Tag Archives: Maikel Franco

Phillies Farm Lacks Quality Depth

ESPN’s resident expert on baseball prospecting, Keith Law, released his Major League Baseball organization prospect talent rankings today. 
The Phillies were ranked just 25th of the 30 MLB clubs in terms of that minor league talent. That low ranking reflects the quality depth in the Phillies farm system.
Few would dispute that the Phillies have a handful of legitimate highly thought-of baseball prospects. 
But beyond that top four of shortstop J.P. Crawford, 3rd baseman Maikel Franco, and pitchers Aaron Nola and Zach Eflin, there are few prospects who can be considered much more than longshots at this point. 
The evaluators at MLB Pipeline have ranked Crawford the #5 shortstop, no embarrassment since the first four are among the game’s top 10-15 overall prospects. Franco is the #5 ranked 3rd base prospect. Nola at #43 is the only other Phils prospect besides those two ranked in their Top 100 overall in the game today.
If you toss in CF Roman Quinn, ranked 4th in the organization by MLB Pipeline and Baseball America, and ranked 9th in the organization in the TBOH Phillies Top 10 Prospects released last month, as well as pitchers Tom WindleJesse Biddle, and Ben Lively, you get about 8 prospects who most sources feel good about at this stage of their development.
Beyond those 8 players, there are few who elicit excitement outside the Phillies organization and those talent evaluators closest to the team. 
Over at the website That Ball’s Outta Here, where the rankings were released prior to the trade acquisition of Lively, who clearly would have made our Top 10, we ranked outfielders Carlos Tocci (6), Dylan Cozens (7), and lefty pitcher Matt Imhof (8) on our list.
The problem for the Phillies is that beyond those first 8 players, there are about as many opinions on both the current talents and the long-term possibilities of the rest of the players as there are stars in the sky. Not only are there no sure things, there are tremendous question marks.

 “It’s a very, very bad system.” ~ Josh Norris, Baseball America

When asked in a chat format with fans following the release of their Phillies prospects Top 10 about the state of the system in comparison to others, Baseball America’s Josh Norris commented “It’s a very, very bad system.” 
When asked about so-called “untouchable” prospects, Norris later commented “The only guys I’d be really hesitant to move are the top three: Crawford, Nola and Franco, and even Franco would be available in the right deal.
In fairness to the Phils, almost every organization is similar. There are a handful of top talents, and then a drop-off to kids with question marks, and then a further drop-off to what can only be generously called suspects. 
But most organizations either simply have more top talents than the Phils, or an overall deeper pool of non-suspect talents, or both.
Phillies Farm Crawford
SS J.P. Crawford is the consensus Phils top prospect (Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)
As we noted in our commentary on current club president Pat Gillick, this failure to develop productive prospects from the minor leagues to supplement the current aging core of once-greats is a key factor in the current dismal situation facing the organization. 
The Phillies need to make better draft picks, and need to do a better job in developing them into major league players.
Phillies fans and some local talent evaluators may not like it, but Law’s assessment of the organizational minor league talent is fair. Even if the club could rank a half-dozen places higher on some other evaluator’s list, it wouldn’t be much higher. 
There is a lot of work to be done to turn the Phillies ship around, and a good portion of that needs to be done in the scouting department and at the minor league levels.

What is the Best-Case Scenario for Phils 2015 Outfield?

Ruf, Revere, Brown: upside on projected Phils 2015 outfield?
What if the Phillies outfield actually came through in 2015? What if that projected outfield of Darin Ruf, Ben Revere, and Domonic Brown all reached their full potential at once? What is the best-case scenario for the Phillies outfield?
The professional oddsmakers in Las Vegas have made the Phillies the longest of longshots to actually win the 2015 World Series. At 250-1, the Phils are tied with the Minnesota Twins for that dubious honor.
Is there any chance at all of them beating those odds? And if not, is there any chance of the team at least outperforming the low expectations?
Let’s forget the longest of long shots, a World Series win, and concentrate on simply reaching .500 again, maybe even having an unexpected winning season. One of the keys to making that happen would certainly be increased offensive production from the outfielders.
A lot can happen between now and the start of the 2015 season, including the club deciding to use Cody Asche in left field, moving Ruf in to 1st base, and playing Maikel Franco at 3rd base.
But for now at least, the plan is for Asche to stay at 3rd base. If Franco makes the club out of spring training it is likely to be at 1st base, either in place of Ryan Howard or in a right-left platoon at the beginning. 
In that most likely scenario, it would be Darin Ruf in leftfield, Ben Revere in centerfield, and Domonic Brown in rightfield. The expectations for such an outfield are one thing, completely based on their performances to this point in their careers. But all have been considered to have greater potential. What if they all reach that potential together at one time this season?
Darin Ruf is 28 years old now, and will play the bulk of the 2015 season at that age. He spent years progressing methodically through the Phillies minor league system after being selected in the 20th Round of the 2009 MLB Draft. At Reading in 2012, Ruf had his best season, clubbing 38 homers, driving in 104 runs, and hitting for a .317 average.
Ruf has spent parts of the last 3 seasons with the Phils. Derailed by an assortment of injuries, Ruf has managed just 442 MLB plate appearances in that time, close to one full season worth. He has 20 homers, 48 rbi, and has hit .251 in the big leagues.
Darin Ruf certainly has power, and if he could just stay healthy and remain in the lineup for a 500+ plate appearance season, a year of 25+ homers and 80+ rbi is certainly plausible. The entire key for Ruf is remaining healthy.
Ben Revere is 26 years old, and will turn 27 at the beginning of May. He was the Minnesota Twins 1st Round pick in the 2007 MLB Draft out of high school, and then spent a half-dozen years progressing steadily through their minor league system. The Phils obtained him in a December 2012 trade for pitchers Vance Worley and Trevor May.
Revere got a cup of big league coffee with the Twins in 2010. He then became their starting centerfielder in both 2011 and 2012 before the trade, and the Phillies centerfielder following in 2013 and 2014. In just over 4 seasons, Revere has more than 2,000 MLB plate appearances, hitting for a .291 average and stealing 145 bases.
A full season out of Ben Revere in his prime, reaching his full potential, would look something like a .300 batting average with 50 steals and 80-90 runs scored. If he had consistently productive rbi bats behind him, he could go over the 100-runs mark.
Domonic Brown is 27 years old, and will play almost the entirety of 2015 at that age, so it should be considered that he is just now entering his prime. The Phils 20th Round pick in the 2006 MLB Draft out of high school, Brown has received more than 2,000 minor league plate appearances in advancing methodically through the system.
Domonic Brown
From 2010-14, Brown spent at least parts of the season in Philadelphia, including the bulk of the last 3 seasons. He appeared to have a breakout in 2013 when he was named to the NL All-Star team. He hit 27 homers, knocked in 82 runs, and hit for a .272 average.
But in 2014, Brown seriously regressed. In virtually the same number of plate appearances, he hit just 10 homers, drove in just 63 runs, and hit for just a .235 average. In the field he often looked lost, with numerous misplays. He quite simply looked like he did not belong in the big leagues.
Brown was hyped by many national sources as a top prospect for a handful of years prior to his big 2013 campaign. So which is he, the breakout 2013 player, or the bust 2014 player? Suppose it’s more the former, and in his prime Brown puts it all together to the tune of 25-30 homers and 90-100 rbi with a .270+ batting average?
How would it affect an overall Phillies 2015 finish if Ruf hit .285 with 25 homers and 80 rbi, Revere hit .300 with 50 steals and 100 runs, and Brown hit .275 with 30 homers and 100 rbi?
Of course, there is probably a better chance that we won’t see anything close to those marks, at least from the corner outfielders. But with little more to dream on with the 2015 Phillies than the next trade of Glory Era veterans for prospects, feel free to dream.

Phillies Top 10 Prospects from TBOH

Shortstop J.P. Crawford is the Phils top prospect

The Philadelphia Phillies website “That Ball’s Outta Here” (TBOH) released their Phils Top 10 Prospects list yesterday.

The release came just after the trade of Jimmy Rollins, in which the team received a pair of pitchers, lefty Tom Windle and righty Zach Eflin, each of whom made it onto the ranking.

TBOH named shortstop J.P. Crawford, the heir apparent to Jimmy Rollins as the shortstop of the future, as the Phillies top overall prospects. Crawford has received that same designation by nearly all national outlets. He is considered to be about two years away from the big leagues.

Here are those Top 10 Phillies prospects. You can read the full TBOH article, including an evaluation on each of the prospects, at this link:

TBOH Phillies Top 10 Prospects

1.   J.P. Crawford, SS
2.   Maikel Franco, 3B
3.   Zach Eflin, RHP
4.   Aaron Nola, RHP
5.   Tom Windle, LHP
6.   Carlos Tocci, CF
7.   Dylan Cozens, RF
8.   Matt Imhof, LHP
9.   Roman Quinn, CF
10. Jesse Biddle, LHP

Franco, Asche to be 2015 Phillies Keys

Maikel Franco (L), Cody Asche (R) will be key 2015 Phillies
With the Phillies in full rebuild mode, even if a few of the old veterans remain on the roster into the 2015 season one thing appears clear. The team intends to get both Maikel Franco and Cody Asche plenty of playing time.
Since both players came through the organization as 3rd basemen and have each spent the vast majority of their playing time at the hot corner, something’s gotta give. That something may end up being a sort of ‘super-utility’ role for Asche.
In a Tuesday interview session with reporters, manager Ryne Sandberg touched on the issue involving playing time for his two youngsters. He intimated that Asche would see playing time at both 1st base and in leftfield, in addition to any 3rd base time he receives. 
The team still lists Asche as it’s top 3rd baseman on the official depth chart, and that is the role at which he will enter spring training. He is a solid defender there, but his bat lacks some of the traditional pop most teams want in a corner infielder.
The 22-year old Franco has more than 2,000 minor league plate appearances, is a superior defender as a 3rd baseman, and has that coveted power. He should be at least a 20-homerun hitter right away.
In 2014, Franco broke into the big leagues with a 16-game cameo in which he played a dozen games at 3rd and appeared 5x at 1st base. He has played 31 games at 1st base in the minor leagues the last two seasons, with the rest of his career at 3rd.
Asche had his intro to the big leagues in 2013, and then was a regular in 2014 when he played in 121 games. All of his 156 games over the last two seasons with the Phillies have come at the hot corner, as did all 300 of his games in the minors.
The Phillies now need to get both of these players a full season of at-bats against MLB pitching, and that means getting them into the lineup together as frequently as possible.
Asche is seen as more athletic, capable of playing in leftfield, and so there is a chance that he will see most of his innings there, with Franco as the regular 3rd baseman.
There is also the possibility that the team may be able to trade Ryan Howard. Should that happen, it’s possible that the Phils could move Franco to 1st base full-time, leaving Asche at 3rd.
Wherever they end up defensively on the diamond, Phillies fans can expect to see a lot more of both Maikel Franco and Cody Asche over the next few seasons in the everyday batting order.

Yasmany Tomas and Phillies: a Perfect Match

Cuban defector Yasmani Tomas looks perfect for Phillies
Ever since it was announced that Cuban phenom Yasmany Tomas had left the island nation and would be seeking a job in Major League Baseball this past summer, speculation has run rampant as to which organization was his most likely landing spot.
In recent weeks, that speculation has focused squarely on the Philadelphia Phillies, with the Fightins now considered the odds-on favorites to land the power-hitting corner outfielder.
Tomas played for 5 years in Cuba’s top league, Serie Nacional, and Baseball America rated him as the #6 prospect performing at the 2013 World Baseball Classic. He is graded as having a ’70’ in raw power on the standard 20-80 scouting scale.
There is little doubt that Tomas would not need much developmental time in the minor leagues, if any at all. He would project to plug immediately into the Phillies starting lineup in either right or left field, and would likely become the #3 hitter in the batting order, with Chase Utley moving up into the 2-hole.
There has been much speculation that the Phils would try to change the face of the team this off-season, with pretty much everyone available at the right price. It is unclear if landing Tomas, and assuming a healthy return from Cliff Lee, would alter those plans in any substantive way.
The Phillies are the favorites for three reasons: they have the clear need, they have the resources, and they have the motivation. The 2014 corner outfielders were 37-year old Marlon Byrd and the wildly inconsistent Domonic Brown. Playing time will be no problem.
Sep 28, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies left fielder Domonic Brown (9) watches from the dugout against the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park. The Braves defeated the Phillies, 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Dom Brown may never be what Phillies hoped

The contract is likely to be something like 7 years in the$130-140 million range. For a true slugger turning just 24 years old next month, that is reasonable and the Phillies have the cash. And off a last place finish, there is obvious motivation. There are most definitely other suitors with need and money, most notably the division-rival New York Mets, but few to the extent of the Phillies.

Should 3rd base prospect Maikel Franco continue to develop as hoped, he could team with Tomas to begin building a true bridge to the next contending Phillies team. The signing of Yasmani Tomas should be considered a litmus test for general manager Ruben Amaro, who has much to prove to an unimpressed fan base.