It was a big season for Phillies prospects as several jumped off the page while others took a step back, but who emerges as the best after this season?
The pride of the Phillies right now is their impressive farm system which ranks among the best in all of baseball. That being said, there is no one prospect that jumps off the page as the clear No. 1 on the team. There’s an argument for several players in the system, but who comes out on top?
Coming into this season, J.P. Crawford was still considered the top Phillies prospect by most. He had been the best for several years after being drafted in the first round of the 2013 draft. Crawford struggled upon reaching Triple-A, but confidence wasn’t shaken enough to warrant moving him out of the top spot just yet.
Then this season got underway and Crawford’s struggles only continued. Through his first 56 games there, he had a .194/.313/.252 line as he just couldn’t seem to get a hit when he needed it. Midseason rankings reflected these struggles as he nearly fell out of the Baseball America Top 100 as their confidence was obviously shaken.
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After missing a week and a half with a groin injury, Crawford came back with a vengeance. Upon coming back June 20, Crawford tore up the International Leauge with 13 home runs and a .904 OPS.
Crawford showed that he was ready for the major-leagues, earning a promotion once the regular season ended. Since coming up, he has continued to show his trademark discipline as well as stellar defense at whatever position he has played.
Has Crawford done enough to warrant returning to the top spot in the system, or is someone else more deserved?
In Baseball America’s midseason rankings, outfielder Mickey Moniak and pitcher Sixto Sanchez ranked back to back at Nos. 46 and 47 overall, indicating just how close they are in potential. Moniak, last year’s No. 1 overall draft pick, has the potential to be a four-tool, if not five-tool outfielder with a well above-average ability to hit.
However, people are starting to doubt Moniak after a poor full-season debut. In 123 Low-A games, Moniak managed a measly .236/.284/.341 line with 11 stolen bases and a 21.4 percent strikeout rate. His performance only got worse as the season went on, indicating that he needs to adjust to the full-season workload. Granted, he was 2.5 years younger than the average player in the South Atlantic League and this was only his age-19 season, so there’s still certainly time for development for Moniak.
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Meanwhile, Sixto Sanchez dominated the SAL on the mound, striking out a quarter of opposing hitters while walking just 3.5 percent. Sanchez continued to show his high-90s fastball along with a strong secondary arsenal all while not turning 19 until July 29. His performance dipped upon reaching High-A, but to even be at that level at his age is already an impressive sign.
If you are more a fan of players who are right on the cusp of the majors but don’t buy in to Crawford, Scott Kingery may be more your style. Kingery continued the trend of Phillies prospects crushing the ball in Double-A with 18 home runs and a .987 OPS in 69 games to start the season in Reading.
Kingery’s power obviously dipped upon leaving Reading for Triple-A Lehigh Valley, but he still finished the season strong with eight home runs and a .294 batting average with the IronPigs. It should be noted his walk rate went down in Triple-A, but the same thing happened when Kingery first reached Double-A and he turned out just fine this year after making adjustments in the offseason.
If Rhys Hoskins was still in the prospect conversation, you could very well make the case for him being the top prospect as well after his strong minor-league season.
Ultimately, who is the top prospect in the system depends on the preferences of the ranker and how much they buy into each player’s stats from this year. In the end, the number in front of the player’s name on a list doesn’t matter a whole lot anyway; it’s about what they do once they reach the majors.