#15 - Seranthony Dominguez (RH Reliever) - 23 years old
2017 Stats -
GCL Phillies (Rookie) - 5.1 IP, 0-0 record, 5.06 ERA, 4 BB, 7 K
Clearwater (A+) - 62.1 IP, 4-4 record, 4.04 ERA, 30 BB, 75 K
Voting - Jay (NR), Cormican (12), Victor (13), Jared (16)
Jay: Blessed with an awesome name for sure. I’m not sure about my colleagues, but my ranking of him certainly changed after it was announced that he was going to be a reliever instead of a starter. It’s just personal preference, but it’s difficult for me to value a relievers output over that of a starter pitching or hitter. That doesn’t mean he isn’t good! Quite the contrary! When healthy, his fastball should play up his already mid-90’s fastball to approaching triple digits. With his breaking ball, the Phillies could theoretically have another Ken Giles on their hands.
Jared: I’m in the same boat as Jay. I had him ranked 11th before the announcement was made that he will be converted to a reliever full-time in 2018. If it were a different pitcher, I think I would have slid him further down; however, Dominguez has the potential to be a special high-leverage reliever and so I dipped him just five spots to 16. He hit 99 when starting which probably means we will see 100+ from him out of the bullpen this season. The stuff is good overall, it is just the control and command that regressed after returning from injury that stands between Dominguez and the major leagues. He is already on the 40-man roster and will likely open his bullpen career in Reading, so it is quite possible we see Dominguez in the major league bullpen at some point in 2018.
Cormican: I felt really good about having Seranthony here before the bullpen move. I probably should have dropped him, but, as said above by Jay and Jared, I see so much potential in the bullpen I decided to ride with this ranking.
Victor: So it looks like it’s going to be bullpen duty for Seranthony. I’m okay with it. Let him concentrate on that fastball-slider combination and let’s see if it can be a devastating enough combo to make him a future closer. The fastball sits 93-95 mph, but can touch 98, and I’m excited to see what he can do when he’s unleashed in the late innings. Was I caught off guard when the word came that he’s going to be moved to the pen? Sure. Could it be a hell of a benefit and a way for him to get to the Majors faster? Yes.
#14 - Thomas Eshelman (RH Starting Pitcher) - 23 years old
2017 Stats -
Reading (AA) - 29 IP, 3-0 record, 3.10 ERA, 5 BB, 22 K
Lehigh Valley (AAA) - 121 IP, 10-3 record, 2.23 ERA, 13 BB, 80 K
Voting - Jay (15), Cormican (16), Victor (15), Jared (14)
Jared: There is no one in the Phillies’ system — position player or pitcher — who looks to be more major league-ready than Eshelman. It just so happens that his position is the one that has a rather big logjam at the AAA-MLB threshold. 2017 was Eshelman’s true breakout season in the system and he was rewarded with the Paul Owens Award for the best Phillies minor league pitcher. He is never going to blow hitters off the plate but he will paint better than most pitchers can ever dream of doing.
Jay: Could Eshelman be the prize of the Ken Giles trade? We don’t quite know how Vince Velasquez’s career is going to pan out, but it’s nice to know he wasn’t the only piece that came back in that trade. His command of the strikezone is already major league-ready and at some point this season he’s going to make his Phillies debut.
Cormican: I really want to be excited about Esh, but everything aside from the Command is so average. I think his ceiling is probably Eickhoff and that’s pretty good and the command will help his stuff play up, but the line between MLB Starter and Just a Guy is so narrow for Control/Command starters. I just can’t rank him too highly and I sincerely hope he makes me look like an idiot for being the low man on him.
Victor: Plus-plus command always made Eshelman a likable prospect. He was sort of thrust into duty in Lehigh Valley a bit earlier than expected last year, but he responded well to the challenge. The fastball will typically sit 90-92 mph in any given outing, and he can move it around the zone to his liking to change eye levels and induce weak contact. There’s not a true out pitch in Eshelman’s arsenal. The changeup looks like it’ll be his best secondary offering, but the curve and slider might catch up someday to give him a set of average secondary pitches. But the command is what could allow him to survive in the back-end of the rotation. Any early injury or struggle in the Major League rotation means Eshelman’s getting the call to Philly.
#13 - Francisco Morales (RH Starting Pitcher) - 18 years old
2017 Stats -
GCL Phillies (Rookie) - 41.1 IP, 3-2 record, 3.05 ERA, 20 BB, 44 K
Voting - Jay (8), Cormican (14), Victor (17), Jared (19)
Jay: Guys, I’m all in on Morales. He might have the highest upside of any SP outside of Sanchez and Medina. His state-side debut went extremely well as he showcased his mid-90’s fastball as an 18 year old in rookie ball. Morales’ development will be exciting to watch as he refines and gets a better command of his secondary pitches.
Cormican: I’m pretty excited about Morales who has size and velocity and developing secondaries. I’ll even admit I cheated on my rule to sneak him a little higher on my list because I like the profile so much. However, there’s a long way to go in developing secondaries, refining Control and Command and filling out. Still, if he were draft eligible this year and had this stuff in High School, I might well be writing a preview on him this Spring, which is to say this stuff and build is potentially First Round quality for his age range, so Jay’s irrational exuberance isn’t entirely irrational.
Victor: There’s not much to go off of with Morales, as he has just a handful of starts to his name. What we do know is the Phillies went above and beyond what they’ll typically spend on a guy with this profile, so they do love him. The fastball sat 92-94 mph when we did finally see him pitch stateside, and he’s got a good enough feel for the slider at present. His delivery was re-tooled for 2017, so it’ll be interesting to see what he’s learned this off-season as he tries to put his best foot forward for 2018.
Jared: As the lowest of the bunch on Morales, I waited to see what had to be said before chipping in my two cents. He is very much like the pitching version of pre-2017 Jhailyn Ortiz in that he has very promising tools that were on display in a very limited number of GCL games. He will be 18 for the entirety of this season so it is possible the Phillies keep him in the GCL, especially now that they have two teams. I wouldn’t rule out a Williamsport assignment, however. There is always a list of prospects I will pay attention to more than others, and Morales is near the top of that list for 2018.
#12 - Roman Quinn (Centerfielder) - 24 years old
2017 Stats -
Lehigh Valley (AAA) - 197 PA, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 10 SB, 18 BB, 49 K, .274/.344/.389
Voting - Jay (11), Cormican (13), Victor (14), Jared (12)
Jay: Is this now the 3rd or 4th year we’ve asked ourselves, “Is this the year that Roman Quinn stays healthy?” Maybe! Despite missing 2⁄3 of the 2017 season, Quinn enters Spring Training Camp as the favorite to win the 5th outfielder spot with the Phillies. Quinn still has game-breaking speed that could be a huge asset for Gabe Kapler in late-innings. I’d love to see him finally graduate from these rankings.
Jared: This is the year. I can just sense it. The Phillies know the history all too well at this point and have a crucial decision to make with him this spring. Do they give Quinn everyday reps at triple-A and risk another injury or accept him on the Opening Day roster as a 5th outfielder? I think they would be foolish to not make Quinn one of the final Spring Training roster cuts if they choose to send him to Lehigh Valley. Give him the longest look possible, see how he and his body handle the early season workload and go from there.
Cormican: Is it possible to just make my entire comment a shoulder shrug emoji? I love virtually everything about Quinn’s game. I hate everything about Quinn’s medical record filing cabinet. If Quinn were healthy he would be #3 or 4 on this list for me. Actually, scratch that, he’d already be an established Major Leaguer. His speed is game changing on both sides of the game and if I trusted he could stay healthy I’d even say he could be a star, but he has a weird habit of piling up strange, unrelated injuries in the middle of seasons. If he can still run fast in an all bubble wrap uniform, I’m totally on board with that idea.
Victor: I ask myself one question this spring and one question only regarding Roman Quinn: Is he healthy? If he is, he starts in the Majors as a 4th outfielder (5th if we’re getting technical and Gabe Kapler goes with seven relievers, but it looks like we’re leaning eight). No questions asked. Just do it.
#11 - JoJo Romero (LH Starting Pitcher) - 21 years old
2017 Stats -
Lakewood (A) - 76.2 IP, 5-1 record, 2.11 ERA, 21 BB, 79 K
Clearwater (A+) - 52.1 IP, 5-2 record, 2.24 ERA, 15 BB, 49 K
Voting - Jay (10), Cormican (11), Victor (11), Jared (15)
Jay: JoJo has been the high-riser this past year. He’s appeared on a few prospect sites as a Top 10 Phillies prospect. I also feel the same! Romero does a great job at keeping hitters off-balanced with his plethora of pitches. He fared very well as a 20 year old in High-A ball and will hopefully continue to do so as he’s should start the season in AA-Reading. A #3 starter isn’t out of the question for Romero if everything hits right, which isn’t bad for a former 4th round pick.
Jared: Romero’s changeup is the pitch that everyone starts the conversation with, and for good reason. It is a plus pitch that he throws in practically any count against any hitter. He has improved his fastball velocity by a few ticks to 94-95 and might have another mile per hour or two in him. Coming into the season, not many saw him as more than a #4 starter. He then experienced that aforementioned uptick in velocity and a slight improvement with his slider and curveball, both of which are average pitches, and bumped his ceiling to a #3. It will be Romero’s command of the zone that carries him through development and he will need to continue to keep high minors hitters off balance when he begins 2018 in Reading.
Cormican: Man, the names in this system. And check out how good many are as players. Crazy. JoJo has a 4 pitch mix which ranges from his average breaking balls to his Plus Change with the above-average Fastball shoe-horned in there for good measure. Perhaps the Phillies have been hesitant to give a 5 year deal this offseason in the hopes that their 2019 rotation includes Romero and Esh with an improved Vinny, Nola and Eick. It’s not crazy and if everyone there hits their ceiling it’s a really respectable rotation, but I’m probably detouring into someone else’s article there.
Victor: Romero put together an intriguing 2017. Yes, everyone else has talked about the changeup at this point, but he’s got advanced pitchability and works the plate well. The fastball has picked up a few ticks. Let’s see what he can do against more talented hitters in AA in 2018, because he did make things look easy at times last year in Lakewood and Clearwater.