PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies player development director Joe Jordan sees talent everywhere in the Phils' farm system.
But what Jordan saw this season at Double-A Reading was particularly intriguing. On Saturday, Reading lost the Eastern League Championship Series in five games to the Bowie Baysox, falling short of its first title since 1995. But the Phillies hope Reading's success bodes well for the organization's future.
Reading's roster was chock full of the Phils' top prospects, according to MLBPipeline.com's Top 30 list: shortstop J.P. Crawford (No. 1), right-hander Jake Thompson (2), outfielder Nick Williams (3), outfielder Roman Quinn (6), right-hander Zach Eflin (8), righty Ben Lively (12), righty Nick Pivetta (13), lefty Tom Windle (16) and catcher Andrew Knapp (17).
"I think Phillies fans have plenty to be excited about," Jordan said.
After ranking in the bottom 10 among farm systems in the game at this point last year, Philadelphia's system was recently ranked seventh overall by MLBPipeline.com. Much of the group at Reading this year figures to open next season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, potentially creating the first IronPigs team in recent memory with more prospects than sixth-year free agents and journeymen.
That means those players could be in the big leagues as early as next season.
The Phillies acquired Williams and Thompson from the Rangers in the Cole Hamels trade. It would not be a surprise to see either in the big leagues next year. Eflin, whom the Phils acquired in the Jimmy Rollins deal with the Dodgers, certainly has the talent to earn a promotion in 2016. Knapp got promoted to Reading on June 26, so while he could use more seasoning in the Minor Leagues, he could earn a promotion based on a need at catcher in the Majors.
MLBPipeline recently named Knapp Philadelphia's hitting prospect of the year.
Jimmy Cordero, whom the Phillies acquired from the Blue Jays in the Ben Revere trade, is a hard-throwing reliever. Relievers typically have the fastest track to the big leagues, so he could be up sometime next season.
Crawford? He is the No. 5 prospect in baseball, according to MLBPipeline.com. Crawford figures to open next season in Triple-A, but he's obviously worth watching. In fact, it was interesting that the Phils started shortstop Freddy Galvis at second base over the weekend in Atlanta. Perhaps they already are looking ahead at their options for once Crawford arrives.
One thing is certain: The young players currently on Philadelphia's roster should know there are talented players coming through the system gunning for their jobs. The only one who seems entrenched at his current position is third baseman Maikel Franco.
"We have players who are aware of that, but we really have teams in our system," Jordan said. "What I mean by that is, these guys really pull for one another. They really want to see each other succeed."
And the Phillies hope that translates into success at the big leagues in the future.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.