The rebuild is in full swing and the Phils are sporting a new general manager. They sold off their best trade chip in 2015, Cole Hamels, and regardless of your opinion on the return, the Phils landed three of the prospects in this year’s preview in addition to some pitching depth. 2015 also featured solid performances from rookies Maikel Franco, Aaron Nola, and Odubel Herrera, which gave fans of this team reason for optimism – something they’ll need in 2016 as it will almost certainly be a continuation of the rebuild. Philly will also have the first overall pick in the 2016 draft, which will add a premium prospect to what is now a deep and impressive collection of minor league talent.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Winter leagues are starting up with notable prospects playing in most of them. One player who’s just happy to be back on the field is Roman Quinn. The Phillies’ switch-hitting outfielder was off to a great start in 2015, and was even named an Eastern League All-Star, but a hip flexor tear essentially ended his season. Quinn’s not a blue chip prospect, and he likely won’t be relevant until 2017 at this point, but he’s a prospect I’ve always personally liked and have wanted to see succeed. His best tool is his elite speed, but in the first half of 2015 he seemed to have figured something out with his bat as well – hitting .306 with four homers. He could eventually be a top-of-the-lineup runs and steals producer for fantasy teams, with a little bit of pop sprinkled in (~8 homers) but that will hinge squarely on how his hit tool progresses. He’ll play for Licey this offseason, and I’m hoping that the improvements he made in 2015 have carried over. Things went well for him in his debut – going 3-for-5 with a triple and a steal. Here are some notes on other prospects playing in the offseason leagues…Please, blog, may I have some more?
A couple of years ago Bret Sayre invited me to participate in his dynasty league – The Dynasty Guru Expert League, or TDGX. At the time I was writing for him at his site, and while I don’t anymore, I’ve been allowed to remain in the league as a representative of Razzball. I’d like to say my team has been killing it, but that hasn’t been the case in the first two years. The league is a lot of fun, and there are representatives from sites like Baseball Prospectus, Fangraphs, Baseball HQ, and CBS. It’s deep and it’s challenging. Tim McLeod and Ian Khan took the championship in each of the first two years, so major kudos to them.Please, blog, may I have some more?
It’s not all bad news for Phillies fans. The major league squad looks pretty lousy, and when Aaron Harang is your best arm the fans probably won’t be dancing down Broad Street. But there’s hope on the farm, and this week’s Minor Accomplishments leads off with some Phillies prospects who are off to hot starts. Maikel Franco had a cold April in 2014, but this year he’s hitting .371/.436/.686 with a homer and six doubles at AAA Lehigh Valley. With only Ryan Howard and Cody Asche standing in his way, expect Franco to be a fixture in this year’s Prospect Power Rankings. Drop down a level to find Roman Quinn, who has stolen seven bases through seven games and leads the Eastern League in that category. He’s not all wheels, as he’s also hitting a cool .471 with a home run. At Single-A Lakewood, Carlos Tocci is also off to a good start. The 19-year-old is hitting .361/.439/.528 with a homer, three doubles, and four steals through his first nine games. Here are some of the other notable performances from the start of the minor league season…Please, blog, may I have some more?
Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2014 (23) | 2013 (24) | 2012 (27) | 2011 (11) | 2010 (18)
2014 Affiliate Records
MLB: [73-89] NL East
AAA: [66-78] International League – Lehigh Valley
AA: [66-76] Eastern League – Reading
A+: [49-89] Florida State League – Clearwater
A: [53-84] South Atlantic League – Lakewood
A(ss): [33-43] New York-Penn League – Williamsport
Ken Giles, RHP | Cesar Hernandez, 3B
The rebuilding process has begun in Philadelphia with an aging core and bloated contracts on their way out between now and 2017. Cole Hamels returned from offseason surgery to have another great season in 2014, and he could either be a part of the next good Phillies team or trade bait for some nice prospects along the way. The younger talent is already starting to arrive. Ken Giles emerged as a major force in the bullpen and could be the next closer once Papelbon is gone. Maikel Franco is on the verge of being an everyday player and should be an asset in fantasy leagues soon. The farm system is relatively thin, but there are some toolsy prospects in there. They are just too far away to be relevant in most leagues at the moment. If the organization is able to move veterans in trade this year and next, the farm could get very healthy very quickly. The Phillies’ first round pick in 2014 was Aaron Nola – a college arm that has a good shot at cracking the rotation in the spring of 2016.
The Arizona Fall League is over, but prospect season is in full swing. Razzball is posting fantasy-driven top ten prospect lists every Wednesday this offseason so be sure to check them out. While the AFL isn’t a long season, it features some of the better prospects in baseball and it’s worth looking back at a few of the top performers in the league this year. Moving forward, we’ll focus on the winter leagues. Big leaguers and prospects from many MLB organizations are still playing baseball! There are several leagues like this, but I tend to gravitate toward the Dominican Winter League the most. Players like Maikel Franco, Joc Pederson, and Rymer Liriano are just a few of the names you’ll find on the DWL rosters. Last year’s MVP, Gregory Polanco, created quite the buzz in 2014. The league runs until the end of December and I’ll check in on some of the performances there periodically in this Minor Accomplishments series. To follow along, you can live stream games here, here, and here. Just brush up on some Spanish first! Back to the AFL…here were this year’s top performers with some commentary:Please, blog, may I have some more?
The Arizona Fall League is a couple of weeks old now, so we’ll peek at a few of the highlights and lowlights. In a league with only six teams, there is a limited pool of players and we’ll have to take the small sample sizes with a grain of salt. There have been a few standout performances, and this league is a good way to get eyes on prospects returning from injuries or facing some tougher competition for the first time. One name from the AFL that has surfaced quite a bit this year is Reds’ outfielder Jesse Winker. Reports on Winker like his approach and power, with left field a likely destination when he reaches the bigs. Despite a concussion early in the season and a wrist injury that ended his season prematurely, the 21-year-old hit .327/.426/.580 with 13 homers in the hitter-friendly California League before a brief stint in Double-A. In 38 AFL at bats, Winker has two homers, two doubles, and a league-leading 13 runs batted in. He’s top 5 in average (.368), on-base percentage (.479), and slugging percentage (.632). I’m not totally on board the Winker train yet since he hasn’t seen much of Double-A, but I am at the station in line to buy a ticket. Here are some other noteworthy AFL prospect performances so far…Please, blog, may I have some more?
A Scottsdale Surprise might sound like something you’d find listed in the Urban Dictionary, but it’s really just the last two teams in our Arizona Fall League preview series. Some of the best prospects in baseball will be getting their extra reps in this fall. Each team in the majors is represented across the six Arizona Fall League teams and we’ve already covered a few of the fantasy relevant prospects on Mesa, Glendale, Salt River, and Peoria. You can follow the links at the end of this post to view those. Stats included are the cumulative stats for 2014 across all minor league levels. Strong farm systems like the Pirates and Red Sox are represented on the Scottsdale and Surprise rosters, so let’s take a look at some fantasy prospects from each to put a bow on this thing.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2013 (24) | 2012 (27) | 2011 (11) | 2010 (18) | 2009 (12)
2013 Affiliate Records
MLB: [73-89] NL East
AAA: [72-72] International League — Lehigh Valley
AA: [62-80] Eastern League — Reading
A+: [67-68] Florida State League — Clearwater
A: [56-80] South Atlantic League — Lakewood
A(ss): [37-38] New York-Penn League — Williamsport
The Run Down
Two of the top four prospects here weren’t in the system a year ago, so it goes without saying that the Phillies have made it an initiative to improve their farm. Please, blog, may I have some more?