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.