MLB Pipeline released their highly-anticipated update to their top 100 prospects in baseball Wednesday, and four Philadelphia Phillies farmhands cracked the list.
Two of them – Alec Bohm and Spencer Howard – could soon debut with the Phillies. Bohm, listed as a third baseman/first baseman, was the highest ranked Phillie, coming in at No. 32, five spots above Howard.
Bohm slashed .305/.378/.518 with 21 home runs, 80 RBIs and 57 walks in 125 games across three different levels of the minor leagues a season ago. There are questions about his ability to stick at third base at the major league level, but MLB Pipeline notes that “his bat is going to play regardless of where he lands defensively.” He’s expected to land in Philadelphia at some point during the 2020 season.
Joe Girardi has said that with a doubleheader yesterday, the Phillies will need a starter for Sunday’s series finale against the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park. Howard, who dazzled in summer camp, appears to be a candidate for that spot.
“His ultimate ceiling may depend more than anything else on how his change-up develops,” Keith Law of The Athletic said of Howard on a recent edition of Locked On Phillies. “He kills right-handed hitters – he really doesn’t need to change a single thing for him to be effective against major league right-handed hitters. He has a little bit of a platoon split, lefties got to him, right-handed hitters couldn’t touch him at all. Lefties got him enough that I would say that’s the hurdle he’s got to pass. I think he could end up as a pretty good No. 2 starter for a long time with some development on that pitch.”
Whether Bohm and Howard use up their full prospect eligibility in 2020 or not, they essentially won’t be prospects anymore entering the 2021 season, barring something unforeseen. So after they graduate, who’s next up in the Phillies system?
Bryson Stott, who the Phillies selected in the first round of the 2019 MLB Draft out of UNLV, checked in at No. 98 on the list. Stott, who will turn 23 in October, theoretically shouldn’t be more than a couple years away from debuting in the major leagues. That said, he’s only played in the Gulf Coast and New York-Penn Leagues, so a lost season of minor league baseball could alter his progression.
Meanwhile, RHP Mick Abel, the club’s 2020 first-round pick, was the final person on the list, checking in at No. 100. Considering he was drafted out of Jesuit High School in Oregon and COVID-19 kept his senior season from happening, the 18-year-old is likely years away from the major league level. However, Law says that the Phillies should be very excited with the No. 15 overall pick.
“I spoke with people in the [Phillies] organization after the draft and they said that they would not have considered a high school pitcher at that pick except for Mick Abel,” Law said. “He was the best pitcher in the draft class, I don’t think I’m the only person who believed that. I think I was probably stronger in saying that – I didn’t think there was anyone particularly close to him – and it turns out that the Phillies believed the same thing. They thought Abel was head and shoulders above everyone else, and they thought that maybe in a typical draft, he would go before them.”
A few alarming trends are apparent when looking at this list.
First, the Phillies seem to have swung and missed on first-round picks in 2015 and 2016, when they selected outfielder Cornelius Randolph and Mickey Moniak, respectively. Law recently said that Moniak, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, would likely end up being a fourth or fifth outfielder, and called the selection a “complete disaster.”
The second trend that’s apparent is that whenever Howard and Bohm ultimately are no longer considered prospects, the Phillies farm system could look pretty bleak. Enyel De Los Santos, who has struggled to click as a starter or reliever at the major league level, is the No. 10 prospect in the system still, per MLB Pipeline. Shortstop Luis Garcia is the No. 7 prospect in the system, despite hitting just .186 for the Single-A Lakewood BlueClaws in 2019. Abel is the No. 4 prospect, which is probably an appropriate ranking, but he’s likely close to a half decade away from making his major league debut.
There is some good news, as the Phillies appear to have done better in recent drafts. The 2017 class that includes Adam Haseley, Howard and Connor Seabold looks fairly impressive. The 2018 class could be viewed as successful simply because of Bohm’s selection with the No. 3 overall pick. There’s some hope for the 2019 class, whose top three picks were Stott, shortstop Jamari Baylor and lefty Erik Miller. And 2020, the first class that new scouting director Brian Barber lead, not only includes Abel, but shortstop Casey Martin, who the Phillies were ecstatic fell to them in round three.
There is a reality, though, that the Phillies risk wasting the primes of Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto and Aaron Nola before they finally are able to surround that trio with a roster that isn’t as top-heavy at the current one.
Phillies Nation released our latest look at the top 20 prospects in the organization in February, a list that will be updated after the Aug. 31 trade deadline.
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