Low-A Lakewood BlueClaws
This is probably the most packed roster in the Org. The outfield alone has the potential to rack up eye popping HR totals with Samuel Hiciano, Dylan Cozens and Larry Greene, Jr.. In addition to them you have Carlos Tocci back for his second go 'round in the Sally. He's not going to put up the power numbers of the other three, but he'll be a premier Defender, his average should tick up and he has the speed to be a terror on the basepaths.
The infield is mindbogglingly good with Gabriel Lino, Andrew Pullin, Zach Green and J.P. Crawford. Lino is a bit of an adventure (good and bad). He'll be intriguing to watch because he either forces himself into the conversation about Catchers in this Org or he stagnates as another guy with poor plate discipline and passed balls and becomes more Org. fodder. Crawford can just play, enjoy. Last year's top pick is a guy I really look forward to seeing in person next month. Zach Green can hit the cover off the ball, but as he sees more breaking pitches, he could start struggling with contact. Andrew Pullin is one of the more interesting prospects in the system. He's learning Second and he's reportedly a bit mechanical and uncomfortable looking, but range and arm seem fine. His transition is a story worth following as he has the tools to be a Major League regular if he can get the Defense down.
Pitching is probably the weak spot, but even here they have intriguing arms like Shane Martin, Manuare Martinez, Tyler Viza and Yacksel Rios. They also have Mark Leiter, Jr. who was surpisingly successful across multiple levels last year. None of these guys are currently top prospects, but they'll all be competitive and the Offense shouldn't leave them battling in too many low scoring contests.
Sitting on the DL they have Chase Numata, Mitch Walding, Yoel Mecias and Shane Watson. Maybe, maybe you get to see Watson or Mecias before the season wraps, but you should be able to see the other two who both have potential, but haven't put it together yet.
High-A Clearwater Threshers
Bring lots of beer money, because these games could be rough. There are a few guys I like at this level. Brian Pointer has tools and could be the leading hitter on this team. I wish I was joking there. Willie Carmona is a reliable Org guy. Art Charles is a massive human being, but the skills and tools don't match up with what the eye test suggests. Nick Ferdinand exists. Apparently Harold Martinez is still playing. Baseball's always fun and maybe someone on this club will surprise everyone, but if you're dying to see prospects, wait until Roman Quinn gets off the DL and players start getting promoted mid-season from Lakewood.
Double-A Reading Fightin Phils
Probably the second most intriguing roster behind Lakewood. Here I'll start with the Pitching. Jesse Biddle is the headliner and I don't need to tell you all more about him. Behind him there's Brody "Enigma" Colvin who flashes his plus stuff just often enough to garner some hope in spite of a Joe Cowley-esque ERA and control problems. Severino Gonzalez will also face his toughest test here. Sev stormed onto the scene last year dominating across multiple levels, but he didn't take on a Starter's workload until late in the year. 2014 will see him facing better competition and we'll see if he can stand up to a Starter's workload. Ken Giles could be with the Parent club by mid-summer. Absolute fireballs, but needs better control. Also worth watching: Austin Wright (who should thrive in relief), Hoby Milner, Perci Garner.
The Offense will hold its own in Reading as well with a stacked OF of Zach Collier, Kelly Dugan, Anthony Hewitt and Cameron Perkins (plus Aaron Altherr and Jiwan James on the DL). There some serious platoon splits there, but that outfield is as stacked an OF as anywhere in the Org. with all 4 guys having MLB ceilings to varying degrees. Similarly the infield is equally intriguing with Tommy Joseph returning from concussion issues in 2013 and Sebastian Valle returning from pitch recognition issues in, well, each of the last several years.Both performed well in Winter Ball and rose colored glasses can still see a starting job in ToJo's future and a backup job in Sea bass's. The rest of the infield is Minor League filler, but Chris Serritella has shown he can hit a bit and the rest of the guys should have decent enough success to keep the team competitive against most teams in the Eastern League.
Triple-A Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs
Triple-A teams are always a mix of prospects and AAAA guys that can get called up in a pinch. The Pigs are no different. Your regular cast of AAAA bodies includes Shawn Camp, Ronny Cedeno, Reid Brignac, Koyie Hill and Clete Thomas. At least this year, there are a few genuinely exciting prospects. Maikel Franco should be in town most of the summer mastering a new, tweaked swing and mashing taters. Cameron Rupp will continue to work on his hitting and receiving skills before competing for the backup spot in 2015 for the Phillies. Phillippe Aumont, David Buchanan, Jeremy Horst and Kyle Simon will all try to pitch their way to the Phillies bullpen this year (which early on looks to have some potential openings coming) and Tyson Gillies gets a last shot at putting it together and forcing a spot on the big club (I'm not holding my breath). Remaining on the club are some solid players who should keep the Iron Pigs in most games. On the pitching side, the marquee name for now in Jonathan Pettibone who works back from injury in the hopes of securing a back of the rotation spot with the parent club and is probably the de facto 6th Starter.
Enjoy the games. It's a reminder that after a miserable Winter for most of us Summer is coming and the promise of brighter days loom on the horizon. Also, I can't get out to games all the time for these affiliates, so if you go see the BlueClaws play or if you see the Fightins, why not post a game recap as a fanpost and let us know what you thought. Give notes on individual players or talk about the concessions. All reports welcome.