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Examining the Phillies’ Rule 5 Protections

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Francisco Morales | Marc Narducci, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Friday was the deadline for clubs to protect players who are eligible for December’s Rule 5 Draft. The Phillies have added the following 6 players to its 40-man roster, making them ineligible for Rule 5 selection:

  • LHP Kyle Dohy
  • LHP Bailey Falter
  • LHP Damon Jones
  • SS Nick Maton
  • RHP Francisco Morales
  • OF Simon Muzziotti

Analysis of the protected players

Kyle Dohy, 24, is currently unranked in Baseball America’s Phillies prospect rankings. Dohy’s arsenal includes a fastball that can get up to 97 in short stints but usually sits in the low-to-mid 90’s in longer outings, a wipeout slider that overpowers lefties, and an effective changeup.

While Dohy’s stuff is up there with the best pitchers in the system, he has struggled with control throughout his career, culminating in a 18% walk rate in 2019 between AA and AAA. Dohy’s lack of command makes him better suited for a relief role long term. By protecting him, the Phillies feel Dohy can possibly contribute at the Major League level in 2021, likely as a lefty-specialist. While he certainly presents substantial risk, Dohy’s career 34% K rate is too good to leave unprotected.

Bailey Falter, 23, is currently unranked in BA’s Phillies prospect rankings. Falter has 4 offerings, the best of which is a slider that flashes average at times. His fastball typically sits 89-92. Due to his lack of pure stuff, Falter relies on keen pitchability and deception, which has allowed him to perform well statistically throughout his career.

Falter currently projects as a back-of-the-rotation starter if he can prove his lack of stuff plays at the Major League level. One plus with Falter is his projectable frame - 6’4”, 175 lbs. - which could allow him to add velo in the coming years and exceed his present expectations. The decision to protect Falter may come as a surprise to some, however his total profile likely won over Phillies brass at this year’s instructional league.

Damon Jones, 26, is currently ranked 22nd in BA’s Phillies prospect rankings. Jones features a 3 pitch mix: a fastball that sits 91-94 and tops at 96, a slider that he uses well against both righties and lefties, and a changeup that is less effective than his other two pitches. Jones has redefined himself in recent years after being an 18th round pick in 2017, and while his ceiling is that of a starter, he projects as more of a reliever or swingman long term.

Jones dominated A+ and AA in 2019 before struggling at Lehigh Valley, where he posted a 6.62 ERA and 16.5% BB rate in 8 starts. Even though he is a project, Jones’ ceiling is exciting enough for the Phillies to protect him.

Nick Maton, 23, is currently ranked 10th in BA’s Phillies prospect rankings. Maton has good bat-to-ball skills and has started making harder contact in the past year. He will never be a masher, but could hit 12-15 homeruns at the Major League level. Both Maton’s arm and glove rate above-average or better, and he has the ability to play all over the infield.

Maton’s versatility means he could fallback as a utility player if he cannot hit enough to stay in the lineup. However, I believe he at least has a chance to be a starting shortstop in the Majors. The decision to protect Maton was likely very easy.

Francisco Morales, 21, is currently the #4 ranked prospect in BA’s Phillies prospect rankings. Morales features a 93-97 mph heater and a ferocious slider, giving him the best two pitch mix in the system. While Morales’ stuff is elite, he lacks a third pitch which limits his upside as a starter. His command is decent, especially for a 21-year-old.

Despite being added to the 40-man, Morales still has some time to go in the minors, seeing as his highest level of experience is A (aside from the alternate site). In terms of future projection, Morales can be a 2/3 in a starting rotation if he can develop 1 or 2 more solid offerings. If he cannot, he certainly has the stuff to be a lights-out reliever. The decision to protect him was a no-brainer.

Simon Muzziotti, 21, is currently ranked 8th in BA’s Phillies prospect rankings. Muzziotti is the best defensive centerfielder in the Phillies’ farm system, but his best asset may actually be his bat. Muzziotti’s hit tool is terrific, though he will never be much of a masher. He profiles as a top-of-the-order hitter in the Majors.

While Muzziotti’s contact skills are impressive, there are some questions about how his lack of extra-base power will translate at the Major League level. The further development of his hit tool will dictate what his future role is, however I currently project him to be an everyday centerfielder in the future. It was an easy call protecting him.

Those who are Rule 5 vulnerable

The Phillies likely won’t lose anyone to the Rule 5 Draft this year. The biggest name on the unprotected list is Jhailyn Ortiz, who has a rocket arm as well as the best power in the system but a career 30.2% K rate. His poor plate discipline likely means he will go undrafted.

David Parkinson, the 2018 Phillies minor league pitcher of the year, is also unlikely to be selected due to his lack of raw stuff. Parkinson has found success in years’ past due to his advanced command, however pitchers of that ilk are not usually prioritized in the Rule 5.