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2020 Phillies Prospect Countdown Prelude

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Each winter I compile prospect rankings and count down the Phillies organization’s top 25 minor league players. In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting reviews for each of the top developmental talents that appear to have the brightest futures for the Phils organization.

Taken into consideration when compiling the list is age, minor league performance relative to levels played to date, value to the organization as well as each player's future potential along with proximity to the big leagues.

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

For example, hurlers such as Edgar Garcia and Cole Irvin as well as outfielder Adam Haseley will not be considered for this year's rankings.  Additionally, Austin Listi, an outfielder/corner infielder that won the Phillies' Paul Owens Award in 2018, has fallen out of my top 25, as he turned 26 years old in November.  Lefty reliever Tyler Gilbert, ranked 23rd here last year, has also aged out of my rankings.

Players that garnered consideration for this list but missed ranking among the top 25 names include some promising upstarts with high ceilings as well as some names fans may have already begun hearing about.

Kendall Simmons, image- Jay Floyd
Kendall Simmons, an All-Star infielder for the Class A short-season Williamsport Crosscutters last season, is as promising as they come.  The righty batting shortstop was a 6th round draft selection by the Phils in 2018.  In 2019, Simmons notched a .234 average with 12 home runs, 34 RBI and five stolen bases in 51 games and was honored as an All-Star.  His .854 OPS ranked 5th highest in the New York-Penn League.  Fans can look for the talented 19-year-old to see time with Class A Lakewood this year.

Johan Rojas has drawn some solid attention in recent months.  The 19-year-old outfielder made stops at two short-season levels last year, in the Gulf Coast League and with Williamsport.  Overall in 60 combined games, the right-handed hitting Dominican posted a .265 batting average with 11 doubles, 11 triples, two homers, 15 RBI and 14 stolen bases.  Superior defense and great speed along with highly encouraging offensive results against plenty of elder pitching have prospect heads very excited about this youngster. 

Catcher Rodolfo Duran, ranked 21st here last year, fell out of the top 25 for 2020.  The righty batting Dominican, who turns 22 years old in February, followed up his exceptional effort at Lakewood in 2018 with a dip in offensive numbers for Clearwater in 2019.  Duran tallied a .240/.273/.369 slash line in 66 contests before his season was cut short due to injury in July.  A solid contributor behind the dish, Duran remains a player worth keeping an eye on. 

Left-handed hurler Garrett Cleavinger was added to the Phillies' 40-man roster this off-season in an effort to keep him protected from the Rule 5 Draft.  The 25-year-old was the Orioles' 3rd round draft selection in in 2015 and was later traded to the Phils in the 2017 Jeremy Hellickson deal.  With Double-A Reading in 2019, the Oregon product notched a 3-2 record with a 3.66 ERA, a .172 batting average against, a 1.28 WHIP and a remarkable 14.5 K/9 mark.  

Addison Russ, another talented Reading reliever last season, was also close to making the list.  The right-handed 25-year-old proved to be reliable in the closer role in 2019, sporting a 5-6 record with 22 saves, a .223 batting average against, a 1.18 WHIP as well as a 12.9 K/9 mark.  I would expect Russ, a Phillies 19th round draft choice in 2017, to see some action in big league spring training this year.

Righty pitcher Andrew Schultz made a considerable impression on me during his time with Class A Lakewood last year.  The organization's 6th round draft pick in 2019 signed quickly right after his college season with Tennessee was complete.  Schultz made one appearance in the Gulf Coast League then joined the BlueClaws' bullpen.  In 12 total appearances, the 22-year-old tallied a 0-2 record with a 6.55 ERA while striking out 15 and walking nine over 11 innings of work.  Equipped with a high 90's fastball that can reach triple digits, Schultz, whose command needs refinement, could be a reliever on the fast track up the developmental ladder.

Another Lakewood hurler from 2019 with a high ceiling is Kevin Gowdy.  The Phillies' 2nd round draft pick from 2016 had missed more than two years following UCL reconstruction.  While battling to knock the rust off and regain the consistency that earned him a high draft position, the righty would post a 0-6 record with a 4.68 ERA while striking out 53 and walking 51 in 77 innings over 24 outings.  The upcoming season will be key for the 22-year-old to take some strides and prove to still be a valued big league prospect.

Check back on PhoulBallz.com often, as a new season approaches, for the unveiling of this year’s top 25 ranked prospects within the Phillies organization.

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