By Bob Brookover, Matt Gelb and Marc Narducci, Inquirer Staff Writers | Produced by Matt Mullin, Philly.com
It's time for the midseason installment of The Inquirer's list of the Phillies' top 25 minor-league prospects.
The biggest change from our preseason top 25 is that power-hitting third baseman Maikel Franco has jumped from third to first, replacing lefthander Jesse Biddle at the top.
Nine players on our preseason list - Jonathan Pettibone, Tyler Cloyd, Justin De Fratus, Phillippe Aumont, Brody Colvin, Zach Collier, Tyson Gillies, Dylan Cozens, and Kyle Simon - have been removed. Some of them were deleted because of big-league service time and others because of poor seasons. Cozens is the one most likely to return at some point.
Our nine new players are J.P. Crawford, Cameron Perkins, Aaron Altherr, Zach Green, Mitch Gueller, Cord Sandberg, Mitch Walding, Severino Gonzalez, and Yoel Mecias.
Three scouts from outside the organization were willing to comment on the players, but only players who have performed at low-A Lakewood or above have comments from the scouts.
The 20-year-old Dominican Republic native soared to the top by posting huge power numbers at high-A Clearwater before earning a promotion to double-A Reading and playing even better for the Fightin Phils.
Scout's view: "He's a young, energetic, and aggressive hitter with a big upside. I see him being a solid everyday third baseman. He reminds me of a young Edwin Encarnacion."
Biddle drops one spot to No. 2, but that is a reflection of how well Franco has performed and not how the 21-year-old lefthander has pitched. There have been some growing pains for the Philadelphia native and Germantown Friends graduate. He led the Eastern League in strikeouts and walks at the all-star break. After going 2-1 with a 1.74 ERA in April, he went 1-7 with a 3.68 ERA in his next 12 starts. He also has battled whooping cough for most of the season.
Scout's view: "A tough competitor who has a ways to go with control and command. I would say he's a back-end-of-the-rotation starting pitcher.
The 20-year-old switch-hitting shortstop has endured some extreme growing pains in his first full professional season and is on the disabled list with a broken left wrist after being hit by a pitch last month. In early May his average dipped to .196, but he rebounded to hit .270 with a .366 on-base percentage in his next 39 games. He also had 31 errors in 66 games, but Derek Jeter once made 56 errors in the South Atlantic League and recovered quite nicely.
Scout's view: "He needs to work on his small ball because his game obviously revolves around speed, which is off the charts. He's a little erratic on defense. He gloves everything, but has some problems throwing. I'm not sure he'll be a shortstop, but I love his energy."
The 23-year-old second baseman got his first taste of the big leagues and hit .250 during a nine-game stretch in late May and early June. Most impressive, however, is the way he responded after being sent back to the IronPigs. Hernandez still has some work to do defensively, but he has the ability to be a top-of-the-order hitter who can steal a lot of bases and score a lot of runs. The Phils also are looking at him as a centerfielder.
Scout's view: "He's Freddy Galvis with more offensive upside. I see him as a solid but unspectacular major-league regular."
The 23-year-old third baseman has made a fast rise through the farm system since being selected in the fourth round of the 2011 draft, and he has excelled in his first season at the highest minor-league level. Asche also has proved to be solid defensively at third base, and it's possible he could be in the big leagues by the end of the month if the Phillies decide to trade Michael Young.
Scout's view: "I like this kid. He's a tough grinder who gets after it every day. He reminds me of Darin Erstad and Pete Orr, physically. I see him being an everyday third baseman."