7/27/2014 9:00 P.M. ET
Crawford, Nola top Phils' updated Top 20 list
Third baseman Franco, southpaw Biddle drop in Philly's midseason prospect ranking
By Jonathan Mayo / MLB.com
With the passing of the Draft signing deadline, teams have had a recent influx of talent into their farm systems, and with that, we've updated the Top 20 Prospects lists of all 30 teams.
To be on a list, a player must have rookie eligibility. To qualify for rookie status, a player must not have exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the Major Leagues, or accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a Major League club or clubs during the 25-player limit period, excluding time on the disabled list or in military service.
Players are graded on a 20-80 scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average.
Check out all 30 team Top 20 lists and the Top 100 on Prospect Watch.
1. J.P Crawford, SS
Preseason rank: 3
MLB Top 100 rank: 36 (Preseason: None)
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 40 | Run: 55 | Arm: 60 | Field: 60 | Overall: 60
The Phillies' top pick in the 2013 Draft, Crawford was the best high school shortstop in the class, and he certainly didn't do anything to dampen enthusiasm with his pro debut.
There's never been any question about the SoCal product's ability to stay at the premium position. Crawford has an outstanding arm and excellent range, and his feel for the game makes his already-sharp defensive tools play up even more. There were some small concerns about his bat, but the Phils believed in it. Crawford is very competitive in the box, using his strong hands to spray line drives to all fields, with more power to come. He's a heady baserunner who will steal some bags along the way.
The Phillies haven't developed a shortstop since Jimmy Rollins. Give him some time, and Crawford should eventually be the next in line.
2. Aaron Nola, RHP
Preseason rank: None (2014 Draft)
MLB Top 100 rank: 48 (Preseason: NA)
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 60 | Control: 60 | Overall: 55
The LSU ace entered his junior season billed as the most advanced college pitcher in the class, and he didn't disappoint, finishing among the NCAA Division I leaders in a host of pitching categories. That led to the Phillies taking Nola with the No. 7 overall pick in the Draft. He signed quickly and made his professional debut all the way up in the Florida State League.
Not the biggest right-hander in the world, Nola has tremendous command of his three-pitch mix. His fastball sits in the low 90s and appears even faster, thanks to his low three-quarters arm slot. He locates to both sides and throws his fastball with plenty of sink. Nola's changeup is plus at times, and he throws his breaking ball for strikes at any point in the count.
Among the 2014 pitching crop, Nola is the best bet to reach his ceiling and likely will be the first starter to appear in the big leagues.
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
MLB Top 100 rank: 61 (Preseason: 26)
Preseason rank: 1
Scouting grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 70 | Run: 30 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55
Franco had done nothing but hit since finding his footing as a 19-year-old in the South Atlantic League in 2012, though he stumbled a bit in his first taste of Triple-A in 2014. In 2013, he split his time between Class A Advanced Clearwater and Double-A Reading, and he led all Phillies Minor Leaguers in batting average (.320), home runs (31) and RBIs (103).
Franco's best tool is his power, which he has begun to tap into more as he matures. His quick hands allow him to drive the ball to all fields. Franco is a bottom-of-the-scale runner.
Despite Franco's lack of speed, he is a solid defender at third base and has a strong arm. The Phillies have given him some time at first base, but a position change is not necessarily in store for Franco.
4. Jesse Biddle, LHP
Preseason rank: 2
Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 60 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | Overall: 50
Drafted by his hometown team, Biddle took a step forward in 2013, pitching in the Futures Game. He took a step back in 2014 while repeating the Double-A Eastern League, but he landed on the temporary inactive list in late June due to his struggles.
When he's on top of his game, Biddle has drawn comparisons to Andy Pettitte, both for his size and his stuff. He can throw his fastball in the low-90s from a three-quarters arm slot. Biddle throws a changeup and a big sweeping curveball, which is his best offspeed pitch. All three of his pitches have a chance to be at least Major League-average offerings.
Biddle has struggled with his control throughout his professional career, and finding a way to improve it will be critical to his success as a starter in the Major Leagues. If he can lower his walk rate, Biddle profiles as a middle-of-the-rotation starter.
5. Roman Quinn, OF
Preseason rank: 4
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 30 | Run: 80 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
While the 2013 season was a lost one for Quinn, both because of performance and injury, he still might have as much upside as anyone in the Phillies' system.
A broken wrist cost Quinn the second half of 2013, and he missed the first six weeks of '14 as he recovered from a ruptured Achilles tendon suffered during the offseason. Now that Quinn is back in action, he's once again trying to maximize his raw tools. Speed is his best asset, and he has plenty of it to spare. It will help Quinn in his new position, as he moves from shortstop to the outfield, where he played in high school.
If the switch-hitter can stay on the field and mature as hoped, Quinn could end up being a dynamic top-of-the-order catalyst in the future.
6. Aaron Altherr, OF
Preseason rank: 5
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 50 | Run: 55 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
It can take the raw, toolsy athletes a little bit longer to develop at times, but Altherr could look back at the 2013 season as the year where it really started coming together.
Tall and athletic, Altherr looks the part of a toolsy center fielder and now needs to build on his first extended success. He's started to learn to tap into his raw power, pulling the ball with authority instead of being satisfied with going up the middle and the other way. There's still some length and swing and miss to Altherr's game, but if he can continue to punish mistakes on the inner half, he could be dangerous. With enough speed to steal some bases, Altherr has the tools to stay in center, but he could handle a corner if needed.
Patience can be a virtue with athletic players like Altherr, and the Phils could soon be rewarded as a result.
7. Severino Gonzalez, RHP
Preseason rank: 6
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 55 | Curve: 50 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 60 | Overall: 45
There are few prospects who seemingly came out of nowhere more than Gonzalez did a year ago.
Beginning the year in extended spring camp, the right-hander was sent to the Florida State League for a one-week fill-in role, and he basically never left during his U.S. debut. The Panamanian had success with three effective pitches in his 91-93 mph fastball, his curve and his slider, which acts like a cutter and could be an out pitch. Gonzalez is also working on a changeup. All of his stuff plays up because of his outstanding command and control.
The 2013 season was a breakthrough, and now Gonzalez is in the upper levels, where he'll have to prove his repertoire is good enough to get more experienced hitters out.
8. Deivi Grullon, C
Preseason rank: 11
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 45 | Run: 30 | Arm: 70 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
It's hard not to get excited about this young Dominican catching prospect, though it must be tempered by his age and distance from the big leagues.
Grullon has a short, compact body that is well suited to a career behind the plate. He has a quick release, a strong arm and will shut down the running game in the future. Grullon is not just an all-glove backstop, though. He has the chance to hit for average and develop some power along the way. The potential to be a top-notch all-around catcher is there, but Grullon will be just 18 for all of the 2014 season, so patience is key.
Grullon has already shown an ability to deal with adversity and adjust, dealing with the death of his father the day after he signed with the Phillies and acclimating to the United States fairly quickly in 2013.
9. Cord Sandberg, OF
Preseason rank: 12
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 50 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
A two-sport star in high school who turned down the chance to play quarterback at Mississippi State, Sandberg has the chance to be a solid outfielder at the highest level.
The former football star will need some time to find himself as a baseball-only athlete, but Sandberg showed glimpses of loosening up at the plate and started to stay through the ball more consistently while spending a month at the Phillies' Dominican Academy. If he can continue to do that, he'll be able to start tapping into his raw power from the left side more consistently. Sandberg runs well enough, but he will likely settle into a corner spot in the future.
Sandberg, who is not related to Phils manager Ryne Sandberg, brings a football mentality to the diamond, and his makeup and work ethic should allow him to maximize his ability as he develops.
10. Matt Imhof, LHP
Preseason rank: None (2014 Draft)
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 45 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45
A late bloomer who went undrafted out of high school, Imhof parlayed a strong junior season as Cal Poly's Friday starter into becoming a second-round pick.
Tall and lean on a 6-foot-5 frame, Imhof has some room to fill out. And what he has is already pretty good. The left-hander pitches downhill, with natural cutting movement on his fastball. His short, sharp slider is an out pitch at times. Imhof has solid feel for a changeup, though it's still a work in progress. He is generally around the plate with all of his pitches and has been one of the nation's top strikeout pitchers.
Taken a round after the Phillies selected Nola, Imhof gives Philadelphia another college arm who could move fairly quickly through its system and into the big league rotation.
11. Andrew Knapp, C
Preseason rank: 13
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 50 | Run: 30 | Arm: 55| Field: 45 | Overall: 50
The first college catcher to be taken in the 2013 Draft, Knapp's calling card was his bat, though the Phillies were pleased with his work behind the plate before needing Tommy John surgery in October.
Knapp has a good swing from both sides of the plate, one that should produce both a good average and decent power. Knapp didn't catch a whole lot at Cal, but he made progress as a pro, and the Phils are confident he'll develop defensively. He had an average to a tick above average arm before the surgery, and there's confidence that will return. Knapp is a natural leader who should work well with his pitching staff.
Knapp may always be an offensive-minded catcher, but he has the chance to develop into an everyday player behind the plate in the future.
12. Carlos Tocci, OF
Preseason rank: 7
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 40 | Run: 55 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
The Phillies have been aggressive with the teenaged outfielder's assignments, and while Tocci's numbers don't jump out, the organization is pleased with his development.
The main thing holding back Tocci's production has been his physicality, or lack thereof. He just needs to add strength, and he has been working tirelessly to do just that. When Tocci matures, he can then tap into his considerable tools. He has a fairly advanced approach at the plate and makes consistent contact. Tocci can cover a lot of ground in the outfield and has a strong arm, and he should be able to use his speed on the bases more effectively in the future.
Tocci just needs time, and considering the Venezuelan will spend nearly all of the 2014 season at age 18, it is definitely on his side.
13. Ken Giles, RHP
Preseason rank: None
Scouting grades: Fastball: 70 | Slider: 50 | Control: 40 | Overall: 45
If you like pure arm strength, then Giles is the prospect for you.
The right-handed reliever has always been able to light up a radar gun, hitting the upper 90s regularly and even touching triple digits occasionally. He complements the plus heater with a solid slider. Giles' biggest issues have been that, as hard as he throws, his fastball can be straight, and he hasn't always had a strong relationship with the strike zone.
Giles did show some improvement with his command, enough to go from Double-A to the big leagues to make his Major League debut in 2014.
14. Dylan Cozens, OF
Preseason rank: 10
Scouting grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 55 | Run: 45 | Arm: 45 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
If you've see Cozens on the right day, he looks like he could be an all-everything player. Now, it's just a matter of him finding a level of consistency.
Cozens' raw power is the tool that stands out the most, and he can hit it out to all fields, showing an ability, at times, to take breaking stuff away to the opposite field. He runs very well for someone his size and can even steal a base. Cozens is acceptable in the outfield, though his arm may relegate him to left field, and some feel he may eventually end up at first base. A former defensive line recruit, he's still learning the nuances of the game.
Further removed from playing two sports, things could start coming faster for Cozens, who could eventually be a solid run producer in Philadelphia.
15. Cam Perkins, OF
Preseason rank: 15
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 40 | Run: 45 | Arm: 50 | Field: 45 | Overall: 45
In his brief time as a pro, Perkins has shown a knack for doing one thing very well: hit. And as most baseball people will tell you: If you can hit, you'll likely find a job in the big leagues.
Perkins was raking in the Florida State League during his first full season in 2013 before a broken wrist forced him out for a month. He has a knack for making consistent hard contact, and with a 6-foot-5 frame, he should add strength, which should lead to some of his doubles clearing fences. Perkins' other tools won't jump out at you, but he has the skills to be a decent corner outfielder.
Perkins has played some corner infield in the past, and he could get another look there, but it's his ability to swing the bat that will continue to propel him up the ladder.
16. Chris Oliver, RHP
Preseason rank: None (2014 Draft)
Scouting grades: Fastball: 65 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 40 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
A member of the University of Arkansas' weekend rotation, Oliver was the fourth in seven straight college selections the Phillies made to open the 2014 Draft.
Projectable power arms from the college ranks aren't all that common, but Oliver fits that description. Throwing downhill from his 6-foot-4 frame, the right-hander has a live arm that can deliver fastballs in the mid 90s at times, with run and sink as well. Oliver calls his breaking ball a curve, but it's really a slider. It's been inconsistent, but it shows flashes of being an out pitch. His changeup is below average and behind the other two. That, along with his command, are the two things that hold Oliver back as a starting pitching prospect.
The jury is out about whether Oliver will remain a starter, but he has the power arsenal to succeed in the bullpen, if that's the direction that makes the most sense.
17. Kelly Dugan, OF
Preseason rank: 14
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 50 | Run: 50 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
Dugan's progress through the early part of his pro career has been slowed by injuries, but health of late has allowed him to show why the Phillies made him their top Draft choice in 2009.
While Dugan started the 2013 season late, he finished it in Double-A, showing some serious offensive potential. He has the chance to be an impact hitter, one with leverage in his swing that should produce plenty of power. Dugan has improved his defense, and he should be a solid corner outfielder with the glove, with average speed and enough arm for right field.
The key now is for Dugan to stay healthy. If he can continue to do that, he could give the Phils a left-handed-hitting run producer in the future.
18. Zach Green, 3B
Preseason rank: 16
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 45 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
A shortstop from the NoCal high school ranks, the Phillies gave Green an above-slot bonus to sign, and they moved him over to third, where he could profile as a power-hitting corner infielder.
Green certainly looks the part, with a big and strong frame, one that can produce outstanding power from the right side of the plate. It also produces a good amount of swing and miss, not shocking for a young hitter, but he will have to close some of the holes in his swing in order to tap into that raw power more consistently. Green is a fringy runner with more than enough arm to stick at the hot corner.
Green will play the 2014 season at age 20, with plenty of time to find a comfort level at the plate that could allow him to be that run-producing third baseman all organizations covet.
19. Aaron Brown, OF
Preseason rank: None (2014 Draft)
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 40 | Run: 30 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
One of the better two-way players on the college scene in 2014, Brown had been drafted as a pitcher as a Draft-eligible sophomore a year prior and as an outfielder coming out of high school. The Phillies liked what he could do with the bat more, as well, and they sent him out as a position player.
The Pepperdine product has some pretty legitimate raw power from the left side of the plate. Brown is fairly athletic, and with an arm that produced low-90s fastballs from the mound, he could fit a right-field profile nicely. While he is a below-average runner, Brown did play center field at Pepperdine, and the Phils kept him there during his pro debut.
Eventually, Brown should settle into an outfield corner, with the Phillies knowing that if hitting at the next level doesn't work out, they have a southpaw with a three-pitch mix to fall back on.
20. Tommy Joseph, C
Preseason rank: 17
Scouting grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 50 | Run: 30 | Arm: 50 | Field: 45 | Overall: 45
Instead of a season that perhaps could have resulted in his first big league callup, concussion issues led to a lost year in 2013 for the young backstop who came to the Phillies by way of the 2012 Hunter Pence trade with the Giants. A strong start to the 2014 season was also derailed by similar issues.
When healthy, Joseph has some right-handed power at the plate and a powerful arm behind it. Whether he can be a regular remains to be seen, but no one was questioning his ability to stay behind the plate anymore before his injury. With the issues Joseph has had with concussions, there is some concern about his ability to stay behind the plate. His bat would have to play up more for him to profile at first base.
The best thing Joseph can do is wipe the slate clean, start over and prove to the Phils he has a future behind the plate.