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TOP 10 PROSPECTS

1. J.P. Crawford, ss
2. Mickey Moniak, of
3. Jorge Alfaro, c
4. Nick Williams, of
5. Sixto Sanchez, rhp
6. Rhys Hoskins, 1b
7. Franklyn Kilome, rhp
8. Roman Quinn, of
9. Scott Kingery, 2b
10. Dylan Cozens, of

After five straight seasons without a playoff appearance, the Phillies are staring ahead at another year that’s unlikely to yield a postseason spot.

At least in 2017, however, there will be tangible signs of hope in Philadelphia. The Phillies have one of the game’s best farm systems, with much of that talent congregated at the upper levels of the minors in the form of position prospects. That’s a welcome sign for a team that scored the fewest runs in the majors in 2016.

Center fielder Odubel Herrera (an astute Rule 5 draft pick from the Rangers in 2014) second baseman Cesar Hernandez and third baseman Maikel Franco all could be a part of the next Phillies team to reach the playoffs, but they will need a lot more help. Fortunately for them, a slew of young hitters are on the way.

Shortstop J.P. Crawford, the team’s top prospect, didn’t take the big leap forward in 2016 the Phillies were hoping he would, but he’s still a potential cornerstone player who should be in Philadelphia at some point in 2017.

Catcher Jorge Alfaro, first baseman Rhys Hoskins and outfielders Nick Williams, Roman Quinn and Dylan Cozens all played at Double-A Reading or Triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2016 and should be among the help coming to the major league club in 2017. Center fielder Mickey Moniak, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft, is still at least a few years away, but he’s a high-upside talent at a premium position with promising skills on both sides of the ball.

The team’s best pitching prospects are at the lower levels. Under the watch of international scouting director Sal Agostinelli, the Phillies continue to churn out low-cost gems from Latin America. The latest is righthander Sixto Sanchez, a $35,000 signing out of the Dominican Republic who dazzled scouts in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. He has a chance to be a frontline starter, fronting a slew of promising Latin American pitching prospects the Phillies signed for less than $100,000.

Righty Ricardo Pinto is the only one of that group who has pitched at Double-A or above. Righthanders Nick Pivetta, Mark Appel, Ben Lively and Thomas Eshelman also have upper-level experience and could help in 2017, while lefty Joely Rodriguez pitched in the Philadelphia bullpen in September. They should help supplement an already young major league rotation that includes Jerad Eickhoff, Aaron Nola, Vince Velasquez, Jake Thompson and Zach Eflin as 25-and-under righthanders.

The transition to the major leagues won’t be seamless for every young player the Phillies bring up in 2017, but by 2018, the Phillies should have a strong young nucleus to build around, with the resources and payroll flexibility to add to their core.

While 2017 probably won’t end the franchise’s playoff drought, it should provide a key developmental bridge for the franchise with an eye toward contention in 2018.


1. J.P. Crawford, ss | bba_video_icon_red

SCOUTING GRADES
Batting: 60
Power: 45
Speed: 50
Defense: 60
Arm: 60
Based on 20-80 scouting scale—where 50 represents major league average—and future projection rather than present tools.

Born: Jan. 11, 1995. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 180. Drafted: HS—Lakewood, Calif., 2013 (1st round). Signed by: Demerius Pittman.

Background: For the third straight season, Crawford ranks as the Phillies’ top prospect. It’s a ranking that comes after a season in which he didn’t take the next big leap forward that was expected of him coming into the year, but he’s still one of the game’s elite shortstop prospects. His athleticism runs in the family—he’s a cousin of Carl Crawford and his father played football at Iowa State and the Canadian Football League—but it’s the combination of athleticism and polished baseball skills for his age that have made Crawford stand out since his high school days. The Phillies selected him with the No. 16 overall pick in the 2013 draft, and he signed for $2,299,300. Crawford moved through the system quickly, reaching Double-A Reading as a 20-year-old in 2015 in a season that ended when he tore a ligament in his thumb in the Arizona Fall League. He opened 2016 by returning to Reading, where he spent six weeks before playing the rest of the season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He missed one week in August with an injured oblique. Crawford hit .250/.349/.339 in 123 games between the two stops.

Scouting Report: Crawford’s best offensive asset is his plate discipline. He has nearly as many walks as strikeouts in his career and shows a keen eye at the plate by recognizing offspeed pitches and rarely expanding the strike zone. Even as he went through growing pains upon reaching Triple-A, his strike-zone judgment remained intact. Crawford is a high-contact hitter with an efficient, compact swing from the left side, which combined with his plate discipline gives him a chance to be a high on-base threat at the top of a lineup. When he struggled, he had a habit of stepping in the bucket and leaking open early with his hips, creating a longer path to the ball. His ability to keep his hands back and control the bat head still allowed him to make contact, however. When his swing is in sync, Crawford stays inside the ball well, with a chance to be an above-average hitter. Getting stronger will be critical for him because his power is mostly to the gaps, with the occasional home run to the pull side. His power hasn’t developed as quickly as some expected, but between his bat speed and room to fill out his frame, he could develop average pop. In the field, Crawford shows plus defense, a mixture of athleticism, actions and instincts. With average speed, he isn’t a burner, but he has a quick first step and reads the ball well off the bat, providing him with plenty of range. He’s a fluid defender who can make plays to either side with his plus arm, which plays up because of his fast hands and quick transfer.

The Future: Crawford isn’t on the Phillies’ 40-man roster yet, though he hasn’t shown enough yet to merit a spot in the Opening Day lineup ahead of incumbent Freddy Galvis. Instead, he should return to Triple-A, with an opportunity to force his way to the major leagues by the all-star break. If everything clicks, the Phillies should have a franchise cornerstone at shortstop.

2016 Club AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Reading (AA) .265 .398 .309 136 23 36 8 0 3 13 30 21 5
Lehigh Valley (AAA) .244 .328 .318 336 40 82 11 1 4 30 42 59 7

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