Floundering at the big league level despite fanatical off-season spending, the Phillies could really use a boost from their farm system in 2021. Who couldn’t, right? But whereas some teams are so deep their prospects have to join the queue when they’re big league ready, Philadelphia is a land of opportunity for youngsters. Without a minor league season, the club was forced to promote several players with little to no experience in the upper minors: Spencer Howard, Alec Bohm, Rafael Marchan, and former #1 pick Mickey Moniak. I’m eager to see how 2021 plays out for everyone in the game who saw aggressive assignments and whether or not the results impact future processes. Hell I’m just eager to see minor league baseball again, but this season tossed so many variables into the equation that the game might feel ripples forever. 2021 feels incredibly important for the Phillies. They’ve demoted General Manager Matt Klentak and appointed Ned Rice in the interim. Jim Hendry was floated as a possible replacement by Jon Heyman (truckful of salt, I know), and I’d like to see Hendry get another chance after he loaded up the Cubs just before Theo Epstein came aboard. Feels like Girardi might have the loudest voice in the room, which feels like a net positive for an organization that hasn’t made the playoffs in 19 years.
Format: Position Player | Age on 4/1/2021 | Highest level played | ETA
1. RHP Spencer Howard | 24 | MLB | 2020
High hopes accompanied Howard into the shortened season. A hard-throwing righty who could hold velocity deep into his starts, Howard lost velocity in 2020 and got smoked to the tune of a 1.64 WHIP and 5.92 ERA across 24.1 innings. If he’s healthy entering 2021, the stat line should present a nice buying opportunity. He’d only pitched 30.2 innings above high-A before debuting, so perhaps the hype was just too high for a rookie pitcher in Philadelphia, but a healthy Howard wields four big-league quality pitches with three being plus offerings: fastball, curveball and changeup.
2. RHP Mick Abel | 19 | HS | 2024
Abel’s senior season never started, but that didn’t stop the Phillies from popping him at 15th overall on draft night. It’s easy to make a case he would’ve been higher if he’d seen any game action this year. At 6’5” 200 lbs with a two-way track record, Abel looks every bit the part of an elite pitching prospect, featuring a three-quarters arm slot that gives him easy 96 mph cheese that tunnels well with his plus-plus slider, Abel just needs innings and health. It’s unlikely he’ll find much resistance in the lower minors and will need to force the changeup into his starts if he’s going to refine it.
3. OF Mickey Moniak | 22 | MLB | 2020
A surprise breakout from Mickey Moniak might be the best thing that could happen for Philly fans over the next few seasons, aside from actual success in the win/loss column. Moniak seemed like a wasted pick at times, but his wRC+ the past three seasons has gone from 80 to 95 to 115 as he climbed from A to A+ to AA at ages 19, 20 and 21. Playing his AA games at offense-heavy Reading puts his outcomes there in question, but the basic trend here is clear: Moniak is figuring things out and moving up the chain. He was 15 for 18 stealing bases in 2019 after going 6 for 11 the year before. Maybe I’m too deep in the pre-Winter weeds here, but I think he could push 20/20 someday.
4. C Rafael Marchan | 22 | MLB | 2020
I regret leaving Marchan on my 15-team waiver wire before the last run of the year. It’s easy to have that thought when I’m not looking at who I’d have to cut to add him, but in a world where JT Realmuto wants all of the money and Philadelphia just gave it all Bryce Harper, Zack Wheeler, and Andrew McCutchen, this team might need a catcher. I do have Andrew Knapp on that team and think he’d get the first look, but he was among the league’s worst pitch framers in 2020, and Marchan has pillow-soft hands. Not that I’d know for sure. I mean it looks like he catches the ball good. Well! Damnit! His hands are so soft!!
Sorry. Marchan’s a switch hitter with solid contact skills who figures to add power with experience, given his plus athleticism and defensive hands. His highest level of competition coming into the season was 22 games at A+, but when JT Realmuto got hurt, Marchan found himself getting a three-game cameo and slashing .500/.556/..875 with one home run. That’ll play.
5. SS Bryson Stott | 23 | A- | Late 2022
A three-year starter at UNLV, Bryson Stott hit the ground running in rookie ball after being selected 14th overall in 2019. That 436 wRC+ is fun to look at. Just four games there in the Gulf Goast League, but still, fun to see him totally dismiss that level of competition before going to low-A Williamsport of the New York Penn League, where is 146 wRC+ across 44 games is impressive in its own right on the back of a long college season. He’s not overwhelming in any particular area but has always produced and feels like a good bet to hit well in the low minors. The system feels deeper to me as I write this blurb than I thought it was before I began.
6. SS Casey Martin | 21 | NCAA | 2023
As a Freshman Phenom at Arkansas, Casey Martin stoked the imagination of a nation. I’ll kick it to Prospect Hobbs for a quote within a quote within a quote from his intricately titled article, 16 Prospects to Value More Highly in FYPD Than Their MLB Draft Position Indicates:
“Casey Martin this. Casey Martin that. Enough already, Hobbs! Go eat worms. It’s first grade recess all over again. Well, I can’t. And I won’t. And this is one of the best picks of the 2020 MLB Draft. Here’s what I said about Martin back in March while ranking him the No. 11 prospect (later dropped to No. 12) for dynasty leaguers to target: “Martin projects as a future fantasy contributor in all offensive categories with some of the best tools in this year’s crop, but he’s raw and will likely struggle through the middle-to-upper minors before making his way into a Big League uniform. If he’s undervalued by your league-mates and you can restrain your filthy, millennial-infused instant gratification – pounce.” And that’s me pretending to be Grey by quoting me! My advice: don’t grab him too high, but if the price is right… my childhood hero (actually still my hero, TBH), Bob Barker, says, “Own! Own! Own!””
7. 2B Kendall Simmons | 20 | A- | 2023
Simmons brings a power bat from the left side with a chance to play up the middle thanks to plus speed and athleticism. Here’s what I said about him last October:
“Posting a 177 wRC+ over his final month in Low A as a 19-year-old, Kendall Simmons seems to have unlocked something. At 6’2” 180 lbs., he’s the perfect build for continued physical development and will leap up the lists early in 2020 if he hits well in Spring.”
8. OF Simon Muzziotti | 22 | A+ | 2022
Here I hope to upcycle a variation on a blurb I wrote last October for our amusement.
‘Muzziotti just sounds like a speed play, which is fine because he is. He got caught 12 times in 32 attempts last year, but that’s not a big issue when you’re hitting .287 as a 20-year-old in High A. Striking out 12.9 percent of the time. Walking 6.9 percent—sorry I was drooling a little. An actualized Muzziotti with a juiced ball would be a thing. Even without the juice he might wind up a middle-tier thing for fantasy. Not a Mr. Universe type. Greg Universe, maybe, which would be a gem of an outcome for anybody.’
9. OF Johan Rojas | 20 | A- | 2024
The prospect world was eager to get a better look at toolsy centerfielder Johan Rojas this season and will be quick to react if he starts hot. Predicting assignments could be a fool’s errand in 2021, but I think Philly will be aggressive here as they do often are with talented kids. It hasn’t often worked out so well just yet, so maybe a new head honcho will tap the breaks on the processes that saw Luis Garcia, Jhailyn Ortiz and more rushed beyond their level of competence.
10. RHP Kyle Glogoski | 22 | A+ | Late 2021
Glogoski benefits from a deceptive delivery he repeats well. His raw stuff isn’t overpowering, but the 6’3” Kiwi competes on every pitch and has always faced older competitors. I’m intrigued by how he develops as he tacks a little muscle onto his frame. If he can tunnel his curveball well with his hiding fastball, I like his chances.
Thanks for reading!
I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.