Earlier this week, ESPN's Keith Law not only released his top 100 prospect list, but also the top ten for each organization. Only J.P. Crawford and Aaron Nola made Law's list, with Crawford coming in at number 7 overall and Aaron Nola slotted further down in the number 57 slot. Last night, MLB.com Pipeline unveiled their Top 100 list and three Phillies prospects were included.
While Crawford was in the top ten on ESPN's list, he is slightly further down in MLB.com's rankings, finding himself at number 21. After an impressive year last season between Clearwater and Lakewood, Crawford has made himself one of the top position guys in the Phillies organization. Here's MLB.com's latest scouting report on the shortstop.
The Phillies drafted Crawford 16th overall in 2013 and he excelled in his professional debut, winning the Gulf Coast League batting title. He built on that success in his first year of full-season ball and earned a spot in the All-Star Futures Game.
Crawford has an impressive all-around skill set and can impact the game on both sides of the ball. There is no question about his ability to stay at shortstop, as he is a smooth fielder with sure hands, a plus arm and good range. He is a disciplined hitter with good on-base skills and the speed to steal bases.
Crawford had been viewed as Jimmy Rollins' heir apparent from the time he was drafted. Though Rollins is now gone, traded to the Dodgers in the offseason, Crawford still needs a bit more development time before he is ready for the Major Leagues.
Meanwhile, top pick Aaron Nola was in the 50's on ESPN's rankings, but he was slotted much higher on MLB.com at number 37. In his first professional season, Nola went 4-3 with a 2.93 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP. Nola projects to begin the season where he concluded things in 2014, with Double-A Reading. Here's MLB.com's updated scouting report on the LSU alum.
Scouts considered Nola to be the most advanced college pitcher in the 2014 Draft class and the Phillies were happy to be able to take him with the seventh overall pick. They put him on the fast track during his professional debut and he advanced to Double-A less than two months after he was drafted.
Nola has tremendous command of his three-pitch arsenal. He spots his low-90s fastball to both sides of the plate and his three-quarters arm slot adds plenty of action to the pitch. His changeup is a plus offering at times and his slider has improved to give him a third quality offering.
While Nola lacks the ideal size for a right-hander, he has all the necessary tools to succeed as a big league starter.
Maikel Franco didn't make Keith Law's list, but he can be found right around the middle of MLB's rankings at number 55. Franco got limited big league experience at the end of last season with the Phillies and many project him to start the year in Triple-A, putting off his free agency one more year. Franco's Dominican League team clinches the Winter League title last week thanks to his performance. Franco hit two homers and drove in seven runs. He hit .337 with four homers and 16 RBIs in 20 postseason games for Gigantes del Cibio. Here's what MLB.com had to say about him.
After surging through the lower levels of the Minors and leading all Phillies Minor Leaguers in all three Triple Crown categories in 2013 (.320, 31 home runs and 103 RBIs), Franco stumbled at the outset of 2014 in Triple-A before finding his footing in the second half of the season and making his Major League debut in September.
Franco's best tool is his power and he can drive balls out to all fields. He is very aggressive and his swing is a bit long, but he still makes contact at a reasonably high rate thanks to his quick hands.
Despite his bottom-of-the-scale speed, Franco is a capable defender at third base. He has a good first step and plus arm strength. He also has experience at first base and the Phillies used him in both positions during his first taste of the big leagues.
None of the players that the Phillies acquired in trades made the list. Two of the teams that have been linked to Cole Hamels, the Dodgers and Cubs, both have two prospects in the top ten of MLB.com's rankings. Though interest in the Phillies ace has calmed, the chance that he is dealt prior to 2015's trade deadline is still good.