2012 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.

Matt Forman: Hello and welcome, baseball fans and prospect followers alike to the Phillies Top 10 chat, as we continue to make our way through the NL East in this season of prospect-y goodness. As noted in the organization overview, the system is down from last year, but it's for all the right reasons, and there's still plenty of intriguing players to discuss. There are already a good number of questions lined up in the queue, so let's get right to them. I'll try to hit all of the highlights, but if I miss anything or if you have any follow-up questions, you can find me on Twitter @matt_forman.

    Jon KK (Elkhart, Ind.): If Domonic Brown was still prospect-eligible, where would you rank him on the Phillies list?

Matt Forman: This seems like an appropriate place to start, as there are several questions about Brown, who didn't qualify because of his 246 big-league at-bats. To me, there's little doubt Brown would have ranked as the No. 1 prospect for the fourth consecutive year if he was eligible. Let's give him some time — the tools haven't disappeared — and he has only had about 600 at-bats above A-ball, plus he showed progress in Philadelphia this year.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Had they remained, about where would Cosart, Singleton and Santana have slotted in on your list?

Matt Forman: A good question, considering all the players the Phillies have traded the last few years. Without giving away John Manuel's Astros Top 10 list, and he may have a different take on this than me, here's how I would rank those three: Singleton, Cosart and Santana. Where they would have slotted? I didn't ask any executives or scouts explicitly about those players, so it's hard to say, but my gut reaction tells me Singleton at No. 1, Cosart at No. 3 and Santana in the 7-10 range.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): What was the consensus opinion on Williamsport's Perci Garner? How close did he come to the top 10?

Matt Forman: It's hard to reach a consensus opinion on 34 innings of pro ball, as Garner has been slowed by nagging injuries during his first two professional seasons. He wasn't particularly close to making the top 10, though he'll definitely make the top 30. There's still a lot to like. He has the stuff (92-94 mph fastball that touches 96, downer low-80s curveball and a developing changeup), it's a matter of harnessing it, along with staying healthy and being consistent. For me, Garner is a gut-feel guy, and I think he has a chance to take a significant step forward next year at low-A Lakewood. It's worth noting that the Phillies were stretching him out a little more than they normally would during instructional league, say five- or six-inning outings every fifth day, to make up for lost time.

    Kyle (Philadelphia): Why does BA hate Freddy Galvis?? Hes still very young, has proven that he can hit at upper minor league levels, has shown improvement every year, has a very strong glove, and plays a premium position. What gives? I could see the 8th hitter projection if he was 24-25.

Matt Forman: I don't think anyone at BA hates Freddy Galvis (or any prospect, for that matter) — you provided a nice pithy scouting report, though. Galvis went through a rigorous offseason training program last year and put on some weight, which was a big concern in the past. He started to pack a greater punch at the plate, and he continued to show some pop at Triple-A Lehigh Valley after a late-season promotion, albeit in a small sample. But Galvis will always be slight of build, and he's not going to hit for anything more than gap-to-gap power. He's a below-average runner, he strikes out a decent amount and he doesn't draw a lot of walks, so he's not a typical top-of-the-order hitter. All that said, there's plenty of value in an up-the-middle, elite-level defender, especially given the status of big-league shortstops in today's game.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): Your opinions of Lakewood's Lisalberto Bonilla? He put together some real eye-opening starts this year. Was he in the 11-20 range?

Matt Forman: Several questions about Lisalberto Bonilla, who makes the All-Name Team... To answer the question, Bonilla just missed making the top 10, and he was included in several early iterations of the list. After moving to the rotation, there were some outings last year where Bonilla performed among the best pitchers in the South Atlantic League. He shows flashes of three above-average pitches: a 91-94 mph fastball, a 78-82 slider and a 82-84 changeup. The change is Bonilla's best secondary pitch, but the Phillies told him to use it sparingly during starts in order to work off his fastball and rely his slider, which should help his development in the long run. As a result, it was difficult to find scouts who saw Bonilla use all three pitches in game action; several reported back that his changeup was a plus offering in warm-ups but wondered why he didn't use it. But Bonilla is very athletic, repeats his delivery well and has a loose arm. If that slider continues progressing, Bonilla has a chance to be a mid-rotation starter.

    Dara (San Diego): Ethan Stewart - one to keep an eye on? Thoughts on his performance?

Matt Forman: Stewart is definitely one to keep an eye on, as he ranked as the Gulf Coast League's No. 16 prospect. He has a fringe-average fastball from the left side but has touched 92, and some scouts think there could be more in there given his physical frame. Stewart didn't get much consideration for the top 10, but he's certainly interesting and could end up at Lakewood next year.

    sig (philly): Is it safe to say that the more interesting prospects are in the 11-25 range?? How different could this top ten list look next year?? Everyone but the top three could be switched.

Matt Forman: I guess that depends on your definition of "interesting." This Top 10 isn't flooded with high-ceiling players, which Phillies prospect followers have been accustomed to seeing the last few years with Domonic Brown, Anthony Gose, Jonathan Singleton, Jarred Cosart and others. But the Top 10 is a balance of each player's upside and their probability of reaching that upside — Aumont, De Fratus and Galvis are going to contribute sooner rather than later. But that's also why guys like Aaron Altherr and Kyrell Hudson or 2011 draftees Roman Quinn and Larry Greene fall into the 11-25 rang, even if they might be considered more interesting because of their impact potential but higher risk level.

    Frank (Philly): What are the prospect statuses of Leandro Castro and Anthony Hewitt, meaning, are both still Top 30 guys to you?

Matt Forman: Leandro Castro is still a prospect and a definite top 30 guy, more in the 20-25 range. He's a tough one to profile; doesn't have enough speed to stick in centerfield and probably won't hit for enough power to consistently play in the corners, so he fits best as a nice fourth outfielder. That being said, I know there are some talent evaluators who like Castro more than Jiwan james, for example. As for Hewitt, he's not a top 30 guy. He wasn't last year either. But I did talk to one scout who still gave Hewitt a shot and noted his growth this year, and you can't blame him. if you were grading Hewitt's tools on the 20-80 scouting scale, it would look something like this: 55 power, 60 arm, 60 run, 60 field. See what I did there? His hit tool is a present 30, if you like him. So if you're the Phillies, you never, ever give up on the tools. Send him to high-A Clearwater next year and see what he can do.

    Tom (NJ): I'm sure you're getting lots of questions on Julio Rodriguez, so I'll just add one more! I keep hearing about his stuff and I read different reports. Do you have actual reports on his pitches and their speeds?

Matt Forman: You're right, Tom, definitely getting a lot of questions about Rodriguez. The reason you've heard differing reports on Rodriguez's stuff and velocity is because he was consistently inconsistent — some starts (or innings within each start) his fastball would be 90-93 mph, others it would be 85-88 mph. He did a better job this year of pitching with an average fastball, mostly sitting in the 87-91 range. If you like watching the radar gun light up, Rodriguez isn't your kind of pitcher. But it's hard to argue with Rodriguez's results: He won 16 games, struck out more than a batter an inning and held opposing hitters to a .186 average. His stats stand out more than his stuff, though. None of his secondary pitches grade out better than average. He has a herky-jerky delivery that creates deception, and he routinely pitches up in the zone with his fastball, which could be problematic as he advances. Lower-level hitters have had a hard time picking him up, and there's certainly something to be said for that. Everyone I talked to said the same thing: Send him to the next level until he proves it's too much, because he has been very effective thus far.

    Kyle (Philadelphia): Last year Ceasar Hernandez seemed to be the hot prospect in the system, what is your evaluation of him going forward?

Matt Forman: Hernandez did have some helium last year, and I'm still a big fan — he was included on several late machinations of the top 10. You have to consider Hernandez's season in context. He double-jumped from Williamsport to Clearwater as a 20-year-old after being added to the 40-man roster. He struggled mightily early on, which should have been expected, and then rebounded to hit 296/.333/.371 after mid-May. Not overwhelming numbers, but he more than held his own. The increased strikeout numbers were a tad worrisome, if only because he was known as a guy who always put the bat on the ball, but he improved in that regard as the season wore on. He's a quality defender at second base with an above-average arm, though he tends to rely on it too much and becomes stationary in the field. He's a plus runner and a base-stealing threat. One scout called him the "quintessential leadoff hitter," so he's got that going for him, which is nice. Moving forward, it'll be interesting to see whether the Phillies think Hernandez can handle Double-A Reading, or if they let him get his feet wet in Clearwater before making the jump. He still has a chance to be a solid regular.

    Matt (Cleveland): Any pitchers from the Williamsport or Lakewood teams intrigue you or scouts (excluding Biddle)? Any breakout candidates there?

Matt Forman: Several questions about breakout candidates, and there are quite a few from Williamsport and Lakewood. Arguably my favorite sleeper prospect in the system is lefthander Ervis Manzanillo, who spent the year with the BlueClaws. The numbers aren't exactly staggering — 5.02 ERA and 71 walks in 118 innings — but he's going to be a good pitcher. Interesting back story on Manzanillo: He didn't start pitching until he was 16, then he signed nearly a year-and-a-half later out of his native Venezuela. If you're grading pure stuff, Manzanillo might rate out close to or better than No. 2 prospect and 2010 first-round pick Jesse Biddle. Manzanillo shows a durable, live, loose arm, sitting 90-93 mph with his fastball and running it up to 95. He also throws a slurvy curveball and a changeup — both are presently below-average offerings, which is understandable given how much he has pitched. One veteran talent evaluator said Manzanillo compared favorably to Antonio Bastardo at this stage of development. He's one to keep an eye on next year, and he's a top 30 guy that not many people know about. Other names to look out for from Williamsport: Austin Wright and Adam Morgan, both 2011 draftees.

    Kyle (Philadelphia): Thanks for the chat, Matt. Where would you place the Phils farm overall?? I would think they would still be in the 15-20 range, even with their trades.

Matt Forman: Without having seen all the top 10's and top 30's, and without sitting down to compare systems, that seems fair to me. Middle of the pack, maybe slightly below. The system lacks that blue-chip, high-ceiling kind of prospect, but there are several players who could make progress next year and change that status, most of which have been mentioned already: Roman Quinn, Larry Greene, Carlos Tocci, Aaron Altherr, Kyrell Hudson, Perci Garner, etc.

    Kyle (Philadelphia): Do you see Joe Savery and Jacob Diekman has possibly 40 man players as Lefty Specialists?? Diekman is throwing very well, according to numbers, in the AFL.

Matt Forman: Lots of good questions from Kyle in Philadelphia, and several questions about Savery and Diekman.... Savery is already on the 40-man roster and Diekman has a chance to be added, and I'm sure the Phillies are taking a close look at him during the Arizona Fall League. If Diekman isn't added, he would be a prime Rule 5 draft candidate. To be blunt, Savery didn't get much consideration for the top 10, but he's certainly one to root for and is in the top 30 this year after missing the last two Handbooks. How can you dislike his story? He went from the organization's hitter of the month in April at Clearwater to its pitcher of the month in August at Lehigh Valley. Savery's fastball velocity returned during an emergency appearance in a 23-inning game. He had continued throwing side sessions for Clearwater, but he never really expected to get back on the mound. A little time away from pitching full time helped his arm recover, and he shortened up his arm action to be more like the throw a first baseman needs to make to second base on a double play. Based on what he showed late in the season, Savery can be more than a lefty specialist and could contribute in Philadelphia in 2012. I was a fan of Diekman's last year when he just missed the top 30, and he's a borderline top 30 candidate this year. Since moving into the bullpen and dropping his arm angle, Diekman has taken off. It's just a matter of repeating his delivery and working on command/control, but he's just nasty on lefty hitters. He has a good chance to be a lefty specialist.

    Dave (Philly): Who ends up having a better major league career—May or Cosart? In other words, did the Phillies ultimately end up keeping their best pitching prospect?

Matt Forman: Everyone seems to enjoy comparing this year's top prospect against last year's group. I'm sure this answer would draw mixed reviews from across the game. Personally, I would give a slight advantage to May because he has a better chance to stay in the rotation. Cosart has louder stuff, but his performance hasn't matched his stuff and there are concerns about his durability and arm action. At least one scout and one veteran talent evaluator outside the Phillies' organization said they preferred May, but I don't think that's a consensus.

    Zack (San Diego): I'm shocked to see 2011 (1s) Draft pick Larry Greene didn't make your top 10. Having a big athletic frame and potential for plus power, how did he not crack the Phillies depleted Top 10?

Matt Forman: Larry Greene was close to making the top 10, as was fellow 2011 draftee Roman Quinn, who was actually a little closer. Greene signed late and didn't get any pro experience under his belt, then he was hampered by a groin injury during instructional league and didn't see live game action, which largely limits us to using Greene's amateur reports. As you mentioned, Zach, Greene has incredible raw power and an athletic frame, but he struggled on the showcase circuit against premium velocity. The level of competition in rural Georgia wasn't much of a challenge, though the Phillies were encouraged that Greene didn't swing and miss much. Let's give Greene some time to earn his way into the top 10, and honestly, it wouldn't surprise me if he was in consideration for a slot among next year's top five.

    Rich (NJ): What are people saying about the speed, or lack thereof, Biddle's fastball. Thanks,

Matt Forman: It's not much of a concern right now. He just finished his first full professional season as one of the youngest pitchers in the South Atlantic League, and despite the decrease in velocity in the second half of the year, his numbers actually improved. My guess is the velocity will slowly return to the 92-94 mph range that he showed in high school.

    Matt (Cambridge, MA): Thanks for hosting this chat! Can you talk a little bit about Aaron Altherr? I've read that his conversion to 3B in instructs didn't go particularly well, but it's tough not to be excited about him when you think of the success that the Phillies have had with these types. How raw is he? How would you grade his tools? Thanks!

Matt Forman: Alterr is still pretty raw, Matt, but you're right in that there's a lot to be excited about. He was in over his a little bit to start the year at Lakewood, then he settled in at Williamsport and showed the same kind of tools that made him rank as this list's No. 10 prospect a year ago. The reports out of instructional league this year were equally as positive as last year, when Altherr had incredible helium. Not unlike many athletic high-schoolers, Altherr played shortstop as a prep player in Arizona, and the Phillies thought they would try to revisit that last year by trying Altherr at third base, but the transition didn't go as planned. He's back in the outfield, which is probably the best fit in the long run. He'll probably outgrow centerfield, but he profiles nicely in right. On the 20-80 scouting scale, Altherr would grade out like this presently with future grades in parentheses: 30 hitter (chance for future 50), 40 power (55), 50 arm (60), 60 run underway (60) and 50 field (60).

    Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): True or false? Sebastian Valle is the Phillies catching star of the future, and Cameron Rupp will be his backup in the years to come.

Matt Forman: I don't know if I would go as far to say Valle will be a star, but he certainly looks like the catcher of the future and a first-division regular. The approach and strikeout totals make scouts temper their expectations for him, and he's likely not going to be a high on-base kind of player. But Valle has continued to improve defensively and he has some raw thunder in his bat. Rupp's ceiling is that of a big-league backup, and he's a borderline top 30 guy. As for other catchers in the system, don't lose sight of 2011 ninth-round pick from a Colorado JC Logan Moore, who looked impressive during instructional league.

    David Scwimmer (A Cafe in NYC): My brother, Michael, was left off. Was this a product of being relatively inferior to De Fratus and Aumont, or am I just not that good?

Matt Forman: Thanks for the question, David, though I assume you're not actually Michael's brother given the spelling of your last name. Michael Schwimer had a nice season for Triple-A Lehigh Valley, saving 10 games and striking out 86 batters in 68 innings. De Fratus and Aumont have the potential to be back-end relievers, while Schwimer is more of a sixth or seventh inning kind of guy. That's not to say your "brother" doesn't have value, and he'll make the top 30.

    Kyle (Philly): Should we write off Zach Collier as a viable prospect, or does he still have the chance to put it together, once he's served his suspension?

Matt Forman: I wouldn't write off Collier quite yet, and he had a better year than most people expected, both inside and outside the organization. Collier didn't play in 2010 due to an injury and will miss 50 games in 2012 after testing positive for amphetamine, which has hurt and will hurt his development. But Collier showed flashes last year of the player the Phillies thought they were getting when they drafted him in the supplemental first round in 2008. He probably won't play centerfield in the long run, but he's an athletic, high-energy player with a smooth swing and good rhythm at the plate.

    Kyle (Philadelphia): Can we expect a bounce back year from Colvin?? Being rated above May & Cosart is fairly high praise from last year. If you compare May's Scouting Report last year to Colvins, they are very similar.

Matt Forman: If you're the Phillies, you have to hope Colvin has a bounceback year in 2012 similar to the way May did during his return trip to the Florida State League. It was really a lost season for Colvin, but when a pitcher has his stuff and upside, it's worth giving him a mulligan. When talking to scouts, though, there were significantly more questions about Colvin's future role because of his delivery and arm action this year. It was also a little worrisome that some suggested Colvin bought into his own hype last offseason after ranking as this list's No. 3 prospect.

    Allen (Allentown): It looks like Aumont is turning into something from the first Cliff Lee trade. What about the other two, Gillies and Ramirez?

Matt Forman: Obligatory Cliff Lee trade question, since I haven't answered any about Aumont, Gillies or Ramirez yet... First off, there were a few people wondering Aumont and the scouting report mention of his attitude/competitiveness — I'll get back to that in a second. Let's get this clear: I'm a big Aumont supporter, and he has the system's best fastball and curveball, both of which grade out as 70 or better on the 20-80 scouting scale. He has the stuff to be dominant back-end pitcher and a chance to be a closer in the future. After spending time in the rotation last year, which was probably best for his development, Aumont took off last year in the bullpen, where he said he was most comfortable all along. Now, relating to the attitude/competitiveness, this is not really anything new. There was an issue that happened during Aumont's time in Seattle's system, and several scouts have identified Aumont's less-than-steller body language on the mound since then. If the biggest knock on a guy is his attitude — and it's not even a big knock — that says enough about him. Assuming he can command it, Aumont's stuff isn't going to hold him back at all. As for the other two, they're both borderline top 30 guys. Gillies has totaled only 130 at-bats since being acquired in the Lee deal while dealing with nagging leg injuries and some off-the-field issues, but it's good to see him healthy again and playing in the Arizona Fall League. Ramirez was up and down last year, and his stuff took a step back toward the end of the season. The key to Ramirez's progress will be the development of his secondary stuff. Right now, he looks like more of a middle reliever.

    Sam (Connecticut): With Halladay, Lee, Hamels, and Worley pretty much set in stone as the Phillies' first four in the rotation, which of their top arms (May, Pettibone, Rodriguez) will be able to reach the big leagues the fastest? Also, what becomes of the other two? The bullpen?

Matt Forman: Someone else asked a similar question about which of the top pitching prospects would reach the big leagues first. It should be close between May and Pettibone, but I'll give May a slight edge. Despite his polish, Pettibone might need a little more seasoning at Double-A, especially with the development of his slider. As for the second/third questions, I don't think anyone is going to complain about having too much starting pitching depth. It's a good problem to have, and it's not something you worry about now. So much can change in five years... Think about the Phillies' projected 2011 rotation in 2008, which included: Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, Carlos Carrasco, Joe Savery and Josh Outman. But to play along, some scouts have suggested May could be nasty in a relief role with his stuff playing up in short stints. Other top prospects have been used in trades, and Ruben Amaro Jr. wouldn't shy away from doing that again.

    Kyle (Philadelphia): I can only speak for myself but I was presently surprised with the Scouting Report on Pettibone.. Topping out at 95 is very impressive to go along with his overall feel for pitching. How close do you feel he is to May & Biddle?

Matt Forman: To piggyback on the last answer, Pettibone's stuff did tick up this year, as he added strength and his velocity improved. Pettibone's polish and feel for pitching make him very attractive. He surpassed Justin De Fratus for the best command in the system this year, and he spots the ball to both sides of the plate with both a two- and four-seam fastball incredibly well. His changeup is his best secondary offering, in the 81-84 mph range, and he has fiddled with different grips on his slider. May was the clearcut top guy, but there's not too much separating Biddle and Pettibone. Biddle is lefthanded and has a higher ceiling, whereas Pettibone is a low-floor pitcher, settling in as a nice mid-rotation starter.

    allentown (allentown): I haven't seen any mention of Overbeck, who has started to hit well in Arizona. Is he viewed as a serious prospect?

Matt Forman: Cody Overbeck had a solid year splitting time between Reading and Lehigh Valley, but he's not considered a "serious prospect." He's a borderline top 30 guy, largely because he doesn't have a position. He's not a third baseman, and it's pretty hard to be a bat-only first base prospect. Righthanded power is becoming an increasingly scarce commodity in the big leagues, though, and Overbeck has always had the ability to hit a fastball a long way. He struggles with offspeed stuff and doesn't run well. Take all Arizona Fall League stats with a giant grain of salt, but he'll be another one to see whether the Phillies include him on the 40-man roster.

    Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): Of the Willliamsport pitchers who will be moving to Lakewood in 2012, who is your favorite prospect?

Matt Forman: I've already mentioned my optimism for Perci Garner, but I only briefly touched on Austin Wright and Adam Morgan, whom the Phillies were both high on and fit their draft philosophy of stocking lefthanded pitchers. Wright has been on the prospect radar for several years now, dating back to high school when he was taken in the 23rd round. He's always had big-time stuff and big-time arm strength, and he seemed to put it all together at Williamsport and Lakewood last year before his time in instructional league was cut short for personal reasons. Wright has a chance to move quickly, and depending on the development of his changeup, could remain in the rotation. Morgan, on the other hand, has a better chance to stay in the rotation but doesn't have as overpowering stuff. He sits at 88-92 mph and has two breaking balls to go along with a changeup. He needs to work on ironing out his delivery, working downhill and commanding the ball. Outside of those guys, there's also an interested story with undrafted free agent lefty James Birmingham, who was turning some heads during instructional league.

    Kyle (Philadelphia): Any thoughts on the upper level Pitchers?? Namely JC Ramirez, Austin Hyatt, and Tyler Cloyd. Hyatt seems to be in the Vance Worley mold of getting no attention due to his pure stuff, but ends up being a back of the rotation innings eater.

Matt Forman: I mentioned Ramirez already, but wanted to cover Double-A Reading pitchers Austin Hyatt and Tyler Cloyd. Hyatt was the Florida State League pitcher of the year in 2010, and he led the Eastern League in strikeouts last year. He's not a high-upside guy, but he continues to have success by adding and subtracting to his 87-93 mph fastball and relying on his changeup with parachute tumble. Hyatt probably has the best chance of any pitcher in the system to make a spot start in the big leagues next year. As for Cloyd, who's in the Arizona Fall League right now, he's a four-pitch mix guy without an above-average offering. His fastball operates at 86-89 mph, while his curveball and changeup grade out as fringe-average. His slider is his best secondary pitch, though he uses it too frequently. Some scouts have compared Cloyd to a poor-man's Kyle Kendrick.

    Kyle (Philadelphia): Buchanan & Claypool had decent seasons at Low A, product of facing younger competition or are they legit prospects?

Matt Forman: They're both good college pitchers who had success in A-ball and are borderline top 30 candidates, though Buchanan is a slightly better prospect. Buchanan is another guy who has been compared to Kyle Kendrick, nice sinker-slider mix and relies on pitchability. Claypool doesn't have as much velocity and his secondary stuff isn't quite as advanced.

    Henry (NYC): No question. Thanks for the chat! Great read!

Matt Forman: This seems like a fitting way to wrap things up — I appreciate it, Henry. I hope you all enjoyed reading about Phillies prospects as much as I enjoyed answering your questions. There are still more than 75 left in the queue, but I tried to address most of the pressing topics. As I mentioned earlier, you can find me on Twitter for some quick-hitters @matt-forman. Be sure to check back on Monday for Matt Eddy's always-entertaining Mets list and chat, and as always, thanks for subscribing to Baseball America.