#5 - Adonis Medina (RH Starting Pitcher) - 21 years old
2017 Stats -
Lakewood (A) - 119.2 IP, 4-9 record, 3.01 ERA, 39 BB, 133 K
Voting - Jay (5), Cormican (4), Victor (5), Jared (5)
Jared: There was one thing Medina needed to do in 2017 in order to ensure his prospect status remained high: rebound his strikeout numbers. 2016 saw Medina strike out just 4.7 hitters per nine innings with low-A Williamsport, by far the lowest of his career. That number shot up to an even 10.0 K/9 in 2017, ensuring the aforementioned prospect status. For an A-ball pitcher, Medina is polished and possesses a nice four-pitch arsenal filled with potential above average-to-plus pitches.
Cormican: Medina is probably going to spend the next few years being compared to Sixto. Make no mistake, Sixto’s stuff is better, but Medina has the better present control/command of his stuff. Where Sixto may be an Ace when everything comes together, Adonis is more likely to top out as a #2 Starter. His floor is a little higher than some other guys around him on this list and that’s a good problem to have.
Jay: Agree with Cormican here, love the safety of Medina at this point as long as that command holds up of course. I expect Medina to be absolutely dominant in Clearwater, getting a mid-season promotion to Reading.
Victor: The changeup is starting to play out as a future above-average offering, and the fastball picked up a few ticks to it, too. He’ll be tested by more talented hitters in Clearwater, but with the four-pitch mix Medina has, I’d expect success.
#4 - Jorge Alfaro (Catcher) - 23 years old
2017 Stats -
Lehigh Valley (AAA) - 350 PA, 7 HR, 43 RBI, 16 BB, 113 K, .241/.291/.358
Phillies (MLB) - 114 PA, 5 HR, 14 RBI, 3 BB, 33 K, .318/.360/.514
Voting - Jay (4), Cormican (5), Victor (4), Jared (6)
Cormican: I’m not entirely sold on Alfaro’s bat, but the bar at Catcher is low if your defense is good enough. Alfaro’s defense isn’t good enough yet, but I have more confidence in his defense improving than I do his bat. Alfaro’s athletic, he’s got a howitzer for an arm and his defense has shown more steady improvements than his bat has. I’m confident his defense will be starter good and if his bat ever gets Starter good, he’s a star.
Jay: I’m sure most are salivating at those MLB numbers. Admittedly he did look pretty good at the plate, but as was his problem in the minors he will need to improve his plate discipline if he’s ever to succeed as viable starting catcher. I’m almost hoping Carlos Santana can mentor guys like Alfaro and Franco this season in overcoming this obstacle.
Jared: If Santana can have any impact on Alfaro as a hitter, I think the signing is a success. Alfaro gets a lot of heat for lack of presence, as he should, but as Cormican said the bar for catcher production is fairly low. He doesn’t need to be a J.T. Realmuto right off the bat, especially given the players he has around him. Guys will get on base and as long as his bat doesn’t suddenly dip to an A-ball level, I see him as a productive major league catcher with room to improve — both statements can be true.
Victor: Yep, we’re all hoping Santana rubs off on the rest of this lineup. Alfaro’s got the power in there, and we saw a little bit of it towards the end of last season. He’s got a cannon arm behind the dish, but needs to work on pitch sequencing and framing this spring as he could be the #1 catcher come Opening Day. He’s an athletic guy who needs the reps behind the plate and needs to show a little more patience at the plate, but everything’s there for Alfaro to put it together this season.
#3 - Scott Kingery (Second Baseman) - 23 years old
2017 Stats -
Reading (AA) - 317 PA, 18 HR, 44 RBI, 19 SB, 28 BB, 51 K, .313/.379/.608
Lehigh Valley (AAA) - 286 PA, 8 HR, 21 RBI, 10 SB, 13 BB, 58 K, .294/.337/.449
Voting - Jay (3), Dan (3), Victor (3), Jared (3)
Jay: I’m fairly positive Kingery could have ranked as the #1 prospect for at least half of all MLB teams. Here he sits at #3 on our list and we should all be smiling because of it. The power surge is real folks, as is the superb defense and excellent base-stealing speed. His hit tool hasn’t been questioned at any level and appears to be not far from major league ready. Kingery would likely be there if not for some guy named Cesar Hernandez who is doing an equally good job at that baseball thing. Also look for Kingery to get some reps at 3rd base this Spring Training and LHV regular season. Maikel Franco’s job is not exactly safe...
Jared: I mentioned it in my prospect ranking roundup piece, but this is the first time in quite awhile that the Phillies have had this concrete of a top three. Kingery took home the bulk of the third places, and it was well-deserved. Right now, Hernandez is the unquestioned starting second baseman. Kingery has a few things to work on, mainly his plate approach, before he can become a productive major league second (probably?) baseman. I think it’s a safe bet that we will see Kingery by the time June rolls around, it just depends on what position he will be playing.
Cormican: I have almost no doubt Kingery is a MLB player. Fielding is above average, bat should play well and, as Jay said, the power is real. There’s a lot of talk about him going to Third, but his arm isn’t good enough, I don’t believe. Of course Derek Jeter didn’t have the arm for Short and became a superstar, so never say never.
Victor: Kingery might not bump Cesar Hernandez off second this spring, but he’s damn near close to the Major Leagues. The Phillies will have to figure that situation out eventually. I’d hate to see Kingery moved to third, though he’ll take grounders and work there this spring. He’s got plus speed, is an above-average defender, and has added the muscle necessary to handle a full season of baseball. That added upper-body strength led to a power surge in 2017. He needs some more reps at the plate, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him in Philadelphia by mid-season if the Phillies find a taker for Hernandez.
#1B - J.P. Crawford (Shortstop) - 23 years old
2017 Stats -
Lehigh Valley (AAA) - 556 PA, 15 HR, 63 RBI, 5 SB, 79 BB, 97 K, .243/.351/.405
Phillies (MLB) - 87 PA, 0 HR, 6 RBI, 1 SB, 16 BB, 22 K, .214/.356/.300
Voting - Jay (2), Cormican (1), Victor (2), Jared (1)
Jared: If there was a way we could separate Crawford and Sanchez as no. 1 and no. 2, we would. But we aren’t going to battle to the death over the two best prospects in the system; mainly because we actually want to watch these two (hopefully) light up the league for years. There really is nothing else to say about Crawford other than he is the Opening Day starting shortstop for the Phillies. If he exceeds expectations and has a nice rookie year, this team could potentially do some damage come October.
Jay: The J.P. Crawford Era is finally here folks and I’m pretty gosh darn excited about it! The expectations are high for Crawford and he’ll likely face criticism if he isn’t immediately contributing in the early season. Some folks really liked Freddy Galvis and you’ll see those comparisons as the year goes on. I’m confident that Crawford’s plate vision, hit tool and plus defense at shortstop will hold up this season as he finishes among the top rookies in the NL.
Cormican: Oh, I’m totally up for a fight to the death. I don’t see a huge gulf between Sixto and J.P., I would agree if someone argued Sixto has a higher ceiling, I think it’s very slightly higher. The difference is I’m roughly 90% certain J.P. has a long MLB future and for Sixto, I’m, perhaps, somewhere in the neighborhood of 70% on that. In a case where I think the ceilings are so similar, I’m fine with breaking the tie on floor and certainty. ...I have a very particular lack of skills, Jared...
Victor: We’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time, but J.P. Crawford will be the Phillies’ opening day shortstop. It feels good to say. Crawford began last season in a funk in AAA, but made some changes to his swing to get back on track and reached the Majors at the end of the year. He’ll make all the routine plays at short (and then some) and be a tough out due to his outstanding plate discipline and approach. Hopefully the deep counts he runs won’t lead to too many strikeouts, but it’s the one growing pain we might have to deal with in 2018. We’ll see how the power develops as time goes along, but the Phillies have a future All-Star shortstop on their hands.
#1A - Sixto Sanchez (RH Starting Pitcher) - 19 years old
2017 Stats -
Lakewood (A) - 67.1 IP, 5-3 record, 2.41 ERA, 9 BB, 64 K
Clearwater (A+) - 27.2 IP, 0-4 record, 4.55 ERA, 9 BB, 20 K
Voting - Jay (1), Cormican (2), Victor (1), Jared (2)
Jared: *knocks, then slowly sticks head in and whispers* Guys, we have a 19-year-old pitching prospect who can throw 102 and paint corners.
Cormican: *Leans back out the door a yells* Yeah, but the Command isn’t all the way there yet. Seriously though, this is worth getting really excited about. As I said under Medina’s writeup, there’s an Ace ceiling here if everything comes together.
Jay: Sixto is the first legitimate potential ace prospect since...Hamels? These guys just don’t come along all that often. Combine that with a triple digit fastball and the fact that he is only 19 years old and you can’t help but salivate at the future the kid may have. I also don’t doubt that the Phillies could be aggressive with Sanchez if masters each level quickly. A 2020 ETA to the bigs isn’t all that crazy...
Victor: I’ll go ahead and give Sixto the #1 spot. I still love J.P. Crawford, but we saw some of his weaknesses last year, and for a while it wasn’t pretty. Don’t want to be too hard on J.P., but the ace ceiling is very real with Sanchez and I’m fine putting him at the top sot. He’s doing things a guy his age shouldn’t be doing on the mound. The question is how long does it take him to tap into that potential? At 19, amazingly, it might be sooner than we all think. We’d all love to see him in Reading by the end of the season.