With the Philadelphia Phillies off to a hot start, their minor league affiliate teams are now set to begin action on Thursday.
With three of these teams located within relatively easy driving distance in Allentown (PA), Reading (PA) and Lakewood (NJ) there are great chances for fans from the Philly area to get a look while enjoying the incredible Minor League Baseball environment.
There are a number of interesting players for those fans to keep an eye on, so let’s dig into it.
LEHIGH VALLEY IRONPIGS (AAA)
Manager: Gary Jones 2018 record: 84-56
Notable Prospects (with ranking)
The Ironpigs were a very successful team last year and that should once again be the case in Allentown during the 2019 season. They will go with a six-man starting pitching rotation featuring De Los Santos, Romero, Suarez, Irvin, Jerad Eickhoff and Drew Anderson. The Pigs also posses a filthy bullpen with Garcia, Victor Arano, James Pazos and Yacksel Rios.
Each of those pitchers has a realistic chance to see time in the Majors this season, as we all know that injuries are inevitable for the big club. Anderson was especially impressive down in the Grapefruit League last month. Irvin was our IronPigs Player of the Year last season while Reyes was our 2018 Player of the Year at Reading. This kind of ready talent shows how deep the Phillies are from a pitching standpoint.
From an offensive standpoint, Lehigh Valley should get lots of power from Cozens and Grullon, while both Lane Adams and Phil Gosselin will try to produce and show they are ready for any possible promotion to Philadelphia in case of injuries. This should prove to be a strong pitching team. My main concern is the offense, which could get some reinforcements from below over the course of the summer.
READING FIGHTIN’ PHILS (AA)
Manager: Shawn Williams 2018 record: 64-73
The Fightins will also go with a six-man starting pitching rotation, which will include Medina, Llovera, Parkinson, Seabold, Bailey Falter and Ramon Rosso. Add in some solid bull pen arms and this staff is really talented.
On the offensive side, the starting outfield will consist of three recent Phillies first round draft picks in Haseley, Moniak and Randolph. Haseley shined in the Grapefruit League with the Phillies despite underwhelming numbers and seems destined for Lehigh Valley by June. Moniak, who improved immensely over the second half a year ago, will try to show why he was the first overall pick in 2016. Add in Listi and Hall, this team will score. It will be interesting to see where Pujols, our pick as last year’s Clearwater Player of the Year, ends up fitting in.
Reading is probably the most talented Phillies minor league affiilate as we open the year. With the likes of Medina, Haseley, and Moniak in the fold, there’s plenty of good reasons to pay close attention to this squad. The ballpark in Reading is beautiful and it’s not that long a drive. Phillies fans might enjoy a day trip to catch some of these rising stars.
CLEARWATER THRESHERS (High-A)
Manager: Marty Malloy 2018 record: 77-60
The Threshers have Howard in their rotation, who many scouts and others in the organization are high on, but after him the club is not very deep in the pitching department. Warren, our pick as the Lakewood Player of the Year last season, moves up to Clearwater for 2019.
The offense should be interesting with plenty of “toolsy” types in Muzziotti, Maton and Vierling. They may eventually get some help from top prospect Alec Bohm, but I like this lineup even without him.
LAKEWOOD BLUECLAWS (Low-A)
Manager: Mike Micucci 2018 record: 87-51
This club continues the trend found in many of the Phillies minor league squads by having a loaded starting pitching rotation. As you expect to find at this level, the group is very young. But it is also extremely talented and I’m quite interested to see how these guys develop.
The infield for this club is loaded as well with Bohm, Garcia, and Stobbe. Last year’s top draft pick, Bohm definitely has a lot to prove now that he has become the organization’s top prospect. Drafted for his bat, a key to his future will be whether he can stay at third base. Marchan could be the catcher of the future, so keep tabs on him this year.
Keep an eye on both 21-year-old pitcher Gowdy, bouncing back from August 2017 Tommy John surgery, and 22-year-old outfielder Yerwin Trejo who hit .301 last year. I’ll be keeping a really close eye on this squad, as a handful of their players can be found below in my listing of five Phillies prospects to keep an eye in the 2019 season.
WILLIAMSPORT CROSSCUTTERS (Short Season)
Manager: Pat Borders 2018 record: 32-44
The vast majority of this roster won’t be announced until after the 2019 MLB Amateur Draft- which is when their season will begin. The Phillies are high on Silva, and Bennett had a nice season last year as the closer with a 2.08 ERA and six saves between rookie ball and Williamsport.
Lancaster was a power-hitting shortstop drafted out of college last season, but he struggled here in Williamsport last year during his first pro summer, hitting for just a .195 average. Pelletier hit .277 with nine home runs last season and was our Williamsport Player of the Year. We’ll learn more about this club later in the season.
The 2019 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft gets underway on June 3 with the Phillies holding the 14th overall pick in the first round. They will certainly take the best available player, but an advanced collegiate left-handed starting pitcher would be the best-case scenario.
MLB Pipeline has ranked the top 50 draft prospects and lists a few college pitchers in the 10-20 range. So, if the “Big Board” is accurate and this is indeed the direction in which the organization chooses to go, that should work in the Phillies favor. Arms to watch include Graeme Stinson of Duke, Zack Thompson of Kentucky, Nick Lodolo of Texas Christian, and Erik Miller of Stanford.
Among the other names that I like and that you should watch for include Mississippi high school outfielder Jerrion Ealy, who could be a Kyler Murray 2.0 version. Spencer Jones is a California high schooler who pitches and swings a big bat as a first baseman. A college position player who I like would be Texas A&M shortstop Braden Shewmake.
The “Big Board” will definitely change before June and you can stay tuned here at Phillies Nation for me to begin releasing mock drafts in May. We’ll also be updating our Philadelphia Phillies top 20 prospects rankings later this week as we open another summer keeping fans informed as to all the important happenings with the club’s minor league affiliates.
MORE PHILLIES NATION PROSPECT NEWS:
- Five prospects who Phillies fans should keep an eye on in 2019
- Phillies minor league affiliates to sport new looks for Copa de la Diversión
- Drew Anderson hoping to show that he can be more than just an emergency option
- Alec Bohm tops MLB Pipeline new ranking of Phillies top prospects
- State of the Phillies minor league pitching after giving up Sixto Sanchez in Realmuto deal
- Ready for his big-league opportunity, Cole Irvin is blocked – for now
- Alec Bohm ready to prove in 2019 that he can be the Phillies third baseman of the future