Who are the most important members of the Phillies organization heading into 2018? That’s the question we asked ourselves in creating the 2018 Phillies Value 50.
This is our third year of ranking the organization’s top 50 most valuable people, whether player, coach, executive, trainer or personality. Here was our top-10 in 2016:
1. Johnny Almaraz (director of amateur scouting)
2. Joe Jordan (director of player development)
3. Pete Mackanin
4. J.P. Crawford
5. Maikel Franco
6. Mike Ondo (director of pro scouting)
7. Matt Klentak
8. Andy MacPhail
9. Aaron Nola
10. Sal Agostinelli (director of international scouting)
1. Matt Klentak
2. Joe Jordan
3. Aaron Nola
4. Andy MacPhail
5. Pete Mackanin
6. John Middleton
7. Vince Velasquez
8. J.P. Crawford
9. Maikel Franco
10. Matt Stairs (hitting coach)
In 2016 the top-10 focused more on organizational directors whose job was to fill up and manage the farm system. Last year we saw a transition to the on-field product with Velasquez entering the top-10 and Stairs being highlighted. This year? Let’s find out.
10. SCOTT KINGERY / second baseman / Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs
There is considerable expectation surrounding Kingery, who should be part of the Phillies’ 25-man roster by midseason at the latest. He’s fast, he plays great defense, he can hit for contact and has emerging power. Some have compared him to another second baseman who recently played in Philadelphia, a certain guy who’s probably one of the top 10 second basemen to ever play baseball. So again, expectation. If he’s a positive major league contributor in 2018, that’s a hell of feather in the Phils’ cap. Regardless, his development is quite important for the future of the club.
9. CARLOS SANTANA / first baseman / Philadelphia Phillies
When the Phillies signed Santana to a three-year, $60 pact in December, we were all taken aback. But the Phils targeted Santana because of his plate discipline, his consistency, his veteran leadership and his experience. They wanted him, and badly. There’s a reason – if he does his thing, watch this lineup possibly come together around him. It may be a perfect fit.
8. VINCE VELASQUEZ / pitcher / Philadelphia Phillies
Oh, Vinny. He’s valuable because we saw him absolutely dominate the San Diego Padres in April 2016, among other smaller performances. We know he’s capable of great things, but can he put it together for a full season? Can he emerge as a steady force in a slowly improving rotation? We really want this to happen.
7. ANDY MACPHAIL / president of baseball operations
It’s his direction we’re following, with Matt Klentak making the decisions that align with that direction. MacPhail didn’t want a “unicorn” free agent, so he and Klentak waited out Jake Arrieta until his price became very un-unicorn-like. MacPhail stresses patience, so we’re waiting and watching and knowing that, possibly by the trade deadline, we’ll see the Phillies really flex their muscles like the large-market team they’re supposed to be. It’s Andy MacPhail’s world – we’re just living in it.
6. JAKE ARRIETA / pitcher / Philadelphia Phillies
A last-second addition to the list, Arrieta suddenly becomes the team’s most important free agent acquisition since Cliff Lee. He likely improves a rotation that direly needed help. He’s a playoff starter, which is crucial, because some folks think this team is capable of at least a wild card game. As we enter the next phase of this building process, Arrieta moves into the luxury digs. Here’s hoping we build smartly above him.
5. MATT KLENTAK / general manager
Last year’s most valuable member of the organization, Klentak moves down a few notches, and only because the on-field product has suddenly become pretty important. Klentak could make a big move at the deadline. He could also make an enormous move or two in the offseason. But this winter he showed to be one part direct, one part devious. He got the guys he wanted, and for his price. That didn’t quite work out for Ruben Amaro Jr. … we’ll see if that works out for him.
4. J.P. CRAWFORD / shortstop / Philadelphia Phillies
Long the most valuable prospect in the system, Crawford will finally get everyday, full-season time in Philadelphia. We’re excited to see him develop. It’s not essential that he grows into the best J.P. Crawford possible yet, but here’s hoping we see some great defense, heady play, a bunch of walks, and maybe a couple big hits. He’s certainly capable.
3. RHYS HOSKINS / outfielder / Philadelphia Phillies
Last year Hoskins vaulted into the center of our plans. His power and patience couldn’t be denied as he climbed out of Lehigh Valley and made a statement in Philadelphia, breaking records while putting on a nightly carnival show. Now he’ll be asked to get big hits. Now he’ll be the guy we hope on to hit the bomb that breaks the game open. Now there’s some pressure on Hoskins. Good luck, man.
2. GABE KAPLER / manager
The vote between No. 1 and No. 2 was extremely close. Kapler arguably is most valuable in 2018 simply because he’s bringing a type we’ve never seen before to the Phillies. Kapler talks like he’s on stage at the 92nd Street Y. He looks like he just stepped from Madame Tussaud’s. And we can’t help but be intrigued by his ideas, driven by data and softened with communication. He’s switching outfielders. He’s batting the pitcher eighth. He’s shuffling lineups. He’s taking smartphone videos of everything. This isn’t all that crazy, but it is new here. How will the team respond in June? In August? It’s a long season – we’re interested to see how it goes.
1. AARON NOLA / pitcher / Philadelphia Phillies
For the first time ever, a player leads our Value 50. This makes sense – Nola has emerged as the top player of this building process. He’s not as instantly flashy as a Syndegaard, and he didn’t have the prospect clout of a Strasburg, but slowly Nola has turned into an ace. If he stays healthy and pitches like we know he can, the guy can absolutely win the Cy Young. He’s that good.
Ace pitchers don’t win championships – you need a whole lot of talent around them. But the Phillies are finally at a place where there may be enough talent; the problem is not all of the talent has crystallized. We still don’t know about Velasquez and Pivetta, about Williams and Alfaro, about Crawford and Hoskins. But if they don’t all work, there’s plenty the front office can do. But if they do all work … hell, we could be writing something very different by this time next year.
But Nola is in place. He’s an ace, I believe that. He’s valuable for every reason – trade value, on-field value, off-field value, value in regards to the club’s plans. He’s our guy. Nola Day has arrived.