 20, also doesn’t run well and he’s limited to left field thanks to his fringe-average range and average arm. The former supplemental first round pick will likely make his full-season debut in low-A ball in 2013 but should spend most, if not all, of the year at that level. He’s a few years away from adding some much-needed left-handed pop to the Phillies’ right-hand-heavy lineup.
Just 22 with six pro seasons under belt, Valle’s over-aggressive approach at the plate continues to hinder his offensive development. He walked just 13 times in 105 games. The free swinger also struck out 115 times but went deep 17 times, flashing his power potential from the right side of the plate.
Behind the dish, Valle flashes average — but inconsistent — potential. He is a decent receiver and has a strong arm but needs to improve his foot work and blocking. The Mexico native is a step ahead of fellow catching prospect Tommy Joseph but his standing in the organization has taken a bit of a hit. He should return to triple-A in 2013 where he would split time behind the plate with Joseph. However, Valle has a small chance to break camp with the Phillies thanks to the suspension of incumbent Carlos Ruiz, assuming he can beat out non-roster invitees such as Humberto Quintero and Steve Lerud.
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