Philadelphia Phillies’ Top 5 Prospects Post-Trade Deadlineby Andersen Pickard August 24, 2021 0 comments
The Philadelphia Phillies are in a poor position when it comes to their farm system. While the group is headlined by a few big names and welcomed a big addition in first-round pick Andrew Painter, it is still evident that Philadelphia’s pipeline ranks among the bottom half in baseball.
Let’s dive into the top-five names here.
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1. Mick Abel, Starting Pitcher
Abel is clearly the best player in the Phillies’ farm system, but he hasn’t posted fantastic numbers in his first season of professional game action. Through 14 starts, he is 1-3 with a 4.43 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and .174 OBA. He has a very poor 5.44 BB/9 rate, though he somewhat makes up for it with an impressive 13.30 K/9 clip. Still, he needs to do a better job avoiding walks, which could come back to hurt him. In terms of repertoire, Abel boasts a mid-90s fastball that has touched 98 mph. This is his best pitch and he has good command when throwing it; he can place the pitch in different parts of the zone to keep hitters perplexed. Abel also offers a mid-80s slider, a curveball with good movement and break, and a deceiving changeup.
Abel is just 20 years old and still in Single-A, so he isn’t close to making his MLB debut. Before the Phillies can even confidently promote him to High-A, he will need to prove he has improved his control by posting much lower walk numbers. With that said, Abel has a phenomenal repertoire and has the ability to choose from several great pitches. There is plenty of potential in this 6-foot-5 right-hander.
2. Bryson Stott, Shortstop
The Phillies’ first-round pick in 2019, Stott has posted an impressive .291/.378/.495 slash line with 13 homers, 39 RBI, 48 walks, and 87 strikeouts between High-A and Double-A this season. He has also swiped six bags. The shortstop is a great hitter who sprays the ball to all parts of the field and has also shown the potential for some power. A great fielder with a strong arm, Stott could always play third base if shortstop does not work out. There is no indication that this will be the case, though. The 23-year-old has great glovework and impressive range, which is everything you want in a starting shortstop.
The biggest concern with Stott’s game is the high strikeout rate, but the same can be said about almost every legitimate prospect in all of baseball. The fact of the matter is that Stott looks like a very complete player who is not too far from being ready for big-league action.
3. Andrew Painter, Starting Pitcher
The Phillies used their 2021 first-round pick on Painter, a 6-foot-7 prep pitcher with incredible potential. He has a great four-pitch mix headlined by a fastball in the mid-90s. He complements his heater nicely with a curveball that has nice vertical break, an equally effective slider, and a changeup with good fade. Painter has already shown signs of being a mature and polished pitcher at just 18 years old. With even more development and experience down the road, Painter could become a very talented hurler in the Phillies’ rotation.
Philadelphia should be in no rush to get Painter to the majors, especially considering Abel is ahead of him in terms of timeline and potential. With that said, he could complement Abel very nicely atop the Phillies’ rotation someday. The current timeline on Painter projects a debut around 2025, though that may be a bit on the early side. Only time will tell, though.
4. Francisco Morales, Relief Pitcher
If not for his good stuff, Morales probably wouldn’t crack the top-five here. After all, he is 3-11 with a 6.78 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, and .229 OBA through 19 games (17 starts) at Double-A this year. He has also racked up a horrendous 6.54 BB/9 rate but owns a solid 11.62 K/9 clip. The Phillies probably won’t promote him to Triple-A until next season at the earliest. Even then, they will need to see him prove that he can handle pitching against professional hitting. Despite the shaky stat line, Morales gets bailed out by his impressive repertoire. His three-pitch mix is headlined by a phenomenal slider, which has nasty horizontal break and absolutely baffles hitters. He also throws an upper-90s fastball, which makes the breaking ball even more lethal. These pitches complement each other really well and could be an effective pair if Morales can hone in on his control. The 21-year-old also offers a changeup, but this is merely a change-of-tempo pitch and needs more development.
The projection for Morales is obvious: bullpen. With only three pitches rather than four (of which only two are effective), high velocity, minimal control, and poor stamina, the 2016 international signee is likely destined for a relief pitching role if he makes it to the majors.
5. Erik Miller, Relief Pitcher
Drafted in the fourth round of the 2019 MLB Draft, Miller has just 48.2 innings of action under his belt. Through five starts (12.2 innings) between Rookie, Single-A, and High-A this season, the southpaw owns a 1.42 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, and .174 OBA. He has held opponents to very little in terms of hits and runs, but his 11 walks over 12.2 innings would signal a concern if extrapolated over a larger sample size. In terms of repertoire, Miller has a three-pitch mix. Miller’s mid-90s fastball exits his hand with good power and finishes up in the zone. He also throws an impressive slider with good horizontal break, forcing plenty of swings and misses. Finally, he offers a changeup with very low spin rates, which juxtaposes nicely against his fastball.
It will be interesting to see which pitch develops into Miller’s best offering. Right now, the slider is his best pitch. However, as he continues to develop his changeup, all of that could change. But control and a larger sample size are the biggest questions surrounding Miller right now. It will be imperative to watch how he performs while tasked with a larger workload.
What Does the Future Hold?
Clearly, there are legitimate concerns surrounding the state of the Phillies’ farm system. Stott appears to be the safest prospect in the bunch considering Painter has no professional experience and the other three pitchers have struggled with control. In order for the Phillies to be competitive in the NL East for several years to come, they will need to do a better job constructing the upper echelon of their farm system.
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