By Scott Barzilla

The Philadelphia Phillies are an enigma wrapped in riddle this season. Their farm system is very similar in that it has a lot of high points and some low points. There are two players in the top ten at their position that will not be included here. Sebastian Valle is a top ten catcher, but falls behind Tommy Joseph (also a top ten catcher) on the rankings for the team. Jesse Biddle is a top ten left handed pitcher but falls behind Trevor May on the team rankings.

Despite having four players among the top ten at their position, the Phillies farm system needs some help. They have a bloated big league payroll and probably should have traded more veterans (most notably Cole Hamels) before the deadline to help restock the system. In particular, they need some help on the offensive end and in the bullpen.

   

Age

LV

How

BP

BA

MLB

POS

C Tommy Joseph

21

AA

T

4*

2*

4

10

1B Darin Ruf

26

AA

D

NR

NR

12

NR

2B Cesar Hernandez

22

AAA

I

16

NR

16

6

3B Maikel Franco

19

A

I

10

10

10

NR

SS Roman Quinn

19

A-

D

8

NR

13

NR

OF Larry Greene

19

A-

D

7

NR

5

9

OF Aaron Altherr

21

A

D

17

NR

14

NR

OF Leandro Castro

23

AA

I

NR

NR

17

NR

P Trevor May

22

AA

D

1

1

1

NR

Tommy Joseph– Catcher

We have to keep in mind that one of the ways we judge a farm system is in how strong it is in areas of weakness on the big league club. Carlos Ruiz has been the best catcher in baseball this season before his injury. Yet, the Phillies have two top ten catchers in their system. Joseph is known more for his hitting than his receiver skills. He can also place first base, but he is going to be blocked there by Ryan Howard.

Darin Ruf– First Base

This is another interesting situation. Larry Greene (who we will see later) is listed as a first baseman in position rankings, but is listed also as an outfielder. He has the same situation that Jonathan Singleton had coming into last season. He was clearly a first baseman but moved to the outfield because of Howard. Ruf is not much of a prospect, but he is a pure first baseman. This situation bares watching overall.

Cesar Hernandez– Second Base

He actually registers among the top ten second base prospect. His place in the future is murky at best considering the deteorating health of Chase Utley and the unsure situation of Freddy Galvis. He got off to a great start in Reading this year and was promoted to Leheigh Valley on the first of August. It has been a struggle in AAA so far for him.

Maikel Franco– Third Base

This is a spot where Phillies fans should be frustrated. Franco is certainly a very good prospect, but he will need time to develop. Meanwhile. Placido Polanco is demonstrating that he is clearly done as an everyday player. So, who steps up for the Phillies? There is virtually nothing in the system higher up to stem the tide. They could have gone that route via trade with Hamels if they had gone to Texas. They had two very good third base prospects that could have gone this way.

Roman Quinn– Shortstop

Quinn has very good speed and solid on base skills, but he is still very young and the Phillies will have to be patient. Freddy Galvis was the shortstop of the future, but with his drug suspension, that will be put more in doubt. Meanwhile, the club has two more years of Jimmy Rollins. They made some noise about him being available, but he is clearly on the downside of a very good career.

Larry Greene– Outfield

Greene is basically the latest version of Jonathan Singleton. He has plus power potential and already is showing good patience for a player his age. The problem is that is probably a first baseman optimally. As we all know, Ryan Howard will be there for at least the next three or four seasons. So, will they play him at first or try him in left field?

Aaron Altherr– Outfield

Altherr’s numbers aren’t exactly exciting as he has struggled two years in a row in full season ball.  The numbers aren’t terrible mind you, but they aren’t the numbers of a big time prospect either. He looks like he could become a Shane Victorino type, but he will need to improve his plate discipline to get that opportunity. 25 stolen bases is three in a half month’s worth of games is promising.

Leandro Castro– Outfield

Reading was an ambitious placement for Castro this year and it would be safe to say he held his own. Beyond that, not much can be said. He has a little bit of everything as he can swipe a few bags, hit the occasional home run, and his contact rate is good. He needs to draw more walks to be an effective offensive player.

Trevor May– Pitcher

The numbers aren’t good, but minor league numbers don’t always mean a whole lot. The stuff is great though. The top three prospects in the Phillies system are all promising arms. This is what made it puzzling that the Phillies would commit a ton of money to Cole Hamels. It would have been better to acquire a group of prospects that could have filled some holes on the offensive end.

Scott Barzilla

Scott Barzilla is the editor in chief at hardballchat.com. He is also the author of four books, including The Hall of Fame Index. The Hall of Fame Index was nominated for the Sporting News Award for statistical innovation in 2011.

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