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Philadelphia Phillies 2015 Top 10 Fantasy Prospects

The prospect staff at Fake Teams continues their fantasy prospect rankings and system reviews with an in-depth look at the Philadelphia Phillies.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Just like last year, the prospect staff here at Fake Teams will be taking an in-depth look at each major league organization, including our top 10 fantasy prospects, an overview of the organization's minor league system as a whole and potential opportunities for playing time in 2015. Our goal is to provide you with more information as you prepare for minor league drafts for dynasty and keeper leagues, as well as look at players that could potentially be worth watching during the spring, as they could be in line to potentially help your fantasy team. We will be reviewing two teams per week until we are through all 30 teams, and you can see the schedule of when your favorite team will be reviewed below. if we have already reviewed the team, a link to the post, along with the team's top prospect is noted.

System Schedule

AL East

AL Central

AL West

NL East

NL Central

NL West

Baltimore
(3/11)

Chicago
(2/11)

Houston
(1/14)

Atlanta
(Sims)

Chicago
(Bryant)

Arizona
(Bradley)

Boston
(3/14)

Cleveland
(2/14)

Los Angeles
(1/17)

Miami
(Kolek)

Cincinnati
(Stephenson)

Colorado
(Gray)

New York
(3/18)

Detroit
(2/18)

Oakland
(1/21)

New York
(12/27)

Milwaukee
(Taylor)

Los Angeles
(Pederson)

Tampa Bay
(3/21)

Kansas City
(2/21)

Seattle
(1/24)

Philadelphia
(Today)

Pittsburgh
(Glasnow)

San Diego
(Renfroe)

Toronto
(3/25)

Minnesota
(2/25)

Texas
(1/28)

Washington
(12/24)

St. Louis
(Piscotty)

San Francisco
(Crick)

Organizational Overview
by Jason Hunt

After a number of seasons attempting to retool and reload while trying to compete, it appears that the Phillies may finally be ready to move toward a more substantial rebuilding process. The farm system has been unable to keep up with the needs of the major league team, and the team has gone with a more veteran (ie, expensive) approach these past few years. We are just starting to see what could very well be the first moves towards a younger team, trading their longest-tenured Phillie Jimmy Rollins this week for a pair of interesting pitching prospects from the Dodgers.

It will be interesting to see who the Phillies move next. Cole Hamels is likely to bring back the best return in trade, but general manager Ruben Amaro Jr may want to wait until some more of the high-end pitching has come off the free agent market. There have also been rumors of Marlon Byrd and Chase Utley potentially being available, although the return on either of them might be a bit light. Ideally, for a team in a full rebuild, they would absolutely love to shed the salaries of either Ryan Howard or Jonathan Papelbon, but the odds of either of them moving seems extremely low at best.

On the farm, there is a clear top three prospects for both real-life and fantasy purposes. J.P. Crawford is the shortstop of the future for the team, and could arrive at some point in the 2016 season. Maikel Franco debuted in 2014, and it's entirely possible that he either unseats Cody Asche at third or even Ryan Howard at first during the season. Last year's top draft pick Aaron Nola isn't expected to need long in the minors, and could potentially be in the rotation before the All-Star break.

If you look back at the farm system over the past few years, a fairly clear trend becomes visible. You see a number of prospects that were very toolsy (whether it be speed or power) who unfortunately did not develop as hoped. They also traded away a number of prospects in the quest to compete who have turned into the young major leaguers they are looking for now. We've seen prospects like Travis d'Arnaud, Trevor May, Jarred Cosart, and Jon Singleton all debut to varying levels of success, and will look for the farm system to help aim toward their next competitive period. The farm system can be drastically improved depending on the return the team gets in any potential Cole Hamels trade, but the wrong return could set the team back even further.

2014 Graduates

The following players have surpassed their rookie maximums of 130 AB, 50 IP, or 45 days of service time.

Cesar Hernandez (ST), Ken Giles (ST), David Buchanan (IP), Mario Hollands (IP)

Major League Opportunities in 2015
by Jason Hunt
The biggest question marks at this point, and the best potential opening for a prospect in 2015 will be in the starting rotation. Behind Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee, there's a bunch of question marks once you move beyond David Buchanan. The team re-signed Jerome Williams for the season, but he profiles as either the 5th starter or a swingman if you have a better option available. We could see Aaron Nola or Jesse Biddle at some point, but it's not clear if either would be up to start the year.

The trade of Jimmy Rollins has opened up shortstop, but top prospect J.P. Crawford is the best shortstop in the system and only reached High-A in 2014. A stopgap free agent signing on a one or two year deal could make the most sense, to allow time for a transition to Crawford there. On the rest of the offense, we likely see Franco up to stay at some point, whether it is at third base or at first (yes, the odds that Ryan Howard is not playing everyday out there are extremely low, but clearly not impossible.)

Marlon Byrd has also been rumored to be available for most of the offseason, and could help the team find playing more playing time for either Grady Sizemore or Aaron Altherr, although the fantasy relevance of any of them is likely to be pretty low.

Top 10 Fantasy Prospects
by Jason Hunt

Our top 10 fantasy prospect rankings are based upon standard 5x5 fantasy baseball leagues, with a balancing of ceiling and present value. While we are having discussions regarding these lists as a collective group, the top 10 fantasy prospect rankings are finalized by the writer listed above. Players are no longer considered prospects once they exceed either 130 at bats, 50 innings pitched, or 45 days of service time in the Majors.

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1. J.P. Crawford (SS)

Photo Credit: Hannah Foslien - Getty Images
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.285 69 11 48 24
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
538 0.375 0.406 12.08% 13.75%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
19 L R A+-A
Roster Status: Protect after 2017 Season
ETA to Majors: Late 2016

Taken with the 16th overall pick in the 2013 draft, Crawford has moved very quickly for a high school draftee. He returned to Low-A to start the 2014 campaign, and after posting a .295/.398/.405 slash line with as many walks as strikeouts (37) and 14 stolen bases, the Phillies moved him to the Florida State League. He posted a strong performance there as well, hitting eight home runs and stealing ten bases in the pitcher-friendly league in just half a season there.

Crawford has all the tools to be an above-average producer for a fantasy shortstop. He has shown excellent plate discipline skills, which when combined with his excellent bat speed, bodes well for his potential to provide both a high batting average and a high on-base percentage on a regular basis. The power production so far was above expectation, although there are questions whether he could provide 20+ home runs on a regular basis, or if he settles in closer to the 10-15 range. He's also shown above-average speed, and should provide 20+ stolen bases a year as a major leaguer as well. Defensively, he is expected to stick at shortstop long-term, which makes the profile that much stronger.

Crawford could start his 2015 campaign at the Phillies' Double-A affiliate in Reading, an advanced assignment for a player who will turn 20 just after the new year, but one he clearly appears ready to handle. With Jimmy Rollins gone to Los Angeles, Crawford could take over as the starter in the City of Brotherly Love by 2016. His long-term defensive position makes him the top prospect in this system, and will likely be a top 50 overall fantasy prospect later in the offseason as well.

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2. Maikel Franco (3B)

Photo Credit: Elsa - Getty Images
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.250 69 16 83 3
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
614 0.288 0.407 5.05% 15.31%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
21 R R
Roster Status: On 40-Man Roster (2 Options Left)
ETA to Majors: 2015

Signed out of the Dominican Republic back in 2010, Franco is on the cusp of being fantasy relevant after a brief call up in 2014. He spent the majority of the season at AAA as a 21 year old, and while the numbers look a little south of expectations after his breakout 2013 campaign, don't rush to sell him short. His split stats tell us of a change around midseason, which matches with reports on his year. From July onward, he hit .295/.312/.505 with 11 home runs and 52 RBI over 71 games in the minors.

Franco profiles as a high-impact fantasy producer in four categories. He has above-average power potential, with 25+ home runs likely on a regular basis. The part of his game that distinguishes him from most other sluggers is his consistent ability to make hard contact and specifically avoid strikeouts. He's been consistently in the 13-14% range for strikeouts each of the last three years in the minors, and while it doesn't come with a high walk rate, he should still provide an excellent batting average most years as well.

The part that keeps Franco from the top of this list is his defense, or rather the potential for a move in the future. While there have been questions about his long-term future at third base, it doesn't sound like he can't play there. In fact, reports this year on his defense were very complimentary. That said, he may move as a result of the team having Cody Asche playing third base already. His profile still works well at first base, although it changes the overall value if he were to lose 3B eligibility. If he has a full-time job at the start of the 2015 season, he has the potential to be a top 10 option at third base.

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3. Aaron Nola (RHP)

Photo Credit: Crystal LoGuidice - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
4 0 2.93 1.07 45
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 GO/AO BB% K%
55.1 1.30 0.90 4.57% 20.55%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
21 R R A+-AA
Roster Status: Protect after 2017 Seaosn
ETA to Majors: Late 2015

The seventh overall pick in the 2014 draft, Nola has already moved quickly through the minor leagues. The Phillies sent him straight to High-A Clearwater, and after six starts there, he finished his year with five more starts at the Double-A level. The performance overall was excellent, but a bit expected given the reports on him coming out of college.

Nola features a three-pitch repertoire consisting of a fastball, changeup, and breaking ball. All three pitches are considered at least average offerings right now, with the potential for all of them to be even better. He couples this with excellent command, which helps his pitches play up a slight bit more. That said, his offspeed offerings don't profile as true strikeout offerings as of right now, which will hurt his fantasy value a little. He throws from a ¾ arm slot, which looks a little bit odd when you watch it in video, but it helps him a bit with hiding his pitches just a little bit longer. There are questions about how consistent he is with his delivery, but it sounds like something that throwing more innings will help to smooth out.

Nola should move quickly toward the majors, with a call up in 2015 a very realistic possibility. He should stick in the rotation once there, and provide solid but not spectacular production for fantasy owners. He's highly unlikely to provide massive quantities of strikeouts, but should provide positive value there. Add in that he should provide good value in both ratio categories, potentially over 200+ innings on a regular basis, and he will definitely be a contributor in all formats.

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4. Roman Quinn (OF)

Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.257 51 7 36 32
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
382 0.343 0.370 9.42% 20.94%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
21 S R A+
Roster Status: Protect After 2015 Season
ETA to Majors: Late 2016

A second round pick back in 2011, Quinn remains a prospect that teases fantasy owners with his potential for high stolen base totals, but the questions about the likelihood of that potential remain. His 2013 season ended when he tore an achilles tendon, and questions about how his speed would rebound following the injury were widespread. The injury kept him off the field at the start of the year, but he returned in May and appears to be back to normal. The Phillies also decided to convert the speedy shortstop to the outfield, which seems to be going well. He remains raw out there, which you would expect given that this was the first year playing the position, but there doesn't seem to be any indication that he can't continue at the position.

Quinn's value starts with his speed, which comes with an easy 80-grade on it. He has posted at least 30 steals in each of his three professional seasons, which doesn't sounds as impressive until you realize that he played in the highest amount of games of his career in 2014 with 88. He's also been extremely successful at stealing bases (73% success rate in 2014 was his lowest of his career), which bodes well for his ability to use his speed. There are questions about his hit tool, and specifically how much value he may (or may not) provide with it. He has shown the ability to draw a walk, which should continue to help him as he moves up, but it doesn't seem like he's going to provide much in the way of power (at least in terms of home runs).

With Quinn, if you believe in the hit tool, this ranking is probably about right, as he could be a .250/.330/.390 hitter with 50+ steals and 90+ run potential over a full season. If you are worried about the hit tool, he may not profile for fantasy at all, ending up as a backup outfielder. I'd really like to see him play a full season's worth of games without suffering an injury, and feel like that is possible in 2015. He'll likely head to AA for the season, and could be in Philadelphia by the end of 2016.

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5. Zach Eflin (RHP)

Photo Credit: Jake Roth - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
10 0 3.80 1.32 93
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 GO/AO BB% K%
128 0.60 1.67 5.78% 17.35%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
20 R R A+
Roster Status: Protect after 2016 Season
ETA to Majors: Late 2016

With the trade finalized only yesterday, Zach Eflin is a late addition to the top 10 list. Acquired from the Dodgers in the Jimmy Rollins trade, Eflin spent the entirety of his professional career with the Padres' organization, and pitched at the High-A level in 2014.

Eflin uses a three-pitch repertoire consisting of a fastball which sits in the low-90s, an excellent changeup, and an average slider. His command to this point has been excellent, with walk rates under 6% in both full season stints. His frame (6'4", 200 lbs) is well suited to a starter's workload, and should be a durable starter as he continues toward the majors. He hasn't seen the strikeout totals you'd like to see from a pitcher in the low minors (around 17% each season), but coupled with a high groundball rate, he should still provide value in a number of formats.

Eflin ranks just ahead of Biddle for me after a strong showing in a well-known hitters' league in 2014, but they are not particularly far apart. I think that he can be a mid-rotation starting pitcher down the line, albeit one that might not get you the amount of strikeouts you'd like from a #4 or #5 fantasy starter. The move of a home park from Petco to Citizens Bank Park isn't ideal, but if he can maintain the groundball rate from 2014, should be a reasonable option in most formats.

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6. Jesse Biddle (LHP)

Photo Credit: Elsa - Getty Images
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
5 0 4.58 1.41 92
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 GO/AO BB% K%
94.1 1.10 0.95 12.29% 22.17%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
22 L L AA-A+-Rk
Roster Status: On 40 Man Roster (3 Options Left)
ETA to Majors: 2016

To say that it was a bit of a lost season for Biddle is probably a bit of an undersell. He returned to AA for a second go-around after struggling to limit his walks in 2013, and things didn't really go a lot better unfortunately. He missed time during the season due to a concussion he suffered during a hailstorm, and also spent nearly a month on the inactive list. Overall, there were flashes of what might be with Biddle, including a pair of back-to-back 10+ strikeout, 7 inning victories in early April.

Biddle features three pitches which can potentially be above-average offerings, with a fastball and curveball which should provide a ton of strikeouts long-term. There have been questions about his command as he has moved up, and is something that can potentially be a bit painful for fantasy owners if he cannot limit the walks.

The best-case scenario for Biddle is that he turns into a mid-rotation type starting pitcher, capable of providing high strikeout totals which may come with a bit of risk to your WHIP and ERA related to walks. He was added to the 40-man roster in November, and if he pitches well in 2015, could be in line for a shot at the rotation at some point in 2016.

7. Yoel Mecias (LHP)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
3 0 3.73 1.28 33
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 GO/AO BB% K%
50.2 0.40 0.93 8.02% 15.57%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
20 L L A-Rk
Roster Status: Protect after 2016 Season
ETA to Majors: 2018

Signed out of Venezuela back at the end of 2010, Mecias missed a substantial portion of the season after having Tommy John surgery back in 2013. He returned to the GCL in late June, before heading to Low-A Lakewood for the rest of the year in mid-July. His performance overall was pretty solid, including a pair of seven strikeout starts to bookend his Low-A year.

Mecias features a three-pitch repertoire with a fastball, changeup and slider, with the changeup being his best offering and the fastball considered a potential above-average offering as well. His delivery appears fairly deceptive, and there is the potential for him to grow more into his 6'2, 160 lb. frame.

If it all clicks for Mecias, he has the potential to be an interesting starter toward the back of a fantasy rotation. He has shown the ability to get a lot of strikeouts in the past, but it didn't translate during the 2014 campaign. We should get a better idea of what he can be going forward after the 2015 season, and whether he belongs in the top half of this list then.

8. Matt Imhof (LHP)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
1 0 2.98 1.21 40
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 GO/AO BB% K%
42.1 0.60 0.90 6.36% 23.12%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
20 L L A-A--Rk
Roster Status: Protect after 2017 Season
ETA to Majors: 2017

Imhof was the Phillies' second round pick this year out of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and could be an interesting prospect at the back end of this top 10. He finished the college season in the top 10 in strikeouts per 9 innings, and maintained a strikeout per inning in his professional debut.

He features a three pitch mix with a fastball, slider, and changeup, all of which can potentially be average or better offerings. The changeup is still a work-in-progress, but is a pitch that should continue to develop and will be key to him developing as a starter. His delivery (seen here) appears deceptive, and should help him with getting swinging strikes even if none of his pitches develop into above-average strikeout offerings.

He's an interesting prospect for deeper formats, as reports on him point to a back-end of the rotation type who could provide solid but not spectacular numbers. I'll be interested to see what he does in 2015, as I am curious to see if these high strikeout totals can continue to translate as he moves up.

9. Aaron Brown (OF)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.268 26 4 21 8
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
252 0.310 0.383 2.78% 23.81%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
22 L L A--A
Roster Status: Protect after 2017 Season
ETA to Majors: 2018

A 3rd round pick in the 2014 draft, Brown was a two way player in college, viewed as a potential professional prospect on the mound and in the outfield. The Phillies drafted him as an outfielder, where he may have more upside than on the mound, but remains a bit more raw than your usual college hitter because he did not concentrate solely on the outfield.

The tools are there for Brown to profile as a hitting corner outfielder, providing decent power to go along with a solid batting average. There's still a lot of work to do in terms of his approach, so there are questions about how much his power will play if he doesn't improve his contact rates. He was viewed as a similar-value prospect on the mound, so if the hitting doesn't work it is still possible he could move back to pitching and have decent value as well.

10. Franklyn Kilome (RHP)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
3 0 3.12 1.17 25
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 GO/AO BB% K%
40.1 0.40 1.26 6.55% 14.88%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
19 R R Rk
Roster Status: Protect after 2017 Season
ETA to Majors: 2018

Kilome made his professional debut this past season in the Gulf Coast League, posting solid numbers over his 40 innings pitched. At this point in the rankings, it's purely an upside play here (and honestly, any of the honorable mentions fit here pretty easily if you prefer one of them), as reports on Kilome point to a pitcher that could have a mid-rotation ceiling if he develops as hoped. It's not ideal including players that haven't even hit full-season ball yet, as there are so many things that can happen (in both directions) at this point. He remains extremely projectable with a 6'6" frame and weighing just 150 lbs., and is a name to watch for 2015. He may not pitch at a full-season level next year either, but more innings will help us make a little better determination on what his true ceiling could be.

Other Interesting Prospects
by Jason Hunt

Carlos Tocci - If it feels like you've been hearing about Tocci for a while, remember that he signed back in 2011, and debuted in the GCL as a 16 year old in 2012. The tools are all there for a potentially very interesting fantasy prospect, and it's possible that his omission from this list will look really silly in a few years. He remains extremely raw at this point though, and there are other prospects that interest me more right now. If you're looking for a flier, he probably has the best shot of anyone in the honorable mentions to move into the top 5 of the system in a year's time.

Aaron Altherr - Altherr reached the majors this year, and has posted double-digit home run and stolen base totals in each of the last two seasons. There are some concerns about his ability to make contact consistently, but he could slot in as a 10 HR/10 SB/low average outfielder if given a full-time job.

Zach Green - A 2013 draftee, Green was known for his above-average raw power coming out of the draft. That power didn't manifest in the same way in 2014 as his draft year, but a strong performance in 2015 could move him up this list pretty quickly.

Cord Sandberg - Sandberg is an extremely toolsy outfielder that hasn't been able to put it all together at the same time. There's the potential for an impact outfielder capable of providing double-digit home runs and stolen bases, but may take another couple seasons to reach that potential.

About the Authors

Jason Hunt is a contributing writer for Fake Teams, specializing in the minor leagues and prospects
Follow him on Twitter 

Brian Creagh is a contributing writer for Fake Teams, specializing in fantasy baseball and the minor leagues.
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David Spracale is a contributing writer for Fake Teams, specializing in fantasy baseball and the minor leagues.
Follow him on Twitter