Maikel Franco has hit six homers in just 22 games in the Dominican Winter League for second on the league. He has driven in 21 runs. If he were to maintain that pace in the MLB he would average over to 40 home runs and drive in about 160 runs in a full season.
All we are hearing in the Hot Stove League debate is the enormous long term contract the Marlins have given to Giancarlo Stanton. Well, the Phillies might already have someone who will be just as productive as Stanton is in Franco as they battle in the National League East.
Maikel is only 22 years old and will not turn 23 years old until late August and made his MLB debut last September. Stanton just turned 25 years old and made his debut as a 20 year old in back in 2010. France struggled back in September hitting only .170 and did not homer in 70 at bats. Stanton had a modest 2010 season hitting .255 with 22 homers and 55 rbi’s in 100 games. Baseball Reference has Stanton’s career averages so far based on an 162 games season at a batting average of 271. with 39 homers and 102 rbi’s.
That’s the good news because the Phillies do have a productive power right-handed bat to compete against Stanton and the Marlins but what about the rest of the team?
Acting team President Pat Gillick has said the Phillies will not be competitive over the next two season as they want to get younger and more athletic. We can only project what a team in 2017 or 18 might looks like.
The Phillies are high on three prospects who just finished up playing in the Arizone Fall League. Outfielder Roman Quinn was named a top prospect in part because of his base stealing ability. Nefi Ogando’s fastball was singled out as one of the best. Adam Morgan was outstanding in two of his three starts. So we must factor them into our 25 man roster of the future.
In winter ball in addition to Franco, Aaron Altherr has been outstanding as he wrapped up his time in the Venezuelan Winter League. Playing all three outfield positions for Zulia in the VWL he led the league in runs batter in with 27 in 31 games and hit .287 with four homers. He has to be factored into the major league roster of 2017.
On the last day of the winter meetings December 11th, the Rule Five draft will take place. The Phillies are usually active in picking up a prospect or two not protected by another organization to take a look at them in spring training. They have now 38 players on the 40 man roster so they could draft two players. The problem is they must remain on the 25 man roster for a full season. Rebuilding teams can afford to carry Rule Five selections. Teams who compete for the post season can not usually afford to carry them.
Recently, the Phillies have not retained their Rule Five picks. Ender Inciarte lasted on the Phillies roster for opening day of the 2013 season before he was sent back to the Arizona Diamondback. He is now the D-backs starting centerfielder hitting .278 and was fifth in N.L. R.O.Y voting last month. Last year the Phillies selected relief pitcher Kevin Munson and returned him. This past season at AAA he struck out 82 in 62 innings and has now been placed on the Diamondbacks 40 man roster to protect him from the Draft this year.
Different minor league websites have or will soon issue their rankings of the Phillies prospects. Baseball Prospectus has already issued its Phillies Top Ten Prospects. December 8th MiLB.com is scheduled to issue the Phillies Organizational All Stars. Baseball American plans to issue its ranking of the Phillies top prospects, December 15th. These rankings give us a prospective on how others see the Phillies prospects.
As we have blogged previously we have projected out Phillies roster for 2017 and beyond. We like the following lineup: Andrew Knapp (c), Rhys Hoskins (1b), Grenny Cumana (2b), J.P. Crawford (ss), Maikel Franco (3b), Cody Asche (lf), Roman Quinn (cf) and Aaron Brown (rf). Certainly Aaron Altherr must be factored into the outfield future as would Freddy Galvis as a utility infielder off the bench. Young outfield prospects to watch are Cord Sandburg, Carlos Duran and Dylan Cozens. Jan Hernandez is an infielder to keep an eye on as well. Super sub Willians Astudillo can play catch and play the corner positions and is good bat off the bench.
On the mound my starters would be built around Cole Hamels as my No. 1 followed by Aaron Nola, Jesse Biddle, Adam Morgan and Colin Kleven. Obviously Ken Giles will be the closer, followed by Justin DeFratus, Jake Diekman, Severino Gonzalez and Nefi Ogando out of the pen.
Of the young pitchers I have seen this past season several of them have a major league future. Starters, Ricardo Pinto, Ranfi Casimiro, Brandon Leibrandt, David Whitehead, Matt Imhof, Elniery Garcia, Yoel Mecias, Miguel Nunez, Jordan Guth and Mark Leiter all have potential and need to be watched this upcoming season. Of the relievers Edubray Ramos, Cody Forsythe and Josh Taylor stood out.
The Phillies have their work cut out for them to be competitive in the National League East especially knowing they will be facing Giancarlo Stanton and the Miami Marlins for many years into the future. The Phillies do have young prospects in place now in the minors getting ready to challenge for the post season projected by the Front Office not until the 2017-2018 seasons.