2021 Philadelphia Phillies Top 5 Prospectsby John Lepore March 16, 2021 1 comment
The Philadelphia Phillies missed the playoffs by one game last season going 28-32. In fact, that makes nine seasons in a row with no postseason. With the re-signings of J.T. Realmuto and Didi Gregorius, the lineup will be similar to last year. What the Phillies need is an injection of talent from the farm system and while it is a little weak, there are a few arms and a big bat that should make an impact soon. Let’s take a look at the top 5 prospects.
Make sure to check out all of our other MLB Team Top Prospects.
#1 – Spencer Howard – RHP
Howard made his major league debut last season. In his six starts, he looked overmatched. He had a 5.92 ERA and allowed six home runs in 24.1 innings while only getting through five in one of those starts. Howard’s shoulder injury could’ve been to blame. However, he was dominant across three levels in 2019 with a 2.03 ERA and 0.831 WHIP while striking out 34.8 percent of batters faced. The stuff isn’t the question with Howard. Speaking of his stuff…
Howard has a solid four-pitch mix. His fastball sits 93-96 and has an above-average spin rate which allows him to ride it up in the zone with great success. His curve and slider are both plus pitches and he commands the slider well as an out pitch especially to righties. Howard doesn’t throw his curve that much, but it can be a great equalizer if he can command it better. The 24-year-old throws it around 72-75 which makes for a great velocity differential from his fastball. His changeup is excellent and has good fade which neutralizes lefties. Howard is a complete and polished product overall and his health will determine when he sticks in the majors for good.
#2 – Mick Abel – RHP
The 15th overall pick last year won’t even be 20 years old until August. His ceiling is what puts him at number two here and he will be number one next year once Howard moves up. Abel, as with many picks out of High School, has to work a little on his command. He is a lanky righty (6’5, 190) who should fill in over the next couple of years. He already throws his fastball around 95 consistently and has good life on it. The velocity comes from an effortless delivery and quick arm action. Expect his fastball to possibly reach triple digits as he adds more weight.
His slider is a solid pitch that he throws in the mid-80’s. Abel’s curveball has excellent 12-6 movement and has tight spin but he will need to be a little more deceptive with it as he tends to come over the top more with his curve than with other pitches. His changeup has some nice fade and sink and will be a nice weapon against lefties. Abel has electric stuff and a quick arm. With refinement and attention to tunneling and command, he could be an ace in the majors as soon as 2023.
#3 – Francisco Morales – RHP
Morales was signed out of Venezuela in 2016. He has an absolute nasty two-pitch arsenal that gets tons of strikeouts. Over his three stops in the minors, Morales has struck out 241 in 194.1 innings. That also comes with 99 walks. He alternated between starting and relieving in 2019 with mixed results. Overall, he improved his BB rate and K rate from 2018-2019 and has shown a little more control. His fastball sits around 98 and his slider is an absolute wipeout pitch.
Morales sports a changeup as well and it may be a plus pitch in the future. Natural arm speed and a strong frame with still a little room for growth are what the Phillies are banking on to keep Morales on track to be a starter. If he can’t refine his delivery and command and/or develop his changeup into a solid third offering, Morales will likely wind up as a closer in the big leagues.
#4 – Bryson Stott – SS
Stott was the 14th overall pick in the 2019 draft out of UNLV. He turned himself into a first-round pick by displaying a solid power-speed combo in his junior year. Stott had 10 home runs and 16 steals in 58 games with an impressive 1.085 OPS. He also showed a mature knowledge of the strike zone with a 55/39 BB/K rate. At the Phillies alternate site, the organization seems happy with his ability to use the whole field and barrel the ball well.
His hitting seems to be on track, but there are questions about his swing. He seems to have awkward mechanics and is more of a see-it-and-hit-it batter. We will have to see how that plays at the upper levels of the minors. He has the tools to stick at shortstop in the majors. His range, arm, and hands all play at above average. Stott has also played a little third base and second base to keep his options open. If all goes well, he should be in the bigs soon and will be taking over shortstop from Gregorius by 2023.
#5 – Erik Miller – LHP
Miller was a fourth-round pick in 2019 out of Stanford University. He is a big kid at 6’5 and 240 lbs so he has the body to be a workhorse in the big leagues. He found his strikeout groove as he progressed through his three years in college and continued that trend at three stops when he hit pro ball. Miller has a solid fastball at around 92-95 with above-average spin and some ride to it. His slider is nasty especially against lefties and is already a true wipeout pitch.
While Miller’s changeup and curveball are both works in progress, they have a chance to be plus pitches. His curve is a standard 12-6 and with development, can be a nice weapon against righties. The changeup has some sink to it and will probably be more of a show-me pitch to keep hitters from zoning in. Miller has a smooth, repeatable delivery with very little movement and excellent mechanics. If he can command a true-four pitch mix with a little refinement, Miller could be a mid-rotation stalwart in the majors.
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