The last season to kick off is the Gulf Coast League. The team is always full of unknowns with some real talents filtered in, but this year is more heavy on real talents, especially on the hitting side. The Phillies have sent their top 3 2016 draft prospects to the Gulf Coast League including #1 overall pick Mickey Moniak. He will be joining 2015 big money international free agent signing Jhailyn Ortiz as well as some other big money international signings making their stateside debut.
These rosters are very subject to change.
Top Hitting Prospect: Mickey Moniak
This should surprise no one, as Moniak is now one of the top 3 prospects in the system after going 1:1 in this year's draft. He is very advanced for a high school hitter and he should tear apart the GCL. Moniak plays a very good center field and he can run and throw. He can also really hit. While Moniak won't hit for much home run power, at least not right now, he should pepper the gaps with doubles.
Top Pitching Prospect: Kevin Gowdy
Gowdy in many ways is the pitching version of Moniak, as he is advanced for a high school pitcher. He lacks the pure upside of Moniak, but GCL hitters are still going to have a lot of trouble with a pitcher who can throw three good pitches for strikes. Gowdy is eventually a guy that will sit in the low to mid 90s, but for now that is mostly just high 80s to low 90s. Gowdy is probably not an ace, but he could be very good.
Two Others to Watch: Daniel Brito and Jhailyn Ortiz
It is hard to know what to make of Brito. He got held back in the DSL last summer while Arquimedes Gamboa and Jonathan Arauz played second base and shortstop in the GCL, but he put up numbers there to prove he likely could have handled a stateside assignment. He is slightly built, but he has a feel for contact and the strikezone. He probably is a second baseman long term, but he might play both second and short this year in the GCL. It will be tough to move him up too much until his body physically matures.
The Phillies gave Ortiz $4 million because that is what they promised him when he was one of the top July 2 prospects available. He was not a $4M player, but he is a very interesting prospect who could still be worth most of the price the Phillies paid for him. Ortiz has big time raw power, and for now he is able to play OF corners. He had some swing and miss issues against off speed stuff when he signed, but there is nothing about the swing that shouldn't work. He will need to keep his body under control as he ages, but he will always be a big guy. If he can hit for power without huge strikeout numbers he is going to rocket up prospect lists.
The number in parentheses next to a player's name below indicates their rank in my preseason Top 50 or their draft round in the 2016 draft.
Daniel Garner (32nd rd.), Nerluis Martinez, Lenin Rodriguez, Rodolfo Duran
Duran moves back to the GCL, as his bat was just not ready for the New York-Penn League, which is fine because he is 18 and has a good glove. Martinez is already 20 but he showed power in the DSL and the Phillies have brought him stateside multiple years in a row now. Garner was a late round pick in 2016 as a college junior. His bat is his calling card, but not enough that he won't have to stay behind the plate to have value. The Phillies gave Rodriguez $300,000 in 2014, and he is all bat. He has some power and an advanced approach for his age. The only question is if he can stay behind the plate going forward.
Daniel Brito (#41), Caleb Eldridge (20th rd.), Edwin Rodriguez, Cole Stobbe (3rd rd.), Danny Zardon (17th rd.), Evan Rogers, Chandler Hall, Raul Rivas
I touched on Brito already, but he is not the best prospect on the infield. That honor goes to 3rd round pick Cole Stobbe, who might only have average tools across the board, but should be good enough to be a very good player at third. Eldridge has tons of LH power as a JuCo first baseman. Zardon played up the middle in college, but he is best at third base where he has some power. Rodriguez is playing first base, and the book on him when the Phillies signed him was that he could make a ton of contact. He has yet to do that, but the Phillies felt good enough to bring him stateside. Rivas is a smaller shortstop. Rogers is a small non-drafted senior with a lot of numbers and hardware. Hall had a breakout year as a junior for Louisiana Tech before signing with the Phillies as an undrafted FA. He showed some pop and speed, but is probably a 2B and not a SS.
Enger Jimenez, Malvin Matos, Mickey Moniak (1st rd.), Jhailyn Ortiz (#22), Josh Stephen (11th rd.), Greg Pickett, Ben Pelletier, Jesus Alastre
We already touched on Moniak and Ortiz and their combined $10 million in signing bonuses. The Phillies' 2015 8th round pick Pickett appears to be hurt, which is a setback because he needs all of the reps he can get. Alastre gets bumped back from Williamsport. He can hit and field, but has no power. Stephen got a $600,000 bonus because he can really hit and can play center, but probably won't with Moniak around. Matos put up good numbers at 18 years old in the VSL while playing primarily CF. Jimenez has 4 VSL seasons under his belt and is almost 21, but he did hit .307/.380/.443 last year. Pelletier was the youngest draftee in MLB history last year. He has been finishing up school and will join the team soon. He has a projectable body best suited for right field.
Luis Carrasco, Kale Fultz, Luis Gonzalez, Tyler Frohwirth (31st rd.), Kevin Gowdy (2nd rd.), Nick Fanti, Will Stewart, Jhon Nunez, Jordan Kurokawa (28th rd.), Mauricio Llovera, Justin Miller (12th rd.), Andrew Brown (13th rd.), Sixto Sanchez, Oskerlly Sanchez, Ismael Cabrera
I am probably missing someone who has yet to be added to the roster. Sanchez got the opening day start. All I have on him is that he is small and only 17. Fanti and Stewart were a pair of projectable left-handed high school arms the Phillies took in last year's draft. Fanti has a bit more stuff, but Stewart is very young. Cabrera is another small Latin right-handed reliever who can get up to 95 MPH. I am surprised he is back in the GCL. The Phillies gave Nunez a decent bonus in 2014 and he carried a large workload last year for a small lefty. The rest of the non-draft arms are unknowns, but from the ranks of the unknowns have come some surprises the last few years.