The main reason why the Phillies' farm system is widely perceived to be in the bottom third of baseball heading into 2020 is that they have only two prospects — Alec Bohm and Spencer Howard — who project as soon-to-be-ready impact players.
Those two are knocking on the door but much of the farm system depth beyond them is in the lower levels of the minor leagues.
MLB.com released its Phillies Top 30 prospects list on Monday and after Bohm at 1 and Howard at 2, the Top 10 was rounded out by six players who haven't yet reached Double A and two currently on the Phils' 40-man roster: Adonis Medina (5) and Enyel De Los Santos (8).
1. Alec Bohm, 3B (23)
2. Spencer Howard, RHP (23)
3. Bryson Stott, SS (22)
4. Francisco Morales, RHP (20)
5. Adonis Medina, RHP (23)
6. Luis Garcia, SS (19)
7. Rafael Marchan, C (21)
8. Enyel De Los Santos, RHP (24)
9. Erik Miller, LHP (22)
10. Simon Muzziotti, OF (21)
Mickey Moniak was 11th. Lefties JoJo Romero (13), Damon Jones (14) and Cristopher Sanchez (17) were in the teens. Jhailyn Ortiz was 18. Jones made the biggest jump between last year's list from MLB.com and this year's.
Phillies fans would love to see Bohm here as soon as possible but he has only 270 plate appearances above the Single A level so far. He is likely to open at Triple A and as long as he hits, it would be a surprise to not see him up with the Phillies by the middle of the summer. The Phils' positional flexibility with Scott Kingery means that if they suffer an injury in any outfield spot, second base, shortstop or third base, Bohm could be the next man up.
Bohm has the potential to be a really interesting hitter. He's not just a big guy with power. He also has a good idea of the strike zone and there isn't a ton of swing-and-miss in his game. He's struck out only 96 times in 698 minor-league plate appearances. Bohm might never be as good as Kris Bryant, but could he come close to replicating the offensive output of a Justin Turner, who's hit .297/.378/.508 the last five seasons?
The Phillies have been cautious in camp with Howard, who suffered a minor knee tweak on Feb. 9. He hasn't appeared yet in a Grapefruit League game in his first big-league camp. His development will be tracked closely this year. He's expected to open at Triple A and if that transition is as smooth as the ones preceding it, he could quickly find himself in the Phils' rotation. The Phillies have a shaky 3-4-5 and a mostly unproven bullpen so they won't be in a position to turn down the contributions Howard could bring.
It's disappointing for everyone involved that Moniak is lingering around 10th on these lists four years after being drafted first overall by the Phillies. Baseball America had him 9th and MLB.com 11th. He hasn't yet put together an entire season. His best offensive year was this past one at Reading when he hit .252/.303/.439 with 11 homers.
The Phillies have given him a taste of big-league camp two years in a row. There is still time. He's not even 22 yet. Plenty of players find the right piece of advice or the right adjustment and change their trajectory in their early-20s. But it's just hard to envision a high ceiling at this point. The Phillies would be in a much different place if they made the right pick the one chance they had during their rebuild to draft first overall. Almost the entire first round in 2016 has been mediocre so far, with the Dodgers making the best pick at 20 in shortstop Gavin Lux. Lux is one of the top prospects in baseball and should play a meaningful role with L.A. in 2020. If the Phillies had a young player his caliber, they could have used him to acquire a superstar or had the makings of an exciting young nucleus to build around Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto and Aaron Nola. Alas.
Marchan has made a little bit of a name for himself in this camp by impressing manager Joe Girardi with his defense. We might see Marchan here as the backup catcher in a couple years.
Jones and Sanchez are lefties with big strikeout potential who could provide the bullpen a boost at some point in 2020.
Ortiz, whom the Phillies signed for $4 million in the same international class that included Juan Soto and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., graded out as the Phillies prospect with the most raw power, being given a 60 by MLB.com on the 20-80 scouting scale. Soto signed with Washington for one-third as much as Ortiz and Guerrero Jr. signed with the Blue Jays for just about the same amount as Ortiz. Ouch.
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