Over the course of the offseason, I took some time to reflect and review upon individual seasons of players that I’ve been watching for quite some time, and tried to outline a few lesser-known guys that I believe are going to see some big numbers this year.
Come mid-season, I would not be surprised to see each and every one of these players on most, if not all, ‘Phillies Top Prospects’ lists. For now, most of them linger below the Top 20, but that will surely change should the cards run in their favor.
Matt Vierling, OF
Vierling’s 2018 flew under the radar, surprisingly. At 6’3”, 205 lbs, and 21 years old, the 2018 Fifth Round Pick out of Notre Dame worked to an excellent slash of .321/.365/.473 over 62 games in A- and A Ball.
His contact numbers were, indeed, standout, but his power numbers were certainly nothing to scoff at, either. He hit 7 bombs in 62 games with an .860 OPS, which, for a 21 year-old, is a solid total.
Matt’s one weakness lies within his ability to take a base on balls, which became apparent in his minuscule 13 walks over the course of his 2018 campaign. This issue will surely be addressed in 2019, an adjustment which will make Vierling one to watch this coming year.
The young outfielder is slated to start in A+ ball, where he’ll hopefully work to rise to AA to replace the quickly rising Adam Haseley, or even the evergreen breakout candidate in Mickey Moniak.
Starlyn Castillo, RHP (#27 on MLB Pipeline’s, ‘Top 30 Phillies Prospects’)
Remember Sixto Sanchez? That six-foot-even right-handed fireballer out of the Dominican Republic? Well, allow me to introduce you to Starlyn Castillo, a six-foot-even right-handed fireballer out of the Dominican Republic.
Castillo was ranked as the #2 pitcher on MLB Pipeline’s list of top international prospects, and was the Phillies’ primary international acquisition in 2018, garnering a whopping $1.6 Million signing bonus from the club.
At just 17 years-old, Castillo is turning heads with a solid three-pitch arsenal, featuring his blazing fastball and filthy slider combo. He sits at around the 92-95 MPH range which, for such a young arm, is impressive to say the least. While he has yet to display the plus control that his predecessor, Sixto Sanchez, is so highly regarded for, he is three years younger, and has yet to benefit from the guidance of a professional training staff.
He’ll look to throw through his first season of Rookie Ball in 2019, but I’m sure he’ll have many an eye on his career as it unfolds.
Kevin Gowdy, RHP (#24 on MLB Pipeline’s, ‘Top 30 Phillies Prospects’)
The 42nd pick overall in the 2016 draft, Gowdy is perhaps the most intriguing of any prospect heading into the 2019 season. Kevin was shut down early in the 2016 season, and then, with only four games of Rookie Ball under his belt, went on to have Tommy John surgery in the summer of 2017, forcing him to miss out on all of the 2018 season, as well.
It’s fair to say that he’s had a rough go of it.
However, in 2019, Gowdy will look to bounce back. The now 21 year-old still sports a complete trio of plus pitches, as well as a solid control tool, making him the ideal depiction of a starting pitcher. If he can regain his velocity and see some consistent appearances, the Phillies will see a phoenix-like resurgence out of the young right-hander.
Logan O’Hoppe, C
O’Hoppe was a major steal for the Phillies, who took him in the 23rd round of the 2018 draft.
Post draft, the young catching prospect dominated Rookie Ball, slashing a stellar .367/.411/.532 with 2 Homers in 109 at-bats. Even in lower-system ball, those numbers are enough to catch any scout’s eye.
If his slash line hadn’t already spelled it out for you — O’Hoppe can hit, but that’s not where the talent ends. In 2018, Logan was awarded the Rawlings High-School Gold Glove, thus signifying him as the premiere defensive high-school catcher in the nation.
The 19 year-old, who stands at 6’3” and 185 pounds, still has a ways to go in terms of growing into himself as a player, as well as an athlete, but, if his preliminary season is any indication, the Phillies could have something quite special on their hands.
Kyle Young, LHP (#17 on MLB Pipeline’s, ‘Top 30 Phillies Prospects’)
If you have yet to see this giant being trudging about the Phillies minor-league system, you should check him out — he’s hard to miss. Kyle Young is a SEVEN-FOOT tall pitcher who the Phillies were somehow able to snag in the 22nd round of the 2016 draft.
Young is oft praised for his surprisingly solid coordination, especially given his size. He also shows above-average control, but falls flat as far as velocity is concerned, sitting at around 88-91 MPH on average. Yet, even given the lower-end velocity of his pitches, Young has displayed dominance across every level he’s pitched in. He boasts a 2.74 ERA over 35 career appearances across Rookie Ball into Single A.
Young is just 21 years of age, and has room to grow in almost every single aspect of his game — excluding his height, of course. It will be extremely exciting to see how he evolves in terms of pitch structure and velocity as time goes on.
Fun fact, should he see the majors one day, Young would be the tallest MLB starting pitcher, literally, ever.