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Phillies Minor League Organizational Rankings - Starting Pitching

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USA TODAY Sports

The Rankings:

  1. Aaron Nola
  2. Jesse Biddle
  3. Matt Imhof
  4. Yoel Mecias
  5. Victor Arano
  6. Adam Morgan
  7. Chris Oliver
  8. Shane Watson
  9. Drew Anderson
  10. Severino Gonzalez
  11. Brandon Leibrandt
  12. Ricardo Pinto
  13. Franklyn Kilome
  14. Lewis Alezones
  15. David Whitehead
  16. Miguel Nunez
  17. Jason Zgardowski
  18. Mark Leiter
  19. Denton Keys
  20. Ranger Suarez
  21. Yacksel Rios
  22. Mitch Gueller

The Reasoning:

I'm not going to lie, after the top-5 it gets very dicey and subjective. Aaron Nola represents a bit of hope on the SP front in a way we haven't seen in quite some time. Does he have "ace potential"? He is definitely not a #1 starter, but that is actually okay. Nola finished a fantastic 2014 campaign at LSU, began his pro career in Clearwater and wound up making 5 starts for Reading. He demonstrates a great understanding for pitching and throws strikes. This is great for a system that doesn't necessarily have a lot of those guys or who are still a ways away. Nola has the stuff to be a solid #2 starter in the majors and could have really good "#1" peak years. By design, he likely won't begin the 2015 season with the Phillies, but I'm going to bet he sees the CBP mound at some point. If you are in the Lehigh Valley and don't get to see a lot of Phillies games, make sure you check out Nola for at least the first few months of the Iron Pigs season.

Jesse Biddle has had an interesting road. Unfair expectations as a 1st round pick had most fans believing he is a potential ace in the system. They see him struggle with the strikezone and assume he is a bust or isn't living up to his potential. While some of that may be true, Biddle has the stuff to be a major league starter, but likely in the #3 role. He has a good fastball and curveball that will aid him well, but his ability to locate pitches has always been a work in progress. It was well-publicized this past season when Biddle was shutdown for 6 weeks following a bought of depression. The Phillies called it a "mental break", but if you look into this a little further you can make assumptions on perhaps the proper diagnosis. Biddle was struck in the head with a rather large piece of hail during a freak storm this summer. This injury was followed immediately by a concussion. What is a common symptom of concussions? Depression. This isn't to say that Biddle wasn't feeling the pressure of a minor league prospect, but at this point you should be able to make come to your own conclusions on this issue. Biddle could begin the 2015 season in Reading again, but it shouldn't take long for him to move up with a strong performance. Don't give up on the kid yet.

This is the part where I talk about interesting names, but there are actually a ton of interesting names. Yoel Mecias has great stuff and is one the Tommy John surgery rehab trail. He could overtake Biddle in these rankings very soon based on consensus projections. Victor Arano was a steal from the Dodgers as a PTBNL in the Roberto Hernandez trade. He is a young kid with scouts using the words "project-able" a lot. He is a name to follow this season. Matt Imhof and Chris Oliver are 2014 draftees who have good stuff and great upside. Adam Morgan and Shane Watson will be returning from shoulder injuries and hopefully will be back on track.

All in all, if there is anything to take from this list, it is optimism. There is likely no aces from this list, but there is tremendous upside and hope in the system. There isn't a Taijuan Walker or Archie Bradley, but there are a ton of potential Doug Fister's, Gio Gonzalez's and Matt Moore's who can make a difference in 2-3 years.