Previewing the Phillies' Minor League affiliates in '24

April 4th, 2024

PHILADELPHIA -- Last April, Orion Kerkering pitched his first game of the season for Single-A Clearwater in Bradenton, Fla.

Less than six months later, he debuted with the Phillies. A couple weeks after that, he pitched in Game 2 of the NL Wild Card Series against Miami, becoming the first Phillies pitcher to make his MLB debut in September and appear in a postseason game since Marty Bystrom in 1980.

Kekering’s lightning-fast progression through the Phillies’ farm system surprised even him.

“Always the projections were, like, 2025 or whatever,” Kerkering said last fall.

Is there another Kerkering in the Phillies’ system this year? The Phillies’ Minor League affiliates announced their rosters this week. Here is a look at players and pitchers to watch throughout the top four levels:

Triple-A Lehigh Valley
Player to watch: INF/OF
Kroon, 27, can hit. After he missed most of 2022 because of an ACL injury, he batted a combined .326 with 31 doubles, five triples, 11 home runs, 58 RBIs and a .925 OPS across stints at High-A Jersey Shore, Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

“It’s very similar to [Matt] Vierling,” Phillies assistant general manager of player development Preston Mattingly said last month. “He can play three spots, plus some third base. He’s athletic. He can run. He’s probably one of the better competitors we have in the box, too.”

Pitcher to watch: RHP (Phillies’ No. 2, No. 47 overall)
Abel, 22, finished spring in a good place. He hopes to finish 2024 in the big leagues. He has a real opportunity if he continues to progress. The Phillies liked what they saw from him in Spring Training.

“It’s definitely a goal; it’s definitely within sight,” Abel said last month. “The biggest difference this year is that I know where my feet are at. In years past, I thought about promotions too much. I put too many of those types of expectations on myself. By certain dates, I need to make certain levels or whatever. But this year I’ve got a very clear understanding of what I need to do and who I need to be to get to that next level.”

Other top 30 prospects on the roster: RHP Griff McGarry (No. 11), OF Símon Muzziotti (No. 19)

Double-A Reading

Player to watch: OF (No. 10)
Rincones posted a .778 OPS between Clearwater and Jersey Shore last year, then played well in the Arizona Fall League. He is a big, strong left-handed hitter who might hit for more power.

Pitcher to watch: LHP
Martinez is a hard-throwing left-hander who could be a bullpen piece in the future if he throws strikes. He struck out 10 and walked three in 11 2/3 innings in the Arizona Fall League.

Other top 30 prospects on the roster: RHP Andrew Painter (Phillies’ No. 1, No. 26 overall -- injured), OF/1B Carlos De La Cruz (No. 13), C Caleb Ricketts (No. 21), INF Robert Moore (No. 26)

High-A Jersey Shore

Player to watch: OF (No. 4, No. 73 overall)
Crawford struck out in fewer than 20 percent of his plate appearances last season, batting a combined .332 with a .392 on-base percentage with Clearwater and Jersey Shore. He hits the ball on the ground a lot, but he hits it hard. Eventually, the Phillies believe he will drive the ball more.

Pitcher to watch: RHP (No. 14)
The Phillies signed Pan to a $350,000 bonus in 2023. He pitched so well as a reliever in Clearwater that he got a quick promotion to Jersey Shore. He has power stuff, touching 100 mph with his fastball. He struck out 12.4 per nine innings in his pro debut.

Other top 30 prospects on the roster: SS Bryan Rincon (No. 8), SS/2B William Bergolla (No. 12), OF Emaarion Boyd (No. 17), OF Hendry Mendez (No. 23), LHP Samuel Aldegheri (No. 24).

Single-A Clearwater

Player to watch: 3B/SS (No. 3, No. 57 overall)
The Phillies think they got a future star with Miller, who fell to them with the 27th overall pick in the 2023 Draft. He played 10 games last season with the Gulf Coast League Phillies before getting promoted to Clearwater, where he also played 10 games.

“The biggest thing was learning how to slow the game down,” Miller said about what he learned in 2023. “The first couple games, it felt fast. It sped up on me a little bit. Developing a good routine helped that out.”

Pitcher to watch: RHP (No. 29)
The pitcher from the University of Minnesota touches 100 mph on the radar gun. He just doesn’t always know where the ball is going. Klassen walked 7.5 per nine innings in his final season with the Gophers.

Other top 30 prospects on the roster: SS/2B Devin Saltiban (No. 7), OF TJayy Walton (No. 18), OF Raylin Heredia (No. 20), C Kehden Hettiger (No. 22), 2B/3B Nikau Pouaka-Grego (No. 30).