As the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves have seemingly left the Philadelphia Phillies in the dust in terms of player development, the Phillies have been left to ponder where they’ve gone wrong in their process. 2019 is the first season that Josh Bonifay has been the Phillies farm director, as Joe Jordan resigned in September of 2018. 364 days after Jordan’s resignation, another key member of the Phillies development staff has decided to step down.
According to Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia, Phillies scouting director Johnny Almaraz is “stepping down at his own request.” It’s not immediately clear what led to this decision. Salisbury adds that Alamaraz appears to be resigning from his post on better terms than Jordan did a year ago, as he’ll remain with the Phillies as a special assistant in scouting and player development.
Almaraz, 54, took over as the Phillies scouting director in October of 2014. In that time, the Phillies have made four first-round picks.
Cornelius Randolph was selected by the Phillies with the 10th overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft. Now 22, Randolph does have 10 home runs and 44 RBIs in 348 at-bats for Double-A Reading, but came in at just No. 28 on MLB Pipeline‘s most recent look at the Phillies top prospects.
After posting the worst record in baseball in 2015, the Phillies used the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft to select outfielder Mickey Moniak. There wasn’t a consensus No. 1 pick in 2016, and there was a financial strategy behind taking Moniak with the first pick overall. But while Moniak hasn’t fallen flat on his face, his .252/.303/.439 slash line at Double-A Reading isn’t inspiring. Moniak is still only 21, and likely will be a major leaguer in some form, though it doesn’t appear he’ll be a franchise-altering player.
2017 has a chance to be the best draft that Almarez helped preside over. Adam Haseley, who the Phillies selected with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, started in center field for the Phillies Tuesday night. Though it’s unclear what upside Haseley has offensively, he’s not the best piece that has emerged from that draft. Spencer Howard, who the Phillies selected out of Cal Poly in the second round of the 2017 MLB Draft, will start the first game of the Double-A Reading Fightin Phils playoff series Wednesday and appears to have front-line potential. Howard figures to join the Phillies rotation next summer.
The Phillies top overall prospect is Alec Bohm, who the organization selected with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft. Bohm, 23, has slashed .305/.378/.518 with an .896 OPS with 21 home runs and 80 RBIs in 475 at-bats across three different levels of the minor leagues in 2019. Like Howard, Bohm will likely play a major role for the 2020 Phillies.
Bryson Stott, who the Phillies selected with the No. 14 overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, turned out to be the final first round draft pick of the Almaraz era. Stott, who played his college baseball at UNLV, has hit .295 with six home runs and 27 RBIs in 166 at-bats between the Gulf Coast League and the New York Penn League since being drafted in June. MLB Pipeline projects that Stott, a natural shortstop, will reach the major league level in 2022.
Almaraz was the Phillies scouting director during the July 2015 Cole Hamels trade, which saw the Phillies bring back Jorge Alfaro, Nick Williams, Jake Thompson and Jerad Eickhoff back as part of a deal that’s largely proved to be underwhelming for the Phillies. It’s unclear what level of influence he had over a front office that was led by Ruben Amaro Jr. at the time.
Other notable players or prospects signed or drafted during Almaraz’s tenure include super-utility star Scott Kingery, middle infielder Luis Garcia, RHP Francisco Morales, LHP Erik Miller, LHP JoJo Romero and outfielder Jhailyn Ortiz.
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