#20 - Ranger Suarez (LH Starting Pitcher) - 22 years old
2017 Stats -
Lakewood (A) - 85 IP, 6-2 record, 1.59 ERA, 24 BB, 90 K)
Clearwater (A+) - 37.2 IP, 2-4 record, 4.30 ERA, 11 BB, 38 K)
Voting - Jay (NR), Cormican (20), Victor (18), Jared (20)
Jared: Despite the drop in numbers after moving to high-A Clearwater, Suarez was really good in 2017. His command of the zone has remained a great quality for him and it was part of the reason his numbers didn’t balloon more than they did with Clearwater. He is now up to 95 with his fastball and usually sits just below that; the slider and changeup have developed into nice secondary pitches that have above average potential.
Jay: If we expanded these rankings, he would have been at 22. So I’m not THAT much farther from where my colleagues have placed him. I’m honestly shocked he has been as good as long as he has since that magical “78-1” season in the Venezuela Summer League (RIP) in 2014. Assuming he heads to Reading to begin the season, AA will likely be a huge test to see if those secondary pitches can improve while facing higher quality hitters.
Cormican: I’ll be honest in that I was between Ranger and Enyel here. I gave the nod to Ranger, because of his steady improvement in actual stuff. A few years ago I wrote him off as the Pitching version of Willians Astudillo who had one absurd skill to go along with an otherwise unimpressive game. Here’s the thing though, as Jared mentioned, the stuff is better and has generally improved each season. I could see him being a #4 Starter and if someone argued he’s a future #3, it might be a bit of a stretch, but another tick up on the Fastball and an establishment of the breaking stuff to more consistent above average and, he’s basically just that.
Victor: There’s still plenty of reason to believe Ranger could be a back-end starter for the Phils in the future. It’ll be interesting to see where he starts; he could head back to Clearwater to begin 2018, though a Reading stint wouldn’t be too much of a surprise. The command helps solidify his overall profile, and the fastball has improved enough velocity-wise as the years have gone on. If the changeup and slider develop enough and play out as above-average offerings, he’s more of a mid-rotation starter than back-end or mop-up guy.
#19 - Spencer Howard (RH Starting Pitcher) - 21 years old
2017 Stats -
Williamsport (Short Season A) - 28.1 IP, 1-1 record, 4.45 ERA, 18 BB, 40 K
Voting - Jay (17), Cormican (17), Victor (NR), Jared (NR)
Jay: As long as the Phillies keep him as a starter, I’m not sure how you can’t rank Howard among the upper-echelon of pitching prospects in the organization. He of course comes with some risk as he hasn’t been a starter for that long despite being a 2nd round college pick in the 2017 draft. However, I’m encouraged by his current collection of pitches, which includes a mid 90’s fastball. As long as he doesn’t go full Alberto Tirado on the mound, he should get more starting experience on the mound and keep that mid-rotation starter profile.
Jared: Howard was the first prospect outside of my top 20 and a guy I debated as top 20 for a few days. By midseason, barring some unforeseen implosion from Howard, he will break into my top 20. As Jay mentioned, he didn’t move to a rotation until a few weeks into his college season in 2017 which made a lot of people question the Phillies’ decision to select him in the second round as a starting pitcher. For a college draftee, Howard needs quite a bit of work on his secondary pitches. His fastball is fine and the slider has flashed nice potential, but to stick in a rotation he will need some combination of a curveball, changeup and cutter to take steps forward.
Cormican: Howard was a control artist in College, a skill that typically transitions to the pros. He’s got a higher ceiling that Eshelman, another College control artist, but his arsenal is more of a work in progress. If it develops and the control stays sharp he has a #3/4 ceiling. If it doesn’t the Fastball/Slider combo is a proven Bullpen arsenal and with his control and command of them he’d be a good back of the bullpen option.
Victor: The command isn’t really there yet like it is with Suarez or someone like Tom Eshelman. But Howard offers a fastball that can sit 92-95, and the slider’s pretty advanced for a guy his age. The 2017 second rounder was more of a reliever profile in college, but the Phillies will give him every chance to succeed as a starter. If he’s only a solid contributor at the back-end of a bullpen as a fastball-slider guy, you could do worse with the 45th pick in the draft, I suppose.
#18 - Enyel De Los Santos (RH Starting Pitcher) - 22 years old
2017 Stats -
San Antonio (AA) - 150 IP, 10-6 record, 3.78 ERA, 48 BB, 138 K
Voting - Jay (18), Cormican (NR), Victor (16), Jared (17)
Jay: Some are probably thinking, “who?”, so for reference this is the guy we got for our dearly departed Freddy Galvis and to be completely honest, was a decent get. He’s got a good fastball and seemingly breezed through AA ball. However, I’m not sure how much further he can go as a starter based on two above average pitches (fastball/changeup), but it has so far kept working. If the free-passes spike in LHV this season, it will likely spell trouble and eventually a bullpen-only path to majors.
Jared: De Los Santos was undoubtedly a nice get for Galvis. To me, it is tough seeing a pitcher with his frame not contributing in some way at the major league level. The fastball and changeup will have to carry him hard if he wants to stick in a rotation, but there has to be a third reliable pitch that comes along at some point. A mid-to-high 90s fastball and a good change has ‘reliable, possibly dominant reliever’ written all over it.
Cormican: Honestly I don’t know him as well as the guys we already had. Reports also sound like a Reliever profile, so he ended up behind other guys I know better and trust my familiarity with more.
Victor: The fastball can touch 98 mph, sitting 92-95, and it’s a plus pitch. He hasn’t quite figured out the whole secondary pitch thing yet, but the changeup has potential to be an above-average offering in the future. His main focus in 2018 will be on developing the curveball. He’s likely going to start in Reading, and he’s a relatively low-pressure, low-expectations type guy right now, not on the 40-man roster. He profiles well as a back-end starter; it was good value for Galvis.
#17 - Cornelius Randolph (Left Fielder) - 20 years old
2017 Stats -
Clearwater (A+) - 510 PA, 13 HR, 55 RBI, 55 BB, 125 K, .250/.338/.402
Voting - Jay (19), Cormican (15), Victor (19), Jared (13)
Jared: I am still a little higher on Randolph than most, and that can be seen with how the four of us ranked him. Among others, he was a prospect I paid a good amount of attention to throughout the year. His first half was pretty bad overall and did aid in some of my rising doubts. However, his second half went demonstrably better: his on-base percentage was 50 points better than in the first half and he did so while decreasing his strikeout percentage by more than two percent.
Jay: You’re crazy Jared!!! Kidding...kinda. The power spike and his propensity to take balls this past season were definitely a great thing and why I think he remains a top 20 prospect, BUT the kid was billed as one of the best hitters in the HS class from the 2015 Draft. We really haven’t seen that yet and this isn’t the kind of offensive production that will get you to the majors as a left fielder.
Cormican: The power spike and improved discipline were good to see. I kind of hope they keep him at Clearwater to start 2018, build some confidence and then perhaps the power and approach can really take off in Reading. He’s on a bit of tight rope though. As Jay says the Offensive profile is not what we were sold and not enough to play a Corner OF in the Majors, but I have faith the power is possible with his swing change and another season of settling into it might get it there. More than perhaps anyone on this list, I can see Yukon ending up Top 5 next offseason or completely off my personal Top 30 altogether.
Victor: Randolph is still just 20 years old, and hitting in Reading to start 2018 will be a fun storyline to follow. He finally saw some power gains in 2017, and was less of a spray hitter and showed more power to right field. He still needs a place to play, though. Where might that be? The jury’s still out. Left field makes sense, and that’s probably where he’ll be once again this season, but the power has to be there for him to be a force in the outfield. If the power doesn’t develop in the slightest, he’s a slower Juan Pierre, and I’m not sure there’s much value in that in this day and age.
#16 - Daniel Brito (Second Baseman) - 20 years old
2017 Stats -
Lakewood (A) - 491 PA, 6 HR, 32 RBI, 12 SB, 33 BB, 95 K, .239/.298/.318
Voting - Jay (NR), Cormican (19), Victor (12), Jared (11)
Jay: I fully expect my fellow voters and the commenters to have a field day with this one. I just hope that Matt Winkelman doesn’t excommunicate me from the prospect world. He was the last man out on my list. He has a lot of potential and certainly showed it in his first month of the season. If you take out April, he slashed .215/.276/.281 the rest of the season and looked lost. He’s still young and has time to grow, but I wasn’t comfortable putting him in my top 20...yet.
Jared: Shame on you, Jay. These rankings are 100% fact and clearly you should have your prospect card revoked! In all seriousness, I remain up on Brito for the same reason I haven’t dropped Mickey Moniak out of my top 20: he is young and was challenged with a Lakewood assignment as an underdeveloped prospect. Brito wore down after starting out very strong, and as Matt Winkelman pointed out in his writeup of Brito, the injury to Arquimedes Gamboa put a lot of weight on Brito’s shoulders to play and produce everyday. He is a toolsy second baseman and will be a plus defender there. Building muscle and keeping his body in prime condition will be the main focus for Brito to continue his development.
Cormican: The Moniak comp is an apt one. Both have potentially plus bats and both either got exposed, regressed or worn out as the season wore on. The big difference for me is that good Defense and meh hitting in Center can still get you to the show, the line is thinner for a Second Baseman. If Brito bulks up and handles the rigors of fullseason ball better, he can rocket up my list. I’m still a big believer in Brito.
Victor: Not much consensus among us here, eh? Brito’s just a really raw talent, and you could see that in 2017. I’d like to throw a future 5 on the hit tool, though, because the tools are there. The demands of second base did seem to catch up to him as the year wore on, but he was a 19-year-old who looked like a solid glove-first defender for most of the season. He’ll need to put on muscle over the next couple of years so he can handle the rigors of a full season.