Several of the notable Philadelphia Phillies prospects have started off this season with very high marks. Many look just about ready for their MLB promotion. Right now, three members of the Phillies’ Triple-A squad, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, are closest to climbing up to the next level.
A few top Philadelphia Phillies prospects have already reached the big leagues this season. Pitchers Ben Lively and Nick Pivetta recently made the well-deserved leap from the minor leagues to the show. Despite a poor showing in Triple-A, Jake Thompson has also joined the MLB team in Philadelphia with the mission to help out the bullpen.
While it does not look like the team’s top prospect J.P. Crawford is ready yet, several other very worthy candidates are. The team is in a transitional state where they are beginning to see just which young players will be a part of the future. Others with big league experience such as Vincent Velasquez are playing poorly and fighting to keep their jobs or hoping to redefine their role. With so many notable prospects one stop away from MLB, we can expect big changes in Philadelphia.
As a prototypical rebuilding team, it’s important the Phillies make the right decisions with which minor leaguers they provide more playing time. Their big market status should allow them to make big splashes in free agency once ready. So, if they want to get the best players into their dugout, it starts with building an attractive young roster. Players like the ones on this list could help bring those veteran bats and arms to Philadelphia if they can get the opportunity to shine in the big leagues first.
Catcher Jorge Alfaro has looked excellent through the first few weeks of 2017. He is annihilating baseballs and making a strong case to the Phillies that he deserves an immediate call-up. Unfortunately, the promotion may have to wait due to service years. The 2017 season is the last where the Phillies can option him to the minors without placing Alfaro on waivers first.
In the meantime, Alfaro will just have to settle in at the Triple-A level for a little longer. If he continues to hit this well, the Phillies can no longer use service years as an excuse to hold him back. Since neither of their MLB catchers is playing great, Philadelphia could reconsider sooner than later.
Alfaro has slowed down a bit from his torrid start. However, the .318/.348/.482 slash line he has posted through 21 games is still incredibly impressive for a catcher with a huge upside. Holding him back only wastes time that could be better spent allowing Alfaro to adjust to big league pitchers. Even if it takes months of Alfaro hitting below the Mendoza line, these growing pains are necessary to speed up his progress.
There is no denying Alfaro is the Phillies’ catcher of the future. Based on his 2017 performance, the future is now.
Last season was a banner year for first baseman Rhys Hoskins. The powerful slugger hit 38 home runs and drove in 116 runs while in Double-A. The performance helped land him on the team’s radar as a future starting first baseman candidate. Thus far in 2017, Hoskins has picked up right where he left off. He’s hitting well over .300 and has seven home runs through his first 86 at-bats. His prospect ranking is rising quickly as Hoskins continues to show off how valuable he could become.
The difficulty with Hoskins is his defensive limitations. Tommy Joseph is currently playing first base for the Phillies, but having a very bad season. His playing time could decrease very soon if he does not start hitting. Hoskins is knocking loudly on the door, making a case for a promotion with each at-bat. The Phillies may have to at least experiment with these two on the roster together before making a final decision as to who they go with for the remainder of the year.
Power is something the Phillies will need moving forward and Hoskins’ is undeniable. The worst thing they can do is keep him hidden in the minors for too long because they cannot figure out how to get him at-bats. Surely a September call-up, Hoskins is hitting too well to wait around all season.
The way Nick Williams played last year had many second-guessing the young outfielder’s abilities. Williams hit just .258/.287/.427 in a full season at Triple-A. He drew only 19 walks all season and struck out 136 times. The poor contact rate and eye surely took away from the hype surrounding one of the biggest names involved in the 2015 Cole Hamels trade.
A year later, Williams looks a lot better. While he is not putting up historic numbers, the future MLB outfielder looks to have fixed many of the chinks in the armor. Specifically, Williams has a better walk-to-strikeout ratio. His OBP is above the .300 mark and he has already stolen half as many bases as he did all of last season.
The Phillies are in no rush at all to call up Williams. Although their outfield is a little messy at the moment, Aaron Altherr is making his own case for a starting job. There is still availability for Williams to earn at-bats this season in some form. Howie Kendrick and Michael Saunders are at the top of the trade block and likely to get moved. When they do, the door for Williams to receive a promotion will swing wide open.
Until then, Williams will need to build a big league case. He’s not having the same type of season Alfaro and Hoskins are where it is undeniable that they should get the nod. Still, Williams is playing well enough to at least deserve a look versus MLB pitching.