If you’re a fan of pitchers and catchers (and who isn’t this week?) you have most certainly come to the right part of this prospect list. Let me tell ya.
#20 - Starlyn Castillo, RHP
16 yr. old
2018 International Free Agent
2018 stats - N/A
Cormican (ranked him 28):
Unlike the Phillies other 6’0” IFA Pitchers of recent vintage, Castillo is not a skinny kid, he’s 210 and pretty thickly built. He may add more height and weight, but physically he’s probably pretty close to his fully mature size. His fastball is also probably a fairly finished product. He’ll need to refine control/command and develop secondary pitches. He’s the age of a high school junior, so there’s a long road ahead, but anything up to a #2 starter is a reasonable possibility.
Jay (ranked him 19):
Call me a fan I guess. Much like Francisco Morales when he was brought him, I instantly fell in love with his upside. Castillo was one of the top pitchers available on the IFA market in 2018. Most of the reports I’ve seen have been from our friend-of-the-blog Matt Winkelman. The fastball is already in the mid-90’s and has developing above average secondary pitches.
Victor (ranked him 27):
Yeah, I’m not even going to sit here and act like I could possibly know anything about a 16-year-old pitching prospect. I had him a bit further down the list than 20, but we’ll see what happens. It’s crazy to think about, but we might be hearing about people running for president in 2024 when Castillo is nearing his MLB debut.
#19 - Deivi Grullon, C
22 yr. old
2013 International Free Agent
2018 stats - 353 PA, .273/.310/.515, 21 HR, 59 RBI, 18 BB, 81 K (Reading)
Cormican (ranked him 30):
If his breakout was Reading effect, he’s a glove only backup catcher and I don’t see a guy who plays 40-50 games a year having too much value. However, if he really did breakout and can repeat a line kind of close to his Reading one in LHV and eventually Philly... well, he’s probably still a backup, but a really good one who may eventually grow into a quality starter. He’s got above-average raw power and his defense and arm are MLB quality. There’s a real risk his hitting makes Knapp look like Ted Williams, but at least his D and arm are presently better than either for Knapp.
Jay (ranked him 18):
Was his power surge the Reading Effect? The 14 at home and 7 on the road should give you a fairly good indication of that. He actually hit better on the road (.280) than he did at home (.260), so it wasn’t all inflated. The glove behind the plate is legit and Grullon has a terrific arm as Cormican states above. I think the breakout is real and could very well be a much better back-up than we think to Alfaro in 2019. I mean, do we want a full year of Andrew Knapp again?
Victor (ranked him 22):
This is a guy you can honestly look at and think, “Hey, he’d fit really nicely onto an MLB roster for the next eight to 10 years.” That’s likely as a backup catcher, but pairing him with Alfaro for the next decade wouldn’t be a bad idea. He’ll chase bad balls, and he doesn’t have a quick bat, but he should have the body and the skill to stick around behind the dish.
#18 - Will Stewart, LHP
21 yr. old
2015 20th Round Pick
2018 stats - 113.2 IP, 90 H, 29 R, 26 ER, 21 BB, 90 K (Lakewood)
Cormican (ranked him 24):
I could just repeat most of Connor Seabold’s post here. Stewart’s stuff is pedestrian, but he gets crazy ground ball rates. He dominated Low-A, but I fear his stuff will get pounded at Double-A and above. At worst he’s probably a LOOGY, at best he’s a #5 starter (maybe a #4 if a pitch or two take a step forward, possible given his young age).
Jay (ranked him 17):
Will Stewart had a terrific 2018 and I honestly couldn’t ignore it. His stuff took a leap last season and it isn’t out of the question that in continues to improve at Clearwater this season. He’s still very young and has time to develop. A lefty with good command and feel for his pitches has value.
Victor (Ranked him 18):
Is Stewart more than just a crafty lefty? We’ll see. The fastball sits in the low 90s as of right now, and the secondaries are developing nicely. It’s not clear which one ends up being the best, but the slider could end up being a go-to for him.
#17 - Ranger Suarez, LHP
23 yr. old
2012 International Free Agent
2018 stats -
75 IP, 64 H, 23 R, 23 ER, 20 BB, 54 K (Reading)
49.1 IP, 48 H, 17 R, 15 ER, 15 BB, 31 K (Lehigh Valley)
15 IP, 21 H, 14 R, 9 ER, 6 BB, 11 K (Phillies)
Cormican (ranked him 17):
It’s funny Stewart and Suarez are ranked next to each other. Suarez is roughly the ceiling for Stewart. His fastball is a little stronger (maybe a mph or two) and his two secondaries are equal, to a grade better. He doesn’t locate quite as well or get the same ground ball rates, but he could be the Phillies’ 5th starter today (not saying he’d be better than current options, just that he could respectably do it).
Jay (ranked him 20):
I saw what he did in AAA and the big leagues and have been underwhelmed. Suarez doesn’t seem to have much value outside of being AAAA fodder.
Victor (ranked him 16):
Dan’s point is certainly interesting. If there weren’t any further additions to the rotation between now and the spring, after Zach Eflin, you could slot Jerad Eickhoff in there, maybe Enyel De Los Santos, but Suarez would be a perfectly acceptable option, too. It’s not a slot the Phillies want to fill right now, but Suarez will be hanging around Lehigh Valley, waiting around in case of injury.
#16 - Simon Muzziotti, CF
20 yr. old
2016 Minor League Free Agent
2018 stats - 299 PA, .263/.299/.331, 1 HR, 20 RBI, 18 SB, 14 BB, 40 K (Lakewood)
Cormican (ranked him 14):
There’s potential for a 4-tool package here. He’s a plus runner with a plus arm and at least above average defense. His hit tool has potential, but his approach comes and goes a bit. There’s no real power at all, if he grows into any he could be a nice starting CF. There might be a 4th OF floor if the bat remains inconsistent.
Jay (ranked him 16):
Muzziotti was a nice get following the Red Sox prospect scandal fallout. He reminds me a bit of Carlos Tocci in that he’s a very good defensive center fielder with a questionable hit tool. However, he does have a much better feel on the basepaths.
Victor (ranked him 15):
What’s separated Muzziotti thus far has been his bat control, as he doesn’t strike out much. It’s far from a certainty that he ends up hitting at the Major League level, and there’s a long way to go, but he’s got plus speed and could be a sneaky-good base stealer. Of course, you do need to find a way on base to do those things. So, yeah, go ahead and draw your own Carlos Tocci comparisons with this one, but perhaps be a bit more excited about Muzziotti.
#15 - Arquimedes Gamboa, SS
21 yr. old
2014 International Free Agent
2018 stats - 497 PA, .214/.304/.279, 2 HR, 37 RBI, 6 SB, 53 BB, 111 K (Clearwater)
Cormican (ranked him 16):
I believe in the glove, but I’m pretty suspicious of the bat. If he can hit with some power, as he’s hinted at before he could be a league average or better Shortstop. If he can’t he could still be a much better version of some of the utility infielders we’ve had recently.
Jay (ranked him 15):
The Carlos Tocci of the infield for me. Based on what I’ve seen and has been reported, he could easily be playing major league infield as of this season. The bat is going to need to take a leap (see: giant) for him to grade out better than anything other than utility infielder, though perhaps we need to remember it took Freddy Galvis to put any semblance of offensive in the minors until he was 21-22.
Victor (ranked him 14):
Gamboa has a decent idea of what he’s doing at the plate, as evidenced by his 10.7 BB% in Clearwater in 2018. He should grade out as a plus defender, and he may already be there depending on who you ask, but the bat will have some catching up to do. That being said, there’s a tantalizing medley in there of speed, defense, and a sharp eye at the plate. Making more contact could lift Gamboa into a new stratosphere. Easier said than done.
#14 - Rodolfo Duran, C
20 yr. old
2015 International Free Agent
2018 stats - 336 PA, .260/.304/.495, 18 HR, 46 RBI, 1 SB, 20 BB, 75 K (Lakewood)
Jay (ranked him 13):
Duran was one of the biggest surprises of 2018. Not often you see a catcher, in the South Atlantic League mind you, jump from 0 homers from the year before to 18 last year. He’s a good defensive catcher, who if he can fine tune his approach at the plate could be a Top 10 player in the system before the 2019 season ends.
Cormican (ranked him 15):
As Jay mentions the power jump was a little out of the blue and, for me, I’d like to see a second season to be sure he didn’t just have a career year. He’s not a big guy, so I don’t expect he’ll routinely hit for that much power, but even 10-15 HR pop with good defense could make him a good starter.
Victor (ranked him 17):
He may not have that burly and tall catcher’s body, but hey, Carlos Ruiz didn’t either. He displays above-average bat speed, and the arm is there to stick behind the plate. We’ll see how much of that raw power he can tap into in game action as time moves on.
#13 - Mauricio Llovera, RHP
22 yr. old
2015 International Free Agent
2018 stats - 121 IP, 100 H, 59 R, 50 ER, 34 BB, 137 K (Clearwater)
Jay (ranked him 14):
Llovera is who I like to think of as “new poor-man’s Seranthony Dominguez” in that I believe he is going to be fast tracked to the majors via a bullpen role. Almost all of his appearances last year were in a starting role. He has a mid-90’s fastball, but I’m guessing that could tick up quite a bit more in a reliever role. It will be very telling with what the Phillies do with him in 2019 in which how they view him and how quickly they are looking to get him in the majors.
Cormican (ranked him 13):
Llovera’s fastball could be a weapon out of the ‘pen, but he really needs his change or slider to get more consistently good to be more than a depth guy in that role. I expect he’ll stay a starter most of the year in LHV in an effort to develop those pitches. Best case scenario is that he improves enough to stay a starter. More likely is that he might improve enough to become a 7th inning, medium leverage type.
Victor (ranked him 12):
We’ll see what ends up being best for Llovera in the long run, but the bullpen move isn’t going to be good enough unless one of the secondaries is showing some sort of major improvement in the spring. I’d like to see Llovera get more run as a starter before they move him to the pen. Dominguez was simply in a different spot with his off-speed stuff, and Llovera isn’t quite there yet.
#12 - Rafael Marchan, C
19 yr. old
2015 International Free Agent
2018 stats - 210 PA, .301/.343/.362, 0 HR, 12 RBI, 9 SB, 11 BB, 18 K (Williamsport)
Jay (ranked him 12):
Marchan is the best all-around catching prospect for the Phillies. While he doesn’t have the raw power of a Duran or the defensive prowess of a Grullon, Marchan is unique enough in that his hit tool probably props him up above them still and creates a very comfortable floor with tons of room for improvement. He’s still 19 years old and likely opens the season in Lakewood where he will be tested by older players.
Cormican (ranked him 12):
I’m a big Marchan fan. His defense is a work in progress, but he’s got a good arm and his framing is fairly well reviewed. The Phillies really seem to have a knack for finding IFA prospects at catcher (some of them converted from other positions, like Marchan) and if Marchan can keep hitting and get to average defense he’d be a top prospect. Wilson Ramos was the only catcher in the majors last year who put up a line equal to Marchan’s (for better and worse, the slugging needs work, though Marchan is young enough I expect it will).
Victor (ranked him 13):
The Phillies have indeed done pretty well at the catcher position in IFA, and Marchan is yet another example. He’s able to put the bat on the ball often, keeping his strikeout rates down. While still raw at the plate, we’ll see if the power plays out, but he showed some promise in putting the ball in play and getting on base. He’ll likely be handling the Lakewood pitching staff come spring.
#11 - Francisco Morales, RHP
19 yr. old
2016 International Free Agent
2018 stats - 56.1 IP, 54 H, 37 R, 33 ER, 33 BB, 68 K (Williamsport)
Jay (ranked him 11):
The risk remains high for Morales, but the upside still hasn’t gone anywhere. Morales struggled for much of 2018, but showed tons of signs that the raw stuff is still incredibly good (including a wipeout slider). He’s going to need to really work on his control for him to succeed.
Cormican (ranked him 11):
If you asked me to design a starting pitcher in a lab, I’d design Morales. The delta in outcomes might be wider than anyone else on this list. That slider Jay mentioned is probably the best one in the org, and the fastball and changeup both have plus potential (the fastball is technically there, but there are some consistency issues). I don’t know that he’ll ever develop the control/command to be a #1 starter, but a #2 starter is possible and his floor could be high leverage reliever given the double plus slider and the fastball potentially also getting to plus-plus in brief appearances.
Victor (ranked him 11):
The inconsistency in Morales’ windup can be startling to watch at times, but with that devastating slider to turn to, he can get strikes when he needs them. The bullpen will need to be ready on nights Morales takes the mound, because he’s going to throw a lot of pitches, but you can only hope that somewhere along the way something clicks, the delivery is cleaned up, and he starts to mix in a potentially above-average changeup. Throw that in with a potential plus slider and plus fastball, and it all sounds very good, but this is still a risky profile right now.