The 2019 Major League Baseball season will get under way next Thursday- not counting the Japan series – with the Philadelphia Phillies hosting the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park. The 2019 Minor League Baseball season will follow a week later, and there are plenty of Phillies prospects about whom fans should be excited.
Cutting such a list to five is not easy. There are a number of intriguing players in the system. We’ll be revealing our updated Phillies Nation Top 20 prospects list in the coming week. Whether it’s because they enjoyed a big year in 2018, or suffered through a disappointing one, or because they are looked at as a break-out candidate in the coming season, there are a plethora of names to pick from.
1. Alec Bohm
Am I taking the easy way out by including the organization’s top prospect? Not really, considering Bohm has more to prove than he has to lose. The Phillies top pick in last year’s draft was held to only 40 games because of a shin injury. The now 22-year-old hit .393 in seven games with the Gulf Coast League Phillies, but the injury combined with stiffer competition resulted in a .224 batting average with no home runs in 29 games with short-season Williamsport.
Bohm has an excellent bat, making lots of contact with at least slightly above average power. He also has exhibited solid discipline at the plate. His defense at third base is still in question, cut the Phillies believe he can remain at the hot corner..
Bohm will probably be sent to Low-A Lakewood to start the year. The club would probably want to see him push his way to Double-A Reading by season’s end. Bohm will have to hit, and hit a ton. His bat will be what gets him to the big-leagues. His ceiling would likely be as the Phillies number-five hitter in the lineup, behind Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins. 2019 will be a big year for Bohm, who needs to both produce and stay healthy.
2. Luis Garcia
No, not the relief pitcher Garcia. The “new” Luis Garcia is a shortstop who tore up the Gulf Coast League last season as a 17-year-old. Garcia hit .369 with 12 steals and 33 runs scored in 43 games. He’s fast, plays good defense, and can hit. The only question is, can he do it against better competition?
The Phillies will no doubt take their time with Garcia as he develops one level at a time. They have Jean Segura under control for four seasons, so there’s no rush. Right now, the switch-hitting Garcia looks like a potential top-of-the-order talent capable of producing runs with his speed while playing above average defense.
There is a lot of development remaining for Garcia, but 2019 will be a big year as he faces tougher competition in either Williamsport or Lakewood. Garcia has one of the highest ceilings of any hitting prospect in the system, but he has a long way to go before taking the field at Citizens Bank Park.
The 2016 first overall MLB Draft pick has been disappointing from an offensive standpoint since entering the system. After hitting .284 in rookie ball in 2016, Moniak slashed .236/.284/.341 in Low-A in 2017 and followed that up with .270/.304/.383 line in 2018.
Moniak seemed to really begin to figure it out last season when he hit .277 in July, .311 in August and .400 in September. He also produced 28 doubles and five homers over 114 games. The 20-year-old still needs to work on cutting down on his strikeouts. He whiffed 100 times while drawing just 22 walks.
Moniak will likely head to Double-A this season where he will be one of the youngest players at that level. Reading is famous as a hitting environment. Hoskins hit .281 with 38 homers and 116 RBI there in 2016. Scott Kingery hit .313 with 18 homers in just 69 games at Reading in the 2017 season.
FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading is a small ballpark where the ball carries well. That helps players build confidence. There are plenty of fireworks there, the offensive type, not just the Megablast firework shows after games.
Need a couple more reasons to still believe in Moniak? For one, he’s still not old enough to order an ice cold Stella at Citizens Bank Park. For another, he faced just one pitcher who was younger than him last season. The coming season will be a big year for Moniak.
Howard burst onto the scene in 2018 by showing off elite stuff. The 22-year-old struck out 147 batters over 112 innings and registered a 1.26 WHIP while surrendering just six home runs.
Howard will now head to High-A Clearwater where he would replace Adonis Medina as the top pitcher to begin the 2019 season. The Phillies would like to began fast-tracking both he and Medina as they look for future starting pitching options.
In 2019, we’ll see whether Howard can replicate last year’s over-powering results while further learning how to be a pitcher and not just a hard-thrower. He currently maxes out at 98 mph but needs to work on hitting his spots more consistently. This won’t be a make-or-break season for Howard, but his performance could go a long way in determing just what his long-term future role will be with the Phillies.
5. Kevin Gowdy
Phillies fans may have forgotten about Gowdy. The right-hander was the club’s second round pick in the 2016 MLB Draft and was given $3.6 million, which was way more than slot value, in order to persuade him to skip college and sign.
The Phillies remain very high on Gowdy even though he has only pitched in four games for the organization, all in 2016. He suffered an elbow injury in 2017 which resulted in Tommy John surgery. He also missed all of 2018 recovering from that surgery.
Gowdy was considered a top ten prospect for the Phillies at the time he was drafted, but he’s now gone two years without pitching competitively. Now 21-years-old, he will start his comeback. If all goes well, the Phillies can think about being more aggressive with him in the future. He had the makings of a mid-rotation starter before this injury. If he comes back strong, those projections would reappear. His biggest goal in 2019 will be to show that he is healthy and can still compete.
It should be an interesting and exciting year for the Phillies organization at both the Majors and Minors level. These players and the others we will be covering in our upcoming top prospects feature will provide fans much to look forward to in the 2019 season.
MORE MINOR LEAGUE NEWS FROM PHILLIES NATION:
- Phillies minor league affiliates will sport new looks for Copa de la Diversión
- Phillies trim spring roster by re-assigning players to minor league camp
- First spring training lineup for Phillies included a trio of “Who dat?” players
- Drew Anderson hopes to show that he can be more than an emergency arm
- Alec Bohm tops new MLB Pipeline top prospects list for Phillies organization
- State of the Phillies minor league system following the J.T. Realmuto trade
- Ready for a big-league opportunity, Cole Irvin is blocked for now
- Alec Bohm will try to prove in 2019 that he is the Phillies third baseman of the future