Pretty bad news out of the minor league system today as both Todd Zolecki and Matt Winkelman of Phuture Phillies are reporting that both 2012 first round pick Shane Watson and 2011 3rd round pick Adam Morgan will miss most, if not all, of the 2014 season.
Morgan underwent successful shoulder surgery recently, and the team also announced that Watson would be going under the knife shortly as well.
Last year at this time many felt Morgan would be the de facto next guy in line in 2013 after a breakout 2012 that saw him jump into the top three or four prospect discussions in the organization. Instead, he was sidelined by mid-season, and now finds himself looking at almost two full minor league seasons being lost.
Many had high hopes for Watson, the team's top pick in 2012, to climb the rankings this year. That isn't going to happen either.
Since 2006, the Phillies have drafted and signed 11 pitchers in the first three rounds of the draft. Watson and Morgan join Kyle Drabek and Jason Knapp as those who have gone under the knife before making a major league pitch (2003 international signing Carlos Carrasco also went under the knife after being dealt to the Indians, along with Knapp, in the Cliff Lee deal).
Of the remaining seven, only Vance Worley, Jonathan Pettibone and Joe Savery have seen major league time with the Phillies, and Jesse Biddle remains the lone prospect who is predicted to make an imact. That's not exactly a ringing endorsement of the organization's ability to develop and scout pitching prospects.
Matt Winkelman summed the news up best last night on twitter:
Of my Top 10 prospects a year ago, 6 had major injuries this year, only Franco, Asche, Tocci, and Martin survived
Of my Top 10 prospects a year ago, 6 had major injuries this year, only Franco, Asche, Tocci, and Martin survived— Matt Winkelman (@Matt_Winkelman) January 11, 2014
The ramifications of this news certainly put a bit of a damper on a system that had been progressing over the past few seasons. It likely pushes top pitching prospect Jesse Biddle into the "untouchable" range, even if the team wanted to trade him, based on the limited rotation depth, and it's very likely that, barring injury, Biddle ends up seeing time in Philadelphia before the season is out.
In addition, Morgan and Watson's stock plummet with this news. More importantly, two young men with high hopes and major league dreams now face uncertainty with their futures. From a personal standpoint, I feel for these kids greatly.
From an organizational perspective:
When you consider that Roman Quinn is also going to miss most of the season after tearing his Achilles, and the centerpiece of the Pence trade, Tommy Joseph, missed most of last season due to concussion systems and may not be a catcher anymore, and that last year's second round pick, Andrew Knapp, is recovering from Tommy John surgery, the Phillies find themselves in a situation where - even if they do somehow end up as buyers at the trade deadline - they may not be in a position to have much to sell outside of J.P. Crawford, Jesse Biddle, Maikel Franco and possibly Cody Asche.
So should they be sellers? With little starting pitching depth in the minors, unless everyone remains healthy, it's difficult to envision a scenario where they can trade Cliff Lee without getting a capable starting pitcher back, unless they promote Biddle mid-season. In addition, as Matt points out in his piece, don't be surprised if Ethan Martin is not immediately transitioned to the bullpen role he's best suited for and kept stretched out as a starter out of necessity, should the Phillies not go after another starting pitcher before opening day. If that's the case, Martin likely starts the year in the Iron Pigs rotation instead of the Phillies bullpen.
It's one thing to have this happen to one of your top starting pitching prospects. To have it happen to two of them is utterly devastating. The success rate for recovering from shoulder surgeries is never good, and many prospects who do end up converting to relief pitchers. So the ramifications are pretty intense here - not just for the kids, but for the organization as well.
The circle, she is a vicious bitch.