A couple of weeks age the MiLB.com selected the Phillies players in the minor league organization who had the best years by position. HERE I thought it would be a good idea to give my list from a little different perspective. I have eliminated any player who was a September call up to the major league roster or had major league experience . So Tyler Cloyd and Darin Ruf for example are not listed. I did try to focus heavily on players I actually saw play either in person or MiLB-TV.
Catcher: Cameron Rupp. Both MiLB and I agree on Cameron. Baseball Betsy and I watched Cameron all season long with the Clearwater Threshers. What impressed me most was the strong second half he had for the Threshers and how well he handled the left-handed starters there. Look for Rupp to move to Reading and be the primary catcher for the big left-handed sarters there Jesse Biddle, Adam Morgan and Austin Wright. Rupp should hit well in the Eastern League especially in hitter friendly Reading First Energy Stadium.
First base: Jim Murphy. I always looked forward to seeing big Jim Murphy come to the plate in Clearwater. He led the Florida State League in doubles with 43 and also had 17 home runs which was fourth in the league. These were the same numbers Darin Ruf put in Clearwater the year before when Darin also hit 43 doubles and 17 home runs. Can’t wait for Big Jim to settle in at the friendly confines of the Reading ball park to see how well he matches up to the remarkable Darin Ruf 2012 numbers at AA.
Second base: MiLB went with Cesar Hernandez and so will I. Yes, he had a good year at Reading hitting .304 for seventh in the Eastern League and tied for the league lead in triples with 11 but he might need a second season at AA. He did commit 15 errors at second and will turn only 23 years old in May.
Shortstop: Roman Quinn. No disagreement with MiLB on this one. Roman had a great season that may not all show up on the official stat sheet. After the minor league camp in the spring he went to extended spring training then to short season Williamsport and ended the season in the three week Florida Instructional League. He had a remarkable season with Williamsport where he led the NY-Penn League in runs scored, triples and stolen bases. He did commit 27 errors in 66 games at short but he is relatively new to the position and look for him to cut that number at Lakewood in 2013.
Third base: Cody Asche. Again MiLB and I agree on Cody as the top third baseman in the organization. We have chronicled Cody’s season in previous blogs. Probably the one thing holding him back was his defense but he ended up committing only one error in 25 games in the Arizona Fall League and was selected as the top third baseman in that prestigious league where the best players from all major league organizations go to play. Looks like Cody will start off the season at AA Reading again as the Phillies have signed several minor league veterans such as Josh Fields, Pete Orr, and Michael Martinez who all can play third base at AAA.
Outfield: MiLB selected Leandro Castro and Kelly Dugan as the top outfielders in the Phillies system. OK. They had nice years but they need to show more before I am convinced that are locks as future major league prospects. I was surprised Castro did not show more power with Reading hitting only 10 home runs. My favorite young outfielder in the Phillies system is big 6’6″ 235 lbs. Dylan Cozens who will not be 19 until the end of May. He has the potential be a five tool special left-handed power hitter. He finished in the top ten in the Gulf Coast League in RBIs, home runs and slugging percent while stealing 8 bases in 10 attempts. One long ball I saw him hit was a tape measure shot in Instructs at the minor league complex of the Blue Jays. Young 17 year old Carlos Tocci will be one to watch as well in center-field. To me Larry Greene in left, Tocci in center and Cozens in right who all played together in the Instructional league in September will the Phillies outfield of the future but not until four or five years from now because they are so young.
The Pitchers: The top left handed and right handed starting pitchers last year that I saw were Jesse Biddle with Clearwater and Ethan Martin at Reading who was picked up in the Shane Victorino trade from the Dodgers. All Jesse needs is a little more consistency. He reminds of a young Cole Hamels. He has the same fire and determination to be the best that Hamels has shown . It will interesting to see how Jesse pitches in the more hitter friendly Eastern League but he has stuff to move quickly to the major leagues. Martin impressed me with his 5-0 record in seven start for Reading and his 11 strike out, no walk performance in the Eastern League playoffs. In that game in Trenton he looked major league ready with a low to mid 90’s fast ball and a 12 to six curve ball.
Relief Pitchers: Under GM Ruben Amaro Jr. the Phillies seem to be stressing power right handed arms in the bullpen. We saw at times Tyler Knigge, Hector Neris, and Kenny Giles look dominating at times coming in out of the Clearwater pen. Then we saw Kyle Simon drop down from the right[side to get ground ball outs. For lefties it looks like Jay Johnson shows some promise by dropping down like Jacob Diekman did as Jake worked his way up the Phillies bullpen last season.
So all in all if I were to pick the Phillies organizational All Stars who have never played in the major leagues for my roster it would look like Cameron Rupp catching, Jim Murphy at first, Cesar Hernandez at second base, Roman Quinn at short, Cody Asche at third, Larry Greene in left, Carlos Tocci in center and Dylan Cozens in right. Jesse Biddle would be by top lefty with Adam Morgan a close second and Ethan Martin my top righty backed up by Jonathan Pettibone. My closer would be Kenny Giles throwing that 100 mph heat that we saw him throw in Dunedin at the end of the FSL season with Tyler Knigge and his slider as my eight inning set up guy. For my lefty reliever I would convert starter Austin Wright who can bring the mid 90′ s heat and break off a good curve ball to left-handed bats to send them back to the dugout in critical situations. All of these guys project as major league prospects who will make it to the show with the Phillies or some major league team over the next many years.