If you throughly enjoy organization, straight-forward results, and unity, glancing at the Phillies' top prospect lists this offseason probably caused some headaches, chills, nausea, maybe a fever... OK you should probably get some of those checked out.
In all seriousness, beyond J.P. Crawford, Aaron Nola and Maikel Franco, there was plenty of disagreement from the prospect community when it came to the rest of the Phillies' minor leaguers.
One name that has been intriguing over the last couple of seasons is Yoel Mecias. One glance at Baseball Prospectus' list, and you'll see him #4. Kiley McDaniel at Fangraphs had him #6. MLB.com's rankings right now will show you a #20 ranking. (For a full recap of all those rankings from the offseason, we've got a pretty great recap of that here.)
Mecias is finally back to work after dealing with some shoulder soreness this spring, and it's a welcome sight. For the Mecias believers, the stakes are high. Many knew the names of Crawford, Franco and Nola going into the season. We have now gotten used to the names Lively, Eflin and Quinn since the season began.
Mecias is hoping to add himself to the well-known list. Some would say he's already there, if you're looking at some of these offseason rankings and seeing him in the top five. Yet, at the same time, there's still an attitude of, "Who the heck is this guy?"
What first made Mecias a recognizable name among the scouting community was his breakout season as a 19-year-old with Lakewood in 2013. Mecias pitched 57 innings for Lakewood in 2013, allowing just 53 hits, while striking out 70 and walking 25.
Mecias' season came to an abrupt end in June of 2013, and Tommy John followed shortly thereafter.
He did return last season, almost one year to the day of his last appearance in 2013. Pitching first in the GCL and then moving back to Lakewood, Mecias didn't show the same strikeout prowess, but did a better job of controlling his pitches in Lakewood, a problem for him at that level in 2013.
So far in 2015, Mecias has made two appearances, both out of the bullpen. For now, it looks like the Phillies are comfortable with easing Mecias back into things instead of throwing him right into the fire as a starter. The shoulder soreness is hopefully a thing of the past, and while sometimes news on minor leaguers is tight-lipped, we have no reason to believe there is any sort of lingering effects from Tommy John, which is a positive.
While there is not a ton of pressure on Mecias this season by any stretch of the imagination, a breakout year would turn some heads. He is still just 21, and to be in Clearwater at that age is worth noting. If you consider Aaron Nola's age, and his advancement to Reading at age 22 (he'll turn 22 next week), you gain a little respect for where Mecias is at.
So far, Mecias seems to be sitting at 89-91 MPH with his fastball, topping at 92. His change-up is definitely his second-best pitch at this point, with the curveball developing as well.
For Mecias, there may just be a bit of a waiting process as his body fills out. He came into this season listed at 6'2" and 160 pounds, though some photographic evidence seemed to show that he had bulked up a bit. Adding 10-15 pounds to that listed 160 would make a world of difference.
Following Crawford, Nola, Franco, Quinn and the Reading rotation has been plenty of fun so far this season. There are other positives that other prospects have shown so far, but the return of Mecias is notable.
When the dust settles at at the end of this season, Crawford will still be at the top, but Franco certainly won't hold prospect status anymore. Nola could be on his way to the Majors, but may still hold prospect eligibility (he most assuredly will if Ruben Amaro, Jr.'s recent comments are any indication).
But Mecias could continue his climb and create that type of unity we have seen on these offseason lists when it came to the Phillies' top three. There may be plenty of uncertainty now about where Mecias stands. A breakout 2015 could remove plenty of that uncertainty.