Bolstered by deals, Phils' impressive farm on display
Philly's brass gets chance to see top prospects; Quinn, Alfaro standing out
By Mike Rosenbaum
Every Spring Training, prospects get a chance to show what they can do as they prepare for the season ahead. Some are competing for jobs in big league camp, others are prepping for the season as they vie for spots at Minor League affiliates up and down a team's system. MLBPipeline.com will be visiting all 30 camps this spring. Today, we check in on the Philadelphia Phillies.
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- This year's Spring Training is the first time that the Phillies have been able to observe their impressive collection of top prospects, many acquired in the past year. Though the organization is trying to temper expectations, there's still a palpable excitement in camp regarding the future of the club.
"This is the most talent we've had in the four years I've been here," said Phillies director of player development Joe Jordan. "We got to see all of our big prospects -- J.P. Crawford, Roman Quinn, Nick Williams, Jorge Alfaro, Andrew Knapp, Mark Appel, Zach Eflin and Jake Thompson -- together in big league camp this year, and they all represented themselves very well. There are a lot of good things happening."
The aforementioned core of Phils prospects all enter 2016 with at least some upper-level experience, and many of them -- save for Appel, who came over from the Astros in the Ken Giles trade during the offseason -- have already played together after finishing last season at Double-A Reading.
"A lot of those guys were together in Double-A last year, so they kind of formed that kind of cohesive, team unit," said Jordan. "It gave them all some level of comfort to be together in big league camp at the same time.
"Right now, it's just about keeping them all healthy and building them up for the season, because we have a chance to put some really good [Minor League] rosters together."
MLBPipeline.com No. 99 overall prospect Roman Quinn has proved to be a dynamic player when healthy. However, the 2015 season marked the third straight injury-shortened campaign for the 22-year-old outfielder, who was in the midst of a breakout performance (.306/.356/.435, 29 SB) when he suffered a tear in his hip flexor on June 12 while he attempted to beat out an infield single. Now fully recovered from the injury, Quinn impressed club officials with his showing this year in his first big league camp, hitting .300 with one home run, three triples and two steals.
"He's really stood out," said Jordan. "He hit a home run and big two-out single with a couple RBIs and a stolen bag the other day, and he was doing that in the big league camp all spring. He had some days there where you really saw what he has a chance to do."
The Phillies have also liked what they've seen so far from Alfaro, MLBPipeline.com's No. 96 overall prospect, as he's impressed club officials with his exceptional tools on both sides of the ball after missing most of the 2015 season with an ankle injury. In his first Spring Training with the Phils, the 22-year-old backstop went 5-for-17 (.294) with a pair of RBIs before he was sent to Minor League camp.
"We're still getting to know him because he didn't get to play at all last year with us. His strengths are easy to see -- the power, the arm strength -- but the weaknesses and what he needs from us, that's all still evolving. He needs some work defensively, but he gives a great effort and works very hard behind the plate. He's an impressive young man," said Jordan.
After a mediocre full-season debut, Dylan Cozens didn't rank among the Phillies' Top 30 prospects headed into 2015. But the former 2012 second-rounder bounced back last season against advanced competition, compiling a solid .286/.336/.426 batting line and finishing the year with a strong showing at Double-A Reading. He continued to make strides during the offseason in the Puerto Rican Winter League, and he enters 2016 ranked as the Phils' No. 23 prospect.
"We have a lot of people that, industry-wise, get a little more notice, but he's going to be a name people talk about this season," said Jordan. "He had some success in Puerto Rico this offseason, and we think he's going to have a big year."
The Phillies also have high hopes for No. 11 prospect Scott Kingery, the club's second-round Draft pick in 2015. After an outstanding career at the University of Arizona, highlighted by a .984 OPS last spring as a junior, Kingery made the jump directly to full-season ball after signing, hitting .250 with 11 steals in 66 games at Class A Lakewood.
"He can really hit," said Jordan. "He was worn down last summer after a taxing college season, but we think is first full season is going to be very productive. He has a real chance to be an everyday player in the big leagues for us."
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.