After much consternation, Roy Halladay is finally a Philadelphia Phillie. Many, including myself, would have thought that flipping Cliff Lee would provide the necessary prospects for Ruben Amaro to get his man, but that would have been too easy, right? Thus ensued the construction of a complicated four-team deal (or, really, a series of three two-team deals), and while it felt like it dragged on for weeks, it was suddenly done on Wednesday afternoon. When the dust had settled, the 2009 playoff hero was gone, along with 3 of the organization's top 4 prospects, and in their place was a new #34, and a new trio of prospects.
I'm not here to debate the merits of what Amaro did, not right now anyway. What I'm more interested in is assessing how those moves have impacted the Phillies' collection of minor league talent. The long and short of it is that the good Doc came at a heavy price: the Phillies surrendered 2 prospects that are probably among the Top 25 in all of baseball, and a third who I'd rate more highly than anyone received from the Mariners. Still, even after dealing away 7 prospects in a span of 5 months, the system is far from barren -- even if it's not the juggernaut it appeared to be a half-year ago.
Without further ado, then, check below the jump as I give my take on the new (if not exactly improved) list of Top 10 prospects in the Phillies system, with a particular emphasis on the new additions...
1.) Domonic Brown, OF-L, Reading
The "Big Three" is now the Big One, and Brown is far and away the top prospect in the system at this point. He'll likely begin next year back at Reading as a 22-year old, and there's still no rush to get him to the majors. The emergence of power last year (.205 ISO), paired with his already solid plate discipline (career 11.0% BB, 19.0% K), have him looking like a potential middle-of-the-order hitter.
2.) Tyson Gillies, OF-L, Reading
From off the radar before the year to one of the more exciting prospects in baseball. Gillies is essentially Anthony Gose, 2 years older, with ever so slightly lesser tools but far more in the way of present baseball skills. The California League is a hitter's haven, but Gillies' .341/.430/.486 breakout there last year stands out nonetheless. He's a slap hitter who controls the strike zone well (10.8% BB, 16.3% K), and he utilizes his speed to get on base -- 60.7% of his balls in play last year were grounders, and he's proven to be adept at bunting for base hits. His speed should prove to be an asset in center field and on the basepaths, but he'll need to work on the nuances of both -- neither his glove work (-8 runs/150 via TotalZone) nor his base stealing (44 in 63 attempts, 69.8%) graded out as stellar in 2009.
As a hitter, Gillies faces a big test as he climbs the ladder, beginning with Double-A next year. He'll need to do 1 of 2 things in order to avoid being relegated to 4th outfielder status: (1) develop more power (just a .090 ISO last year away from his hitter friendly home park); or (2) decrease his strikeout rate even further, to become an extreme contact hitter. Gillies' walk rate is solid now, but without an ability to drive the ball, pitchers at upper levels won't be afraid to challenge him over the plate. At 6'2", 190 lbs., it's not out of the question to think he'll add some power as he matures, but he's not likely to do it with his present swing mechanics. He'll begin 2010 in Reading as a 21-year old, and if all goes well, his ceiling is that of a league average center fielder.
3.) J.C. Ramirez. RHP, Reading
With the departure of Drabek, the Nicaraguan Ramirez (who goes by Juan in some places) becomes the organization's top pitching prospect. But it's probably more accurate to think of he, Trevor May and Jarred Cosart as a trio of high ceiling right-handers with similar ceilings in different stages of development. Ramirez is the farthest along of the three -- he took on High-A last year, but a quick look at the numbers shows that High-A won that battle: Ramirez went 8-10 with a 5.12 ERA and 1.45 WHIP. The advanced metrics show he wasn't that bad, however (7.02 K/9, 3.35 BB/9, 1.14 HR/9, 41.9% GB, 4.76 FIP), and where Gillies benefited from it, Ramirez's numbers demonstrate the other side of the California League: pitching there is almost impossible.
Keith Law wrote a blog entry back in March on Ramirez, describing him as having "No. 2 starter stuff" with a good fastball that touches 96 and an above-average slider, but a change up that needs a lot of work. In a lot of ways, he's a younger, slightly impoverished man's version of Carlos Carrasco: impressive stuff, but plenty of work to do on things like command, composure, setting up hitters, etc. The good news is that his stuff is obviously good, he's got a workhorse frame (6'3", 225 lbs.), and he's just 21 years old, so there's plenty of time for all of it to come together. The bad news is that if the change up fails to develop, Ramirez is ticketed for the bullpen. He did have an impressive 2008 as a 19-year old in the Low-A Midwest League (8.20 K/9, 2.76 BB/9, 0.65 HR/9, 48.0% GB, 3.55 FIP), so maybe 2009 was the aberration. I'll venture to guess that the Phillies start him in Reading, but I'd probably start him in Clearwater so he gains confidence, and promote him when warranted.
4.) Trevor May, RHP, Clearwater
Another big right-hander, May showed flashes in his full season debut in Low-A Lakewood last year, whiffing 95 in 77.1 innings (11.06 K/9) and posting a 2.56 FIP. But he's a fly ball pitcher (36.6% GB) and has work to do on his command (5.00 B/9). Just 20, May will tackle Clearwater next year, and while he's several years away from the bigs, that also means he has plenty of time to try to work out the kinks.
5.) Anthony Gose, OF-L, Clearwater
The player development guys should give Gose the assignment of shadowing Gillies during spring training. His bat is his weakest tool, though he managed to post a not-terrible .259/.323/.353 line at Lakewood last year. More encouragingly, Gose improved his control of the strike zone in last year's second half (post-All Star: 8.0% BB, 16.7% K), which indicates an ability to make adjustments with the bat. That's something he'll need as he continues to climb the ladder. His tools are a tick above Gillies', which is no small compliment, but the 19-year old has a lot of work to do to get to the majors.
6.) Domingo Santana, OF-R, Williamsport
The youngster showed impressive power in his pro debut, ISOing .220 in the GCL -- not bad for a kid who played the bulk of the season at age 16. He'll have to cut down on the strikeouts (37.3% K), but he has a decent enough feel for the strike zone (11.3% BB), and has the speed and arm to profile as an above-average right fielder. As long as he's moved slowly, the Phillies could have something special on their hands here.
7.) Sebastian Valle, C-R, Lakewood
Valle has been the story of winter ball for the Phillies, mashing 10 HRs in the Mexican League (which features mostly Mexican pros and some Triple-A players) en route to a .280/.326/.576 line. He'll need to develop more patience, and his defense is a work in progress, but his power is already an asset for a backstop, and he's still just 19 years old.
8.) Phillippe Aumont, RHP, Reading
If you read something that says that Aumont is the piece of the deal that's here to replace Drabek, I'd suggest you stop reading it immediately. Both were high draft picks (Aumont went 11th overall in 2007), and both are righties with good fastballs, but past that, the comparison falls apart. Drabek still profiles as a #2/3 starter, while the Mariners were so concerned with Aumont's elbow problems that they moved him to the bullpen in spring training this year. He's likely to stay there, too: his mechanics have him throw across his body, which puts a strain on his arm, so he's not a good bet to hold up throwing 150+ innings per year. The bullpen suits him better, anyway; he's really a one pitch guy at this point, with an inconsistent slider and a below-average change up.
But now that we see what Aumont isn't, let's talk about what he is: a mountain of a man (6'7", 220 lbs.) who throws a big, sinking fastball, and who could probably hold his own in the major league bullpen at some point in 2010. The Phillies would be ill-advised to rush him, though, because some development time in the minors to hone his slider could make him a top flight reliever, even an eventual closer. His sinker touches 95 and helps him induce a bunch of ground balls (49.7% last year), and he has no trouble getting swings and misses, striking out 59 across 51 High-A and Double-A innings this year (10.4 K/9). His command needs work, as evidenced by his 23 walks last year (4.06 BB/9), and that's something he'll strive to fix at Reading in 2010.
9.) Antonio Bastardo, LHP, Philadelphia
From one reliever to another. With Scott Eyre a free agent, and J.C. Romero something of a question mark, Bastardo looks like a good bet to be in the Phillies' bullpen on Opening Day 2010. It's the role he's best suited for: his fly ball tendencies and not insignificant platoon split make him a bad match for starting in Citizens Bank Park. He has the potential to be a good, hard-throwing bullpen lefty for many years, especially given the havoc he wreaked on lefty hitters throughout his minor league career (.169 BAA, 11.70 K/9, 2.96 BB/9).
10.) Jarred Cosart, RHP, Lakewood
Even with Aumont on board, Cosart might have the biggest arm in the system. He touched 96 with the GCL Phillies this year, and in high school, he reportedly hit 101 on a throw from the outfield. He's considerably rawer than both Ramirez and May, but his ultimate upside is similar. He only threw 24 frames in his first pro season, so more than anything he just needs innings under his belt.