Sign Up! Join our newsletters, get a FREE e-Edition
Crawford is the top prospect in the organization for the fourth straight season, but it hasn't been a smooth ride up the ladder. The No. 13 overall pick in 2013 made fast progress initially, reaching Double-A as a 20-year-old in 2015. Yet when Crawford spent most of 2016 in Triple-A Lehigh Valley, he struggled, and when he returned to the IronPigs in 2017 his poor performance continued. By June 10, his slash line had dropped to .194/.313/.252. He took the next nine days off to rest a nagging groin strain and take a mental break, and when he returned he looked like a different player. Crawford finished the season on a tear, batting .280/.381/.522 with 13 home runs in his final 71 games. He made his big league debut as a September callup. Even when he struggles, Crawford stands out for his plate discipline. He's a patient, selective hitter who recognizes offspeed pitches, piles up walks and is a an on-base threat. At times, his strike-zone judgment was the only offensive attribute working for him. He got into a bad habit of pulling off the ball, causing his hips to fly open. That created a longer swing path, left him vulnerable to pitches on the outer third and cut into his ability to drive the ball. Crawford adjusted in the second half by setting up his hands closer to his body and keeping his lower half in his swing better. The changes improved his swing efficiency and helped him stay through the ball. Crawford's offensive game is still centered around hitting line drives, but he showed the potential for 15-plus home runs. Crawford struggled on defense early in the season, but by the end of the year he again looked like a true shortstop with good athleticism and range, quick hands, a smooth transfer and an accurate, above-average arm. He shifted to third base in August to get accustomed to the position with Freddy Galvis then at shortstop in Philadelphia. Crawford's extended struggles in Triple-A can't simply be dismissed, but his turnaround showed he still has the talent to be a centerpiece player. With Galvis traded to the Padres, Crawford should step in as the Phillies' everyday shortstop and develop into an above-average player.
At a tryout for a Cuban catcher, it was Sanchez instead who grabbed the Phillies' attention. They quickly signed him for $35,000, and after a breakout 2016 season in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, he continued his ascension in 2017. He reached high Class A Clearwater in August as one of the best pitching prospects in the game. Sanchez is one of the hardest-throwing starting pitchers in the minors, but you wouldn't know it from his delivery. He has easy, fluid mechanics that he repeats consistently, helping him command a lively fastball that sits in the mid-90s and touches 100 mph. Sanchez can overpower hitters with his fastball, though he's working to polish his secondary pitches to miss more bats. His changeup flashes plus with good sink and run, and it helps him thwart lefties, though he needs to do a better job of repeating the same arm slot as his fastball on the pitch. His slider is average now but could be above-average if he can add more power to that pitch. Sanchez's fastball command should help him continue to move quickly, with a chance to join the big league rotation by 2019 and develop into a front-line starter along the lines of the Yankees' Luis Severino.
A walk-on at Arizona, Kingery played well in his first full season in 2016 before hitting a wall at Double-A Reading. Returning to the Eastern League in 2017, Kingery clobbered the competition and advanced to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, hitting a career-high 26 home runs after belting just five the previous season. Kingery has a chance to develop into a plus hitter. He has a simple, efficient swing from the right side with good bat speed, balance and barrel control. He recognizes pitches well, stays back on offspeed pitches and covers the plate well, driving the ball with loft to all fields. Kingery has a medium build but strong forearms that help him generate solid-average power and a chance to hit 20 homers. A smart, instinctive player, he is a plus runner who gets good jumps stealing bases. He's also a plus defender at second base, where he has good range and turns the double play well with a fringe-average arm. Kingery is a well-rounded player whose batting, baserunning and defensive value in the middle of the diamond could make him an above-average regular who hits toward the top of a lineup. He likely will open 2018 back in Triple-A, but he should be a key part of Philadelphia's big league club by the all-star break.
The Phillies signed Medina for $70,000 when he was a 17-year-old with a loose arm action and a fastball that hit 90 mph. Now he's a power pitcher who took a big step forward at low Class A Lakewood in 2017 by improving his offspeed arsenal, which led to an increase in his strikeout rate. Medina operates off a fastball that parks at 92-95 mph and touches 97. His fastball is his best pitch, and he combines plus velocity with late life and the ability to throw his heater for strikes. Over the past year, Medina altered his delivery to get more extension out front at his release point, which helps his fastball jump on hitters quicker than they expect. After striking out just 13 percent of batters in 2016, Medina doubled his strikeout rate to 26 percent in 2017. His changeup became a plus pitch and he introduced a slider that's a solid-average offering. Medina is a good athlete who controls the running game well. The improvement of Medina's secondary stuff gives him an opportunity to develop into a mid-rotation starter. His next step will be high Class A Clearwater in 2018.
In high school, Haseley earned attention from scouts for his bat and his arm. He took those skills to Virginia as a two-way player. The Phillies made him the eighth overall pick in 2017 as an outfielder and signed him for $5.1 million. Haseley looked run down in a pro debut that culminated with 18 games at low Class A Lakewood, which is understandable given he also threw 65 innings as a weekend starter in college. Haseley doesn't have one loud 70 tool on the 20-80 scale, but he does a lot of things well. He's a potential above-average hitter with a good sense for the strike zone. He has an inside-out swing that leads him to use the opposite field frequently. He has average power, and once he learns which pitches he can turn on to drive with authority, his power numbers could spike, especially with his feel for hitting. Haseley isn't a burner, but his slightly above-average speed is enough to start his career in center field. He could stick there, though some scouts think he might rotate among all three outfield spots. He has an average, accurate arm. Now that Haseley dropped pitching, the Phillies are optimistic that his bat will take off. He will open 2018 at one of their Class A affiliates, with a chance to develop into a solid-average regular.
Romero was an athletic lefty with an average fastball and a four-pitch mix when the Phillies drafted him in the fourth round in 2016 and signed him for $800,000. In Romero's first full season, improved velocity helped his stock tick up as he cruised through two Class A levels. After throwing 89-92 mph and touching 94 in college, Romero jumped to 91-94 in 2017 and topped out at 96. An excellent athlete, he repeats his delivery and locates his fastball well to both sides of the plate. Romero's changeup and curveball each earn 55-60 grades on the 20-80 scale, with his changeup the more consistently reliable weapon. He has a fringe-average slider that he mixes in as well to give hitters another look. Romero throws all of his pitches for strikes and is studious in his preparation. He does the little things well, too, with quick feet to hold runners close and field his position. Romero's polish should help him continue to move quickly through the system, with a chance to crack the big league rotation by 2019 and develop into a No. 3 or 4 starter.
When Ortiz signed with the Phillies for $4.01 million, he had humongous raw power, but his huge frame and struggles against live pitching concerned other clubs. He still is a big-bodied power hitter, but his improved feel for hitting helped him excel in 2017 as one of the youngest players in the short-season New York-Penn League. Ortiz's calling card is his raw power, a 70 on the 20-80 scale. He has the bat speed and strength to launch balls deep out of the park to the pull side, but he uses the opposite field well to drive the ball out the other way with ease. Ortiz still gets his weight out too early on his front side at times and his power will always come with a high strikeout rate, but he made major strides with his approach in 2017. He can hammer fastballs, but he also did a better job recognizing offspeed pitches and staying within the strike zone. Ortiz is built like a first baseman and there is risk he will move there, but moves surprisingly well for his size. His plus arm fits well in right field. Ortiz is a potential 30-home run slugger who could become a middle-of-the-order hitter. Low Class A Lakewood is his next stop in 2018.
Alfaro has tantalized scouts with his combination of power, arm strength and athleticism since signing with the Rangers for $1.3 million out of Colombia. Acquired from Texas at the 2015 trade deadline in the Cole Hamels deal, Alfaro has not put it all together yet. A disappointing 2017 season in Triple-A Lehigh Valley underscores that point, though he performed well once he reached the big leagues in August. Alfaro's game is built around his strength. He has a fast bat and plus-plus raw power to go deep to any part of the park. He doesn't fully tap into his power in games, however, in part due to his free-swinging approach. Alfaro doesn't recognize offspeed pitches well and frequently expands the strike zone. His strikeout rate jumped to 32 percent in Triple-A and he rarely walks, so he will never be a high on-base threat. Alfaro has gotten bigger, and has below-average speed, but he still moves well for a catcher. His arm is well above-average, though his blocking and receiving need improvement. Alfaro's power could carry him to an everyday role, but he must improve his pitch selectivity and clean up his receiving to get to that level.
Moniak was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft and signed for $6.1 million. His first full season in pro ball was a disappointment, however. He held his own at low Class A Lakewood the first two months before going into a tailspin the rest of the year. Moniak is a tricky player to project given his struggles. He still earns praise from scouts for his easy, simple swing that is direct to the ball with a good bat path. He got himself into trouble by getting away from a selective hitting approach and instead rolled over a lot of easy ground balls to the right side of the infield. Moniak will need to get stronger, both to handle the rigors of a full season and to add to his power, which for now is mostly limited to the gaps. An above-average runner, he drew mixed reviews for his defense in center field. He at times made good plays with a gliding stride and an above-average arm, though other scouts questioned his reads and routes. Moniak's development will require more patience than originally anticipated, but his underlying talent suggests he can be an above-average big leaguer. There's just considerably higher risk of him tapping into that potential, so 2018 will be key for him to show that his full-season debut was more fluke than anything.
The Phillies signed Kilome for $40,000 when he was a tall, skinny 17-year-old with a fast arm. As he packed on weight and made mechanical changes, he grew into a power arm who finished 2017 in Double-A Reading after an August promotion. Kilome's fastball gets on hitters quickly thanks to his extension, downhill plane and velocity that sits 93-96 mph and peaks at 99. He throws a power four-seam fastball, but he added a two-seamer to his repertoire in 2017 to help him induce weak, early-count contact to give him a chance to pitch deeper in games. One drawback was that Kilome's strikeout rate dropped from 26 percent in 2016 to 19 percent in 2017. He has a tick above-average curveball that he can use as a putaway pitch, but his struggles to coordinate the long levers in his delivery impacts his command and puts him in too many hitter's counts. He also throws a slider that tends to blend into his curveball. Kilome's changeup has shown progress with the Phillies forcing him to throw it more, but it's still a below-average pitch. Kilome has the potential to be a No. 3 or 4 starter, but to reach that potential he will have to improve his fastball command, increase his swing-and-miss rate and develop his changeup into a more reliable third pitch. He should return to Double-A to start 2018.
A $25,000 signing out of Venezuela as a 16-year-old, Suarez early became known for his control and pitchability, but looked like more of a smoke-and-mirrors pitcher with an upper-80s fastball. In 2017, his velocity jumped, his strikeout rate increased and he moved through two levels in his first year of full-season ball. Suarez showed more zip on his fastball in 2017, sitting in the low 90s and touching 95 mph. He incorporated his legs more in his delivery, which helped him use his whole body to generate more power. He doesn't have a true out pitch among his secondary offerings, but they're all average or near-average across the board, with a slider or curveball that he goes to depending on what's working for him that night. His changeup also improved as he adjusted his hand position, which changed the movement on the pitch from cutting action to a more traditional sink and fade to run away from righthanded hitters. Suarez has control and pitching savvy beyond his years, with the ability to read swings, set hitters up and throw any pitch in any count. He's a good athlete who controls the running game well with a quick pickoff move. Suarez should continue to move quickly and projects as a back-end starter.
On pure upside, Dominguez could rank higher on this list, but arm problems have slowed his progress and created more risk to his profile. He showed one of the most electric arms early in the high Class A Florida State League season in 2017, but in mid-May he went on the disabled list with shoulder tightness and missed two months. When he returned, some scouts thought he looked gassed, while others thought he looked tentative coming back from rehab. At his best, Dominguez overpowers hitters with a fastball that sits at 94-96 mph with late movement and reaches 99. His fastball command improved in 2017 and he showed the ability to locate that pitch down in the strike zone early in the season. His slider took a step forward, and while it still flattens out on him at times, it's often an above-average pitch that misses bats. He's a four-pitch guy with an average curveball and a changeup that flashes as another above-average offering at times. Dominguez has the stuff to be a midrotation starter, but he's 23 and his career-high workload is 76 innings, so his durability is a question mark and he could be a better fit as a late-inning reliever. Double-A Reading is his next step in 2018.
Quinn's list of injuries could take up his full report. He's been one of the most frustrating prospects in the organization, because he's an outstanding athlete with premium speed in the middle of the diamond but struggles to stay on the field. In 2017, Quinn played through May 28, when he suffered a UCL injury to his left (non-throwing) elbow and missed the remainder of the season but didn't require surgery. Wrist, leg and oblique injuries in previous seasons have prevented Quinn from ever playing more than 100 games in a season. When he's healthy, he's a 80 runner with excellent range and a plus arm in center field. Quinn's power is mostly to the gaps, but he has enough pop to sneak out 8-12 home runs per year. His strikeout rate has climbed at the upper levels, but he has solid enough contact skills with the speed to help him leg out extra hits. Quinn has the upside to be an everyday center fielder, but his profile combined with his medical history make a fourth outfielder outcome more likely.
Muzziotti signed with the Red Sox for $300,000 in 2015 and played for their Dominican Summer League team the following year before Major League Baseball removed him and four other Venezuelan players from the organization as a penalty for the Red Sox signing players in package deals. He kept his original signing bonus and signed with the Phillies for $750,000 in 2016, then made a strong impression on scouts around the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2017. Muzziotti has outstanding hand-eye coordination and bat control, which enables him to square up pitches in all quadrants of the strike zone and leads to a high contact rate. He can put the bat to the ball even on pitches outside the zone, so a more selective approach will help him as he learns to swing at more pitches he can damage. He's a line-drive hitter who uses all fields but doesn't have much power yet. Muzziotti glides around center field with plus speed. He gets good jumps off the bat and ranges well to both sides and on balls over his head. He has a strong arm that has improved since an elbow injury hampered him as an amateur. Muzziotti still needs to get stronger, but he has the upside to be an everyday center fielder with impact potential on both sides of the ball.
After Guzman signed for $60,000 on his 16th birthday, the Phillies quickly realized they got a bargain. He hit well in his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League in 2016, then in 2017 hit well during extended spring training and was batting .319/.364/.458 in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in late July before fading down the stretch. He played most of the season as a 17-year-old. Guzman is an instinctive shortstop with a high baseball IQ. He's an average runner who reads the ball well off the bat, has good range to both sides and charges in well on slow rollers with an above-average arm. He has soft hands at shortstop and also uses them well in the batter's box. He has good plate coverage, making frequent contact to put the ball in play at a high clip. He has shown a good approach at times, though by the end of the year he began chasing more pitches off the plate. Guzman has minimal power and probably won't ever hit many home runs, but he will need to get stronger after fatigue took a toll on his bat speed by the end of the year. Guzman will play nearly all of 2018 as an 18-year-old, probably at short-season Williamsport.
Morales was one of the top international amateur pitchers in 2016, when he signed with the Phillies for $720,000. The Phillies pushed him straight to the U.S. for his pro debut and he pitched well in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2017. Morales has a huge frame with broad shoulders and long, lanky limbs, attacking hitters with downhill angle and good extension on a fastball that parks at 90-94 mph and touches 96. He offers physical projection, too, so he could continue to add velocity. His slider flashes as a plus pitch with late, sharp break. He has shown feel for a changeup that could become a reliable pitch once he throws it more frequently, so developing the changeup was a focal point for him during instructional league. Morales shows the ability to mix his pitches and set up hitters, though he will need to improve his fastball command. Morales is ahead of where fellow big-bodied Phillies righthander Franklyn Kilome was at the same stage and has the stuff to develop into a mid-rotation starter, with a chance for more.
Garcia stood out early in the scouting process as one of the top international prospects in the 2017 class, then signed with the Phillies for $2.5 million when the signing period opened on July 2. Garcia is a smooth-fielding shortstop with slick defensive actions. His body is more compact than the typical wiry shortstops his age, but he was one of the best defensive shortstops in the 2017 class. A solid-average runner, he is light on his feet with quick, soft hands. He can make the flashy barehanded play but he's also a fundamentally sound player for his age and has a plus arm. Garcia's biggest believers saw him as a well-rounded player who could potentially hit toward the top of the lineup, though there was a split camp on his offensive upside. He's a switch-hitter whose stroke is better from the left side, but both swings are short and quick. He uses his hands well and hits to all fields, though he doesn't have much power and mostly puts the ball on the ground. Garcia impressed Phillies coaches at the instructional league with his feel for the strike zone. He should make his pro debut in 2018 in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.
Howard was going to play club baseball at Cal Poly, but he made the varsity team as a walk-on after a fall tryout with a mid-80s fastball. He bulked up, added more zip to his fastball and moved from the bullpen to a starting role to develop into a second-round pick in 2017, signing for $1.15 million. Howard attacks hitters inside aggressively with his fastball, which is his best pitch. He sits at 91-94 mph and touches 96, getting swinging strikes in the strike zone thanks to the late finish on the pitch. Howard has a solid-average slider with good depth that he can use to miss bats, along with a below-average changeup. He has a good delivery and threw a lot of strikes in college, though he was more erratic with his control in his pro debut. Howard will go to one of the Phillies' Class A affiliates in 2018, likely low Class A Lakewood.
Arano signed with the Dodgers in 2013, then in August 2014 went to the Phillies along with second baseman Jesmuel Valentin in the trade for righthander Roberto Hernandez. The Phillies moved Arano to the bullpen in 2016 and he took off in that role. In 2017, elbow soreness kept Arano on the disabled list until the end of May, then he pitched well in his major league debut as a September callup. Arano has a diverse repertoire from his days as a starter, but as a reliever he's mainly a two-pitch guy. His fastball sits at 93-95 mph and can touch 96. He mixes two-seamers and four-seamers with the ability to get swings and misses up in the zone. Arano leans heavily on his plus slider, throwing it even more frequently than his fastball when he got to the big leagues. It's an 83-85 mph pitch that he can bury down in the zone and get hitters to chase off the plate with sharp break and two-plane depth. He sprinkles in an occasional changeup and a rare curveball, but he mostly throws fastballs and sliders in relief. Arano throws strikes and misses a lot of bats, which gives him a chance to pitch high-leverage innings. He should open 2018 in Philadelphia's bullpen, where he has a chance to be one of their best relievers.
Gamboa was a big international prospect in 2014, when he signed with the Phillies for $900,000. Little went right for him on the field his first two seasons, but he showed signs of life in 2017 and played his best baseball at the end of the season, batting .327/.364/.531 at low Class A Lakewood from Aug. 1 to the end of the season, a span of 25 games. Gamboa is an athletic shortstop who projects to stick at the position with a pair of plus tools in his speed and arm strength. He's a switch-hitter with a far more advanced swing from the left side, where he batted .274/.344/.416 with 25 walks and 29 strikeouts in 247 plate appearances compared to .227/.286/.284 in 98 plate appearances righthanded. His lefty swing has better rhythm, balance and timing than his righthanded stroke, though the Phillies plan to let him continue switch-hitting. Gamboa has more strength projection than some of the other young Phillies shortstops in the system, with enough power to occasionally sneak a ball out to his pull side, but he probably won't ever be a big power threat. Gamboa flashed signals of breakout potential in 2017 and could carry that over into the 2018 season.
Signed for $650,000 as a 16-year-old in 2014, Brito looked like he was in the midst of a breakthrough season early in 2017. By the end of April at low Class A Lakewood, he was hitting .327/.377/.449, but his performance cratered the rest of the season. Brito has the ingredients to be a good hitter. He uses his hands well at the plate with a loose, fluid stroke and good bat speed. He started to grow into more power in 2017, which may have gotten him into trouble as he got away from his usually sound approach in an attempt to show off that pop. Instead of keeping his weight back and using the whole field, Brito became more pull-conscious, trying to yank pitches on the outer third that led to a lot of ground outs to the right side. He could rebound if he gets back to his line-drive, all-fields approach. Brito is an average defender at second base with a chance to be a tick better. His speed and arm strength are both average tools and he does a good job turning double plays. Repeating low Class A Lakewood is a possibility for Brito in 2018.
Young was going to pitch at Hofstra, but the Phillies signed him for $225,000 in the 22nd round of the 2016 draft. Young stayed back in extended spring training in 2017 before joining short-season Williamsport and was one of the best pitchers in the New York-Penn League. At 6-foot-10, Young has the size of an NBA center but the body control of a point guard. It's often a struggle for pitchers as tall as Young to sync up the long levers in their deliveries, but he easily repeats his mechanics and throws strikes at a high rate. He commands his fastball well, though he sits at just 88-90 mph and touches 93 with a mix of four- and two-seamers. His fastball plays up because he gets great extension to releases the ball closer to the plate, and there's physical projection left for him to throw harder as he gets stronger. Young's slider improved to flash as an average pitch. It's still inconsistent, but he shows the ability to manipulate the shape of his slider to make it bigger or tighter depending on whether he wants to land it for a strike or use it as a chase pitch. He needs to improve his below-average changeup. Young is ticketed for low Class A Lakewood in 2018 and could take a big step forward if he adds more power to his stuff.
The Phillies loved Randolph's bat when they drafted him with the 10th overall pick in 2015. While he's shown it in flashes, he hasn't quite put it all together yet to hit like they had hoped. With a strong, stocky frame, Randolph entered pro ball with a hit-over-power profile. He stays inside the ball well with an approach geared toward going the opposite way. He has average raw power but didn't show it much in games, so he made an effort to get his contact point more out front in an attempt to pull the ball with more authority. Randolph did show more game power, though his strikeout rate jumped with it and his overall production was modest as he seemed caught in between with his approach. Randolph's lack of speed and arm strength limit him to left field, where his defense has improved but is still below-average. Finding the right balance of contact and power will be key for Randolph to show he can produce at a high enough level to be an everyday left fielder. Randolph is ticketed for Double-A Reading in 2018.
Shortly after he turned 20, Taveras signed with the Phillies for $5,000. He has proven to be a durable strike-thrower who has climbed through the system quickly, including a three-level rise up to Triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2017. Taveras doesn't have the high-octane stuff to match some of the other electric young arms in the Phillies system, but he fills up the strike zone and messes with hitters' timing effectively. His fastball velocity is below-average at 88-92 mph, but it sneaks up on hitters because he generates tremendous extension and hides the ball well with the way he throws across his body. He locates his fastball well and mixes in a changeup that continues to improve, and it grades out as a plus pitch to get swinging strikes or weak contact by throwing hitters off balance. He will throw any pitch in any count, though his slider is just fringe-average. Taveras is a student of the game, so his intelligence and preparation help him get the most out of his stuff. Taveras likely returns to Triple-A in 2018, but he should make his major league debut at some point during the season and could carve out a career as a back-end starter.
Alvarez broke through with a big year at the plate for the Cardinals in 2016 in the low Class A Midwest League, so he skipped a level and went straight to the Double-A Texas League in 2017. He struggled with the jump, and a high ankle sprain in mid-May kept him out for two months. After the Phillies claimed reliever Juan Nicasio on waivers from the Pirates on Aug. 31, they turned around a week later and flipped him to the Cardinals to get Alvarez. While Alvarez's stock dropped in 2017, there's still promise he can return to his 2016 form. His strikeout rate jumped from 19 percent in 2016 to 27 percent in 2017, but he has an otherwise strong track record and a simple, balanced swing with an all-fields approach. Alvarez's swing isn't geared for power, so he projects to hit 8-12 home runs. Alvarez is an above-average runner, but his stolen bases were down in 2017 coming back from the ankle injury. Alvarez has a good arm but his hands and footwork need to improve for him to be better than a below-average defender. Alvarez could make his Phillies system debut at Double-A Reading in 2018.
Hammer was a starter at Marshall but immediately became a reliever after signing with the Rockies for $1,000 as a 24th-round pick in 2016. The Phillies picked him up in 2017 at the trade deadline along with shortstop Jose Gomez and righthander Alejandro Requena for reliever Pat Neshek. Hammer's move to the bullpen allows teams to play MC Hammer's “U Can't Touch This” when he enters a game, but more important, it helped him to throw harder in short stints. Hammer sits 94-96 mph and touches 99 with a lively, late-moving fastball. His fastball misses bats and so does his sharp slider in the mid-80s, which is why he struck out 38 percent of the batters he faced in 2017. Hammer had a brief spell where he didn't throw strikes in the extreme hitter's environment of high Class A Lancaster, but he's mostly shown good control. After pitching in the Arizona Fall League in 2017, Hammer should be ready for an assignment to Double-A Reading in 2018.
The Astros drafted Eshelman with their second-round pick in 2015, then after the season they traded him to the Phillies as part of the return for Ken Giles. In 2017, Eshelman ranked second in the Triple-A International League with a 2.23 ERA. Few pitchers in the minors can match Eshelman's pinpoint control. He walked just 1.1 batters per nine innings in 2017, because he commands his fastball with precise location to both sides of the plate. He is a finesse pitcher whose entire game is predicated on his ability to hit his spots, since his stuff--including an 87-91 mph fastball that touches 93, along with a curveball and changeup--is fringe-average across the board. His fastball plays better than the radar gun readings because of his ability to command the pitch away from hitters' hot zones, but he doesn't have the stuff to miss bats, which results in a low strikeout rate. Eshelman bears similarities with former Twins righthander Kevin Slowey and could develop into a similar type of back-end starter. He should make his major league debut at some point in 2018.
Garcia rose through the system primarily as a reliever after signing for $30,000 in 2014. He opened 2017 in the high Class A Clearwater bullpen before moving to the rotation in mid-May. Garcia could still end up in the bullpen, but the Phillies wanted to develop him as a starter to give him more opportunities to pitch off his fastball and develop his changeup. He is a good athlete whose two primary weapons are his fastball and slider. He throws his fastball in the low to mid-90s and finishes hitters with a plus slider. He leaned heavily on his slider in the bullpen, so moving to a starting role forced Garcia to throw his fastball more, and his command of that pitch needs to improve. He rarely threw his changeup in the bullpen, and while he used it more as a starter, it's still a below-average pitch. Garcia has the stuff to miss bats, but he's still learning touch and feel and how to set up hitters. Double-A Reading is next for Garcia in 2018.
The Pirates drafted Waguespack out of high school in the 37th round in 2012, but instead of signing he went to college to pitch for Mississippi as a reliever. After his junior year, he signed with the Phillies for $25,000 as a nondrafted free agent. Waguespack didn't do anything to distinguish himself as a prospect until 2017, when his fastball jumped multiple grades and he moved from the bullpen to the rotation at the end of May. He rose two levels during the season, then pitched for Triple-A Lehigh Valley in the playoffs. Coming into the year, Waguespack threw in the low 90s, but in 2017 he was sitting at 91-96 mph and had peaked at 98 mph. He has a huge 6-foot-6 frame but began throwing harder once he started using his legs more in his delivery. He has a variety of offspeed offerings that are below-average to fringe-average pitches, with a slider, cutter, curveball and changeup in his mix. He's a solid strike-thrower but will need to tighten his fastball command. Waguespack could continue developing as a starter with a chance to pitch in the back of a rotation, and while he had success in that role in 2017, he still might end up back in the bullpen, with a chance to reach Philadelphia by the end of 2018.
The Phillies have shown a knack for finding under-the-radar pitching prospects in Latin America. They signed Llovera for just $7,500 when he was an 18-year-old in Venezuela, and he's blossomed into one of the hardest throwers in the organization. A starter his first two years in the minors, Llovera opened 2017 in the bullpen at low Class A Lakewood, usually throwing multi-inning stints. In July he moved to the rotation and continued to blow his high-octane fastballs past hitters, then in the winter pitched out of the bullpen in the Venezuelan League. Llovera has a smaller, compact frame and quick arm to generate fastballs that sit in the mid-90s and can reach 99 mph. He shows feel to spin his breaking pitches, with a hard slider that's an average pitch and a curveball and changeup that are fringe-average. A lot of scouts think Llovera's future is in the bullpen, since he has a high-effort delivery and tends to overthrow, which costs him control, though the Phillies might keep developing him as a starter during 2018, when he will open with high Class A Clearwater.