The impact a great farm system, and great prospects, is currently taking center stage in the baseball universe. The Rays have overcome incredible odds to go from last place, last year, to the cusp of the . How did they do it? The catalysts name is Evan Longoria. The top prospect in ’s farm to start 2008, became the leader of this Rays team, and has come up with big hits all year. Behind Longoria are players like B.J. Upton, Carl Crawford, James Shields, and of course Scott Kazmir, all guys among the Rays best prospects few years ago.
Over the next couple of months I’m going to go team-by-team dissecting the organizations farm system, and pulling out each of their top 15 prospects; starting with the NL East and the Atlanta Braves. Once starts to release their top 10 lists I will come back to each team and compare and contrast their list to mine. Come to see an assessment on your favorite team’s future, stay because you are just as interested in prospects as I am. If you ever feel as though I have left someone off, or you disagree with my placement of a prospect, or anything else of that nature, please comment, get your opinion out here, and I’ll consider your thoughts.
**As a disclaimer I just wanted to say a few things. First, I rank players based on their potential talent first and foremost, other factors include: age, what level they play at, their 2008 statistics, team needs, and my own gut feeling. The reason I decided on a top 15 list, despite the fact that many team’s good-decent prospects I can count on one hand, was because some team’s do go 15 or more prospects deep, and I wanted to get to include them as well – the Braves are a great example of this, they go 15-19 prospects deep, and it was tough enough for me to narrow it down to 15, let alone 10. Throughout the offseason trades are bound to happen. I currently have every team’s top 15 lists, but they may be forced to change due to trades. I will try my best to make the appropriate adjustments, and even update lists I’ve already posted as prospects come to and from teams. Also, other than Michael Inoa, I have no 2008 internationally signed players; I also do not feel as though they will be missed. Finally, I would like to say that I am not a professional, I do possess a good amount of information, but I will make mistakes, few, but they will be there. There are also some prospects I may not go into full detail about, but I will hit the mot important players, in my opinion of every organization. Otherwise I hope you enjoy this series, and consistently come here to read it. Good Luck to Everybody’s Favorite Team’s Offseason… go Rays.
Minor League notations in descending order
*AAA/AA signifies triple A, and Double A respectively… duh
*A+ signifies high A ball
*A- signifies low A ball
*A signifies a prospect played at both high, and low A ball throughout the course of the season
*a signifies short-season A ball*R signifies rookie league
*MLL signifies minor league level last season
Philadelphia Phillies Top 15 Prospects
1. Carlos Carrasco RHSP Age: 21 MLL: AAA/AA<o:p></o:p>
It seems as though Carrasco has been towards the top of this list for ages, but somehow he is still only 21, and already pitching in AAA, oh the beauty of international signees. Carrasco excelled this past season advancing to the highest level of the farm while pitching to an ERA of 3.69 over 151 innings, and striking out 155 batters. Carrasco looks like he will make the jump to the big leagues sometime next season, and will immediately jump in as the Phillies’ number two starter. Carrasco has three major league ready pitches including a plus-plus changeup, and his lively fastball.
2. Lou Marson C Age: 22 MLL: AA<o:p></o:p>
Marson’s my favorite prospect in the Phillies system. For awhile he was known best for his defensive capabilities, but is now making a name for himself as a hitter. In 2008 he hit for a .314 BA, and .433 OBP, to go with his .849 OPS, pretty impressive numbers for a defensive catcher. Marson is not a power threat, but makes up for it due to his plate patience, walking 68 times in 2008, and striking out only 70 times. Marson is the Phillies catcher of the –near- future, and will help the team with excellent defense, and his ability to be a difficult out.
3. Kyle Drabek RHSP Age: 21 MLL: a/R<o:p></o:p>
Could Kyle Drabek finally be healthy? Drabek has the best stuff in the Phillies’ system, he throws a 97 mph fastball, and one of the best curveballs south of the major leagues. He finally recovered from Tommy John surgery, and pitched 32 innings in Rookie, and short-season A leagues in 2008. There he threw up a 2.23 ERA, and held opposing hitters to a .156 BA. If Drabek can stay healthy he should continue to put up stellar numbers, he has ace potential, were he to ever reach it.
4. Zach Collier OF Age: 18 MLL: R<o:p></o:p>
Collier was the first player taken by the Phillies in the 2008 draft. He has good power, and should develop more, he also posses great speed, and good base running instincts. Collier is a good fielder with about an average arm; the Phillies may try him in center as he moves through the farm, but will likely play at a corner when he eventually makes it to the big leagues. Collier had mixed success in the rookie league during his pro debut, but it would be hard to make any impressions of him before he played a full season.
5. Joe Savery LHSP Age: 23 MLL: A+<o:p></o:p>
Savery throws an above average fastball in the low 90s with good movement. He also throws a changeup, and curveball, both which gage at average. Savery had some success at high A in 2008, throwing 150 innings for an ERA of 4.13, while managing to win 9 games, and striking out 122 batters. I do not currently have a ceiling for Savery, possibly a #3, but I do not think he rises any higher.
6. J.A. Happ LHSP Age: 26 MLL: AAA<o:p></o:p>
I know he is now 26, pitched at the major league level, and could start 2009 in the MLB rotation, but he still qualifies as a rookie, and that makes him a prospect on this list. Happ was amazing last season pitching to an ERA of 3.60 in AAA over the course of 135 innings in AAA, where he struck out 151 batters in that span. Happ throws an average fastball with a velocity range of 88-91 mph, but his out pitch is his solid changeup. As previously mentioned Happ could/should be apart of the rotation in 2008, and could be a solid #3 starter
7. Dominick Brown OF-RF Age: 21 MLL: A-<o:p></o:p>
Brown, or Golson; Golson, or Brown? Hmm… I am going with Brown. He is younger, and has more polish, in my book you can not go wrong with that kind of logic. Brown hit for a BA of .291 in 2008, while posting a .382 OBP, and .798 OPS. Not great numbers, but certainly solid. Especially when you factor in his 72:64 K:BB ratio. Brown hit only 9 HRs, but has the potential to hit more. He also stole 22 bases. Brown will likely find himself in AA next season, and could be with the major league club in late 2010.
8. Greg Golson OF Age: 23 MLL: AA<o:p></o:p>
Golson is one of the most pure talents in this system. The problem: poor pitch recognition. What does poor pitch recognition cause: lots of strikeouts, few walks, and most importantly, wasted talent. Golson hit for a solid average in 2008, .282, but erected a mere .333 OBP, while striking out 130 times, worse still he managed only a .767 OPS. What is good is Golson still managing to hit 13 HRs, and stealing 23 bases; he also has a strong arm, and is a sound fielder. Golson needs to show a big improvement in his plate patience, or he will never become a starter in Philadelphia, he will start next season in either AAA, or back in AA.
9. Anthony Hewitt SS Age: 19 MLL: R<o:p></o:p>
The second 2008 draftee, it was widely believed that Hewitt had has much upside as anyone in the draft. Hewitt has some offensive tools, and should develop solid power. He has above average speed, and is a good base runner. Hewitt has a strong arm, but profiles more as an outfielder, most likely center. He struggled in his first taste of pro baseball, hitting for a poor .197 BA, and striking out a whopping 55 times in 117 at bats.
10. Jason Donald SS Age: 24 MLL: AA<o:p></o:p>
Donald at number ten shows off the depth the Phillies have in their farm system. Donald is a good fielder with a plus arm, but is likely to third – sooner, rather than later. Donald struggled offensively in 2006, but rebounded in 2007, and kept pace in 2008. He hit a BA of .307, and got on base 39.1 % of the time, while posting a .889 OPS. His next stop will be AAA next season where he will try to prove to the Phillies that he is more than a utility bench player, and deserve a shot at the everyday 3B spot.
11. Travis D’Arnaud C Age: 19 MLL: A-<o:p></o:p>
D’Arnaud is a great fielding catcher, with plus receiving skills, and a terrific arm. He also has some offensive ability, as he hit for a .831 OPS in 239 ABs in low A this season.
12. Anthony Gose OF Age: 18 MLL: R<o:p></o:p>
The third player on this list taken in the 2008 draft, Gose is a high upside high school player. He was also garnering consideration as a pitcher, but the Phillies will make him an outfielder. Right now it is tough to guess what Gose will become as a hitter. He has some power potential, but tends to lose his ability to make contact when he ‘swings for the fences’. He could become a solid line-drive hitter with a high average, or hitter with solid power, but holes in his swing, or he could become nothing at all. Gose is a tremendous fielder, with a great arm, and excellent speed.
13. Mike Taylor OF Age: 23 MLL: A+<o:p></o:p>
Taylor played himself onto this list in 2008. He hit for a .346 BA, .412 OBP, and a .968 OPS. He hit 19 HRs, while stealing 15 bags. He was a bit old for high A, but I will keep an eye on him as he moves on to AA next season.
14. Drew Naylor RHSP Age: 22 MLL: A<o:p></o:p>
Naylor did well during the 2008 campaign, boasting a 3.86 ERA in 165 innings, and striking out 156 batters. He also allowed 16 HRs, or .87HRs/9IP, if my math is right, and it should be. Naylor throws a low 90s sinking fastball to go with a good curveball, and solid changeup.
15. Drew Carpenter RHSP Age: 23 MLL: AAA/AA<o:p></o:p>
Carpenter has average stuff, featuring a fastball that ranges between 88, and 92 mph. He also throws an average slider, curveball, and spliter – as well as a below average changeup, but he will not need to throw it in the majors because of his spliter. Carpenter also possesses good command of his pitches. Carpenter was shaky in AA, and AAA this season compiling a 4.59 ERA in 153 innings, and striking out only 106. Next season he will have likely repeat AAA, but he should be solid at the back end of the Phillies rotation one day.
Strengths: Other than the already young stars of the Phillies (Utley, Howard, Hamels, Rollins)? They feature a number of pitchers capable of starting in the majors one day. A rotation of: 1. Cole Hamels 2. Carrasco 3. Happ 4. Savery 5. Kyle Kendrick/Carpenter/Naylor would be pretty impressive – especially since I did not even include a possible Drabek appearance. The 2008 draft gave the Phillies three 5-tool prospects, outfielders, to bolster their already toolsy group of position players. They also have a great catcher ready to take over the pitching staff for the major league team; every organization could use one of those.
Weakness: They do not have many. Those pitchers who fail to make the rotation can be moved to the bullpen, and assuming Lidge stays in Philadelphia for awhile they do not need a future closer. They do lack infielders in the system, but that should not hold the major league team back, since they are loaded with stars there. While Utley, Howard, and Rollins dominate the NL, the Phillies can draft some college infielders to fill in at higher levels of the minor leagues.
Next Up: the Washington Nationals, and the NL East Wrap up