Jul 14, 2013; Flushing , NY, USA; USA pitcherJesse Biddle
throws a pitch during the 2013 All Star Futures Game at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Fans who have been waiting to get a look at top prospects Maikel Franco and Jesse Biddle will get their chance this Spring. Those two, along with right-handed pitcher Ken Giles, left-handed pitcher Mario Hollands and catcher Sebastian Valle have been invited to Spring Training as non-roster players.
Franco and Biddle are the consensus top two prospects in the Phillies’ system, although they experienced varying levels of success in 2013. Biddle entered the season as the Phillies’ top-rated prospect, but he had an inconsistent season. He struggled with his control for most of the year, and finished with a disappointing 5-14 record at AA Reading. Franco wasn’t as highly regarded coming into the season, but he had a phenomenal year with the bat. Splitting his time between AA and AAA, he hit 31 home runs and a .926 OPS.
Neither man is projected to be on the major league roster coming out of Spring Training, but if they get off to a strong start, it wouldn’t be out of the question to see them make an appearance for the big league team in 2014.
As for the other prospects, Giles is the most intriguing of the three. The 23-year-old flamethrower needs to improve his command, and his slider reportedly still needs work, but when you can average 97 MPH on your fastball, that’s a solid foundation on which to build.
Hollands is a reliever who spent time at both Clearwater and Reading last season, while much has been written about Valle’s fall from top prospect status. Both of them are probably only there to serve as “camp bodies,” but there’s always a chance they could change someone’s mind with a strong showing.