2016 Power Poll

2016 Phillies Power Poll: 20-11

OdubelWho 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 last week with Honorable Mention candidates. Monday we unveiled 50-41. Tuesday we showed you 40-31. Yesterday we brought you 30-21. Friday is the top-10. Today we’re unveiling numbers 20-11.

20. Steve Henderson
Hitting Coach, Philadelphia Phillies
Henderson, who became hitting coach back in October 2012, has pretty impressively hung on from the end of the Charlie Manuel era, through the entire Ryne Sandberg era and now, into the Pete Mackanin era. It’s even more impressive considering the Phils offense has flat stunk since October 2012 (.690 OPS in 2013, .665 OPS in 2014, .684 OPS in 2015). Of course, the Phils since then we’re expected to be that good, so one can excuse Henderson for this shabby performance. But more pressure will undoubtedly be on Henderson this season, as the team completes the transition from one era to the next. Development should be seen in a number of offensive areas.

19. Vincent Velasquez
Projected Starting Pitcher, Lehigh Valley IronPigs
The Phillies have a potential mid-rotation starter or late-innings reliever in Velasquez, who shows a plus fastball and changeup, and working curve. He performed admirably for the 2015 Astros, putting up a 4.37 ERA with 58 strikeouts and 21 walks over 55 innings. The walks are the issue, of course. He has great strikeout stuff, but if he doesn’t show better control, Velasquez will be looked more as a back-end starter or mid-late-level reliever. As he should see substantial mound time in Philadelphia, 2016 will go a long way to showing what he may become.

18. Scott Freedman
Director of Baseball Operations
Should we pop champagne for the man who stuck it out, who went from being the most ridiculed analytics guy in baseball to now being baseball operations head of a team finally progressing its evaluation techniques? Freedman was brought to Philly as, to the outside world, the lone analytics voice in a room of “this is how it’s always been done” people. And it sure seemed that way, as the Phils demonstrated both on the field and in the front office an inability to correctly value talent in comparison to forward-thinking teams. Freedman now gets to help Matt Klentak and Co. run a front office that highly values analytics and runs its own proprietary information system, called PHIL. The dog days are indeed over for Freedman.

17. Mark Appel
Projected Starting Pitcher, Lehigh Valley IronPigs
The sexy name in the Ken Giles trade – as he’s a former first-overall draft selection – Appel is seemingly an enigma wrapped in a riddle coated in a salted caramel layer of mystery. He didn’t pitch well in 2014 for the Astros’ single-A Lancaster club, but fared better for double-A Corpus Christi and in the Arizona Fall League. Then in 2015 he was passable for Corpus Christi and triple-A Fresno, but nothing jumped out. Appel has great stuff, but he hasn’t yet translated it to huge success. Maybe it’s a head thing? Maybe it’s more focus on the art of pitching? Maybe we’re overthinking it. Anyway, Appel could be the ace the Phillies may otherwise be looking for in three years. If he puts it together, he’s a major part of the future.

16. Jake Thompson
Projected Starting Pitcher, Lehigh Valley IronPigs
As one of the Phillies’ top pitching prospects, Thompson’s development will be key for the future of this young starting rotation. While he’s not projected to become an ace, his ceiling could be a reliable No. 2 workhorse, which isn’t too shabby. Under Klentak’s leadership, the Phillies have put an emphasis on starting pitching. If Thompson – acquired by Ruben Amaro Jr. in the Cole Hamels trade – can develop into a reliable No. 2 or 3 starter behind whomever the ace is, the starting rotation will be in good shape. – Ryan Gerstel

15. Odubel Herrera
Centerfielder, Philadelphia Phillies
If there’s one thing the Phillies do extremely well, it’s unearth versatile outfielders with speed, decent contact ability and power potential in the Rule 5 draft. Herrera, who impressed everyone in 2015, reminds one of our old buddy Shane Victorino, just with a slightly better contact tool and slightly worse speed tool. In 2015 he hit .297/.344/.418 with eight home runs and 16 steals. He can slam the ball deep into the seats and bang out doubles like they’re going out of style. But even though he was a pleasant surprise in 2015, Herrera faces more obstacles in 2016, including the potential for some regression and a stacked corps of centerfield candidates in the system (led by Roman Quinn and Nick Williams).

14. Andy Galdi
Director of Baseball Research and Development
Almost a year ago the Phillies were ranked DEAD LAST among all professional sports teams in use of analytics. During the offseason, however, the organization brought in a former Google employee to oversee its analytics department. Yes, the Phillies’ relationship with sabermetrics has come a long way. As a primary advisor of Klentak and a key cog in the front office, and as the first ever director of baseball research and development (which means the possibilities of this position are vast), there’s no doubt that Galdi will have a heavy hand in building the Phillies for long-term success. – Ryan Gerstel

13. Bob McClure
Pitching Coach, Philadelphia Phillies
Think about the young players McClure will likely be working with in 2016 – Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Brett Oberholtzer, Appel, Velasquez, Thompson, Zach Eflin, Ben Lively, Alec Asher, Adam Morgan, Jimmy Cordero, Luis Garcia, Elvis Araujo, Hector Neris, Edubray Ramos. There’s plenty of talent there, and plenty of teaching opportunities for kids who could compose much of the Phils’ pitching corps for the next five years. McClure has a big job ahead of him for a team that’s suddenly valuing young pitching more than anything else.

12. Jorge Alfaro
Projected Catcher, Reading Fightin’ Phils
Perhaps no prospect could make a bigger difference for the Phillies. Alfaro, at age 22, is a potential all-around stud at catcher. He possesses outstanding defensive skill and a pure, clean stroke at the plate. In 2015, for double-A Frisco (Rangers), he hit .253/.314/.432 with 22 extra-base hits in 2017 plate appearances. He looks good, and the numbers are close to backing that up, but what stops everyone cold is a lack of feel for the game, which if you value intangibles is especially important for a catcher. Alfaro could become an above-average first baseman or outfielder – he has the defensive skill to do that – but as a catcher, he could be exceptional. This year means almost everything for Alfaro, who may start in Reading since fellow catching prospect Andrew Knapp needs regular starts. A good season means he could be getting the opening day start in 2017.

11. Joe Rauch
Minor League Athletic Training & Rehabilitation Coordinator
Here’s a job that’s now immensely important because so much of the Phils’ future stock is stored in the minor leagues. Preparing prospects for the daily grind of a 162-game baseball season is paramount for Rauch, as well as getting those prospects back on the field at 100 percent. The last thing any fan wants is a prospect to come down with a career-threatening injury. Rauch is there to help prevent that as much as possible. Keep the kids healthy and the future has that much more potential.

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