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Mailbag #24: Prospects to Watch

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies-Media Day
Nick Pivetta
Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

Baseball is back. The Phillies rolled out an all-prospect lineup Thursday to beat a Division 2 team, and it was fun, even if the video was grainy. It was less fun to watch them lose to the Yankees, but we got more prospect appearances from Elniery Garcia and Nick Pivetta on the pitching side and the whole hitting prospect crew. In honor of those prospect appearances, we go big with prospect appearances in the mailbag today.

Prospect Spotlight:

Rather than focus on a single prospect, I am going to hijack a mailbag question.

I am actually going to expand this to a two-part answer. Answer one is the more casual answer aimed at the quick answer of “who to watch if you could only watch one player?” Answer two is going to be the guy I am watching most at that level to see what they do in 2017.

AAA: J.P. Crawford / Dylan Cozens

Crawford is the best prospect in the system and he also comes with the curiosity that a bad year generated. For me I am very curious to see what the next act is for Cozens as he faces more challenging arms.

AA: Scott Kingery / Drew Anderson

Scott Kingery right now has all the weight of being the “Second Baseman of the Future” and the “Savior From Watching Cesar Hernandez Trying to Steal Bases”. Kingery is a limited player in many ways, but he makes contact at a high rate, plays really good defense, and is fast on the bases.

Drew Anderson and fellow starter Elniery Garcia are the biggest mysteries on the pitching staff. Both had their velocity tick up late in the year and ended the year on a high note. There is a lot of hyperbole around Anderson, but he might actually be quite good.

A+: Franklyn Kilome / Seranthony Dominguez

Kilome has a power pitcher frame, and while he won’t light up the radar gun like Alberto Tirado he is going to hit 97 with regularity and, by the end of last year, his curveball was a very good pitch. I could have gone with Tirado here or Jose Pujols, but there are some who think Dominguez might actually be the best of the Phillies pitching prospects. He still has yet to pitch a full season.

A-: Mickey Moniak / Sixto Sanchez

Moniak was the No. 1 overall pick for a reason: He combines great center field defense, plus speed, and a great hit tool. If he adds some power, he could be a superstar. Sanchez could be the first category guy here. He won’t turn 19 until July, already touches 99 with his fastball and has an advanced arsenal and command for his age.

Short Season: Jhailyn Ortiz / Kyle Young

This will be Ortiz’s age 18 season so he has plenty of time to get better, but a big year could launch him up rankings. Plus he has enormous raw power and could put on a show. This might not be the year that Kyle Young breaks out, but the 6’10” lefty has as much upside as anyone and should be fascinating to watch.

GCL: Francisco Morales / Jonathan Guzman

Morales was the Phillies’ biggest-money Latin American signing in 2016 and fits the mold of many of their breakout pitching prospects. The 17-year-old lefty is already up to 96 and shows a good slider. Some evaluators don’t like his delivery, but he is the best candidate to be the next Kilome, Medina, or Sanchez. Guzman is a small shortstop who can really hit and really field. He will play the entire season at age 17 and there is a chance the Phillies have something special here, even if it’s a bit too early to be sure.


On the hitting side I think the answer is Andrew Pullin. We know that Cozens, Quinn, and Williams will be in AAA. That leaves Cameron Perkins and Tyler Goeddel looking for spots, and I think they opt to let Pullin crush in Reading for a bit before sending him to up. On the pitching side they need to find work for Pivetta, Thompson, Appel, Asher, Eflin, and Lively in AAA and then Pinto, Viza, Eshelman, Anderson, Garcia, and possibly Leibrandt, Richy, Bergjan, and Whitehead. Unless someone goes to the bullpen or they go a six-man rotation, maybe Pivetta gets bumped to AA. That would not be a good outcome.

So I took the composite rankings I have and excluded everyone who appeared in somebody’s top 10, national or local, and Nick Pivetta is probably the answer here. He has a big fastball and a good curveball. He has made strides with his changeup, but it still needs work. He is also more control than command, and he needs to hit the corners more. However, there is a lot to work with from the get-go, and if starting doesn’t work out he could be an impact bullpen arm. He will start the year in AAA so he really is not that far from the majors.

In a vacuum I would probably take power and defense, only if the defense is at a premium position. The real carrying thing here is the defense. To really dig into the two players, you are talking about a near insurmountable difference in OBP. Hernandez was one of the best baseball at not making outs, Galvis was the worst. Hernandez also has a decent glove. It isn't as good as some of the metrics indicate, but he is solid there. So the question is whether the defensive and power gap make up for the OBP gap, and the answer is that they do not.

Buchholz - If he is The Good Buchholz, maybe a back-end Top 100 prospect and a lottery ticket. If he is mid-road Buchholz, something that fits into the 10-15 range on a Phillies list. Anything less than that and you are hoping for someone with a pulse.

Hellickson - If he repeats 2016, then a prospect probably in the 90-150 range overall. Otherwise something comparable to the 10-20 range in the Phillies system.

Saunders - If (the theme here is “if”) Saunders is 2016 first half Saunders, I think they could get a Top 100 prospect and something in the 10-20 range because his team option would be very attractive to an acquiring team.

Kendrick - I think you would be happy to get someone who slots into the Phillies Top 20, just lacking impact potential.

I am going to exclude their first five picks (Moniak, Gowdy, Stobbe, Romero, and Irvin) who I all like, and 20th round pick Kyle Young who I just wrote about above.

I like 8th round pick Grant Dyer. He is a reliever all the way, but with a fastball that can touch 94-95 from a tough angle and a hammer curve, he could be a good one. He has advanced command and could start in Clearwater and move really fast. He won’t be closer-caliber but he could be a solid Major Leaguer.

My guess is probably Roman Quinn. I love Quinn, I think he could be really good, but of all the top prospects in the system his fit is the most awkward. He could be a fine left or right fielder, but with Herrera in center his value is a little bit wasted. If he can establish himself he could be the headliner to a big time deal to fill a hole somewhere.

Given the roster crunch, I think Andrew Knapp is a lock to make the cut. My guess is that he makes his MLB debut on April 6, which is a day game after a night game. He probably gets two of every five starts behind the plate.

No. If they are going to make the team they are going to have to beat out Coghlan or be the fifth bench player. Right now, Altherr is the only non-Herrera center fielder on the roster, meaning he’s essential defensively. Also his ceiling is above those two.

Odds say no. But I think his odds are as good as any other non-Crawford, Herrera, Nola, or Franco player. There is a path forward for him to be the everyday guy, but I don’t feel comfortable writing anyone in permanently yet.

With the Phillies collecting relievers who double as barbers, I think you subtlety assign the lockers to encourage the removal of said facial hair. Also if they got rid of facial hair we would lose Freddy Galvis’s attempts to prove he isn’t actually 12 years old.