The 71-91 record doesn’t show it, but 2016 was a successful season for Philadelphia. Their young trio of starting pitchers Vince Velasquez, Aaron Nola and Jerad Eickhoff impressed for much of the season while guys like Odubel Herrera, Maikel Franco, Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis put together promising seasons.
The Phillies are not necessarily going to enter as a legit playoff contender in 2017, but with a lineup that could look like Herrera, Hernandez, Franco, Tommy Joseph, Jorge Alfaro, Michael Saunders, J.P. Crawford and Nick Williams with a rotation of Jeremy Hellickson, Nola, Velasquez, Eickhoff and Thompson, Philly could surprise some people and post a 75-80 season. Certainly by 2018, this will be a real team to watch out for. Their rebuild is just about over.
By the way, if you are interested in more MLB prospects columns, head on over to our 2017 fantasy baseball rankings dashboard. Throughout the offseason, you will find the rest of our team prospect breakdowns, fantasy baseball prospect rankings, tiered positional rankings, keeper values articles, and more - all in one easy place.
Philadelphia Phillies Top Prospects for Dynasty Leagues
Today I am continuing my list of prospect systems in the NL East. I have already covered the Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins and New York Mets. Later, I will delve into the Washington Nationals. To read more about my prospect coverage, click here.
Top Overall Talent: J.P. Crawford
Top Prospect to Debut in 2017: J.P. Crawford
I’ve never been the biggest fan of Crawford from a fantasy perspective, but when discussing prospects, it’s always important to give credit to a guy who appears to have a very high floor. Crawford is neither going to hit for a ton of power nor is he going to steal much more than 15 bags per season, but he knows how to get on base. He looks like a solid bet to reach the big leagues and start having a real impact atop the Phillies’ lineup by the summer of this season and should provide enough longterm value to warrant ownership in most dynasty leagues.
Top Prospect who won’t debut in 2017: Mickey Moniak
Some guys just seem to have a lot of helium approaching draft day and Moniak certainly falls under that category. Originally, A.J. Puk was viewed as the eventual first overall pick, but in the last few days before the draft, Moniak’s name started to come up as a possibility for Philly as the first overall pick. Needless to say, they likely don’t regret their pick.
Moniak in his brief MiLB exposure has looked every bit the first overall pick and future franchise outfielder. He slashed .284/.340/.409 with 10 steals and a home run in 46 games at Rookie ball. And while those numbers don’t quite jump out, scouts who watched him play say he has improved his ability to barrel up the ball and should start develop more pop as he fills into his 6-foot-2 frame. He may not be a future 25+ home run guy, but a .300 hitter with 15-20 home runs and 25-30 stolen bases atop any lineup should absolutely warrant ownership in most dynasty leagues.
Biggest Boom or Bust: Nick Williams
There is little Williams can’t do. He can hit for power as shown by his 30 home runs between the past two seasons (244 games, on pace for 20 home runs) with 19 stolen bases over that same time span. He also posted an average above .300 at Double-A last season, impressive for someone only 21 at the time. The big concern with Williams is his poor plate discipline which really regressed after a promising 2015 season. He walked only 3.6 percent of the time while striking out over 25 percent in 2016 and scouts have cited his poor patience as a legitimate issue. If he can tone down his approach and avoid chasing so many pitches out of the strike zone, he could potentially be an elite prospect. But as is, he needs some help to avoid becoming a bust.
Biggest Sleeper: Ben Lively
Lively will neither wow you with his stuff nor will he post jaw-dropping numbers. But he knows how to pitch. After a rough 2015 saw him post a 4.13 ERA and 4.08 FIP, he drastically improved those numbers, reducing his ERA and FIP down to 1.87 and 2.60 at Double-A this past year. He warranted a promotion to Triple-A and again posted solid ERA and FIP numbers at 3.06 and 3.51. Though he doesn’t have a single standout pitch, Lively does not have a pitch that even grades out as below-average. He won’t be an ace, but Lively could easily be a productive No. 4 or 5 starter for dynasty owners wily enough to pick him up.
Top Prospect Hitters
Best Power Hitter: Rhys Hoskins
It is important to qualify this statement by saying that I understand he hit his 38 dingers in hitter-friendly Double-A Reading. But nonetheless, 38 is still an impressive total. Hoskins had some strikeout issues at Double-A, but he also drew a walk 12.1 percent of the time. He draws a lot of comparisons to the current first baseman in Philadelphia, Tommy Joseph, as they both have flashed considerable power with strikeout concerns and some struggles against right-handed pitching. However, Hoskins is probably a slightly better hitter than Jospeh and seems more likely to be a full-time starter and not just a platoon starter.
With no experience above Double-A, Hoskins is unlikely to supplant Joseph just yet and will probably start the season at Triple-A. But another season like 2016 and he might force himself into the lineup.
Most Likely to Hit over .300: J.P. Crawford
As discussed earlier, Crawford just looks like such a reliable bet to hit for a high average. His time at Triple-A saw him post a higher strikeout rate than walk rate for the first time since 2014 and saw him post a sub-.260 average for the first time in his career. Though he hasn’t always put together the best batting average out there (partly because of his inexperience as he only just turned 22 this past January), his approach combined with his smooth swing bode well for his chances of hitting over .300.
Best Burner on the Bases: Roman Quinn
Few people in the minors can claim to be a true 80-burner, but Quinn is undoubtedly one of them. He is incredibly fast and a gifted athlete. The switch-hitting outfielder draws a lot of comparisons to Billy Hamilton both for their speed and slap-hitting approach, though Quinn is not quite as fast and is a slightly better hitter. He has had some injury issues in the past, but if he can put those behind him for good, he could be a leadoff hitting centerfielder capable of stealing 50+ bags per season.
Top Prospect Pitchers
Strikeout Machine: Sixto Sanchez
Sanchez really shot up prospect boards in 2017 after a dominating 2016 at Rookie league where he not only struck out over 22 percent of opposing batters, but walked fewer than 5 percent. And scouts absolutely loved what they saw flying out of his arm this season as the 18-year-old was flinging near-100 mph fastballs with electric movement and a changeup and curveball that both looked drastically improved from the previous season. He is a bit undersized, but with his stuff and control, he could be a future ace in Philadelphia with the potential to strike out 200+ per season.
Best Command: Ben Lively
As discussed earlier, Lively is not by any means an overwhelming pitcher, but he does commands the zone very well given his stuff. He doesn’t nibble around the outside, but instead attacks hitters and induces a lot of groundouts. Fantasy owners looking for a sleeper in deep dynasty leagues should be more than happy to add the low-risk, low-reward starting pitcher prospect.
Top 10 Dynasty Prospects for the Philadelphia Phillies
1. J.P. Crawford (SS, AAA)
Crawford stands out more for his floor than his ceiling, though there is some power/speed upside to be had if he fills out his frame a bit more.
3. Mickey Moniak (OF, ROK)
Moniak has many more years of development ahead, but he should move quickly for a bat out of high school and has the chance to have major impacts on fantasy rosters.
4. Nick Williams (OF, AAA)
Williams has incredible upside if he can tone down his aggressive approach, but the 23-year-old will need to make drastic improvements next season to reach that upside.
5. Roman Quinn (OF, MLB)
A true burner on the basepaths, Quinn has the chance to be a high-impact speed threat if he can prove capable of staying healthy.
6. Sixto Sanchez (SP, ROK)
Sanchez looked outstanding at Rookie ball in 2016 and could be a real find, but owners will have to be patient as he has the longest wait of any Philly prospect before being big league ready.
7. Franklyn Kilome (SP, A-)
Kilome has immense strikeout upside and could be a real impact pitcher if he improves his control.
8. Rhys Hoskins (1B, AA)
The powerful first baseman dominated Double-A and will likely be a big league regular first baseman, though 38 home runs is likely too many for him to repeat in Philly.
9. Scott Kingery (2B, AA)
Kingery is not a dynamic prospect by any means, but he is a second baseman with the chance to hit for a decent average and steal plenty of bases, giving him potential value at a shallow fantasy position.
10. Cornelius Randolph (OF, A-)
Randolph’s bat has the potential to be explosive, but he falls under the category of high-risk/high-reward due to his struggles defensively and struggles consistently driving the ball.
A couple years ago, the Phillies system was known more for its pitching depth than hitting depth. Now they’re loaded to the brim with bats as far as the eye can see. Philadelphia has at least one average or better prospect at every position with Kingery and Crawford up the middle infield, Hoskins at first, Alfaro behind the dish and a plethora of outfielders. They also possess a pair of incredibly high-upside arms in Sanchez and Kilome, but admittedly they are both far from having a big league impact.
Philadelphia is top-to-bottom one of the premier farm systems in baseball. They have so many players who look to have major impacts in dynasty leagues. Even a few guys not named like Dylan Cozens, Ben Lively and Mark Appel could have big time fantasy impacts down the road (though the latter has really seen his stock plummet over the past couple seasons). This is an organization worth studying for all dynasty leagues.