Recently, Mike Drago of The Reading Eagle conducted a survey of about ten experts, made up of writers and other media members, designed to rank the top prospects in the Philadelphia developmental system.
The participating individuals, who are all close to the Phillies minor league system, were asked to rank their personal top 15, which were tabulated to determine the paper’s published list of top prospects. Those that offered their insight for the ratings this time around included Bob Brookover, Tony Graham, Mitch Rupert, Jeff Schuler, Mike Drago himself and yours truly, PhilliesNation’s Jay Floyd.
The collection of experts found that fast rising third base prospect Maikel Franco, who represented the Phillies organization in the MLB All-Star Futures Game this year, is the club’s top minor leaguer. Franco, who recently began playing first base is primed to make an impact with the big club in the near future and has become the Phils’ most highly touted offensive prospect since Ryan Howard was trying to break into the big leagues.
Last year’s results ranked lefty hurler Jesse Biddle at the top. The Philadelphia native fell in this year’s rankings while others rose and some fell completely off of the list.
Here’s a review of The Reading Eagle’s Phillies prospect rankings…
1- Maikel Franco, 3B, Double-A Reading…the 21-year-old slugger notched his 30th homer and 100th RBI of the season on Monday night. Franco, who began the season with Class A Advanced Clearwater, is one of the biggest breakout prospects in all of minor league baseball this season and plans to continue his outstanding year in the Dominican Winter League. In 127 games this season combined at the two levels, the youngster sports an impressive .313/.352/.566 line.
2- Jesse Biddle, P, Double-A Reading…selected with the 27th overall draft pick in 2010, the Philadelphia native has garnered much attention in his career and had appeared to be fairly dominant in his first few pro seasons. This year, however, the left-hander has had his struggles, collecting just three wins since he sported a 1.74 ERA and an 11.61 K/9 mark through five April starts. His 7.11 ERA in five July outings was alarming, but since then, the 21-year-old has settled in and tallied a 2.79 ERA in five starts that have followed his roughest stretch of the season. Rumors suggest that Biddle is expected to pitch in the Arizona Fall League this year and he should be up for an invitation to big league spring training next year.
3- J.P. Crawford, SS, Class A Lakewood…this year’s top Phillies draft choice (16th overall, their highest pick since Gavin Floyd was taken with the 4th pick in 2001) has proven to be a tremendous talent since turning pro. The 18-year-old lefty batter led the Gulf Coast League in hitting for much of his time there and has continued to excel since joining the BlueClaws less than two weeks ago. Overall in 47 games, the Lakewood, CA native has posted a .341 average with nine doubles, three triples, a home run, 21 RBI and 14 stolen bases.
4- Cesar Hernandez, 2B, Triple-A Lehigh Valley…the 23-year-old All-Star second baseman and occasional center fielder has continued to look strong at Triple-A this season. Through 102 games in the minors this year, the Venezuela native has sported a .324 average with two homers, 36 RBI and 32 steals, while he also tallied a .250 average with a double and an RBI in nine big league games with the Phillies. Look for Hernandez to earn a steady spot on the big league roster by next season.
5- Roman Quinn, SS, Class A Lakewood…the Phillies’ 2nd round draft pick from 2011 has been outspoken at times regarding his frustration with the assignment of having to learn to switch hit and adapt to a new position upon turning pro. Prior to being sidelined with a broken wrist in late June, the 20-year-old had posted a .238 batting average along with five homers, 21 RBI and 32 stolen bases in 67 games. If Crawford continues to prove to be a fast rising talent, the Phils may feel more inclined to return Quinn to his “natural position” in center field as he climbs the developmental ladder, which could relax the Florida native and allow him to focus more on his work at the plate.
6- Adam Morgan, P, Triple-A Lehigh Valley…the 23-year-old has looked great since returning from a shoulder injury on July 22nd. In his last seven starts, the lefty hurler has posted a 1.59 ERA. Overall in 15 starts for the ‘Pigs this year, the Phils’ 3rd round pick out of the University of Alabama in 2011 has a 2-6 record with a 3.60 ERA and a 6.17 K/9 mark. Morgan could be considered an option for the big league rotation next season.
7- Kelly Dugan, OF, Double-A Reading…the Phils’ 2nd round pick in 2009 has had a breakout season. The 22-year-old slugged his 20th homer of the year on Monday night and could really put some pressure on the organization to give him a look in the big leagues at some point next season, if he continues to progress at this pace. Combined at Reading and Clearwater this year, Dugan has a .292 average and an .870 OPS in 106 games.
8- Ethan Martin, P, Philadelphia…currently with the big league team, the right-hander looked strong following an ugly April this season in the minors with Lehigh Valley. After sporting a 7.66 ERA in his first five starts of the year, the 24-year-old proceeded to post a 3.28 ERA in his following 16 outings, which earned him a shot with the Phillies. Martin, who was acquired from the Dodgers in last year’s Shane Victorino trade and was LA’s 1st round pick in 2008, has a 2-2 record with a 6.33 ERA in his first five big league starts and is another candidate for the 2014 pitching rotation.
9- Cameron Rupp, C, Triple-A Lehigh Valley…the 24-year-old University of Texas product has looked excellent this season. The righty hitting backstop has a .259 average with 14 home runs and 45 RBI in 91 combined games at Reading and Lehigh Valley this season. Rupp was the Phils’ 3rd round draft pick in 2010 is often credited with his outstanding ability to lead the pitchers that he works with as well as his great arm behind the plate. He is likely the lead argument against the Phillies re-signing Carlos Ruiz for next season.
10- Carlos Tocci, OF, Class A Lakewood…the Venezuela native is often praised for his raw tools on the offensive side and his terrific defensive abilities. The righty hitter turned 18-years-old this past week and has looked every bit of his young age in the South Atlantic League. After posting a .236 average in 60 games prior to the All-Star break, Tocci has batted .183 in 54 games since then. Tocci, a righty hitter, should return to Lakewood next year to continue to refine his approach at the plate.
11 Shane Watson, P, Class A Lakewood- supplemental round draft pick, 2012.
12 Zach Green, 3B, short-season Class A Williamsport- 3rd round pick, 2012.
14 Aaron Altherr, OF, Class A Advanced Clearwater- 9th round pick, 2009.
15 Dylan Cozens, OF, short-season Class A Williamsport- 2nd round pick, 2012.
Other players that received votes…
Kenny Giles, P, Clearwater; Mike Nesseth, P, Reading; Cord Sandberg, OF, Gulf Coast League; Andrew Knapp, P, Williamsport; Leandro Castro, OF, Lehigh Valley; Phillippe Aumont, P, Lehigh Valley; Mitch Gueller, P, Williamsport; Perci Garner, P, Clearwater; Seth Rosin, P, Reading; Andrew Pullin, 2B, Williamsport; Hoby Milner, P, Clearwater; Yoel Mecias, P, Lakewood; David Buchanan, P, Lehigh Valley; Tyson Gillies, OF, Lehigh Valley; Jiwan James, OF, Clearwater; Sebastian Valle, C, Reading.
Two catchers fell considerably on this list. Valle, who ranked in the 5th spot last year, dropped out of the top 15 and Joseph, who was ranked 2nd last year, dipped quite a bit as well.
Pitchers Brody Colvin and Austin Wright were among the prospects that fell completely off the list.
Players such as Freddy Galvis, Cody Asche and Jonathan Pettibone, who had notable time in the majors or who appeared to be with the big league team for the long haul were not considered in the survey.
To read the original piece from The Reading Eagle, click here.