Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
The Official Site of the Philadelphia Phillies

news

Phillies News

Phils used 2010 Meetings to build epic rotation

Persistent front office beat odds to re-sign Lee, complete dominant starting unit
MLB.com @ToddZolecki

PHILADELPHIA -- The buzz for one of the most anticipated seasons in Phillies history started the previous December in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., at the same hotel that will host this year's Winter Meetings.

Seven years ago, in the winter of 2010, the Phillies rekindled their relationship with Cliff Lee. The Phillies dealt him to Seattle in December 2009 in a controversial trade intended to replenish their farm system following their prospect-laden Roy Halladay deal with Toronto. Lee left on bitter terms because the Phillies indicated just days earlier that they had no plans to trade him. But time passed, and Lee, who was the most coveted free agent on the market, said privately that he wished Philadelphia would try to bring him back.

PHILADELPHIA -- The buzz for one of the most anticipated seasons in Phillies history started the previous December in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., at the same hotel that will host this year's Winter Meetings.

Seven years ago, in the winter of 2010, the Phillies rekindled their relationship with Cliff Lee. The Phillies dealt him to Seattle in December 2009 in a controversial trade intended to replenish their farm system following their prospect-laden Roy Halladay deal with Toronto. Lee left on bitter terms because the Phillies indicated just days earlier that they had no plans to trade him. But time passed, and Lee, who was the most coveted free agent on the market, said privately that he wished Philadelphia would try to bring him back.

The Phillies, who thought they could not compete with the Yankees or Rangers for Lee's services, caught wind of that wish before the Winter Meetings.

• 2017 Winter Meetings preview: Phils out to supplement young core

Lee's agent, Darek Braunecker, texted Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock, telling him that he would love to meet with the Phillies in Florida. Proefrock said the team would love to talk but told Braunecker that Philadelphia could not outbid New York or Texas.

But because they knew Lee secretly wanted to return to Philly, the Phillies held out a sliver of hope. And because they held out a sliver of hope, they tried to keep a low profile at the hotel hosting the Meetings. Proefrock remembers running into Braunecker once in the lobby. They shook hands and kept moving.

Reports started to surface that the Phillies could pursue Lee. Then-Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. vehemently denied it. Of course, he later acknowledged that he fibbed a little about their interest because he did not want the Yankees or Rangers to increase their offers.

Braunecker said he wanted teams to make offers during the Winter Meetings, so he could take them to Little Rock, Ark., meet with Lee and his wife, Kristen, and decide.

The Phillies never made an offer.

Braunecker met with the Lees on Dec. 8, the final full day of the Winter Meetings, to discuss offers from the Yankees and Rangers. Lee said he could be happy in Texas or New York, but again expressed his desire to have Philadelphia enter the bidding.

Braunecker called Proefrock shortly after the meeting and asked if the Phillies could jump in. Proefrock responded that he did not want to be used as leverage to get Texas and New York to increase their offers. Braunecker assured him that Lee's interest was sincere.

Braunecker asked if the Phillies would go five years.

"Would you even entertain five years?" Proefrock said, knowing the Yankees had a seven-year offer on the table.

"We'll entertain anything," Braunecker said.

Proefrock immediately sent an email to Phillies chairman David Montgomery -- then the club president -- making his case to sign Lee. Montgomery, Amaro and Proefrock met in Montgomery's office later on Dec. 9 at Citizens Bank Park, after Amaro and Proefrock returned from the Rule 5 Draft. Former Phillies general manager Pat Gillick was on speakerphone.

They agreed to make Lee a five-year, $115 million offer.

Braunecker and Proefrock went back and forth for a couple days. They were optimistic. Amaro called Halladay at home on Dec. 11. Halladay had sacrificed a lot of money to accept a trade to Philadelphia the previous offseason. Amaro wanted to make sure Halladay was OK with Lee getting a much better deal.

After Halladay responded enthusiastically to the idea of himself, Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt in the same rotation, Amaro said he wanted to get Lee more than ever.

Negotiations went back and forth for the next two days, but things didn't look promising since the Phillies simply couldn't come close to the Yankees. But then Montgomery, looking at the difference between the Phillies' offer and Braunecker's proposal, decided to split the difference. The deal was on again, and Amaro called Proefrock around 11 p.m. ET on Dec. 13 to tell them they had a deal.

Video: ATL@PHI: Lee strikes out a career-high 16 batters

Lee signed a five-year, $120 million contract with a sixth-year option that increased the value of the deal to $135 million.

The Phillies won a franchise-record 102 games in 2011. Statistically, Halladay, Lee, Hamels and Oswalt helped the Phillies put together one of the best seasons by any rotation in baseball history. They fell short of their World Series championship goals, but for several months the Phillies were not only the best game in Philadelphia, they were the best game in baseball.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Philadelphia Phillies

Klentak preaches patience in Phils' rebuild

GM says club needs to solidify 'competitive core' before pursuing big-name free agents
MLB.com @ToddZolecki

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies made their pitch to Shohei Ohtani, like every other team in baseball. They contacted the Marlins about Giancarlo Stanton, like any organization with a strong farm system and deep pockets.

Ohtani had narrowed his list of finalists to seven teams before he settled on the Angels, but not a single one was on the East Coast. He also seemed to prefer small market teams and the American League, where he can pitch and still get relatively frequent plate appearances as a designated hitter.

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies made their pitch to Shohei Ohtani, like every other team in baseball. They contacted the Marlins about Giancarlo Stanton, like any organization with a strong farm system and deep pockets.

Ohtani had narrowed his list of finalists to seven teams before he settled on the Angels, but not a single one was on the East Coast. He also seemed to prefer small market teams and the American League, where he can pitch and still get relatively frequent plate appearances as a designated hitter.

But even before those reports surfaced, the Phillies had concerns about emptying their farm system and taking on a massive contract for 10 more seasons. After all, couldn't they just spend that money next offseason, without giving up the prospects, when Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are available?

But the lack of interest in the Phillies from Ohtani and Stanton should not cause Phillies fans to fret -- their situations have no bearing on Philadelphia's future opportunities to acquire superstar talent. The Phillies are expected to begin that pursuit next offseason in what is widely regarded as a far superior free-agent class to this one.

Remember, Jim Thome signed with the Phillies in November 2002 because the Phillies offered him the most money. And a host of talented players beat down the Phillies' door trying to join Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels from 2007-11.

"This ownership has demonstrated over the years that they will spend when it's time to spend," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said Friday afternoon at Bethesda Project's Our Brothers' Place, where the front office donated, made and served meals to approximately 200 homeless people. "There are many years of high payrolls and big contracts to support that. Players know that. Agents know that.

"Around the league, people are taking note of the fact that we are developing a young core of players that's improving at the Major League level and making progress. And there will come a point when it is time to add significant outside players to that core, to supplement it the same way it happened 10 years ago. The team added [Roy] Halladay or [Cliff] Lee or [Brad] Lidge or [Hunter] Pence. It's a very similar narrative, but we have to do our job first and get our young players to a point where we've created that competitive core, and then we can add onto it."

• Phils used 2010 Winter Meetings to build epic rotation

Klentak said the Phillies are in the midst of numerous discussions with free agents and teams.

"My expectation is that the market in general -- not so much the Phillies -- is going to open up over the next couple days, or certainly next week," he said.

The Phillies need pitching help. If they cannot find a quality starter they could acquire multiple relievers to boost the bullpen.

"Hopefully we'll be able to push something over the goal line in the next week," Klentak said.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Philadelphia Phillies

Inbox: Will Phils trade Galvis or Hernandez?

Beat reporter Todd Zolecki answers fans' questions
MLB.com @ToddZolecki

Do you think the Phillies will trade Freddy Galvis or Cesar Hernandez before Spring Training?
-- Greg P., Hoboken, N.J.

The Phillies will try, although they believe they can open next season with both players. The Athletic reported recently that the Padres have expressed interest in Galvis and the Angels have expressed interest in Hernandez. But sources told MLB.com that interest in either player has not given the Phillies much pause.

Do you think the Phillies will trade Freddy Galvis or Cesar Hernandez before Spring Training?
-- Greg P., Hoboken, N.J.

The Phillies will try, although they believe they can open next season with both players. The Athletic reported recently that the Padres have expressed interest in Galvis and the Angels have expressed interest in Hernandez. But sources told MLB.com that interest in either player has not given the Phillies much pause.

In other words, at this point, Philadelphia feels like it would be giving away Galvis or Hernandez. And there is no reason to do that.

:: Submit a question to the Phillies Inbox ::

Perhaps trade talks heat up next week at the Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. But in the event the Phillies hold onto both players, it gives them four infielders (Galvis, Hernandez, Maikel Franco and J.P. Crawford) to play three positions. Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said last weekend that he believes he can make it work. But it could be a challenge considering Galvis is a Gold Glove-caliber shortstop that is set to become a free agent following next season. He is going to want to play.

So it makes sense for the Phillies to keep trying, which they will. It could become a bigger issue if Triple-A second baseman Scott Kingery pushes for a promotion weeks into the 2018 season. Four players vying to play three positions is tough. Five players vying to play three positions is even tougher.

Hot Stove Tracker

Wouldn't it be smarter for the Phillies to use the 2018 season to evaluate their young players (get them plate appearances and innings) and save their financial might for next season's historic free-agent class?
-- Sam H., Cherry Hill, N.J.

That has been the plan for some time, unless something unexpected happens (i.e. the Phillies have a chance to acquire Manny Machado in a trade).

It's funny, some Phillies fans have been angry that the team hasn't not thrown big money at free agents last offseason and this offseason. Last offseason, fans got fired up that the Phillies did not sign Ian Desmond, who signed a five-year, $70 million deal with the Rockies. (Desmond posted a .701 OPS in 373 plate appearances.) This year, they want them to sign a starter like Jake Arrieta or Yu Darvish to a long-term contract, despite recent memories of injuries cutting short the careers of Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, and the fact that the Phillies are not ready to win right now.

(Folks, stud starting pitchers can be found when a team truly needs them. No sense to panic and overpay today.)

The Phillies are not going to take a magical leap in the standings if they sign Darvish or Arrieta or Eric Hosmer. So why commit all that money when you will be able to spend the money next offseason and have a much better idea of how to spend it?

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Philadelphia Phillies, Freddy Galvis, Cesar Hernandez

Phils may supplement young core at Meetings

Philadelphia interested in adding veteran starter, bench presence
MLB.com @ToddZolecki

PHILADELPHIA -- Do not be surprised if the Phillies are linked to some of the biggest rumors in baseball at next week's Winter Meetings.

The Phils have a talented farm system and money to spend, so any team looking to trade a player or any agent looking to build a market for their client is going to float them as an interested party. Eric Hosmer? Check. Jake Arrieta? Check. Jay Bruce? Check. Carlos Santana? Check.

PHILADELPHIA -- Do not be surprised if the Phillies are linked to some of the biggest rumors in baseball at next week's Winter Meetings.

The Phils have a talented farm system and money to spend, so any team looking to trade a player or any agent looking to build a market for their client is going to float them as an interested party. Eric Hosmer? Check. Jake Arrieta? Check. Jay Bruce? Check. Carlos Santana? Check.

But the Phillies have said for some time that they intend to play the position players they already have in the system, giving them another season to prove themselves. They plan to provide similar opportunities to their pitchers, although they are expected to supplement the pitching staff with a few pieces from the outside.

Hot Stove Tracker

But that $250 million deal? That blockbuster trade that stuns Major League Baseball? It remains unlikely this offseason.

Next year? It might be a different story.

Club needs
Starting pitching

There is Aaron Nola and a whole bunch of question marks, so the Phillies could use more starting pitching. The Phils are highly unlikely to pursue free agents like Arrieta or Yu Darvish. Free agents like Alex Cobb, Lance Lynn, Andrew Cashner and Tyler Chatwood make more sense, but if they are looking for long-term deals (think five years or more), they can probably forget it.

Video: Castrovince on trade market for starting pitchers

Relief pitching
If the Phillies aren't in the mood to overpay for a starting pitcher, they seem likely to add to the bullpen. Relievers like Addison Reed, Brandon Morrow and Bryan Shaw could give the Phils a stacked bullpen alongside Hector Neris, Luis Garcia, Adam Morgan, Hoby Milner, Edubray Ramos and Victor Arano. In that case, even if a Phillies starter lasts only five innings, they would have the relievers in place to still give them a chance to win.

Veteran help
The Phils could use a positive veteran influence in the clubhouse. If they want one, it seems likely to come as a bench player.

Who they can trade if necessary
SS Freddy Galvis

The Gold Glove Award finalist will be a free agent following the 2018 season, so it would not be a surprise to see the Phillies trade him for pitching, especially with fellow shortstop J.P. Crawford waiting in the wings.

Video: Freddy Galvis' top defensive moments of 2017

2B Cesar Hernandez
The second baseman also could be traded to acquire pitching. Despite the fact he will not be a free agent until after the 2020 season, he could be expendable because second-base prospect Scott Kingery could be called up only a few weeks into the season.

1B Tommy Joseph
How does Joseph fit into the team's plans next year? Rhys Hoskins will get the bulk of playing time at first base, although he still could see some time in left field. The Phillies tried to trade Joseph before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, but they found little interest.

Video: Hoskins discusses hopes to improve defensively

Top prospects
The Phillies have a talented farm system. Some are ready to make the jump to the big leagues. Some already have. Kingery (No. 3), Crawford (No. 4) and catcher Jorge Alfaro (No. 5) are ranked amongst the top prospects in the organization and top prospects in baseball, according to MLBPipeline.com. Crawford and Alfaro are expected to be on the Opening Day roster. Kingery could be up shortly after that. Outfielders Dylan Cozens (No. 9) and Roman Quinn (No. 10) will enter the season behind Odubel Herrera, Aaron Altherr and Nick Williams on the depth chart. They will have to stay healthy and improve their play to crack the 25-man roster.

Video: LAD@PHI: Crawford nabs Grandal after diving stop

Rule 5 Draft
The Phillies have a full 40-man roster, so unless they cut somebody loose within the next week, they will not select anybody in the Rule 5 Draft.

Big contracts they might unload
What big contracts? Herrera is the only player signed beyond next season, and it is a very club-friendly deal.

Payroll summary
The Phillies have the money to sign whomever they wish to sign, but they plan to be smart about it because they are keeping their eyes on the premier free-agent class of 2018-19.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Philadelphia Phillies

Kapler thrilled by diverse skill set in his staff

Phillies skipper: Key to managing is trusting advice from coaches
MLB.com @ToddZolecki

PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said he loves the fact that he and bench coach Rob Thomson think differently about baseball. Kapler believes the contrast of opinions will be beneficial during the season.

The Phillies announced Thomson's hiring on Tuesday. He joins pitching coach Rick Kranitz, hitting coach John Mallee, third-base coach Dusty Wathan, bullpen coach Jim Gott, assistant pitching coach Chris Young and assistant hitting coach Pedro Guerrero. The Phillies still need to hire a first-base coach.

PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said he loves the fact that he and bench coach Rob Thomson think differently about baseball. Kapler believes the contrast of opinions will be beneficial during the season.

The Phillies announced Thomson's hiring on Tuesday. He joins pitching coach Rick Kranitz, hitting coach John Mallee, third-base coach Dusty Wathan, bullpen coach Jim Gott, assistant pitching coach Chris Young and assistant hitting coach Pedro Guerrero. The Phillies still need to hire a first-base coach.

"The manager's job is, in my opinion, to stay open, really pause," Kapler said about the relationship between a manager and bench coach. "Listen, I know it happens fast and decisions need to be made, but it's just an extra beat. Does that resonate? And one of the things I'm going to ask Rob to do, and I think he's going to step right up because I know who he is as a human, is to keep coming relentlessly with thoughts, feedback, suggestions. And then what's going to happen is, just lean on that support, lean into it and appreciate it and soak it all up and utilize it."

Thomson, 54, spent the past 10 seasons on the Yankees' coaching staff as bench coach and third-base coach. He spent the past 28 years with the Yankees, working the first 18 seasons in the player development department. He had been a candidate for the Yankees' managerial opening, but Aaron Boone got the job last week.

Video: Zolecki discusses Kapler's coaching staff

"He's among the most prepared people that I've ever been around, the most diligent people I've been around," Kapler said. "He has a history of supporting a manager in a way that I don't think is normal, outside the bounds of what you would expect from a support perspective. He was very successful in supporting [former Yankees manager Joe] Girardi and has been around Joe Torre and Girardi, which I think is a very interesting experience and vantage point. He has a really deep understanding of in-game moves, which I think is going to be an extraordinarily important complement. I think he balances out the rest of our staff very well."

Arguably Kapler's two most interesting hires are Guerrero and Young, because they have relatively little to no coaching experience. Guerrero, 28, spent the past two seasons as the bench coach for Rookie-level Ogden (Dodgers affiliate). He played in the Dodgers' farm system from 2006-13. Young, 36, pitched for six Minor League seasons in the Rockies' and Marlins' system. Since then he has scouted for the Padres (2010-14) and Astros (2015-17).

"[Guerrero] is a super, warm connector, which I think was really needed on the hitting side," Kapler said. "Someone that just needs an ear and maybe just a Spanish-speaking ear, Petey checked that box. Not to say that John doesn't, which is a really important distinction to make. Males can do it too, but I think Petey specializes in it. That's his specialty. I've had a ton of hitting coaches as a player. Very few of the ones I loved, do I remember, 'That guy taught me this about my back knee.' No, what I remember is that they had some psychology happening. When I went to the cage, that person was sitting there with the right words at the right time. It may have been just a look. That's what Pedro has. You guys will see. Don't just take my word for it. You will be around him, and he will just brighten your day and make you happy."

Video: Kapler will look to lead Phillies in a new direction

Young figures to complement Kranitz's and Gott's skill sets in other ways, likely as somebody that can break down vast amounts of information into digestible bits for the team's pitchers.

"A guy like CY, who is missing some of the in-game reps, Kranny can cover that with his thousands," Kapler said. "But CY, with his experience advance scouting the World Series and being so instrumental in the Houston Astros' success in the World Series by devouring the opposition's tendencies and trying to exploit those tendencies and perhaps weaknesses, that's something we felt he had a unique capability to do, because he hasn't been spending his whole life coaching. He's been spending his time digging into beating the opposition."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Philadelphia Phillies

Sources: Phillies to add ex-Braves prospect

MLB.com @ToddZolecki

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies are adding some catching talent to their farm system.

Sources confirmed Tuesday night that the Phillies and Abrahan Gutierrez agreed to a $550,000 bonus, which Baseball America first reported. Gutierrez, 18, is one of 13 former Braves prospects who became free agents last month when Major League Baseball penalized Atlanta for circumventing international signing rules from 2015-2017.

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies are adding some catching talent to their farm system.

Sources confirmed Tuesday night that the Phillies and Abrahan Gutierrez agreed to a $550,000 bonus, which Baseball America first reported. Gutierrez, 18, is one of 13 former Braves prospects who became free agents last month when Major League Baseball penalized Atlanta for circumventing international signing rules from 2015-2017.

Hot Stove Tracker

Gutierrez hit .264 with one home run, 12 RBIs and a .676 OPS in 141 plate appearances this season with the rookie-level Braves. He originally signed with Atlanta for $3.53 million.

Before signing Gutierrez, the Phillies had about $900,000 remaining in their 2017-18 international signing bonus pool. But teams are free to use money in their 2018-19 pool money to sign the former Braves prospects if desired.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Philadelphia Phillies

Phillies hire Thomson as bench coach

MLB.com @ToddZolecki

PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies manager Gabe Kapler officially named Rob Thomson as his bench coach on Tuesday.

Thomson, 54, had been the Yankees' bench coach for four seasons (2008, 2015-17) and third-base coach for six seasons (2009-14). Thomson recently interviewed for New York's managerial vacancy, but Aaron Boone was hired as the manager.

PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies manager Gabe Kapler officially named Rob Thomson as his bench coach on Tuesday.

Thomson, 54, had been the Yankees' bench coach for four seasons (2008, 2015-17) and third-base coach for six seasons (2009-14). Thomson recently interviewed for New York's managerial vacancy, but Aaron Boone was hired as the manager.

The Phillies officially announced Friday that Rick Kranitz will be the pitching coach and Chris Young will be the assistant pitching coach. The team announced weeks ago that Kranitz would return, although it had waited to announce in what capacity. That officially changed when the team announced Young's hire.

Video: Todd Zolecki discusses Gabe Kapler in Philadelphia

Young, 36, spent the past three years with the Astros. He worked as a pro scout in 2015-16, and as a scouting supervisor this past season. He previously served as a pro scout for the Padres from 2010-14. Selected by the Rockies as a pitcher in the 18th round of the 2002 Draft, Young posted a 3.54 ERA in 266 games (six starts) in six Minor League seasons.

Young finished his professional career in 2008 as a member of the Camden Riversharks of the Independent Atlantic League.

The Phillies previously hired Jim Gott (bullpen coach), Pedro Guerrero (assistant hitting coach), John Mallee (hitting coach) and Dusty Wathan (third-base coach) to their coaching staff.

They still need to hire a first-base coach.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Philadelphia Phillies

MLB Pipeline's Top 50 Draft prospects for 2018

MLB.com @JonathanMayo

For the first time in three years, the top spot on MLBPipeline.com's early Draft Top 50 list is not occupied by a high school pitcher. It should come as no surprise that the top guy is still a pitcher, and one from the 2017 College World Series champion Florida Gators. Right-hander Brady Singer, who helped pitch them to that title as a sophomore, is the clear choice as the best overall talent in the 2018 Draft class, which some think could be the best since 2011.

It's nothing new to see one of Florida's starting pitchers head into a new season as a potential No. 1 overall pick. Lefty A.J. Puk was No. 2 on the 2016 list behind high school left-hander Jay Groome. He ended up going No. 6 overall that June. A year ago, Gators right-hander Alex Faedo came in at No. 4 on the Top 50 led by prep phenom Hunter Greene. He ended up going No. 18 overall to the Tigers, who have the No. 1 pick in 2018. While Puk and Faedo were obviously highly regarded, scouts do feel Singer's all-around game on the mound gives him a better chance to stay in that 1-1 conversation.

For the first time in three years, the top spot on MLBPipeline.com's early Draft Top 50 list is not occupied by a high school pitcher. It should come as no surprise that the top guy is still a pitcher, and one from the 2017 College World Series champion Florida Gators. Right-hander Brady Singer, who helped pitch them to that title as a sophomore, is the clear choice as the best overall talent in the 2018 Draft class, which some think could be the best since 2011.

It's nothing new to see one of Florida's starting pitchers head into a new season as a potential No. 1 overall pick. Lefty A.J. Puk was No. 2 on the 2016 list behind high school left-hander Jay Groome. He ended up going No. 6 overall that June. A year ago, Gators right-hander Alex Faedo came in at No. 4 on the Top 50 led by prep phenom Hunter Greene. He ended up going No. 18 overall to the Tigers, who have the No. 1 pick in 2018. While Puk and Faedo were obviously highly regarded, scouts do feel Singer's all-around game on the mound gives him a better chance to stay in that 1-1 conversation.

Top Draft Prospects

"There's less things that can go wrong," one National League scouting director said. "I can't see him coming out and 'laying an egg,' so to speak. He's a little more of a pitcher, when they were more power guys."

While the list doesn't have a high schooler at No. 1, it does have a ton of high-end prep pitching on it, starting at No. 2 with Ethan Hankins. The Atlanta area standout had a very impressive summer and is armed with the best fastball in the Top 50. He might not be atop the list, but that doesn't mean he doesn't belong in the same class as Groome and Greene, who went No. 12 and No. 2 in their respective Drafts.

"He's right up there," the scouting director said. "He's very, very impressive. He has size, strength and stuff. What Hunter had over him, he could do it as a position player, so you knew that when he gives that up, there might be more to come. But he's right up there with the better high school kids I've seen in the last couple of years."

2018 Draft order | 2018 Draft: June 4-6 | All-time Draft picks

The top high school bat comes in at No. 4 on the list in the form of Phoenix-area infielder Nolan Gorman. His raw power was on display for much of the summer as he stood out in multiple elite-level home run derbies, with the ability to drive the ball also showing up in games. Nick Madrigal is the top college position player on the list, coming in at No. 11. He's undersized, but that doesn't seem to matter as much these days, and the Oregon State infielder has a strong track record and perhaps the best hit tool in the class.

Video: Draft Report: Nick Madrigal, College 2B/SS

College hitters are often hard to come by, especially this early, but scouts are encouraged that there seems to be more advanced bats to consider in the first round than usual. Given that college performers tend to float up as the Draft nears, seeing Madrigal or some of the others on this Top 50 land in the top 10 seems very feasible.

"I think I like the list this year more than last year," the scouting director said. "I like the depth. There's college pitching, if you're at the top. I think there are some college position players. Who were the college players last year at the top? There's very good high school pitching. I think it's deeper all the way around."

Class breakdown

It's a fairly even split in this year's Top 50, with 26 high schoolers and 24 from the college ranks. It's split right down the middle at the top, with the top 10 filled with five college players and five prepsters. While it is pitching heavy at the top, with seven of the top 10 on the mound, there are more bats to be found later on. That speaks to the aforementioned depth. There might not be a college bat in the top 10, but there are five in the 11-20 range -- led by Madrigal at No. 11 -- and no one would be surprised to see some of them end up in the top 10 once the Draft rolls around.

In total, there are a dozen college hitters in the Top 50, up from eight a year ago. The 12 college pitchers on the list, five in the top 10, is down a touch from 15 on our 2017 Top 50. Of the 26 high schoolers, half are pitchers. High school right-handers are a particular strength in this class, with 11 in this Top 50. The complete positional breakdown of this list is as a follows:

RHP: 18
OF: 11
LHP: 7
SS: 4
1B: 3
3B: 3
C: 3
2B: 1

Top tools

All players, as always, are given grades on the 20-to-80 scouting scale for all tools or pitches. These are future grades, a reflection of what the scouting industry thinks each of these amateur players can become in the future. Here are the top grades for each tool and pitch.

Position players
Hit: 60 - Nick Madrigal, 2B/SS, Oregon State, Jarred Kelenic, OF, Waukesha (Wis.) West HS
Power: 60 - Nolan Gorman, O'Connor HS (Phoenix)
Run: 70 - Xavier Edwards, SS, North Broward Prep (Coconut Creek, Fla.), Connor Scott, OF, Plant HS (Tampa, Fla.)
Arm: 70 - Joe Gray Jr., OF, Hatiesburg (Miss.) HS, Will Banfield, C, Brookwood HS (Snellville, Ga.)
Field: 60 - Mike Siani, OF, William Penn Charter (Philadelphia), Alek Thomas, OF, Mount Carmel HS (Chicago)

Pitchers
Fastball: 80 - Ethan Hankins, RHP, Forsyth Central HS (Cumming, Ga.)
Curveball: 65 - Tim Cate, LHP, Connecticut
Slider: 65 - Brady Singer, RHP, Florida
Changeup: 65 - Steven Gingery, LHP, Texas Tech
Control: 60 - Casey Mize, RHP, Auburn

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kapler impressed with young Phils' leadership

New manager connecting with Hoskins, Crawford during offseason
MLB.com @ToddZolecki

PHILADELPHIA -- So, J.P. Crawford, what do you and your teammates need?

Phillies manager Gabe Kapler asked Crawford that question upon meeting him for dinner a few weeks ago in Long Beach, Calif. Kapler has talked a lot about building an environment that makes his players the best versions of themselves, so it made sense that he wanted Crawford's input on how he could make that happen.

PHILADELPHIA -- So, J.P. Crawford, what do you and your teammates need?

Phillies manager Gabe Kapler asked Crawford that question upon meeting him for dinner a few weeks ago in Long Beach, Calif. Kapler has talked a lot about building an environment that makes his players the best versions of themselves, so it made sense that he wanted Crawford's input on how he could make that happen.

"Some loud speakers in the clubhouse," Crawford replied.

The Phillies have been using Freddy Galvis' personal stereo to play music following victories at Citizens Bank Park. In previous years, they used Jimmy Rollins' system. Of course, Rollins' stereo got used more. The Phillies won a National League-best 246 games at home from 2007-11, during which they also won the '08 World Series, two National League pennants and five NL East titles. They have won an NL-worst 193 games at home over the past five seasons.

But the Phillies plan to win more in the coming years, so perhaps an upgraded sound system would be a nice investment.

"By asking that, I know he's going to be a player's manager," Crawford said. "That'll go over very well with us."

Video: LAD@PHI: Crawford rips a triple to right-center field

Kapler is trying to connect with other players. He also had dinner with Rhys Hoskins on Friday night in Philadelphia. Kapler, Hoskins and Crawford attended the organization's Christmas tree lighting outside the ballpark on Saturday evening.

Kapler, Hoskins and Crawford could be the faces of the organization in the coming years. Hoskins hit .259 with 18 home runs, 48 RBIs and a 1.014 OPS in just 50 games. He played so well that he finished fourth in NL Rookie of the Year Award voting. Crawford is the No. 53 prospect in baseball, according to MLBPipeline.com. He hit .214 with a .356 on-base percentage in 23 games in September. He impressed defensively, and he could be the everyday shortstop if Galvis is traded. If not, Crawford will be on the 25-man roster.

"Both of those guys blew me away," Kapler said about his dinners with Crawford and Hoskins. "Those were, 'Wow!' Both of them. Incredible leadership characteristics. What's easy to see is that people will follow them. People will want to be like those guys. And what's easy to see is that they are going to make really healthy choices. They're going to make the right choices along the way. That's evident and clear."

Kapler should have few choices to make about Hoskins. He will be the primary first baseman, although he could see an occasional start in left field. But Kapler certainly sees a positive presence in the clubhouse.

"I walked away from that dinner saying, 'This guy can lead now,'" Kapler said. "He doesn't need any more success. It's not about being the veteran guy. That's not what it's about. He is a leader by example, by the way he carries himself, by the way he thinks and by the way he talks. And it doesn't have to be vocal 'rah-rah' in front of the group. It's a very unique package, one that I'm not sure I've ever seen."

Video: Todd Zolecki breaks down Hoskins' incredible callup

One of Kapler's first challenges in maintaining a positive environment could come early next season, if Galvis, Crawford, Cesar Hernandez and Maikel Franco open on the 25-man roster. (And especially if Triple-A prospect Scott Kingery earns an early-season promotion.)

Can Kapler keep everybody happy? It is one thing to rotate infielders for one month, like the Phillies did in September. It is another to rotate infielders for six.

"It's not just a challenge, it's a blessing," Kapler said. "It's a gift to the Phillies, it's a gift to the players, it's a gift to the manager. … Giving them the best possible matchups. And the awesome part of this is, guys, at the end of the day you're going to look up and your numbers are going to be better because we move puzzle pieces around to keep you the healthiest, strongest version of yourself and to match you up against guys you're most likely to have success against."

And if there are issues, Crawford got the impression that it would be OK to go into the manager's office to express those concerns.

"I think we'll be able to talk to him and not have to worry about saying something wrong or worry about messing up," Crawford said. "I feel like he's going to understand. He's been through it. A real cool guy, I like him. I think he's to be a great manager here with all the young guys. We're going to work well together."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Philadelphia Phillies, J.P. Crawford, Rhys Hoskins

Phils announce front office promotions, hires

MLB.com @ToddZolecki

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies on Friday afternoon announced numerous promotions and hires within their baseball operations department.

The list includes one full-time chef and 21 scouts. Because some scouts are not returning and others have been moved from independent contractor to full-time status, the combined net gain in amateur scouting (one), international scouting (five) and professional scouting (one) is seven.

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies on Friday afternoon announced numerous promotions and hires within their baseball operations department.

The list includes one full-time chef and 21 scouts. Because some scouts are not returning and others have been moved from independent contractor to full-time status, the combined net gain in amateur scouting (one), international scouting (five) and professional scouting (one) is seven.

• Bryan Minniti has been promoted to assistant general manager. He will oversee player development, amateur and international scouting. He served as special assistant to the general manager last season.

• Chris Cashman has been promoted to player procurement manager after spending the past two seasons as advance scouting analyst.

• The Phillies hired Mike Calitri as advance scouting manager. He will report directly to manager Gabe Kapler. Calitri worked for the Indians from 2009-16, most recently as a professional scout.

• Frank Coppenbarger has been promoted to special assistant of ballpark projects. Coppenbarger has been with the Phillies since 1989, working previously as the equipment manager and traveling secretary.

• Keith Rudolf has been hired as a full-time team chef. He worked with the Phils last season. He cooked previously in Philadelphia with Georges Perrier and Kevin Sbraga.

• Dana Parks has been hired as player development coordinator. She spent last season as an assistant in the Rays' baseball operations department. Parks graduated from Vineland (N.J.) High School and St. Joseph's University, where she played softball.

• Corinne Landrey has been hired as baseball research and development analyst. She interned in the same department last season.

• Former pitcher Mike Koplove has been hired as a special assignment scout. He spent the last six seasons working with the Angels. Koplove graduated from Chestnut Hill Academy in 1995 and later attended the University of Delaware.

The Phillies hired Erick Dalton and Todd Donovan as professional scouts. The organization also hired six additional amateur scouts and 13 additional scouts and staff members to join the international scouting department.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Philadelphia Phillies

Hoskins, Crawford ring the bell at Sixers game

Entering 2018, the Phillies will look to build on the strong 2017 performances of many of their young players and prospects. Their NBA neighbors in South Philadelphia have spent the first months of their season showing how fun and successful a team built around young players can be.

So, prior to Saturday's Sixers game, Phillies rookies Rhys Hoskins and J.P. Crawford showed off their trust of the process by ringing a replica Liberty Bell and donning Sixers jerseys of their own:

Phils tender contracts to arb-eligible quintet

MLB.com @ToddZolecki

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies offered no surprises Friday, tendering contracts to each of their five players eligible for salary arbitration.

The group includes shortstop Freddy Galvis, second baseman Cesar Hernandez, third baseman Maikel Franco, catcher Cameron Rupp and right-hander Luis Garcia.

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies offered no surprises Friday, tendering contracts to each of their five players eligible for salary arbitration.

The group includes shortstop Freddy Galvis, second baseman Cesar Hernandez, third baseman Maikel Franco, catcher Cameron Rupp and right-hander Luis Garcia.

Galvis, Hernandez and Franco could join J.P. Crawford and Rhys Hoskins in next season's infield. There is some thought Galvis or Hernandez (or both) could be traded to help the Phillies acquire pitching help, but the organization could just move forward and rotate Galvis, Hernandez, Franco and Crawford at second base, third base and shortstop. They did just that the final month of the 2017 season.

Rupp, Andrew Knapp and Jorge Alfaro each are on the 40-man roster. Alfaro is a lock to be on the 25-man roster next season because he cannot be optioned. It remains to be seen what happens with Rupp and Knapp.

Garcia had a breakout season in 2017, posting a 2.65 ERA in 66 appearances.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Philadelphia Phillies

Allen, Morandini named Phillies ambassadors

MLB.com @ToddZolecki

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies have named Dick Allen and Mickey Morandini as club ambassadors.

The team announced Thursday that they will join Gary Matthews, who has served in the role since 2014.

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies have named Dick Allen and Mickey Morandini as club ambassadors.

The team announced Thursday that they will join Gary Matthews, who has served in the role since 2014.

"Whether they are appearing at community events, interacting with fans at the ballpark or speaking to young athletes, the role of our ambassadors is to maintain the Phillies' ongoing efforts to connect with our fan base on an intimate level," Phillies executive vice president David Buck said in a statement. "Dick, Mickey and Gary are well-suited to serve in these roles. We anticipate adding additional ambassadors over the next several years, giving us an opportunity to connect with a different generation of fans."

The club ambassador program started in 2014 with Matthews and Chris Wheeler, whose role will be reduced in the future. He primarily will help the Phillies during Spring Training in Clearwater, Fla.

Allen, 75, hit .290 with 204 home runs, 655 RBIs and a .902 OPS in 1,070 games with the Phillies. He was selected to seven All-Star Games, including three with the Phillies. He ranks second in franchise history in slugging percentage (.530) and 10th in home runs.

Morandini, 51, spent the previous two seasons as the Phillies' first-base coach. He was a member of the 1993 National League championship team and represented the Phillies in the '95 All-Star Game. Morandini played parts of nine seasons in Philadelphia and batted .267 with 169 doubles, 44 triples and 103 stolen bases in 965 games.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Philadelphia Phillies

Appel, Tirado clear waivers, will stay with Phils

Right-handers were designated for assignment Nov. 20
MLB.com @ToddZolecki

PHILADELPHIA -- Mark Appel will get another shot to make the big leagues with the Phillies.

The team announced Monday afternoon that Appel and Alberto Tirado cleared waivers and have been outrighted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The righties were designated for assignment last week to clear room on the 40-man roster for pitching prospects Franklyn Kilome, Seranthony Dominguez, Jose Taveras and Ranger Suarez, protecting them from the Rule 5 Draft.

PHILADELPHIA -- Mark Appel will get another shot to make the big leagues with the Phillies.

The team announced Monday afternoon that Appel and Alberto Tirado cleared waivers and have been outrighted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The righties were designated for assignment last week to clear room on the 40-man roster for pitching prospects Franklyn Kilome, Seranthony Dominguez, Jose Taveras and Ranger Suarez, protecting them from the Rule 5 Draft.

If a team had claimed Appel or Tirado, it would have had to place him on its 40-man roster.

Appel, 26, joined the Phillies in the Ken Giles trade with Houston in December 2015. The Phils requested Appel after they had concerns about Vince Velasquez's health. Outfielder Derek Fisher, 24, originally had been part of the deal. Fisher, who emerged as one of the best prospects in baseball before joining the Astros this season, got bumped for Appel.

Appel, whom the Astros selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 Draft, made just 25 starts the past two seasons because of elbow and shoulder injuries, posting a 5.17 ERA in eight starts with Lehigh Valley in 2016 and a 5.27 ERA in 17 starts in '17.

"A lot of the tools that Mark showed as an amateur that led to him being the No. 1 overall pick are still there," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said last week. "He has simply struggled with performance. It's certainly not for lack of effort on his part."

Tirado, 22, walked 60 and struck out 67 in 77 1/3 innings this season.

Bench coach interviews

The Phillies are interviewing candidates this week to be manager Gabe Kapler's bench coach. WFAN reported Monday that Yankees bench coach Rob Thomson will be interviewed. Thomson also is a candidate to be the next Yankees manager.

The Phillies already have hired Rick Kranitz, hitting coach John Mallee, third-base coach Dusty Wathan, bullpen coach Jim Gott and assistant hitting coach Pedro Guerrero to be part of Kapler's staff. Kranitz's role is undefined, but he is likely to be the pitching coach.

Besides a bench coach, the Phillies also will hire a first-base coach and assistant pitching coach.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Philadelphia Phillies, Mark Appel, Alberto Tirado