Disappointing Phillies prospect the biggest faller in MLB Pipeline Top 100 update

The Phillies' 2020 first-round pick has seen his prospect ranking plummet since the beginning of the season.
Philadelphia Phillies Photo Day
Philadelphia Phillies Photo Day / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

A new update of MLB Pipeline's Top 100 prospect rankings is now out, and the Philadelphia Phillies are well-represented on the list. Five players rank in the Top 100 prospects in baseball, including Andrew Painter (No. 19), Aidan Miller (No. 27), Justin Crawford (No. 55), Starlyn Caba (No. 88) and Mick Abel (No. 93).

While Miller’s stock has risen significantly in recent months, another Phillies prospect on the list saw his position plummet after a disappointing first half of the season.

Disappointing Phillies prospect the biggest faller in MLB Pipeline Top 100 update

Mick Abel entered the season as the 58th-best prospect in the minor leagues. He was drafted 15th overall in 2020 and had high expectations as a potential future top-of-the-rotation starter alongside Andrew Painter. Abel spent time with the Phillies during spring training but was ultimately sent down to Triple-A Lehigh Valley to start the season.

As noted by MLB.com's Sam Dykstra, Abel took the biggest drop in the rankings. He fell 36 spots to No. 94 but has since moved up to No. 93 after a graduation higher up the list.

So far, Abel’s tenure with Lehigh Valley has been inconsistent. After making one promising start in 2023 with the club, he has struggled this season, posting a 2-7 record to go along with a 6.58 ERA through 14 starts.

Abel has struggled to find the strike zone, walking 46 batters in 64.1 innings, which adds up to an average of 6.44 walks per nine innings. In addition to the high walk rate, his strikeout rate has dropped from 10.48 per nine innings in 2023 to just 8.39 this season.

When Abel has found the strike zone he has struggled with giving up the long ball, giving up 13 home runs this season. This is just two less than last year when he gave up 15 in 113 1/3 innings.

Part of the reason for Abel’s struggles could be related to the dip in his velocity, as Dykstra points out. Abel’s fastball has been averaging 93 to 95 mph, which is down from 96 mph a year ago. Combine this with the full-time jump from Double- to Triple-A, and Abel has not lived up to the expectations that come from being a first-round pick. 

Abel still has time to figure things out

While there is some concern, Abel is just 22 years old and still has the potential to be in the Phillies' plans for years to come.

With uncertainty surrounding the futures of Ranger Suárez and Taijuan Walker beyond their current contracts, Abel has the chance to slot in the back end of the rotation alongside Andrew Painter in either 2025 or 2026 if he can find his groove in Triple-A.

The good news is that the Phillies rotation has been excellent so far in 2024, so the team can afford to be patient with both Abel and Painter. The team has done a great job developing young stars, including Suárez, Cristopher Sánchez, Alec Bohm and Bryson Stott, and they will look to do the same with Abel.

With less pressure due to the team’s current success, Abel can continue to work on finding the strike zone and limiting the long ball. If he does this, he has a chance to get back on track and reward the Phillies for their investment in 2020.