There’s been a cloud over Philly professional sports for the past half century. The early 80’s saw a Steve Carlton lead Phillies title and a Dr. J lead Sixers title. It took another 25 years before Philly sports got off the “schneid” with another World Series Championship in 2008. Unfortunately, the Phillies sold the Farm (system) and filled their roster with veterans with bad contracts to get that victory. Once the aging vets started to deteriorate, so did the Phillies. The last four years have been so bad, Philly fans were left looking for other things to argue about. Geno’s or Pat’s? Wit’ or wit’ out? These are the questions that Philadelphians care about. Well, now that I’m thinking about it, I’ll take one whiz wit’ out, please! I also prefer Tony Luke’s, but I digress…
The clouds are finally beginning to part. After years of futility, the Phillies have restocked their Farm System through the draft and recent strategic trades. After nearly 30% of the season, they still find themselves over .500 and still in thick of post-season contention. In a honest moment, I believe most Phillies fans will admit the team is playing over their head and will not be able to keep up in the surprisingly competitive National League East. It is an encouraging sign and shows that the strategic rebuilding plan is actually working. Although I am not ready to compare them to the Cubs emergence, but the path is similar and the Phillies have better pitching prospects that could create an exciting young rotation that could stabilize this franchise for many years.
The club’s surprising start leads me to believe that the timeline of playoff contention has moved up at least a year. From a dynasty perspective, I look at players 25 years old and younger to target for my teams. The Phillies have so many such players that we could see nearly an entire 25 man roster full of such players as soon as 2017. Gone are the days of Halladay, Hamels and Lee. The last remnant of the World Series team will be gone once Ryan Howard is traded or contract option is bought out this off-season. No more Utley, Rollins and Pat Burrell. It’s time to usher in the new dynasty to the City of Brotherly Love.
|Projected Rotation Spot||Name||RHP/LHP||Age||Current Level||ETA||ERA||FIP||BABIP||K/9||BB/9||HR/9|
The reason the Phillies have been competitive in 2016 is because their rotation has given them a chance to win nearly every start. Jeremy Hellickson has been rejuvinated and Velasquez has been a revelation. The only pitcher above that was actually drafted by the Phillies is Aaron Nola and the others (including surprising Jerad Eickhoff) was acquired in the last year through trading off of Major League assets (namely Cole Hamels and Ken Giles). Velasquez and Nola have been phenomenal in the first full Major League season. They are limited the runs, getting the strikeouts, showing decent command for young their experience level and keeping the ball in the park. By now, most are familiar with Velasquez and Nola due to their success in Philly, but the others on this chart are worth looking at a little closer.
Thompson, Appel and Efflin are all on the cusp of promotion. Thompson and Appel have been up and down but have the pedigree. Although not as flashy, Efflin has been the best and most consistent of the three and could be the first one to get the call if there is an injury to the current rotation. He features a sinking fastball and change-up with good command. If he can get his other two pitches (Slider and Curve) to translate as at least average at the Major League level, his ceiling could be higher than the 4th/5th that I projected. Deeper format dynasty leagues should have him stashed with a chance to eat some innings this year without hurting you in any categories.
Appel was a former #1 overall pick by the Houston Astros in 2013. He has failed to live up to the lofty expectations of a top draft pick. The main issue with Appel is not the velocity or the ability to throw strikes, it is the command of those pitches. The fastball has been hittable, change-up lacks movement and the slider is all over the place. Until he can truly command these pitches, he will be a risk. Dynasty league owners that have stashed him should try and unload him now as he is on the brink of the Majors. Once he’s there, I think he will be a decent pitcher, but I’m not sure he works through the command issues and will represent very less value than you probably acquired him for.
The highest ceiling of the group of this group of Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs is probably Jake Thompson. He was a key piece in the Cole Hamels trade with Texas and they expect him to be a big part of the rotation. Like Appel he is struggling with consistency this season, but his plus fastball with sinking movement and borderline plus 12-6 curve ball should translate immediately at the Major League level. If he can develop more command of his slider and change-up, he becomes a lock in the rotation for many years. If not, he may be the future closer as his fastball and curve will play strong in the 9th. He’s a solid stash and could help this season.
Fantasy owners have become quite familiar with Maikel Franco and Odubel Herrera. Franco has flashed prolific power and clutch hits while Herrera is playing at an All-Star level this season. J.P Crawford is a highly regarded prospect that is ranked in the Top 10 overall prospects on nearly every list. I wrote in-depth on him in my pre-season prospect rankings. You can read that article here if you want more on Crawford.
The intriguing hitting prospects in my opinion are Alfaro, Williams and Quinn. Alfaro has long been a top catching prospect from his time in the Rangers organization. Through a myriad of injuries, his development has progress slowly then the team had hoped and they became willing to part with him to get Hamels. The Phillies are not in a hurry to push him us they have adequate catching in the Majors as well as another catching prospect in AAA, Andrew Knapp. His defense, especially his arm, is light years ahead of Knapp and he will pass him up as soon as his bat is ready. He has made great strides in 2016 at the plate as he is currently hitting way over his hit on the strength of a .407 BABIP. The .353 average will drop down into the .260-.270 range when its all said and done, but this is fine with the Phillies if his plus raw power develops and he continues to strikeout at 17% or less which is far below his usual 23+% K rate. If he continues to rake, they will bring him up to AAA and probably let him finish the season there. Many dynasty owners are down on him due to a lack of patience in his development. Don’t sleep on him, he could be a huge asset as a catcher with power and the ability to catch every day with this defense. While he is no longer an elite prospect, he is worth a stash if you have the MiLB rosters or deep enough bench to carry over to next year.
The best hitting prospect in the organization not named J.P Crawford is no doubt Nick Williams. Another bat acquired from Texas should be a mainstay in the Phillies outfield before too long. He profiles as a corner outfielder based on his bat, but was athletic enough to play CF in AA. He has plus power and hit tools but his lack of walks could limit his ceiling with his average and on-base percentage. He had a huge breakout year in 2015, but the lack of patience is catching up with him. The fact that the Phillies called up Tyler Goeddell instead of him proves that the organization wants him to keep working on his craft in AAA. As the Summer hits, I expect his numbers to get better because of his quick bat speed and short swing. Dynasty league owners should already have him stashed and may get a taste this fall. Once the Phillies fall out of playoff contention, I expect we will see him for at least a cup of coffee in September.
Finally, we turn our attention to the next Phillies CF, Roman Quinn. So Quinn has what you would call plus-plus speed. He already has 21 SB in AA before the end of May. He has got his walk rate up nearly to 10% to help pad his OBP despite only a .266 batting average. He has excellent gap power which will translate to many extra-base hits, but won’t hit many out of the park. He is developing into your prototypical lead-off hitter. This will help lengthen the Phillies lineup next season and allow Herrera but in the 3-hole where he deserves. 2017 lineup could feature Quinn, Crawford, Herrera and Franco at the top of the order which I would put up with anyone in the NL East. He is a must add in category leagues upon rumor of his call-up. That might not be until next year, but dynasty owners should get him locked up soon.
The future is no doubt bright in Philly. There are few noticeable omissions, like no 1B, 2B and LHP. The good news is after the impending Howard trade or buy-out, they only have two vets under guaranteed contracts heading into 2017: Carlos Ruiz and Matt Harrison (Charlie Morton can be bought out for $1M if they want). This means if they are one step away…time to open up the checkbook and try and sell free-agents on a place to win now. The 2017 free agent class projects to be pretty weak, but the Fightin’ Phils don’t need to sign All-Star caliber player, rather solid vets to be club house leaders for the young guys. The Mets and Nats should be looking over their shoulder in 2017 and beyond. Dynasty owners should be rewarded soon for your acquisitions of some of these players.
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Major League Fantasy Baseball Weekly: Join Lou Landers and Kyle Amore live on Thursday May 26th, 2016 from 8-10pm EST for episode #15 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Weekly. This will run every Thursday as a live broadcast that will take live callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. Our Thursday night show will do some weekly recaps, player updates, and preview the coming week end games.
Our guest this week is Phil Weiss. Phil Weiss’s resume includes working as a CPA with a large public accounting firm as well as private industry (Fortune 500), specializing in international corporate tax planning. Chief Financial Analyst for an Independent RIA.
Media Experience: Frequent guest on CNBC and Bloomberg television. Multiple appearances on Bloomberg radio, local and national radio. Regularly quoted in Wall Street Journal, Reuters, New York Times, AP, thestreet.com, local news, Financial Times.
Phil has also coached baseball, has been playing fantasy baseball for over 25 years, and has been with Major League Fantasy Sports for almost 4 years.
You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”