The folks at Baseball America collectively produce one of the most respected all-around resources in the game. They are well known for their prospect, draft and minor league coverage. And they also provide some of the best coverage of the deeper issues involving all aspects of the game.
Baseball America is also really good at coming up with lists and rankings. They regularly provide updated rankings lists of the top prospects in each organization. They also do overall organizational rankings as well, which reflect the state of each club’s minor league talent situation.
The Philadelphia Phillies were ranked just 23rd among the 30 big-league organizations prior to the 2019 season. Now the Baseball America organizational ranking has been updated, as they note: “taking the 2019 MLB Draft, our updated Top 100 and new team Top 30s into consideration.”
Those newly considered factors did not help the Phillies. In fact, the organization has now dropped two places, down to just 25th among 30 clubs in Major League Baseball.
Only five organizations are rated lower right now, including the division rival New York Mets just behind in the 26th spot. The Washington Nationals are just ahead of both, sitting in the #24 slot.
The Atlanta Braves embarrassment of prospect riches continues to grow. The defending NL East champions and current division leaders are now ranked in the #3 position. Meanwhile, the rebuilding Miami Marlins have entered the top ten in the #10 spot.
With third baseman Alec Bohm at #37 and pitcher Spencer Howard coming in at #68, the Phillies have just two of the current Baseball America top 100 prospects. It’s not only BA thinking poorly of the Phillies top-level minor league talent. MLB Pipeline currently has just Bohm (36) and pitcher Adonis Medina (75) among their top 100 prospects. Bohm (54), Howard (56) and Medina (71) show up among the current Fangraphs top 100 prospects.
By contrast, the Braves have a half-dozen in the Baseball America top 100, including three youngsters rated higher than Bohm. Both MLB and Fangraphs have the Braves with five on their lists, with four of those ranking higher than any Phillies prospect.
While on a par with the Nationals and Mets and possessing more talent at the big-league level than the Marlins, the situation involving the Braves does not bode well for the Phillies. They watched as Atlanta stormed past them to capture a division crown a year ago, and now despite a major financial outlay in this past off-season, the Braves have once again roared past the Phillies in the standings.
Prospect and minor league rankings are not the be-all and end-all for an MLB organization. But having a deep and talented pool of youngsters not only allows you to bring waves of talent up to help your big club, it also provides you with enticing chips to deal who are attractive to other organizations at times such as the upcoming trade deadline.
This situation is most definitely an indictment of the Andy MacPhail–Matt Klentak regime. MacPhail has been the President of Baseball Operations for nearly four full years now. This is his organization, from a baseball talent standpoint. Klentak was his first big hiring as the GM in the fall of 2015. Together, they have presided over the last four Phillies drafts and four July 2nd international signing periods. The Phillies have yet to finish a season with a winning record in their tenure.
I am quite sure that the Phillies baseball operations people would respectfully disagree with this ranking. But for principal owner John Middleton to continue ignoring the inability of MacPhail to put together a respected organization, talent-wise anyway, would be courting disaster.
The vast majority of MacPhail’s tenures with the Chicago Cubs, Baltimore Orioles, and now the Phillies stretching back nearly two and a half decades reveal very little in the way of winning. In fact, even in this current season, perhaps especially in the current season when so much was anticipated and expected of his club, MacPhail continues to do nothing more than tread water.
“It’s hard for us to make the judgment now that we’re one trade away from the World Series. We don’t believe that. I don’t believe that. So, as a result, you’re going to have to be more judicious with your playing talent…given our current circumstances, I think I’m going to be a little judicious and careful about what talent’s walking out the door.”
That was MacPhail’s commentary per Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia when asked recently about the Phillies approach to the upcoming MLB trade deadline, which is now less than a week away. Other than Bohm and perhaps Howard or Medina, what “talent” is he concerned about “walking out the door?”
The Phillies absolutely should not even consider dealing away Bohm at his point. And Howard is becoming nearly as untouchable, elevating himself past Medina to become clearly the Phillies top pitching prospect. Anyone else should be fair game in trade talks – but would any team in possession of genuine talent that could help the Phillies reach the 2019 postseason be attracted by that talent, even in a package?
MacPhail received a three-year contract extension at the end of the 2017 season, taking him through 2021. Klentak was extended for three years back in March in a deal that runs through the 2022 season. The track record of both leaves me scratching my head as to the reasoning, at least in the timing, behind those extensions.
Not much high-level minor league talent. Very little winning at the big-league level in decades while running an organization. How long can that be allowed to continue without serious repercussion at the management level?
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