NASHVILLE - The Phillies' rebuilding project, which began in earnest almost a year ago, continued to roll on this week at the winter meetings, most notably with Wednesday night's trade of closer Ken Giles. The deal added three more young pitchers and another intriguing outfielder to the franchise's arsenal of prospects.
In 12 months, the Phillies traded seven players in exchange for 16 prospects as they drastically reshaped a downtrodden farm system. MLB.com ranks 10 of those prospects among the Phillies' top 16. All but one of those players, catcher Jorge Alfaro, is either an outfielder or a pitcher.
The players acquired in trades will join those the Phillies drafted, most notably shortstop J.P. Crawford and outfielder Roman Quinn. And they are not far from shedding their "prospect" label. There is a chance that at least 10 of the top 16 prospects could reach the majors in 2016.
The trend to build through acquiring outfield and pitching help continued in Nashville. The Phillies traded Giles for righthanded pitcher Vincent Velasquez and Thomas Eshelman, lefthanded pitcher Brett Oberholtzer, and leftfielder Derek Fisher. Before flying back to Philadelphia, the Phillies selected outfielder Tyler Goeddel and lefthanded pitcher Daniel Stumpf in the Rule 5 draft.
"It's competition. We're just looking to increase the competition," said Mike Ondo, the team's director of professional scouting, when asked if the Phillies are trying to stockpile outfielders. "Like I said, try to add a young player, a young baseball player with good tools and just trying to move it forward with talent."
The first steps in the rebuilding project was taken by former general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. He traded Jimmy Rollins and Marlon Byrd in December 2014. The returns for Rollins - righthander Zach Eflin and lefthander Tom Windle - will likely reach the majors this season. Windle, who moved to the bullpen last season, has a chance to crack the opening-day roster.
Windle and Eflin should be joined at Citizens Bank Park by outfielder Nick Williams and righthander Jake Thompson, two of the key pieces of the July trade that sent Cole Hamels to Texas. Alec Asher and Jerad Eickhoff, who also came from Texas, reached the majors last season. Alfaro could be a bit behind after missing most of last season with an ankle injury.
Velasquez and Oberholtzer already pitched in the majors with Houston. They will compete in spring training for a spot on the opening-day roster. Velasquez, 23, is expected to make the starting rotation. Oberholtzer will vie for a place in the bullpen.
Houston drafted Eshelman in the second round in June. His biggest attribute is his control - he walked just 18 in 376 innings in three seasons at Cal State-Fullerton.
Fisher, 22, is from Rexmont, Pa., about 20 miles north of Lancaster. He batted .275 last season with a .364 on-base percentage in 123 minor-league games, ending his season in high A. He played three seasons at the University of Virginia. Like Eshelman, Fisher's college experience could help him quickly move through the minor leagues.