Despite winning the pennant in decisive fashion, Philadelphia’s excellence feels a little lost in the sauce of national writers belly-aching about the expanded playoff format. Reality is this Phillies’ lineup is as deep as anybody’s, their front-rotation arms are as dominant as anybody’s, and their bullpen can close out any offense. Despite their misleading regular season win total, they make a much better match for these juggernaut Astros than the 2022 Yankees.
Philadelphia has also made gains on the farm, where the team features a few starting pitchers on the cusp for 2023. I was in the comments of my last article talking about how this system would make the Mets and Marlins look better by comparison, but I’m chewing on those words a bit today. It’s true that the young Phillies aren’t deep, and we won’t see impact offensive talents graduate anytime soon, but Andrew Painter pretty much makes up for that, especially considering the club’s positional depth at the major league level.
Format = Position Player | Age on 4/1/2023 | Highest Level Played | Expected Time of Arrival
1. RHP Andrew Painter | 19 | AA | 2023
If I have to pick one minor league arm to become a no-doubt fantasy ace, I’m asking Sherwin Williams because it’s between Painter, Grayson Rodriguez and Eury Perez, and Painter is my preferred option at the moment. In 103 innings across three levels, Painter posted a 0.88 WHIP and 155 strikeouts and 25 walks, culminating in a successful month in Double-A where he struck out 37 batters and walked two across 28.1 innings. Philadelphia’s Double-A setting in Reading has battered a number of young pitchers in the past, so it’s especially exciting to see the 6’7” 215 lb Painter smother hitters who are 5.5 years his senior, on average. With a double-plus fastball, slider and curve, Painter hasn’t needed the changeup much but has shown an aptitude to command all four offerings. Probably could’ve helped the club in this postseason run–not that they’ve needed it so far.
2. RHP Mick Abel | 21 | AA | 2023
Abel has deathly raw stuff but doesn’t command any of his pitches with consistency, as evidenced by his WHIPs above 1.3 and ERAs above 4.0 throughout his minor league journey. Unlike Painter who avoided the pain of Double-A, Abel allowed four home runs in his three home starts for Reading, posting a 1.96 HR/9 in five Double-A starts after suppressing High-A hitters to a 0.63 HR/9 across 85.1 innings. He’s 6’5” 190 lbs and has always been young for his level, so the lack of command is to be expected and serves more to reinforce how gifted Painter is than to disqualify Abel in any way. He’s got a nice pitch mix already (Fastball, Changeup, Curve, Slider), but it feels like a cutter could be a key missing piece here–something to get away from the barrel inside in the strike zone. Wouldn’t surprise me at all to see everything come together for a big year in 2023.
3. OF Johan Rojas | 22 | AA | 2024
I really liked Rojas heading into 2022, but he posted a .287 on base percentage and 68 wRC+ in 70 games at High-A, and I dropped him in the Highlander Dynasty Invitational. The front office sent him to Double-A anyway, and Rojas played better at the next level, generating a 100 wRC+ and .333 OBP in 60 games. Prospect development is not linear. Rojas remains a tool shed with double-plus speed and unique aggression on the basepaths. He swiped 62 bags in 67 attempts this season and will be a fantasy factor if he carves out a lineup spot.
4. RHP Griff McGarry | 23 | AAA | 2023
The new Crime Dog, Griff McGarry can make ’em whiff like Fred McGriff on fastballs atop the zone or off-speed stuff underneath. In High-A, McGarry struck out 82 batters across 46.2 innings but still allowed a 3.86 ERA. He walked 5.51 batters per nine across 32.2 innings when got to Double-A Reading but allowed just one home run at the level, a testament to how difficult he can be to square up even as his control comes and goes in a difficult environment for pitchers. He’s not huge at 6’2” 190 lbs and might wind up in a relief bucket if the command never comes around. The club might’ve already tipped its hand this direction when it moved McGarry to the bullpen at Triple-A, but that might’ve just been a hope to add a relief arm for the stretch run. It didn’t pan out. He allowed eight runs in eight innings across seven appearances and remained in the minors.
5. OF Justin Crawford | 19 | A | 2026
The club’s first-round pick in 2022, Crawford played well enough in 11 games on the complex to spend a week in Low-A, where he didn’t hit, but that doesn’t matter yet. Crawford’s calling cards will be the same as his father Carl’s: a contact-heavy approach with plus defense and double-plus speed. The mechanics are not ideal, and I’ll probably be avoiding him in my own leagues, but the 6’3” 175 lb Crawford possesses unique upside and deserves a spot on everyone’s radar.
6. 2B Hao Yu Lee | 20 | A+ | 2024
How you livin’? Lee had a fun year in 2022, climbing three rungs on the organizational ladder and playing well at each stop. Sort of a skills over tools play for those in the market, but the 5’10” 190 lb Lee has the talent to carve his own path after slashing .284/.386/.438 with nine home runs and 14 stolen bases in 79 games across three levels.
7. SS William Bergolla | 18 | DSL | 2026
A big-money international splash, Bergolla had an impressive debut month in the Dominican Summer League, striking out just three times in 24 games (3.6%) and slashing .380/.470/.423.
8. OF Jhailyn Ortiz | 24 | AA | 2023
Ortiz became a rich man at 16, signing for more than four million dollars. He’s hit 88 home runs in his six years as a Phillie, but he’s not especially close to the majors, having struck out 32.7 percent of the time in Double-A this year. He’s getting better though, slowly but surely, and aging into an outfielder’s body after hitting his big growth spurt young. His 133 wRC+ and .358 on base percentage across 74 games at High-A is the peak of his production thus far, so although his 2022 represented a step back at Double-A (101 wRC+), he remains on the right track to becoming a functional major league piece.
9. OF Simon Muzziotti | MLB | 24 | 2022
The Maserati might be higher on this list if his season hadn’t ended with a torn PCL. He’s not a spectacular player by any means, but Muzziotti’s game should translate to the majors. It’s a low-strikeout, high-contact approach with speed and a little bit of power. Will make for an ideal fourth outfielder if he can’t break through into the starting group.
10. OF Jordan Viars | 19 | A | 2026
Viars is plenty talented for any list. He just hasn’t hit yet. He’s a 6’4” 215 lb lefty with easy power and solid athleticism for someone his size at his age. Feels like a good time to buy. Or at least track him closely in leagues where he’s available.
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