Keith Law and Phillies fans very rarely see eye to eye. If you are unfamiliar with Mr. Law, he is ESPN’s resident prospect guru with a doctorate in “I Know More Than You”.
Law was unkind to the Phils in his Top 100 prospect list, putting Jesse Biddle and Adam Morgan in the bottom ten, in what must have been a rare moment of pity. Law’s analysis may not be the most objective in the world, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the Phillies’ system is thinner than Donald Trump’s hair.
Despite giving Phillies farm hands little mention in his top 100, Mr. Law’s team-by-team top 10 lists forced him to find the ten best prospects in the system, and come up with reasonably positive things about them.
“Joseph could get his shot in 2014 if Chooch doesn’t come back” Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Keith Law’s list breaks down like this,
1. Adam Morgan, LHP
2. Jesse Biddle, LHP
3. Roman Quinn, SS
4. Michael Franco, 3B
5. Tommy Joseph, C
6. Ethan Martin, RHP
7. Jonathan Pettibone, RHP
8. Cody Asche, 3B
9. Kenny Giles, RHP
10. Larry Greene, 1B
Most of the names on the list should be familiar to fans. It’s not identical to the recently released list by MLB.com, but who are we to question the all-knowing Mr. Law. As an organization he puts the Phillies at 27th, so there is no uncertainty about how he views the system as a whole.
"“Years of trades, surrendered draft picks and refusal to go give signing bonuses that exceed MLB’s recommendations have taken their toll on a system that doesn’t look like it’ll spit out an average every-day position player until at least 2015 barring a big step forward from someone like Cody Asche.” – Keith Law"
This scathing introduction hurts because it’s true. The most promising prospects anywhere close to contributing within the next year are all on the mound. The aforementioned Cody Asche represents a glimmer of hope, but he hasn’t proven himself against any advanced competition. Just the idea that the Phillies have a promising young third baseman is reason enough to cheer, even if he is just a fringe prospect to the outside world.
My first reaction to Mr. Law’s write up was to throw out the bias card. After the dust settled and the steam coming from my ears dissipated though I noticed it wasn’t all bad.
In his “Sleeper” section he acknowledges that their is vast potential among a number of prospects. Roman Quinn is faster than all hell, Michael Franco could out pace Asche at third, and last year’s top pick Shane Watson could bring the system as a whole up a notch. All these players come with a lot of ifs, but there is reason to be hopeful. Unfortunately for the Phillies their greatest asset is potential, which doesn’t translate to immediate help or much trade value.
The Phillies are stuck between a rock and a hard place with their youngsters. There’s no help around the corner, unless you look way way down. 2013 is a make or break year for the team, but it’s also a crucial year for many of their prospects. Guys like Biddle, Morgan, and Asche will be tested for the first time in AA, putting all their potential to the test. Keith Law might be right about the Phillies low team ranking, but he can’t ignore the upside that exists. Here’s hoping these guys live up to their potential!