Phillies farm system has 'sneaky' depth despite uninspiring ranking

The Phillies don't have one of the top farm systems, but they have some talented youth capable of making a further impact with their minor league franchises in 2024.

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The Philadelphia Phillies have some talented prospects despite not having one of the better farm systems in Major League Baseball. Andrew Painter, Mick Abel, Justin Crawford, and Aidan Miller were MLB Pipeline's Phillies No. 1-4 ranked prospects, respectively, last season.

Keith Law of The Athletic recently released his MLB farm system rankings for the 2024 season (subscription required). He listed the Phillies as having the 19th-best prospect system. While the ranking is low, Law points out that the Single-A Clearwater Threshers roster, in particular, does have some budding talent.

Law wrote the following about Philadelphia's prospects: "The Phillies have some sneaky depth here, with a very talented Low-A Clearwater roster in 2023 buttressing the system, and a solid mix of pitching and position players across all levels. They might end up with a pair of stars in Justin Crawford (No. 43) and, if he comes back 100 percent from Tommy John surgery, Andrew Painter (No. 34), while they have significant depth on both sides of the ball to make some small trades."

Which players in the Phillies' prospect system comprise their depth?

The Clearwater Threshers roster features a few of the Phillies' Top 30 prospects in 2023, such as pitchers Alex McFarlane (No. 11) and Micah Ottenbreit (No. 17). Infielders William Bergolla (No. 10), Nikau Pouaka-Grego (No. 26), and Miller are also with the club. Outfielder Emaarion Boyd (No. 12) rounds out the top-ranked prospects with Clearwater.

Boyd will be an exciting player to watch develop based on his speed. He stole 56 bases in 91 games last year with the Threshers. The Phillies have two prospects who have demonstrated how fast they are on the base paths in Boyd and Crawford, who had 47 stolen bases in 2023, 40 of them with Clearwater.

An outfielder currently with the Reading Fightin' Phils in Double-A who could develop further is Carlos De La Cruz. The 6-foot-8 outfielder is a good athlete despite his size. At first base, he has played in 75 contests during his minor league career.

In addition to playing at first, he has demonstrated his versatility by playing all three outfield spots with 162 career games in right, 88 contests in left, and 66 games in center. Cruz set a career high with 24 home runs, 80 runs, and 67 RBI in 509 at-bats last year. The 24-year-old could be promoted to Triple-A with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs this season.

Ethan Wilson, also with Reading, demonstrated his potential at the plate with 24 doubles, 17 home runs, and 61 RBI in 420 at-bats during 2023. He has played primarily in right field, with 139 career games and 84 starts in left. He's another player worth watching to see if he progresses in Double-A and with the IronPigs, if he's promoted during the 2024 season.

MLB.com contributors Jim Callis, Sam Dykstra, and Jonathan Mayo wrote a piece predicting each team's top prospect in 2026. They predicted shortstop Starlyn Caba to be the Phillies' number-one ranked young player in two years. The piece notes he had more walks (28) than strikeouts (16) in the Dominican Summer League last season.

Caba's bio on his MLB Pipeline prospect page compares him to a young Francisco Lindor. The 18-year-old infielder doesn't project to hit for power but can run, hit, and be a good defender at shortstop. He had a .301/.423/.346 slash line with a .769 OPS.

Eduardo Tait looks to be another talented young player who will be interesting to watch. He played in the Dominican Summer League last year as well. He had a .333/.400/.517 slash line with a .917 OPS. He has a decent throwing arm, which will be crucial for him to continue developing as a catcher.

His power and hitting numbers are good as well for a 17-year-old prospect. If Tait continues progressing and remains with the organization, he could be the Phillies' next starting catcher. However, that won't be for at least a few seasons, as his estimated time of arriving in the majors is in 2028.

A year after top prospects Johan Rojas and Orion Kerkering debuted for the Phillies, the club has some more young players who can debut in the major leagues during the middle of this season. Eyes will be on Abel, in particular, to see if he can surprise during spring training or receive a promotion to the majors during 2024.

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