Different organizations have different approaches to how they like to handle their prospects. The Phillies have collected a pretty impressive group at AAA Lehigh Valley this season. Ten of the Phillies’ Top 20 from our Top 50 list are Iron Pigs this season. That’s before you consider that Jake Thompson’s star has tarnished to the point where he is not even on the aforementioned list and Jesmuel Valentin has found new prospect life in the Phillies’ organization. This is a packed team and gives Phillies’ fans some hope for a new run of contention in the very near future.
Let’s take a look at how these prospects have begun the season. Interestingly, the best prospect in the system and #4 overall prospect in baseball according to MLB.com, is off to the worst start of any of the prospects at Lehigh Valley. J.P. Crawford is just 3 for 24 with 9 K on the young season. Crawford is going to be just 22 all season and he does hit left handed. He has had some minor struggles at his first taste of a level in his past, but it may be time soon to decide that he simply will not be a big fantasy contributor. He struggled a bit offensively in his introduction to AAA last season and has not seemed to find the next gear to start this season. He does not have a lot of power and his SB% for his career is under 70%. He may just be a classic better baseball player than fantasy guy (and by quite a bit) due to his top level defensive skills.
At the other end of the spectrum, Rhys Hoskins is off to a good start to follow up on the monster season he had at Reading last year. Hoskins was a somewhat muted 5th round pick in 2014 as a right handed hitting 1B prospect. He’s done all he can since to show that the bat will carry through that profile. He’s 9 for 24, with four XBH, 5 K and 3 BB. There are no stars blocking him from a major league job so Hoskins could well be in the bigs after the All Star break if he continues his development.
In between those two guys are a collection of prospects who have either struggled through the first week (Nick Williams, Dylan Cozens) or who have put up nice numbers with questionable peripherals (Jorge Alfaro, Roman Quinn, Jesmuel Valentin). The latter three have drawn zero walks total and that will be something to watch going forward. Quinn’s game is speed and in order to make the most use of that, he will need to find his way on base more via BB. Alfaro has never been a real patient hitter. He’s never drawn as many as 35 BB in any season in his career. He will have to be less of a free swinger if he is to be able to do what’s expected of him. Valentin, as mentioned above, has restarted his prospect status. He was a Compensation pick by the Dodgers in the 2012 draft and did pretty well to start his pro career. He was traded to the Phillies in August of 2014, but he had some off field issues for which he was suspended for much of the 2015 season. Since his return, he has been solid but unspectacular. He bears watching as the season plays out.
On the pitching side the samples are quite small, but the sleeper is Nick Pivetta. Generally thought to be a future reliever, Pivetta acquitted himself decently as a starter last season in the tough pitching environment at Reading. Part of that success came from an improved BB rate and he walked 0 in his first start of 2017 as well. Acquired in the Jonathan Papelbon trade, Pivetta could be a nice addition in Philly and to your fantasy team later this season.
Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Ricardo Pinto and Mark Appel are all in Lehigh Valley as well this season and have all pitched reasonably well in their first outings.
There is reason for optimism in Philly that the future could come quickly. These are the guys to keep a watch on to see just how quickly that might be.
Article featured image of Rhys Hoskins – courtesy of MLB.com