Phillies Top 30 Prospects 1-10

Hey, wouldn't it be awesome if we were both doing this again next Spring here in Philly? - Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE

Now we're looking at the, relative, creme de la creme of the Phillies system. Some of these are high upside lottery tickets, some are near certain role players, but I think everyone in this part of the list will help the club (either as players or trade chips).

The system is improving, but as this top 10 shows, it's not perfect. Everyone has flaws and I'll try to point them out as we go. It's not all doom and gloom though, should things go right, there could be a few really, really good future stars in here and I'll make sure to point that out too.

10. Austin Wright, LHP - In a prior draft I had Wright at 14 and Watson here at 10 (Dugan at 12), but after more consideration I thought Wright has a track record at a higher level than Watson and I still have some concern Dugan could flame out at higher levels against more advanced pitching. Wright may eventually end up being a LOOGY, but his splits so far have been pretty close and he's been somewhat efficient against RHB, so I'm willing to believe he could end up a back of the rotation Starter. To reach that ceiling he'll need to get better command of his breaking pitches and get his Walk rate down. He simply doesn't have the stuff to make a 4+ BB rate sustainable, so he's need to keep it under 3.5, at the highest.

9. Phillipe Aumont, RHP - I probably can't write anything about Aumont you haven't read 50 times before. So I won't bother much. I think he has high leverage ceiling and given his height it isn't odd to think he still has room left to improve as tall pitchers almost always struggle with control. Of course, it's also possible he never masters his mechanics and is more of a AAAA guy, because guys who walk 6/9 innings don't tend to keep jobs for very long. I'm taking the over and assuming he can still get the free passes below 4 per 9 and keep a double digit K rate.

8. Cody Asche, 3B - I don't think Asche will be a star. For some reason when I watch Asche and read reports about him Todd Frazier always seems to come to mind. It's probably not a bad comp. I think Frazier's got a little more power, but Asche will be a little better defensively (I actually liked Frazier as a 2nd baseman when I saw him in the Minors). As I work on this and look at their stats side by side it might be rather good comp for Asche. That isn't star material, but it would certainly work for a few years until Franco, Walding, or whomever may be ready for the Majors. I expect Asche can have a good career after than as a bench bat and semi-regular contributor as a utility guy.

7. Jon Pettibone, RHP - Of everyone on this list I have the most confidence in Pettibone. He's another guy who won't be a star, but can be a solid back of the rotation starter and could probably fill that role Day 1 of this season. The one worry I have about Pettibone is he doesn't have Strikeout stuff. He's typically about 6 K/9, but only ~2 BB/9. If he can keep his BB rate low he can be an inning eater. He gets a good number of grounders, and if he can keep that consistency he stands a good shot at being useful. If his composite numbers go south he can get a shot at the bullpen, but right now Bullpen is the most competitive position in the Org, so it's in his best interest to work out his kinks starting.

6. Maikel Franco, 3B - Scouts love Franco's fast hands and incredible bat speed. They're less enamored of his lead footed running speed and questionable pitch recognition. There aren't many guys with more upside than Franco in the Org, but I worry a lot about him struggling against more advanced Pitchers in AA, where he could be by seasons end. On the negative side Franco chases out of the Zone a pretty good bit, which he's been able to mostly get away with in Low A. As he moves up the ladder he may see more guys pitching him backwards or working more out of the zone to get him to chase. On the plus side, Franco's bat seems to be fast enough that maybe he can Vlad Guerrero his way around the plate. Most likely he'll settle in between those extremes and learn what not to swing at. I don't think Pitch recognition is a learned trait, as very few guys go from bad to good in the area, but perhaps some guys can progress bad to not very good, which can be enough.

5. Roman Quinn, SS - Quinn is insanely fast and will be a lot of fun to watch. The question is every other tool. He's a ground ball hitter (not as extreme as Revere) who is just learning to switch hit. All things considered he did really well with that for his first try at it. His ISO is probably inflated due to poor defense of Low A fielders getting him some cheap bases. That said, he has the speed to stretch hits even at higher levels. His Defense is also really, really raw, so whether he stays at Short or not is way too early to really know yet. Even if he moves to Center, he seems to have the skillset to play well there too (though his arm may leave a bit to be desired from deep Center).Quinn will only be 20 next year and he'll be playing full season ball for the first time. Go to Lakewood and watch him, you won't regret it.

4. Ethan Martin, RHP - As much as I've raved about the 2011 Draft Class, I think the trades of Thome, Pence, and Victorino really did wonders for the Prospect pipeline. I don't know that anyone acquired in those trades has a more volatile projection (and projectile, I suppose) than Ethan Martin. He could be an Ace, he could be a guy who never gets past AAA. I think Ace is unlikely at this point, but I think a #2 or 3 is pretty realistic, though with a 5 BB/9 rate bullpen or complete washout are also pretty realistic outcomes. If you asked me to bet on it, I'd put my money on MLB Reliever. So why rank him this high if his ceiling is similar to Aumont or DeFratus? I was going to say his name isn't French, but etymologists would point out I'm wrong, so instead I'll stick with the fact that Martin still has Starter potential and that's more valuable than reliever potential.

3. Adam Morgan, LHP - Morgan was a somewhat unheralded draft pick, he was a polished pitcher and the expectation was that he could quickly progress through the minors and be a solid back of the rotation starter. Then something funny happened, he started pitching really, really well, with better velocity than he showed in College and his secondary stuff, while still a little buggy, is improving. Morgan's mostly a Fastball/Slider guy, and his one warning sign is that a few scouting reports note he has a stiff delivery. This can lead to pitches floating higher in the zone (ohh, a hanging slider). Those mistakes can sneak past less advanced hitters in A ball, but are likely to become souvenirs in Double and Triple-A. I've read nice reports about his Changeup, so if he can work that in more when he struggles with command and develop it into an average to above-average pitch and #2 or 3 starter role isn't far-fetched.

2. Tommy Joseph, C - Much has been made of Joseph's lack of slugging in Double-A this year. But he ranked 5th in Slugging among Catchers in the EL, with most of those ahead of him being journeymen too old for the level (the non-journeyman was Valle, who really can mash). I realize that is kind of damning with faint praise, but Joseph was also 20 for most of the season, making him pretty young for the level. Defensively, Joseph could probably step in this April and catch for the Phillies, but the bat will need a year or two. He should really spend some of 2012 in Double-A getting comfortable and unlocking his power before moving up to Triple-A. Ruiz's suspension though creates the possibility that Quintero, Valle or LeRud will open the season with the parent club creating an awful lot of available playing time in Triple-A for the first 2 months. The team also needs to find at-bats for Rupp, Lino, Ludy, Numata (if he's still around) and a few others, so there's definite upward pressure. That said, Joseph is the best of bunch and if it means Ludy, Rupp or someone else loses playing time so that Joseph can get the bulk of the plate appearances, so be it.

1. Jesse Biddle, LHP - So far, Biddle has been the consensus #1 prospect on everyone's list of Phillies minor leaguers. This doesn't mean everyone views him as a future ace (I hated that nickname of "Baby Aces" given to May, Colvin, Cosart, Biddle, Pettibone, etc.as none of them ever really profiled as actual Aces). Biddle likely tops out as a #3 (though #2 starter is also possible) and likely his biggest flaw right now is a tendency to fluctuate in his pitch speed. Stadium gun reports are notoriously unreliable (most guns run "hot" since high numbers get the oohs and ahhs, but the guns aren't usually calibrated often enough and are sometimes placed at suboptimal angles to accurately capture pitch speed), but scouting reports seem to note the fluctuations from game to game. And a Lefty working in the upper 80's is much different from one working low to mid-90's. So what prevents him from being a frontline Ace? Well, he has a whole bunch of average to slightly above average pitches. That's actually a good thing as many pitchers work with below average stuff, but there's no big out pitch. This year he added back his Slider, which he hadn't used since High School, as Biddle's Command and Control of his other pitches have improved steadily, I expect this will happen with the Sldier as well, which would give him 4 solid pitches to work with. That profiles as an inning eater. Double-A can be tough, but I expect Biddle will handle the transition fine and have a real shot at pitching with the big club as early as 2014. Should any of his pitches develop into consistent plus offerings he could be a very valuable #2 starter.

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