Six Phillies prospects named in Top 100, but when will we see them?

Mickey Moniak
Lakewood BlueClaws center fielder Mickey Moniak (22) during a game against the Asheville Tourists at McCormick Field on June 2, 2017 in Asheville, North Carolina. The Tourists defeated the BlueClaws 7-5. (Tony Farlow/Four Seam Images via AP Images)

Recently, MLB.com released its midseason Top 100 prospects list. They do so around this time every year, adjusting the list the site compiled prior to the first pitch of the season. The updated, mid-year report takes into consider the play of each player through the first half and makes changes in each prospects rankings. Some rise because of increased play. Some descend for the opposite reason. Others still are entirely removed or added to the list, such as last year’s number one prospect Andrew Benintendi, who now, of course, is manning the outfield at Fenway Park and no longer eligible for the list.  Hunter Green, who, despite being drafted just over a month ago as the number two overall pick to the Cincinnati Reds, now claims the 21st spot on the list, ten places ahead of Twins number one overall pick, shortstop Royce Lewis.

With the changes made, some Phillies’ prospects have made the cut of the Top 100: six to be exact. The order, however, is one that may surprise you. Shortstop J.P. Crawford made the list again this July despite struggling at the plate over the last two seasons. Although Crawford does find his name on the list, he’s going to have to scroll down significantly more this time around to find it. While Crawford has fallen out of the graces of scouts across the country, other Phillies’ prospects are shooting up the Top 100 board, including one pitcher making his debut on the list. I won’t give any more away, however, as we’ll save the suspense for later.

You know there are six Phillies on the list. You also that J.P. Crawford is on there. And I bet you can guess the first time pitcher. But, there are still four players that haven’t been mentioned yet. What I want to do is introduce these players to you and break down their seasons to this point. Finally, I’d like to break down when we’ll see them in the red pinstripes here in Philadelphia. Some have already made their Major League debuts, but they haven’t really made a lasting impact yet. Some, though, we may be waiting on a little while longer.

This list will be compiled, and final call ups will be decided upon. While certain players may have already made their debuts, and others are close to making their’s, the final verdicts will be decided solely on when I believe each player will get called up and stay up on the Major League roster.

 

#33 Mickey Moniak, OF Lakewood

The Phillies drafted the outfielder out of La Costa Canyon High School in Carlsbad, CA with the first overall pick in 2016. While the Phillies have had a track record of picking the wrong high school talent in the first round, the team was confident enough in Moniak’s talents to make him the top pick last year. Moniak delivered in his first season in Rookie ball last year, hitting .284 with a .340 on base percentage in 46 games. He was promoted to Lakewood to begin the 2017 season, and has stayed there all year. In 91 games this season, Moniak has hit a respectable .261 and has driven in 33 runs. Moniak continues to have decent plate discipline at this next level, walking 24 thus far and striking out just 20 percent of his at bats.

It’s apparent the Phillies don’t want to rush the development of Moniak more than they have to. While Moniak isn’t physically imposing, (6’2″, 185 pounds) we have to remember that he is still just 19-years-old. He’s likely still growing, and could add an inch or so and 25 pounds by the time he gets to the big leagues. The difference between his current stature and 6’3″, 210 pounds in staggering. While Moniak is the Phillies top rated prospect this July, I’d expect him to be the last of the six to make the big league roster. In front of him remain Odubel Herrera and Nick Williams at the Major League level, Dylan Cozens and Roman Quinn in AAA, Carlos Tocci in AA, Cornelius Randolph in Clearwater and Williamsports’ Adam Haseley and Jhaylin Ortiz behind him. It will be a fight for Moniak to take a spot in a crowded outfield, but there’s a reason he was a number one pick. If you wanted to set a timetable on Moniak’s promotion to the Major League level, based on his trajectory so far, I’d time stamp it at or around four years. It seems like a long way away, but Moniak will still only be 22-years-old then.  Don’t rush the kid. Give him time to develop into a professional hitter.

Final Verdict- 2021

 

#52 Sixto Sanchez, RHP Lakewood

If you hadn’t figured it out by now, Sanchez is the mystery pitcher from a few paragraphs ago. Sanchez has burst onto the scene this season with his electric fastball and torrid pace of pitching. At 18-years-old, Sanchez is routinely pumping his fastball in the mid-90’s and has occasionally touched as high as 100 mph. Just to emphasis that point, if Sanchez were to have been in the United States his whole life, he’d be a senior… in high school. I can’t imagine firing that hard, that young. Sanchez has been downright dominant this season in Lakewood, posting a 5-3 record with a 2.64 ERA. More importantly, over 61.1 innings this season, Sanchez has punched out 59 batters. Most importantly, especially for young pitcher, Sanchez has walked just nine hitters this entire season. That 6.5 K/BB ratio has allowed Sanchez to put together a 0.86 WHIP this season.

The Phillies have been using Sanchez cautiously in Lakewood, as the righty has pitched more than five innings in a start just once this season. A nearly identical situation awaits Sanchez as does Moniak in terms of growth. Sanchez is 6’0″, 185 pounds right now as an 18-year-old. Assuming Sanchez hits a similar growth pattern, a 6’1″, 200+ pound pitcher will routinely fire 97-99. It could be scary stuff for a long time.

What’s going to be interesting to me is the contract Sanchez gets next. While he is under team control and playing in the minor leagues, which allows for seriously low paying contracts, the Phillies may want to lock him up for as long as they can, seeing his trajectory as it currently stands. The long-term deal may come at a price, but I believe it’s one the team is willing to pay to keep Sanchez in the system for years.

The two have growth pattern similarities, but I don’t think their projected time for the big leagues are the same. Moniak has a slew of talented outfielders in his way. Sanchez has a much easier road to travel against his pitching teammates. I think that Franklyn Kolome and JoJo Romero are on similar tracks in Clearwater as Sanchez, but as I mentioned before, I think Kolome will be best suited in the bullpen. Elniery Garcia is the only arm to stand in the way at AA Reading, and the starters now in AAA Lehigh Valley have proved their worth at the big league level to be less than anticipated. I give Sanchez three years before he’s making his Major League debut. He’ll have some hills to climb, but if he continues to power pitch at a high level, there’s no way the Phillies will keep him plugged up in the minor leagues.

Final Verdict- 2020

 

#56 Scott Kingery, IF Lehigh Valley

Scott Kingery is probably the Sixto Sanchez of Phillies’ positional players this year. After starting the season as a relative unknown in Reading, Kingery exploded offensively in the early months. In 69 games in AA, Kingery batted .313 with a .379 on base percentage. He belted 18 homeruns and was lighting the world on fire, hitting any baseball that dare come his way at the plate. Just less than 300 at bats in Reading was enough for the Phillies to promote Kingery to AAA Lehigh Valley, where’s he’s spent the last 23 games. The average has dipped slightly, down to .274, but that’s expected with a quick jump in levels. In fact, Kingery has hit well above expectations for a guy that started the 2016 season in Clearwater.

I have been very high on Kingery this season, and, in fact, if you’re will to backtrack, wrote a piece about a month and half ago when Cesar Hernandez got injured that the Phillies should call up Kingery and give him a shot at the Major League level. What did they have to lose? What do they have to lose now by promoting him? The only downside to a quick promotion is that Kingery may not get consistent at bats like he is in Lehigh Valley, something I believe concerns the front office. Kingery is just 23-years-old and has quickly ascended after being a second round pick by the Phillies in 2015. Kingery’s promotion, I believe, is eminent when the rosters expand to 40 players, although he would have to be placed on the 40-man roster, which shouldn’t be a problem consider the team has options of who they’d like to remove, including Edubray Ramos. While Kingery will get his first taste of Major League baseball this season, I don’t expect him to be on the roster come Opening Day 2018. He could benefit from one more full season of minor league ball between now and his eventually call up for good. It won’t be long, however, until Kingery is an everyday Phillie.

Final Verdict- 2018

 

#64 J.P. Crawford, SS Lehigh Valley

My, how the mighty have fallen. Once considered a top five, can’t miss prospect by MLB scouts, Crawford has fallen on some hard times and dropped 57 spots, down from number seven to begin the season. That can be attributed to his struggles at the plate over the last two seasons. While Crawford is just 22-years-old and has only been with Lehigh Valley for just over a full season combined, his numbers are telling. Last year, Crawford hit just .244 and this year, that number is down to .228. Crawford’s saving grace at the dish is his ability to draw the walk. Crawford has walked 94 over the last two seasons in AAA, prompting him to have .328 and .333 on base percentages, respectively.

Add his struggles at the plate with the fact that his fielding percentage is leaving little to be desired, and you have a recipe for disaster. Since being called up to Lehigh Valley, Crawford has fielded at a .968 and .955 percentage. Conversely, Freddy Galvis is playing at a .987 and .985 clip the last two years. While the two are different players, they’re competing for the same position, and right now, Galvis is winning, and winning big.

While I would not be surprised to see Crawford make his Major League debut this September, I am hard pressed to find a spot for him on the big league roster next year, barring injury or trade. Scott Kingery has passed him as next man up in the infield rotation, and if he can get back to playing the way he was before his injury, I believe so has Jesmuel Valentine. Only time will tell if Crawford will ever be the shortstop the Phillies and their fans hoped he would be, but my money’s on not more so than yes. Crawford will be a Phillie at some point, but I don’t know for how long. I could see him as a career AAA infielder who gets some invites to spring training and plays a few seasons with various teams, never really sticking anywhere. Ooh, the life of a journeyman.

Final Verdict- 2019

 

#73 Jorge Alfaro, Catcher Lehigh Valley

Jorge Alfaro made his Major League debut last season for the Phillies, and I’d suspect he’ll be up again as soon as the calendar flips to September. The big catcher appeared in six games last season, picking up 16 at bats, but producing just two hits and striking out eight times. While the small sample size isn’t worrisome for Alfaro, his 2017 AAA stats may be. The 24-year-old has played in 77 games this season, batting .242 with a sub-.300 on base percentage. He’s driven in 40 runs, but has struckout an outstanding 34 percent of his at bats this years. That’s not a shock, however, as Alfaro has struckout in just under 30 percent of his at bats in his career. That won’t win you too many brownie points with your skipper at any level.

Alfaro has possibly the second shortest pace to the Majors of the six prospect listed in the Top 100, behind just the final guy soon to be mentioned, but he’s not doing himself any favors. I’m under the assumption that Cameron Rupp will likely not return to the Phillies when his contract is up at the end of the season. That leaves just Andrew Knapp on the big league roster. That spot is Alfaro’s to lose. He’ll get more cuts with the Phillies in the end of the season as a second audition for next year. Unless the Phillies either re-sign Rupp or bring in an outside catcher, I’d assume that Alfaro will be with the Phillies when they break camp in 2018. Things could change, but I’d expect him to get his shot, at least. I don’t know is Alfaro is the long term solution behind the plate, but he is certainly the patch work solution until the team can figure out if he belongs or they need to go get another catcher. Expect to see Alfaro soon.

Final Verdict- 2018

 

#74 Rhys Hoskins, 1B Lehigh Valley

Hoskins has the easiest shot at being a Phillie in the near future, as Tommy Joseph is all that stands in his way of being the everyday first baseman in Philadelphia. While I’d love to see the two play on the same roster, the team has already openly said their isn’t a chance for the two to co-exist as Phillies. While Joseph has certainly earned my respect, I’d have to think that means his time in Philadelphia is coming to a swift end. The team is actively searching for a trade partner for Joseph, which means, if a deal is done, Hoskins will be on the Major League roster by August 1.

But does he deserve the keys to the kingdom?

In 100 games, Hoskins is batting .282 this season with a tremendous .376 on base percentage. He’s added 23 homeruns and 75 RBI’s to his credit. What concerned me last season was that Hoskins was playing in Reading, a relative bandbox stadium, and that the numbers would transition to Lehigh Valley, a bigger stadium. And while Hoskins liekly won’t hit 38 homeruns or drive in 116 runs, his promotional adjustment period was far less than expected, and the numbers he’s produced have been significant.

What impresses me most is Hoskins’ plate discipline. in 351 at bats this season, Hoskins has struckout just 66 times, an 18.8 percent clip. To go along with his low strikeout rate, Hoskins provides a high walk rate. He’s walked 51 times this season. That’s a 1.29 K/BB ratio, which is marvelous.

Hoskins will be on the Major League roster before the season ends in one capacity or another. Whether he replaces a traded Tommy Joseph or he’s a September callup, Hoskins will make his Major League debut this season. Going into the future, I can’t imagine it’s not his position to lose. Joseph is under team control for the next two seasons, making him a hot piece trade commodity. If he isn’t traded, the Phillies will re-sign him, because of his team-friendly contract, and look to deal him again in the offseason. What I’m getting at here is that Hoskins, barring anything crazy happening, should be the Opening Day starting first baseman next year.

Final Verdict- 2018

 

 

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