[Part I of a four-part series]
Spring isn't exactly in the air yet, but spring training is just around the corner, which means it's time to ramp it up for the 2011 prospect season with our second annual installment of the Phillies Top 30. As WholeCamels noted the other day, the system is far from gutted, even after the Lee/Halladay/Oswalt trades, though most of the talent at this juncture is to be found at the lower levels. At the very least, there's enough talent that a few familiar-ish names failed to make the cut.
If you haven't yet had a chance, be sure to check out the primer over in "The Minors" section of the site for an introduction to how I analyze prospects. As far as the rankings themselves go, I'll repeat this year what I said last year: while ranking players is an interesting discussion tool, I'm far less hung up on "Should this guy go #17 or #18?" than I am on accurately representing a player's realistic ceiling, floor, areas for improvement, etc.
And so, check below the jump as get this shindig kicked off. (Listed minor league clubs are my projections.)
Jonathan Pettibone, RHP, Clearwater: The 2008 3rd round pick checked in at #21 on last year's list, and while he had a solid enough season in Lakewood, posting a 4.03 FIP in 131.1 innings, his strikeout rate tumbled to just 5.8 per 9 innings, which is a definite red flag. He's just 20 years old, he throws on a downhill plane (50% GB rate in 2010), and at 6'5", 200 lbs., he's still got some projection left, but without dynamite stuff or above-average strikeout numbers, it's hard for me to fit him into the Top 30 at this point.
Cameron Rupp, C-R, Lakewood: I'm just not sold on Rupp's bat. He's got above-average raw power, but he swings and misses too much -- 22.8% K in his college career at Texas (745 PA), 26.4% K in Williamsport last year (223 PA) -- to really take advantage. Taking Rupp in the third round of last year's draft was understandable -- between the departures of Lou Marson and Travis d'Arnaud, the organizational depth chart at catcher was looking a bit sparse -- but I'm not sure I see the upside in Rupp without overhauling his swing.
B.J. Rosenberg, RHP, Reading: It was a nightmare 2010 season for Rosenberg, who spent three months of the season on the disabled list and struggled in his limited game action. In just 27.2 innings split across three levels, Rosenberg struck out 33 and walked just 9, but surrendered a whopping 8 home runs to wind up with an unsightly 5.45 FIP on the campaign. Now 25 and with a history of injury issues, Rosenberg is capable of getting back on the radar, but it will take a strong campaign in Reading's bullpen to do so.
Jonathan Musser, RHP, Williamsport: The Phillies gave the Iowan right-hander a $300K bonus on signing deadline day after taking him in the 21st round. He struggled with a shoulder injury for much of the spring, which is what helped him slip to the draft's second day, but as a lanky (6'5", 205-lb.) right-hander with the potential for three solid pitches, including a potential plus curveball, he could prove to be a nice steal for the Phillies. At this point, all he needs in innings, though I expect the organization to (smartly) bring him along slowly.
Eric Pettis, RHP, Lakewood: It hurts to leave Pettis off, because he was a name I was always excited to see in the Williamsport box scores last summer, and for good reason -- he was utterly dominant (10.2 K/9, 1.1 BB/9, 0.00 HR/9, 47% GB, 1.28 FIP in 59.0 IP). Wait, that was how I started Austin Hyatt's writeup from last year... oh well, it's really the same thing here. Pettis will have to prove himself at higher levels before we get too excited, but his performance record is certainly impressive thus far.
Nick Hernandez, LHP, Clearwater: Hernandez joined the club as a 12th round selection in the 2009 draft after an up-and-down career at Tennessee. He started 2010 en fuego down in Lakewood, but came down with a bum shoulder after just 8 starts, and made just 4 rehab appearances in the Gulf Coast League the rest of the year. Hernandez is essentially in the same situation as Pettis: a polished college arm dominating the low minors doesn't tell us a whole lot, so we need to see more.
Matt Way, LHP, Clearwater: For some reason, the organization sent a 23-year old Way to Lakewood to begin 2010 after he had already laid waste to the SAL in 6 starts back at the end of 2009. The results weren't quite as impressive this time around (8.4 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 0.52 HR/9, 53%, 3.12 FIP in 86.1 IP), and his season ended with an injury just 6 innings into his Clearwater campaign, so 2011 represents an important year for Way. Southpaws who throw strikes are always in demand, so there's a future role for Way if he can successfully climb the organizational ladder.
Mike Stutes, RHP, Reading: Stutes shifted to full-time relief work in 2010, but the performance bump that we might have expected from that never really materialized. In 76.1 innings across Double-A and Triple-A, Stutes struck out 79 and allowed only 57 hits, but walked 44 for a rate of 5.2 per 9 innings. The strikeout rate is obviously a plus, but he's going to have to throw more strikes if he's going to profile as a major league reliever.
Zach Collier, OF-R, Lakewood: Collier checked in as a Top 10 prospect after an impressive pro debut in 2008, but a disappointing .221/.276/.324 campaign in 2009 tempered expectations. Collier sat out all of 2010 with an injury, and while it's tough to dock a guy points for something that wasn't his fault, he'll enter this year as a 20-year old with good tools, but a spotty performance record and over a year's worth of rust. Collier is fully capable of breaking out, but at this point, he's a lottery ticket.
Bryan Morgado, LHP, Lakewood: Morgado has the raw stuff -- a plus fastball that has touched 97 and a low-80s slider with potential -- to shoot to the majors in relatively short order as a lefty reliever. He's going to have to overcome his nasty habit of underachievement if he's going to do so, though, as his career 6.44 ERA and 5.0 BB/9 at Tennessee attest to. Morgado walked an unsightly 22 in 17.1 innings in Williamsport in 2010, but he also struck out 22, so if he can find a way to harness his stuff, the upside is definitely there.
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Be sure to check back Monday as we count down numbers 30 through 21.