Phillies' farm system ranks as one of the best using Statcast hitting metrics

Farm system rankings haven't been kind to the Phillies recently, and for good reason, but a new ranking from Baseball America gives us hope for the future.
Símon Muzziotti, Lehigh Valley IronPigs
Símon Muzziotti, Lehigh Valley IronPigs / Rich Schultz/GettyImages

Farm system rankings are a constantly debated topic. It seems every major outlet has its own take on the ever-changing minor league systems of Major League Baseball organizations. From preseason rankings to midseason adjustments, we get continual updates of the best and worst organizations, and those in between.

In recent memory, the Philadelphia Phillies' farm system has routinely been ranked in the bottom third of the league, or close to it. MLB Pipeline's 2023 midseason update ranked the Phillies at No. 23, as did Baseball America (subscription required), while FanGraphs' last 2023 update ranked them at No. 19.

But while the overall farm system rankings haven't always been kind to the Phillies, and for good reason, Baseball America's new rankings system gives us hope for the future. Well, at least for the young bats.

Baseball America recently released its inaugural farm system Statcast rankings, with separate lists for pitching and hitting. While the Phillies didn't fare well in the pitching rankings at No. 17 (subscription required), their minor league hitters barreled their way to the top of the hitter rankings, coming in at No. 4 (subscription required).

What's different about these rankings?

The Statcast rankings take into account the underlying metrics of at-bats, not the results. How many times have you seen a batter scorch a ball, but it ends up in a glove? In traditional statistics, players aren't rewarded for hard-hit balls that result in outs. In Baseball America's rankings, they are.

So how does the Phillies' farm system, which has floundered in overall rankings, rate so highly?

The Phillies minor league hitters have a Hit Score+ of 114.09 (100 is league average). However, when adjusted for the slightly older age of the Phillies' minor leaguers — older minor league hitters tend to be more advanced and skilled, so it's not a fair comparison directly to younger minor leaguers — their score drops to 113.08. It's not a big change, and it still has them fourth overall. In fact, only four teams have an Age Adjusted Hit Score+ over 113.

Okay, that's cool. But what metrics do they use to determine this score? Baseball America looked at three metrics to compile this ranking.

The Phillies rank fifth in 90th percentile exit velocity at 102.25 mph (average is 101.52 mph), which means the organization has plenty of power coming through the system. They rank seventh with a 27.18 percent miss rate (average is 28.29 percent), which means the hitters not only have lots of power but also make good contact.

The only metric in which they don't rank near the top of the league is their 26.99 percent chase rate (average is 26.6 percent). This sees them fall to 17th in the swing decisions category.

Overall, the future looks bright for the hitters in the Phillies' farm system if they can cultivate these skills into MLB-caliber players. Thankfully, the team's development system has undergone a resurrection since 2021 under the watchful eye of director of player development Preston Mattingly.

With the current core of star hitters all in their 30s, we can only hope these rankings translate to results with the big league club in the years to come.

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