The Phillies are in full-on contend mode, having built their core up for the last few years before an off-season splurge that saw them add talent from the open market and in trades. Along with the blockbuster signing of Bryce Harper, deals for big leaguers J.T. Realmuto and Jean Segura cost the organization J.P. Crawford and top prospect Sixto Sanchez, among others. There’s still a number of potentially-impactful prospects on the farm, however, and last year’s third overall pick (#1) Alec Bohm is proving to have been a wise investment. Though the organization likely won’t pick so high in the draft again for the next few years, a very active international scouting department can keep adding top talent to the pipeline even as the big legaue club contends. The remnants of Philadelphia’s aggression in Latin America can be seen throughout our rankings, as recent high-dollar J2 signees like (#3) Luis J. Garcia, (#8) Francisco Morales, and (#9) Simon Muzziotti feature prominently on this list. Flamethrowing righty Starlyn Castillo (Pure Projection) was signed to a $1.6 million bonus in last year’s period, and there’s little reason to think Philadelphia will stop being players at the top of the market each July.
The Phillies boast four players atop this list that all have the upside of significant big leaguers. There’s risk, too, and while it’s not likely all four prospects completely max out their ceilings, the group still has the chance to produce a middle-of-the-order bat, a quality regular at shortstop, and two potential mid-rotation starters.
A stockpile of low-ceiling strikethrowers and center-diamond defenders give the system a high volume of potential FV 40/45 types. The Phillies are poised to have no shortage of cost-controlled spot-starters, middle-innings types, and bench players coming through their pipeline at team-friendly rates in the next few years. None of these players will push the needle themselves, but given Philadelphia’s already-strong core—plus the ability to spend on the open market when they need to—this type of on-the-dollar depth is nothing but a plus.
Both (#2) Adonis Medina and (#3) Spencer Howard have the best-case ceilings of #3 starters, though recent reviews of Medina in Double-A have been so-so and Howard—despite an excellent start to the year in High-A—went down early with a shoulder inflammation. Certainly, neither of those things completely takes either guy off course, but both situations are worth keeping an eye on. There’s lots of pitching depth past those two, though not much surefire impact. (#6) Enyel De Los Santos is ready to help now but probably tops out as no more than a #5 starter. (#11) JoJo Romero, (#13) Cole Irvin, (#14) Ranger Suarez, and Drew Anderson (On the Horizon) all have slid to the FV 40 tier, profiling as longman/spot-starter types on a contending roster. If it’s any consolation, all of those FV 40/45 arms are knocking on the door to the big legaues, with all but Romero having recorded service time already.
TOP 15 PREF LIST
|3||Luis J. Garcia||SS||55||Extreme||2022|
|6||Enyel De Los Santos||RHP||45||Moderate||2018|
CREAM OF THE CROP
(#1) Alec Bohm, 3B
The #3 overall pick in last year’s draft, Bohm placed near the end of our recent Top 125 Prospects List because of some lingering questions about his hit tool and future defensive profile. The adjustments he has made at the plate lead to a huge start to the 2019 season—Bohm dominated the South Atlantic League and was bumped up to High-A a few weeks before this piece was released. He has answered many of the offensive questions, showing improved ability to stay through low/away pitches and open up other parts of the field without sacrificing power or changing a disciplined approach. Bohm is a fringy defender at 3B that might lack the lateral agility for the position despite an arm that’s more than strong enough for the hot corner. He has already gotten 1B reps this season, though his offensive prowess could be such that it doesn’t matter where he ultimately winds up. While the 6-foot-5, 225-pound Bohm clearly doesn’t have truly plus wheels, his base running instincts and general alertness on both sides of the ball are assets. He’ll be a solid defensive 1B even if he does ultimately have to move across the infield; Philadelphia has also shown they’re willing to try larger-bodied outfielders on the corners at the Major League level, and there’s a chance he’s at least mobile enough to give that a try if need be. Bohm is tearing his way through A-Ball in his first full professional season and has so far looked like one of the top offensive threats in the minors. At this pace, he could force his way into Philadelphia’s big league mix as soon as late 2020 or early 2021.
(#2) Adonis Medina, RHP
Signed for just $70K in 2014, Medina has been an absolute steal and a testament to the merits of beating the bushes on the international market. He blossomed into one of the organization’s top prospects after a breakout 2017 season in the South Atlantic League. Medina followed that up with a solid 2018 in the Florida State League, striking out more than a batter per inning with reasonable walk rates. At 6-foot-1 and a thin, wiry 185 pounds, Medina’s frame isn’t built like a classing workhorse. His plus athleticism and twitch produced armspeed that cranked the fastball to the 97-98 mph early in his pro career, though his velocity has backed up a bit this season in Double-A. Medina still has plenty of velo–he sits 92-94 mph comfortably and touches 95 mph–but his fastball is beginning to rely on its above-average movement more than power, and given his thinner frame, there’s a chance Medina the starter just won’t reach back for the same type of arm-strength he flashed a few years ago. His best pitch is a sharp, slurvy breaking ball that can look like a curve or slider depending on its power and tilt. The pitch flashes above-average and projects as a 55-grade offering, able to get righties to chase it down and away. Medina has made strides with his changeup, an 84-to-87 mph diver with flashes of hard, late action. His command over the plate is still developing, but he shows advanced ability to sequence his off-speed and keeps three pitches around the zone. He draws a huge range of opinions from team personnel and scouts outside the organization alike, with some seeing a top 50 prospect in baseball and others predicting closer to a mid-rotation ceiling. Even our group internally was split, and though we’re leaving him in the FV 55 tier for now , there’s definitely some concern about his trending-down fastball on a narrow frame.
ON THE HORIZON
(#5) Adam Haseley, OF
A two-way player at the University of Virginia, Haseley rode a huge junior season into the top ten picks in 2017. There’s less upside than some others near the top of this list, though his polish and high floor are calling cards. Haseley shows the ingredients of a future solid-average hitter with above-average on-base ability, making frequent contact while demonstrating an advanced feel for the zone. He takes a lot of pitches and works counts, able to make consistent hard contact from a rhythmic, level swing-path. Haseley reached Double-A last year and finished strong in the Eastern League, the first few weeks of 2019 back at the level haven’t been as kind. While it has been his first extended exposure to the brutal Northeast weather—which does legitimately impact a fair amount of players early in the season in the Eastern and Midwest Leagues—he also falls into pull-happy ruts and struggles to stay through well-executed pitches down and away. Haseley posts strong exit velocities but lacks swing lift, with most of his contact coming for line drives and grounders with fringy power projection unless there’s an adjustment. Defensively, he’s an adequate fit in CF who likely finishes as the type of outfielder that moves interchangeably between all three spots. He isn’t a true burner, but 55-grade wheels and direct routes get the most out of his speed on the bases and in the outfield. Haseley will reach his best-case ceiling if he can ultimately hit for more power and/or find a way to become a more impactful CF defender. The upside is a solid-regular, with the approach, instincts, and well-rounded toolset to still be a role player if no one tool carries the profile.
(#6) Enyel De Los Santos, RHP
Ceiling: 45 Risk: Moderate ETA: 2018 Role Description: Backend Starter (#5 SP)
Ht/Wt: 6’3” / 170 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: MLB Age (as of April 1, 2019): 23y, 3m
Originally signed by the Mariners in 2014, De Los Santos was traded soon after to the Padres—at that time one of the only organizations devoting significant pro scouting resources to the lowest-minors, a practice that has now become the norm. The right-hander was dealt again in 2017 after a few years in San Diego’s system, this time to the Phillies in exchange for big league shortstop Freddy Galvis. De Los Santos made his big league debut last season and has been used in an up-and-down role so far in 2019. His fastball sits in the 92-to-94 mph range, mixing four-seamers and sinkers with improving control. He keeps a full mix of secondary pitches around the zone, headlined by a firm, late-diving changeup that he shows strong feel for. He shows hitters two distinct breaking balls, both a curve and slider, though neither pitch projects to miss bats. More attractive for his proximity and high floor than a particularly lofty ceiling, De Los Santos brings immediate value to the table and has the tools to ultimately fit as a #5 starter. He’s only 23 and has options remaining, making him a versatile depth option for now on a contending Phillies team.
(#10) Mauricio Llovera, RHP
Llovera broke out in 2018 and now ranks among the better pitching prospects in the organization. A short, hard-throwing righty with lingering questions about his future in the rotation, he has so far found a way to work as a starter. Llovera has more stuff than command, so that might not always be the case; he’s walking more hitters in his first taste of Double-A this year as advanced batters begin to chase his pitches less. The fastball touches 97-98 mph and sits comfortably in the mid-90s. A hard, late-diving splitter has become his best off-speed pitch, though an 82-to-86 mph slider projects as a solid weapon as well. Both secondaries could play up as miss-bat pitches in the bullpen, where Llovera could fit a high-leverage profile with the chance to get more than three outs at a time. There’s a scenario in which he pitches through mechanical effort enough to throw starter’s strikes, but he’d likely still wind up a power-over-feel backend type even then. Llovera will be Rule 5 eligible after this season and should be an easy add to the team‘ s 40-Man Roster in November. His above-average raw stuff makes him likely to fit a regular big league role in some capacity.
(#11) JoJo Romero, LHP
Ceiling: 40 Risk: Moderate ETA: 2019 Role Description: Long Relief
Ht/Wt: 6’0” / 190 lbs. B/T: L/L Highest Level: AAA Age (as of April 1, 2019): 22y, 6m
The team’s fourth-rounder from the JuCo ranks in 2016, Romero has moved quickly to Triple-A. His fastball touched the 94-95 mph range before an oblique injury ended his 2018 season, though he has worked in the 88-to-91 mph range this year in the International League. Romero has always showed above-average pitchability, and that’s what he’s riding to the big leagues now that his stuff seems to have settled closer to what’s expected from #5 SP/swingman types. He’ll change looks at a 77-to-83 mph breaking ball—showing both a curve and slider variant—while mixing a healthy dose of cutters and changeups. Romero stays around the zone and can adeptly pitch backwards and rely on his swath of secondary pitches in his best sequences. His injury troubles and smaller-bodied frame (though he’s a good athlete who repeats his delivery) make us think Romero is more likely to wind up a spot-starter or longman than a regular rotation option for a contender. The pitch IQ and ability to land different speeds for strikes gives him a high floor, realistically able to get big league innings late this year or early in 2020.
(#13) Cole Irvin, LHP
Ceiling: 40 Risk: Moderate ETA: 2019 Role Description: Long Relief
Ht/Wt: 6’4” / 180 lbs. B/T: L/L Highest Level: MLB Age (as of April 1, 2019): 25y, 2m
Irvin was the Phillies fifth-rounder in 2016 from the University of Oregon. He had Tommy John surgery in college but has been quite reliable since, making at least 25 starts in each of his two full seasons at the pro level. A soft-tossing lefty who gets by on control and pitchability, Irvin spent all of 2018 in Triple-A and lead the International League in ERA. The fastball sits in the high-80s and rarely cracks 90-91 mph, backed up by a deep mix of off-speed pitches he has feel for. We see him as a high-floor spot-starter/longman candidate who has some additional value because of his ability to step into a big league role right away. Irvin was added to the 40-Man Roster and made his Major League debut just a few days before this piece was published.
(#14) Ranger Suarez, LHP
Ceiling: 40 Risk: Moderate ETA: 2018 Role Description: Long Relief
Ht/Wt: 6’1” / 180 lbs. B/T: L/L Highest Level: MLB Age (as of April 1, 2019): 23y, 7m
Suarez emerged slowly as a prospect, spending the first five years of his career in short-season ball. He’s had success at every stop through the system, making his big league debut last summer. Similar to (#11) JoJo Romero, Suarez flashed bigger velocity earlier in his career (and has in short-stint outings as well) but pitches in the 89-to-92 mph range as a starter. He shows good feel to mix grips on his fastball—wrinkling cutters and sinkers off a four-seam—backed up by a sweepy slider and changeup. He’ll morph the breaking ball into a true curve at times for another look. Suarez started 2019 in Triple-A, though he hit the IL recently with a seemingly small abdominal strain. He’s a useful arm that can pitch in a variety of roles, from spot-starting to multi-inning relief. If some velocity comes back and/or he finds a unique aspect to play up fringy stuff, the max ceiling is a backend starter.
Edgar Garcia, RHP
Ceiling: 40 Risk: High ETA: 2019 Role Description: Middle Relief
Ht/Wt: 6’1” / 180 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: MLB Age (as of April 1, 2019): 22y, 5m
Short, hard-throwing starters in the low-minors often switch to relief higher up the ladder and find success. Garcia fits that prospect mold exactly. After shutting between the rotation and bullpen through A-Ball, the Phillies shifted him to relief full-time in 2018 and Garcia immediately had success. He was added to the 40-Man Roster after last season and recently made his Major League debut. Garcia’s fastball works in the mid-90s, backed by a hard slider in the 83-to-88 mph range. There’s more depth to his breaking ball at the low end of its velocity band, playing more like a cut-type pitch at 87-88 mph. He profiles as a two-pitch middle reliever, one with some extra roster value given numerous remaning Minor League options.
Drew Anderson, RHP
Anderson has been up and down from Triple-A each of the last three seasons, still yet to accrue enough service time to graduate out of prospect status. He’s a classic FV 40 type, a longman/mopup guy that better teams like as upper-level depth. No pitch carries the profile enough for a true rotation role, though Anderson can also fill in as a spot-starter when needed. As of 2019 he has used three Minor League options, so his value as a flexible roster piece will diminish after this year.
Kyle Dohy, LHP
Dohy has put up big numbers since signing as an unheralded 16th rounder from a California junior college in 2017. He has already reached Triple-A, moving quickly up the ladder in a relief-only role. The fastball tops out at 96 mph and sits in the low-90s, backed by a sweepy slider and fading high-70s changeup with extreme separation. Dohy has battled occasional control problems and often elevates his pitches in the zone, though excellent extension helps play up his heater to the upper-third. He’s attractive for his relatively high floor and could surface in the big leagues as a middle reliever by late 2020.
(#3) Luis J. Garcia, SS
The Phillies have been aggressive on the international market in recent years, Garcia being one of the gems in the system signed to large amateur bonuses. His game was so polished that the organization skipped him over the DSL entirely last summer. Garcia was electric in the Gulf Coast League as a 17-year-old, leading the league in hitting with a .369/.433/.488 slash line. Though he has struggled so far this year as one of the youngest players in the South Atlantic League, there’s little reason to feel differently about Garcia’s long-term upside. He’s a potential plus hitter with sneaky power that could make him a star if it ever exceeds average because of his up-the-middle profile. Garcia is a standout defender at shortstop with plus arm-strength and soft hands, a lock to stay at a premium position. We think he’ll be able to adjust back to the level with more reps there, even if it means starting 2019 back in the South Atlantic League–something that wouldn’t be that huge a setback considering how young Garcia still is. For context, he’s the age of most high school seniors in this year’s MLB Draft. Garcia’s potential above-average hitting ability and glovework give the ceiling of an impactful player at a valuable defensive spot.
(#4) Spencer Howard, RHP
Howard is a late-blooming prospect, one that just missed our recent Top 125 Prospects List but arguably had a case for the 101-125 range heading into 2019. He had less amateur track record and pedigree than many top arms while at Cal Poly, riding helium late in his junior year into the second round in 2017. Howard kept getting better as last season went along, hitting a groove down the stretch and dominating for Lakewood in the 2018 South Atlantic League playoffs. A strong-bodied 6-foot-3, Howard has a power arsenal with numerous miss-bat secondary pitches. The fastball works in the 94-to-98 mph range with more control than in-zone command, but with his velocity, just being able to limit walks works enough to profile as a starter. His feel for a mid-80s changeup has improved to the point it flashes like his best off-speed at times, backed by a hard slider that also shows sharp down action. Howard started 2019 off strong in the Florida State League, recently placed on the IL with minor shoulder soreness. It’s likely precautionary, though it’s worth noting he has pitched a heavy pro workload after not throwing many innings as an amateur. The Phillies might have struck gold with this one, as Howard has the stuff and frame to look every bit one of the better pitching prospects in baseball on his best nights. There’s a bit more risk and uncertainty than many college arms, but the ceiling is a potential mid-rotation starter with the power stuff to rack up strikeouts.
(#7) Mickey Moniak, OF
The first overall pick just two years ago, Moniak’s ups and downs in pro ball to date have been highly scrutinized. After a quiet first full season in Low-A, the industry was ready to press the panic button after he limped to a .254/.272/.321 line the first half of last season in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. Moniak quieted some doubters with a strong second half, making a few critical adjustments and rebounding to slash .286/.332/.442 the rest of the way. The Phillies assigned him aggressively to Double-A to start 2019, where he’s currently one of the youngest regulars in the Eastern League. He has struggled against advanced pitching in the early goings, though his age versus the level has masked Moniak’s true talent a bit thus far. The raw ingredients for an everyday CF are still here, and his gains in both swing lift and power last season make it more realistic he could finish with enough offensive impact to play every day. Moniak is an instinctual outfield defender with an above-average arm, a potential solid-to-above-average glove in CF who would be plus on either corner. While he wouldn’t go 1/1 if the 2016 Draft was done again, we’re cautiously optimistic there’s reason to stay the course on Moniak’s general upside. With continued offensive development–especially against both same-side arms and advanced off-speed in general–he’s a potential regular at a center-diamond spot. The makeup and feel for the game that drove his draft stock prevevnt the floor from being too low; even if Moniak winds up a tweener, his well-rounded toolset and general instincts project to make him a solid role player.
(#8) Francisco Morales, RHP
Morales signed for $900K in 2016, the highest bonus of any pitcher in Philadelphia’s international class that year. The organization has showed their faith in his advanced stuff by continually challenging Morales with aggressive assignments. He skipped over the DSL for his pro debut, pitched last season in the New York-Penn League as an 18-year-old, and began this year as one of the youngest arms in the South Atlantic League. While some of his first Low-A outings have been bumpy, a strikeout rate that easily exceeds a batter per inning hints at the upside here. A physical 6-foot-4, his fastball already touches 95 mph and sits comfortably in the low-90s with heavy run. The slider is his best off-speed, a potential bat-misser down the road with good power and flashes of sharp action. Morales’ changeup and general control/command are age-appropriately raw, but his durable frame and low-maintenance mechanics allow projection across the board. Though there’s always a standard level of risk with any teenage arm, we’re fairly bullish on his chances to develop into a workhorse #3/#4 starter.
(#9) Simon Muzziotti, OF
Muzziotti initially signed with the Red Sox, though he was later declared a free agent through MLB’s investigation into how the organization courted him and four other amateur prospects. Philadelphia swooped in at that point, and Muzziotti has moved very quickly through the system since. A lack of power keeps him from the FV 50+ tier, but for a 20-year-old in the Florida State League, the Venezuelan outfielder is very advanced. He’s hitterish at the plate with a quick, fluid, level path that’s geared for contact. Muzziotti started 2019 very young for High-A, highlighting his polish by holding his own despite being a few years younger than his competition. Defensively, he projects in CF with long strides and an easy defensive gait. There’s a cap on his ceiling if no power develops, but Muzziotti’s hit tool, athleticism, and center-diamond profile give the ceiling of at least a solid role player. He could finish better than that if he’s able to grow into more offensive impact.
(#12) Rafael Marchan, C
Signed for $200K from Venezuela in 2015, Marchan has moved to the front of a deep crop of low-minors catching prospects in the organization. He’s a very advanced defender with polished receiving, blocking, and a quick release. Built with boxy features at only 5-foot-9, Marchan’s “pocket rocket” body type bodes well for his future durability at a grueling position. A switch-hitter, he’s aggressive from both sides with more barrel-feel hitting right-handed. There’s signs of hard contact when squared with enthusing bat-to-ball ability, though he’ll take time to develop offensively as a young hitter with two different swings. His bulk provides the basis for some raw power in BP that could start showing up in games with more swing lift. We really like the glove and think that alone can get Marchan to the big leagues; the chance for a 45-grade switch-hitting bat could make him a defensive-minded regular in the best-case scenario.
(#15) Jhailyn Ortiz, OF
Ortiz’ stunning raw power prompted the Phillies to pay him a $4 million amateur bonus in the 2015 international period. He’s generously listed right now at 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, though he’s both taller and significantly heftier than that. Ortiz had success upon reaching the New York-Penn League and ranked as one of the circuit’s best prospects in 2017. Since then, however, it has been a struggle for the 20-year-old. He scuffled in the South Atlantic League last year—still getting to 13 home runs despite a .225 batting average and 148 total whiffs—and it has been more of the same for him so far this season in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. Ortiz currently plays in RF, and while his plus throwing arm profiles there, no one outside the organization thinks he’ll wind up anywhere but 1B. He’s young enough that 70-grade raw power still keeps him on the radar, but as a landlocked corner-only prospect, he’ll continue sliding down this list without showing signs of making more contact.
Dominic Pipkin, RHP
Ceiling: 45 Risk: Extreme ETA: 2023 Role Description: Swingman
Ht/Wt: 6’4” / 160 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: A Age (as of April 1, 2019): 19y, 4m
Pipkin’s velocity spiked just before the draft last spring, prompting the Phillies to sign him to an over-slot $800K bonus in the ninth round. A lean, athletic 6-foot-4, there’s plenty of room to get stronger with reason to project on a loose, clean delivery. Pipkin’s fastball has ranged between 88 and 94 mph in pro ball, sitting at 90-to-92 mph. He could unlock a tick more velocity as he fills out and sit in the 92-to-94 mph range when fully developed. His slurvy breaking ball works more like a slider in the low-80s and is curve-like when thrown at 77-to-79 mph. It probably morphs into a true slider with more reps, and while it’s mostly a short spinner for now, the pitch flashes occasional sharp action that hints it could develop into a workable big league breaking ball. His changeup is in the nascent stages, not thrown much and often straightening out over the plate. Pipkin is a development project with back-rotation ingredients, though it’s a high-variance profile and he’s more of a lottery ticket than anything at this point. He’s likely on a lengthy development trajectory, though the projection and tools merit a writeup on the unranked portion of this list.
Starlyn Castillo, RHP
Ceiling: 45 Risk: Extreme ETA: 2024 Role Description: Swingman
Ht/Wt: 6’0” / 210 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: DNP Age (as of April 1, 2019): 17y, 1m
Castillo signed for $1.6 million last July, one of the consensus top arms in the 2018 international class. He’s extremely physically developed, already a muscular 6-foot and 210 pounds with a mature look to his frame. With that strength comes very advanced stuff for a 17-year-old. Castillo’s heater touches the 97-98 mph range already and sits comfortably in the mid-90s. He spins a hard breaking ball in the low-80s with some feel for depth on the pitch. Castillo is unorthodox given how developed the stuff and body are. His ceiling is a power starter with two potentially plus pitches, though the track record is spotty for young arms who throw this hard, this early with maxed out body types.
Daniel Brito, INF
Ceiling: 40 Risk: High ETA: 2021 Role Description: Bench Player
Ht/Wt: 6’1” / 170 lbs. B/T: L/R Highest Level: A+ Age (as of April 1, 2019): 21y, 2m
Brito has intrigued scouts with his twitchy frame, smooth left-handed swing, and athletic center-diamond actions for a few years, though he has yet to turn a corner offensively. He has always been young for his level, however, and is as old as most college juniors in this year’s upcoming draft. Those aspects still are the calling cards, as Brito is yet to have much statistical success at the plate or hit for power. As he grows into a stronger frame, the underlying tools to hit are here. That could lay the groundwork for a bench profile given the infield versatility.
Connor Seabold, RHP
Seabold was the Phillies’ third-rounder in 2017 from Cal State Fullerton. He’s a fairly polished college righty with more floor than ceiling. He skipped over Low-A entirely last year to start his first full pro season and held his own in the Florida State League, reaching Double-A Reading by year’s end. The fastball sits in the low-90s, playing down to a fringy offering due to more control than command and limited lateral movement. He lands a shapely breaking ball and changeup for strikes, able to mix his pitches keep hitters off-balance. Seabold suffered an oblique strain at the end of Spring Training, so he has yet to pitch in an official game this season. He could wind up lacking a carry tool and settling in as a 4A depth piece, but the sum-of-parts gives longman/spot-starter upside.
Nick Maton, INF
Ceiling: 40 Risk: High ETA: 2021 Role Description: Bench Player
Ht/Wt: 6’2” / 165 lbs. B/T: L/R Highest Level: A+ Age (as of April 1, 2019): 22y, 1m
Maton has similarities to Daniel Brito (Pure Projection), a rangy infielder with a smooth left-handed stroke that lacks power. Maton is a year older than Brito but shows more in-game feel to hit; the two have been teammates climbing the ladder in Lakewood and Clearwater, and so far, Maton has gotten the lion’s share of reps at shortstop. No one tool carries the profile, and even if he stays at the 6, his glove is likely closer to average than plus. Maton is an instinctual, high-makeup player with bloodlines—his brother is big league reliever Phil Maton—secondary attributes that help lay the groundwork for a high-floor bench/utility profile. He’s off to a strong start in the Florida State League and will move up this list down the road if he starts showing more offensive upside.
Victor Santos, RHP
Santos signed for $150K in 2016 and has moved extremely quickly through the system because of advanced polish. His numbers in the GCL last year were outstanding, and they’d be cause for a lot more excitement if he wasn’t fully maxed out and limited in stuff. A chubby 6-foot-1 with thickness through both halves, it’s a fully mature frame with no projection. Santos throws a ton of strikes with a 88-to-92 mph fastball, settling in at a fringy 90-to-91 mph on the heater. His slider projects as a playable breaking pitch, but it’s the changeup that grades as the better secondary. Santos shows advanced feel for it, thrown in the low-80s with fastball armspeed and movement that mimics the heater. As is the case with many low-minors performers, the fastball/changeup combo—paired with the ability to throw any pitch for a strike—baffles A-Ball hitters and is responsible for his statistical success so far. These attributes can get him to the big leagues, but it’s tough to earmark the attribute that’s loud enough to foreseeably carve out a future rotation role. He has a higher floor than many pitching prospects his age but comes with a lower ceiling, too. We have Santos tabbed as a potential longman/spot-starter type for now, wanting to see him prove it at every level (and at AA/AAA) before bumping him to the FV 45 tier or higher.
Rodolfo Duran, C
Ceiling: 40 Risk: High ETA: 2021 Role Description: Bench Player
Ht/Wt: 5’9” / 181 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: A+ Age (as of April 1, 2019): 21y, 1m
Duran and (#12) Rafael Marchan have similarities, both short and stocky catchers with advanced defensive ability that leads the profile. Both backstops are strong enough to muscle balls out to the pullside. Marchan is younger, a switch-hitter, and we like his chances to hit enough for a low-end everyday ceiling just a little bit more. We put Duran behind Marchan for those reasons, though Duran’s occasional pop and above-average catch/throw tools give him the chance to fit as a backup. He performed at the plate in Low-A last year with an offensive profile scouts were skeptical translated to higher levels. That has so far been the case, as the 21-year-old has struggled mightily in his first taste of High-A in 2019–albeit in an extremely pitcher-friendly environment in the Florida State League.
Arquimedes Gamboa, SS
Gamboa was one of the more touted amateur prospects available in the 2014 international class. A switch-hitter with flashy center-diamond defensive tools and no-doubt ability to stay at shortstop, the raw ability that prompted Philadelphia to give him a $900K bonus is still visible. He hasn’t progressed as hoped offensively, however, and has struggled mightily when facing advanced competition. Scouts have noted a low motor and are concerned about the number of apathetic at-bats Gamboa has turned in from the end of last year, through Fall League, and into the start of 2019. Even so, he’s still only 21 and could simply be on a longer development trajectory as a young switch-hitter, so there’s some reason to hold out hope for at least some progress at the plate. Gamboa likely won’t develop the power or overall offensive impact to profile as a regular, but his defensive ability at a premium position gives the ceiling of a bench player.
Abrahan Gutierrez, C
Gutierrez originally signed with the Braves, one of the prospects Atlanta was forced to forfeit as punishment for their international rule-breaking. He was a highly-regarded amateur on the international market, though his prospect stock has slipped as bit through the lowest parts of the minors. A physical 6-foot-2 and 214 pounds, Gutierrez has the durability of a big league backstop and can stay at the position so long as his frame stays in check. Some have questioned his actions at catcher, though we’re fairly high on his chances to stick behind the dish. Gutierrez has the strength for flashes of raw power in BP, with the body type to grow into more game power as he learns to work under the ball. He has a number of big league tools, and at 19-years-old, Gutierrez is young enough to project across the board.
Carlos De La Cruz, OF
De La Cruz has a body type rarely seen in hitters. Oneil Cruz (Pirates) has a similar frame, but De La Cruz is two inches taller at 6-foot-8. He looks more like an NBA wingman than a baseball player, though he’s very athletic with spry, twitchy features. De La Cruz runs well for his size and has burgeoning raw power that he has barely tapped into. He shows leverage and loft in BP, with up to two full grades more raw power to come as he fills out. There’s limited feel to hit and might always be at his size, with minimal pitch recognition and a very long swing-path. De La Cruz has the mobility to play all three outfield positions for now, a strong arm hinting RF is the likely destination long-term. The mix of height and arm-strength also has scouts wondering whether De La Cruz should try getting on the mound if the hitting experiment is ever fully shelved. This is the epitome of a lottery ticket, and there’s little precedent for this type of hitting prospect which makes it tough to predict a development trajectory from here.
Ben Brown, RHP
Brown was an unheralded 33rd round pick in 2017 from a high school in New York state. He’s still largely an unknown commodity, though his frame, stuff, and performance have turned heads in the early goings for Low-A Lakewood this year. The 6-foot-6 righty touches 95 mph with his fastball on a frame that has room to add strength. He spins a hard curveball in the 78-to-82 mph range that flashes the depth and sharpness of a Major League pitch. Brown’s changeup and control/command are raw, but there’s a lot to dream on and he could take large steps forward as a recent cold-weather prep arm. He’s a lottery ticket with interesting tools, likely on a lengthy development trajectory.
Kyle Young, LHP
Ceiling: 40 Risk: Extreme ETA: 2022 Role Description:
Ht/Wt: 6’10” / 205 lbs. B/T: L/L Highest Level: A+ Age (as of April 1, 2019): 21y, 3m
Young stands 6-foot-10 with remarkable control for someone his size. His narrow, lanky frame isn’t particularly burly and the fastball only rarely cracks 90 mph, but natural angle and extension—paired with sound strikethrowing from the left side—plays everything up. He lands a mix of fringy secondary pitches in the zone and shows advanced pitchability. Young started this season in the Florida State League but recently succumbed to Tommy John surgery before this piece was published. He has some similarities to former big leaguer Mark Hendrickson and could potentially parlay the funkiness provided by a 3XL frame into some Major League role. Considering the limitations of Young’s stuff and the fact he’ll now miss time coming back from surgery, he’s in the lottery ticket bin for now.
Zach Warren, LHP
Like Kyle Dohy (On the Horizon), Warren is a college lefty drafted after the 10th round who has put up big numbers from the ‘pen through the low minors. His fastball has started touching the mid-90s, sitting 91-to-94 from a tough closed angle. Warren shows the ball late and tunnels his mid-80s slider well off the heater. This type of profile comes with a fairly limited ceiling, but Warren could move quickly to AA/AAA and has a could bring value in a situational relief role.
Manuel Silva, LHP
Silva has fringy stuff but a ton of projection left in an extra-wiry 6-foot-2 frame. He’s a quick-twitch athlete with a fast arm, touching the low-90s and showing flashes of feel for both a slider and changeup. He might lack the durability or carry pitch for a true rotation profile, but as a left-hander with a mix of stuff, feel, and low-minors success, there are interesting ingredients to build on. Silva was recently bumped up to Low-A Lakewood from Extended Spring Training to make his full-season debut. He’s pitching 2-4 inning stints in a piggyback system, splitting time with a number of other young development projects in the BlueClaws’ rotation.
Jonathan Guzman, SS
Guzman is a slick-fielding shortstop without the offensive projection to profile as a regular. The 19-year-old infielder is a plus athlete with significant physical projection remaining, though he’ll need to get much stronger to hit at all. The Phillies pushed him to full-season ball to begin 2019 on the strength of his defense, and Guzman has predictably shined with the glove but struggled at the plate. His ceiling is a defensive specialist, though this profile runs the risk of stalling out in the upper-minors if there winds up being no offensive impact whatsoever.
Kendall Simmons, INF
Simmons was the Phillies’ sixth-rounder last year from the Georgia prep ranks. He fits the organization’s standard position player mold, a teenage center-diamond athlete with projection required across the board. Simmons was young for his high school class—turning 18 just before the draft—and given the team’s already-crowded middle infield picture in Lakewood, he began 2019 in Extended Spring Training. A twitchy 6-foot-2, he whips the bat through the zone and has a chance for more raw power than many middle infielders. It’s a raw present hit tool with limited barrel-control or pitch recognition, meaning Simmons will have to add polish and tighten up his strike zone to have offensive value at higher levels. He’s a toolsy lottery ticket that should at least see the New York-Penn League this summer, where it will be interesting to see how much refinement he has been able to add with a year of pro reps under his belt.