For those who don’t know me, one of my favorite aspects of sports is player development. Baseball takes player development to the extreme more than any of the other major professional sports leagues, with help of the structure of Minor League Baseball. With the 2021 Phillies‘ season fast approaching, I thought that it would be a great time for Full Scale Philly to release our first ever top-15 Phillies prospect report.
All of the rankings you’ll read are different than they ever have been. Players weren’t able to participate in games last season because of the pandemic, so most of the reps came from intersquad games at the Phillies’ satellite camp, if they were invited. With MLB cutting the Minor Leagues down from 162 teams to 120 teams, there are going to be even less reps to go around this year. With the team lacking high level talent in the system, each rep counts more than ever.
As with all prospect lists, assessments of these prospects are based on the play we’ve seen covering these players in-person, analysis of film, conversations with scouts, coaches and other player development personnel and information from outlets such as Baseball America, Fangraphs, Prospects Live and MLB Pipeline. While my list is limited to 15 players, I have also made up a list of five players who fans should be keeping their eyes on in the coming months/years.
Without further ado, here is Full Scale Philly’s inaugural Top-15 Phillies’ prospect list:
LHP JoJo Romero – Making his debut during the shortened season of 2020, Romero showed an explosive fastball coming out of the bullpen. Averaging 95.8 mph from the left side is certainly a weapon out of the pen, and he pairs it with a sharp slider and a changeup. He had hisfair share of bumps and bruises during the season, but certainly looks the part of a Big League reliever.
C Logan O’Hoppe – Drafted in the 23rd Round in 2018, the West Islip, NY native has shown glimpses of being an above-average offensive catcher. While he hasn’t played above Rookie ball, O’Hoppe was one of the catchers the Phillies invited to the satellite camp last year. He’s still raw offensively, and does tend to strikeout, but he’s athletic enough to stay behind the plate. Catchers with his offensive skills don’t come along everyday.
RHP Starlyn Castillo – Had the pandemic hadn’t happened, Castillo might already be in the Top 15. One of the top members of the 2018 International Free Agency class, the Phillies gave Castillo a $1.6 million signing bonus. While he has only thrown 9.1 professional innings, Castillo has already shown a fastball that sits 92-96 with the potential of a plus slider. He is very advanced for his age, but still is a far way’s away from making an impact for the Phils
OF Yhoswar Garcia – Nicknamed ‘The Drone’, Garcia was given a $2.5 million signing bonus in March of last year. Garcia is seen as a potential plus defender in centerfield, as his plus speed and strong arm make it very likely that he stays there long term. As a hitter, he’s been known more for his contact abilities, however, like many players before him, the power will come as he physically matures. He will probably start out in Clearwater this year.
RHP Victor Santos – Santos has been in the Phillies system since he was signed out of Dominican Republic. Santos is incredibly advanced for his age, as he was 19 when he made his debut in Lakewood’s piggyback system. He will never be overpowering, as his fastball typically sits 90-93 mph, but his split changeup is devastating. While his ceiling is limited due to being already physically mature, Santos knows how to pitch and profiles as a backend of the rotation starter in the future.
15. LHP Damon Jones – Jones, a 6’5″ righty from Washington State, is one of the multiple high upside pitchers taken in the 2017 Draft. He was drafted due to his arm strength, but has some serious control issues that needed to be ironed out. Hard work by Jones, with help from Driveline Baseball, helped make his delivery much more fluid and his body much more athletic. Armed with a mid-90’s fastball, Jones’ pièce de résistance is his slider. A pitch he has learned to manipulate all over the plate, it is a much slurvier pitch than a normal slider and at times will look like a curveball out of his hands. He does have a third pitch, a changeup, but it is much further behind than his other two pitches. Jones looks to be at least a devastating lefty out of the bullpen, but further development to the changeup could make his path to the rotation much easier. He is already 26 years old, and age definitely limits his potential, but look for him to be pitching in the Majors at some point this season.
14. INF Kendall Simmons – The Phillies were able to go overslot with Simmons, along with RHP Dominic Pipkin, because of the money saved by picking Alec Bohm in 2018. Simmons has some of the loudest tools in the system, and, while he hasn’t put it all together yet, is trending in a positive direction. It was the tale of two seasons for Simmons in 2019, as his first half was marred by strikeouts and loud swing and misses. In the second half, Simmons went on to slash a healthy .280/.398/.660, with 16 walks compared to 27 strikeouts. The swing and miss aspects of his game were still present, but newfound patience and contact made it much easier to swallow. He was drafted as a shortstop, but it is much more likely he finds himself at either 2B or 3B. His bat profiles at each position really well, and defensively his arm will allow him to move all over the diamond. There is still room to grow, and another strong showing this year could see Simmons skyrocket up prospect lists.
13. OF Mickey Moniak – It’s been quite a fall from grace for Moniak since he was drafted first overall in 2016. Looking at him solely based on where he was picked in the draft, Moniak would be considered an utter failure. However, you can’t evaluate any player based on draft position. When he was drafted, the tool that the majority of MLB teams were excited about was his hit tool. While that has lost some luster from when he was drafted, his contact skills still exist. What makes it much harder to see is how poor he is at pitch recognition. He has a tendency to swing at BAD pitches, and far too often than he should. He’ll never be the ‘hits for average’ type hitter the team thought he would be, but he still brings value to a team. Defensively, he is an average outfielder with the ability to stick in centerfield due to his athleticism. It’s very easy to be hard on him, but Moniak will be 22 for most of the 2021 season. He still has time to put it all together and make an impact for this team. Even if he doesn’t have an impact on the Phillies, they should be able to use him as a trade piece.
12. INF Nick Maton – Maton is the Phillies best prospect in a position of need: utility infielder. Drafted in the 7th round of the 2017 Draft, a draft that has produced three members of this list, Maton made it to Double-A in 2019. He has a nice approach at the plate and does well to make contact. He has plus walk rate, but does probably strikeout more than he should. While he isn’t going to ever be a legit power bat, Maton has the strength to grow into double digit HR numbers. The key selling point for Maton is his defensive versatility. While he is no world-beater at shortstop, he has worked hard to become at least an average defender there. He should not have a problem moving to play either 2B or 3B, making him the perfect bench infielder capable of playing all the positions on the diamond. There isn’t much development left to be done for Maton, as he’ll be 24 come Opening Day. However, the Phillies don’t have many options in their system to fit into the utility infielder role. The team brought in Kyle Holder and CJ Chatham during the offseason, but none of them have the potential that Maton does. Expect to see him get some reps in the Majors at some point this season.
11. OF Simon Muzziotti – Originally signed by the Red Sox in 2015, Muzziotti had his deal voided after MLB found that Boston broke international signing rules. The Phillies, having scouted him before, swooped in and signed him for $750,000. His performance in the Minors so far have made the Phillies look very smart. Muzziotti could play a defensive centerfield for the Phillies right now, as his glove has been Major League ready for almost two years. He has excellent speed, takes great angles to balls, and through hard work, has an above average arm to at least be a plus defender in center. His bat, however, lags behind his glove. He is not a big kid by any means, weighing about 190 pounds, so many of his extra base hits come from his above average speed. He will never be a home run threat for the Phillies, but he still needs to develop gap-to-gap strength to be able to make an impact at the highest level. His frame won’t allow him to add the necessary strength to become a legitimate power threat, but, with the help of his advanced glove and feel for contact, Muzziotti has a chance to be a regular in the Majors in the not too distant future.
10. LHP Erik Miller – Coming out of Stanford, most draft pundits thought of Miller as a draft day steal for the Phillies. Lefties with fastballs that clock up to 97 MPH are always going to be in vogue, and Miller has a plus slider and an above average changeup to go with it. However, arm strength like that comes with some setbacks for most people, and Miller is no exception. Miller has had struggles consistently showing off his arm strength and has always had control issues. When the Phillies drafted him, they saw what Miller had even admitted himself: there was no way that you could have both the 97 MPH fastball and the necessary control to use it effectively. Working with him to make his mechanics more fluid and repeatable, Miller was able to make incredible improvements to his control, albeit sacrificing some power. Miller will comfortably work in the 91-94 range with his fastball, and still shows two good secondary pitches, just not as flashy as they once were. As it sits now, Miller looks to be a backend of the rotation starter in the future. If he is able to find some of the arm strength he lost while learning control, then Miller stock will only go up.
9. SS Luis Garcia – Luis Garcia was one of the top player’s on the 2017 international free agent market, and the Phillies giving him $2.5 million to sign in Philly proves as much. Garcia dominated rookie ball as a 17-year-old, hitting 369/.433/.488 in the GCL. Seeing how advanced he was, the Phillies aggressively pushed him to full season ball the next season. Offensively, it was clear that Garcia was not ready to be thrown into full season ball. He was not physically close to being mature, and was just overpowered by the pitching, finishing the season hitting .186. However, just because he didn’t perform doesn’t mean that he lost the gifts that got him here. Garcia has a nice approach from both sides of the plate, with solid bat speed that should allow him to grow into 10-15 HRs down the line. Defensively, Garcia is a fluid fielder with a huge arm, making it very likely that shortstop is his forever home. Given the fact that he is still only 20, Garcia has plenty of time to show why he was so highly sought after coming out of the Dominican Republic. If he hits this season, its only a matter of time before he is a Top-100 prospect in baseball.
8. RHP Adonis Medina – It wasn’t long ago when Medina was thought of nearly as highly as Sixto Sanchez was. Medina didn’t have the raw stuff that Sanchez did, but his arsenal made him a close second in regards to pitchers in the organization. After a abysmal 2019, though, much of that hype quickly vanished. The fastball that once sat 95-98 was more in the 91-94 range. For some reason, he started to lean on his curveball, which was not nearly as good as his slider. Double-A is a hard step for every player, but especially pitchers. Medina wasn’t able to physically handle the toll of the long season, and it clearly wore him down. He came up for a spot start with the Phillies and did show the potential that he has. The decreased fastball velocity might not affect Medina as much as it typically would, as his fastball tends to be more of a sinker than an overpowering four seamer. Medina still possesses the skills that made scouts fall in love, with three potential plus pitches still at his disposal. Even if Medina can’t put it all together to stick in the rotation long term, his pitches would look devastating coming out of the backend of the bullpen.
7. SS Casey Martin – Arguably the player with the loudest tools that was eligible for the 2020 Draft, Martin burst onto the scene as a freshman at Arkansas hitting .345 with 13 HRs and 49 RBIs. That season turned out to be hard to follow up, and a broken hamate bone in 2020 did not help matters. A sluggish start to the 2020 season pushed him from a surefire first round prospect to the 87th overall pick, where the Phillies used their 3rd round pick on him. According to MLB.com’s Jim Callis, who writes the shortstop is “one of best athletes” from the draft with “plus raw power, 70-80 speed on 20-80 scale, quickness and arm.” Martin has the potential to be a 25 HR-25 SB guy down the line, as his speed and power just leap off the page. The questions surrounding Martin will always be about his hit tool. At Arkansas, he would get really HR happy and try and demolish every ball thrown to him, leading to high strikeout totals. If Martin is able to slow things down at the plate, he has star potential written all over him. Defensively, he should be able to handle any of SS, 2B, 3B, and CF, making him a prospect to watch in 2021.
6. C Rafael Marchan – While he wasn’t the biggest signing of the 2015 international free agency period, Marchan is turning out to be the best one. A infielder by trade, Marchan had just converted to behind the plate when the Phillies signed him. While he was definitely raw behind the plate, the Phillies were enamored with his ability to hit for contact. Marchan has only improved as a catcher since being signed, and is now one of the most polished blockers/receivers in a system full of interesting catching prospects. Consistency is still an issue when he is behind the plate, but that is to be expected when you are learning on the fly as Marchan has been. He has always had a strong arm and has shown a consistent ability to throw base runners out. The HR that Marchan hit last September for the Phillies was his first professional road tripper, but Marchan should be able to grow into double digit HR numbers at his peak. More often, Marchan will pepper CBP with line drives, and will turn into a doubles machine. Currently, Marchan is the third catcher on the depth chart behind JT Realmuto and Andrew Knapp, but many in the organization, including manager Joe Girardi, are high on him. Marchan will, at the very least, be an above average backup catcher in this league.
5. CF Johan Rojas – Rojas came from the depths of obscurity to be a Top-10 prospect in the Phillies system, which speaks to 1) how incredibly talented Rojas is and 2) how little high end talent the Phillies have in their system. Rojas is an athletic specimen: a plus plus runner who plays centerfield like his pants are on fire. He has high end bat speed, as the ball makes a different sound when it jumps off his barrel. He does not have good pitch recognition skills, resulting in a ton of hard swing and misses. He has a lot of moving pieces in his swing mechanics, making it very hard to replicate it every single time. There is confidence that with experience his holes will correct themselves. He will be 20 years old for most of the upcoming season, so there time for him to progress offensively. Defensively, he will be a the very least a plus defender in centerfield. If he begins to get it, Rojas has a chance to be an everyday superstar in centerfield. If it doesn’t, Rojas will be a defensive specialist who will walk into HRs every so often because of how hard he swings. Rojas probably starts this season in Low-A, and I can assure you that many people, including myself, will be watching to see how he starts.
4. SS Bryson Stott – During the 2019 draft build up, if you had told me that Stott would have fallen to 14, I would have said you were crazy. Almost all of the mock drafts and draft pundits had Stott as a Top 10 lock. While Stott is good player, none of his tools really jump of the page at you. He isn’t plus at anything, but he also doesn’t have a tool that is below average either. There is a chance that he stays at shortstop long-term, but if he has to move off of it, Stott could handle either 2B or 3B with ease. He has the arm strength for all positions on the dirt, though his throwing motion is not as fluid as you would like from a middle infielder. With the bat, Stott makes really good contact and has really good pitch recognition skills to go with it. His swing has a natural uppercut to it, and that will add some swing and miss to his game. While he has shown flashes of above average power, the flashes are closer to average in game situations. He does possess above average speed, and shows a knack for base stealing. While his floor is rather high, his ceiling is on the lower side unless one or more of his tools can take a step forward. Stott could make some noise for the Phillies later this season, but should definitely be in consideration for a spot on the big league roster come 2022.
3. RHP Francisco Morales – Probably my favorite player on this list, Morales continues the trend of the Phillies developing Latin American pitchers with strong arms. Morales was the top pitcher in the 2016 international free agency market, and for good reason. Standing 6’4″, Morales has the frame of a big league pitcher. His legs are extremely strong, and that allows him to generate more power on his pitches. His plus fastball routinely sits between 91-96 mph, but there is a shot that there is more in the tank for him. He does throw a changeup, but it is a work in progress for him. The real star is his slider, which he can manipulate its speed and movement like a 15-year veteran. His slider comes in anywhere from 79-89 mph, and has three distinct looks depending on the speed. On the slower side, the slider acts more like a power curve with a hard break, whereas it will act like a cutter when thrown with more velocity. Ideally, a pitcher in the rotation would have at least three pitches, so the Phillies hope that Morales can figure out how to more effectively use the changeup. However, with his ability to add and subtract velocity from his slider, Morales can fake having more than two pitches. Morales is only 21, so there is plenty of time for him to grow and mature. Already, though, Morales looks the part of either a #2/#3 starter or a high end closer.
2. RHP Spencer Howard – While some of the luster that Howard had wore off after his debut in the MLB last season, the reasons why he was so highly regarded as a pitching prospect are still evident when he toes the rubber. While he struggled with consistently showing it, his fastball is a plus-plus pitch that sits mid-90’s while reaching 99 mph. The fastball explodes out of his hand and looks the part of a top of the rotation fastball. His best secondary is probably his changeup, which, when paired with his fastball, is nearly unhittable. The changeup sits 80-84 and, by throwing it with the same arm speed and slot as his fastball, makes hitter look foolish when the bat leaves their shoulders. Depending on who you talk to, Howard’s slider or curve would be neck and neck for his third pitch. His slider is a standard two plane breaking ball that he can ride out of the zone, while his curveball is more of a vertical hook that will freeze batters. He is still raw when it comes to starting games, and will continue to have to work on the nuances of being in the starting rotation, like control and command. He is a very athletic kid, and it should help him show his control and command more consistently. He looks to have a place in the 2021 rotation, but he will have to earn it with a strong Spring Training. If Howard puts it all together, he has the highest upside of anyone on this list, except for maybe this man..
1. RHP Mick Abel – The top prep school arm in the 2020, the Phillies would probably not have gotten Abel if it weren’t for the pandemic. With many high school sports being cancelled last year, teams at the top of the draft shied away from taking high school talent because of the unknown. The Phillies look to be the beneficiaries of that, as Abel somehow slid to them at pick No. 15. Abel is one of the most advanced high school pitchers I have ever covered, and it starts on the field. Abel’s fastball sits regularly in the 93-95 mph zone, although there were some reports he was up to 98 mph in Clearwater this offseason. He commands the zone with it, having the ability to throw strikes all over the zone. He has the makings of two plus secondary pitches, as he has a good feel for both his slider and changeup. He will throw a curveball from time to time, but it’s more so to make the hitters uncomfortable. On top of his arsenal, Abel has advanced control for a 19-year-old pitcher and is a student of the game. Abel will be one of the hardest working kids in the organization, and that’s what you want out of your top guys. He’s a bulldog out on the mound, as his competitive nature only brings out the best that Abel has to offer. While I may be higher on him than others who cover the Phillies, I firmly believe that the sky is the limit for this kid. 2021 will be the coming out party for Mick Abel and its only a matter of time before he is skyrocketing up prospect lists and through the Phillies’ system.