Last season was not a good year for the big club as they lost 89 games. But something that went under the radar was the struggles and injuries in their minor leagues. Entering the season, most pundits ranked the Phillies minor league system in the bottom 3rd in baseball but there is obviously talent in this system. It may not be the coveted "MLB Ready Talent," but there are more than a few guys who have the potential to make an impact with the big club in the near future. In years where the big club will struggle, the only way to get through the season is to focus on the phuture.
Makiel Franco (Age 22): 1B/3B Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (AAA)
Phillies #3 Prospect by MLB.com
.352/.407/.593, 1HR, 9RBI
Franco is one of the team's few prospects who is "MLB Ready" as he already spent last September in Philly. His struggles during that month and during the spring added with the service time equation meant that he would start the season in the minors. The biggest knock on Franco has been his plate discipline but he can definitely swing the bat. It would be a waste of his defensive talent and strong arm to put him at 1B but Cody Asche's hot start may complicate things for Franco. The Phillies have to find a way to get both young players in the lineup and Franco at 1B may be the answer right now. Franco will get the call eventually, but I suspect it won't be until sometime in early June.
Roman Quinn (Age 21): CF Reading Fightin Phils (AA)
Phillies #4 Prospect by MLB.com
.422/.480/.644, 15R, 1HR, 5RBI, 8SB
Saying that Quinn has had a nice start to the season would be a drastic understatement! The kid has been an absolute monster in Reading! He is leading the Eastern League in Runs, Hits, triple and steals and is 2nd in batting average and 3rd in both OBP and SLG. After rupturing his Achilles before last season, there was some fear he wouldn't be the same. But he has quickly quieted those concerns. The kid is fast, I mean REALLY fast, no I mean REALLY REALLY fast! His speed grades out as an 80 out of 80 by scouts. The speedy switch hitter has the chance to be a dynamic player at the top of the order. He has also made a nice transition to CF this season where his elite athleticism allows him to chase down balls he has no business getting to!
Carlos Tocci (Age 19): CF Lakewood BlueClaws (Low A)
Phillies #19 Prospect by MLB.com
.373/.448/.549, 1HR, 10 RBI, 4 SB
This is what the Phillies have been waiting for from the young CF! He received a very aggressive assignment in 2013 as he played at Lakewood despite being just 17! Tocci is now in his 3rd season at Lakewood but is still one of the younger players in the league. He has always shown an advanced baseball IQ but his smaller size (6'2" 160 LB) has limited his production (2 HR in 908 AB). Tocci is hitting 3rd with the BlueClaws and has been a dominate force so far. As he continues to add strength, his power numbers should increase. He already has 1 HR in just 51 AB's this season. He entered the season ranked as the Phillies 19th ranked prospect by MLB.com but I think he is one of the most intriguing and high ceiling players in the system!
Zach Eflin (Age 21): SP Reading Fightin Phils (AA)
Phillies #5 Prospect by MLB.com
2-0, 14 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.64 WHIP, 7 SO
Eflin has the dubious honor as being one of the players the Phillies received for the team's all-time hits leader Jimmy Rollins. Eflin along with Nola, Biddle, Windle and Lively have created a "big 5" up in Reading! He entered the season ranked 4th by Baseball America and 5th by MLB.com on the Phillies prospect ladder. So far, so good for the young righty. Through 2 starts, he has been dominate as he has given up just 7 hits and 0 runs in 14 innings! He is also very young for his current level as he started the year as the youngest player in the Eastern League.
Jesse Biddle (Age 23): SP Reading Fightin Phils (AA)
Phillies #9 Prospect by MLB.com
1-0, 11 IP, 1.64 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 12 SO
Biddle may have been the most disappointing player in the Phillies system last season. The former top prospect and first round pick had a season to forget in 2014. Anytime you are concussed by a falling hail stone, you know its not your year. Despite his past struggles he is still a very talented kid! Adding the likes of Nola, Eflin, Lively, Windle and Imhof may allow Biddle to go under the radar. Out of the starters at Reading, he should only be beat to the big leagues by Aaron Nola. Biddle seems like a great kid and how can you not root for a Philadelphia native?!? This is a HUGE season for Biddle as it may be a make or break year for the former #1 Prospect.
The rest of the Top 10
1. J.P Crawford (20) SS Clearwater Threshers (A): On DL with Oblique Injury
2. Aaron Nola (21) SP Reading Fightin Phils (AA): 1-1 3.38 ERA
6. Tom Windle (23) SP Reading Fightin Phils (AA): 0-1 7.36 ERA
7. Ben Lively (23) SP Reading Fightin Phils (AA): 0-0 4.50 ERA
8. Matt Imhof (21) SP Clearwater Threshers (A): 1-1 1.80 ERA (7 Day DL)
25. Aaron Altherr (24) OF Reading Fightin Phils (AA): .412/.565/.706, 1HR, 7RBI
NR: Harold Martinez (24) 3B Reading Fightin Phils (AA): .438/.474/.750, 1HR, 5RBI
NR: Gabriel Lino (21) C Reading Fightin Phils (AA) .308/.367/.577, 1HR, 3RBI
NR: Andrew Pullin (21) OF Clearwater Threshers (A) .333/.404/.467, 1HR, 7RBI
NR: Brandon Leibrandt (22) SP Clearwater Threshers (A) 1-0 1.42 ERA
NR: Ricardo Pinto (21) SP Lakewood BlueClaws (low A): 1-0 2.84 ERA