The COVID-19 pandemic laid waste to the 2020 season in Minor League Baseball. As a result, I skipped ranking the Philadelphia Phillies prospects last year. It was simply impossible without having seen and read about actual game performances against quality competition.
Thankfully as the world began to move forward in 2021, so did baseball. The minor leagues saw tremendous change but at least there was a season. Same goes for college and high school baseball. With those performances under their belts it becomes much easier to present a legitimate prospect ranking.
The last time that I presented a Phillies Top Prospects ranking was in December 2019. Unfortunately, despite almost two full years since that time, the organization has not raised its prospect profile in the eyes of the experts.
Of Major League Baseball’s 30 teams, the Phillies farm system is ranked 27th universally, slotted into that spot in the latest organization rankings put out by MLB.com, Baseball America, Fangraphs, and Bleacher Report.
It’s difficult to say whether that will improve over the next few years under the stewardship of club president Dave Dombrowski, who has a reputation for building winners quickly at the big-league level at the cost of the farm system.
Despite their low overall organizational ranking, there are prospects developing in the system who could end up being impactful with the Phillies, including in the short-term. That’s where my ranking places emphasis, on those most likely to impact the club at Citizens Bank Park over the next few years.
That said, here are my current Top 10 Philadelphia Phillies Prospects rankings as we enter the off-season. Barring any of them being traded, these will be the same top youngsters when spring training opens in February. As a bonus, I’ve included an alphabetical list of others beyond that top ten who could move up if still with the organization in 2022.
- Bryson Stott – The club’s 1st round MLB Draft choice at 14th overall out of UNLV in 2019 hit his way from High-A to Triple-A this past summer when he slashed .299/.390/.486 and produced 44 extra-base hits. He has continued to rake in the Arizona Fall League as well. Defensively, if the Phillies don’t mess things up by juggling him at different positions, the 24-year-old should be the starting shortstop as soon as the second half of the 2022 season. A legitimate starting big-league shortstop who runs well and has extra-base pop? That bumps him ahead of a handful of good-looking pitching prospects for me.
- Hans Crouse – A power right-hander who came to the Phillies as part of the six-player trade sending former top pitching prospect Spencer Howard to Texas and bringing veteran pitchers Kyle Gibson and Ian Kennedy to Philly, Crouse could end up as the best player in that deal. Coming with colorful antics on the mound at times, Crouse could become a fan favorite as well. He made two late-season starts for the big club in September and depending on whether the team adds to the rotation in the off-season, Crouse will at least push for a bullpen role to start 2022.
- Mick Abel – Why isn’t Abel at the top of this list – not even my top pitcher – when all the others have him in one of those top two slots? It’s simply a matter of pro experience, distance from the big-leagues, and the fact that Crouse is a legit talent himself. Abel just turned 20-years-old in mid-August and has only 14 starts at A-level Clearwater under his belt to this point. The Phillies’ 1st round pick at 15th overall in 2020 has the size and stuff to become a legitimate ace. If he continues to develop and stay healthy it would be reasonable to expect him at the top of this list a year from now. Those same factors will determine his ETA in South Philly, but it won’t come in 2022. Remember how you were thinking about Howard a year or two ago? Let’s see what happens.
- Francisco Morales – Coming off a tremendously disappointing season spent mostly at Double-A Reading. However, he only turned 22 years of age a few days ago. It’s possible that his big fastball and devastating slider combination could make him a valuable piece of the future Phillies bullpen. It also wouldn’t be a surprise to see him in their rotation in a couple of years, or packaged as part of a Dombrowski deal. If that happens, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him come back to haunt them down the line.
- JoJo Romero – Phillies fans already got a charge out of his Red Bull-infused charges out of the bullpen when Romero made his big-league debut in 2020. The lefty reliever was enjoying success until a pair of mid-September blowups. After a rocky start to 2021 he pitched well over his final eight appearances, and then disaster struck. Tommy John surgery in May. Don’t expect Romero to be ready until the All-Star break in 2022 at the earliest. And then he will need some minor league time to get back in competitive and physical shape. Once a starting pitching prospect, Romero will still be just 25 when he returns and there is no reason that he cannot reestablish himself as a key bullpen southpaw.
- Kyle Dohy – A lefty reliever who made his big-league debut in 2021, Dohy has a big arm with somewhat of a funky delivery that keeps batters off-balance. Unfortunately, his problem has been putting those batters on base himself with free passes. His K/BB was 3.9 this year in 37.1 innings at Double-A Reading. He can succeed at that rate when you factor in his career 13.9 K/9 and the fact that he’s a southpaw. If the reduction in walk rate continues, along with continued refinement of what can at times be a wipeout slider, he could dominate. Dohy will bring his improved fastball and excellent changeup combo with him to compete for a bullpen role in 2022 spring training.
- Erik Miller – Various injuries caused a late start to Miller’s 2022 campaign and resulted in his only making five starts, none above High-A ball. The results were unimpressive. However, he’s a big guy with a big heater and is left-handed. The southpaw turns 24 right before 2022 spring training opens, so he could move fast. Biggest thing for now is to show up and stay healthy and then find success rising to the higher levels of the minor league system next year.
- Johan Rojas – Power. Speed. Strong defender. Rojas has the most impressive raw tool set among Phillies minor league position players. He just turned 21 in early August and will play at that age for most of the 2022 season, which should find him at Double-A Reading for most of the year. Historically, that’s a place where guys put up bigger offensive numbers. Not a big strikeout guy, I just want to see him round out his all-around hitting game. He’s probably a 2023 or 2024 guy, and it would be a bonanza for this organization if he can actually develop into an everyday, impact center fielder. The next couple of summers will tell the tale.
- Andrew Painter – Only 18-years-old, the big right-hander was the club’s 1st round pick at 13th overall this past summer. He has everything that you want in a pitching prospect: size, arsenal, athleticism. He also has far too many caveats for me to rank him as highly as others are – yet. Let’s see how he actually performs when he makes his pro debut in 2022. Even if he develops as hoped and stays healthy we likely won’t be seeing him at Citizens Bank Park until 2025 or 2026.
- Logan O’Hoppe – For me, no Phillies prospect has elevated his stock as much as O’Hoppe over the last couple of years. He hit .270 with 17 bombs across three minor league levels this year and now looks like at least a big-league backup catcher in the making. Turning 22 just prior to 2022 spring training, O’Hoppe could spend most of next summer as the starting catcher at Triple-A Lehigh Valley or splitting that role with Rafael Marchan. One of them could end up as trade fodder as Dombrowski goes winter dealing.
BONUS PROSPECTS: Shown with their position and age, they rank just behind the above guys for me at this stage. In the case of Vierling, age is actually working against him. But he hits the ball as hard as anyone in the system. If he continues improving we could see as a Phillies depth outfielder next year…or find that he is trade bait this winter.