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Top 15 Prospects: Philadelphia Phillies

Posted By Marc Hulet On December 13, 2011 @ 2:00 pm In Minor Leagues,Phillies,Top 15 Prospects | 18 Comments

The Philadelphia Phillies might not have a strong farm system, but it certainly is an intriguing one. Considering how much talent the organization had to give up to acquire the likes of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee (the first time), Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence, that’s an impressive accomplishment. And its perhaps even more impressive when you figure in the number of high draft picks the club has had to deal away to assemble its impact ensemble. Still, all those trades have definitely hurt this organization’s minor-league depth:

1. Trevor May, RHP
BORN: Sept. 23, 1989
EXPERIENCE: Four seasons
ACQUIRED: 2008 fourth round, Washington HS
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: Fifth

SCOUTING REPORT: May is a big, strong pitcher with a solid repertoire that includes a 90mph to 95 mph fastball. He also has a potentially plus curveball, a changeup and a new-found slider. His delivery gets out of whack at times, which causes his command to suffer. As a player from a cold-weather state, he’s always been a little behind prospects from sunny weather locales, such as California, Arizona and Florida — but he’s definitely playing catch-up now.

YEAR IN REVIEW: Brody Colvin took a step back in 2011, and Jarred Cosart was traded to Houston, so May’s breakout season was more than welcomed by the organization. The right-hander pitched a career high 144.1 innings and had a 2.69 FIP. He maintained an outstanding strikeout rate (12.10 K/9), but his control remained inconsistent (4.05 BB/9) — and that is the biggest thing preventing him from becoming an elite pitcher.

YEAR AHEAD: May will move up to double-A in 2012 and he isn’t far from contributing to the big-league team. Still, he needs to polish his secondary pitches and improve his control.

CAREER OUTLOOK: May has the potential to develop into a No. 2 starter – especially if he commands his fastball at the major-league level. He has the frame to become an innings-eater.

2. Jesse Biddle, LHP
BORN: Oct. 22, 1991
EXPERIENCE: Two seasons
ACQUIRED: 2010 first round (27th overall), Pennsylvania HS
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: Eighth

SCOUTING REPORT: A Philadelphia native, Biddle changed his commitment to the University of Oregon and signed with his hometown team. So far, it appears that he made a smart decision. The lefty has the potential to develop into a No. 2 starter, especially with his solid two-pitch mix that includes a low-to-mid-90s fastball and potentially plus changeup. He’s also dabbled with both a curveball and a slider.

YEAR IN REVIEW: Biddle has a strong frame and he showed his durability by increasing his innings total from 2010 to 2011. His overall numbers would have looked even better if not for his slow start in April. He allowed 13 earned runs that month (16.1 IP) and, by comparison, just 14 in the season’s second half (66 IP).

YEAR AHEAD: If he has a breakout season, Biddle could challenge May for the organization’s top prospect in 2012. The southpaw should open the year in high-A ball but he could be in double-A by the beginning of July. The big things he needs to work on are his control and the development of a consistent breaking ball.

CAREER OUTLOOK: Biddle is an exciting young player and he’s a few improvements away from being one of the better pitching prospects in baseball. He could end up pitching near the top of the rotation before too long. The opportunity to watch — and potentially learn from — veterans Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee could make a big impact on his career.

3. Sebastian Valle, C
BORN: July 24, 1990
EXPERIENCE: Five seasons
ACQUIRED: 2006 international free agent
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: Sixth

SCOUTING REPORT: If he were a little more patient, Valle would probably be discussed among the Top three-to-five catching prospects in the game. Offensively, he flashes above-average power due to good bat speed, but he doesn’t always make contact with best pitches. Early in his career behind the plate, he struggled throwing out base runners — but he has improved immensely during the past two seasons. He calls a good game and he has strong receiving skills.

YEAR IN REVIEW: Valle had a decent year at high-A in 2011. He produced the second-highest batting average of his career at .284 (.360 BABIP), but his power dropped from .174 ISO in 2010 to .109 last season. His modest patience also took a step back (his walk rate fell from 5.6% to 3.6%). Valle might benefit from returning to high-A ball for the first month or two in 2012.

YEAR AHEAD: Valle didn’t hit well in the Mexican Winter League, so double-A may be a bit of a stiff test for his over-aggressive bat in 2012. Even so, he should reach the majors perhaps as quickly as the second half of 2013.

CAREER OUTLOOK: The Mexico native is definitely the Phillies’ backstop of the future and he should be able to offer at least as much value as current starter Carlos Ruiz. If Valle can’t get his impatient ways under control, though, he’ll likely fail to reach his full potential.

4. Brody Colvin, RHP
BORN: Aug. 14, 1990
EXPERIENCE: Three seasons
ACQUIRED: 2009 seventh round, Louisiana HS
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: Fourth

SCOUTING REPORT: When he’s on, Colvin shows that he has the makings of three average — or better — pitches. His fastball can reach 97 mph, but it often sits in the low-90s. He also features a curveball and a changeup. Colvin doesn’t have the smoothest mechanics and he throws across his body, which increases ball movement but hurts his control and also raises injury concerns.

YEAR IN REVIEW: Colvin battled injuries in 2011 and his numbers suffered. After pitching 138 innings in 2010, he managed just 116 in 2011. His strikeout rate also dropped – from 7.83 to 5.97.

YEAR AHEAD: Colvin could begin 2012 back in high-A ball. He has good stuff but he hasn’t dominated at any level. With improved command of his pitches, he could really break out – especially if he can shake the injury bug.

CAREER OUTLOOK: Colvin has yet to prove his durability, but he has the potential to develop into a No. 2 or No. 3 starter down the road. There has also been talk of trying to develop him into a high-leverage reliever. The likes of Trevor May and Jesse Biddle could make that move more palatable.

5. Jon Pettibone, RHP
BORN: July 19, 1990
EXPERIENCE: Four seasons
ACQUIRED: 2008 third round, California HS
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: Off

SCOUTING REPORT: Pettibone is nowhere near as flashy as some of the other arms on this list, but he has the potential to develop into a No. 3 starter. He throws in the low 90s with his fastball but it can touch 94 mph. He also has a good changeup and a decent slider. His control is above-average for this stage of his development.

YEAR IN REVIEW: Pettibone produced some sparkling numbers at high-A ball in 2011, including a 2.92 FIP and a 1.90 BB/9. His strikeout rate, though, was low for the second consecutive season (6.43 K/9). He handled both right- and left-handed hitters equally well in 2011.

YEAR AHEAD: Pettibone should spend the year in double-A, although his above-average control gives him a chance to eventually reach triple-A in 2012 — and the major leagues some time in 2013. Further development of his secondary pitches will help him compete at the upper levels of the minors.

CAREER OUTLOOK: Although he can get some zip on his heater, Pettibone is more of a pitch-to-contact, control-type hurler. He has a big, strong frame to be an innings-eater and there is definitely room for him to improve as he learns to pitch off his fastball.

6. Maikel Franco, 3B
BORN: Aug. 26, 1992
EXPERIENCE: Two seasons
ACQUIRED: 2010 international free agent
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: Off

SCOUTING REPORT: The breakout hitting prospect of the year, Franco wasn’t on anyone’s radar entering the 2011 season. He showed a solid eye at the plate and displayed good power potential, although he’s still learning to drive the ball consistently. Franco doesn’t exactly have an athletic body but he plays the position well and has a strong arm.

YEAR IN REVIEW: Franco did not turn 19 until part way through 2011, making his numbers all that more impressive. He hit for average and for gap power in short-season ball, while also showing a solid eye at the plate (10.9 BB%). He didn’t perform well during a late-season promotion to low-A.

YEAR AHEAD: The third baseman will take another shot at low-A in 2012 and he should spend the entire season there working on driving the ball. The organization lacks third base depth so another strong year could increase Franco’s hype.

CAREER OUTLOOK: Franco has the potential to be at least average on both defense and at the plate. He will have to watch his conditioning, though, as he’s already thick through the trunk. He’ll also need to see his power translate from gap to over-the-fence power if he’s going to be an everyday player at the hot corner.

7.Jiwan James, OF
BORN: April 11, 1989
EXPERIENCE: Five seasons
ACQUIRED: 2007 22nd round, Florida HS
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: Seventh

SCOUTING REPORT: James has a lot of potential but the organization left him unprotected during this year’s Rule 5 draft and he went unclaimed. The outfielder has been hitting for just two seasons after originally turning pro as a pitcher. Injury woes, though, put an end to his time on the mound. James could develop into a three- or four-tool player with his power being the least developed skill. He has good defensive skills and base-running speed but both areas remain raw.

YEAR IN REVIEW: In just his third year as a hitter, James spent the season in high-A and held his own. The switch-hitter showed that he’s much stronger from the left side of the plate (.721 OPS vs .608 OPS in 2011) and the organization might want to abandon the switch-hitting to help accelerate his learning. As mentioned above, James has good speed but he  got nabbed 16 times in 47 stolen-base attempts.

YEAR AHEAD: Double-A will be a stiff test for James in 2012, as he’ll have to tone down his aggressive ways at the plate. He’ll likely needs a full year of development at double-A before moving up.

CAREER OUTLOOK: I’m more than a little surprised that no one took a chance on James in the Rule 5 draft but there are still a number of questions surrounding his game. If the organization is patient, though, he could develop into a valuable contributor in Philadelphia.

8. Phillippe Aumont, RHP
BORN: Jan. 7, 1989
EXPERIENCE: Four seasons
ACQUIRED: 2007 first round (11th overall), Quebec HS (near Seattle)
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: Off

SCOUTING REPORT: To say Aumont has had an up-and-down career is an understatement. A former Mariners’ first round pick, Aumont was the top prize when Philly traded for Cliff Lee. Originally a starter, Aumont was moved to bullpen permanently. The move allows him to focus on his two plus pitches: a mid-to-high-90s fastball and a curveball. Both his command and control need a fair bit of work.

YEAR IN REVIEW: Combined between two levels, Aumont struck out 78 batters in 53.2 innings — so that gives you a bit of an idea of how good he could be at the major-league level. Perhaps even more impressively, he allowed just two home runs all season and posted an outstanding ground-ball rate in double-A.

YEAR AHEAD: Aumont had solid numbers in both double-A and triple-A, giving him an outside shot of breaking camp with the Phillies in 2012. More likely than not, though, he’ll be given the opportunity to build up his confidence (and sharpen his command/control) with a few more months in the minors.

CAREER OUTLOOK: Aumont clearly has the stuff to close games someday, but it remains to be seen if he has the emotional fortitude to handle the role. At this point, I’m betting against that — but he’s still young and he has time to mature as a pitcher. At worst, he should have a Kyle Farnsworth-type career.

9. Justin De Fratus, RHP
BORN: Oct. 21, 1987
EXPERIENCE: Five seasons
ACQUIRED: 2007 11th round, California CC
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: Off

SCOUTING REPORT: Although not as high-profile as Aumont, De Fratus also benefited from a permanent move from the starting rotation to the bullpen. It caused his stuff to jump up a notch and he reached the majors in 2011. His repertoire includes a low-to-mid-90s fastball, a slider and an occasional changeup.

YEAR IN REVIEW: Like Aumont, De Fratus split his season between double-A and triple-A (while also pitching four innings in the majors). He struck out 99 batters in 75.1 cumulative minor-league innings. He also produced above-average ground-ball rates.

YEAR AHEAD: De Fratus has a very good opportunity to break camp with the Phillies in 2012 but he should be eased into late-game situations and might mostly see action in the sixth and seventh innings.

CAREER OUTLOOK: De Fratus is a big, strong pitcher who has been extremely durable to this point. He could have a lot of value in the Phillies ‘pen next year. He’ll likely top out as a high-leverage, eighth-inning reliever. No matter how you slice it, he was an exciting find while he was pitching for a small community college.

10. Larry Greene, OF
BORN: Feb. 10, 1993
EXPERIENCE: Prep
ACQUIRED: 2011 supplemental 1st round (39th overall), Georgia HS
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: NA

SCOUTING REPORT: The organization’s first pick in the 2011 draft (39th overall), Greene is a raw but powerful Georgia outfielder. There are some concerns about his bat speed but he hits massive home runs when he makes contact. He’s expected to produce a lot of strikeouts and not hit for much average — but he’s also still very young.

YEAR IN REVIEW: Greene signed too late to play pro ball in 2011.

YEAR AHEAD: The outfielder will likely open 2012 in extended spring training before heading to rookie ball in June. He will be a slow mover who could spend two years in short-season ball before hitting full-season A-ball in 2014.

CAREER OUTLOOK: Greene has the potential to develop into a 30-home run machince if he makes necesary adjustments and gets his bat started a little earlier. He likely won’t provide much defensive vale and he could end up moving to first base if he can’t hack it in left field.

The Next Five

11. Freddy Galvis, SS: I’m not a huge Galvis fan, but he has potential value as a young, switch-hitting infielder with a plus glove. His bat took a big step forward in 2011 and he hit for a more consistent average and showed more gap power.

12. Roman Quinn, SS/OF: The club’s second round pick, Quinn has 80 speed on the base paths. He’s learning to switch hit, which could increase his value as it will help him beat out even more infield hits. His ultimate position will also impact his overall value; he was an amateur shortstop but he’ll likely end up in center field.

13. Lisalberto Bonilla: The right-hander had a nice season and showed good control for his age. His repertoire features a low-90s fastball that can touch 94 mph. His second-best pitch is a changeup, followed by a developing slider. He could develop into a No. 3 or a No. 4 starter.

14. Julio Rodriguez, RHP: On numbers alone, Rodriguez looks like a very impressive prospect. He struck out 168 hitters in 156.2 high-A innings in 2011 but he succeeds on command and mixing his pitches. His fastball works in the upper 80s. Ultimately, he should top out as a back-of-the-rotation starter or as a middle reliever.

15. Aaron Altherr, OF: Altherr is a raw athlete who has an outside shot to develop into a 20-20 hitter. He’s too aggressive at the plate right now and he needs to learn better pitch selection. Defensively, he could become a plus fielder.

SLEEPER ALERT: Kyrell Hudson, OF: Hudson is another speedy, raw athlete. A former third-round pick in 2009, he has developed slowly. Still, he made significant strides in 2011 when compared to his two previous seasons. With that said, he still has a long way to go; and if he stagnates as a hitter, he has a plus arm that could turn him into a pitcher.


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