Impact bats and arms galore. Already this offseason we've seen Top 100 Prospect lists featuring 9 of these Top 10 players listed here. I'm higher on some guys than others and lower on other guys than some, but even the guys I don't like all that much, I'll grant that the ceilings are very high if the pieces come together.
10. Carlos Tocci, CF
Tocci finally had the breakout everyone predicted for 3 years, but no one seems all that excited by it. Part of that is because his K rate sky rocketed in Clearwater (up close to 18% after being down to a very good 13% in Lakewood). Part of it is because it took him 3 seasons in Lakewood to breakout (If he keeps up that pace we can look forward to his first MLB All Star season when he's in his mid-30's). In Clearwater his K rate and BB rates went in the wrong directions, his AVG dropped, but he still managed an Average close to .260, so he wasn't as overmatched as he was early on in Lakewood. Still, the little pop his bat had backed way off in Clearwater. I am of the belief that he can continue to add enough functional strength to make hard contact and he can adjust enough at each level to top out as a productive Major Leaguer. He does carry Plus Speed, Plus Defense and plenty of Arm for Center Field, so the bat could be successful if he can produce a triple slash in the .260/.320/.400 neighborhood (think somewhere in the Austin Jackson/Kevin Kiermaier subdivision). On the low end he has a decent shot at a 5th OF role. Of course, the issue for him is the current system depth in CF, where he's currently at least the 5th best player 25 and under (Altherr, Hererra, Williams and Quinn above him), so that even if everything goes right he could still get stuck as a reserve.
9. Mark Appel, RHP
Even going into the 2013 Draft, when Appel was selected #1 overall I never totally got the hype. Yes, he had a Plus to Plus-Plus Fastball and Plus Command, but his Fastball was bolt straight and the long held axiom in baseball is that it doesn't matter how fast you throw if MLB hitters know where the pitch is going, they'll hit it. Combined with the fact that hitters see the ball throughout almost all of Appel's delivery, it was impossible, to me, to see an Ace ceiling. That said a #2 ceiling where he could mix 3 Plus Pitches and Plus Command of them to provide solid value seemed realistic. Nearly 3 years later and I'l admit, I have very little idea what to make of Appel. My first thought was that #1 picks don't get traded, he's clearly a bust, but there's been some odd trades of late suggesting that top Draft picks are more available for trade than they used to be with Trea Turner and Dansby Swanson both getting traded within months of being very high picks. At the moment I think Appel's a #4 Starter, but the Astros were messing with his delivery, Pitches and he seemed to be a bit of an unhappy mess. Maybe the Phillies will just let him grip it and rip it and he'll find his lost command and velocity and grow into a #3 Starter. I still don't buy it as much as some others, but I'd love to be proven wrong.
8. Jorge Alfaro, C
I feel like Alfaro is the high rent version of Sebastian Valle, plenty of loud tools, no actual accompanying skills. If Alfaro develops the skills and reaches his ceiling he may be a Hall of Fame caliber player, no exaggeration there. That sems fairly unlikely though. He's a bit of a mess behind the plate, he doesn't block ball well, frame them well or call games well. Despite an easy 80 grade arm, he produces grade 50-60 Pop times because of a long motion. At the plate he has, at least, Grade 60 Power (some have noted 80 raw Power), but no real approach. Alfaro will likely get another full season behind the dish, as his tools there are so special, but a move to Right Field where he can simply focus on his bat is hanging out there on the horizon.
7. Franklyn Kilome, RHP
Kilome was the new hotness this year in Phillies prospect circles. With good reason, he has a Plus-Plus Fastball, that could grow. He has flashes of a good breaking ball, as his Curve goes from true Curve to Slider depending upon hos he throws it. His Changeup is a work in progress, but has potential to be a very usable pitch. Kilome's issues are tendency to get a bit too much giddy-up in his stuff resulting in overthrowing and losing control. As he matures, he should be able to cut back on that, especially as the velocity develops and comes without overthrowing. Kilome has yet to pitch in Full Season, he'll be a bit easier to grade then, but with mid-to-upper 90's on a really wicked Fastball and such an interesting breaking ball, Kilome's floor really is a back of the bullpen star with a ceiling of a #2 Starter (#1 Starter if you're really optimistic about his Changeup and Command). The reason to be optiomistic about the Command is that Kilome's mechanics are very smooth and typically Pitchers with those deliveries do grow better Command as they mature. It's an interesting contrast with Appel, who is much closer. Kilome has all the movement and deception on his Fastball that Appel doesn't, but Appel has shown the Command Kilome needs to find, still I find it more likely Kilome gets to #2 Starter than Appel does.
6. Andrew Knapp, C
I'm a pretty big Knapp fan, but I will admit he's tough to gauge right now. His results are only about half a season of huge success, but maybe previous performance was hampered by Tommy John Surgery. Maybe it wasn't, and perhaps his few months in Reading were luck induced. I get nervous reading so much into small samples, but I was a fan of Knapp, pre-draft in 2013 so I'm largely buying in. I mean, some of his Reading numbers were luck, he isn't Barry Bonds, Catcher. Still, he did improve his swing from the Left side of the plate - where he was previously quite putrid - if that improvement holds and he continues to improve as a Catcher he could be the everyday Catcher at CBP by summer 2017. His arm has improved to Average post surgery and he frames pitches decently, so he looks like he can stick at Catcher (though he'll only be pretty average Defensively so that bat really needs to keep much of its improvement).
5. Roman Quinn, CF
If Quinn could stay healthy I'd have him a couple spots higher. Grade 80 speed is such an enticing tool, I find it more exciting than 80 grade power, as speed can wreak havoc in so many parts of the game. Quinn provides Plus defense in Center due in large part to his speed. He provides an Average to above bat because he can beat out bunt singles and steal hits with his speed others can't. He improves his power by being able to get extra bases with his speed. Then he can throw Pitchers off with his mere presence on the bases where he's a threat to steal at any time. But, every leg injury makes me nervous that the speed could diminish, or, at best, that he'll always be injury prone and miss big chunks of seasons, limiting his value. If he can stay healthy I think a long career with All Star appearances awaits Quinn.
4. Cornelius Randolph, LF
The 2015 First Rounder roared out of the gate, rivaling JP Crawford's first MiLB season. The approach is pretty advanced looking with a 15.1% K rate and matching 15.1% BB rate. He combines those with a .140 ISO and potential for much more. There were "Future Batting Champ" accolades thrown at Randolph and while I won't go that crazy yet, he does look to have the potential for a Plus hit tool or better. He'll need the hit tool and power though, as he won't provide too much value Defensively as Left Field is pretty far down the Defensive scale (though he looked fine in Left, per reports). He also won't provide a ton of value on the bases. He's an Above-Average runner, but as he adds bulks to help with the power, he'll likely settle in as a pretty average runner. Again, after a half season of data I'm hesitant to put too much weight on performance yet, but we may get that chance soon, as I suspect he'll head North with Lakewood this Spring.
3. Jake Thompson, RHP
Jake Thompson is a veteran of the trade market going Tigers to
Astros Rangers to Phillies over the last few years. His ceiling has kind of taken matching steps back, but it's still a pretty solid ceiling. Thompson's delivery can be a bit inconsistent, leading to varying control and command. If the Phillies can get that more consistent, there's a solid #2 Starter here. More likely is that they can only tweak it enough to unlock a #3 Starter who can eat innings. Thompson has a 5 pitch mix with a 2-seamer he throws upper 80-s to low 90's a low-to-mid 90's 4-seamer, a rainbow Curve that he throws appropriately sparingly, a Change-up that's average on its best days and a total wipeout Slider that might be grade 70. It's hard, if not impossible, to fail to see a Major League role for Thompson, at worst the Slider would make him an absolute shut down reliever, but could also probably make him a back of the rotation Starter too (up to some personal preference and team need which of those 2 roles might be more valuable).
2. Nick Williams, OF
Williams is an electric prospect with a Plus arm, Plus speed, Plus power, some potential for a plus hit tool and potentially plus Defense in Center Field. A lot of areas need some improvements though. His routes in Center can be a bit circuitous, his ability to throw to the right spot needs some improvement (though he isn't Anthony Hewitt like, who frequently overthrew or missed wildly). At the plate, his approach needs some refining. He has quick hands and can adjust mid-swing to still make contact, but he tends to swing at the wrong stuff sometimes which holds back his power some. If he can make the same strides as Maikel Franco, I'd expect similar results. There's an All Star ceiling here and even without the improvements in approach I think he can hit enough to be a regular in Left Field, maybe like Alex Gordon with a bad Walk rate.
1. J.P. Crawford, SS
I couldn't be more excited about Crawford. I'm trying really hard to avoid hyperbole, but the potential Crawford has is at the far end of the bell curve. He's a super smooth Defender, who only needs to improve a little on routine plays, but makes spectacular plays look routine. He's got plenty of arm and can probably find a Starting role even if he couldn't hit at all. But he can hit at all kinds of all. His approach is absurd and so mature it's fairly astounding. He seems incapable of flustering, as he'll get to an 0-2 count, if that's what it takes to get a pitch he likes, and once there he'll shorten his swing for contact and fight off close Pitches looking for what he wants. He's a smart base runner, who uses Plus speed to steal bases with good effectiveness and take extra bags on hits. One criticism you'll see a lot is one we should all be used to after the last 15 years: He doesn't run out pop-ups and weak grounders the way gritty old guys like. Seriously, that's the weak part of his game, not running out pop-ups. He really is a lot like young J-Roll, though without quite the pop Jimmy had and with a better approach as a hitter, so his OBP will likely offset any SLG advantage young Jimmy would have. I'm going to stop writing now as I need to go breathe into a paper bag for a bit.