Phillies

Phillies farm director Joe Jordan: Jhailyn Ortiz has highest ceiling in system

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Phillies farm director Joe Jordan: Jhailyn Ortiz has highest ceiling in system

Phillies director of player development Joe Jordan, who admitted to feeling like a "proud papa" watching so many prospects graduate to the majors and succeed this season, joined Jim Salisbury's At The Yard podcast this week for the second time.

Back in April, Jordan offered thoughts on a host of Phillies prospects, many of whom made it up to the big leagues in 2017. 

Rhys Hoskins and Nick Williams exceeded expectations.

Jorge Alfaro has held his own offensively, hitting .304 in over 100 plate appearances.

J.P. Crawford has looked brilliant on defense and maintained a .350-ish on-base percentage.

Ben Lively has nine quality starts in 14 tries.

But there's one young Phillies prospect who Jordan thinks has a chance to be better than all of them: outfielder Jhailyn Ortiz.

"If you put every player in our system on a board and say every one of them gets to their potential, this guy would arguably be the best player," Jordan said. "He has that kind of ability."

Ortiz, 18, just wrapped up his second season in the Phillies' farm system. In 187 plate appearances with Short Season Class A Williamsport, Ortiz hit .302/.401/.560 with 15 doubles, eight homers and 30 RBIs.

It was an extremely impressive year from the rightfielder the Phillies signed out of the Dominican Republic for $4.2 million in 2015.

"This was a really big year from him," Jordan said. "His pitch recognition got better, he grew as a hitter. He's a hitter with power."

Notice Jordan used the phrase "hitter with power" rather than "power hitter." The same could be said of Hoskins, who has clearly shown he's got a ton of pop but doesn't approach each at-bat by looking to hit a home run. Hoskins recognizes pitches, works counts and makes adjustments. Ortiz is building that skill set as well.

"We have to keep him humble, keep him hungry," Jordan said. "He's a wonderful young man, smiling all the time, happy. The English language is coming pretty easy to him, he's working hard at that. We have a long way to go, but he's just been terrific."

Checking in on Moniak
Last year's first overall pick, Mickey Moniak, did not finish strong in his first full season in the minors. He hit just .236/.284/.341 in 509 plate appearances with 22 doubles, six triples, five homers and 44 RBIs.

Keep in mind, however, that Moniak played nearly 100 more games this season than ever before. That's a major reason the Phillies are preaching patience with his development.

"I think it's a big, big mistake to put too much emphasis on the final numbers that he posted," Jordan said. "I think if you look at his numbers through July 1, July 15, they were very respectable for a 19-year-old hitter out of last year's draft. The Sally League was a very challenging league for pitching this year, a lot of good pitching in the league."

Through July 1, Moniak was hitting .271 through exactly 300 plate appearances with 24 of the 33 extra-base hits he finished with. His final two months weren't pretty. But in describing the fatigue a first-year player can feel, Jordan brought up Scott Kingery, who was the Phillies' very-best minor-leaguer this season.

"I think that [Moniak] went through more adversity than he'd ever had and he wore down. His numbers at the end of the year are what they are, but Mickey's going to be a good player. ... He had his hands full this year.

"Go ask Scott Kingery how he felt last year at the end of the year (in 2016) and he'd say he felt pretty much how [Moniak] feels now. It's just something they have to go through."

For more from Jordan on many, many Phillies prospects, listen to the podcast above.

Phillies' ramped-up rebuild demands starting-pitching upgrade

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Phillies' ramped-up rebuild demands starting-pitching upgrade

Let the record show that on a snowy Friday afternoon 10 days before Christmas 2017, the Phillies ramped up their rebuild.

Dramatically.

What other conclusion can be drawn after the club went out and signed Carlos Santana, one of the best offensive players on the free-agent market? With the signing, confirmed by multiple baseball sources, general manager Matt Klentak has attached a new level of importance to the 2018 season.

Just a couple of days ago at the winter meetings in Orlando, Klentak spoke of how 2018 was going to be a time to "find out" more about the team's young core of players. Who would continue to take a step forward? Who would fall by the wayside?

But now that Santana is here, 2018 doesn't feel like it's just a find-out season. It feels like a season in which the Phillies can continue to find out about players — separate the studs from the duds — and also start nibbling around that second National League wild-card spot.

Sure, a lot has to go right for that to happen.

And one of the things that has to go right is Klentak has to land a starting pitcher to slot in around Aaron Nola and the rest of the staff, which has the look of a bunch of No. 4 and No. 5 starters — until someone steps forward.

Santana's deal is for three years and $60 million, according to sources. Three years is a nice get — i.e., it's not cripplingly long — for a 32-year-old (in April) who hits for power, produces runs and does what Klentak likes best: controls the strike zone. (You could say that Klentak added two players who control the strike zone to his lineup Friday as the trade of Freddy Galvis to San Diego for strike-throwing pitching prospect Enyel De Los Santos cleared the way for J.P. Crawford to be the regular shortstop.)

The Phillies need to do everything within reason to make sure that the first of Santana's three seasons with the club isn't about simply inching the rebuild forward. The Nationals are the class of the NL East, but the rest of the division ranges from ordinary to awful. The Phils, with an improved offense and bullpen (Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter), can play with Braves and Mets and clean up on the Marlins, the jewelry store that became a pawnshop, in agent Scott Boras' words.

It's just up to Klentak to get more starting pitching, and he's on the case. He admitted that at the winter meetings. He is particularly fond of young starters with years of control remaining on their contracts. Gerrit Cole, Chris Archer and Michael Fulmer fit this description. It takes talent to get pitchers like that. The Phillies have enough depth of prospects to get one of these guys and their reserves of expendable talent just grew with the Santana signing.

Santana, a switch-hitter who has averaged 25 homers, 85 RBIs and a .810 OPS in eight seasons, is going to be the team's primary first baseman. Rhys Hoskins is going to be the primary leftfielder. That means the Phillies suddenly have a young outfielder that they could deal. Maybe they try to capitalize on Nick Williams' strong half-season in the majors and package him for an arm. Or maybe it's Odubel Herrera or Aaron Altherr.

However it plays out, you can be sure that Klentak will be creative. You can rule nothing out with this guy. The other day, we poo-pooed the Phillies signing Jake Arrieta, who is looking for a long-term deal approaching $200 million. But if Arrieta lingers out there until February and is looking for a two-year landing spot, hey, maybe.

We wouldn't even put it past Klentak to entertain the idea of using Santana at third base a little bit — he did play 26 games there in 2014 — and trading Maikel Franco. The Giants were sniffing around, gathering intel on Franco at the winter meetings. There has to be a reason for that. Also at the meetings, an official from a rival club said the Phillies weren't as aggressive as he expected in trying to move Cesar Hernandez. Could it be that Hernandez would get some time at third if Franco were to be moved? Hernandez is still a trade chip, but he doesn't need to be cashed in until July and by that time Scott Kingery should be here.

There are a lot of ways this thing can go. And with the signing of Carlos Santana — which won't become official until he passes a physical next week — the Phillies have guaranteed that the remainder of this offseason will be a busy one.

It has to be.

The stakes have changed for 2018. The rebuild is still in place, but it has been ramped up. Matt Klentak has improved the bullpen and the offense. Now he has to attack that starting pitching and he has the trade weapons to do it.

Source: Phillies agree to $60 million deal with Carlos Santana

Source: Phillies agree to $60 million deal with Carlos Santana

The Phillies' busy Friday continued with a pricey free-agent signing.

The Phils have agreed to a three-year, $60 million deal with former Cleveland Indian Carlos Santana, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury.

It is by far the most expensive contract the Phillies have given out under the Matt Klentak-Andy MacPhail regime.

They had the money. When the offseason began, the only player the Phillies had signed to a multi-million dollar deal was Odubel Herrera.

Santana, 31, has always been a high-walk power hitter. From 2011 through 2017, he walked between 88 and 113 times each season, all while maintaining relatively low strikeout totals for a man with such power and plate selection.

In 2016, Santana set a career high with 34 home runs. Last season, he hit .259/.363/.455 with 37 doubles, 23 homers and 79 RBIs.

This addition provides the Phillies with much-needed pop to protect Rhys Hoskins and also gives the Phils added versatility. Santana is a switch-hitter who came up as a catcher, but he hasn't caught since 2014. The last three seasons, he has played primarily first base. In his eight seasons, Santana has also started 26 games at third base and seven in right field.

The move likely means Hoskins will play left field, and it could facilitate another Phillies trade of an outfielder such as Nick Williams, Aaron Altherr or Odubel Herrera.