Prospect rankings primer
Last year's Phillies list
The Top Ten
1. Maikel Franco
Height/Weight: 6’1” 180 lbs
Drafted/Acquired: International Free Agent, 2010, Dominican Republic
Previous Ranking: #2 (Org)
2013 Stats: .339/.363/.563 at Double-A Reading (69 games), .299/.349/.576 at High-A Clearwater (65 games)
The Tools: 5+ potential hit; 7 potential power; 6+ arm; 5 potential glove
What Happened in 2013: Franco crushed in the Florida State League, and then took another step forward after his promotion to Double-A, hitting a combined 31 bombs.
Strengths: Electric bat speed; well above-average hand/eye coordination; hit tool could play average or better; feel for hard contact; crushes fastballs; power potential is plus-plus; plane for over-the-fence power; back spins the ball; arm is easy plus; hands work well in the field.
Weaknesses: Deep hand load in setup (drawing back a bow); brings hands back/up and then back down into launch; excellent hand/eye allows him to recover from bad guesses; very aggressive approach; struggles against off-speed stuff; hit tool likely to pull power down; high maintenance body; good hands in the field but sloppy footwork and fringe range
Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division
Realistic Role: 5; major league regular
Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; achieved Double-A level; questions about defensive profile and hit tool.
Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Here is a case where the eligibility could make a real difference. If Franco is a first baseman, his fantasy value takes a hit. But even if he plays third base only against lefties, that will still be enough for him to maintain those 20 games. At the plate, he could be a .275 hitter with 25 homers in that park, which is notoriously friendly to right-handed hitters (just ask Jayson Werth).
The Year Ahead: Franco was a monster in 2013, hitting for average and power, but sources question the utility of the hit tool against better arms, particularly arms that can beat him with sequence. His preternatural feel for contact helps him recover from a late trigger or a poor pitch read, so he should be able to keep the ball in play. But his impressive plus-plus power is likely to play down as a result of his swing and approach, which will limit his overall value, especially if he can’t make the profile work at third base. I can see a .260-plus hitter with 20-plus bombs, most likely coming at first base, and I would probably be higher on the overall profile if the work ethic received praise from outside the org sources rather than questions and red flags.
Major league ETA: 2014
2. Jesse Biddle
Height/Weight: 6’4” 225 lbs
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2010 draft, Germantown Friends HS (Philadelphia, PA)
Previous Ranking: #1 (Org), #67 (Top 101)
2013 Stats: 3.64 ERA (138.1 IP, 104 H, 154 K, 82 BB) at Double-A Reading
The Tools: 5+ FB; 5 CB; 5+ potential CH; 5 SL
What Happened in 2013: In his first pass in Double-A, the former first-round pick made 27 starts, logged 138 innings and missed an impressive 154 bats, but he also allowed 82 free passes.
Strengths: Good size/present strength; athletic; fastball works solid-average; comfortable at 89-92; touches a bit higher; creates good plane to the plate; curveball is average offering; plays up against minor-league bats; can show a tight rotation and deception off the fastball; turns over a promising changeup; average at present but has some projection; shows slider that he can throw in the zone.
Weaknesses: Release point inconsistency; poor fastball command at present; tendency to fly open in delivery and miss arm-side and up; curveball can get loopy and long; upper 60/low 70s; changeup can get deliberate in the delivery; needs general mound refinement (holding runner, PFP, etc)
Overall Future Potential: High 5; no. 3 starter
Realistic Role: 5; no. 4 starter
Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; 27 starts at Double-A level; needs command refinement,
Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Shallow leaguers should take note that Biddle, despite his projection, isn’t the kind of player who you should be stocking your farm team with. He’ll have to max out his projection in order to be much above streamer level in 10-12 team leagues, but in deep formats, his stability and ability to eat innings will come in handy.
The Year Ahead: Biddle has one of those lefty curveballs that can freeze hitters or make their swings look like foolish attempts to make contact with air. But the pitch is better in the present (in the minors) than it projects to be in the future (in the majors), and without a true plus offering, Biddle doesn’t have a large margin for error. It all starts with poor fastball command; without the ability to spot up the pitch, better sticks won’t be triggering early to strike it, which will make a slow, long curveball easier to stay back on and track. Minor-league hitters struggle to accomplish this. If Biddle can correct his command woes, he has a good chance of developing into a solid backend starter at the major-league level, and perhaps more if the changeup can blossom into a near plus offering. But the robust minor-league curve isn’t going to play without better fastball utility, and until Biddle takes steps forward on that front, his overall profile comes with more than questions than answers.
3. J.P. Crawford
Height/Weight: 6’2” 180 lbs
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2013, Lakewood HS (Lakewood, CA)
Previous Ranking: NA
2013 Stats: .208/.300/.226 at Low-A Lakewood (14 games), .345/.443/.465 at complex level GCL (39 games)
The Tools: 6 run; 5+ arm; 6 potential glove; 5+ potential hit
What Happened in 2013: Selected 16th overall in the 2013 draft, Crawford hit the ground hitting in his complex league debut, putting up a .345 average in a 39-game sample.
Strengths: Fast-twitch athlete; coordinated and graceful; plus run; plus range; natural feel for the glove; clean, fluid actions; excellent backhand pickup; left-side arm; shows some bat speed at the plate; quick hands with some bat control.
Weaknesses: Needs to add strength to lean/lanky frame; general refinement through repetition in the field; bat lacks power; contact-heavy swing; balance isn’t great in setup/swing; can shift weight early to front foot and lose punch/control with the bat.
Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player
Realistic Role: 5; major-league regular
Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; limited professional experience; questions about the bat/body.
Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Crawford may not have the fantasy upside of some of his first-round brethren, but he’s a strong bet to stay at shortstop due to his defensive prowess and his speed should be able to provide returns, even if the bat or fringy power don’t work out so well. He is a strong second round pick in dynasty drafts this year.
The Year Ahead: Crawford is ready for a full season in Low-A, where he will likely continue to flash the goods at shortstop and show enough promise at the plate to keep his stock high. There are some concerns about his physical projection and how it keeps the bat in his hands, but he shows the necessary work ethic and should be able to add strength without sacrificing his athleticism or game speed. I don’t see an impact bat, as the power will likely play below average and the hit tool will be more about consistent contact than middle-of-the-order destruction. But the defensive profile at a premium position is legit, and the total package could be a first-division player at the major-league level. He just missed the cut for the BP 101 this season, and should find his way securely on the list as he climbs the corporate ladder.
Major league ETA: 2017
4. Kelly Dugan
Height/Weight: 6’3” 195 lbs
Drafted/Acquired: 2nd round, 2009 draft, Notre Dame HS (Sherman Oaks, CA)
Previous Ranking: NR
2013 Stats: .264/.299/.472 at Double-A Reading (56 games), .318/.401/.539 at High-A Clearwater (56 games)
The Tools: 5 potential hit; 5+ potential power; 5+ glove; 6 arm
What Happened in 2013: After a strong full-season debut in 2012, Dugan continued to progress in 2013, hitting his way to Double-A and racking up 48 extra-base hits on the season.
Strengths: Good athlete; good feel for baseball skills; strong upper body; generates good bat speed at the plate; hit tool could play to average; power could play above average; strong arm for a corner; good glove; good reads/routes.
Weaknesses: Top heavy physique; can jump fastballs and struggle with off-speed pitches; can lose legs in his swing; hit tool lacks impact projection; power unlikely to play above plus; approach puts him in bad hitting situations; speed is below average
Overall Future Potential: 5; major-league regular
Realistic Role: High 4; below-average regular/bench outfielder
Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; limited experience in upper minors.
Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: There’s just not a whole lot for fantasy owners to get too excited about here with Dugan. There could be 20-homer power at the major-league level, but it is likely to come with an average (or on-base percentage, if you’re into that sort of thing) that will eat into the value you get from the middling power.
The Year Ahead: Dugan lacks big upside but the bat has a chance to make him a major-league regular, assuming his approach refines and he can make enough contact to let the power play in game action. The 23-year-old has bat speed and good upper-body strength, and when he can put some loft in his bat, he can drive the baseball out of the park. In his first pass in Double-A, arms could beat him with stuff and spin, so he will need to work himself into better counts and take advantage of mistakes if he wants to put himself into the major-league discussion for 2015.
Major league ETA: Late 2014
5. Carlos Tocci
Height/Weight: 6’2” 160 lbs
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2011, Venezuela
Previous Ranking: #9 (Org)
2013 Stats: .209/.261/.249 at Low-A Lakewood (118 games)
The Tools: 7 run; 6+ arm; 6 potential glove; 5+ potential hit
What Happened in 2013: Tocci jumped to the full-season level as a 17-year-old, and despite an OPS that would suggest he was overwhelmed at the plate, the young Venezuelan didn’t fold under the weight of the competition.
Strengths: Well above-average athlete; lanky/projectable body; easy plus run; could end up plus-pus with more strength; arm is a weapon in center; easy plus and possible plus-plus; confidence in the arm; glove to play above average in center; good approach and contact ability at the plate.
Weaknesses: Body is very immature at present; lack of strength limits utility of all tools; hit tool is all projection at this point; poor power at present; below-average baserunning utility at present; overall game needs refinement.
Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; 18 years old; questions about physical projection/strength.
Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Outside of Franco, Tocci is the player with the highest fantasy upside on this list. Don’t let the stats fool you, he was not good last season, but he played nearly the entire year at 17 years old. With the chance for 30-plus steals down the road, he’s a pure lottery ticket, but a lottery ticket is still better in fantasy than most of the other players on this list.
The Year Ahead: Tocci was one of my favorite prospects to watch in 2013, as the raw tools were louder than I expected, given the player’s age and level. The body is very immature, and some sources question whether or not he has the frame to add enough mass to keep the bat in his hands against better arms. He’s only 18, so if he can add strength over time, he has the type of athleticism and feel for the game to really shine as a prospect, the type of player who profiles in center with plus speed and a good swing/approach at the plate. I really like this prospect, and he could take a huge step forward if the body starts to show signs of maturity.
Major league ETA: 2017