Top prospects reassigned to prepare for Minor League campaign
By Todd Zolecki
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies on Monday reassigned shortstop J.P. Crawford and outfielder Nick Williams to Minor League camp and optioned outfielder Roman Quinn and right-hander Edubray Ramos to Double-A Reading. Crawford, Williams and Quinn are three of the Top 100 Prospects in baseball, according to MLBPipeline.com. Some believe Ramos is the Phils' closer of the future.
Expect to see at least one of them in a Phillies uniform before the end of the season.
"Tomorrow or any day, but it's not up to me," Williams said when asked when he might be called to the big leagues. "If I'm in Triple-A the whole year, so be it. But I'll try to force their hand as best as I can."
The Phillies moved the foursome out of camp because they want them to get ready for the Minor League season. None of them has played above Double-A, so they need more seasoning before they warrant a promotion to the big leagues. But it is not a stretch to think any or all of them could be with the Phils before the end of the season.
In the case of Crawford, Williams and Quinn, the Phillies also want them to play every day when they are promoted. There will be no part-time status for them, so at-bats are critical.
"It's definitely exciting for the organization," Quinn said. "To know there are a bunch of young players that can possibly be pretty good. It's exciting. Hopefully we'll all put in the work and get there pretty soon."
Crawford, 21, is the Phils' No. 1 prospect and is ranked No. 5 in all of baseball. He hit .150 (3-for-20) with one RBI, three walks and three strikeouts in Grapefruit League action.
"If it happens, it happens," Crawford said of a potential promotion. "I'm not really going to think about that. But if I do, I do. If I don't, I don't."
Williams, 22, is the No. 64-ranked prospect in baseball. He lost eight pounds earlier in camp because of the flu and wound up hitting .227 (5-for-22) with three doubles, one home run, four RBIs, two walks and seven strikeouts. But Williams went 3-for-9 with two doubles and one homer in his final three appearances, with those extra-base hits coming against Bobby Parnell, Roberto Hernandez and CC Sabathia.
"I got my confidence up, that's for sure," Williams said.
Quinn, 22, ranks No. 99. He hit .300 (6-for-20) with three triples, one home run, three RBIs, three walks, five strikeouts and two stolen bases.
"It was definitely a great experience, because most of these guys had yet to see me play," Quinn said. "So it was cool to go out there and actually play for them, play for the manager and learn from the veterans. I feel pretty good. I felt confident. I feel really good, man. And seeing the Major League pitching, it definitely helps and now I already know what to expect."
Ramos, 23, had a 2.70 ERA in four appearances. He allowed three hits, one run, five walks and struck out three in 3 1/3 innings.
There is no question that Phillies fans are most excited to see how Crawford, Williams and Quinn progress. Can Crawford push Freddy Galvis at shortstop? Can Williams and Quinn get themselves into the outfield mix? The outfield is particularly thin with Aaron Altherr expected to miss four to six months following left wrist surgery.
"I just want to play a full season, to be honest with you," said Quinn, who has had injury issues of his own. "That's all I want to do, play a full season, be healthy. Hopefully that will be this year."
But each of them got a little taste of big league life. They enjoyed it, and they want more of it.
"The food is better, the meal money and all of that," Williams said with a smile. "The game play is more fun. You have fans and people are cheering you on and things like that.
"After the last few days hitting a lot of these good pitchers, it made me realize it could be any day from the Minor Leagues to come here in the starting lineup being an everyday player. I could see that happening a lot sooner than later."
If they play well, the Phillies will have decisions to make. If they struggle, they won't. That should keep them hungry.
"It'll help about how I go about my business," Williams said. "It'll also be a little chip, saying I know I can play there, so I'm going to make my way."
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.