When the hot stove fails to light up, one thing that baseball fans can count on to keep them occupied every offseason are publications ranking top prospects. Baseball Prospectus is one of said publications, and just recently it published its annual list of the top-101 prospects in baseball.
According to BP, the Phillies have plenty to look forward to in their future, as seven of the team’s minor leaguers made the list. The players ranked are:
- Sixto Sanchez (13)
- J.P. Crawford (14)
- Scott Kingery (31)
- Jorge Alfaro (36)
- Adonis Medina (46)
- Franklyn Kilome (68)
- Arquimedes Gamboa (92)
It’s not much of a surprise to see Sixto Sanchez as the Phils’ highest-ranked prospect, as he’s had that honor with both MLB.com and FanGraphs’ rankings. Having already developed several pitches in three years of professional baseball and able to mix up speeds effectively to keep batters off guard, Sanchez has earned his spot as one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball. While it’s doubtful that we’ll see him before 2019, given that he’s only likely to get to Reading this year, the thought of having another potential ace alongside Aaron Nola remains enticing enough to make the wait (hopefully) worth it.
Though J.P. Crawford did get some playing time with the big club last season, his September callup ensured that he wouldn’t have enough at-bats to qualify as a rookie, leaving that until 2018. Unlike Sanchez, Crawford looks to be a regular starter next year, as the Phillies already traded away Freddy Galvis to open up the shortstop gig. He’ll have a prime opportunity to prove himself in 2018, as we’ll finally get a real chance to see if he can live up to being the Phils’ first overall pick from 2013.
Scott Kingery is another prospect who has been consistently been ranked high overall, and for good reason. Splitting his time between double-A and triple-A last year, Kingery overall managed to post a .304 average, a .359 OBP, score 103 runs and hit 26 home runs, shattering his career high. With nowhere for Kingery to go but the big club, a big story this season will be whether or not the Phils deal Cesar Hernandez. He’s been a solid second baseman for the Phils during his career, but will some team out there give back fair value?
Crawford won’t be the only callup from last season to be going into his official rookie year, as the same qualifications will be applied to catcher Jorge Alfaro. After getting a longer callup in 2017 than he did the previous season (though still not enough to get the 130 at-bats or 45 days needed for an official rookie season), Alfaro showed that he could hit for average and power while also providing a solid presence behind the plate. Unlike Crawford, however, a starting position isn’t a complete lock, as Cameron Rupp and Andrew Knapp are also candidates to catch for the Phils. Given that there’s still plenty of unfulfilled promise, Alfaro would seem to be the early favorite, but it’ll be worth keeping an eye on that race in spring training to see who becomes the official starter at the start of the season.
After four years in the low minors, Adonis Medina looks like he may be ready for a proper breakout in 2018. The righty struck out 133 in 119.2 innings of work, nearly quadrupling his previous career high of 35, along with a solid 3.01 ERA. Like Sanchez, we’re unlikely to see Medina with the Phillies anytime soon, but if he can continue to capitalize on all of those missed bats from 2017, we could very well see him continue to rise in the farm system.
The upcoming season will certainly prove to be decisive for righty Franklyn Kilome, who remains on the 40-man roster despite not yet making it to triple-A. While he may be headed to the IronPigs soon enough, the Phillies will likely want to see Kilome improve his strikeout-to-walk ratio, which was 103:52 in 127 innings last year. Despite some potential control issues, he did also post a 2.83 ERA between Clearwater and Reading in 2017, which shows plenty of promise. If he can improve that aspect of his game, he could very well make the next big step this season toward his major league debut.
Rounding out the list is shortstop Arquimedes Gamboa who, even after three seasons in the Phillies’ system, won’t be old enough to legally drink until September. Gamboa was first signed out of Venezuela as an international free agent in 2014, as he was one of the top infield prospects on that market at the time. Though the 20-year-old has yet to post a true breakout season, he’s certainly still young enough to put something together in the near future. He has managed to improve his offensive numbers slowly but surely over the course of his professional career (.261/.328/.378 in 2017), so the Phillies will certainly be hopeful that he can continue that course in his next single-A season.
While the Phillies clearly have a lot of talent stored in their farm system, it’s also worth noting that they aren’t the only stacked team in the NL East. The Braves also had seven of their prospects make the BP list, including Ronald Acuna, who took the top spot. The Nationals and Marlins also had five of their minor leaguers make the cut, with the Nats’ Victor Robles taking the second overall spot. It just serves as a reminder that it’ll take more than just a handful of highly touted prospects to succeed in this division, and 2018 will be another indicator of whether or not these players will be enough to carry this team in the future.