|Photo by Richard Wilkins Jr.|
Here's my team outlooks-
Lehigh Valley IronPigs-
League- International (AAA)
Top Prospect to Watch- Maikel Franco- By a mile. What Franco does at the corner infield slots could impact the Phillies during this season. This will be a challenge though, as he played about half a season each in Clearwater and Reading last year.
Prospects on the Bubble- Phillippe Aumont and Tyson Gillies- I hesitate to even call these two prospects anymore. Picked up for Cliff Lee in December of 2009, neither has lived up to the billing, and neither showed much this Spring. Aumont still can't throw strikes and Gillies just isn't good. Both have 40 man spots though, and so they count.
Other Names to Watch- Cameron Rupp, Jon Pettibone, Jeremy Horst, Luis Garcia, David Buchanan.
Darkhorse/Intriguing Player- Jim Murphy.
Outlook- This group could definitely make the playoffs, though it's hard to predict AAA with all of the opt-out clauses. They have some pitching depth though, and a few guys with big league time in.
Reading Fightin' Phils-
League- Eastern (AA)
Top Prospect to Watch- Jesse Biddle- Last season the Phillies top pitching prospect struggle with his command, but had some great nights too. He must be more consistent to remain an elite prospect, but if he does, he could be a #2 in the big leagues some day.
Prospects on the Bubble- Zach Collier, Tommy Joseph, Anthony Hewitt, and Brody Colvin- Lots of guys on the bubble! Collier was a first round pick in 2008, and is on the 40 man roster for a second season, but last year he didn't really turn any heads. This is a very big year for him. Joseph remains, in my mind, the catcher of the future, but having missed virtually all of last season with concussions, he must re-establish himself this year. Hewitt, a former first rounder, really isn't in the plans anymore, but he did finally show some signs of life last year. Colvin is trying to salvage his career in the bullpen, but needs to command his pitches better.
Other Names to Watch- Severino Gonzalez, Aaron Altherr, Kelly Dugan, Ken Giles.
Darkhorse/Intriguing Player- Austin Wright.
Outlook- This team both has a lot of talent and a lot of question marks. I don't think they make the post-season, in part because I think some of these guys would get to move up to AAA if they are that good. With that said, if these guys get off to a good start, and the question marks play out, it could be a fun Summer in Reading.
League- Florida State League (High-A)
Top Prospect to Watch- Brian Pointer- I'm going on a limb here, but I really like this guy. I like his tools, and I think he'll break through. This team lacks big time prospects.
Prospects on the Bubble- Ethan Stewart and Harold Martinez- Stewart has been a borderline type of prospect for two years, and stunk last year. This is a big year for him. Martinez is a former high pick, but hasn't broke through yet. This year is big for him.
Other names to Watch- Peter Lavin.
Darkhorse/Intriguing Player- Steven Inch.
Outlook- I can't see this team doing much, in the first half. Since the FSL plays "halves," look for some call-ups from Lakewood to help things out here. The prospects just aren't ready to be here yet, and Roman Quinn being out doesn't help.
Lakewood Blue Claws-
League- South Atlantic League (A)
Top Prospect to Watch- J.P. Crawford- There is a lot of talent here, but Crawford stands out. I'm really excited about what this kid did last year after being drafted, and look forward to seeing him be great here.
Prospects on the Bubble- Larry Greene Jr.- The good news is that he broke camp with a team this year. The former first rounder really needs to show the power the Phillies hoped for when they picked him, at some point.
Other Names to Watch- Gabriel Lino, Shane Martin, Mark Leiter, Shane Watson, Carlos Tocci, Zach Green, Andrew Pullin, Mitch Walding, Dylan Cozens.
Darkhorse/Intriguing Player- Yoel Mecias.
Outlook- Wow! Look at the talent here. I expect this team to be pretty good, but a few of these guys end the season in Clearwater.