The SportsTalk Shop: Phillies Prospects Update

Today here at “The Shop,” we bring you comments from the Phillies minor league prospects followed by some insights on their “ceilings” and potential arrival times in the Big Leagues.

Starting right-handed pitcher Jake Thompson and left-handed hitting outfielder Nick Williams, seems to be the odds-on favorites among the top blue-chip prospects to get the call to the major leagues.

Williams could be helped by the fact that Cody Asche won’t start the season on the Phillies roster and Aaron Altherr won’t be ready until late in the summer.  Both Asche and Altherr were penciled in as starters for the parent club before spring training began.  Because of the ‘numbers’ issue in the outfield—or, more appropriately, LACK of numbers, Williams could be one player that gets bumped up a little earlier than expected.

Plus, Williams had a torrid September last year, during the Reading Fightin’ Phillies playoff run, which the organization’s top brass saw first-hand.  A quick start by Williams might give Phillies fans what they’ve already started clamoring for—and that’s a fast promotion to the Big Leagues for some of these high-profile prospects the team received in trades over the last year.  However, it has usually been the Phillies objective to get young players as much minor-league seasoning as possible before reaching the major leagues.  Given the team is not ready to contend and there’s really no reason to start these players “free agency clocks” (the time teams have players under contract), you probably won’t see many of these players before Memorial Day.

A quick example that supports this theory if Maikel Franco, who got hot in Triple-A to start last season and was promoted while he was swinging the bat well.  Dominic Brown is probably a good example of the ill-effects of rushing a young prospect through a system too quickly.

If a team’s success starts with pitching, Philadelphia should be in good shape when you look at their Triple-A starting rotation.  Joining Thompson are Mark Appel (a former top draft pick), Zach Eflin, David Buchanan and Adam Morgan (the latter pitched well enough to make the Phillies out of spring training but was demoted in favor of power-armed Vincent Velasquez).    The Phillies have so much depth in fact, that two pitchers (Alec Asher and Severino Gonzales) who pitched for the Phils last year will start this season down in Double-A.  While not all of these hurlers may be impact players at the major league level, the team has much needed depth and find themselves in the fortunate situation in which not all of these young arms HAVE TO mature into top-level pitchers in order for the franchise to have continued success.

If a couple of these guys can contribute consistently for the Phillies, they will have a nice pitching staff for years to come.  This is a sharp contract when the team looked at having just a couple blue-chip prospects in the farm system and, when most of these guys fizzled out, the team struggled with very few reliable reinforcements available to help out.

For more insights on the Phillies top minor league prospects, check out our most recent “SportsTalk” podcast, here .

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