Philadelphia Phillies Top 10 Prospects Chat with Matt Forman

Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2011.

Moderator: Matt Forman will answer Phillies questions beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Matt Forman: Greetings, baseball fans and prospect followers alike to the Phillies Top 10 list. I'm happy to be starting the National League chats with what's sure to include some solid questions and, as Will Lingo likes to say, "prospect goodness." I enjoyed putting together the Phillies list this year, and it proved to be far different from the doing the Diamondbacks a year ago. Seven of Arizona's top 10, and 17 of the top 30, were 2009 draftees, and the early versions of the Phillies top 30 includes four 2010 draftees. And that's not an indictment of the 2010 draft—it speaks to the organization's depth. I had a list of about 45-50 players that were at least considered for the top 30. With that, how about a question? Everything Phillies-related is fair game.

    Jasen (FLL): Excluding Brown and Singleton, which player in the top ten do you expect to make the biggest stride in 2011? Thanks for the chat!

Matt Forman: John Manuel put together the Phillies list last year (and for the last couple of years), and though I had several discussions with him about the system, we never specifically touched on the helium Jiwan James had last year. I imagine it was similar to what Aaron Altherr had this year when making calls for the top 10. Outside of Phillies fans, he's more of an under-the-radar type among prospect followers, but I think that'll change next year. The support he received both inside and outside the organization was incredible, and I expect a big year from Altherr at Lakewood in 2011.

    Ken (Lakewood CA): Hi Matt. couple of questions. Though Rizzotti seems a bit old for a prospect, he had a good 2010. Where does he fall short? Also, with Polanco projected as the future 3B, does this mean the Phillies are lacking for solid prospects at the 3B position? Thanks.

Matt Forman: I figured there would be quite a few questions about Rizzotti, who seemed to be the focus of much discussion among Phillies prospect followers throughout the summer, especially in the blogosphere. More of a suspect coming into the season, Rizzotti turned himself into a prospect by moving from Clearwater to Lehigh Valley, and he tore up Reading along the way. For a big guy, Rizzotti has more of a line-drive approach, and his most impressive power numbers came in Reading, a hitting-friendly environment. He's never going to be fast or a great defender, and he's susceptible to hard stuff on the inner half. That being said, Rizzotti put up loud enough numbers to get consideration for the top 30, and he'll slot somewhere into the last 10 spots.

Matt Forman: As for the second question, the Phillies don't have a great in-house option for their third baseman of the future; Cody Overbeck had a solid year between Clearwater and Reading, though scouts have serious questions about his ability to play the hot corner, and offensively he thrives on hitting fastballs. The projected 2014 lineup is more of a fun way to see what a team would look like if it relied completely on its farm system and the players currently on the major league roster.

    Ty (FL): Did Perci Garner get consideration for the list? What's the word on him?

Matt Forman: A few questions about Perci Garner... Garner, a 2010 second-round pick, will definitely make the top 30, but he didn't receive much consideration for the top 10. The Phillies shut him down after his second appearance at Williamsport for precautionary reasons, but there's no reason to suggest any long-term health problems. For a college draftee, Garner hasn't pitched much, since he went to Ball State as a football player before walking onto the baseball team. He had some first-round buzz during the spring because he has two major-league quality pitches, his fastball and curveball, and a ton of upside, though most teams viewed him as maybe a third- or fourth-round selection. He's still raw and it's going to take time, but there's reason to be excited. He's likely to spend 2011 at Lakewood.

    Ryan (Abingdon, MD): If Cosart had not missed half the season with an elbow injury, would he have ranked #2 on this list? His stuff and performance definitely point to an exciting future.

Matt Forman: Good question, Ryan. It's worth noting that Domonic Brown was the clear-cut favorite for the top spot on the list, but there was little separation between No.'s 2-4. You really could rank and argue Jonathan Singleton, Brody Colvin and Jarred Cosart in any order and be happy with the outcome. With that, I think you're right about Cosart being No. 2 if he had stayed healthy. After July, Colvin ranked second in the South Atlantic League in ERA while Cosart didn't pitch. Cosart has a slightly higher ceiling than Colvin, though Cosart's a riskier bet to get there. And Singleton's the most likely of those three to reach his ceiling.

    Ian (Miami, FL): It would be nice to see him miss a few more bats, but did Jonathan Pettibone land in the 11-20 range?

Matt Forman: The only real knock on Pettibone is that he doesn't have premium swing-and-miss stuff. That being said, Pettibone took some impressive strides and he's going to be a player to keep an eye on in 2011. As one member of the Phillies front office put it to me, "He became a man in the second half." I saw a few of Lakewood's playoff games this year, and if you took background and numbers out of the equation, you could have left thinking Pettibone was a similar-rated prospect to Brody Colvin. He has an uncanny feel for pitching, and the Phillies introduced a slider and two-seamer to him earlier than they normally would because of his aptitude, giving him a four-pitch mix. He's definitely in the 11-20 range, and he has the potential to be a mid-rotation starter.

    Jimmy (Charlotte): Julio Rodriguez put up some pretty impressive numbers. What's the scouting report on him?

Matt Forman: Rodriguez was another one of the Lakewood pitching prospects, other than Brody Colvin and Jarred Cosart, that I came away impressed with. There were mixed reports on Rodriguez's velocity throughout the season, but he definitely added some to his fastball as the season wore on. In the South Atlantic League playoffs, Rodriguez bumped a few 92s and 93s early in his appearances, though he settled into the 87-90 mph range on his fastball. But as one Phillies executive said, "If you're a radar gun guy, he's not going to impress you. If you throw the gun away and let the hitters tell you how hard he's throwing, he'll impress you." He's got great deception, and good angle on his fastball. Rodriguez's strikeout numbers were impressive, though he gets a lot of swings and misses on his upper-60s curveball that needs to be tightened up as he moves up the ladder.

    Sammy (TX): Can you give us a rundown on Leandro Castro? Top 30 guy?

Matt Forman: Leandro Castro is a definite top 30 guy, but he didn't receive much top 10 consideration as a few other questions asked. The best way to describe everything Castro does is aggressive, and he's probably going to have to play a little more under control at the higher levels. Still, you'd much rather have to tell a player to relax than the other way around. Castro has always hit, and that's going to determine how far he goes. Most of his other tools are average, and he probably fits best as a left fielder.

    Kevin (Boston): Can Phillippe Aumont stick as a starter?

Matt Forman: Lots of questions about the prospects the Phillies received in return for Cliff Lee, and I'll touch on each of the players. As for your question, Kevin... One of the more interesting nuggets I came across when talking to Phillies front office folks for the list was that Aumont officially is entering 2011 as a reliever. As one executive said, there will be no more jockeying back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen. It was intriguing that he pitched for Team Canada in September as a starter, but the Phillies are committed to developing him in a relief role. The nicest way to put it is that Aumont went through growing pains mentally and physically in 2010: He was expected to be a starting pitcher at Double-A, which he wasn't ready for. The positive to take away from it all? He pitched a ton of innings and the Phillies still think his 90-94 mph sinker alone will get him to the big leagues.

    Nick (NJ): Can you give us some thoughts on Tyson Gillies? Has he completely fallen off of the radar screen?

Matt Forman: Sticking with the Cliff Lee trend, Gillies hasn't fallen off the radar screen completely, but he did have a rough 2010. He had trouble staying healthy, and when was able to get on the field he struggled. For the Gillies doubters, they say his most impressive numbers came in an extremely hitter-friendly environment at High Desert. For the Gillies supporters, they say you can't ignore the raw tools that were on display at the Future's Game last year. The reports from fall instructional said that Gillies' hamstring was back to 100 percent, but that he wasn't playing the field in game action; he just saw time as a DH. I think there's still reason to be excited about Gillies: Assuming the hamstring issue is resolved, he can be an above-average defender in centerfield and employ his slap-and-run approach at the plate. He doesn't have the same upside as the other toolsy outfielders that made the top 10, but Gillies is closest to the major leagues of any outfielder not named Domonic Brown.

    Shane (Miami): True or False, Jonathan Singleton is Dr. Dre's son? The resemblence is uncanny!

Matt Forman: No comment—I just thought this was funny.

    JH (Berkeley): Who's the highest-ranking player from the Cliff Lee trade? Man, I bet Amaro wishes he could have that one back.

Matt Forman: The third component of the Cliff Lee deal, and maybe the player who ranks the highest is J.C. Ramirez. It'll be close between Ramirez and Gillies on who ranks higher in the top 30. Ramirez is big, strong and durable as evidenced by his innings total the last few years. He's got a heavy 92-94 fastball, and he's got a good chance of staying in the rotation if he can continue to polish his secondary pitches. The Phillies were impressed with his desire to pitch through an injury that required surgery on his hip labrum after the season.

    Tim (Jersey): Is this a top 10 organization in terms of prospects?

Matt Forman: Thanks for the question, Tim. A lot of prospect followers like to stack up the organizations against each other, and that's a difficult task that Jim Callis, John Manuel and Will Lingo tackle for the Prospect Handbook. When you do a top 30, you either think it's better than other people do, or you think it's worse. Just going off of the top of my head from the American League top 10s that have been released so far, I'd probably put the Yankees, Rays, Indians, Royals and Blue Jays (and the Red Sox before the Adrian Gonzalez trade) ahead of the Phillies. My gut tells me the Phillies will probably rank somewhere in the 10-15 range of the organization rankings.

    Matt (Bristol, pa): In 2013, does the Phillies outfield look like this? Singleton LF, James CF, Brown RF?

Matt Forman: That certainly could be the case, and the Phillies would suggest that it's possible. Of course, at this time last year it would have been reasonable to suggest a Phillies outfield with Michael Taylor in left field and Anthony Gose in center field.

    DB (Princeton): I have read that Justin Defratus has a chance to make the Phillies bullpen this year. What kind of stuff does have and was he considered for the top 10?

Matt Forman: Quite a few questions about Justin De Fratus, and he certainly deserves to be mentioned. De Fratus received some consideration for the top 10, and he's definitely a top 20 prospect in the system. There's reason to be excited, given the full-time move to the bullpen and how much he has improved. Though De Fratus has pitched only 25 innings above A ball, the Phillies let him pitch for Team USA and then sent him to the Arizona Fall League. He's got a 92-95 mph fastball and a solid slider, but he needs to be more consistent with it, and he has great command. But more than anything, scouts rave about his bulldog mentality and fearless attitude about coming into any situation. As one scout said, "He should have been left-handed, he has that kind of mentality."

    Sean (DC): How close were Defratus and Worley from making the top 10? What kept them off the list? Do they have potential to be impact players or are they both more #5/bullpen type guys?

Matt Forman: Just touched on De Fratus, though it's worth adding that he should get a chance to compete for a job on the major league team during Spring Training. My guess is that he'll end up getting a little more seasoning at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, but he really came on strong at the end of the year. As for Worley, he just missed the top 10. In fact, he was No. 11. He has the upside of a back-of-the-rotation starter, either a No. 4 or No. 5, and he made significant improvements this year. He got in better shape and impressed Eastern League scouts the second time through the circuit. He'll likely battle Kyle Kendrick for the fifth starter's role in Spring Training, or he could be used in middle relief.

    Phil (Connecticut): Thanks for the chat. What are your thoughts on my fellow CT guy, Josh Zeid? He was up to 97 in the final championship game of the SALLY league, went 3-0 in the AFL, and made the all-star team out there. Also, he is listed as having the best slider— top 20? top 30? what's his ceiling?

Matt Forman: Ahh, Josh Zeid. He's one of my favorite under-the-radar Phillies prospects. He was highly recruited out of high school, spent two seasons at Vanderbilt and transferred to Tulane before being a 10th-round pick in 2009. I saw Zeid pitch in Lakewood and then in the Arizona Fall League and came away impressed both times. He sits more 92-94 mph as a starter, though like you said, Phil, his velocity jumps out of the bullpen. The guess here is that Zeid will double-jump to Reading in 2011 and will continue pitching as a starter to work on his secondary stuff. But it's pretty hard to ignore the potential as a power reliever, and that's ultimately where I see his role in the future.

    Jesse (Allentown): I suppose Mathieson has MLB time so eliminates him from the list, but I would rank him in the top 5 based on his comeback and lights out year at LV. Does he make the big club out of spring training?

Matt Forman: It's worth mentioning that both Scott Mathieson and Antonio Bastardo still have prospect eligibility, and both just missed the top 10. Neither has reached the 50 innings pitched threshold. But both Mathieson and Bastardo should have a chance at making the big club out of Spring Training.

    Kyle (Philadelphia): Freddy Galvis, obviously he has the glove for the majors but will he ever have the bat?

Matt Forman: You're right, Kyle, that's the real question. Scouts have been aglow about Galvis' defense, and he could play a solid shortstop in the major leagues today. The Phillies stressed the importance of bulking up a little bit and adding strength to his frame, which should help his offensive potential. And everyone I talked to in the organization said they anticipated Galvis would hit about .233/.276/.311 at Reading like he did, so the expectations weren't overly lofty. I still give him a chance, since he's a switch hitter with good hand-eye coordination and makes solid contact.

    Beerleaguer (Philadelphia, Pa.): Where would Jonathan Villar and Anthony Gose rank on this list?

Matt Forman: I did see both Gose and Villar play at Lakewood at different times, but I didn't make the calls about them last year and I didn't specifically ask about them this year, so it's hard to say for sure. But they're both definite top 10 guys, and my initial reaction was that they'd both slot in after Valle and beore James.

    Steve (Sarasota): Should we cross Joe Savery off our list?

Matt Forman: As a pitcher, yes. Otherwise, maybe not. The Phillies have officially converted him to a hitter, and he spent time as a DH and first baseman during fall instructs. Talking to one scout who saw Savery in the fall, he said Savery definitely caught his eye with some plus raw power and added that "it could get interesting quickly." But he later added that if Savery could turn himself into a major league hitter within three years, it would be very impressive.

    Matt (MN): Where do you have Austin Hyatt on the list? I see he isn't projected in the 2014 rotation, where do you see him longterm?

Matt Forman: Austin Hyatt is a top 30 guy, and he had a very nice season. He was named the Florida State League's pitcher of the year. More than anything, scouts love Hyatt's changeup, which is often described as having forkball- or curveball-like movement for its late tumble. He's got an average fastball, and he needs to work on his slider. Pitching at Reading next year will be a good test for him.

    Kyle (Philadelphia): What else does Harold Garcia have to do to get some love? All he does is hit at ever level. Do you think he could possibly see the majors by the end of the year?

Matt Forman: I'd like to give Harold Garcia some love... I'm a fan, and how could you not be after his 37-game hit streak at Clearwater this year. The best-case scenario for Garcia is that he develops into an everyday second baseman, but the most likely scenario is that he develops into a super-utility player. The Phillies had him spend time at every position except catcher and centerfield during fall instructs. I suppose Garcia could get a taste of the big leagues in 2011, but the better bet is sometime in 2012.

    Joshua (Annapolis, MD): Is Hewitt officially an epic bust?

Matt Forman: I'm not ready to label Hewitt a bust quite yet, though the Phillies have openly said he's not going to advance based on his first-round pedigree any longer and he's going to repeat Lakewood in 2011. For every Anthony Hewitt and Zach Collier in the system, there's a Jiwan James or Aaron Altherr. You're going to swing and miss when you're taking chances on toolsy, projection packages.

    Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): Lakewood had 7 of your top 10 Phillie prospects playing for them last year! They won the league championship! I hate it - I am a Delmarva fan. Who are some of the Phillie prospect guys that end up on Lakewood this year? Not many, I'm hoping...

Matt Forman: Karl, the run of prospects flowing through Lakewood probably won't stop in 2011... Off the top of my head, you can expect to see top 10ers Jesse Biddle, Domingo Santana and Aaron Altherr for the BlueClaws next year, plus a slew of other prospects, including Cesar Hernandez, Kelly Dugan and Miguel Alvarez in the field and Perci Garner on the mound. And both Hewitt and Collier, assuming he's healthy, could be there too.

    Phil (Richmond): What are the thoughts on Michael Schwimer? He is a big, strong imposing force and had a great season between AA and AAA.

Matt Forman: I like Schwimer, mostly because he's a thinking-man's pitcher. He enjoys the finer aspects of the craft, and has a scoring system to break down and evaluate his appearances. In the late-game role he's been pitching in for Reading and Clearwater, he needs to get to his velocity a little bit more to have success in the big leagues. He likes to sit 90-91 mph, though he has been in the mid-90s in the past. He has an awkward delivery that adds deception, which should help.

    Kevin (Boston): Any words from Instructs on how Kevin Walter looked?

Matt Forman: Of the Phillies 2010 draftees we haven't discussed, Kevin Walter and Gauntlett Eldemire received the most buzz from instructs. Walter could make the top 30, and Eldemire is at least in the discussion. Scouts speculated that as Walter grew into his massive 6-foot-5 frame he would add velocity, and the reports from instructs indicated just that.

    Guy (Hawaii): Do you think the Phillies have enough prospects to make a trade for Greinke?

Matt Forman: Absolutely, the real question would be how many of the Phillies high-upside prospects would it take to make a deal, and I'd imagine most conversations for Greinke would start with Domonic Brown and/or Jonathan Singleton.

    CT (Florida): What were scouts telling you about Singleton's progress in the OF?

Matt Forman: I'm surprised I didn't get more questions about Singleton's progress in the outfield, but I think it's an important topic and worth discussing... The Phillies have played Pat Burrell or Raul Ibanez in left field for the last decade, indicating that they don't put much weight in defense from that position. That being said, Singleton is a superior athlete to both Burrell and Ibanez. I saw him play a handful of games this year, and I noted twice how he almost "bounced" when he ran, highlighting his light feet. Every person in the Phillies front office I talked to and two people outside the organization gave Singleton a legitimate chance of playing the outfield. He has a solid-average throwing arm, he'll just need time to work on reading the ball off the bat and tracking fly balls. Maybe the most important thing, though, is that he has the desire to get better defensively. Singleton stayed in extended spring last year to get extra time at first base, and then he was voted the best defensive first baseman in the South Atlantic League by managers at midseason. So at the very least, he's going to put in the effort to make trying left field worth it. As one scout said, it's going to be about his aptitude.

Matt Forman: Well, Baseball America subscribers, you've now gotten scouting reports for 150 of the game's best prospects, and there are still 150 more to come! Thanks for tuning into the Phillies chat, everyone. There were a lot of great questions, and I tried to hit all of the highlights. If I missed anything or if you have any follow-up questions, you can find me on Twitter @matt_forman. Be sure to check out Bill Ballew's chat on Wednesday for the Braves Top 10.