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 last week with Honorable Mention candidates. Monday we unveiled 50-41. Yesterday we showed you 40-31. Thursday is 20-11 and Friday is 10-1. Today we’re unveiling numbers 30 to 21.
30. Jimmy Cordero
Projected Relief Pitcher, Lehigh Valley IronPigs
Here’s a name you should remember for later in the season. Cordero, 24, acquired in the Ben Revere trade, is a heat-throwing reliever that conjures memories of Ken Giles (remember him?). Cordero can toss a 100 mph fastball (even a tick or two faster), and complements that with a superb slider. He still has command issues, but will work on those before he reaches Philadelphia. Cordero is the kind of homegrown reliever you always hope to develop.
29. John S. Middleton
When Andy MacPhail was introduced as president of the Phillies, it was Middleton sitting there and speaking out. When Matt Klentak was introduced as general manager, again, it was Middleton sitting there and speaking out. Middleton is now the voice of ownership, taking over for David Montgomery, who’s becoming much more silent as his career slows. If the Phillies don’t spend, or if they fail over time with drafting, scouting or developing, we will certainly blame the front office, but as usual it’ll ultimately be on ownership. That means Middleton.
28. Aaron Altherr
Outfielder, Philadelphia Phillies
Few fourth outfielder types earn a lock-down starting job after a late-season callup, but that’s exactly what Altherr has done thus far. He hit .241/.338/.489 with 20 extra-base hits in 161 plate appearances – plus above-average defense – in 2015. That’s good, and it allows him to get an extended tryout at an everyday corner outfield spot in 2016. But with Nick Williams and Roman Quinn waiting in the wings, and with Rule 5 pick Tyler Goeddel looking to get reps, there is pressure on the 25-year-old Altherr to perform well.
27. Cornelius Randolph
Projected Outfielder, Lakewood Blueclaws
Only 18, Randolph is a potential jewel in the farm system. The first-round pick of the Phils last year, Randolph has an advanced left-handed bat with above-average contact ability and projectable power. The Phils immediately stuck him in left field, which is where he will stay, so allow him to develop the bat over anything else. In 2016 he’ll see better pitching, but chances are strong he’ll prove a quick adaptor (he has good plate discipline). If his power comes along, watch out. Randolph could move up the chain quickly, reaching Philly by even 2018 if he’s that good.
26. Lee McDaniel
Director of Minor League Operations
For many youngsters in the Phillies farm system, McDaniel is an important voice. He oversees the operations for all of the affiliates and academies, dealing with budgets, facilities, equipment and placements. He supports Director of Player Development Joe Jordan in a number of ways, including when making promotion and demotion decisions. This year McDaniel is overseeing the Phils’ best farm system in ages – never have his decisions been so crucial to long-term success.
25. Jerad Eickhoff
Starting Pitcher, Philadelphia Phillies
Acquired from Texas in the Cole Hamels trade, Eickhoff was originally thought to be a usable back-end rotation piece. But after the 25-year-old made just eight starts in 2015, fans and experts are already looking at Eickhoff as something much more valuable. His numbers in those starts – 51 IP, 2.65 ERA, 3.25 FIP, 49 K, 13 BB. As of right now we can only surmise Eickhoff still resides in that fourth-starter range, but a performance in 2016 that mirrors his major league debut will go a long way toward securing Eickhoff a bright future in Philadelphia.
24. Nick Williams
Projected Outfielder, Lehigh Valley IronPigs
Another piece in the Hamels trade, Williams immediately showed his offensive prowess upon landing in Reading (.320/.340/.536). He strikes out more than necessary (20 percent strikeout rate in Reading) but has ample power potential, good speed and – most importantly – above-average defensive capabilities, as he profiles as a centerfielder as much as he profiles as a corner outfielder. This is huge, and allows Williams to be an everyday player regardless of how well his bat develops. Chances are, however, that the bat is good enough to make Williams a strong piece of the Phils’ future. He could be at Citizens Bank Park by June.
23. Mike Compton
Minor League On-Field Coordinator
The long-time minor league coordinator, and a former Phillies catcher (1970), Compton is one of those senior-level long-time Phils with a lot of pull. He’s a lot like McDaniel, above, but works more with player development, closely supporting Jordan in decision making. And as a former catcher his opinion will prove valuable in 2016, a crucial year in regards to the backstop position.
22. Scott Proefrock
Assistant General Manager
Proefrock has been with the Phillies since after the 2008 season, so he’s seen good times, the worst of times, and has plenty of experience with the media and fans. That makes him a valuable advisor for MacPhail, Klentak and Ned Rice, all newcomers to Philadelphia and the machinations of the Phillies franchise. It’s hard to say exactly what Proefrock does in relation to Rice, the other assistant general manager (sometimes – for example – one assistant is more focused on scouting, while another does operations). That said, Proefrock knows a lot about all levels of the system and has the experience necessary to help Klentak and MacPhail make the smartest moves they can make. His influence is very valuable in 2016.
21. Ned Rice
Assistant General Manager
You can swap Proefrock and Rice if you’d like, but the argument for Rice is that he’s a newcomer, an outsider to the Phillies who can bring a new set of opinions and experiences to the fray. And if you need to know what Rice will mean to the Phils, his name was brought up at Citizens Bank Park well before he was hired. “I used to make poor Ned Rice in Baltimore come up and explain everything to me. I would say, ‘What about this nonsense?’ And he would explain to me that I was old and dumb and needed to understand these things.” Those were MacPhail’s words on the day he was introduced as team president. Rice will be a valuable younger voice who looks at the game with a slightly different lens than past evaluators. He’s an important part of the franchise sea change.