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: Royals storm back in 9th inning for win over Blue Jays

Best of MLB: Royals storm back in 9th inning for win over Blue Jays

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Whit Merrifield hit a two-run, two-out double that capped a four-run rally in the ninth inning, and the Kansas City Royals beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-4 on Friday night to reach .500 for the first time since April.

With their 10th win in 12 games, the Royals improved to 36-36. They were 6-6 before play on April 20, then went on a nine-game losing streak that night and dropped as low as 10-20, seven games out of first place. They trail AL Central-leading Cleveland by three games.

Toronto took a 2-1 lead into the ninth and extended it when Josh Donaldson and Justin Smoak hit RBI singles off Joakim Soria (4-2) (see full recap).

Dodgers cruise past Rockies for 8th straight win
LOS ANGELES -- Yasiel Puig homered and left-hander Alex Wood kept his record perfect as the streaking Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the NL West rival Colorado Rockies 6-1 on Friday night for their eighth consecutive victory.

The Dodgers have won 14 of their last 15 games. They have scored at least six runs in seven consecutive games.

Wood (8-0) allowed one run in six innings. He gave up only three hits and walked two, retiring his last 10 batters.

The Dodgers have homered in 15 consecutive games, tied for fourth-longest streak in club history. The last time they managed it was in 1977. Their record is 24 consecutive games with a home run.

Rookie left-hander Kyle Freeman (8-4) allowed five runs and a career-high 10 hits and three walks in six innings (see full recap).

Torreyes hits walk-off single to lift Yanks over Rangers
NEW YORK -- Ronald Torreyes hit a game-winning single with two outs in the 10th inning after midnight, and the New York Yankees edged the Texas Rangers 2-1 on a rainy Friday night for just their second win in 10 games.

Brett Gardner lined a tying home run with one out in the New York ninth off closer Matt Bush. After Chasen Shreve (2-1) escaped a bases-loaded jam in the top of the 10th, Torreyes kept the Yankees atop the AL East.

Yu Darvish and Masahiro Tanaka kept it scoreless into the late innings in the first major league meeting between the Japanese stars (see full recap).

Mark Leiter Jr. picks up 1st big-league win as Phillies cool off Diamondbacks

Mark Leiter Jr. picks up 1st big-league win as Phillies cool off Diamondbacks

BOX SCORE

PHOENIX -- The clubhouse was beginning to clear and still the star of the game had not yet emerged from the shower.

"He's in there cleaning the guacamole and mayo out of his hair," Cameron Rupp said with a laugh.

Eventually Mark Leiter Jr. made it out of the shower and over to his locker where equipment man Phil Sheridan presented him with three game balls, souvenirs from not only his first big-league start but his first big-league win, as well.

"It's something I'll never forget," the 26-year-old right-hander from Toms River, N.J., said pitching six shutout innings to backbone the Phillies' 6-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on Friday night (see Instant Replay).

"I’ll be honest, I was probably more excited for this than I was for my major-league debut. To go out there and contribute to a win is what I was hoping to do."

Leiter, a 22nd-round draft pick by the Phillies in 2013, had never made it onto the 40-man roster until the Phils needed a reliever in mid-April and gave him a shot after he'd gotten off to a good start at Triple A. He spent six weeks in the majors and made 12 relief appearances before being sent back to Triple A the first weekend of June.

Leiter worked as a starter during his time back at Triple A. He pitched six shutout innings against Syracuse in his last start and got the call to come back up when Jerad Eickhoff went on the disabled list with a back strain earlier this week.

Leiter's return assignment was not easy: The Diamondbacks are one of the best hitting clubs in the majors and the best on their home turf. They entered the game scoring 6.48 runs per game at home and with an .886 OPS, both major-league bests.

None of that fazed Leiter.

"In my opinion, this is the big leagues and it doesn’t matter who the lineup is," he said. "They all have the ability to hit and hit well. They’re all big-leaguers and they've earned their right to be big-leaguers. I was just trying to pitch to the team you're facing that day."

Leiter trusted his low-90s fastball and commanded it well. He mixed in his secondary stuff and kept the D-backs off-balance with his splitter. He scattered three hits, walked one and struck out five. He showed no fear.

"Great performance," manager Pete Mackanin said. "He made it look easy. He made a lot of good hitters look bad with his split. For him to come up and do that to a real good hitting team was outstanding."

Leiter's dad, Mark Sr., pitched for the Phillies in 1997 and 1998. He made the trip in from New Jersey to watch his son's first big-league start.

"I guess they found him on TV," Leiter said. "That's what they were telling me. I'm sure he wasn't too pleased they found him because he was probably stressed out. But I think it was probably worth him coming out here. He's probably happy."

How could he not be?

Leiter's teammates were definitely happy.

They treated Leiter to a raucous postgame dousing that included as many different condiments as could be found in the clubhouse dining room. One laughing player had a bottle of ketchup in his hands. Another had a squeeze bottle of honey.

And then there was the guacamole and mayo that Rupp mentioned.

"In his first major-league start, to come up here and do that in what is known as a good hitters’ park - that proves Mark is pretty strong between the ears," Tommy Joseph said. "He's been one of those under-the-radar guys that people have doubted, but his mentality and ability to prepare are second to none."

Joseph played a big role in the win, smacking a two-run homer in the ninth inning to give the Phillies some breathing room. Maikel Franco also had a big home run and Freddy Galvis contributed an important triple that led to a Phillies' run in the first inning.

The Phils still have the worst record in the majors at 24-48, but they've won two in a row, both on the back of good starting pitching performances. Aaron Nola pitched 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball on Thursday.

And Leiter delivered on Friday.

"It's good to see those back-to-back," Mackanin said.