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|TOP 10 PROSPECTS|
|1. J.P. Crawford, ss|
|2. Nick Williams, of|
|3. Jake Thompson, rhp|
|4. Andrew Knapp, c|
|5. Jorge Alfaro, c|
|6. Cornelius Randolph, of|
|7. Franklyn Kilome, rhp|
|8. Roman Quinn, of|
|9. Adonis Medina, rhp|
|10. Carlos Tocci, of|
Even though the Phillies finished with the worst record in baseball at 63-99, in some ways 2015 was their best season in a long while.
The team’s transition kicked into high gear, and the key pieces of the youth movement introduced over the course of the season showed promise. After a lackluster big league trial in 2014, third baseman Maikel Franco started the 2015 season back at Triple-A Lehigh Valley before being recalled in mid-May. This time, he played like a top prospect, hitting 14 home runs in 80 games and recording an .840 OPS in a season interrupted by a fractured left wrist. He also showed the tools necessary to stick at third base and looked like the first cornerstone of a new Phillies foundation.
The second one joined a few months later, when Philadelphia summoned 2014 first-round pick Aaron Nola from Triple-A. As was the case with Franco, Nola played to his pedigree and then some. The righthander finished 6-2, 3.59 with 68 strikeouts and 19 walks and looked like a future rotation anchor. Meanwhile, 2014 Rule 5 draft pick Odubel Herrera manned center field and hit .297/.344/.418, and the 23-year-old looks like a solid piece of the rebuild.
The season’s true fulcrum, however, happened in late July, when the Phillies swung a series of big trades. First and foremost was the deal that sent ace lefty Cole Hamels to the Rangers for a package of lefthander Matt Harrison and five prospects. Three of those prospects—righthander Jake Thompson, outfielder Nick Williams and catcher Jorge Alfaro—ranked among Texas’ top five a year ago. The other two—righties Alec Asher and Jerad Eickhoff—are upper-level pitchers who joined the Philadelphia rotation.
Deals of one-time franchise cornerstone Chase Utley to the Dodgers and outfielder Ben Revere to the Blue Jays brought four more prospects into the fold, completing a total revamp of a farm system that in the span of 13 months went from barren to bristling with talent.
A few more moves followed after the dust settled. Manager Ryne Sandberg abdicated his post and was replaced by Pete Mackanin, whose interim tag was replaced with a contract for 2016. The last domino fell on Sept. 10, when the team fired Ruben Amaro Jr., its general manager since November 2008.
Amaro took the Phillies to the World Series once and the postseason thrice, but held on to core pieces such as Utley, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins too long, leading to the franchise’s slide from 102 wins in 2011 to this year’s bottoming out.
Andy MacPhail—who has served as GM or president with the Twins, Cubs and Orioles in the past—took over as president and was expected to hire a GM soon after the World Series. That GM, presumably with second-year scouting director Johnny Almaraz, will add another piece toward the rebuilding effort with the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft.