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.

Phillies' top draft pick Mickey Moniak already benefitting from added strength

Phillies' top draft pick Mickey Moniak already benefitting from added strength

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Mickey Moniak loves to hit and he does a lot of it.

The evidence is on his right hand.

It's a large callus just under his palm, where the knob of the bat sits when he swings.

Phillies minor-league spring training camp does not officially begin until Sunday, but Moniak has been on site for more than a week going through daily workouts with other early birds on the fields and in the batting cages at Carpenter Complex.

And before arriving in Clearwater, Moniak spent the winter working out with his old high school team and coaches in southern California. When Moniak wasn't hitting with them, he was hitting with fellow Phillies prospect J.P. Crawford, who lives about 90 minutes north. 

"I've been doing my thing in the offseason, hitting, throwing," Moniak said before his workout Wednesday morning. "I'm excited to get going."

Moniak, who turns 19 in May, wasn't just the Phillies' top pick in last year's draft. He was the top pick in the entire draft, the Phillies' "reward" for finishing with the worst record in the majors in 2015. He was the consensus top high school hitter in the draft and the Phillies paid him a $6.1 million signing bonus. He made a nice pro debut last summer, hitting .284 with a .340 on-base percentage, 11 doubles, four triples, a homer and 28 RBIs in 46 games for the Phillies' Gulf Coast League team. He was shut down late in the season with some hip tightness. He saw doctors in Philadelphia and it turned out to be a simple growing pain. Hey, the kid is young.

That first pro season is always a learning experience for a player and Moniak learned he needed to get stronger.

He spent the fall and winter adding 20 pounds of muscle to his 6-2 frame. He was 170 pounds on draft day. Now he weighs 190.

His old coaches at La Costa Canyon High School in Carlsbad, California noticed the added strength during his workouts this winter. The ball jumped off his bat with even more life than it did in the past. And Moniak hit .476 with seven homers, 12 triples and four doubles as a senior last year.

"I take BP at my high school in the offseason and they noticed," Moniak said. "And back here, the coaches are definitely noticing. And I pick it up, too.  The ball just flies a little different. So I'm really excited to see how that translates into games."

A lefty-hitting centerfielder, Moniak projects to open the season at Single A Lakewood in the South Atlantic League. Several other members of the Phils' prospect-rich GCL team that went 41-17 last summer could also be on that club.

"The first goal is to stay healthy all year," Moniak said. "I'm a big winning guy. I don't really like to put personal stats on things. I just like to win. If I go 3 for 3 and lose or 0 for 3 and win, I'm fine with the 0 for 3 and win.

"Winning comes first. But usually, when the winning happens, all the personal stuff comes with it."

Moniak is fully aware of his significance in the Philadelphia sporting culture. He said he follows Carson Wentz and Ben Simmons, top draft picks of the Eagles and Sixers, respectively, on social media.

"We kind of came to Philadelphia at the same time and hopefully we're going to be the ones to grow old in Philadelphia and hopefully bring championships to Philadelphia, a winning tradition," he said. "I follow both of them just to see how they're doing and what they're doing."

Moniak's journey to the top level of his game won't happen as quickly as it does in others -- that's just the way baseball is -- but he projects to be a good one.

And he's clearly willing to put in the work.

The evidence is on his right palm.

Phillies have 3 prospects in MLB Pipeline's Top 100

Phillies have 3 prospects in MLB Pipeline's Top 100

The continues to look bright for the Phillies.

MLB Pipeline on Saturday released its Top 100 Prospects for 2017 and the Phillies were well represented with three prospects on the list.

Leading the way was shortstop J.P. Crawford, who was ranked as the No. 7 prospect in all of baseball. He was joined by 2016 No. 1 overall pick Mickey Moniak. The 18-year-old outfielder came in at No. 19. Catcher Jorge Alfaro, part of the package the Phillies received from Texas for Cole Hamels, was ranked No. 72.

Crawford was the 16th overall pick by the Phils in 2013. He started last season at Double A before he was promoted to Lehigh Valley. There were certainly some growing pains going to Triple A at the age of 21, as he only hit .244 in 335 at-bats. But Crawford has made a name for himself for his grasp of the strike zone. The California native walked 72 times while only striking out 80 times combined at both levels.

Moniak was in the Gulf Coast League for 46 games after he was drafted in June. He hit .284 with a .340 on-base percentage in 194 plate appearances. It's unknown if Moniak will start 2017 back in the GCL or if he will be bumped up to Single A Lakewood.

Alfaro got a taste of the big leagues as a September call up last season. The Colombian catcher only managed two hits in 16 at-bats, but enjoyed success plenty of sucess with Reading in 2016. The 23-year-old hit .285 with 15 homers and 67 RBIs in 97 games at Double A last season.