Phillies 2014 Top 30 Prospects 1-10

The most anyone has seen of MAG's Pitching in 2 years - Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Phillies' minor league system has some high floor guys who are nearly certain to play in Philadelphia in the next two seasons, and a few guys years away with the potential to have a big impact.

10. Ken Giles, RHP - I could probably list Giles' position as flamethrower and be just as accurate. Giles certainly has the most electric fastball in the system, routinely working in the upper 90's, and 100 is not beyond the realm of possibility. After returning from arm ailments (a bit of a trend for Giles since college), Giles had a great fall and earned an NRI to Spring Training this year. Giles has control/command issues, a slider that flashes above average but is pretty inconsistent, and not much else. With just a little more command, however, and a little refinement of the slider, Giles could make an absolutely dominant late inning reliever. I strongly believe that will happen and he'll be in Philadelphia by mid-summer. The Phillies have had a lot of similar late inning relief prospects of late, but I have a bit more confidence in Giles. It's just a matter of staying healthy and getting the work in.

9. Kelly Dugan, OF - Kelly is another guy on the cusp of contributing to the big club (though more likely for 2015, with perhaps a late year call-up in 2014). Kelly is left-handed hitter capable of playing either corner spot or first base. He's a little too slow for center, but not too slow on the basepaths or in the corners. His profile suggests a guy who might hit in the .270 range, with an OBP hovering around .330 and probably enough power for ~20 HR, with 25 a possibility at peak. In other words, Dugan's a guy who, if he starts, can hit in the 6 or 7 hole. His versatility also makes him an option for utility player in the (young) Laynce Nix mold. His biggest risk right now is patience and approach at the plate, as 5 walks in half a season at double-A is Valle-level and can eventually impact your hitting (if pitchers feel like they can get you to chase or that you're guessing and they can change their sequencing). Dugan's adjusted well at previous levels and if he can get his walk rate back in the 10% range, as it had been before, he'll be fine.

8. Aaron Altherr, OF - One thing separates Dugan and Altherr in my book and that is that Altherr has the speed and glove for center field. Otherwise, there's similar potential for the bat (I think Dugan may hit for a slightly better average due to his strong line drive tendency). Altherr will also rack up more steals than Dugan, as Altherr is a potential 20-20 guy (with an outside chance at 30-30 in a peak season). Similar to Dugan, Altherr has some contact issues with a K rate around 25%. His ability to play center takes some pressure off the bat, but if the K rate rises as he moves up it will certainly hurt him, as teams don't typically start guys who hit sub-.260 regardless of what position they play. If he can get that down about 5 points he'd be a very exciting prospect. I don't see that happening, but even 2 or 3 points of reduction would be a big plus.

7. Ethan Martin, RHP - Anyone who watched the Phillies last summer knows who Martin is, so I won't waste pixels explaining his background or profile. Martin has a future as a lock-down one-inning reliever (closer, setup, whatever), but he has shown flashes where he had control of his pitches and it's impossible to rule out another step forward in that area. For some weird reason he doesn't seem to have the stamina for eating innings (though his frame suggests he should) and he tends to fade during his second pass through lineups. That pretty much eliminates his prior ceiling as a number 2 Starter, but he could end up doing the Vance Worley-effective-for-6 -innings thing. While that's unlikely, it's  fine, because if he eventually becomes a dominant reliever, that's not a bad return on a month and a half of Shane Victorino.

6. Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, RHP - Look, I'll be honest up front. I really don't know enough about MAG to tell you anything you haven't already heard. Maybe he's a number 2 starter, maybe he's a middle reliever, maybe he's a ticking injury time bomb, maybe he's a workhorse inning eater. What currently separates him from Martin is that there's still a reasonable chance MAG could be a workhorse starter. Reports out of spring training are less than stellar, but I started writing and publishing this list before camp started. So, I'll just say what Amaro said here: "If I knew more what Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez was, I would feel better about it."

5. Roman Quinn, SS - Quinn has elite speed, an average bat and gap power. His defense at shortstop is iffy, but his errors have largely been throwing errors, not problems getting to balls. In other words, they're correctable. Even if they aren't, he'd have the profile to be, at least, an above average defender in center if the Phillies move him off short (he could also be tried at second, theoretically). Of course, there's a confounding factor in that Quinn tore his Achilles while running this past fall. That's going to basically wipe out his 2014, and it may take a year or more for his speed to return (I don't think this is analogous to Ryan Howard, as Howard is an enormous human being who already ran at sloth-like speeds). Quinn is unlikely to retain pre-injury speed, but I imagine he'll still be plus-plus to elite, which should be plenty to remain a disruptive force on the bases and in the field.

4. Carlos Tocci, OF - There is no greater risk/reward prospect on this list. Tocci has the raw speed and arm to be an elite defender in center. He has the bat control and patience to be an on-base machine, where his speed should allow him to be a terror on the basepaths. He also currently has the body that risks being blown into the Gulf of Mexico during mid-game rain squalls. If he can put on 20-30 pounds of good weight without losing speed and refine his techniques (base stealing and hitting) he could be a top of the order OBP/steal machine. He currently makes good contact, but doesn't have the strength to drive the ball into gaps or past defenders leading to a very, very low BABIP. If this doesn't improve while he matures, Tocci could be one of those promising guys that just can't quite make it past High-A/Double-A (think Gillies).

3. J.P. Crawford, SS - Crawford will be fascinating to follow in his first full season in the minors. His glove can stay at short, a premier defensive position, and his bat looks to be able to hit for a pretty good average with enough power to keep pitchers honest. Crawford could very easily be number one prospect on many lists next year. He barely missed many Top 100 lists this year (and made a few). I debated making him higher this year, but I'm not comfortable doing that with so few pro games and two guys above him who could be Phillies this year at some point.

Before I get into my top two, I will admit to having struggled with this decision for a few months. I'm nearly certain that Biddle will be a major league starter and he'll have a fairly long career. I'm also fairly certain he won't be a star. He'll be a workhorse who logs a lot of innings, but his results will likely be more mixed. Further, I'm certain his 2013 performance was negatively impacted by whooping cough and plantar fasciitis. I have never had whooping cough, but I do have bad allergies which go straight to my chest and leave me with uncontrollable coughing bouts for days (which is essentially what whooping cough is, uncontrollable coughing for weeks or months on end). It invariably left every muscle in my torso sore (including my shoulders, but especially across my back) and left me feeling very tired by mid-afternoon. I can't imagine trying to engage in athletic activities while dealing with it. Meanwhile, Maikel Franco does have star potential. Elite bat control and bat speed, plus-plus power and a cannon arm. He also has a questionable approach at the plate, a tendency to bite on breaking balls out of the zone and a long swing. If I'm 100% sure that Biddle's a Major Leaguer, I'm more like 60-70% sure Franco's one, but his ceiling is higher than Biddle's by a decent bit. I've flipped them back and forth a few times. As objective as I try to make my listing at the end of the day, it's impossible to avoid subjective judgments on how likely you think a player is to reach their ceiling or flaws will ultimately sink them.

2. Jesse Biddle, LHP - Ultimately I decided on no free passes. I need to judge Biddle on what he did and not grade him on a curve (pun intended). If last year was a whooping cough-induced fluke, I think he could still be a borderline number 2/3 starter. He'll need to refine his fastball command so that his curve can play. He also needs to play a full season in triple-A to refine his mechanics a bit (it's worth noting his mechanics had been better prior to 2013, which gives me hope it was a fluke). The Phillies are unlikely to need Biddle in 2014 with the signings of Fauxto, MAG and Burnett (along with the availability of Pettibone and Martin), but there will be a spot for him in 2015.

1. Maikel Franco, 3B - Franco will get a full season between double-A and triple-A to improve his hitting and get games in at first (another thing which tempted me to downgrade him on the list, as he's a bit more middle-of-the-road as a first baseman). Still, he can stick at third for at least a few years, and I'd prefer to see him stay there (for whatever that's worth). One thing that gives me hope for Franco is that his bat control is exceptional, and he's been able to adjust at each level after initial struggles. The biggest advantage of Franco getting nearly a full season is it allows the Phillies (and the league, for better or worse) to figure out what they have in Asche, making Asche or Franco, potentially, tradeable assets to fill holes in Right Field, Pitching or wherever. Franco has legit middle of the order potential though, so we can be excited about seeing some of that in a September call-up or in 2015.

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