Phillies Top 10 prospects

Posted: April 07, 2014

Third baseman Maikel Franco, who hit for both power and average during an impressive season split between single-A Clearwater and double-A Reading, tops the list of The Inquirer's Top 25 Phillies prospects.

Ten of the 25 are pitchers, including eight right-handers. There are six outfielders, four catchers, three third basemen, and two shortstops. Here is the Top 10:

1. Maikel Franco

3B, Lehigh Valley, 6-1, 180, age 21

Franco won't turn 22 until August and combined to hit .320 with 31 home runs, 103 RBIs, and a .926 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) at Clearwater and Reading last year. The previous year he had 14 home runs in Lakewood, so his power improved dramatically. He was named the Paul Owens Award winner as the best player in the Phillies minor-league system. Late last season at Reading he also was used at first base to give him more versatility. This spring training with the Phillies he hit .184 (7 for 38). Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said he liked what Franco showed defensively, but said he has a long, looping swing that needs to be shortened. He felt Franco was trying to crush every ball instead of going with a level swing. Franco doesn't have good speed, but he has a strong arm and does everything else at a high level.

2. J.P. Crawford

SS, Lakewood, 6-2, 180, age 19

Crawford was the Phillies' first-round draft choice last year (No. 16 overall). He begins the season at Lakewood after playing in 14 late-season games there (batting .208) in 2013. Crawford skipped going to short-season Williamsport after beginning last year with the Phillies' Gulf Coast League team, where he hit .345 with one home run, 19 RBIs and a .908 OPS. Crawford looked stronger during the spring and attributed that to an offseason weightlifting program. Crawford is from Lakewood, Calif., and is used to playing year-round. He participated in the Florida Instructional League after the season. Crawford has a strong arm, good range, and is expected to develop power.

3. Jesse Biddle

LHP, Reading, 6-5, 222, age 22

Biddle wasn't 100 percent last season due to whooping cough. He also pitched the final month with plantar fasciitis in his left foot. Still, he had a solid year at Reading with a 3.64 ERA despite a 5-14 record. He had a career-high 16 strikeouts in a win over Harrisburg. Biddle struck out 154 in 1381/3 innings and walked 82 and will be working more on his command. Biddle did average 10.02 strikeouts per nine innings. He was the Phillies' first-round draft choice in 2010 (27th overall) and is from Germantown Friends. Biddle made two appearances with the Phillies this spring, pitching three innings, allowing four runs, and striking out three. Despite the results, he said it was beneficial. He is repeating double-A in an effort to improve on his fastball command.

4. Roman Quinn

SS, 5-10, 170, Extended spring training, age 20

A second-round pick in 2011, Quinn suffered a season-ending hairline fracture of his right wrist on June 26 for Lakewood. He then ruptured his Achilles tendon in offseason workouts. Quinn is expected to return to action around the beginning of June. He will likely start the season at either Lakewood or Clearwater. Considered among the fastest players in the Phillies system, Quinn stole 32 bases for Lakewood last season in 67 games. A high school outfielder, he needs refinement defensively after committing 58 errors in his first two minor-league seasons. A switch-hitter, Quinn hit .238 with five home runs and 21 RBIs last season.

5. Carlos Tocci

CF, 6-2, 160, Lakewood, age 18

Despite not turning 19 until August, this is Tocci's third season in the Phillies organization. He played all last season at Lakewood, hitting .209 with 17 doubles, no home runs, and 26 RBIs. Tocci is considered a plus fielder with good speed, and the Phillies are just looking for him to get stronger. Last year he was the youngest player in Lakewood franchise history and will again be the youngest on this year's team.

6. Severino Gonzalez

RHP, 6-2, 153, Reading, age 21

Last season he received the Paul Owens Award as the best pitcher in the Phillies' minor-league system. Gonzalez went a combined 7-5 with a 2.00 ERA in 1032/3 innings while pitching for Clearwater, Lakewood, and Reading. He signed as an amateur free agent in April 2011 and pitched his first two seasons with the Phillies' Venezuelan Summer League team. The Phillies like the way he mixes his pitches.

7. Tommy Joseph

C, 6-1, 225, Reading, age 22

It was pretty much a lost season a year ago for Joseph, who battled concussion problems and was limited to 36 games. He began last season at Lehigh Valley, but is now at Reading, where he needs to play every day. This spring he had just six at-bats for the Phillies before being sent to the minor-league camp. He is poised, shows good leadership, and works well with the pitchers. The only player remaining for the Phillies who came in the Hunter Pence trade with San Francisco, Joseph will also look to regain the power from his first two minor-league seasons, when he combined for 38 home runs.

8. Ethan Martin

RHP, 6-2, 220, Phillies DL, age 24

Martin has been slowed by a strained right shoulder and there is no estimate on his return. Last season he was 11-5 with a 4.12 ERA as a starter at Lehigh Valley. He then made eight starts for the Phillies before being sent to the bullpen, where he had a 3.86 ERA in seven relief appearances. Martin, who was acquired from the Dodgers in the Shane Victorino trade in 2012, has one of the best fastballs in the organization. He could still be a starter or a reliever.

9. Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez

RHP, 6-3, 200, Phillies DL, age 27

The Phillies don't know what they have in Gonzalez, who was signed to a three-year, $12 million contract. A native of Cuba, he has not pitched much over the last two years. He only pitched in two spring-training games before developing a sore right shoulder. This spring, Gonzalez allowed five earned runs in 22/3 innings. Before spring training he was considered a contender for a rotation spot, but the Phillies need to see him pitch before making any future projections.

10. Adam Morgan

LHP, 6-1, 195, Lehigh Valley DL, age 24

He is currently recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. The Phillies say it's possible he could return sometime in August, but nothing is assured. He was bothered by shoulder problems last season and was 2-7 with a 4.04 ERA in 16 starts for Lehigh Valley. Early in the year he pitched well. A third-round pick in 2011 from the University of Alabama, Morgan would likely be rated higher had he not encountered the shoulder difficulties.

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