At The Yard

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.

J.P. Crawford 'not an impact player anymore,' says Baseball America editor

J.P. Crawford 'not an impact player anymore,' says Baseball America editor

If J.P. Crawford's modest numbers at Triple A have caused you to sour on his prospect status, you're not alone. 

Baseball America editor John Manuel joined Jim Salisbury's "At the Yard" podcast this week and admitted that the outlet considered omitting Crawford altogether in its Midseason Top 100 prospects list.

Instead, he was ranked 92nd, a drop of nearly 80 spots.

"We don't see him as an impact player anymore," Manuel said. "Just more of a high-floor, solid regular than a guy who could be a building block. I think that's fair.

"Preseason, I talked to one scout who had pro coverage of him last year in the International League and he said, 'You know, the guy just doesn't impact the baseball in any way.' And this guy had seen him when I first saw him in the Florida State League, when he did hit for power.

"The year at Triple A has been a lost year, he just doesn't drive the baseball. And you look around the big leagues, who has below-average power who's an everyday regular anymore? Very few guys, guys like (Tigers shortstop) Jose Iglesias, (Reds centerfielder) Billy Hamilton, who have grade 70-speed or defense. Or catchers. Even shortstops, at the big leagues they have some pop these days. And he doesn't."

Crawford has hit .211 with a .658 OPS this season, and in 163 games at Triple A the last two years has hit .229/.328/.324. He still works his walks, but for the most part, the offense just hasn't been there. With the IronPigs, he has one extra-base hit every 21 plate appearances.

Manuel said that some in the Baseball America office wanted Crawford off the Midseason Top 100, but Manuel thought that would be too exaggerated a drop. Just a few short years ago, Manuel was one of Crawford's bigger fans.

"Theo Epstein told me 10 years ago, 'The higher in the minor leagues you go, the more performance matters.' And the higher he's gone, the worse his performance has gotten," Manuel said. 

"I still think he can be a big-league regular, but I do have my doubts about him being an impact player. And a couple years ago, I thought this was a guy who could have solid, average power, a 15-home run guy and a slick shortstop who would get on base a lot. ... He still gets on base some, but I don't think you get respected in the big leagues if you don't drive the baseball. 

"He's lost control of the strike zone so the walk-strikeout ratio has gone a little bit sideways. I don't think he knows how to get out of this rut he's in. Hitting is hard. We definitely had several people in our office who wanted him off the 100 because they don't think he's a prospect anymore."

This is a podcast well worth listening to for anyone who follows the Phillies' farm system closely as Manuel offers some of Baseball America's opinions on numerous Phillies prospects. He's high on Rhys Hoskins, Scott Kingery, Adam Haseley and Sixto Sanchez, higher on Mickey Moniak than most, and not as confident in Dylan Cozens, Jorge Alfaro and Nick Williams.

Meanwhile, it appears Crawford is aware of the comments.

Go to Wegmans and you just might find Charlie Manuel

Go to Wegmans and you just might find Charlie Manuel

So what is Charlie Manuel doing nowadays?

You just might find him strolling around Center City or shopping at your local Wegmans.

In the latest episode of CSN Philly's At The Yard podcast with our Jim Salisbury, the former Phils skipper joined the show to talk about what he's been up to since retiring from baseball in 2013. The 2008 World Series champion manager is currently a senior advisor for the team, spending part of his time on the road scouting for the Phillies.

Still, one of his favorite things is getting to meet fans who seemingly always "want to touch him" and thank him for bringing the City of Brotherly Love its only title in the last 34 years.

"This lady is on the other side of the store and Wegmans is a big store," Manuel said. "She hollers out loud to me and she goes, 'CHARLIE! Ryan [Howard's] pulling off the ball!' I holler back to her and I said, 'Lady, he's pulling off in BP!!'"

"The people come up and talk to me just like I was a friend — like I was their sister or brother or something — it was unreal. Just name somewhere I'd go, Atlantic City, people would want to come up and talk to me and they'd laugh."

Manuel also talked at length about coaching Jim Thome, benching Jimmy Rollins and a number of other stories from his coaching days.

To listen to the entire podcast, click below.