As what began with catcher and continued with first base, second base and shortstop, we gaze upon the desolate landscape that is the hot corner within the organization. They’ve had several notable prospects come through the system in the past few years, including one that should be a mainstay in the Phillies lineup for years to come. With that, please now avert your eyes and just provide commentary below without reading this list.
1. Lucas Williams -
2016 Short-A Williamsport - .220/.297/.301, 2 HR
Williams was drafted out of high school in the 3rd round of the 2015 MLB draft. He really isn’t your prototypical third base profile in that he slightly undersized and isn’t much of a power threat. How he makes up for it is his plate discipline, defensive ability and above average speed. While he did quite well in his GCL debut in 2015 (.288/.400/.331), it all fell to waste in 2016 where nothing came together. The BABIP came crashing down (.358 to .291). If he doesn’t add strength it will be hard for him to find himself in an MLB starting lineup. If he doesn’t hit more, he won’t even find a bench role (he was a SS in HS and is athletic and has a strong enough arm for the OF). Guys with 25% K-rates with no power probably won’t do well. Williams will have a lot to prove in 2017, likely with the Lakewood BlueClaws.
2. Mitch Walding -
2016 High-A Clearwater - 100 G, .280/.372/.440, 10 HR
2016 Double-A Reading - 23 G, .214/.337/.371, 3 HR
This brings us to the mystery that is Mitch Walding, a perennial Cormican favorite. Walding repeated Clearwater for the second season and showed some pretty obvious signs of improvement, albeit as a 23 year old in the Florida State League. He is still an above average defensive player and shouldn’t see his stock dip there. Walding is also doing that rare thing where his plate discipline keeps getting better. His BB% has jumped from 8.6% two years ago to 12.9% (in AA) last season. All the while his K% remains consistent, though perhaps a bit too high (roughly 27%). His 13 HR’s last season were a career high and he’ll get a chance to pad those numbers with a full season in the friendly confines of FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading.
3. Jan Hernandez -
2016 Low-A Lakewood - .255/.313/.419, 10 HR
Positives: he wasn’t bad and had his best season as a pro. Negatives: it was slightly less impressive as a 21 year old and he still strikes out a ton. Drafted out of the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy in the 3rd round of the 2013 MLB draft, he was scouted as having incredibly raw tools for just about everything. The raw power is finally showing up in-game and the defensive tools are still a work in progress. The key for tapping that power has just been to make contact, which was rather difficult before entering the 2016 season. Hernandez should get a shot at Clearwater to begin the season.
Honorable Mention: When Victor, Matt, Cormican and I had ranked this position, each of us only voted for the 3 above. Also on the list was Harold Martinez, Damek Tomscha and Danny Zardon. Martinez had a good year as a 26 year old in Reading, but so did everyone else. Tomscha is an org guy who had a great overage season in Clearwater. Zardon was a 2016 17th round pick out of college who played well the GCL and is hard to project at this point. Now let’s go back to enjoying our real prospects (clearly at other positions).