You know you’ve been watching a spring training game far too long when number 76 is pitching to number 91, and number 84 is trying to track the ball down in the outfield. Then again, the guys wearing the higher numbers in a team’s camp may be future stars in an organization.
The Philadelphia Phillies have had their farm system gutted by trades over the past few years, and it has led to unkind rankings from experts who track the minors.
Keith Law of ESPN placed the Phillies’ minor league system 27th in his 2013 rankings. Baseball America didn’t have many kind things to say about the system either.
So, can the Phillies actually expect any of their minor league talent to contribute to the Major League club this season?
Jesse Biddle and Adam Morgan are probably the one-two punch at the top of anybody’s rankings for the Phillies organization, but neither pitcher is anywhere close to the Majors. That will be a wait-and-see situation. By some stretch of the imagination Morgan could make an appearance this year, but it’s highly unlikely.
Tommy Joseph impressed plenty of people this spring, but the standout catcher is still just 21 years of age. It’s not known whether he will begin 2013 at AA or AAA, but he did play well enough at the AA level last year to make me believe he could be at AAA. Then again, it would be a relatively big leap.
If there are any injury issues this year in Philadelphia, Joseph could be someone the Phillies consider calling up to the big club. Again, he is a younger guy, but has matured quickly in the Minors. Sebastian Valle, another catcher, could also be under consideration.
Ethan Martin was acquired by the team in the trade that sent Shane Victorino to Los Angeles last year. Martin pitched very well at AA as a starter after the deadline deal, but if he were to make it to the Majors this year, it would likely be as a reliever.
Jon Pettibone, on the other hand, would likely be in the discussion to get a call-up as a starting pitcher if there are injuries or ineffectiveness. Considering what Roy Halladay has gone through lately, Pettibone has to be ready at all times.
Since Darin Ruf, Phillippe Aumont, and Justin De Fratus are all still considered prospects, they bear mentioning here. That said, they have all played in the big leagues before, and Ruf is already 26 years of age, which is far past the age of a true “prospect”. However, all three should contribute something to the team this year.
De Fratus was recently sent down to minor league camp, but he could easily return if the bullpen sees struggles. Ruf is fighting for a job, but it appears he will be on the roster come April 1. Aumont likely has a lock on a bullpen spot.
The Phillies don’t have a true sparkling name in their Minor League system as of right now. They have plenty of number three or four pitchers, some decent position players, but not a whole lot else.
It’s a minor league system that will need plenty of re-stocking over the next two years in the draft, but the Phillies have found a lot of great talent in the draft over the years (Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, Jimmy Rollins, Brett Myers, Ryan Madson).
They can only hope that some of their youth breaks through this season, or their next core of players may be bought through free agency instead of coming through the organization.