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.
20. SIXTO SANCHEZ / pitcher / Clearwater Threshers
With apologies to Aaron Nola, no pitching prospect has been as highly touted since Cole Hamels. Sixto Sanchez has a high-90s fastball that can hit 100. He has average breaking pitches with plus potential. He has plus command. He has poise. He’s just 19. If Sanchez has a great season in Clearwater (and then Reading, most likely), he could end the season as the top prospect in baseball. He’s been compared to Pedro Martinez. The expectations are absurdly high.
19. CESAR HERNANDEZ / second baseman / Philadelphia Phillies
We’ll have more on Hernandez today, but what you need to know is he’s very good. He could be traded, but if teams don’t value him, he’ll stay with the Phillies, who will figure out how to get him, Scott Kingery and J.P. Crawford in the same lineup. Maybe Maikel Franco joins them. Who knows. Hernandez right now is the best offensive player on the team. He’s also a valuable trade chip. He’s a lot of things, but what you need to know is he’s very good.
18. JOHN MALLEE / hitting coach / Philadelphia Phillies
Matt Stairs improved the Phillies’ patience in 2017 (.315 from .301). Mallee will need to improve on that, however, as league average was .321. He’ll have better tools in front of him (Carlos Santana, a full year of Rhys Hoskins and Crawford), but his goal is to get the best out of a bunch of guys we’re hoping can turn it around or show us more (Franco, Aaron Altherr, Nick Williams, Jorge Alfaro).
17. JERAD EICKHOFF / pitcher / Philadelphia Phillies
Eickhoff is valuable, and you want proof? Just see what happened when the guy went on the disabled list last week. Now the Phils are already dipping into the Lehigh Valley pool, likely giving Ben Lively the ball in Game 4 or 5. When he returns, Eickhoff will have to prove he belongs long-term.
16. RICK KRANITZ / pitching coach / Philadelphia Phillies
This one is easy. Kranitz now has the job of getting a full season of good pitching out of a whole bunch of guys. Luckily for him he gets to start with Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta.
15. AARON ALTHERR / outfielder / Philadelphia Phillies
If Altherr can reproduce that .272/.340/.516 line of last year over 600 plate appearances (and not 412), we have ourselves a very good player. Right now, though, Altherr remains a good part-timer who can’t stay on the field for an entire season. Things to watch: his .328 BABIP was a bit higher than expected, and his strikeout rate (25.2%) came down from 2016, and probably can come down a little more. Regression is possible here, which means the Phils won’t be satisfied.
14. ODUBEL HERRERA / outfielder / Philadelphia Phillies
The 26-year-old Herrera has been remarkably consistent since being thrust into the outfield in 2015. Yes he can stand to walk more, and he’s prone to slumps, but he makes good contact, uses his speed to win some battles, and has proven himself a remarkable find in center field. Also, he makes a few mental mistakes. But his steadiness is important to this team – while we hope Hoskins, Williams, Altherr, Franco, Crawford and Alfaro stay on the good side of league average, we can’t expect that yet. Herrera, along with Hernandez and Santana, are relatively sure things. Stay good, Odubel.
13. NICK WILLIAMS / outfielder / Philadelphia Phillies
Williams shows enormous power potential, and if you squint you can see a guy you can slot into the middle of the order for the next six years. But you have to squint. With our eyes wide open we see a guy who doesn’t walk enough and strikes out way too much without being Aaron Judge. He also isn’t great defensively, though he makes most of the plays. A breakout means big things for the Phils, but what we’re seeing right now looks more like a fourth outfielder, which won’t be valuable for much longer.
12. JORGE ALFARO / catcher / Philadelphia Phillies
I could just copy and paste the entire Nick Williams paragraph here and walk way. The only difference is that Alfaro catches, and when you catch you don’t need to be the best hitter. The most important thing is his growth behind the plate; if the pitchers love working with him, and he improves as a framer and game caller, the ridiculous strikeout percentage won’t be such a big deal. If Alfaro works, it’s going to be great.
11. JOHN MIDDLETON / managing partner
We’ve heard a lot from the guy we basically call the franchise’s owner. Middleton will spend to win, but he also apparently knows it takes time and smarts. All good. He wanted an upgrade on the mound, and he got it with Arrieta. But it took time and smarts. Again, all good. We’re told that Middleton will do anything necessary to get this team another title, and hopefully that’s proven – if the Phils are a couple games up and a few out around the trade deadline, will he speak up about another upgrade? And what about this offseason? Will he wink at Bryce Harper or Manny Machado? Middleton could (and maybe should) be higher up in this list; as it stands, we’re likely to hear from him.