Every Spring Training, prospects get a chance to show what they can do as they prepare for the upcoming season. Some compete for jobs in big league camp, while others vie for spots on Minor League affiliates. MLB Pipeline will visit all 30 camps this spring, and today we check
Every Spring Training, prospects get a chance to show what they can do as they prepare for the upcoming season. Some compete for jobs in big league camp, while others vie for spots on Minor League affiliates. MLB Pipeline will visit all 30 camps this spring, and today we check in on the Phillies.
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- After years spent bolstering their farm system through strong drafting, key international signing and acquiring young talent in trades, the fruits of the Philadelphia Phillies' rebuilding efforts finally began to show in 2017 with the arrival of several key prospects.
• Phillies' Top 30 Prospects list | Q&A with JoJo Romero
Slugger Rhys Hoskins made his debut in August and quickly took the big leagues by storm, hitting 18 home runs in 50 games down the stretch after connecting on 29 with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Hoskins' performance, along with the arrival and subsequent success had by current No. 37 overall prospect J.P. Crawford (Phillies' No. 3) in September, marked a turning point in the organization, signaling the beginning of a youth movement that will continue in 2018 with the inevitable debut of No. 35 overall prospect Scott Kingery (Phillies' No. 2).
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But with Hoskins, Crawford and Kingery -- as well as catcher Jorge Alfaro (Phillies' No. 7) and former prospect Nick Williams -- now set to fuel Philly's turnaround at the Major League level, the focus within the organization has shifted to its next wave of talent. It's a group that's absolutely teeming with high-upside pitching prospects, headlined by 19-year-old right-hander Sixto Sanchez, the club's top-ranked prospect and No. 26 on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 list, and featuring five other hurlers ranked in the top half of the club's Top 30 list.
Outside of Sanchez, no pitching prospect in the system has shown as much promise as No. 86 overall prospect Adonis Medina (Phillies' No. 4). The right-hander put himself on the map with a breakout full-season debut at age 20 in 2017, showing a combination of high-octane stuff and feel that led to a 3.01 ERA with 133 strikeouts and 39 walks in 119 2/3 innings (22 starts)
"Yeah, he's a guy," Phillies farm director Joe Jordan said. "He just has a lot of talent and ability that's up there with the best in our system. With a lot of young guys, it's all about repeating the delivery. Once they can do that, the rest can fall into place. I think that's what started to happen last year [with Medina]. He has all the tools. It's just a matter of being consistent and getting experience."
Also standing out in his first full season was left-hander JoJo Romero (Phillies' No. 9), the club's fourth-round pick in the 2016 Draft. He was a midseason All-Star in the Class A South Atlantic League before advancing to Class A Advanced Clearwater in late June. Between the two levels, Romero, 21, posted a 10-3 record with a 2.16 ERA, 9.0 strikeouts-per-nine innings and a .223 opponents' average while totaling 129 innings and 23 starts.
"When [JoJo] is right, he's pretty close to a complete pitcher," said Jordan. "He has weapons to get out right- and left-handed hitters, keep the ball on the ground, strike a guy out -- you name it. I think the thing he did really well last year was learning how to use his weapons; he understood how each pitch impacted the next one. That's all he needs to do, continue to grow with his ability to use his stuff."
High hopes for first-rounder Haseley
The 2017 Draft marked the second time in as many years that the Phillies used their first-round pick on sweet-swinging outfielder. After taking prep Mickey Moniak with the No. 1 overall pick in 2016, the Phils selected Virginia product Adam Haseley with the No. 8 pick last June. Though Haseley was a two-way standout at Virginia who saw success on both sides of the ball, the Phillies envisioned him as an outfielder when they drafted him, and they have him deployed him in that role exclusively in pro ball.
Even after a long and grueling college season, Haseley, the club's No. 5 prospect (No. 95 overall), performed well in his pro debut, posting a .284/.357/.405 slashline with 18 extra-base hits across three levels, including Class A Lakewood. The Phillies believe that the left-handed hitter's performance was merely a taste of his potential, and they expect big things from him moving forward.
"I've been on the scouting side for 15 years and this is my seventh year as a farm director here, and very seldom do you see the full version of a college player that first summer after the Draft -- especially one who pitched and played a position. We didn't see Adam at his full strength last summer," Jordan said.
"I know he's had a good and productive offseason, because he spent most of it [in Clearwater] adding strength. This is the first chance he's had to prepare to be a position player, maybe ever. So I think he's going to have a really good year. He has the hitting gene."
The Phillies appear to have found a late-round steal in Kyle Young (Phillies' No. 21), a 6-foot-10 left-hander whom they plucked from the Long Island prep ranks in the 22nd round of the 2016 Draft. Given his tall, slender frame and long levers, the club knew that he likely would be a project on the mound, albeit one with considerable upside if everything happened to click.
That's exactly what transpired for Young last season, as he proved more advanced than initially thought en route to posting a 2.77 ERA with 72 strikeouts and an excellent ground-ball rate over 65 innings (13 starts) in the Class A Short-Season New York-Penn League.
That progress has followed Young into Phillies Minor League camp, with Jordan pegging the lanky southpaw as one of their early standouts this spring.
"Kyle is able to do things that most guys that size can't, things some 6-footers can't. He can repeat his delivery and can throw strikes with three pitches," Jordan said.
"He spent two winters here, coming in early both offseasons. I think he's probably 20-30 pounds stronger than when he signed. We tried to go slow with him to make sure he added some strength before the reins came off. We're going to take the reins off a little bit this year, he's earned that and given us the confidence to do so."
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.