Mickey Moniak back on Phillies’ prospect radar after strong second half with Clearwater | Minor league analysis
Part 2 of the series on the Phillies' minor-league system focuses on the outfielders and catchers.
Second in a three-part series reviewing the Phillies' minor-league season.
The Phillies have invested a lot of resources in trying to bolster their outfield depth in recent years. In 2015, they used the 10th overall pick on Cornelius Randolph, a high school kid from Georgia. A year later, they used the first overall pick on Mickey Moniak, a high school kid from Southern California. And last year, they used the eighth overall pick on Adam Haseley, a star outfielder from the University of Virginia. They also used $4 million in 2015 to sign Jhailyn Ortiz, a power-hitting right fielder from the Dominican Republic. It was the largest international signing bonus in franchise history.
Here's a glance at how those four and some lesser-known outfielders in the farm system performed in 2018. We also look at some of the best catchers in the system.
Ideally you'd like a guy with power playing this position and the Phillies have some kids on their lower-level teams that fit that bill. It's a position that could have a big-league opening with Rhys Hoskins likely headed back to first base.
1. Adam Haseley: By all accounts, he had a terrific first full season in the minors, batting a combined .305 with a .361 on-base percentage and .795 OPS. Haseley, 22, played particularly well after being promoted to double-A Reading, and it will be interesting to see what level he begins at next season. He has played 57.9 percent of his minor-league games in center field and 34.1 percent in left field. His most likely landing spot at the big-league level is in left field.
Bryan Minniti, Phillies assistant general manager: "We know he will be at Lehigh Valley at some point next year. The way he finished was very exciting."
Scout's view: "I like Haseley a lot. He reminds me of a Nick Markakis-type player. Very good work ethic and makeup. From the beginning until the end of the season, he improved. I think he's going be a good player. Not a sexy good player. But a good player."
Another scout's view: "He can hit, he's smart and he can defend. I think he fits best in a corner spot and his arm puts him in left."
2. Cornelius Randolph: After 69 games with double-A Reading, he was hitting .187 and in serious danger of having his prospect status permanently revoked. But Randolph rebounded to hit .314 with an .825 OPS over his final 49 games. He will still be only 21 when he begins his first triple-A season next year.
Minniti: "High school guys take longer to develop. You wish there had been more season with the way he finished."
Scout's view: "Can I get a mulligan is what I'd be asking. Some physical attributes. He's gone backward some."
Another scout's review: "He really, really struggled, but he did turn things around a little. He can't have another season like his last two. The jury is still out, but I do not see him as an everyday major-league player."
3. Matt Vierling: The 2018 fifth-round pick out of Notre Dame shined in his first professional season, hitting a combined .321 with a .365 on-base percentage and an .860 OPS at Williamsport and Lakewood. He also played all three outfield positions and made just one error in 50 games. He played the majority of his games in left field.
Minniti: "He showed he could play all three outfield spots, and with his bat he'll be at one of them."
Scout's view: "It was a very impressive first summer. That could end up being a hell of a fifth-round pick."
Worth watching: A 34th-round pick in 2015, Ben Pelletier put together a second straight strong season, hitting 17 doubles and nine home runs at Williamsport. The 20-year-old French Canadian was also second in the New York-Penn League with 45 RBIs.
As the first overall pick in the 2016 draft, Moniak is probably the most scrutinized player in the Phillies' system, and his performance in 2018 elicited varying opinions.
1. Mickey Moniak: The left-handed-hitting Moniak restored his prospect status by batting .302 with a .351 on-base percentage and 24 extra-base hits in his final 52 games at Clearwater. At 20, he was the youngest position player on the team. He did, however, have a first half to forget, batting just .244 with a .260 on-base percentage in his first 62 games.
Minniti: "It's easy to forget he's only 20 and playing at the high-A level. We're very excited about him."
Scout's view: "I think he's a big-leaguer, but he's not going to be an impactful big-leaguer. It was a really mediocre one-one attempt by the Phillies. I think at best he is a Mark Kotsay-type player."
Another scout's view: "He is going to be a breakout guy in 2019 at Reading. I don't know if they'll start him at Reading, but I think you're going to start seeing numbers from him next season."
2. Simon Muzziotti: After starting his career in Boston's farm system in 2016, the 19-year-old Venezuelan signed with the Phillies because the Red Sox had circumvented the international bonus rules when they signed him. In his second season in the Phillies system, Muzziotti missed nearly two months early in the year with a fractured finger. He finished strong, batting .319 in his final 11 games, including six postseason games for Lakewood. He also made just one error in 66 games in center field.
Scout's view: "I like him a lot. He profiles as a leadoff hitter with speed. He has really, really good contact ability. He knows who and what he is. He knows how to use his speed and slash the ball. I think he's a good center fielder, too."
Another scout's view: "He could be a trade chip for them. He's a plus runner and he can really play center field. He has a good arm, too. I think he'll play in the big leagues for a long time. I see him as a bigger version of [Atlanta's] Ender Inciarte."
3. Julio Francisco: A 2016 signing from the Dominican Republic, Francisco had a second straight strong season in pro ball, hitting .293 with nine doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in the Gulf Coast League.
Worth watching: Ben Aklinski, a 32nd-round pick out of the University of Kentucky, showed the ability to play all three outfield spots and hit seven home runs in 53 games with Williamsport; Yerwin Trejo, a 21-year-old Venezeulan, hit .301 and tied for the GCL lead with 23 stolen bases.
It seems like Dylan Cozens has been around forever and he did get his first big-league cup of coffee this season, but he is still an organizational prospect after an improved second season at Lehigh Valley. He is not, however, the top prospect at his position anymore.
1. Jhailyn Ortiz: Owner of the largest international signing bonus check in franchise history, the 19-year-old Dominican native struggled mightily in his first full professional season. The 6-foot-3 slugger missed two months with a shoulder injury and swung at way too many pitches outside the strike zone in his first season at low-A Lakewood. Ortiz, who turns 20 next month, finished the year hitting .225 with 13 home runs and 47 RBIs. It will be interesting to see where he starts next season.
Scout's view: "I will say no comment on him because I only saw him in the first month and it was freezing cold. He was absolutely horrible. I think he struck out 22 of the 30 times I saw him. This kid was in way over his head. I thought he came in out of shape, too."
Another scout's view: "It was a bad year. He made a lot of progress in 2017 as far as controlling the strike zone, but in his first full year I think he got into the cold weather and panicked. I still think the sky is the limit for this kid. He can be a true impact guy."
2. Austin Listi: The 2018 Paul Owens Award winner as the Phillies' top minor-league position player, Listi is a pure hitter without a true position. He played the same amount of games in right field and left field and also logged time at first base and third base. There's no denying his ability to hit. He led the organization with a .312 batting average, a .412 on-base percentage and a .915 OPS while playing at Clearwater and Reading. He is currently playing in the Arizona Fall League.
Minniti: "His bat is going to dictate where he goes and how much he plays. Plenty of players in the big leagues are not naturally gifted defensive players, but we know he will work as hard as he can to become an everyday position player."
Scout's view: "I'm a big fan. I think Austin Listi might be Steve Pearce. What a neat story. Go back, play in college [at Dallas Baptist], gets drafted. … Love to steal those kinds of guys."
Another scout's view: "He's serviceable at first base. He's a hitter."
3. Dylan Cozens: His 21 home runs ranked third in the International League, and he would have led the league if he had spent the entire season with Lehigh Valley. His strikeout total of 148 in 392 plate appearances remains way too high to consider him a premier big-league prospect.
A scout's view: "I'm leaning toward him not being an impact guy, but maybe having value and being a Lucas Duda-type player at some point. Maybe he gets into a good rhythm and has hot streaks. When Charlie Manuel worked with him in the minor leagues, it looked like he turned a corner, but now he has definitely dropped on the list of guys in the system."
Another scout's view: "He might need a change of scenery."
Worth watching: Jose Pujols received a $540,000 signing bonus at the age of 16, and the Dominican Republic native had been mostly disappointing until 2018. In his second season at Clearwater, he batted .301 with 18 homers and 58 RBIs in 95 games before being promoted to Reading. He continued to play well with the Fightin Phils and finished the year with 22 home runs and a career-high .365 on-base percentage.
The Phillies opened the season with rookie Jorge Alfaro and second-year backup Andrew Knapp as their catchers, and despite some serious growing pains, especially on the defensive side, Alfaro still projects as the team's catcher of the future. The Phillies have some young catchers they like a lot, especially at the lower levels.
1. Rafael Marchan: The 19-year-old Venezuelan signed for $200,000 in 2015 and has been impressive in short-season leagues since becoming a professional. In 51 games with Williamsport this season, the switch-hitting catcher batted .301 with a .705 OPS.
Minniti: "I honestly don't think we have a non-prospect catcher from the double-A level on down."
Scout's view: "I think he has the best chance to be an impact catcher from their system."
2. Rodolfo Duran: The 20-year-old catcher not only did a tremendous job handling the best pitching staff in the South Atlantic League, he was also a powerful force on offense and defense. His 18 home runs led the BlueClaws. He also threw out 42 percent of the baserunners who attempted to steal against him while committing just four errors in 81 games.
Scout's view: "I liked him. I think he has a chance to be at least a backup and maybe a little bit better than that."
3. Deivi Grullon: The 22-year-old Dominican Republic native signed for $575,000 in 2012 and had struggled to hit on his way up the minor-league ladder until this season. In his first full season at Reading, he batted .273 with a team-high 21 home runs, the most of any catcher in the organization.
Minniti: "He went to a higher level and performed. It would have been hard for him to do any better than he did."
Scout's view: "I was impressed with him. He came back in better shape and I noticed that right away. I thought he had more energy this year. He's at least a backup-type guy."
Worth watching: Abrahan Gutierrez, 18, hit .315 in the Gulf Coast League after coming to the Phillies from the Atlanta Braves, who had circumvented international signing rules to get him. The Braves had paid Gutierrez $3.53 million and the Phillies got him for $550,000.