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.
Greetings, baseball fans and prospect
followers alike. Glad you're joining me for today's chat on the Phillies
Top 10 prospects. Let's get to some questions...
@Jaypers413 (IL): How close to your top 10 was
sandwich pick Shane Watson? How does his secondary stuff look to scouts,
as well as his command? Thanks for the chat, Matt.
Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): Matt, thank you for
the chat today, and of course for the tremendous work as always. I know
he pitched only a minute amount, but any reports on Shane Watson from
those whom you spoke with? Merry Christmas!
Thanks for the questions, Joe and Jaypers,
and highlighting Phillies supplemental first-rounder Shane Watson (40th
overall) is a good place to start. Watson barely missed the Top 10, and
he was included on an original iteration of the list. After signing,
Watson dealt with a bout of vomiting and tingling in his hands, lost
about 30 pounds, and was eventually diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
Though he made five appearances in the Gulf Coast League, we're largely
relying on his amateur reports and short looks in instructional league,
when he was back healthy. The Phillies liken Watson to 1999 first-round
pick Brett Myers, for his mound presence and competitiveness. He's got a
low-90s fastball and a power curveball, which also gives credence to
the comparison. His changeup is developing.
Ben (Leland Grove): How many of the top 10 do you think are worthy of making it onto BA's top 100?
Always enjoy this question, Ben, and
thanks for stopping by. My personal Top 100, without really sitting down
to compile it yet, likely will include the top three on this Top 10:
Jesse Biddle, Roman Quinn and Tommy Joseph. Biddle and Quinn could fall
around No. 50, while Joseph could be in the 75-100 range.
@ProspectD2J (Toronto): Hey Matt, Where did you have Trevor May on this list prior to being traded? Thanks!
Figured I'd get more questions about 2012
No. 1 prospect Trevor May, recently traded to Minnesota for Ben Revere,
along with Lisalverto Bonilla, who went to Texas in the trade for
The original version of the Top 10/30 had May at No. 6, and Bonilla
somewhere in the 11-20 range. I imagine May will rank similarly in the
Twins' Top 10, and Bonilla should fall somewhere toward the back end of
the Rangers' 30.
Ben (Leland Grove): Had he remained, where would Trevor May have placed on your list? Is command his only real roadblock to success?
To follow up on the previous question,
Ben, May's biggest roadblock is command, but he still needs additional
refinement in other areas, specifically in his delivery and secondary
stuff. May ran into trouble last year when he left his fastball up in
the zone, and he didn't throw his curveball and changeup for quality
strikes. May's delivery has improved dramatically over the last few
years, but he needs to do a better job of getting on top of the ball and
creating downhill plane. His curveball and slider blended together last
year, and his changeup is still progressing.
Eric (Philly): Was Lisalverto Bonilla in your 30 before he was dealt? What was the skinny on him?
Thanks for the question, Eric. One more
question about a former Phillies prospect... Bonilla looked like he was
on the fast track in the early part of 2012, before an injury sustained
"horsing around" at the Futures Game sidelined him for the balance of
the regular season. Bonilla needed surgery to repair a small broken bone
in his right (pitching) hand. He was back healthy in instructional
league, and he's pitching in the Dominican Winter League now. Bonilla
has a pair of plus-plus pitches: a 92-96 mph fastball that plays up out
of the bullpen, and an 82-84 mph changeup that graded as the best in
Philadelphia's system. He's best suited for a back-end bullpen role.
Sammy (DC): In retrospect, was Dom Brown overrated a few years ago by evaluators? What is his future likely to consist of now?
Fair question, Sammy. Scouting is tough
terrain, and evaluators are forced to live in the metaphysical world
between present and future. Domonic Brown was considered a consensus
top-5 prospect in baseball, and he ranked as Philadelphia's No. 1
prospect for three straight years for a reason. The term "five-tool"
talent is often misused or overused, but it was applied appropriately to
Brown, and I'm not sure I'd be comfortable saying he was overrated as a
prospect. And frankly, I'm not comfortable saying we've seen enough of
Brown as a big-leaguer to know what his future holds. Across three
seasons, since his initial promotion in 2010, Brown has played in 147
games and compiled 433 at-bats in his age-22-24 seasons. He hit
.236/.315/.388. For context, Chase Utley's age-24-25 seasons, his first
tastes in Philadelphia, produced a slash line of: .257/.313/.436. I'd
like to see Brown play every day in 2013 — something he hasn't yet been
able to do in the majors.
Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): Matt, what is the future of Jiwan James at this point? Fourth outfielder?
Mike (Lockport, NY): Is there hope for Jiwan James to be more than a 5th OF'er ?
@Jaypers413 (IL): Has Jiwan James' stock fallen, in your opinion? Still optimistic about him, tools-wise?
In my opinion, and more importantly in
scouts' opinions, Jiwan James' stock has fallen considerably. James' No.
9 ranking on this list a year ago was more a reflection of the system's
impact talent level and depth. James hasn't been added to the Phillies'
40-man roster each of the last two offseasons, and though he garnered
some attention, he was not selected in the Rule 5 draft. There's still
pieces to be excited about — plus defend, plus arm, plus run (though it
doesn't show up on the bases) — but I'm not sold on the bat. James
hasn't shown ability to consistently impact the ball, particularly
against right-handed pitching, and he struggles against quality
secondary stuff and sequence. For those reasons, unless the bat
develops, I see James' ceiling as a fourth or fifth outfielder.
Ken (Lakewood CA): Hi Matt and thanks. Any
consideration for RHP Kyle Simon, acquired last year from the Orioles?
He was a starter with Baltimore, but the Phillies switched him to relief
after they got him. He was starting in the AFL, but it looks like he'll
be pitching relief in AAA to begin 2013. I know as a RP it affects his
prospect status, but I just wondered what your thoughts on him would be.
He seemed to do a great job last year at Reading.
Appreciate the question, Ken, and good
report on fellow Southern California native Kyle Simon, who didn't
receive consideration for the Top 10 but was among consideration for the
final spots in the Top 30. Philadelphia farm director Joe Jordan,
formerly the Orioles' scouting director, likes Simon's sinker and its
ability to "hunt ground." I thought Baseball America correspondent Jim
Salisbury, also of CSNPhilly.com, provided a nice look at Simon here:
It's hard to argue with the numbers Simon posted across high Class A
Clearwater and Double-A Reading after joining the Phillies' system. As
you suggested, it wouldn't surprise me to see Simon at Triple-A Lehigh
Valley in 2013, or back for a short stint with Reading. He has a future
in middle relief, possibly pitching multiple innings out of the bullpen.
Grant (NYC): Is Perci Garner still worth a look in fantasy leagues? What does he bring to the table?
I wish I could provide more help on the
fantasy front, Grant, but maybe this will address your question more
directly: Perci Garner won't crack the Phillies' Top 30 this year. To
his credit, Garner jumped low Class A Lakewood and made 26 starts for
high Class A Clearwater this year, which was somewhat surprising given
he pitched only 34 innings combined in his first two professional
seasons. But Garner's stuff took a dip working every fifth day, and he
walked 4.23 batters per nine innings — not a great combination. I'd
guess there are other fantasy sleepers in your league with a chance to
make a greater impact.
Frank (Chicago): No Julio Rodriguez on your list, Matt?
You read that right, Frank, Julio
Rodriguez doesn't fit in the Top 10. In fact, he also might not make the
Top 30 — you'll have to pre-order the Prospect Handbook to find out!
Rodriguez ranked as the Phillies' No. 25 and No. 17 prospect each of the
past two seasons, and that was while he was posting impressive numbers
at Lakewood and Clearwater. In 2012, his strikeout rate dropped (though
still was strong) and his walk rate spiked, while his stuff remained
largely the same. We had been saying it all along: Without a true plus
pitch, Rodriguez needed to prove himself at every level as he moved up
the latter. He's a flyball pitcher who relies on deception.
Grant (NYC): Does Quinn have speed comparable to Hamilton? Or, if not him, Deshields?
Neat question, Grant. The 20-80 scouting
scale wasn't built to accomodate Billy Hamilton, whose speed is
otherworldly. Reports have him routinely posting sub-3.5 home-to-first
times. In the Non-Hamilton Category, Quinn would fall on the short list
of the fastest players in the minor leagues, along with Astros farmhand
Delino DeShields. That'd be a fun footrace to see; I'd put my money on
Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): Name a sleeper from the Phillies low minors (below A+).
Glad you raised this question, Karl,
because even though there are seven new names on the 2013 iteration of
the Top 10, there are a number of familiar faces, which is also true of
the 11-30. My favorite deep sleeper: Yoel Mecias, a lanky lefty from
Venezuela who runs his fastball up to the mid-90s. His secondary stuff
is developing. Mecias impressed folks both inside and outside the
organization during instructional league. He's one to keep an eye on.
Eric (Jersey): Following his suspension, Zach Collier put up impressive numbers at Clearwater. Are you optimistic about his future?
You know what, Eric, cautiously optimistic
might be a fair way to describe my feelings about Zach Collier's
future. Since signing, Collier has missed a ton of development —
injuries, suspensions, etc. — and he'll never get that time back. But I
saw Clearwater play a handful of games this summer after Collier
returned, and I thought he was the best player on the field. He's
starting to show the promise the Phillies saw when they made him a
supplemental first-round selection in 2008. Scouts who saw Collier in
the Florida State League confirmed those sentiments, and did so again in
the Arizona Fall League. The comparison offered more than once: Denard
Dan (Andover): How far off the top 10 was Tyler Cloyd? Thanks
Steve (Sarasota): I am sure that you will get
lots of Tyler Cloyd questions. I am proud to be among them. I know he
does not get scouting raves and that he is not a lights-out pitcher, but
man-oh-man what results! Isn't there room in baseball for an
unprojectable guy whose only skill is that he wins?
Not as many Tyler Cloyd questionas as you
might've expected, Steve, but nonetheless worth addressing. I'll save
the debate on pitcher wins for another day (or for another writer), but
Cloyd had a remarkable season. If Darin Ruf's emergence as a prospect
was the surprise of 2012, Cloyd finished in a close second. He doesn't
have loud stuff — and he won't light up radar guns — but Cloyd relies on
pitchability and command to get outs. Perhaps his best trait: He knows
who he is, and he knows what he's got. It looks like Philadelphia is
going to give him a shot to win the fifth starter's spot out of spring
training, or at least compete with John Lannan.
To answer your question, Dan, Cloyd was not particularly close to the
Top 10, but he's somewhere safely within the 30.
Christian (FT Gordon, GA): Larry
Greene...prospect or suspect? I know he fits the model of a Phillies
draft pick (toolsy, athletic, etc.) or is he just another overdraft who
is incapable of putting it all together?
Ben (Leland Grove): Besides raw power, what else does Larry Greene do well? Did he reach your second ten?
ELI (Bronx): What happened to Larry Greene?
@ProspectD2J (Toronto): What kind of reports did you get on Larry Greene Jr.'s progress this year? Are scouts still high on his tools? Thanks!
A number of questions on Larry Greene, and
I'll hope to address them in one response... Larry Greene narrowly
missed the Top 10, and he was in consideration throughout the process
for one of the spots. In fact, I'll give away this one spoiler: Greene
ranks as Philadelphia's No. 11 prospect. Greene didn't post gaudy
numbers in his professional debut for short-season Williamsport, batting
.270/.373/.381 in 257 at-bats. A football player in his prep days,
Greene didn't properly prepare himself physically for the demands of
professional baseball last spring, and he needed the early portion of
the season to better condition his body. Accordingly, he got off to a
slow start. But he did make progress throughout the year, and he still
has tools that scouts get excited about. He's still a prospect. Greene's
best tool is his raw power, and though it didn't translate to game
action, it's still in there, trust me — I saw Greene put on a batting
practice display in late July that made the ballpark look too small.
He's an average runner with an average arm, and though he's still
learning to play outfield, he moves well for his size. Greene struck out
78 times in 70 gams, but he's not a free swinger. He also walked 41
times, and is unafraid to work deep counts, but he'd be better off being
selectively more aggressive. He needs to learn which pitches he can
Frank (Chicago): Tyson Gillies - prospect or suspect?
Gillies is still a prospect, Frank, and he
has been for the last several years despite not ranking in the Top 10,
at least on a tools-based upside. Gillies' Achilles heel always has been
his health. The fact that Gillies was able to play 83 games across
multiple levels in 2012 (including winter league) was a big step
forward, almost tripling the total from his previous two years combined.
I don't often make predictions, but it honestly wouldn't surprise me if
Gillies made his big league debut and made some level of impact in
Philadelphia in 2013. Again, the only thing standing in his way is
Ken (Lakewood CA): What's your take and
prediction for Ruf and LF? His ranking is pretty low for a guy that
showed all that power last year. You don't expect him to do well in the
big leagues? Do you see him actually standing a chance of winning the LF
job? Would it be more that they don't have anybody else at the moment?
Where does he need improvement? Thanks.
Another quality question, Ken. I'd guess
there are folks out there arguing Ruf's No. 9 ranking is too high.
Before August, when the legend of "Babe Ruf" emerged, I probably would
have called you crazy for suggesting Ruf would make the Top 10, let
alone the Top 30. The list of hitters who reached Double-A for the first
time in their age-25 season and had prolonged success in the big
leagues isn't a length one. A couple scouts offered the Steve Pearce
career trajectory as a comparison, but Pearce reached Double-A at 24, a
year after ranking No. 89 on Baseball America's Top 100 list. I also
heard Ryan Ludwick, which isn't perfect, though Ludwick had a lengthy
minor league career before locking down a big league job in 2007.
Regardless, Ruf showed incredible power in 2012: He led professional
baseball in home runs, with 51 in 642 at-bats, which includes his time
in the Venezuelan Winter League, where he was working on learning left
field. I don't think it's reasonable to expect Ruf to be even average in
the outfield. He's a well below average runner, an he hasn't spent much
time out there. But the Phillies also used Raul Ibanez and Pat Burrell
for the better part of a decade in left field, and those guys didn't
move too well. Ruf has shown he can catch everything he gets to, and
that's at least a positive sign. He's going to be given every
opportunity to win the job in spring training, and at this point, they
don't have many other options. If Philadelphia signs a free agent right
fielder, a platoon situation in left with Ruf and Brown could be a
possibility. It should be noted: Manager Charlie Manuel digs the long
ball. Realistically, Ruf's ideal role might be as a designated hitter in
the American League, or a platoon first baseman against left-handed
pitcher who serves as a power bat off the bench. The latter role also
might work for the Phillies, as Ryan Howard struggles against lefties.
Rob (Hamilton, ON): Saw Jesse Biddle was
profiled as the Phillies future #4 starter. Is that really his ceiling
or is that just because the teams has veterans Cliff Lee and Roy
Halladay on paper ahead of him?
Glad you pointed this out, Rob. Take the
2016 Projected Lineup with a grain of salt; they're a quick way to
compare a team's current major league talent with its minor league
talent, because we don't know who will re-sign or depart via free
agency. This is why Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay remain, and
why Biddle fits as the No. 4 in that rotation. As stated in Jesse
Biddle's scouting report, he profiles as a mid-rotation, No. 3 starter
right now, but could offer more upside with continued improvement.
Jake (Tampa, FL): What can you tell us about Mitch Gueller's skillset? Thanks.
Doc (Philly): Matt, what can you tell us about Mitch Gueller, who the Phils picked in the 2012 draft?
The second of the Phillies' 2012
supplemental first-round selections, Mitch Gueller isn't as advanced as
fellow pick Shane Watson, but he has a higher upside and a better
long-term chance to stay in the rotation because of his impressive
athleticism. Philadelphia has done well mining the Pacific Northwest in
recent years, and Gueller evokes some comparisons to recently traded
Trevor May, last year's No. 1 prospect. Gueller's arsenal includes a
low-90's fastball, a slurvy low-80s breaking ball and a developing
changeup. His delivery will need to be smoothed out, which will refine
his command and control, but the Phillies were impressed with Gueller's
aptitude during instructional league.
@ProspectD2J (Toronto): Hey Matt,
Thanks for the chat! How close was Sebastian Valle to making the list and was he in the top 10 at any point?
Zach (NJ): Has Sebastian Valle's inability to work the count and high leg kick significantly hurt his prospect stock?
Nick (CT): Where does Sebastian Valle fall in
the top 30? does he land in the 11-15 or lower? Do you think he will
stop swinging at everything long enough to take a walk?
Ryan (Philly): If Joseph is their backstop of the future, where does this leave Valle? Trade bait?
Unfortunately, Ryan, Philadelphia's front
office doesn't usually inform me of its plans to trade prospects before
they're shipped off. But it's safe to say scouts from outside the
organization have cooled on Sebastian Valle, who ranked as this list's
No. 7, 6 and 3 prospect each of the last three years. Valle fell in the
11-20 range this year, despite reaching Triple-A Lehigh Valley after the
Tommy Joseph acquisition. Valle's approach — or almost complete lack
thereof — knocked him down the list this year, along with the system's
overall improvement. Valle has impressive raw power and strong defensive
skills, but he doesn't profile as more than a big league backup if he's
going to walk 10 out of every 300 at-bats. The Phillies' player
development staff likes their catching depth, with Joseph and fellow
backstop Cameron Rupp, all of whom will play at the upper levels of the
minors in 2013. It'll be interesting to see how they all get at-bats.
Jonny (Louisiana): What does the future hold
for Brody Colvin? It looks like he was much better out of the pen for
Clearwater in 2012. Any chance he can still be a prospect as a bullpen
guy? Thank you.
Matt (NJ): Did Brody Colvin make the top 30? Is
there still hope for him to turn it around based on a good June in
clearwater, or did his meltdown in Reading mean he's heading for the
Lloyd (Lakewood): No Brody Colvin on the list?
Jim (Nearby Philly): How many steps back did Brody Colvin take this season, and what does he need to work on? Still in your 30, I assume?
I'm not sure how many backward steps Brody
Colvin took in 2012, Jim, but it was several. It has been a
slow-yet-steady fall for Colvin since he ranked as this list's No. 3
prospect in 2010. He's still in the Top 30, but that decision wasn't a
no-doubt lock. Colvin has the pure stuff and big body to get his career
back on track, but he struggles with consistency and there are concerns
about his makeup (willingness to make adjustments). "Inconsistent" is
often an overused word in scouting parlance, when oftentimes it simply
means "not good," but it's truly the case for Colvin. As his release
point fluctuates, so does his fastball velocity and command. He seemed
to have some success last year in shorter stints pitching out of the
bullpen, when he didn't think as much and just let it loose. His future
might be in relief, though he's got enough stuff to start. He's an
HoyaScot (Orlando, FL): Cesar Hernandez - on
40-man, moved 2 levels this year. age appropriate or advanced level for
his age (22). where does he fit in phils plans for 2013 and beyond?
nothing more than glove off the bench or stop gap between Utley and next
Appreciate your question, Scot. I'm a
Hernandez supporter for the reasons you've outlined. Context is key: He
has jumped from short-season Williamsport to Triple-A Lehigh Valley in
the span of two seasons since being added to the 40-man roster. You've
also touched on the biggest question: Will Hernandez hit enough to be an
every day player? My gut says yes, as a second-division regular, who
might be best suited in a super utility role. He has good bat-to-ball
ability and a line-drive approach from both sides of the plate, though
he needs to work on being more disciplined in his approach.
Ben (Philly): Was Mitch Walding in the
discussion at all towards the back end of the top 10? He's a guy with a
big set of tools and a pretty swing. He hasn't tapped into his game
power yet, but he reportedly can put on a display in BP.
Ja (Phoenixville): Mitch Walding...He started hot, and cooled significantly..Still high on him as an offensive 3B?
Dan (Idaho Falls): I didn't expect him to make the top-10 but I'm wondering what your impressions are of Mitch Walding. Much thanks!
Third baseman Mitch Walding, the Phillies
2011 fifth-round pick, will fall in the 11-20 range on the Top 30. A
star football player in high school, Walding is still learning how to
translate his tools into baseball ability, but his upside is
significant. After Walding hit .383/.420/.532 in June, he ran into some
struggles that snowballed, as evaluators from both inside and outside
the organization noticed he was hard on himself. Walding has
above-average raw power that he's learning how to carry into the game,
and he's a solid-average third baseman with soft hands and a plus arm.
It wouldn't surprise me if Walding made a huge jump in 2013 and ended up
on the Top 10 list a year from now.
JH (Bay Area): Was Austin Wright close? What's his ceiling?
Going to answer a few quick-hitters
here... Wright wasn't close to the Top 10, but he has a spot in the 30.
The Phillies will continue developing him as a starter, but he might be
fit as a multi-inning reliever who gets outs against both lefties and
Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): True
or false? Lakewood should be loaded with position player prospects:
Kyrell Hudson again, Larry Greene, Roman Quinn and Mitch Wilding...maybe
even Carlos Tocci.
True. Low Class A Lakewood should have a
number of exciting prospects in 2013. Among position players, I'd also
add 2012 draftees Dylan Cozens and Andrew Pullin into the mix, as guys
who could jump Williamsport. Pullin is one to watch: He can really hit.
Ben (Grilladelphia): Do you see this system
overall ranking around 20th in baseball? i.e. improvement over last
year, but still relatively lacking impact talent
That seems fair, Ben, without spending the
time to stack every organization up side-by-side. In the back half, for
sure, and I'd guess somewhere in the 20-25 range.
Carlos (Philly): 3b of future asche, Franco, or neither ? Who has the bigger upside?
Maikel Franco has the higher upside, Cody
Asche is the safer bet. Recently acquired third baseman Michael Young
could be keeping the hot corner warm for Asche, as he gets additional
seasoning at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Franco still needs another couple
years of development.
JA (Phoenixville): Kenny Giles, aside from his
electric fastball, does he have another swing and miss offering? How
about his command/control? How do they grade out?
It's hard to set aside Giles' plus-plus
fastball. As one scout said to me, the secondary stuff doesn't need to
be great when you've got a fastball that routinely touches triple
digits. That said, Giles' 85-88 mph slider presently grades as
solid-average and shows plus potential. It drastically improved last
year after the Phillies shelved his curveball and split changeup. His
command and control need work.
Andrew (Montgomery, AL): You didn't have Adam
Morgan in your projected future rotation. Is this more about the
pitching depth in the system or a belief that Morgan will end up in the
This is more a reflection of the pitching
depth in the system, both in the major leagues and minors. Morgan
improved his stock as much as any player in Philadelphia's system, this
side of Darin Ruf. He looks like a solid, mid-rotation starter.
Jean-Yves Hebert (Montreal): Is Philippe Aumont
not qualifying because of innings pitched or is he simply not top ten
and where do you see him in the scheme of things down the road in
Phillippe Aumont and fellow reliever
Justin De Fratus, who were both Top 10 prospects a year ago, both
qualified for this year's list. They both fall in 11-20 range, with
Aumont just missing the 10. He should play some role in Philadelphia's
bullpen in 2013, and his ceiling remains as a back-end reliever.
Fastball command will be critical to his continued advancement.
Pat Murphy (Spokane, Wash): Ethan Martin seems
to have made some strides and even his control looks alot better now
that the Phils have settled on him starting for the moment. Is he
destined for the pen or do you see him in rotation down the road? Is
he finally getting it together?
It was a small sample — 40 innings, 18
walks — but Ethan Martin's command improved after joining Reading's
rotation in early August, and he posted a career-low 4.08 walk rate in
2012. I'm not ready to commit one way or the other on Martin's future. A
few months ago, he certainly looked destined for the bullpen. Either
way, he has electric stuff to go along with his athletic delivery and
Dan (Idaho Falls): Prognosis for Aaron Altherr? Thanks.
Still toolsy, still learning to translate
those tools into baseball talent. As one scout told me, "He's body
beautiful, an absolute athlete." Altherr is still a guy you gamble on,
and you keep letting him play. He'll advance to high Class A Clearwater,
which should be a good test.
OK, folks, thanks very much for joining me
this afternoon. That'll do it. I appreciate all of your great
questions. We've already crossed the three-hour threshold, and there's
still a number of questions left in the queue. I tried to address every
prospect mentioned more than once, and any other pertinent prompts. If
there's anything else you'd like to ask, give me a shout on Twitter
@matt_forman. Be sure to come back Wednesday for Aaron Fitt's Nationals
list and chat — always a treat — and if you haven't already, make sure
to pre-order a copy of the Prospect Handbook.