Saturday, January 14, 2017

2017 PhoulBallz Prospect Countdown Prelude

As a new year begins, so does my annual prospect ranking, which counts down the Phillies organization’s top 25 rising minor league talents. Over the next several weeks, with the organization in the midst of a rebuild, primed to give many young talents the opportunity to break into the major leagues and show what they can do, I’ll be serving up reviews for each of the top developmental talents that appear to have the brightest futures for the Phillies.

Taken into consideration when compiling the list is age, minor league performance relative to levels played, value to the organization as the player’s future potential and proximity to the big leagues.

These rankings will not include players over the age of 25 or individuals that have spent lengthy stretches in the big leagues.

For example, left-handed reliever Joely Rodriguez, who spent the final month of the regular season on the big league Phillies roster, will not appear on this countdown. Tyler Goeddel (12th on this list a year ago), who was a Rule 5 draft selection and was on the major league roster for the entirety of last season will not be on this list, despite the possibility of the young outfielder returning to the minors to continue his development this year. Also, righty hurlers Jake Thompson (#2 on this list last year) and Zach Eflin (8th here last year) started double-digit games with the big league club and will not be ranked here.

Players that garnered consideration for this list but missed ranking among the top 25 names include a trio of talented hurlers and a young infielder fresh out of the draft.

Victor Arano is a right-handed pitcher that posted a 5-2 record with eight saves, a 2.26 ERA and a .213 batting average against in 46 relief appearances at two levels last season. Splitting the season between Class A Advanced Clearwater and Double-A Reading, the Mexico native sported a 10.7 K/9 mark. This off-season the 21-year-old posted a 2.79 ERA in eight relief appearances in the prestigious Arizona Fall League. Arano is on the Phillies' 40-man roster and it's been said that the organization is rather high on him as a potential impact reliever at the top level.

Outfielder Jhailyn Ortiz was an extremely difficult name to exclude from the list as he does have a very high ceiling, but at just 18 years old and having not played in a full-season league to date, he is far enough away from the majors that placing him outside of the top 25 was justifiable to me. In his first official pro season last year, the powerful Dominican sported a .231 batting average with eight homers, 27 RBI and eight stolen bases in 47 contests in the rookie level Gulf Coast League. Here's hoping the right-handed batter, who signed at age 16 for a reported $4.2 million, sees action with full-season Class A Lakewood this year.

A. Pullin, image- Jay Floyd
Outfielder Andrew Pullin had a remarkable campaign in 2016 after leaving baseball to deal with some personal matters at the start of the regular season. The 23-year-old, who was a 5th round draft choice by the Phils in 2012, posted a .293/.320/.476 slash line in 36 games with Class A Advanced Clearwater once he returned to action last year. After being promoted to Double-A Reading, the lefty hitting Pullin looked even better, as he notched a .346/.393/.559 slash line in 46 games. Overall Pullin saw a .165-point jump from his career OPS entering last year to his 2016 season totals. His coaches praise his hitting ability as a standout part of his game, but I want to see Pullin perform at a high level for a second season before I am prepared to rank him on this list.

Cole Stobbe, a 19-year-old shortstop, was last year’s third round draft choice and quickly impressed many with a solid campaign with the rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies. In 44 games, the Nebraska native tallied a .270 average with eight doubles, four home runs and 13 RBI. The six-foot-one 200-pound righty batter was a very well-rounded high school hitter, stroking the ball to all fields while displaying power, prior to the draft, and looks suited to change positions (possibly to third base) at some point with shortstop in this organization blocked by talent and depth. Stobbe could become a fast mover on this list, and in the minors, in the coming years.

Additionally, some youngsters that made last year’s top 25 while remaining in the organization's developmental ranks have slipped from the list.

Backstop Deivi Grullon steadily stands out as a very good defensive performer and as an exceptional leader for his pitching staffs. Many baseball insiders love his skill set, but with back-to-back campaigns at full season Class A Lakewood with an OPS under .700 (.608 and .695 respectively in 2015 and 2016), I felt Grullon had slipped behind others as far as Phillies prospect rankings go. The 20-year-old righty batter was ranked 24th last on this list last year.

Shortstop Malquin Canelo seemed to be a defensive standout that hasn’t proven his offense can play well at the higher levels yet. The 22-year-old right-handed batter put together a .246/.294/.330 slash line in 124 games for Class A Advanced Clearwater last year. Occasionally displaying a good ability to drive the ball, the five-foot-ten 160-pounder will need to do so on a more regular basis and he’ll need to develop a better ability to hit lefty pitchers (.202 average last year) if he is to become a valuable player at a position that is occupied by the man widely considered the Phils’ top prospect, J.P. Crawford. Canelo was ranked number 20 on this list last year.

In the coming weeks, check back here on PhoulBallz.com often for the unveiling of this year’s top 25 ranked prospects within the Phillies organization.
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