Fresh off the heels of the blockbuster trade with the Texas Rangers headlined by Cole Hamels, the Philadelphia Phillies' minor league system received a much-needed overhaul. The top-ten ranking of the organization's best prospects have been given a facelift from every major baseball surveyor. From the Hamels deal alone, five young potential major leaguers took their place within the Phillies system, and each took some crooked paths to reach their current position. Today's edition of Between the Lines focuses on three of the players acquired in the move from Texas.
We start off with a scouting report of sorts for catcher Jorge Alfaro from back in 2012. Adam J. Morris of SB Nation's Lone Star Ball takes a look at information gathered from several different sources to give us a peek at Alfaro's career beginnings. Despite his struggles as a 16-year-old in the Dominican Summer League, Alfaro produced enough talent to pique interest in the United States. As far as a major league comparison goes, Morris puts the now 22-year-old in some pretty eye-opening territory.
Given the skill set Alfaro is exhibiting now -- big arm, big power, athletic, the type of catcher who should block the plate well and give you good defense, but who isn't going to walk a lot or hit for average, lots of Ks -- Lance Parrish is the comp that comes to mind for me. Parrish was an eight time All Star, six time Silver Slugger winner, three time Gold Glove winner. His 324 career home runs tie him with Gary Carter for fifth most by a player who got at least 80% of his playing time behind the plate, and his 35.7 bWAR is 18th all time in that same group, between Roy Campanella and Jim Sundberg.
Only time will tell us what the Phillies have in the promising catcher, but it's nice to see he has sustained the talent and power he held over three years back.
Next up is Alec Asher, the 23-year old right hander heading to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. In this piece for TheLedger.com by Tom Zebold, we get an in-depth look at the turbulent path Ascher took to this point, which included Tommy John surgery at the age of just 14, a bone spur in his throwing arm, and a crushing blow from one major league organization early in his career. Below is an excerpt detailing the early disappointment for Asher.
Asher had to take a physical, and that's when the Giants found a 7 to 8 millimeter bone spur in his throwing elbow.
The 19-year-old was in a hotel room alone for about three days as he awaited his fate with the Giants. The verdict: San Francisco was withdrawing its interest and was funding his trip home.
"He calls me and he could barely speak, and he's like, ‘They just handed me a ticket through the door,'?" said Alec's father, Bob Asher.
A read through of Zebold's three-page article will certainly give an Phillies fan even more of a reason to root for Alec Asher's major league success.
Finally, we wrap up today with the player that some would argue is the gem of the Cole Hamels trade, outfielder Nick Williams. During 2010's World Wood Baseball Bat Association's 16-and-under Tournament, Williams collected six home runs, four of which came consecutively in one game, en route to being named the tournament's Most Valuable Player. Jon Buzby of MaxPreps.com wrote more on Williams, including his 12 no-hitters in Little League, his love of fishing, and the early speculation that he may be drafted as high as #1 overall in the 2012 MLB Draft:
But his bigger dream is to be a major-leaguer. His favorite team is the Texas Rangers, who hold the 29th pick in June's amateur draft. Ironically, another Texas team, the Astros, have the first overall pick and some local reports have speculated that Houston might use that pick to take Williams, who would then join fellow Ball High graduate Brandon Backe in the Astros organization.
"I hope to go in the first round," Williams said with some hesitancy. "But you just never know."
Williams is the type of talent Phillies fans have been waiting years for, and won't have to wait much longer to see on the major league roster.
The trio of Alfaro, Asher, and Williams, along with Jared Eickhoff and Jake Thompson, will all play a role in shaping the long-term future of the Phillies organization. However, each individual player has their own story for fans to root for in the coming seasons.
Andrew Gillen, Philliedelphia.com