Coming off an exciting playoff run in 2022, “my” Philadelphia Phillies are flying high entering 2023. Since Dave Dombrowski has taken over, he has not been shy about pushing the envelope to win now. He traded top prospect Logan O’Hoppe to the Angels at the deadline to acquire Brandon Marsh and looks to be all in on winning another pennant this season. Bryson Stott and Alec Bohm are two homegrown hitters who have made a sizable impact on the Major League team recently. This has many wondering when Andrew Painter will be the next prospect to join the big-league club. The current system is extremely top-heavy featuring two standout pitchers before things get murky. There is not much depth here, but the top names could have huge fantasy relevance as early as this year.
Philadelphia Phillies Top Fantasy Baseball Prospects
1. Andrew Painter, RHP
Age: 19/2022 Stats (A/A+/AA): 103.2 IP/1.56 ERA/0.89 WHIP/155 K
For the second year in a row, the Phillies selected a high school pitcher with their first-round pick. At 13th overall, the Phillies might have found their future ace in Andrew Painter. Painter, a 6’7” right-handed pitcher, has quickly moved to the top of many prospect lists and has a case for being the best pitching prospect in baseball. He dominated three different levels of the Minor Leagues with his highest ERA being a 2.54 in Double-A where he was 5.5 years younger than the average player.
The motion through Painter’s windup and stretch is smooth and simple with the most unique feature being a long leg extension from his left leg. His arsenal is filled with front-end starter stuff, including two fastballs. The four-seam sits comfortably in the mid-to-upper 90s touching 98 at times. The two-seamer comes in slightly slower but has excellent movement. He has a slider and curveball both of which are already plus pitches. He continues to work on a changeup that made great strides in 2022 and looks like it will be a solid out pitch to lefties. Painter demonstrated a rare level of domination at just 19 years old in 2022. There is really no glaring weakness to his profile and the Phillies look to have something special.
2. Mick Abel, RHP
Age: 21/2022 Stats (A+/AA): 108.1 IP/3.90 ERA/1.33 WHIP/130 K
The Phillies made Mick Abel the first high school pitcher taken in the 2020 draft, selecting him at 15th overall. Since being drafted, Abel has dealt with inconsistency, but the plus stuff has always been apparent. He struck out 34.9% of batters in 2021 and followed that up by striking out 27.9% of batters between High-A and Double-A in 2022. His fastball has continued to gain velocity since joining the Phillies’ organization. The pitch now sits comfortably in the upper 90s and can touch 100 at times. Abel uses a slurve which at times looks more like a slider and other times looks more like a curveball. This pitch has plus movement but has been his most inconsistent pitch. In addition, he has a solid feel for a changeup which sits in the upper 80s.
Abel goes through stretches where he struggles with the placement and command of his breaking ball. He has never posted a walk rate below 10.2% at any Minor League level. He is consistent in his delivery, leading many to believe he can overcome these early career command issues. The front-end starter stuff is apparent but unlike Painter, Abel’s profile carries relief risk. If he cannot command his breaking pitches he may end up in the bullpen.
3. Johan Rojas, OF
Age: 22/2022 Stats (A+/AA): 500 AB/.244/.309/.354/7 HR/62 SB/82 R/38 RBI
Johan Rojas signed with little fanfare back in January 2018. He instantly put himself on the map by demonstrating elite speed and plus contact skills in his first taste of professional baseball. Since then, success has not been as easy to come by. Rojas has hit just .255 and is slugging under .400 between 2019 and 2022. This, however, does not mean Rojas is not improving. He has always had above-average contact skills and lowered his strikeout rate to below 10% in 2022. These contact skills paired with his speed provide him with a solid hit tool even if the batting averages do not show it.
Rojas’ fantasy value comes from his speed. He stole the eighth most bases in the Minor Leagues last season at 62. Rojas also rarely chases a pitch out of the zone. The one area that Rojas struggles with is power production. His swing sometimes gets choppy, leading to high ground ball rates throughout his career. Getting the ball in the air would not only help his home run total increase but would improve his batting average. This will be key if Rojas is ever to reach his fantasy ceiling.
4. Hao Yu Lee, 2B
Age: 20/2022 Stats (A/A+): 299 AB/.284/.386/.438/9 HR/14 SB/46 R/53 RBI
The Phillies sign Hao Yu Lee out of Taiwan in June of 2021. Since joining the organization, Lee has done nothing but impress. According to most within the Phillies’ organization, he has a love for the game that is rivaled by few. He is constantly working to improve and is never satisfied. Lee was performing even better than his stat line suggests before suffering an injury on May 31st. There might have been some lingering effects as Lee slugged just .400 after returning.
The Phillies have been aggressive with Lee, who made his High-A debut at 19 years old this past season. He has below-average speed, but a strong hit tool fueled by an excellent understanding of the strike zone. During his swing, the front foot tends to pull out leading to issues against breaking balls away. However, this swing mechanic allows him to tap into his pull-side power which is important considering his smaller frame. If everything goes right, he has the potential to hit .280 with 15-20 home runs. Lee is a high-floor asset with a relatively low ceiling.
5. Griff McGarry, RHP
Age: 23/2022 Stats (A+/AA/AAA): 87.1 IP/3.71 ERA/1.21 WHIP/130 K
In terms of stuff, the best stuff in the system might belong to the 2021 fifth-round pick out of Virginia. Griff McGarry features three plus-plus pitches that all can make opposing batters look silly. His four-seam fastball sits consistently in the upper 90s with arm-side run and frequently touches triple digits. The slider is his best secondary pitch and generates plenty of strikeouts breaking down and away to righties. McGarry also relies on a changeup that is effective against lefties.
The concern coming out of college was McGarry’s inability to throw strikes. He has always had control issues that continue to be a concern. The Phillies development team made tweaks to his delivery, getting him to stay lower and not come straight over the top. This has helped some and could continue to unlock more upside. McGarry is likely best viewed as a high-leverage relief pitcher as it is difficult to project him as a Major League starter without significant improvements to his command. He turns 24 in June and has front-end starter upside, but that seems unlikely at this point.
6. Justin Crawford, OF
Age: 20/2022 Stats (CPX/A): 58 AB/.241/.333/.276/0 HR/10 SB/8 R/5 RBI
With their first-round pick in the 2022 draft, the Phillies selected Justin Crawford. The son of former big leaguer Carl Crawford, Justin has many of the same attributes that made his dad so exciting to watch. The best of these is his excellent speed. He has plus-plus speed that turns him into an instant threat once on base. He stole 10 bases in just 16 Minor League games in 2022. This speed plays to his strength as a hitter as well. Crawford does not post the best exit velocity numbers and is more of a slap hitter that focuses on making contact. His speed allows his hit tool to play better than it is.
Crawford was taken early because of his projectability. He stands at 6’3” but needs to add strength if he is ever going to tap into his power potential. Crawford runs high ground ball rates, and the Phillies will have to work to adjust his swing. Concerns come from a lack of faith in an organization that has struggled to develop projectable high school hitters. Crawford is best viewed as a high-upside, low-floor prospect that has the speed to be a difference-maker in fantasy baseball. However, the likeliness of this coming true might be farfetched.
7. Gabriel Rincones Jr., OF
Age: 22/Did Not Play in 2022
After high school, Gabriel Rincones Jr. played at a JuCo in 2020 before transferring to Florida Atlantic University. He really took off at FAU, batting .346/.451/.658 in his lone season before being drafted by the Phillies 93rd overall in the 2022 draft. Swinging from the left side, he demonstrates an excellent ability to get his hands through the zone and hit velocity. He pulls the ball well allowing him to tap into his plus power. His 6’4” frame lends itself to high projectability with 30-HR potential.
There are times when Rincones becomes too aggressive at the plate and struggles to hit non-fastballs. This is the one flaw in an otherwise solid approach at the plate. With little speed and below-average defensive abilities, Rincones could end up as a first baseman or designated hitter. This adds more pressure on his bat playing up to its potential. Having not played a professional game yet, Rincones’ profile carries both upside and risk for fantasy managers looking to invest.
8. William Bergolla Jr., SS
Age: 18/2022 Stats (DSL): 71 AB/.380/.470/.423/0 HR/2 SB/18 R/14 RBI
The Phillies made signing William Bergolla Jr. a priority during the 2022 international free-agent signing period. The fourth-ranked international prospect signed with the Phillies for just over $2 million out of Venezuela. Reports coming out of Venezuela praised his advanced hit tool and ability to make consistent contact. Bergolla lived up to his reputation in his brief professional debut. He batted .380 and struck out just three times across 83 plate appearances in the DSL.
Bergolla is on the smaller side, limiting his power upside. His solid contact skills and swing are designed to drive the ball into the gaps rather than hit the ball out of the park. Right now, he has slightly above-average speed which could regress as he continues to fill out his frame. Without much speed and power, Bergolla has a relatively low fantasy ceiling. The above-average hit tool and plate discipline help provide a stable floor, but the ceiling is capped. A good comp for his ceiling is Luis Arraez.
9. Carlos De La Cruz, OF
Age: 23/2022 Stats (A+/AA): 365 AB/.271/.333/.482/17 HR/6 SB/50 R/47 RBI
Carlos De La Cruz signed with the Phillies after going undrafted in 2017. Over the past five seasons, he has worked his way through the system, making it to Double-A in 2022. In terms of raw power, De La Cruz has the most of any prospect in this system. Standing at 6’8”, his power and swing can be best described as effortless. His swing is smooth and the ball flies off the bat once he connects. His quick hands allow him to get into his pull side amplifying his power. For such a big player, his speed is slightly above average, although he is not much of a threat to steal.
The concern with De La Cruz is his hit tool. There are massive holes in his swing that lead to a lot of swing-and-miss. He has never posted a strikeout rate below 26.7% at any Minor League Level and posted a swinging strike percentage of 17.5% in 2022. He especially struggles to hit pitches down and away. The ceiling for De La Cruz is likely .250 and 30 home runs, but there is a chance he never makes it to the Major Leagues without improvements to his contact rate.
10. Emaarion Boyd, OF
Age: 19/2022 Stats (CPX/A): 36 AB/.361/.477/.389/0 HR/8 SB/7 R/2 RBI
The Phillies took Emaarion Boyd with their 11th-round pick in the 2022 draft. Boyd, a 6’1” right-handed outfielder, is best known for his plus-plus speed. He stole eight bases in his brief professional debut and profiles to be a serious speed threat if he ever reaches the Major Leagues. His swing is quiet in his lower half while his hands swing through the zone. If he ever wishes to tap into any power, he will need to get his legs more involved. He makes contact at an above-average rate while having an advanced understanding of the zone.
In a lot of ways, he is like the Phillies’ first-round draft pick Justin Crawford. Both players are speed threats that run high ground ball rates and prioritize making contact over hitting for power. Crawford comes with more upside and projectability thanks to his big frame, but Boyd might have better contact skills. The organization will need to continue to develop Boyd for him to ever attain any fantasy relevance, but the speed provides a glimmer of upside for this 11th-round draft pick.
11. Jhailyn Ortiz, 1B/OF
Age: 24/2022 Stats (AA): 448 AB/.237/.319/.415/17 HR/9 SB/67 R/61 RBI
For those that have followed the Phillies’ system, it feels like Jhailyn Ortiz has been around forever. Ortiz signed back in 2015 and an excellent 2017 season in Low-A put him firmly on prospect radars. However, that excellent season was carried by a .381 BABIP and Ortiz struggled to hit more advanced competition in the seasons after. From 2018-2019, Ortiz struck out over 31% of the time struggling to hit just about anything. He worked to improve during the pandemic lowering his swinging strike rate in 2021, but this regressed during the 2022 season. Ortiz will likely always post high strikeout rates with a low batting average.
Ortiz’s calling card is his power. He uses his big frame and quick hands to consistently tap into his pull-side power allowing him to hit monster home runs. With below-average speed and hit tools, Ortiz profiles as a bench bat with little defensive upside. If he were to ever get full-time at-bats his ceiling is likely somewhere around .240 and 30 home runs, which is useful for fantasy. The likelihood of this occurring, however, is relatively low.
12. Nikau Pouaka-Grego, 2B
Age: 18/2022 Stats (CPX): 103 AB/.310/.424/.466/3 HR/2 SB/20 R/16 RBI
Last January, the Phillies signed the relatively unheard-of Nikau Pouaka-Grego out of New Zealand. The signing did not garner much attention at the time but looks like it could be a steal for the organization. Pouaka-Grego currently plays three infield positions and profiles as a second baseman long-term. His first taste of professional baseball came this year in the complex league where he walked as much as he struck out and hit over .300. His swing from the left side is extremely quiet featuring no leg kick or toe tap. The swing gets good loft on the ball and prioritizes making contact.
The hit tool is Pouaka-Grego’s best tool. He has good plate discipline and above-average contact skills projecting to be an above-average hitter. He is on the smaller side and does not have any sort of special power or speed that raises his ceiling. Pouaka-Grego projects to hit around 10 home runs and steal 5-10 bases. He is a high-floor and low-ceiling prospect who profiles as a better real-life asset than a fantasy asset. Think 2017/2018 DJ LeMahieu as the ceiling if all goes right.
13. Alex McFarlane, RHP
Age: 21/2022 Stats (A): 8 IP/9.00 ERA/1.88 WHIP/12 K
Alex McFarlane was born in the U.S. Virgin Islands and moved to Georgia to help pursue his baseball career. After attending the University of Miami, McFarlane was drafted in the fourth round of the 2022 draft by the Phillies. McFarlane only started 12 games in his collegiate career but showed steady improvements to his strikeout and walk rates each season. He is primarily a two-pitch pitcher, featuring a plus fastball and slider. The fastball has added velocity recently and now sits comfortably around 96 mph and can touch 99. The slider is also thrown hard and features good spin, making it difficult to hit. His changeup is a distant third pitch and one he prefers not to rely on.
In college, McFarlane worked primarily out of the bullpen due to inconsistencies in his control. When pitching from the windup, McFarlane features a rounding leg kick that can be difficult to repeat. His control improves when pitching from the stretch. That, combined with the fact that McFarlane relies mostly on two pitches, leads to significant relief risk. His slider and fastball are both plus pitches that profile to work nicely in a high-leverage reliever role.
14. Baron Radcliff, OF
Age: 24/2022 Stats (A+): 346 AB/.237/.350/.439/17 HR/6 SB/44 R/49 RBI
With their fifth-round pick in the shortened 2020 draft, the Phillies selected slugging outfielder Baron Radcliff out of Georgia Tech. He has continued to hit monster home runs since making the transition to professional baseball. He hit 12 in 2021 and followed that up by hitting 17 more in 2022. Standing at 6’4” and 228 pounds, Radcliff punishes any mistakes. In 2021, he posted a 29.7 HR/FB% in High-A, and in 2022 he posted a 27 HR/FB%. This is plus-plus power with 40-HR potential.
Radcliff’s profile carries serious risk leading to his ranking at 14th. To start with the most obvious, Radcliff has struck out over 37% of the time in his Minor League career. His swinging strike rates aren’t terrible (15% in 2022) but Radcliff is overly patient, leading to high strikeout and walk rates. He especially struggles against lefties, hitting just .206 with one home run off them in 2022. Radcliff’s defensive deficiencies and struggles against lefties could prevent him from ever reaching the Major Leagues. That being said, Radcliff hit .304/.389/.601 over the second half of the season. There is potential here for anybody willing to take a shot.
15. Jordan Viars, OF
Age: 19/2022 Stats (CPX/A): 178 AB/.236/.324/.315/2 HR/5 SB/30 R/23 RBI
After a strong senior year of high school, Jordan Viars was drafted in the third round of the 2021 draft. He was viewed as a high-upside bat with room for projectability thanks to his 6’4” frame. After dealing with an ankle injury to start the year, the 2022 season never really got on track as he hit just .236 including a 50 wRC+ at Low-A. His power tool appears to be more average than plus, but he elevates the ball well enough that his big frame should help it play up.
There are a lot of moving parts in Viars’ swing that might be causing some issues. He stands low with twitchy movements in a leg kick and as his hands come through the zone. He struggled to make contact against professional pitching this season, posting a 20.3% swinging strike rate. Simplifying his swing could lead to better results. At just 19 years old, there is still time for Viars to develop into an asset. However, a lack of faith in the organization’s ability to develop high school hitters, below-average speed, and a struggling hit tool lead me to question Viars’ fantasy relevance. The ceiling seems low and there is no safety in his profile.
Photos by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire and Dan Mall/Unsplash | Featured Image by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter and @EthanMKaplanImages on Instagram)