While we wait for the 2020 MLB season to get underway, it’s time to take a closer look at players who could one day be on opening day rosters. For the next month or two, we’ll be examining each team’s farm system, which will contain several prospects that will either one day be contributors for them, or could be used to acquire impact major leaguers.
Since we’ll be going in alphabetical order by city, our 21st farm system overview will be of the Philadelphia Phillies. We’ll rank their top ten prospects, discuss some of their other notable minor leaguers, and then analyze the overall state of the farm system.
#1: RHP Spencer Howard
Height: 6’2″ Weight: 205 lbs
Drafted: 2nd Round- 2017
Fastball: 65 Breaking Ball: 55 Third Pitch: 55 Command: 50
Overall Grade: 55
With Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler at the top the rotation, the Phillies have a strong front-line duo to build on for the next five years. However, they’re in desperate need of a young pitcher stepping up to deepen the rotation, which is where Spencer Howard comes into play. The 23-year-old dealt with a shoulder injury in 2019, but not only did he dominate in the Arizona Fall League, he was also un-hittable in both High-A and Double-A. Simply put, Howard is an absolute strikeout machine, thanks to his excellent four-pitch mix; his fastball reaches 98 MPH with a lot of late life, he has two strong breaking balls, and an above-average changeup. Plus, although his command had been an issue in the past, but he’s posted ideal walk rates in back-to-back seasons, so right now, he looks like a future frontline starter. With the likelihood of a shortened season, there’s a decent chance that the Phillies, who won’t have to worry about keeping him on an innings limit, will have Howard on the big-league team on opening day. That’s quite the lofty development for a player who started last season in Single-A, but nevertheless, I think he’ll be up to the task- he’s definitely a dark horse Rookie of the Year candidate.
#2: RHP Adonis Medina
Height: 6’1″ Weight: 185 lbs
Signed: May 29, 2014
Fastball: 60 Breaking Ball: 57.5 Third Pitch: 55 Command: 50
Overall Grade: 54.125
When the Phillies traded top prospect Sixto Sanchez in a package for JT Realmuto, they did so anticipating that some of their other pitching prospects would progress well through the minors. At the time, that mostly applied to Adonis Medina, but that’s no longer the case. The 23-year-old struggled mightily in Double-A, regressing significantly in terms of his strikeout rate (6.98 K/9) and walk rate (3.49 BB/9). That’s definitely worrisome, to the point where it’s unlikely Medina will make his big league debut this season. Yet, there is still plenty of reason to be confident in the Dominican right-hander. Not only has he been cited for having a strong makeup and being very coachable, but his fastball with late movement induces plenty of ground balls, while his changeup and breaking ball are both above average. So, why did he take a step back last season? Well, he’s pretty inconsistent due to an inadequate feel for pitching, something that Philadelphia has to be hoping gets better in a hurry. After all, Medina is 23-years-old, and should be on the cusp of being an impact major leaguer; having a bounce-back season will go a long way for him in terms of his development.
#3: 3B Alec Bohm
Height: 6’5″ Weight: 225 lbs
Drafted: 3rd Overall- 2018
Hit: 52.5 Power: 60 Field: 47.5 Arm: 55 Speed: 42.5
Overall Grade: 53.25
Seen as the best college hitter in the 2018 MLB draft, Alec Bohm saw his stock rise extremely after a strong junior year at Wichita State, and ended up going third overall to the Phillies. So far, he has been as good as advertised, dominating at every level of the minors- he finished 2019 at Double-A. He demonstrates the discipline to take walks and not strikeout much, while also displaying his enormous power, his is a fantastic combination for him to build upon offensively. Yet, I’m not sure he’s a long-term third baseman due to his poor defense, and if he has to move to first base, his value goes down- there’ll be more pressure on him to produce offensively. That’s why it always, in my mind, was a reach to consider Bohm to be a top-five pick. Sure, he’s a safe prospect who’ll be an impact contributor, but without the ideal athleticism and defense at his position, he’s a limited player. He’ll likely debut for the Phillies this season, but with Rhys Hoskins entrenched at first base currently, Philadelphia will have to deal with his issues defensively.
#4: RHP Mauricio Llovera
Height: 5’11” Weight: 200 lbs
Signed: February 12, 2015
Fastball: 57.5 Breaking Ball: 55 Third Pitch: 52.5 Command: 50
Overall Grade: 52.875
As mentioned, the Phillies were looking for some of their pitching prospects to fill the void left by Sixto Sanchez, and one of the pitchers who has done was in the same international signing class. Signed for just $7,500 out of Venezuela, Mauricio Llovera isn’t a super flashy prospect, and stands under 6’0″ tall. However, he constantly gets the job done, and deserves more recognition than he currently is receiving. He doesn’t have one true standout pitch, but between his sinking fastball, productive slider, and craft splitter, he has the three-pitch mix necessary to be a starter, though that isn’t the only role he could occupy. Should concerns about his frame turn out to be too much, he also has potential as a multi-inning reliever, where his pitching arsenal is even more effective. Regardless, he has been consistently productive in the minors, even as he’s dealt with injuries, and as a middle of the rotation starter or reliever, I have no doubt he’ll be a meaningful big-league pitcher for years to come- there are some similarities between him and Bud Norris, a nine-year pitcher who has been effective as a starter and as a reliever.
#5: SS Bryson Stott
Height: 6’3″ Weight: 200 lbs
Drafted: 14th Overall- 2019
Hit: 55 Power: 50 Field: 52.5 Arm: 52.5 Speed: 55
Overall Grade: 52.625
Just one year after drafting Bohm, the Phillies once again opted to select a college infielder, and one day, perhaps Bryson Stott and Bohm can be their long-term duo on the left side of the infield. Coming out of UNLV, the 22-year-old Stott doesn’t have any elite skills, but his biggest positive may be his lack of negatives- he’s a very well-rounded player. His offense isn’t fantastic, but he has good contact skills with the ability to draw walks, and when you combine that with 20 home run power, there’s no reason why he can’t be a 110 wrc+ (slightly above average) type of hitter in the future. The same can be said about his defense, as he does all the “little things” well at the shortstop position, though overtime, there are some concerns about if he’ll outgrow the position or lose a step as he matures. When you add it all together, Stott definitely has a limited ceiling, but is a very safe prospect, and almost appears to be a shoe-in to be an everyday shortstop. He looks just like Brandon Crawford with his long hair and lefty swing, but in actuality, I’d liken him to current Phillies shortstop Didi Gregorius, though with better plate discipline. After a strong professional debut, I wouldn’t be surprised if he moved through the minors at a rapid pace.
#6: LHP JoJo Romero
Height: 5’11” Weight: 190 lbs
Drafted: 4th Round- 2016
Fastball: 52.5 Breaking Ball: 52.5 Third Pitch: 55 Command: 50
Overall Grade: 51.5
The Phillies, as mentioned, have a pretty thin rotation, and could’ve used some extra reinforcements from the minor leagues. After shining with a 2.95 xFIP in 57.2 innings at Double-A, JoJo Romero looked primed to be called up to the major league roster. However, Philadelphia first wanted to see him do well in Triple-A, and unfortunately, he didn’t meet expectations at all. Not only did the 23-year-old have a K-BB ratio of just 1.14, but he also posted a 6.45 xFIP in 53.2 innings pitched in Triple-A, and will have to start the season back there next year. He is rather inconsistent, but he sink and cut his fastball, and with a terrific changeup, he has a true out pitch versus both righties and lefties. Heck, giving his command a 50 grade may be underestimating his abilities, and overall, I still believe he’ll be a middle of the rotation starter. After all, even with his struggles in Triple-A, it would be foolish to disregard his previous dominance; he should debut for Philadelphia this season, whether in the bullpen or in the rotation.
#7: RHP Francisco Morales
Height: 6’4″ Weight: 185 lbs
Signed: July 2, 2016
Fastball: 60 Breaking Ball: 60 Third Pitch: 47.5 Command: 45
Overall Grade: 51.25
By now, you can see that the Phillies had been adamant about adding young pitching to their organization, even though they’ve selected a college hitter in each of the past two drafts. With a traditional 6’4″ frame and an overpowering fastball-breaking ball combination, Francisco Morales is a much different prospect than the likes of Llovera and Romero, which is both good and bad. On the bright side, he’s already a very strong strikeout pitcher with tantalizing ace upside, and he’s coming off of a 3.23 xFIP in 96.2 innings at Single-A. Yet, he’s yet to have a walk rate below 4.28 in any of his three seasons, which is why he’s more of a boom-or-bust prospect. He’s still early in his development, as he’s only 20-years-old and has yet to pitch 100 innings in a season. Therefore, it’s tough to get a read on what the future holds for him, though one thing is for certain- he’s a prospect to keep an eye on it.
#8: RHP Enyel De Los Santos
Height: 6’3″ Weight: 170 lbs
Signed: July 17, 2014- SEA
Fastball: 52.5 Breaking Ball: 45 Third Pitch: 57.5 Command: 50
Overall Grade: 50.625
Freddy Galvis was a solid contributor for the Phillies, but perhaps his biggest contribution was the prospects the team netted when they traded him to the Padres. Enyel De Los Santos has yet to progress since being traded to Philadelphia, but he is still a respected prospect, ranking in the top-ten in this list, as well as MLB Pipeline’s list. It’s easy to believe in a pitcher with the changeup that the 24-year-old possesses, but unfortunately for him, that’s all he really has in his arsenal. His perceived fastball velocity is diminished by his short leg stride, and perhaps most worrisome, his breaking ball is pretty much an ineffective slurve. Even though he still has potential if he can fix some of his mechanical issues, he’s running out of time to do so, and at this point, perhaps we should read the writing on the wall- it’s likely De Los Santos is more of a swingman type than someone capable of filling a spot in a team’s starting rotation.
#9: OF Simon Muzziotti
Height: 6’1″ Weight: 175 lbs
Signed: July 2, 2015- BOS
Hit: 52.5 Power: 40 Field: 55 Arm: 55 Speed: 57.5
Overall Grade: 50.4
The Red Sox were caught for certain infractions with their international spending four years ago, which caused them to lose some of their prospects to the open market. One of them was Venezuelan outfielder Simon Muzziotti, who Philadelphia quickly signed. The 21-year-old is unlikely to be an everyday player, since he won’t post high on-base percentages and doesn’t hit for much power, but with his contact ability and defense, he could be a very useful fourth outfielder. That may seem underwhelming, but you can bring value to a team even if you’re not a starter for them, and that’s the position Muzziotti will likely find himself in- he has a very high floor, and should one day contribute for the Phillies in some capacity.
#10: OF Mickey Moniak
Height: 6’2″ Weight: 185 lbs
Drafted: 1st Overall- 2016
Hit: 50 Power: 45 Field: 55 Arm: 50 Speed: 55
Overall Grade: 50.25
When you’re the first overall pick in the draft, expectations are going to be high on you to deliver on the team’s investment. For Mickey Moniak, that may be a bit unreasonable, considering that saving money was part of the reason Philadelphia selected him first overall, but still, they at least thought they were getting a future All Star, right? The 21-year-old has been able to post .300 on-base percentages due to poor plate discipline, and since he won’t hit for much power, that’s an issue. Sure, he’s a decent defender, but simply put, he’s not producing well enough for evaluators to believe in him- he’s trending quickly towards being a bust. It’s unfortunate, but such is the life when a team a) takes a high school player #1 overall and b) doesn’t necessarily take the best player available.
Best of the Rest
- Infielder Luis Garcia is a switch hitter with some contact ability, but has no power, and no above-average skill outside of his arm strength.
- Rafael Marchan doesn’t strike out much, but he has no power and although a solid defender behind the plate, looks like a future backup catcher currently.
Farm System Overview
The Phillies are focused on winning in the short term, and luckily for them, their farm system is filled with players who’ll be ready to contribute in the big leagues soon. At the moment, they’re particularly rich with a variety of different types of pitching prospects, which may explain their recent strategy of drafting college hitters. It’s not a great farm system, but it’s in better shape than you’d expect after trading a prospect like Sixto Sanchez, and for the most part, they don’t have any risky prospects that they’re counting on to pan out.