Matt Forman of Baseball America posted their list of Top 10 Phillies Prospects this morning. With last year’s number one, Trevor May, traded, there was a guaranteed to be a new number one. And with the Phillies trading Joe Blanton, Hunter Pence, Jim Thome, and Shane Victorino midseason, there was bound to be new faces that filled out the top 10. The theme of this year’s Phillies list was turnover. Not the kind the Eagles routinely commit but rather just three players from the year before stayed on the list while seven changed, either because of trade, call-up, or decreased prospect expectations.
The New Number One
Left-handed starter Jesse Biddle continued his ascension through the Phillies ranks last season. The Phillies 2010 first round pick pitched a career-high 142.2 innings, notched over a strikeout per inning while walking just under 3.4/9 IP with a 3.22 ERA in 26 starts for High-A Clearwater. Biddle jumps from 2011′s number two to number one, something that likely would have happened whether or not May was traded. The Philadelphia-native is miles ahead of the rest of the Philadelphia prospect landscape.
There were only two players that moved up on the list from 2011 to 2012: Biddle moved from one to two and third baseman Maikel Franco jumped from eight to ten. Of note, Freddy Galvis, Phillippe Aumont, and Justin De Fratus were all omitted presumably because of their advancement and their ability to stay in the Major Leagues. Jonathan Pettibone, who is the most Major League-ready pitcher on the list, stayed pat at fourth. Pettibone, 4-1, 2.55 ERA in seven late-season starts for Lehigh Valley, has an outside chance at winning the fifth starter slot in the rotation, although that chance has decreased with the signing of John Lannan.
Darin Ruf, once considered “an organizational player” by Forman, makes his debut on a Baseball America list at number nine. He is listed by Baseball America as the Phillies Best Power Hitter and the player with the Best Strike Zone Discipline.
The 2011 Crop Bearing Fruit
The draft class of 2011 for the Phillies is producing a quality crop of prospects. Baseball America ranks 2011 draftee shortstop Roman Quinn as the Phillies second best prospect in the system. Quinn rebounded from a slow start in his first professional season in 2012 to end with a very impressive line of .281/.370/.408, successfully stealing on 30 of 36 attempts and hitting 11 triples. Of note, Baseball America ranks Quinn as the Phillies Best Athlete and Fastest Baserunner.
Quinn is joined on the list by his 2011 fellow draftees left-handed starter Adam Morgan (#5), third baseman Cody Asche (#7), and honorable mention reliever Kenneth Giles. Morgan, 22, put up a combined 3.35 and 8-11 mark in 26 starts across High-A Clearwater and Double-A Reading last season. Morgan averaged over a strikeout per inning and could be on the fast track to the Majors should he limit his walks. Asche, 22, hit, hit, hit, and would not stop hitting in 2012. In 62 games with High-A Clearwater, Asche hit .349/.378/.447 with just two home runs; Asche’s success prompted a call-up to Reading, where he hit .300/.360/.513 with ten home runs in cavernous First Energy Field on his way to earning BA’s honor of “Best Plate Discipline” in the Phillies organization. Giles, 22, has a mid-to-high 90s fastball and posts impressive strikeout (12.2 K/9 IP in 2012) and walk (2.2 BB/9 IP) ratios.
Trades Yield Two
Ethan Martin, 23, acquired from the Dodgers for Victorino, posted his best Minor League season ever in 2012, including a 5-0 mark and 3.18 ERA for Double-A. The former first round pick debuts on the Phillies list at number six. Tommy Joseph, 21, the prize of the Pence trade, ranks number three for the Phillies after hitting .250/.327/.420 for Double-A Reading.
While Phillippe Aumont, Freddy Galvis, and Justin De Fratus, last year’s five-through-seven, were likely omitted because they had reached the Major Leagues and are presumed to stay there, and May was omitted because he was traded, three players did disappear. The most concerning, or maybe confusing, is perhaps catcher Sebastian Valle, last year’s no. three. Valle, 22, showed developing power last season, hitting a career high 17 HRs across stops in Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley, but posted career lows in batting average and on-base percentage (.253 and .271). Valle should start in Triple-A Lehigh Valley this year and any difficulties he faced resulting in his slow start there after his call-up last year should balance out.
Brody Colvin, 22, was rated the #56 best prospect in the Majors before the 2011 season. This off-season, he’s try to put together the pieces after his second season below-expectations in a row. Colvin fell off the top ten, previously eighth, after putting up a 5.87 ERA in 26 starts across two levels. Jiwan James, 23, last year’s no. ten, fell out of the top ten as he battled injuries and his top tool, speed, showed signs of slowing down. His stolen base totals (31 to 8, 2011 to 2012) and efficiency (65.96% to 50%, 2011 to 2012) took big drops.
Tyson Gillies, 24, struggled with injuries last season but posted a .304/.369/.453 triple-slash for Double-A Reading in his age 23 season in 68 games. A hot start and lots of health, both have been tough for Gillies, in Triple-A Lehigh Valley could put some heat on Ruf and Domonic Brown. Zach Collier, 22, played well in his age 21 season (.269/.333/.399) for High-A Clearwater and had a scorching hot Arizona Fall League performance but was omitted from this list. Cesar Hernandez, 22, has already reached Triple-A, playing above average defense with a solid arm. Hernandez hit .248/.270/.298 last year for Lehigh Valley and would likely be the first to be called up should there be an injury, assuming Galvis is a Phillie from Opening Day.