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See the AFL content index for previous scouting reports and videos for every team in the league. For draft fans, here's my ranking of the top prep prospects for the draft. I'm currently doing an updated college rankings series right now but ranked my top 50 overall prospects for the draft back in August.
For an explanation about how to use asset values, how I grade players and their tools, what order I'll be breaking down each organization and what players are eligible to be ranked, see this primer of the minor league org prospect rankings series. Covered in that piece is the cut-off for players to qualify for this list. Among the young, MLB-ready pieces that will be included in the MLB rankings because they're too old/experienced for this list: newly-signed Cuban RHP Miguel Gonzalez, 2B/CF Cesar Hernandez, 3B Cody Asche, RHPs Justin De Fratus, Jon Pettibone and Phillippe Aumont, LHP Joe Savery and SS Freddy Galvis.
The Phillies system is one of the weaker ones in baseball, but is always big on tools and projection as they heavily lean toward raw high school athletes in the draft. Some of these slow-burn athletes have worked out, like current big league RF Domonic Brown, and there are a few versions of that currently in the system, like Altherr and Dugan. This is an inherently hit-and-miss philosophy and a combination of low draft picks, just an okay hit rate on those, trades going for the playoffs in past years and mediocre recent dump trades all contribute to the weaker cupboard. It's worth noting the list is propped up in part due to a very successful Latin program run by international scouting director Sal Agostinelli, who has found a number of great value buys, typically signing older prospects for bonuses in the low six figures or less.
Only three players made the 50 Future Value cut-off, but a number of projection types outside that top three could take a step forward this season. My calculations have those top three prospects carrying a combined asset value of $98.3 million and the whole farm system combined is at almost exactly $200 million. It will be interesting to see how high that number can get for one of the stronger farm systems. Click on a player's bold/hyperlinked name to see previous articles, including scouting reports and video. Here's a quick look at the top 10 with dollar values for those above the 50 FV cut-off.
1. Maikel Franco, 3B, $40.7 million
2. J.P. Crawford, SS, $35.6 million
3. Jesse Biddle, LHP, $21.9 million
4. Ethan Martin, RHP
5. Aaron Altherr, OF
6. Dylan Cozens, RF
7. Andrew Knapp, C/RF
8. Kenny Giles, RHP
9. Kelly Dugan, RF
10. Zach Green, 3B
1. Maikel Franco, 3B
2014 Opening Day Age/Level: 21.6/AAA, 6'1/180, R/R
Signed: IFA, Dominican Republic at age 17 for $100,000 bonus
PV/FV: 45/55, Asset Value: $40.7 million
Hit: 40/55, Power: 50/55+, Speed: 35, Defense: 45+, Arm: 55+
Franco was a known prospect entering 2013, but more noted for his squatty frame, raw power and some bat speed rather than being an elite bat. He made short work of that reputation by savaging Hi-A, then tearing up AA, proving himself as an elite hitter and putting himself on the fast track to Philly, possibly filling a hole in the lineup as soon as late 2014. Franco doesn't have massive raw power, grading as a 55 or 60 depending on who you ask, which translates to 20-25 homers annually, but his particular type of power (low strikeout rate, frequent hard contact, pull-oriented right handed pop) should play particularly well in Philly's small ballpark so 30 homers is very possible.
Franco's mechanics and body don't seem like that of a elite bat, particularly compared to the gazelle-type loose athletes the Phillies tend to target, but he has an innate ability to square the ball up, has impressive strength, loft in his swing path and deceptively quick hands that generate above average bat speed. Since he's a low walk/low strikeout, early count hitter, Franco may have some trouble adjusting to big league pitching, but that shouldn't last long. A different type of player but similar type of hitter, Pittsburgh OF Starling Marte, was someone I pegged as gifted enough to make this type of approach work and he just hit .280/.343/.441 with a 4% walk rate and 24% strikeout rate in his first full MLB season.
That said, Franco has nowhere near the speed and defensive value of Marte, so he needs to hit to bring value. He's a well below average runner and fringy defender at third base that has the arm and hands to fit but is limited laterally. Franco is good enough to give him a few more years to work on it, but right field and eventually first base could be in his future. If Franco can continue to produce at the plate early in the first half at AAA Lehigh Valley, the Phillies may not be able to wait much longer to see if it will work in the big leagues.
2. J.P. Crawford, SS
2014 Opening Day Age/Level: 19.2/Lo-A, 6'2/180, L/R
Drafted: 16th overall (1st round) out of California HS in 2013 for $2,299,300 bonus
PV/FV: 20/55 (60 UPS), Asset Value: $35.6 million
Hit: 20/55, Power: 40/45, Speed: 50+, Defense: 55, Arm: 55
Crawford was a high-profile prospect early in his high school career, as a prep teammate of #13 Phillies prospect RHP Shane Watson and hitting in the same travel team lineup as fellow 2013 1st rounder 1B Dominic Smith (Mets). He's also distantly-related to Carl Crawford and while J.P. isn't the plus-plus runner Carl is, he has the quick-twich athleticism to be one of the top shortstops in the minor leagues. Crawford is a solid-average runner with very good defensive instincts, actions and footwork along with an above average arm that projects for an average or better defensive package. He's lanky and projectable with some present pop that should grow in the coming years but still be below average. The most important tool here is the bat, one I was a little worried about as an amateur as Crawford loaded his hands too high and deep (as you can see in the video), but I noticed he'd lowered them by instructs this fall. He has a loose cut with feel for the bat head and had an impressive pro debut. The upside isn't as sexy as power-hitting shortstop prospects like Carlos Correa or Addison Russell, but a strong full-season debut in 2014 could have Crawford ranked near them next year.
3. Jesse Biddle, LHP
2014 Opening Day Age/Level: 22.4/AAA, 6'4/225, L/L
Drafted: 27th overall (1st round) out of Pennsylvania HS in 2010 for $1,160,000 bonus
PV/FV: 40/50, Asset Value: $21.9 million
Fastball: 50/50+, Curveball: 45/50+, Slider: 45/50, Changeup: 50/55+, Command: 45/50
It's hard to get really excited about Biddle as nothing he does is plus, including command that stagnated a bit at AA in 2013. That said, he's consistently had above average stuff from the left side and continues to be 6'4 and get results; a near-ready league average starting pitcher is hard not to want, hence the over $20 million asset value. Biddle sits 89-92 and bumps 94 with his heater with occasional cut and run to the pitch. He backs it up with a solid-average overhand curveball at 70-74 that flashes occasional hard bite and his out pitch is an above average 77-80 mph changeup with good arm speed and tumble. Biddle also throws an average slider as a fourth pitch at 81-83 mph.
45 FV Group (Asset Value Range: $6 - $15 million)
4. Ethan Martin, RHP
2014 OD Age/Level: 24.8/AAA, 6'2/195, R/R
The Short Version: Power arm could be anything from inconsistent middle reliever to closer to #3 starter but it all depends on the command.
Martin, a 2008 first rounder, came over from the Dodgers at the trade deadline in 2012 as the primary piece of the Shane Victorino deal. One pro scout that saw Martin late last season said "if he figures it out, he could be special." When I asked if he thought Martin would figure it out, that same scout said "yeah, but in like 5 years, in his 3rd organization; that ballpark isn't helping him." Martin is a strong, athletic 6'2/195 righty that was an early-round prospect as a third baseman out of high school before his velo spiked. He sits 91-94 as a starter and is a tick or two better in relief, hitting 97 mph in short stints. He has four average or better pitches, including a plus slider but below average command that lands him in the 45 FV group even though he has much more potential than Biddle. I have Martin as a setup guy, a bit of a hedge given the possibilities of: ride the AAA/MLB shuttle with never-ending command problems, corral himself enough to turn into a closer, or puts it all together and becomes a #3 starter.
5. Aaron Altherr, OF
2014 OD Age/Level: 23.2/AA, 6'5/190, R/R
The Short Version: Lanky 6'5 outfielder is very athletic and still growing into his body but fringy bat & tweener profile has him looking more like very good 4th OF.
Altherr signed for $150,000 as a 9th rounder in 2009 and the super lanky 6'5/190 outfielder has improved considerably each of his three seasons in full-season ball, hitting .275/.337/.455 at age 22 in Hi-A last year. He plays center field now and is an above average runner, but should move to a corner as he continues to fill out his frame, likely ending as a guy that can play all three outfield positions if needed at maturity. Altherr also has above average power projection but the length that creates this pop creates problems for him making contact despite his quick hands and smooth cut. Altherr is similar to Rangers OF David Murphy, though Altherr's a few inches taller and this length leads to consistently higher strikeout totals that ultimately limit his upside.
2014 OD Age/Level: 19.8/Lo-A, 6'6/235, L/L
The Short Version: Massive 6'6/235 power bat was set to play DE at Arizona but Phils took him in 2nd round; size should limit contact but could have breakout full-season debut in 2014.
Cozens had a lower profile entering the 2012 draft but the Phillies popped him in the 2nd round, despite some industry whispers about why Cozens was kicked off his high school team. He's an intriguing athlete, a 6'6/235 lefty power bat that projects for plus raw power, fits in right field for now and is a dual-sport athlete signed to play defensive end at Arizona. As I always mention with tall hitters, their long arms create concerns for hitting for average and that is the main concern with Cozens as well. His swing can get a little uphill at times, but he's got a surprisingly fluid, direct cut for his size and has some feel to hit along with a decent idea of the strike zone. He'll always strike out a bit, but has the power and patience to make it work for him and his full-season debut in 2014 could be the start of a breakout.
2014 OD Age/Level: 22.4/Lo-A, 6'1/190, R/R
The Short Version: Athletic backstop with advanced stick was 2nd rounder out of Cal this year but is raw defensively, just had TJ surgery and is older than peers.
Knapp was a divisive prospect in my conversations with scouts and is tough to compare to the hitters ranked around him due to age, position, level and injury. He went in the second round out of Cal-Berkeley last spring as an advanced bat with the tools to catch but limited polish and experience behind the plate. He just had Tommy John surgery and won't be back until June, so we likely won't see him catch in many pro games until 2015, at age 23. Knapp will fit in right field with his above average arm strength and fringy speed if catching doesn't work, but scouts still differ if he'll hit enough to fit out there everyday. Scouts in support of Knapp see an above average hit/power combo and point to a strong Cape Cod League summer and improvement in his junior spring at Cal, while others see a catcher that got the yips last spring and is more of a utility type.
2014 OD Age/Level: 23.5/AA, 6'2/190, R/R
The Short Version: Power righty is up to 100 mph with just enough breaking ball to keep hitters honest; could be MLB factor late in 2014.
Giles was also a little tough to rank as I'm normally not one to fly relievers up the flag pole and it's all bats ranked around him, but this system isn't great and Giles is close to contributing. He sits 94-98 and has hit 100 mph with a lively fastball and a hard 85-89 mph slider with curveball tilt that's a solid-average pitch. His command is fringy as there's some effort, but Giles is looser, more athletic and more consistent than some relievers with comparable stuff, like recent Marlins second rounder Colby Suggs. There isn't enough off-speed to project more than a set-up man but it wouldn't shock me if he becomes that sooner rather than later.
9. Kelly Dugan, RF
2014 OD Age/Level: 23.5/AA, 6'3/195, L/R
The Short Version: Lanky 6'3/195 right fielder has slowly grown into frame and lefty stick is coming around; solid season in AA could make him potential low-end everyday guy .
The first thing more than one scout mentioned about Dugan was his dad; not a former big leaguer but instead a Hollywood director, known for most of Adam Sandler's recent movies, ahem, films. Dugan went to the same high school as Giancarlo Stanton, but is also a legit prospect in his own right, going in the second round in 2009 and most recently raking his way to a .291/.352/.506 line in 2013 split between Hi-A and AA. The 6'3/195 lefty hitter is a good athlete with a smooth swing, average raw power and an above average arm for right field. It's a potential fringe everyday package right now, but Dugan's first full look at AA could go a long way toward convincing scouts he'll hit enough to raise that projection.
10. Zach Green, 3B
2014 OD Age/Level: 20.1/Lo-A, 6'3/210, R/R
The Short Version: Big, power-hitting third baseman has good bit of swing-and-miss to his game and hasn't played full-season ball yet but the ceiling is high.
Green was described as "a lottery ticket" by one scout, encapsulating his upside and risk well. The 6'3/210 third baseman has an above average arm, good hands, fringy speed and raw power that projects for plus. If he was sure to hit, he'd be much higher on this list, but the concern is he won't. Green has some swing-and-miss in his game, which is why he lasted to the third round in 2012 and struck out nearly 30% of his plate appearances in the New York Penn League, but also hit 13 homers and 20 doubles in 311 plate appearances.
11. Yoel Mecias, LHP
2014 OD Age/Level: 20.5/Hi-A, 6'2/160, L/L
The Short Version: Previously unknown Venezuelan lefty flashed #4 starter upside in sterling Low-A debut.
Mecias popped up in 2013 with an impressive full-season debut as a teenager, striking out 70 and walking 25 in 57 innings. The lanky 6'2/160 Venezuelan signed for just $50,000, marking another find by Sal Agostinelli and the international group for the Phillies. Mecias has advanced feel for his age and his stuff isn't bad either: a fastball that ranges 87-92 mph and some projection remaining along with flashing an average slider and above average changeup.
40 FV Group (Asset Value Range: $3 - $6 million)
12. Roman Quinn, 2B/CF: If not for a recent ruptured achilles that throws his 2014 into doubt, the 2011 second rounder would be comfortably higher in these rankings. He battled a wrist problem as well in 2013, but is a true 80 runner that played shortstop (though fits better at second base or center field) and he's still raw in all aspects of the game but has versatile, disruptive everyday potential.
13. Shane Watson, RHP: The 2012 sandwich round pick still has the ability and potential that got him drafted that high last spring, but was just okay in his full-season debut. The 6'4/200 righty is athletic with an easy above average fastball-curveball combo, but the changeup, command and consistency come and go right now.
14. Zach Collier, RF (Video): The 2008 sandwich round pick was a raw hitter out of high school and has made steady progress, recovering from a disastrous start to his 2013 introduction to AA at age 22 to gain some positive momentum late in the year. He reminds me of Fred Lewis, with the ability to play all three outfield positions with some bat speed and enough power to punish mistakes.
15. Adam Morgan, LHP (Video): Morgan has improved since signing for $250,000 out of Alabama in 2011 but his 2012 breakout season hasn't sustained at higher levels, though there's still #5 starter potential. Morgan works 89-92 and has been up to 94 mph at times with an above average changeup, but his various breaking balls are fringy at best, leading some to think he's more of a swingman.
16. Luis Encarnacion, 3B/LF (Video): One of the top bats this past July 2nd signed for $1 million and was so young he was almost in next year's class. I was lower on him than the industry (click his name to see my longer report and video) and there's some similarities to Franco, but I'm not convinced his swing and approach are conducive to hitting his upside.
17. Carlos Tocci, CF: Rail-thin, 6'2/170 Venezuelan has some tools, signed for $759,000 in 2011 and while he didn't produce much at Low-A in 2013, he was 17 the whole season. He's slowly adding weight, has good instincts and has feel to hit, but needs to put up numbers to raise the profile.
18. Cord Sandberg, LF (Video): Four-star, high-profile, dual-threat quarterback and dual-sport commit to Mississippi State opted to turn pro in June for $775,000 in the third round. The 6'3/215 lefty isn't as athletic as you might expect, but shows five average tools and his limited baseball experience excuses a slow start to his career.
19. Tommy Joseph, C: The prize of the Hunter Pence trade has had some tough luck, missing most of 2013 due to a concussion and was just cleared to play. It's not certain he'll be able to catch, though he has the ability to be average defensively along with above average raw power but scouts doubt the bat, with shades of Toby Hall starting to show.
20. Severino Gonzalez, RHP: Panamanian righty is another find for Agostinelli, signing for $14,000 in 2011 at age 18 before shooting through the system all the way to AA in 2013. He'll open 2014 in AA at age 21 but only projects as a 5th starter or swingman with advanced pitchability of average stuff and a slight 6'1/153 build.
Short Season Sleeper: Deivi Grullon, C
The top July 2nd signing for the Phillies in 2012 is a Dominican defensive standout that got a $575,000 bonus. He already looks like a catcher at 6'0/190 and doesn't offer much pop, but has a developing feel to hit, will turn 18 just before the 2014 season and is a standout defender already with a plus arm.
After 105.1 innings in the High-A Florida State League in 2012 where I saw him a few times and he flashed mid-rotation upside, he's now thrown even more innings in AA the last two years and has 77 walks to 52 strikeouts (not a typo). At his best, Colvin worked 91-94, hitting 95 mph with an above average to plus hook and an above average changeup. Other times, it was more average-ish stuff but the command was below average regardless of the stuff. The delivery isn't terrible and Colvin, 23, is a solid athlete, so it shouldn't be this bad, with some low-hanging mechanical fruit even when he was pitching better. Another example, without as much upside, is reliever Juan Sosa, 24, who worked 94-96 with an above average slider and changeup in 2012 in High-A, but has also had command issues in AA.