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Philadelphia Phillies top 20 prospects winter 2020 update

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Alec Bohm should arrive at some point in 2020 to take over the hot corner at Citizens Bank Park

 

Where minor league prospects are concerned, the Philadelphia Phillies system is extremely top-heavy at the moment. That is, at least as far as any who anyone could reasonably forecast as likely to make a real impact on the ball club in the near future.

Fortunately for the Phillies, their top two prospects appear to be extremely talented. Both should slip right into positions of need, and both should see action at Citizens Bank Park at some point in the 2020 season.

Beyond that it truly becomes a crapshoot. There are a couple more players who could come quickly, but whose ceilings are not as obviously high. And there are a number of others with talent, but who will require more developmental time before we can even begin to make real assessments as to their potential impact on the big-league club.

In putting together this list, I utilized my own knowledge based on following the minor leagues closely and on personal observations. One note on my thought process. Unless a younger prospect is so obviously talented as to warrant a bump due to their gifts, I tend to respect actual performance against more advanced competition at the higher levels of the minors over “toolsy” kids in the lower levels.

In addition to my own thoughts, I also gleaned the published opinions of a number of reliable and respected sources, including Baseball America, MLB Pipeline, Baseball Prospectus and a few others who more intimately follow the Phillies on a regular basis.

The following represents the Philadelphia Phillies top 20 prospects list as I see them here on the first day of winter. They are shown with their most likely position at this time, and the age at which they will play most of the 2020 season.

I am providing writeups on the top ten and then a simple ranking of the next ten. I’ll be updating this list at some point in the spring, probably around April or May of 2020.

  1. Alec Bohm, 3B (23): I juggled Bohm and Howard in my mind for awhile when considering this list. Bohm’s solid play as the starting third baseman for Team USA in the Premier 12 tournament in which he homered, doubled three times, and played a solid third base pushed him to the front. The Omaha, Nebraska native was the Phillies first round choice at third overall in the 2018 MLB Draft out of Wichita State University. He has slashed .293/.368/.474 in two minor league seasons, advancing to Double-A Reading by the end of summer 2019. His scouting report at MLB.com tells the tale of why he is so highly touted: “Bohm has the potential to hit for average as well as power at the highest level. He has strength and excellent bat speed to go along with excellent strike zone control. As a result, he can draw walks and doesn’t strike out much, especially for someone who can generate plus raw power.” In his own report back in August, Matt Winkelman of Phillies Minor Thoughts tells the tale of why some still have slight reservations on Bohm’s ceiling: “The real remaining question facing Bohm is where he will play defensively. He has improved at third base, but his actions still aren’t great and he profiles as below average there. Long term he probably moves off the position and tries an outfield corner before moving to first base.” Unless the Phillies make a late push to sign free agent Josh Donaldson or swing a deal for either Kris Bryant or Nolan Arenado, all unlikely, Bohm will get every chance to be their starter at the hot corner at some point in 2020, and probably for years to come.
  2. Spencer Howard, RHP (23): The Phillies brought Aaron Nola to the big-leagues in recent years and he has developed into an ace-caliber starting pitcher. A year ago at this time, Sixto Sanchez was the club’s top prospect and also viewed as a future ace before being dealt to Miami in the J.T. Realmuto trade. Howard now takes up the mantle as the Phillies top pitching prospect and is beginning to gain similar predictions of eventual stardom. Howard lost a little more than a month in 2019 due to a shoulder injury. He returned by early July and as Baseball Prospectus reported “the Phillies made sure he got plenty of innings in Double-A and the AFL to close the gap.” While he can be inconsistent with his breaking balls at times, Howard’s overall numbers are exciting. In three minor league seasons he has allowed 166 hits over 211.1 innings across 47 starts with a 281/74 K:BB ratio, a 3.28 ERA, and a 1.136 WHIP mark. Baseball America’s scouting report on his potential reads “Other than his stint on the IL with shoulder stiffness, there were few blemishes in Howard’s outstanding 2019 season. He has taken massive strides in his two and a half seasons as a pro and now profiles as a potential No. 2 starter. He could be ready to pitch in Philadelphia by the second half of the 2020 season.” He reached Double-A Reading for a half-dozen starts at the end of 2019. Howard will start at Triple-A Lehigh Valley and, if he stays healthy and continues to dominate, will be up when there is an opening in the Phillies rotation.
  3. Bryson Stott, SS (22): The Phillies first-round choice at 14th overall in the 2019 MLB Draft out of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. His MLB.com report includes “Nearly all of Stott’s tools grade out as at least above-average. He has the chance to be a plus hitter, with very advanced bat-to-ball skills.” Baseball America says “Stott has few clear weaknesses, but also few standout tools.” Some question whether he can stay at shortstop and he may eventually have to slide to second or third base, depending on both his own development and the Phillies future needs. It is likely that he stays at shortstop while rising through the minors over the next couple of seasons.
  4. Francisco Morales, RHP (20): Signed out of Venezuela in 2016 as a 16-year-old, Morales was rated by Baseball America as the top available international free agent that summer. The tall righty has lived up to the hype and could top this list by next off-season. At Low-A Lakewood this past summer, Morales allowed 82 hits over 96.2 innings across 27 games, 15 of those as starts, with a 129/46 K:BB ratio. The MLB.com writeup reflects how most feel at this point: “The raw stuff is all there, but it’s still very much about projection for the big right-hander.” I happen to be bullish on him. He’ll pitch at High-A Clearwater in 2020 with a shot at Double-A Reading if he stays healthy, shows consistency, and continues to produce.
  5. Adonis Medina, RHP (23): A year or two ago, many saw Medina as just slightly behind Sanchez on the Phillies pitching prospect pecking order. He seemed destined for at least a mid-rotation role. Now that is a little cloudier. Winkelman summed it up well: “Medina’s secondary pitches have not taken a step forward and still lack consistency and bite. At his best, Medina will show three plus pitches and look like a mid rotation starter, but there are a lot of times where he is pitching below that.” Medina’s ERA has risen from 2.92 at short-season Williamsport in 2016 to 3.01 with Low-A Lakewood in 2017 to 4.12 at High-A Clearwater in 2018 and most recently to 4.94 with Double-A Reading this past summer. His strikeout totals have dropped each of the last two seasons. His age and experience say that he will pitch at Triple-A Lehigh Valley at some point in 2020, perhaps from the start of the season. His performance and health there will go a long way towards determining his ultimate long-term role. Or he could be used as part of a trade package.
  6.  Mickey Moniak, CF (22): The top overall pick of the 2016 MLB Draft out of a California high school, Moniak has been slow to live up to the status of a first overall draftee. While it’s hard at this point to see him ever being impactful enough to justify that lofty selection, his production over the last two summers is giving hope that he can find a big-league role at some point. In just 39 more plate appearances, Moniak increased his extra-base production from 36 in 2018 to 52 in 2019. He more than doubled his home run total from five to 11, and increased his stolen base numbers from six to 15. Moniak has proven to be an excellent outfield defender to this point. He should play at Triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2020, and could be ready for a backup role with the Phillies by 2021. With continued progress he looks like a future big-league fourth outfielder who can serve as a solid backup at all three positions.
  7. Luis Garcia, SS (19): I hate, hate, hate ranking teenagers who have not flashed much of their projected offensive potential this high. But when everyone else is as bullish as they are on Garcia, I’ll yield to that input. MLB.com says “It’s easy to see Garcia becoming the best prospect in the system in the future and eventually be thought of as one of the top shortstop prospects in the game.” That sounds pretty exciting, no? Baseball Prospectus evaluates him in this way: “We don’t know if he can hit yet. It’s likely to be a few years before we know. He’s very, very far away. Yet even if it takes a half-decade to sort everything out, he’ll only be 23 during the 2024 season.” After a poor 2019 season in which he slashed just .186/.261/.255 over 524 plate appearances as an 18-year-old at Low-A Lakewood, I need to see Garcia begin to produce some offense in order to move him up the list in the future.
  8. Enyel De Los Santos, RHP (24): Now this is more like it for my tastes. An arm who is ready to help the big-league club right now. The issue is, what is the best role for De Los Santos, and what is his ceiling? He signed with the Seattle Mariners as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic back in 2014. He was dealt to the San Diego Padres in November 2015 for veteran reliever Joaquin Benoit, then to the Phillies two years later for shortstop Freddy Galvis. He has been solid at Triple-A Lehigh Valley in each of the last two seasons, but showed mixed results in a series of cameos with the Phillies. Unless he is included as part of a trade package, expect De Los Santos to compete for a bullpen role in spring training. His MLB rookie status still intact, De Los Santos could end up right back in the IronPigs 2020 rotation, waiting for another shot to help out in Philly when needed.
  9. Damon Jones, LHP (25): I’m as big a fan of tall, hard-throwing southpaws as you are likely to find, and that description fits Jones to a T. The Phillies grabbed him in the 17th round of the 2017 MLB Draft out of Washington State. In 2019, Jones rose through three levels of the minors, allowing 74 hits over 114.1 innings across 23 starts with a 152/59 K:BB ratio. He is almost certainly headed for a bullpen role in the big-leagues, and could fill such a role with the Phillies at some point this season. In fact, don’t be surprised if he emerges as soon as spring training and challenges for an Opening Day roster spot. While there is the potential for Mitch Williams-caliber wildness, he appears to have a bit more control than The Wild Thing. I like this guy. He could end up helping the pen for years to come.
  10. Cristopher Sanchez, LHP (23): Hey, a newbie! And a birthday present for me as well. The Phillies acquired Sanchez on my November 20 birthday this year from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for minor league infielder Curtis Mead. The Rays had signed him as an international free agent from the Dominican Republic back in 2013. Like Jones just ahead of him on this list, Sanchez is a tall southpaw, though not with quite as big a fastball. Baseball Prospectus writes “The fastball is plus at 92-94, the slider is firm with tilt, and the change has a chance to be plus with quality separation from his heater and big sink. Tampa Bay had too many quality prospects to protect everyone in December’s Rule 5 draft, so they dealt Sanchez to the Phillies who had the 40-man space to protect this intriguing arm.” He reached Triple-A Durham in Tampa’s system last year, and will be another intriguing option who likely opens with the IronPigs but will be ready to help the Phillies if needed in 2020.
  11. Rafael Marchan, C (21)
  12. Simon Muzziotti, CF (21)
  13. Nick Maton, SS (23)
  14. Johan Rojas, OF (19)
  15. JoJo Romero, LHP (23)
  16. Erik Miller, LHP (22)
  17. Starlyn Castillo, RHP (18)
  18. Connor Seabold, RHP (24)
  19. Jhailyn Ortiz, 1B (21)
  20. Kyle Dohy, LHP (23)

Could make the next list: Jamari Baylor, SS (19)

Others like him more: Deivy Grullon, C (24)

I just don’t get it: Arquimedes Gamboa, SS (22)

 

MORE RECENT PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES CONTENT:

First round of a dozen spring cuts leaves Phillies with 49 players in big-league camp

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Enyel De Los Santos was among first dozen Phillies reassignments

The Philadelphia Phillies dropped an 8-2 decision on Monday to the visiting Tampa Bay Rays at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Florida. With that game in the books the club has now officially passed the halfway point of its Grapefruit League schedule.

The Phillies record under the Florida sun sits at 9-7 following the defeat. They now have 14 games remaining on their schedule prior to heading back north for the March 28 regular season opener against the division-rival Atlanta Braves.
Following their game on Saturday, March 9, a first round of seven players were reassigned. After today’s game another round of five reassignments was announced. These dozen roster moves are part of the effort to cut down to the 25 players who will be in the home clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park on Opening Day.
Both 22-year-old pitcher Adonis Medina, who is the Phillies #2 prospect now per MLB Pipeline, and 21-year-old shortstop Arquimedes Gamboa, considered their#13 prospect, were optioned to Double-A Reading on Saturday.

Today the Phillies optioned pitchers Enyel De Los SantosAustin Davis and Edgar Garcia to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. De Los Santos is the team’s #6 prospect and made his Major League Baseball debut last season, appearing in seven games and making two starts on the mound. Davis saw action in 32 games with the Phillies last season as a situational left-hander.
Reassigned to the minor league camp over the two days were pitchers Cole IrvinJoJo Romero and Tyler Gilbert, catcher Deivy Grullon, first baseman Austin Listi, infielder Malquin Canelo and outfielder Mickey Moniak. Romero is the Phillies #7 prospect, Moniak #9 and Irvin #16 per MLB Pipeline.
The 20-year-old Moniak was the top overall pick of the 2016 MLB Amateur Draft. While he has struggled for much of his professional career, he finally began to hit the ball with more authority last summer. Listi was the 2018 Paul Owens Award winner as the top performing position player prospect in the Phillies minor league system.
Given the improvements to the overall Phillies roster, none of these players were expected to make the team out of spring training. The team still has a crowd of 49 players at major league camp, and more cuts can be expected at some point during the coming week.

NOTE: the Phillies further announced that pitcher Ranger Suarez was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley following Monday’s spring game.

Adonis Medina to be added to Phillies 40-man roster prior to Rule 5 Draft deadline

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Adonis Medina is one of the consensus Phillies top five prospects

All teams in Major League Baseball have until 8:00PM EST on Tuesday, November 20 to set their 40-man roster in anticipation of the Rule 5 Draft, which will take place on December 13.

Players who were signed when they were 19 years or age or older and have played in professional baseball for four years are eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 Draft, as are players who were signed at 18 and have played for five years. All players on an MLB team’s 40-man roster, regardless of other eligibility factors, are “protected” and ineligible for the Rule 5 Draft.
The Philadelphia Phillies are in as good shape as any team in the game right now in this regard. The Phillies currently have 34 players on their official roster. The club will definitely be adding one of their top prospects, pitcher Adonis Medina, prior to the deadline.
With the other five spots there are a number of options. The Phillies could simply protect five more of their own prospects. They could also trade with other teams who might be having difficulty cutting down to their own 40-man limit.
If the Phillies do choose to protect more players, the most likely would probably be pitcher Tom Eshelman and infielders Arquimedes Gamboa and Daniel Brito.

One player who could find himself getting moved before the deadline is Cory Spangenberg of the San Diego Padres. A versatile player, the 27-year-old appeared in 49 games at second base and 44 at third base, with another handful of appearances in left field this past season with the Padres. He even made a cameo in one game at shortstop.
Spangenberg hit .264 with 13 home runs and 11 stolen bases in 486 plate appearances as a regular for San Diego in the 2017 campaign. He made $1.7 million this past season and is arbitration eligible now during this current off-season.
The Phillies might be attracted to Spangenberg’s positional versatility on the infield if the price is right in exchange. About the only sure thing in the Phillies 2019 infield at this point is Scott Kingery, but will he end up at second base or return to shortstop?
Various rumors have the Phillies moving on from Carlos SantanaCesar Hernandez, and Maikel Franco. The team could include J.P. Crawford in any trade. They also remain a leading contender to sign free agent shortstop Manny Machado.
Adding someone such as Spangenberg as an infield backup might make it easier to deal a couple of those veterans as the Phillies sort out their 2019 starting infield.
Might the Phillies be willing to take a chance on a veteran lefty reliever who has had solid success over most of his 10-year big-league career, but who is coming off an extremely disappointing 2018 campaign and is owed $15 million over the next two years?
If so, they might be willing to take Brett Cecil off the hands of the Saint Louis Cardinals, who are also up against a 40-man crunch. Cecil was converted from the rotation to the bullpen while with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2012 and became one of the most effective relievers in the game over the next handful of seasons.
Whether the Phillies stand pat, add a number of their own prospects, take in additional players via trade, or some combination of those possibilities, their roster picture will be much clearer once the Tuesday deadline passes.
If the Phillies do fill up their 40-man roster before the deadline, that would not keep GM Matt Klentak from adding players such as big free agents Machado, Bryce Harper, or Patrick Corbin. But they would have to remove a player from that 40-man for each new player added.

Pedro Florimon dropped from Phillies 40-man roster as team prepares for Hot Stove season

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Florimon played parts of the last two seasons with the Phillies

The Philadelphia Phillies announced that infielder Pedro Florimon has been outrighted from the 40-man roster. He cleared waivers and has been officially placed for now with the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

Florimon has a little more than two years official MLB service time accrued. However, he has also been waived three prior times in his career. Unless some agreement is struck with the team, the 31-year-old will become a free agent.
A native of the Dominican Republic, Florimon originally signed with the Baltimore Orioles organization in 2004 as a teenager. He got his first big-league cup of coffee with the Orioles in September 2011 but was then placed on waivers and claimed by the Minnesota Twins.
With Minnesota, Florimon appeared in 43 games in the 2012 season. Then in 2013 he became a regular for the lone time in his MLB career, appearing in 133 games as the Twins starting shortstop. He slashed just .221/.281/.330 with 15 stolen bases across 446 plate appearances that season.
Over the next three years, Florimon played as a backup infielder with both Minnesota and the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Phillies then signed him as a free agent in December 2016, and then again last November.
In parts of two seasons with the Phillies, Florimon slashed .274/.320/.444 with two homers and 11 RBI. He also stole one base and scored 19 runs across 125 plate appearances over 65 games.
Florimon appeared in 21 games at shortstop this past season with the Phillies. He also played in four games at second base, one at third base, one in center field, and four games in right field.
On two occasions this year, Gabe Kapler used Florimon on the mound. During a 15-2 rout at the hands of the Braves in Atlanta on March 31, Florimon pitched the bottom of the 8th inning, surrendering a two-run homer to Lane Adams.
During a 12-4 defeat to the Cardinals in Saint Louis on May 18, Florimon retired the side in order in the bottom of the 8th inning. He then stepped up to the plate in the top of the 9th and drilled a home run.
The Phillies now have just 35 players on their official 40-man roster. Three or four of the openings can be expected to be filled by some combination of prospects Adonis MedinaTom EshelmanArquimedes Gamboa, and Daniel Brito, all of whom would need to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft in December.
That would leave one opening for a new player, either added via free agency or acquired via trade. Of course, the Phillies can always make more room by releasing even more players should the need arise.
The most likely players to go could include pitchers Drew Anderson and Yacksel Rios and infielder Mitch Walding. If they are unsuccessful in finding a trade partner, you may see veteran infielder Cesar Hernandez non-tendered at some point down the road this winter.
With the release of Florimon, the Phillies have made just the first of what promise to be a number of roster moves this off-season. While this one was relatively minor, we should expect at least a couple more significant moves coming down the pike.

Sixto Sanchez pulled from Arizona Fall League by Phillies

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Play gets underway today in the Arizona Fall League, the annual fall showcase event for some of the top prospects from each organization in Major League Baseball.
The Philadelphia Phillies were scheduled to send eight players to participate in the AFL with the Scottsdale Scorpions squad: first baseman Darick Hall, third baseman Luke Williams, shortstop Arquimedes Gamboa, outfielder Austin Listi, and pitchers Luke LeftwichSeth McGarryTyler Viza, and Sixto Sanchez.
However, just yesterday the Phillies announced that Sanchez, the club’s top prospect, was being pulled out of the league. The move appears to be largely cautionary in nature.
Sanchez turned 20-years-old at the end of July. He went 4-3 with a 2.51 ERA and 1.071 WHIP this past season with the High-A Clearwater Threshers. The right-hander allowed 39 hits over 46.2 innings across eight starts with a 45/11 K:BB ratio.
He was really beginning to heat up when the Phillies shut him down due to elbow discomfort following a start on June 3. In his previous four outings, Sanchez had gone 3-1 while allowing just 15 hits over 25.2 innings with a 29/4 K:BB ratio.
Sanchez would never return, and the AFL stint was going to give him a chance to get some more innings of work in before taking a break for the winter.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia described the circumstances of his removal from the Arizona Fall League as follows:

“Sanchez was firmly on the road to recovery and getting work in the Florida Instructional League when he recently came down with soreness in his right collarbone. Team medical officials are not alarmed by the issue and they are confident that Sanchez will be fully healthy and ready to go for spring training. However, the setback cut into Sanchez’s preparation time in Florida so the team has decided to err on the side of caution and hold him out of the AFL.”

The other seven Phillies prospects will open their Fall season tonight against the Mesa Solar Sox in Scottsdale, Arizona. The six teams of the AFL are divided into two divisions. Each is scheduled to play a 30-game schedule which ends on November 15, with a championship game scheduled between the two division leaders on November 17.
When healthy, Sanchez combines a 70-grade fastball with fantastic control and improving curveball and changeup offerings that have led to his being rated not only the Phillies top prospect, but also one of the most exciting arms in the entire sport.
He is currently ranked as the 21st overall prospect by MLB, and the #6 right-handed pitching prospect in the game. Assuming he is healthy in the spring, you should expect Sanchez to reach Double-A next season.
Again, given health, by spring training of 2020 when he will still be just 21-years-old it is likely that he will push for a spot in the Phillies starting rotation.