With alternate sites coming to an end, MLB Pipeline is recapping the development highlights for the prospects involved for each organization.
Top position prospect: Rafael Marchan, C (No. 7 on Top 30)
Marchan’s impressive 2020 actually began back in Spring Training when he got opportunities to play in big league Graprefruit League games. It continued when he was invited to summer camp and into his time at the alternate site in Allentown, Pa. He’s developing into an above-average defender with excellent hands and good blocking skills and he’s also worked hard to improve on the offensive side of the game as well, with strength leading to more consistent power at the plate.
“He developed in a lot of areas, from pitch-calling to his exchange,” Phillies farm director Josh Bonifay said. “He does an outstanding job with relationships. His bat-to-ball ability is at the top of the organization. He’s going to continue to physically mature. He has a bright future and very high upside.”
Top pitching prospect: Connor Brodgon, RHP
Connor Brogdon was a $5,000 10th-round senior sign out of Lewis-Clark State -- an NAIA school in Idaho -- in 2017 so needless to say expectations were somewhat limited. He’d already exceeded them by reaching Triple-A in 2019 while carrying an 11.5 K/9 rate into the 2020 season. The 6-foot-6 right-hander had been a starter in college, but had to move to the bullpen mostly because of a lack of opportunity. He’s taken off and run with it, reaching the big leagues this year (11 1/3 IP, 17 K's, .128 opponents' average) after showing more improvement in Allentown.
“He was outstanding,” Bonifay said. “He’s always had velocity and power with his fastball and can get swing and misses at the top of the zone. And he has a very, very good changeup. He made adjustments, doing an outstanding job at developing his curve. He has a slider, too, but he was developing the curveball.”
Youngest prospect: Logan O’Hoppe, C
Marchan is a few weeks younger than his fellow catcher, but since he’s discussed above, we’ll give this 2018 23rd-round pick some attention. The Long Island native has yet to play beyond short-season ball, but when the Phillies were down a few players, the 20-year-old answered the call and really benefited from the experience. He made particular strides in his ability to make contact after he struck out in 25.6 percent of his plate appearances over his first two summers of pro ball.
“He really made great improvements in his bat-to-ball skills,” Bonifay said. “He’s physically matured and showed he can hit velocity. He’s improved his swing decision and ability to impact the ball and his receiving continues to improve, all while showing he’s a great teammate.”
2020 Draft picks
The Phillies didn’t send any of their selections to Allentown, but all four, headlined by first-rounder Mick Abel, are participating in instructional league play in Clearwater, Fla., now.
The Phillies obviously thought Bryson Stott had the chance to be an impact player. That is, after all, why they took him No. 14 overall in the 2019 Draft. The club’s No. 2 prospect had a solid pro debut a summer ago, but has yet to play full-season ball, so the level of competition he faced at the alternate site was much higher than anything he’d seen. The left-handed hitter showed improved strength and a greater ability to impact the baseball as a result, impressing particularly with how well he handled lefties on the mound, giving confidence he’ll hit for both average and some pop in the future. He also showed steady improvement at shortstop and should be able to stay there long-term.
Outfielder Mickey Moniak (No. 12) was a late addition to the alternate site, leading some to believe he was going to be involved in a Trade Deadline deal. Instead, the former No. 1 overall pick was called up and made his big league debut in mid-September. The Phillies were thrilled with how he used his time on his own to improve, especially physically, while continuing to improve his approach at the plate.
“He gained some power and strength,” Bonifay said. “His showed ability to hit velocity and breaking balls and he was excellent with his swing decisions. He commanded the zone and put himself in good counts, and that continued in the big leagues. “He definitely impressed at the alternate site and his ability to play all three outfield positions gave him the opportunity to get up there and play left, even though he’s played mostly center field in the Minors.”