The Philadelphia Phillies Top 10 Prospects countdown continues here at TBOH with the #7 player on our list.
The final statistical numbers might not seem to show it on the surface, but the 2015 season was very much a breakout campaign for the next player on our Phillies prospect countdown, 20-year pitcher Franklyn Kilome.
Two specific developments caused the increased excitement in the 6’6, 175 pounder’s future with the organization. During last season, Kilome’s pure velocity spiked, and he demonstrated much more consistent command of his pitches.
Kilome jumped from an average fastball during the 2014 season that sat in the 90-92 MPH range to a 2015 heater sitting 3-4 MPH quicker. He would peak at around the 93 MPH range previously, but last year bumped that into the upper-90’s.
When you factor in his age, and the bump over the course of one year thanks to physical developmental and professional coaching, you would be excused if you didn’t stop to think: what if this isn’t the end? There is every reason to hope there is even more in store developmentally from the right-hander.
Kilome isn’t afraid to pitch inside, and he is deadly when he keeps the ball down in the zone. He really only needs to master a few more phases of the game in order to begin knocking on the big league door.
He still has to manage the game better with runners on base, and he could stand to command his fastball better when using it up in the zone. Also, Kilome needs to continue working on his change-up, the least effective weapon in his arsenal.
Kilome is just becoming known to the average Phillies fan, but he is well-known to national evaluators. He ranks as the club’s 4th best prospect by Baseball Prospectus, and MLB Pipeline has him at #8 on their listing of the Phils’ minor league talent. Baseball America has him right where we do, at #7 on their list released back in November, which was released prior to the Ken Giles trade with Houston.
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Here at TBOH, all seven of our staff members have Kilome not just among the top ten Phillies prospects, but he is in all of our top seven. The most enthusiastic of those staffers is Ethan Witte.
“When it comes to pitching prospects, I’m a fan of those guys who can be elite,” Ethan stated. “Most people will put Thompson in this spot, but at best, he profiles as a #2. Kilome’s ceiling is that of a #2, with a…chance of being a #1. Obviously, everything will have to break right, but if he can reach that ceiling, it’ll be the most valuable arm in the system.”
Mike Azzalina also thinks particularly highly of Kilome, and has him up at #5 on his own list, while Tyler DiSalle and David Mosemann had him up in their #6 slots. Mike joins Ethan in believing that Kilome could pitch one day at the front of the Phillies rotation, if it all comes together.
“He just may be my favorite pitcher in the system,” Mike said. “Kilome needs many different parts of his arsenal to improve to reach the top of the rotation dreams I have for him, but he is young with so much room to grow. The hope is that he remains healthy in 2016, and pitches his way to Clearwater with climbing velocity and improved breaking stuff.”
Myself, Ryan Gerstel, and Alexis Girardo all have Kilome in the 7th slot on our lists. Ryan is concerned that he may not develop the breaking pitches to remain in the rotation: “Wielding one of the most promising arms in the Phillies’ farm system, the 20-year-old Kilome has the stuff to project as an effective bullpen arm for the Phillies down the line. However, he still needs to master his off speed pitches to compliment his high-90s fastball.“
My own ranking of Kilome in the #7 slot, which is our overall consensus slot, is a sort of “split the difference” nod to everything you read above from our other staffers. He is indeed exciting, with front of the rotation potential. But despite that potential, he does indeed still need to pull it all together to avoid becoming a bullpen piece.
In any event, I believe that Kilome is absolutely going to pitch in Phillies pinstripes as the rebuilding program comes to fruition. That is not going to happen in the 2016 season. He simply has too much development left ahead of him, too much minor league work to put in, and there are too many more options ahead of him right now.
Kilome has just two professional seasons under his belt to this point. In those two seasons pitching at ages 19 and 20, he has only reached lower A ball. He has a 3.21 ERA and 1.216 WHIP with a 6-3 record over 22 games, 19 of those starts. He has allowed 77 hits in 89.2 innings with a 61/32 K:BB ratio to this point.
We are going to see Kilome start the season at High-A Clearwater. If his development continues as hoped, he should be able to reach AA Reading at some point during the summer.
The Phillies have some arms in their minor league system who will be starting pitchers in the big leagues, including Jake Thompson, Mark Appel, and Zach Eflin. There may even be a couple of others. None of them has the upside potential of Kilome.
Now it’s all about the youngster upgrading his off-speed pitches, refining his game, and gaining a bit more maturity. If he takes another step forward this year, he will shoot to the top of the Phillies prospect lists.