Monthly Archives: February 2016

The Dichotomy of the 2016 Phillies

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Courtesy Baseball Betsy

Today the Phillies will take on the University of Tampa for the first baseball since the end of the 2015 World Series. The starting lineup will look as such:

Jeremy Hellickson will take the mound, and Peter Bourjous will take the start in left field. Both are veterans and fall into the “traveled veteran” category of the Phillies roster. We will no doubt see plenty of them as the season progresses, with the injury bug sure to strike hard and necessitate the signing of more journeymen to the roster to fill in those spots.

Thankfully, that type of player won’t be the only one we will see this season. Catchers Andrew Knapp and Jorge Alfaro will start (Knapp as the DH). Today will provide many fans their first glimpse of the two young prospects. Watching them play with may veterans will give us a snapshot of what the Phillies future could be.

In addition, young outfielders Odubel Herrera and Aaron Altherr will also start today. Both had impressive rookie campaigns last season, and Herrera had perhaps the best season among any Phillies player in 2015. Both also could be part of the future full of young players we’re hoping for so dearly.

While we will several journeymen and traveled veterans in the red pinstripes this year, we should also see several young players that can provide Phillies fans hope. The juxtaposition of the two types of players will most likely be the storyline of the team through most of this year.

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Watching the Phillies Could Actually Be Fun This Year

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Courtesy Baseball Betsy

For the first time in at least two seasons, watching the Phillies play baseball could actually be bearable. Dare I say, even enjoyable.

The only game I remember watching last year in its entirety was Aaron Nola’s debut. The excitement of the future of the franchise coming to the majors was too much to resist. I enjoyed watching Nola’s start and I hope to be able see one in person this season.

This year, we could have the same thing happen, but several times over. Out of my Top Ten, six of those prospects could all reach the majors this season, including the crown jewel J.P. Crawford.

As I watched Nola’s debut, there were far more fans there compared to other games I had seen. Nola was the second-best prospect in the system before the 2015 season; imagine the fanfare around the best prospect the Phillies have had in years in his debut. Seeing Crawford at Citizens Bank Park could be the biggest moment of the year in sports in a city that’s missing a good sports moment.

When you study prospects in-depth, watching them reach the majors with a majority of their stock intact is one of the best feelings. This year we could see Crawford, Jake Thompson, Nick Williams, Mark Appel, Roman Quinn, and Andrew Knapp all reach the majors. All of them each could be large contributors for the next contending Phillies team.

Watching several talented, young players reach the majors may provide bright spots in an otherwise dismal season for the Phillies this year. Even though there will be a lot of uninspiring baseball played (especially while we wait for these young prospects), the debuts of top prospects should give Phillies fans something enjoyable to watch over the summer.

2016 Preseason Phillies Prospect Rankings

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Franklyn Kilome has the most upside of any pitchers in the system – Photo Courtesy Baseball Betsy

After another key trade sending closer Ken Giles and post-minor league season No. 20 prospect, shortstop Jonathan Arauz, to Houston, the Phillies system was only bolstered further. Even though the Phillies will most likely be cellar-dwellers again in 2016, the development of top prospects will be one of the main storylines of the season. Speaking of which, let us dive into the top prospects in the Phillies system.

​1. SS JP Crawford: 6’2, 180, L/R, 21 in 2016, drafted in the first round of the 2013 draft, No. 16 overall

  • Hit: 60
  • Raw Power: 50/55
  • Game Power: 50
  • Speed: 50
  • Glove: 50/55
  • Arm: 55/60

Crawford has been the definitive No. 1 prospect across every prospect list for the Phillies this offseason, and for good reason. Crawford carries solid tools across the board, including pluses hitting and throwing. He also shows strong discipline at the plate, with more walks (63) than strikeouts (54) between High-A Clearwater and Double-A Reading, and only seven more career strikeouts than walks (169 to 162).

2016 Outlook: Crawford should start out the year in Triple-A Lehigh Valley and was invited to the big league camp for spring training.

Risk/Reward: At this point, Crawford is a low-risk prospect with a first-division regular worst-case scenario floor and many scouts project him to be an All-Star player.

2. OF Nick Williams: 6’3, 195, L/L, 22, acquired from Texas with Jorge Alfaro, Jake Thompson, Jerad Eickhoff, Alec Asher, and Matt Harrison for Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman

  • ​Hit: 50/55
  • Raw Power: 60
  • Game Power: 55/60
  • Speed: 60
  • Arm: 55
  • Glove: 45/50

The biggest hurdle scouts cited for Williams to succeed was his lack of plate discipline; however, his strikeout rate fell about 10% from 2014 to 2015. Continued success will hinge upon Williams’s plus raw power showing up in games, and while it has, it must continue to do so as he moves up the ladder. His speed makes him a capable defender in center field, even though he often finds himself taking some interesting routes to fly balls.

2016 Outlook: Williams’s path looks quite similar to Crawford’s as both ended 2015 in Reading. Williams should have his eyes on a mid-2016 debut with an invite to the pro camp in spring training and a near-guaranteed start in Lehigh.

Risk/Reward: Williams has some risk as his plate discipline will still lack at times, but his speed-power combo is nothing to scoff at. If he continues to turn his athletic ability to performance in games, he could become a first-division regular.

3. RHP Jake Thompson: 6’4, 235, R/R, 22 in 2016, acquired from Texas with Jorge Alfaro, Nick Williams, Jerad Eickhoff, Alec Asher, and Matt Harrison for Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman

  • Fastball: 60
  • Slider: 60
  • Changeup: 45/50
  • Command: 45​

Thompson transitioned well to the Eastern League, maintaining both his strikeout and walk rate while lowering his FIP by 0.4 points. His over-the-head delivery is inconsistent at times leading to control issues. Thompson has a strong mid-90s fastball as well as a plus slider with heavy bite that is his strikeout pitch. Thompson also has started to mix in a changeup, but it’s still in the works.

2016 Outlook: The core of the Phillies farm system lied in Reading in 2015, so it only makes sense that the top three will all be starting in Lehigh come 2016. Thompson may spend the full year at Triple-A with a September call-up if the team doesn’t think his command is up to par.

Risk/Reward: Thompson has medium risk with the fact that his control is still lackluster. He has the repertoire of a No. 2-3 pitcher with two plus pitches, but the development of Thompson’s command will determine if he can reach that ceiling.

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