Future Phillies Report: High-upside standouts at lower levels

Future Phillies Report: High-upside standouts at lower levels

On Monday, we took a look at the Phillies' top prospects closest to the majors.

But some of the highest-upside talent in the Phillies' farm system is at the lower levels. Guys like Sixto Sanchez, Mickey Moniak, Jhailyn Ortiz, Cornelius Randolph.

We won't hit everybody today -- I'm assuming you're not looking for 10,000 words -- but we'll focus on the guys with big upside.

Keep in mind these players are not close to the majors.

RHP Sixto Sanchez (18 years old)
It may be a bit much to say the 6-foot, 185-pound Dominican right-hander has become the talk of the farm system, but Sanchez has a chance to be a top-of-the-rotation arm.

He has a fastball in the mid-90s that reached as high as 98 mph in spring training, but more importantly, he commands it. There are a lot of guys who can throw a straight 95; what separates the men from the boys is the ability to paint with it.

"Sixto Sanchez, he's an advanced young pitching prospect," Phillies director of player development Joe Jordan said on last week's At The Yard podcast with Jim Salisbury. 

"His ability to throw a big fastball where he's trying to a lot ... he's got above-average command of a big fastball. Velocity is everywhere -- but the ability to throw it where you're trying to is what separates him."

Some guys really need to wind their bodies and work hard to generate velocity. Think Tim Lincecum. Sanchez is not like that. His delivery is simple and there isn't a ton of effort involved.

Sanchez went 5-0 with a 0.50 ERA in 11 starts in Rookie ball last season. He allowed 33 hits and three earned runs in 54 innings. Ridiculous. 

Sanchez is at Class A Lakewood to begin the season. The Phillies will be cautious with his innings -- don't expect him to go too far past 100. 

RHP Drew Anderson (23)
A 23-year-old right-hander on the rise and a pitcher who some scouts think is the Phillies' best pitching prospect. He's at Double-A Reading to start the year.

Anderson had a very impressive 2016 at Class A Lakewood and High A Clearwater, posting a 2.70 ERA with 78 strikeouts and just three home runs allowed in 70 innings. It was his first year back from Tommy John surgery and he was limited late in the summer because of it.

Anderson was protected on the 40-man roster this past winter and held his own at his first big-league camp. He has a big fastball that sits in the mid-90s and can reach 97, along with a breaking ball and changeup.

"He's got everything," Jordan said, "just gotta get more mound experience."

OF Mickey Moniak (18)
Moniak has grown an inch and put on 20 pounds of muscle since being drafted first overall by the Phillies last June.

Moniak begins the year at Class A Lakewood after compiling 194 plate appearances in Rookie ball last year.

He's off to a good start, going 8 for 28 with three doubles, seven RBIs and three stolen bases already through six games.

The Phillies obviously love Moniak. They saw him as one of the better and more polished hitters in last year's draft, high school or college. He has speed, he plays the outfield well and should be a .300-plus hitter in the majors someday. The popular comparisons when he was drafted were Jacoby Ellsbury and Steve Finley.

2B Scott Kingery (22)
Kingery opened many eyes in spring training, including Pete Mackanin's. He just does so many things well -- hit, run, plays with energy. 

"I heard a lot about Scott Kingery and how good a player he is and he sure looks like one," Mackanin said at the end of February. "He's made a good impression on me and the coaching staff. ... He might be on the fast track to the big leagues."

Kingery batted .293 with a .360 on-base percentage in 420 plate appearances last season with High-A Clearwater, producing enough to earn the everyday second base job at Reading this year.

With Kingery and Jesmuel Valentin, the Phillies have a pair of second basemen who could be ready if Cesar Hernandez is eventually traded. Or if Hernandez firmly establishes himself as a valuable big leaguer, one of Kingery or Valentin could be used in a trade.

The Phillies aren't lacking in middle infield depth. Also keep in mind that when J.P. Crawford is ready, the Phillies are going to have to figure out where Freddy Galvis fits.

LF Cornelius Randolph (19)
The first-round pick in between Aaron Nola in 2014 and Moniak in 2016, Randolph isn't mentioned as much. Probably because he was drafted for his bat and hit just three home runs in his first 503 plate appearances as a pro.

Randolph was just beginning to hit and get into a rhythm in 2016 when a shoulder injury derailed his season. But he's healthy now and hitting for power at Clearwater. He's 7 for 26 through six games with three home runs, a double and eight RBIs.

"Once he got back (last season), he held his own. We're going to challenge him. We think he's ready to go to Clearwater," Jordan said just before the season began. "I think he's going to be a really, really good hitter."

You don't often hear this, but the Phillies want the left-handed hitting Randolph to pull the ball a bit more. He's a natural up-the-middle, opposite-field hitter, but the Phillies didn't pick him 10th overall to hit singles.

RF Jhailyn Ortiz (18)
The Phillies signed Ortiz out of the Dominican Republic for about $4 million in the summer of 2015. He was 16 years old then and was already 6-foot-2 and 260 pounds.

Ortiz spent last season with Moniak on the Gulf Coast League Phillies and hit for power -- nine doubles, a triple and eight homers in 197 plate appearances.

He's far away, but he has a chance to be a middle-of-the-order bat in four or five years.

Ortiz will be with the Phillies' Class A-Short Season affiliate in Williamsport. 

"I want to go slow because we're going to reach a point where we won't be able to hold him back," Jordan said. "I think he's going to be a tremendous hitter. I think he's going to have above-average or well-above-average major-league power. Breaking balls still give him problems but not as much as they did this time a year ago."

Jordan doesn't think Ortiz is going to be the traditional low-batting average, high-power guy, either.

"I really think he's going to be a force," he said. "I don't think he's going to be a guy who hits .250 with 25 to 30 HR. He's going to be better than that. He can run for his size, he has better than a 60 arm (on the scouting scale which ranges from 20 to 80). Just growing in every phase of his game."

RHP Franklyn Kilome (21)
A sinewy 6-foot-6 right-hander from the Dominican Republic who has a big fastball and has flashed a plus curveball. The hook has two variations -- the get-me-over curve for a strike and the more devastating out-pitch.

Kilome makes the jump this season from Lakewood to High-A Clearwater. In his first start for the Threshers, he allowed three earned runs in 4 2/3 with three walks and five strikeouts. 

Last season at Lakewood, Kilome was 5-8 with a 3.85 ERA and struck out 130 batters in 114 2/3 innings.

The keys for Kilome will be improving his command (3.9 walks per nine innings last season), improving his third pitch (changeup) and just continuing on the path the Phillies have set for him.

A lot of upside and projection there.

Best of MLB: Aaron Judge hits mammoth homer in Yankees' win over Mets

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Best of MLB: Aaron Judge hits mammoth homer in Yankees' win over Mets

NEW YORK -- Aaron Judge launched a titanic homer, Didi Gregorius snapped a seventh-inning tie with a two-run double and the New York Yankees beat the Mets 5-3 on Wednesday night for their third straight victory in the Subway Series.

After taking the first two matchups in the Bronx this week, the Yankees kept up their winning ways when the crosstown rivalry shifted to Queens. Judge enjoyed his first game at Citi Field, hitting a solo drive into the rarely reached third deck in left.

Mets left fielder Yoenis Cespedes never even budged as Judge's AL-leading 37th home run, projected at 457 feet, soared way over his head.

The rookie slugger also singled and scored on Chase Headley's sacrifice fly. But he struck out in the ninth inning to extend a dubious streak: Judge has fanned in 33 consecutive games, three shy of the record for a position player set by Adam Dunn from 2011-2012 (see full recap).

Alonso, Rzepczynski help seal Mariners’ victory
SEATTLE -- Recently acquired Yonder Alonso hit his first homer for Seattle and drove in three runs, and Marc Rzepczynski struck out Chris Davis with the bases loaded to end the Mariners' 7-6 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday.

Alonso, acquired in a trade with Oakland on Aug. 6, hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning, his 23rd of the season. He added an RBI single during a three-run fifth and also singled in the seventh.

Leonys Martin opened the sixth with his third home run to put Seattle up 7-4.

Seattle closer Edwin Diaz came on in the ninth and walked the first three hitters. Manny Machado followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 7-5, but Martin prevented an extra-base hit with a sensational diving catch in right field.

Diaz struck out Jonathan Schoop, but then hit both Trey Mancini and Mark Trumbo to force in another run. Rzepczynski relieved and fanned Davis on three pitches for his first save.

Tony Zych (6-3) pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings in relief. Ubaldo Jimenez (5-8) allowed six runs in 4 1/3 innings (see full recap).

Gordon’s single in 9th lifts Royals over A’s
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Alex Gordon hit a go-ahead RBI single in the top of the ninth after Oakland tied it in the bottom of the eighth, and the Kansas City Royals beat the Athletics 7-6 on Wednesday.

Alcides Escobar doubled to start the ninth against Blake Treinen (1-1), matching his season high with three hits. Then Gordon delivered his second run-scoring single of the series finale.

Oakland's Matt Chapman hit a tying two-run homer in the eighth against Brandon Maurer (1-1), who wound up the winner.

Lorenzo Cain hit a two-run homer in the fourth and Danny Duffy struck out eight over five innings but the Royals couldn't hold a late lead again before holding on -- a day after squandering a four-run advantage in a 10-8 defeat.

Cain added a key RBI single in the eighth for the Royals, who began the day tied with Minnesota six games behind AL Central-leading Cleveland (see full recap).

Nick Pivetta takes his 'demotion' in stride after putting up big strikeout totals

Nick Pivetta takes his 'demotion' in stride after putting up big strikeout totals

SAN DIEGO — Odubel Herrera has missed the Phillies' last two games with a sore left hamstring and the team could sure use his bat.

Will he be available Thursday in San Francisco?

Herrera was asked about his condition as he hurried out of the clubhouse and off to the team bus after Wednesday's 3-0 loss to the San Diego Padres (see Instant Replay).

"Better," he said, indicating some improvement.

Could he play in the next day or so?

"Maybe," he said.

As a contingency, the Phillies will add a position player — Brock Stassi makes sense — to their roster for Thursday's game while they continue to evaluate Herrera. If Herrera can't go in a couple of days, he could end up on the disabled list. He injured the hamstring late in Monday night's game. He improved his hitting streak to 17 games earlier that night.

In order to add a player to the roster without placing Herrera on the DL, the Phillies had to clear a roster spot. They took the unusual step of sending Nick Pivetta to Triple A moments after he struck out a career-high 11 batters on Wednesday.

It appears to be simply a procedural move. The Phillies play a doubleheader Tuesday against Miami and will be allowed to add a 26th man that day. Ordinarily, a player sent to the minors could not return for 10 days unless he replaces an injured player. By rule, Pivetta could come back and be the 26th man on Tuesday. He then would have to return to Triple A to complete the 10-day stint in the minors. The bottom line is he might not even miss a turn in the major-league rotation.

"With Herrera on the blocks, not knowing where he's at, we need a position player," Mackanin said. "With the doubleheader coming up, we have the option of adding an extra pitcher on the 22nd. So that's the reasoning there."

Pivetta took the move in stride.

"It is what it is," the 24-year-old righty said. "I know about as much as you guys. I'm going to go down and work hard. It will be fine. I'm going to be back up eventually. So we'll just keep moving day by day there."

Pivetta struck out eight of the first nine batters he faced on Wednesday. When the ninth batter, rival pitcher Clayton Richard, came to the plate, he asked catcher Cameron Rupp a question.

"Did he strike everybody out?" Richard asked.

Richard struck out, but eventually got the upper hand. He pitched a three-hit shutout to finish off a San Diego sweep (see story).

"It looked to me like Pivetta was going to have a Kerry Wood performance today," Mackanin said. "Eight strikeouts in the first three innings. He ended up with 11. He threw a lot of good secondary stuff for strikes, which is one of the goals we're working on for him to do. He carried it for a while. He needs to understand how to continue to carry that through five, six, seven or even eight innings. 

"He's a young pitcher. It's his first year in the big leagues. He's going to get it. He's going to be good. He needs to learn how to sustain that through more than five or six innings. That's when you get to be a real solid starter."