Season Preview

Season Preview 2017: High hopes on the farm

The jury may still be out on how successful the 2017 Phillies will be, but there is no doubt about the farm system … at every level. Last season, the Phils’ farm teams were tops in baseball with a combined winning percentage of .595. This year is set to be no different, especially considering top prospects like J.P. Crawford and Nick Williams will be starting the season in Lehigh Valley.

The big-league club may be tough to watch at times but one thing’s for certain: the kids will be fun.

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Lehigh Valley

With top prospects at nearly every position, the IronPigs’ 10th season is shaping up to be their best yet. There’s no doubt that all eyes will be on Lehigh Valley, especially on players like Crawford, Williams and catcher Jorge Alfaro as their performance determines when – or if – they will be called up. Crawford struggled when he made the jump to triple-A last year, so the first few months will be critical for him to prove he can live up to expectations.

First baseman Rhys Hoskins and outfielder Dylan Cozens, who hit a combined 78 home runs last season in Reading, will look to continue those numbers at the next level. As if hitters 1-8 weren’t enough to get you excited, the Pigs’ starting rotation is stacked. Jake Thompson and Nick Pivetta will be at the front with Ben Lively, Mark Appel and Zach Eflin rounding it out. Depending on performance and injuries up in Philly, any one of these pitchers could see substantial playing time in the big leagues this season.

The success of the IronPigs will determine how close the Phillies are to competing again. The pressure is on.

Reading

It’s always a good time in Baseballtown, and this season will not be any different. Second basemen Scott Kingery made some headlines this spring after an impressive stint in Clearwater. He spent a couple weeks in Reading last season, and he’ll start the season there as he hopes to remain on the fast track to Philly.

Pitchers Elniery Garcia and Drew Anderson will likely move up to Reading after impressive seasons last year with Clearwater. Anderson turned some heads this spring, when he struck out seven in seven innings.

With top prospects having made the jump to triple-A, Reading isn’t as stocked as last season but will be the team to watch for any breakthroughs. Keep your eye on hard-throwing relief pitcher Victor Arano and shortstop Malquin Canelo.

Clearwater

The Clearwater Threshers are caught in the middle. The brimming major leaguers will be spending their summers up north while the 2020 Phillies aren’t quite ready to make the next step.

That being said, the Phils’ front office has done a nice job to ensure there’s major league potential at every level. The Phils’ fifth-ranked prospect Franklyn Kilome will likely start his second full season in Clearwater. The righthanded starter struggled a bit in Lakewood last season but was able to make the necessary adjustments and gained confidence in his stuff, particularly his breaking ball.

Lakewood

The struggles at the major-league level the past few seasons has resulted in high draft picks and some special talent in Lakewood. Leading the pack is 2016 No. 1 overall pick Mickey Moniak. At just 18 years old, he will start his first full season with the Threshers and look to put his newly added strength to the test.

Not too far behind is second basemen Daniel Brito, who has the possibility of being the Phils’ best pure hitting prospect if he continues to progress, according to MLB.com. Pitchers Sixto Sanchez and Adonis Medina, who were ranked the seventh and 16th best prospects in the organization, will also start the season in Lakewood.

Right now, the Phils have the flexibility to sit back and see how these players develop. The likelihood of all of these players panning out are slim, but there is no doubt the future is bright.

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