Phillies

Future Phillies Report: High-upside standouts at lower levels

Future Phillies Report: High-upside standouts at lower levels

On Monday, we took a look at the Phillies' top prospects closest to the majors.

But some of the highest-upside talent in the Phillies' farm system is at the lower levels. Guys like Sixto Sanchez, Mickey Moniak, Jhailyn Ortiz, Cornelius Randolph.

We won't hit everybody today -- I'm assuming you're not looking for 10,000 words -- but we'll focus on the guys with big upside.

Keep in mind these players are not close to the majors.

RHP Sixto Sanchez (18 years old)
It may be a bit much to say the 6-foot, 185-pound Dominican right-hander has become the talk of the farm system, but Sanchez has a chance to be a top-of-the-rotation arm.

He has a fastball in the mid-90s that reached as high as 98 mph in spring training, but more importantly, he commands it. There are a lot of guys who can throw a straight 95; what separates the men from the boys is the ability to paint with it.

"Sixto Sanchez, he's an advanced young pitching prospect," Phillies director of player development Joe Jordan said on last week's At The Yard podcast with Jim Salisbury. 

"His ability to throw a big fastball where he's trying to a lot ... he's got above-average command of a big fastball. Velocity is everywhere -- but the ability to throw it where you're trying to is what separates him."

Some guys really need to wind their bodies and work hard to generate velocity. Think Tim Lincecum. Sanchez is not like that. His delivery is simple and there isn't a ton of effort involved.

Sanchez went 5-0 with a 0.50 ERA in 11 starts in Rookie ball last season. He allowed 33 hits and three earned runs in 54 innings. Ridiculous. 

Sanchez is at Class A Lakewood to begin the season. The Phillies will be cautious with his innings -- don't expect him to go too far past 100. 

RHP Drew Anderson (23)
A 23-year-old right-hander on the rise and a pitcher who some scouts think is the Phillies' best pitching prospect. He's at Double-A Reading to start the year.

Anderson had a very impressive 2016 at Class A Lakewood and High A Clearwater, posting a 2.70 ERA with 78 strikeouts and just three home runs allowed in 70 innings. It was his first year back from Tommy John surgery and he was limited late in the summer because of it.

Anderson was protected on the 40-man roster this past winter and held his own at his first big-league camp. He has a big fastball that sits in the mid-90s and can reach 97, along with a breaking ball and changeup.

"He's got everything," Jordan said, "just gotta get more mound experience."

OF Mickey Moniak (18)
Moniak has grown an inch and put on 20 pounds of muscle since being drafted first overall by the Phillies last June.

Moniak begins the year at Class A Lakewood after compiling 194 plate appearances in Rookie ball last year.

He's off to a good start, going 8 for 28 with three doubles, seven RBIs and three stolen bases already through six games.

The Phillies obviously love Moniak. They saw him as one of the better and more polished hitters in last year's draft, high school or college. He has speed, he plays the outfield well and should be a .300-plus hitter in the majors someday. The popular comparisons when he was drafted were Jacoby Ellsbury and Steve Finley.

2B Scott Kingery (22)
Kingery opened many eyes in spring training, including Pete Mackanin's. He just does so many things well -- hit, run, plays with energy. 

"I heard a lot about Scott Kingery and how good a player he is and he sure looks like one," Mackanin said at the end of February. "He's made a good impression on me and the coaching staff. ... He might be on the fast track to the big leagues."

Kingery batted .293 with a .360 on-base percentage in 420 plate appearances last season with High-A Clearwater, producing enough to earn the everyday second base job at Reading this year.

With Kingery and Jesmuel Valentin, the Phillies have a pair of second basemen who could be ready if Cesar Hernandez is eventually traded. Or if Hernandez firmly establishes himself as a valuable big leaguer, one of Kingery or Valentin could be used in a trade.

The Phillies aren't lacking in middle infield depth. Also keep in mind that when J.P. Crawford is ready, the Phillies are going to have to figure out where Freddy Galvis fits.

LF Cornelius Randolph (19)
The first-round pick in between Aaron Nola in 2014 and Moniak in 2016, Randolph isn't mentioned as much. Probably because he was drafted for his bat and hit just three home runs in his first 503 plate appearances as a pro.

Randolph was just beginning to hit and get into a rhythm in 2016 when a shoulder injury derailed his season. But he's healthy now and hitting for power at Clearwater. He's 7 for 26 through six games with three home runs, a double and eight RBIs.

"Once he got back (last season), he held his own. We're going to challenge him. We think he's ready to go to Clearwater," Jordan said just before the season began. "I think he's going to be a really, really good hitter."

You don't often hear this, but the Phillies want the left-handed hitting Randolph to pull the ball a bit more. He's a natural up-the-middle, opposite-field hitter, but the Phillies didn't pick him 10th overall to hit singles.

RF Jhailyn Ortiz (18)
The Phillies signed Ortiz out of the Dominican Republic for about $4 million in the summer of 2015. He was 16 years old then and was already 6-foot-2 and 260 pounds.

Ortiz spent last season with Moniak on the Gulf Coast League Phillies and hit for power -- nine doubles, a triple and eight homers in 197 plate appearances.

He's far away, but he has a chance to be a middle-of-the-order bat in four or five years.

Ortiz will be with the Phillies' Class A-Short Season affiliate in Williamsport. 

"I want to go slow because we're going to reach a point where we won't be able to hold him back," Jordan said. "I think he's going to be a tremendous hitter. I think he's going to have above-average or well-above-average major-league power. Breaking balls still give him problems but not as much as they did this time a year ago."

Jordan doesn't think Ortiz is going to be the traditional low-batting average, high-power guy, either.

"I really think he's going to be a force," he said. "I don't think he's going to be a guy who hits .250 with 25 to 30 HR. He's going to be better than that. He can run for his size, he has better than a 60 arm (on the scouting scale which ranges from 20 to 80). Just growing in every phase of his game."

RHP Franklyn Kilome (21)
A sinewy 6-foot-6 right-hander from the Dominican Republic who has a big fastball and has flashed a plus curveball. The hook has two variations -- the get-me-over curve for a strike and the more devastating out-pitch.

Kilome makes the jump this season from Lakewood to High-A Clearwater. In his first start for the Threshers, he allowed three earned runs in 4 2/3 with three walks and five strikeouts. 

Last season at Lakewood, Kilome was 5-8 with a 3.85 ERA and struck out 130 batters in 114 2/3 innings.

The keys for Kilome will be improving his command (3.9 walks per nine innings last season), improving his third pitch (changeup) and just continuing on the path the Phillies have set for him.

A lot of upside and projection there.

MLB Playoffs: Justin Turner hits walk-off HR to give Dodgers 2-0 lead over Cubs

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MLB Playoffs: Justin Turner hits walk-off HR to give Dodgers 2-0 lead over Cubs

BOX SCORE

LOS ANGELES -- Justin Turner hit a three-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Chicago Cubs 4-1 on Sunday to take a 2-0 lead in the NL Championship Series.

The red-bearded slugger connected on the 29th anniversary of the Dodgers' last game-ending postseason homer: Kirk Gibson's famous pinch-hit drive to beat Oakland in the 1988 World Series opener.

"One of my earliest baseball memories, I was 4 years old at my grandma's house watching that game in `88 and seeing Gibby hit that homer," a smiling Turner said. "So yeah, it feels pretty cool. I thought about doing the fist pump around the bases, but we'll wait until we get to the World Series for that, hopefully."

Turner drove in every run for Los Angeles, going the other way for a tying single in the fifth before sending a long shot to center field off John Lackey in the ninth. A fan wearing a blue Dodgers jersey reached over a railing to catch the ball on the fly.

Turner's second homer of the postseason ended another dramatic night for the Dodgers, who remained unbeaten in these playoffs and moved within two wins of their first World Series appearance since 1988.

"It's very cool, and J.T., we were talking about it in there after the game," manager Dave Roberts said. "Twenty-nine years to the day. It was special. Our guys feel it."

Game 3 in the best-of-seven series is Tuesday night at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Midseason acquisition Yu Darvish starts for the Dodgers against Kyle Hendricks.

Yasiel Puig drew his third walk of the game leading off the ninth, and Charlie Culberson bunted him to second. After losing pitcher Brian Duensing struck out pinch-hitter Kyle Farmer, Chicago manager Joe Maddon went to the bullpen for the 38-year-old Lackey, who pitched on consecutive days for the first time in his 15-year career.

Lackey got the call over All-Star closer Wade Davis, and the veteran starter walked Chris Taylor on six tense pitches.

Turner stepped up and ended it with his fourth career playoff homer. He's been at his best in October, batting .377 with 22 RBIs in the postseason.

"We've been doing it all year long," Turner said. "We're never out of a game. As long as we have outs left, we're going to keep fighting."

Completing the poetry of the moment, a fan in a Chase Utley jersey in the center-field bleachers caught the ball in his glove.

Addison Russell homered in the fifth for the Cubs, who are down early in this rematch of the 2016 NLCS. Chicago won that series in six games and went on to its first World Series championship since 1908, while the Dodgers have been absent from the Fall Classic since 1988.

Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen got the victory with a hitless ninth despite hitting Anthony Rizzo on the hand with a one-out pitch. That ended the Los Angeles bullpen's impressive streak of 22 straight Cubs retired to begin the NLCS, but the Dodgers have thrown eight hitless and scoreless innings of relief in the NLCS.

After a collective offensive effort drove the Dodgers to a 5-2 win in Game 1, Turner did it all in Game 2. He has 10 RBIs in the Dodgers' five postseason games, getting five in the playoff opener against Arizona.

Jon Lester yielded three hits and five walks while failing to get out of the fifth inning in the shortest start of his long postseason career, but the Dodgers couldn't take advantage of a rare shaky night by the Cubs' star left-hander.

Rich Hill struck out eight in five more impressive innings for the Dodgers, but he was pulled for pinch-hitter Curtis Granderson in the fifth in a debatable decision by Roberts.

Russell was off to a 4-for-22 start in the postseason with nine strikeouts before the slugging shortstop put a leadoff homer into the short porch in left field.

Turner evened it moments later by poking a single to right after a leadoff double by Culberson, the Dodgers' improbably successful replacement for injured All-Star shortstop Corey Seager.

The Dodgers chased Lester with two outs in the fifth, but reliever Carl Edwards Jr. came through after several recent postseason struggles, striking out pinch-hitter Chase Utley and then pitching a strong sixth.

Lester was the co-MVP of last season's NLCS, winning Game 5 at Dodger Stadium and yielding two runs over 13 innings in the series. He had nothing near the same success against the Dodgers' revamped lineup in this one, issuing four walks in the first four innings and repeatedly escaping jams.

Dodgers third base coach Chris Woodward held up Turner in the third when it appeared he could have scored from first on Cody Bellinger's double to the gap.

Javier Baez, the other co-MVP of last season's NLCS for Chicago, got to third base in the third with one out but also was stranded.

Up next
Cubs: Hendricks dominated Chicago's playoff opener with seven scoreless innings against the Nationals, but yielded four runs in four innings during the team's wild Game 5 victory in Washington. He is starting on normal rest.

Dodgers: Darvish was outstanding in Game 3 against the Diamondbacks, earning his first career postseason victory with seven strikeouts over five innings of two-hit ball. He was acquired 

MLB Playoffs: Altuve's dash lifts Verlander, Astros over Yanks in Game 2

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MLB Playoffs: Altuve's dash lifts Verlander, Astros over Yanks in Game 2

HOUSTON — Jose Altuve raced home on Carlos Correa's double in the ninth inning, Justin Verlander struck out 13 in a complete game and the Houston Astros beat the New York Yankees 2-1 Saturday for a 2-0 lead in the AL Championship Series.

Correa also homered, but Houston needed a daring dash from Altuve to get Verlander a win. The 5-foot-6 AL MVP front-runner reached with a one-out single against closer Aroldis Chapman , then sprinted around from first base on Correa's shot to right-center field, sliding past catcher Gary Sanchez as he misplayed a short-hop. Altuve had two more hits and is 13 for 23 (.565) this postseason.

Verlander pitched another gem for the Astros, setting a postseason career best for strikeouts and allowing five hits in his second career complete game in the postseason. He threw a season-high 124 pitches and retired baby Bronx Bombers Aaron Judge, Sanchez and Greg Bird in the top of the ninth.

In the bottom of the inning, Judge picked up Correa's hit in right field and threw toward second base. Shortstop Didi Gregorius fielded there, and his throw beat Altuve to the plate by a few steps. But Sanchez bobbled the one-hop as Altuve slid by, and the Astros mobbed Correa in shallow center field. Altuve pointed toward Correa and his teammates from behind the plate (see full recap).

Puig, Taylor power Dodgers past Cubs in NLCS Game 1
LOS ANGELES -- Chris Taylor hit a tiebreaking homer in the sixth inning, Yasiel Puig added a homer and an RBI double to his dynamite postseason, and the Los Angeles Dodgers overcame a short start by Clayton Kershaw for a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday night in the NL Championship Series opener.

Charlie Culberson doubled, drove in the tying run and scored another while replacing injured All-Star shortstop Corey Seager for the resourceful Dodgers, who improved to 4-0 in this postseason.

With another collective offensive effort and four innings of perfect relief pitching, Los Angeles calmly overcame an early two-run deficit and took the first game of this rematch of the 2016 NLCS, won in six games by Chicago on the way to its first World Series championship in 108 years.

Game 2 is Sunday, with Rich Hill starting at home against Chicago's Jon Lester (see full recap).