Baseball America released their annual Phillies top ten prospects list earlier this week. Of the players on the list, seven have played with the BlueClaws and we can expect at least one and probably two of those ten to be back with the BlueClaws in 2014.
The list in full (years with BlueClaws):
- 3B Maikel Franco (2011-12)
- LHP Jesse Biddle (2011)
- SS JP Crawford (2013)
- RHP Miguel Gonzalez (–)
- SS Roman Quinn (2013)
- OF Carlos Tocci (2013)
- RHP Ethan Martin (–)
- 2B/OF Cesar Hernandez (–)
- OF Aaron Altherr (2011-12)
- RHP Severino Gonzalez (2013)
We would expect to see Crawford and Tocci at the very least to open the season in Lakewood and we suppose Quinn is possible but would be surprised if he’s not in Clearwater when the season starts on April 3rd.
Quick run-throughs on these 10:
1. Maikel Franco: The third baseman spent 2012 with the BlueClaws as a 19 year old and after a big second half with the BlueClaws that year (.346, 8 HRs, 57 RBIs) into 2013, where he sizzled in Clearwater (.299, 16 HRs, 52 RBIs) and carried that to Reading (.339, 15 HRs, 51 RBIs) after a June promotion. He ranked 8th on this list last year. Franco will certainly be placed on the Phillies 40-man roster and almost certainly will open next year with Triple-A Lehigh.
2. Jesse Biddle: Biddle topped this list last year. With Lakewood in 2011, the Philadelphia native and Phillies 2010 first-round pick, Biddle this year pitched for Double-A Reading, where he hada 3.64 ERA in a hitter-friendly park despite a 5-14 record (Biddle didn’t get any run support in Lakewood either, going 7-8 despite a 2.98 ERA).
3. JP Crawford: The Phillies first-round pick this year made a huge impact, leading the Gulf Coast League in hitting at .345 before a late August promotion to the BlueClaws. He went 11-53 with two stolen bases over 14 games. Crawford turns 19 in January and finishes
4. Miguel Gonzalez: Gonzalez doesn’t fit in with the others on this list as he was a free agent signing after defecting from Cuba last year. He signed a 3-year, $12 million contract and could be in the big league rotation in 2014. He originally agreed to a 6-year, $48 million contract but had issues with his physical, per media reports, so the Phillies and Gonzalez eventually agreed to a smaller deal.
5. Roman Quinn: Quinn, a 2nd round pick of the Phillies in 2011, turned down a scholarhip to Florida State to sign with Philadelphia, and after leading the NY-Penn League in stolen bases in 2012, he joined the BlueClaws in 2013. In 67 games, he hit .238 with 32 stolen bases before unfortunately breaking his wrist in Delmarva on June 25th, which ultimately ended his season. He’ll play winter ball and we’d expect to see him in Clearwater to open 2014.
6. Carlos Tocci: Tocci was the youngest player in BlueClaws history last year when he joined the team on Opening Day at age 17. He didn’t even turn 18 until August 23rd. Tocci held his own, excelling in centerfield. At the plate hit .209 with 26 RBIs in 118 games. We’d expect Tocci, to return to Lakewood in 2014, where he will still be one of the youngest players, if not the youngest, in the South Atlantic League. (As a point of comparison, he is seven months younger than JP Crawford, who began the year playing as a senior in high school, while Tocci was in the Sally League.)
7. Ethan Martin: Martin came over to the Phillies from the Dodgers in 2012. He spent this year with Lehigh Valley, going 11-5, 4.12 and was called up to the Phillies in August, making 15 appearances and going 2-5, 6.08.
8. Cesar Hernandez: Hernandez skipped Lakewood, going from Williamsport in 2010 to Clearwater in 2011. This year, he had an excellent year, hitting .309 with Lehigh Valley over 104 games and hitting .289 in 34 games with the Phillies. He figures to get a shot to make the big league Opening Day roster in 2014.
9. Aaron Altherr: Altherr, a former 9th round pick of the Phillies in 2009, hit .275 with a career-high 12 home runs and 23 stolen bases (in 28 attempts) after hitting .252 with 8 home runs and 25 stolen bases with the BlueClaws in 2012, which was up from .211 which he hit with the BlueClaws in 2011 (over the first half before finishing the year with Williamsport). Altherr has to be placed on the 40-man roster by the Phillies or he will be subjected to the Rule-5 Draft.
10. Severino Gonzalez: Of all the players on this list, the one that was probably the least likely to be here entering the season is Gonzalez. The right-hander joined the BlueClaws and made four starts, going 3-0 with a 1.69 ERA, which included one game in which he retired all 18 hitters he faced. Gonzalez then went to Clearwater, where he had pitched in relief earlier this year as a fill-in (he finished with a 2.02 ERA in 75 Clearwater innings), and made one start with Reading on Labor Day, giving up two runs in 6.2 innings. There aren’t too many players that open one year in extended spring training and then open the next year in Reading, but Gonzalez will have the chance.
We’ll have more with this list over the coming weeks. As in the past, we have tried to interview a Baseball America writer, regarding this list, and that is again the plan.