This series is designed to evaluate the role prospects play in each Major League organization, looking at the short- and long-term needs of each club and illustrating how prospects fit in both scenarios. Here's my look at the Phillies:
This year could be the final installment of the current Phillies team. Age and declining production have bitten the Phils, and the need to win is intense. But with the possible exception of Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, I don't see any prospects breaking camp with the club this spring.
There are some quality prospects in the Pipeline, but they are better suited for deployment long-term than in the coming season. Of course, that can change with an injury or poor performance.
Reaching into the international free-agent market, the Phillies signed Gonzalez. It is very possible Gonzalez will claim a rotation spot coming out of Spring Training. It would seem the Phils certainly want that to happen, as there are no restrictions on him this spring.
From his press clippings, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Gonzalez is reported to throw a fastball, slider, curveball, changeup, cutter, knuckleball and sinker. If that's the case, I'm exhausted just thinking about it. Since Gonzalez had bone chips removed from his elbow in 2012, it seems he is ready to pitch without pain or threat of injury.
In the event one of the starters is shut down, the first call will most likely go to right-hander Jonathan Pettibone or rookie lefty Jesse Biddle. But other starting pitchers like Ethan Martin, B.J. Rosenberg and Sean O'Sullivan are also available.
Biddle is attractive because of his solid track record for the Phillies' Minor League clubs and for the fact he is left-handed. Biddle is 6-foot-4, 225 pounds. At only 22, he has pitched in the Phils organization in parts of four seasons. Biddle has a 26-29 overall record in his 89 career starts, but his ERA is a very nice 3.34.
PROJECTED 2016 PHILLIES LINEUP
|SP||Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez|
Last season, Biddle started 27 games and completed 138 1/3 innings for Double-A Reading. It was a good test, and he finished with an ERA of 3.64 while compiling a 5-14 record. Biddle compiled some strange numbers. He walked an average of 5.3 hitters per nine innings and struck out 10 per nine.
The right-handed Martin has a chance to help the rotation. He has started eight games for the parent club and has a 2-5 record. Martin has a 6.08 ERA in his 40 innings pitched. He faltered because he yielded almost six walks per nine innings.
Maikel Franco is a major prospect with a chance to have an impact once he arrives at the big league level. He is coming off a season in which he hit 31 home runs combined for Class A Advanced Clearwater (16) and Double-A Reading (15). Of Franco's 173 hits, 36 were doubles and three were triples. He has great bat speed, and he clobbers pitchers' mistakes. Defensively, Franco has a strong, accurate arm and is a very solid third baseman.
Outfielder Aaron Altherr has played parts of five seasons in the Phillies' system. He has a composite .260 batting average that included a .275 season at Class A Advanced Clearwater this past year. Altherr had 36 doubles, six triples and 12 home runs among his 128 hits. But he struck out 140 times. Altherr has speed, as he stole 23 bases.
Catcher Tommy Joseph, 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, was limited to 36 games in 2013 because of a concussion. He has improved defensively over time and, if healthy, may soon be ready to assume some of the Phillies catching duties. Power is his best offensive tool.
The Phils also have some promising young talent several years away from making the Major Leagues.
Shortstop J.P. Crawford was the team's 2013 first-round selection in the First-Year Player Draft. He began his rookie year in the Gulf Coast Rookie League, hitting .345. Jumping to Class A Lakewood, Crawford hit .208 in 60 plate appearances covering 14 games.
Roman Quinn is another Phillies shortstop worth watching. Quinn is a 20-year-old switch-hitter. He played at Class A Short Season Williamsport in 2012 and at Class A Lakewood last season, though he missed the second half of '13 with a fractured wrist. And Quinn is now recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon from the offseason.
Quinn hit .260 over his two seasons, with a .238 mark last year. He does not have much power, but he has speed. In two seasons, Quinn has stolen 30 and 32 bases respectively.
Finally, another young outfielder to watch is 18-year-old Carlos Tocci. He is from Venezuela and came to the Phils as an international free agent. Tocci is a solid gap hitter with the ability to hit plenty of doubles and with enough speed to leg out some triples as well.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.