Who are the most important members of the Phillies organization heading into 2016? That’s the question we asked ourselves in creating the 2016 Phillies Power Poll.
Here’s the gist: Rank the 50 people most important to the success of the Phillies as an organization going into the season. They can be executives and administrators, coaches, players, prospects, entertainers or broadcasters. All parts of the organization are fair game. We at Phillies Nation individually ranked entrants, and averaging the ranks together – along with light tinkering – we settled on this list.
We started the 2016 Phillies Power Poll Thursday with Honorable Mention candidates. Tuesday we’ll do 40-31, Wednesday is 30-21, Thursday is 20-11 and Friday is 10-1. Today we’re unveiling numbers 50 to 41.
50. Ryan Howard
First Baseman, Philadelphia Phillies
How ironic that a man whose very swing once powered a couple million Phillies fans during warm summer nights is now leading off this list as someone whose best days are now far away. Once a surefire 40-home-run threat and no-doubt cleanup hitter, Howard exists today as the final domino that, to many, must fall before a new era of Phillies baseball begins. His power is merely cosmetic now, good for a couple tight games on the field. But his heavy contract ($25 million this year, a $10 million buyout looming next year) and uncomfortable presence (dig that tense press conference last week) leave him with little opportunity to gloriously – heck, even quietly – end his career in Philadelphia.
49. Cesar Hernandez
Second Baseman, Philadelphia Phillies
There are two possibilities for Hernandez, who over 708 career plate appearances is hitting .269/.331/.333 with little defensive flexibility.The first possibility is he plays above his career averages, remains a decent second baseman and, in turn, remains a starter into 2017. The second is that he remains a sub-average player and is phased out by Freddy Galvis (or Scott Kingery or someone else altogether). The pressure is on Hernandez this year to prove himself a valuable regular for a future contender.
48. Pat Gillick
Senior Advisor, Baseball Operations
Last year Gillick was team president, providing a bridge between David Montgomery and Andy MacPhail. Now, as senior advisor, he’s providing insight on a number of developmental aspects. Most important: the first pick in the 2016 First-Year Player Draft. Currently Gillick is following A.J. Puk, the University of Florida pitcher the Phillies are scouting as the potential first overall pick. Make no mistake that Gillick still wields some power, and his opinion will be heard.
47. Darin Ruf
First Baseman, Philadelphia Phillies
Ruf will celebrate his 30th birthday on July 28, yet some Phillies fans will still see him as an underrated 25-year-old slugger who just needs a shot. The truth is Ruf is probably a little underrated and deserves more of a chance, considering he’s only accrued 744 plate appearances (hitting .245/.323/.445) in his career. But can he be an everyday player? He’ll get one last chance to prove it in 2016.
46. Charlie Morton
Starting Pitcher, Philadelphia Phillies
It didn’t work last year with Aaron Harang and Chad Billingsley, but there’s reason to believe Morton will give the Phillies enough value in 2016 to be flipped for value in July or August. Morton, 32, has a 3.94 ERA with 307 strikeouts and 134 walks over the last three seasons with Pittsburgh. He’s also somewhat durable, handing in 20 or more starts in each of those last three seasons. With a decent showing, the groundball specialist will be worth a young reliever or bench bat for the 2017-18 Phils.
45. Scott Kingery
Projected Second Baseman, Clearwater Threshers
The Phillies’ second-round pick in the 2015 First-Year Player Draft, Kingery is currently the likeliest candidate to start at second base for the 2018 Phillies. Last season with Lakewood (282 plate appearances) Kingery put together a .250/.314/.337 performance. He shows a plus contact tool with good defense at second. Turning 22 in April, Kingery will be on a faster track than most; he’ll start the season in Clearwater but could end it in Reading with a solid showing.
44. Carlos Ruiz
Catcher, Philadelphia Phillies
These could be the final days in Philadelphia for Ruiz, one of the franchise’s all-time best backstops, a man who’s caught four no-hitters (including a perfect game) and 46 postseason games. We hope that his on-field production bears fruit, but more important will be his leadership. Starting in Clearwater, he’s working with the younger Cameron Rupp – who hopes to improve into an everyday catcher – Andrew Knapp – who has the offensive tools necessary to make the leap – and Jorge Alfaro – arguably the best all-around catching prospect in baseball. Ruiz’s teaching skills will be put to good use this year; he has a small hand in shaping the future of Phillies baseball behind the plate.
43. Franklyn Kilome
Projected Starting Pitcher, Lakewood Blueclaws
A tall and wiry 20-year-old, Kilome has awesome stuff, a relatively basic delivery and a smart approach on the mound. His fastball can reach the upper 90s, his curveball is turning into an out pitch, and his changeup is a work in progress. He’s the pitcher in the Phils system with the highest reward, but with that comes substantial risk: he’s only getting to Lakewood. A strong 2016 in Lakewood (and likely Clearwater) will push Kilome into the spotlight for 2017. He can really do a lot for his career in one year.
42. David Montgomery
One cannot diminish the impact Montgomery has had on Philadelphia sports. Since buying the Phillies with Bill Giles in 1981, the Phils transitioned from one winning era to another, in between solidifying the franchise brand and opening Citizens Bank Park. The William Penn Charter and University of Pennsylvania grad doesn’t have the same influence he once enjoyed, as John Middleton has recently positioned himself as the ownership face of the franchise. But Montgomery’s impact is still being felt today, part of a legacy that has carried on for generations in South Philadelphia.
41. Adam Morgan
Projected Starting Pitcher, Lehigh Valley IronPigs
A 4.48 ERA in an 84-inning sample last season isn’t quite enough to deem Morgan a major-league starter or a fringe minor-league talent, so 2016 will go a long way in deciding that. At age 26, and with a substantial number of starting pitching prospects competing with him this season, Morgan is nearing make-or-break time. If he can keep good command while improving strikeout rates, he’ll have a shot.