Baseball America’s Top 10 Phillies Prospects

2013 Philadelphia Phillies Top 10 Prospects

By Matt Forman
December 17, 2012

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.

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TOP TEN
PROSPECTS
1. Jesse Biddle, lhp
2. Roman Quinn, ss
3. Tommy Joseph, c
4. Jon Pettibone, rhp
5. Adam Morgan, lhp
6. Ethan Martin, rhp
7. Cody Asche, 3b
8. Maikel Franco, 3b
9. Darin Ruf, 1b/of
10. Carlos Tocci, of
BEST
TOOLS
Best Hitter for Average Cody Asche
Best Power Hitter Darin Ruf
Best Strike Zone Discipline Darin Ruf
Fastest Baserunner Roman Quinn
Best Athlete Roman Quinn
Best Fastball Kenny Giles
Best Curveball Jesse Biddle
Best Slider Adam Morgan
Best Changeup Jon Pettibone
Best Control Jon Pettibone
Best Defensive Catcher Sebastian Valle
Best Defensive Infielder Cesar Hernandez
Best Infield Arm Maikel Franco
Best Defensive OF Tyson Gillies
Best Outfield Arm Kyrell Hudson
PROJECTED 2016
LINEUP
Catcher Tommy Joseph
First Base Ryan Howard
Second Base Chase Utley
Third Base Cody Asche
Shortstop Roman Quinn
Left Field Darin Ruf
Center Field Ben Revere
Right Field Domonic Brown
No. 1 Starter Cole Hamels
No. 2 Starter Cliff Lee
No. 3 Starter Roy Halladay
No. 4 Starter Jesse Biddle
No. 5 Starter Jonathan Pettibone
Closer Jonathan Papelbon
TOP PROSPECTS
OF THE DECADE
Year Player, Pos 2012 Org
2003 Gavin Floyd, rhp White Sox
2004 Cole Hamels, lhp Phillies
2005 Ryan Howard, 1b Phillies
2006 Cole Hamels, lhp Phillies
2007 Carlos Carrasco, rhp Indians
2008 Carlos Carrasco, rhp Indians
2009 Domonic Brown, of Phillies
2010 Domonic Brown, of Phillies
2011 Domonic Brown, of Phillies
2012 Trevor May, rhp Phillies
TOP DRAFT PICKS
OF THE DECADE
Year Player, Pos 2012 Org
2003 Tim Moss, 2B (3rd round) Out of baseball
2004 Greg Golson, OF Yankees
2005 Mike Costanzo, 3B (2nd round) Reds
2006 Kyle Drabek, RHP/SS Blue Jays
2007 Joe Savery, LHP Phillies
2008 Anthony Hewitt, SS Phillies
2009 Kelly Dugan, OF Phillies
2010 Jesse Biddle, LHP Phillies
2011 Larry Greene, OF Phillies
2012 Shane Watson, RHP Phillies
LARGEST BONUSES
IN CLUB HISTORY
Gavin Floyd, 2001 $4,200,000
Pat Burrell, 1998 $3,150,000
Brett Myers, 1999 $2,050,000
Cole Hamels, 2002 $2,000,000
Chase Utley, 2000 $1,780,000
PHILLIES
LINKS
Phillies Team Page
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Last Year’s Phillies Top 10 Prospects
2012 Draft: Phillies
2012 Draft Report Cards: Philadelphia Phillies Premium
Complete Index of Top 10 Prospects
Pre-Order the 2013 Prospect Handbook
Philadelphia Phillies

For different reasons, the Phillies’ last two seasons have ended in disappointment. In 2011, the playoff run that had become an annual expectation in Philadelphia ended too early. In 2012, there was no postseason baseball in Philadelphia at all, for the first time in six years.

The Phillies expected their season to start slowly because of lingering injuries to Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, but it never really got on its projected course, at least until it was too late. The Phillies finished 81-81, their worst record since 2002, and needed a late-season blitz just to break even after falling 14 games under .500 at one point. Philadelphia lost several more players for significant time to injuries, including Jose Contreras, Freddy Galvis, Roy Halladay, Placido Polanco, Mike Stutes and Vance Worley.

As a result, the Phillies were sellers on the trade market for the first time since 2006. One year after acquiring Hunter Pence, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. shipped him to the Giants for Nate Schierholtz and a pair of prospects (catcher Tommy Joseph and righthander Seth Rosin). Amaro also sent Joe Blanton and Shane Victorino to the Dodgers in separate deals for Josh Lindblom and righthanders Ethan Martin and Ryan O’Sullivan.

The big league struggles gave Philadelphia a chance to evaluate its system, as eight rookies debuted in the majors, the most since it had 15 in 1996. Along with the unexpected development of a few prospects, that ensured the last two months of the season weren’t completely irrelevant.

Once considered an organization player, first baseman/outfielder Darin Ruf blasted 20 homers in Double-A in August to tie Sammy Sosa’s pro record for a single month, then hit three more during a September callup. Tyler Cloyd, a soft-tossing righty who’s short on stuff but strong on pitching sense, made his major league debut in August and won two of his six starts. Longtime minor league veteran Eric Kratz showed some pop, while Phillippe Aumont flashed his plus stuff out of the bullpen. In varying capacities, they all figure to contribute in 2013.

Meanwhile, the Phillies’ .500 finish secured them a higher first-round pick than any in recent memory, as long as they don’t sign a free agent who requires compensation. They’re slated to select 16th, their highest selection since they took Gavin Floyd fourth overall in 2001.

Philadelphia has stuck with its philosophy of drafting high-upside athletes, with scouting director Marti Wolever preferring lefthanded pitching and speed. That’s reflected on this list, which begins with a southpaw (Jesse Biddle) and a fleet-footed shortstop (Roman Quinn). Quinn is one of several members of a talented 2011 draft class who took a big step forward in their first full pro seasons, a group that also included lefthander Adam Morgan, third baseman Cody Asche and flamethrowing reliever Kenny Giles.

Most of the Phillies’ best prospects are at least a year or two away from being ready for Citizens Bank Park, so Amaro swung two trades for veteran offensive help in December. He acquired Ben Revere from the Twins for Vance Worley and enigmatic righthander Trevor May, then dispatched Lindblom and righty Lisalverto Bonilla to get Michael Young from the Rangers.

It’s not all doom and gloom for the Phillies, who will return several significant players from their 2007-11 National League East championship clubs in 2013. If they can stay healthy—certainly not a guarantee given the age of many of the players—their season could have a happier ending.

Domonic Brown Where Are You?

The Dramatic Decline of Domonic Brown

by J.P. Breen via FANGRAPHS

Domonic Brown

Coming into the 2011 season, Domonic Brown ranked as the fourth-best prospect in all of baseball according to Baseball America. The Philadelphia Phillies had just watched right fielder Jayson Werth depart for greener pastures in Washington and felt confident that Brown was the long-term answer at the position.

A little more than a year later, we’re all left wondering what went wrong.

At age 23, Brown got his second extended look in the big leagues starting in May of 2011. Though some skill at the plate was evident, he ultimately underwhelmed with a .322 wOBA in 210 plate appearances. The league-average wOBA in right field was .334 in 2011, and the struggles on defense could not justify allowing him to work through his growing pains at the big league level — at least, not for a team with legitimate World Series aspirations.

Philadelphia sent Brown back down to Triple-A in August. The only other big league action he saw last season was a brief call-up in late September once rosters expanded and the Triple-A season had already been completed.

His lack of success was largely attributed to the quickening of the game at the major league level.

“The big leagues moves fast,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “A lot of times when you come up there the game is quick. They catch a lot of balls you hit, things like that. Once you get used to it, if you’ve got the talent and you’ve got the fight and desire and the work ethic and everything. Then you’ll improve.”

In brief, Brown should have been expected to struggle in his transition to baseball at the highest level. Scouts, coaches, and players always talk about making adjustments. Brown simply had not made those adjustments yet at the major league, but very few people doubted the adjustments would happen and success would follow.

Fast forward to this season, and we find the young man hitting a paltry .247/.290/.355 through 26 games with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. That was not supposed to happen. The Phillies wanted Brown to begin the season in Triple-A to build confidence and rediscover the success he enjoyed in Triple-A back in 2010, when he hit .346/.390/.561 in 28 games as a 22-year-old. It was not supposed to be a deepening of the struggles that plagued him last season at the big league level.

His .286 wOBA in Triple-A has fans and scouts absolutely miffed. When asked what caused the precipitous drop-off in production from Domonic Brown, one minor league scout said, “I don’t think anyone knows for sure.” Furthermore, Kevin Goldstein ofBaseball Prospectus, who speaks with scouts every day regarding minor league players, said, “I think I’ve passed 100 on the number of theories I’ve heard.”

Domonic Brown

One possible explanation for his struggles revolves around swing changes that the Phillies organization attempted to employ during spring training back in 2011. The organization wanted Brown to lower his hands at address to help shorten the swing and provide greater stability throughout his swinging motion. This video from early 2011 does a nice job illustrating the specific change and how it related to his timing at the plate.

The swing change, however, did not improve his success. In fact, he felt so uncomfortable with the lowering of his hands that he abandoned the swing changeall together. It is conceivable that the differing placement of his hands has ultimately disturbed his timing at the plate, and he is still working to rediscover the comfort he possessed in his swing throughout his minor league career prior to the 2011 season.

Another theory that some have put forward stems from his myriad of hand injuries. Since the 2009 season, Domonic Brown has suffered four injuries to his right hand. He has broken his hamate bone, which required surgery, sprained his thumb twice, and broken his pinkie finger. Perhaps the hand injuries — specifically the three since 2011 spring training — have been a major culprit in his power decline, a decline that has culminated in a 2012 season with no home runs thus far. He would not be the first hitter to experience such issues after multiple hand injuries.

In addition, not only has Brown played with swing changes and suffered multiple injuries in his right hand, he also been bounced around the organization and the playing field. He yo-yoed from Triple-A to the majors in both 2010 and 2011. His Triple-A manager,Ryne Sandbergsaid he dealt with a “rollercoaster season” in 2011. He needed stability. This season, the organization switched him to left field. Though that may sound insignificant because it is largely considered to be one of the easiest defensive positions, Domonic Brown struggled to learn routes and jumps in right field. Now, he must start over and learn an entirely new position, while still trying to straighten out his issues at the plate.

It is once again conceivable that the constant change throughout the past couple of years has ultimately fueled his decline.

The ultimate reasoning behind his decline at the plate may puzzle scouts, but the organization desperately hopes that he snaps out of it because he remains a focal point in the Phillies’ future plans for the outfield. Center fielder Shane Victorino is slated to become a free agent following this season, right fielder Hunter Pence will become a free agent following the 2013 season, and left field is currently handled by a committee of fringe players in John MayberryLaynce Nix, and Juan Pierre. Opportunities for ample playing time should be numerous for Brown. He simply needs to prove deserving of those opportunities.

Despite the struggles for Domonic Brown, the same scout mentioned earlier offered words of encouragement, “The tools are still there, though. There’s still hope.”