C – Logan O’Hoppe – For what seemed like a forever ordeal, the Miami Marlins finally pulled the trigger on a trade that sent All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto to another organization. The Phillies won the Realmuto sweepstakes and now have the soon-to-be 28-year-old under contract for the 2019 season with arbitration 3 coming in 2020. This obviously locks down the catching position while the system restocks; and a late round gem from 2018 just might be the heir apparent. The Phillies selected the 6’2”- 185 lb. O’Hoppe out of St. John the Baptist HS (West Islip, NY) in the 23rd round and it’s shocking that he fell this far in the draft. He came with a good hit profile, but it’s his supreme defense that stands out, as O’Hoppe won the 2018 Rawlings Gold Glove Award as nation’s top high school catcher. The former East Carolina University commit was assigned to the Gulf Coast League, where he committed two errors in 148 innings, but logged a robust .367/.411/.532/.943 slashline with 10 doubles, two home runs and two stolen bases in 34 games. I have to confess. I’m a catcher hog in fantasy baseball. I can’t have enough of them because finding an advanced player at the position is like gold. Watching O’Hoppe advance through the system will be observed rather closely. He showed extreme promise at the plate and behind it in his debut and I expect his next stop to be in Jim’s neck of the woods, Short Season Williamsport, where his bat will be tested in the canyon-like confines of BB&T Ballpark. 1B – Darick Hall – The 2018 season marked the third time Darick Hall was named our UTR OAS first baseman; and he has appeared 21 times on the Top Hitters of the Day list since his debut in 2016. The 2016 – 14th rounder out of Dallas Baptist University will no longer be eligible for the list since he’s most likely ticketed for a full-season in Double-A Reading or, based on his performance, a possible AA Reading-AAA Lehigh Valley split. Either way, maybe in a fashion that simply doesn’t impress scouts or fantasy prognosticators, Hall has gotten the job done whether you like it or not. Over his last two seasons he’s averaged, 26 doubles, 28 home runs, 94 RBi, 68 runs scored per season. The 6’4”- 235 lb. lefty’s 26 home runs this season trailed only Rhys Hoskins (34) for the Phillies organization lead. Defensively, he’s posted a .991 career fielding percentage. Are we missing something? I understand Hoskins is the future at first base, so maybe Hall needs a trade out of the organization to allow for a better situation. But we’re sticking to our “production over projection” guns here and going with Hall once again. 2B – Wilfredo Flores – From the top down, you have Cesar Hernandez as your second base starter in Philly, with Scott Kingery on the bench. Both young hitters are in their prime, as Hernandez is 28, with Kingery a fresh 24-year-old budding star. So, this helps us to go rather young here, and it seems extremely fitting that this year’s OAS, 18-year-old Wilfredo Flores more than handled the Dominican Summer League in his pro debut. You can look at top prospect Daniel Brito and say he has all the tools needed to be dominant, but he had a down year across two levels last season. So, this helps shed light on Flores, who’s .320 batting average led the DSL Phillies Red squad. The 5’10”- 170 lb. switch-hitter clubbed 14 extra base hits, stole 18 bases and ranked second on the roster with 73 hits. He also led the team in on-base percentage (.395) and within the team’s top three in total bases (89). I’m tempering my enthusiasm here because Flores is young and with that amount of talent ahead of him, there’s no reason to rush him to the UTR Hall of Fame just yet. With a debut season like that, I fully expect the organization to ship him stateside to the GCL for 2019. 3B – Jake Scheiner – Each time Jim and I sit down to write the OAS series/posts/bios, however you want to label them, even we have to remind ourselves that these aren’t top prospect lists. As I stated in Darick Hall’s post above, we here are all about “production over pedigree.” Now, if a kid who comes in at #1 on several top prospect lists, has a season for the ages, you can bet you’ll find his name here, because he earned it. In the case of the Phillies 2018 number one draft pick Alec Bohm, he has all the skills you would want for him become an impact bat at third base. Not denying that, but if you take what he did at the plate and defensively in 2018, hypothetically, if he continues on that path, folks, he ain’t going anywhere. To add to that, no way are we claiming that this year’s UTR OAS third baseman Jake Scheiner is a better prospect than Bohm, but on pure production in 2018? He was. You can’t ignore it. Philadelphia drafted Scheiner out of the University of Houston in 2017 and the 4th rounder received an aggressive assignment to SS Williamsport, where he batted .250 with 14 doubles, four home runs, 19 RBi and 32 runs scored in 61 games. Surprisingly, the 6’1”- 200 lb. righty received a promotion to LoA Lakewood of the South Atlantic League last year and stayed consistently good given the fact that he doubled his game total. He batted nearly .300 (.296) and ranked fourth in the SALLY League in hits (134) and total bases (213). Building off a successful 2018, I suspect Scheiner to move up to HiA Clearwater, where he’ll be tested inside the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. It will be an intriguing story to follow. SS – Luis Garcia – It’s funny how in Scheiner’s bio above I talk about how even top prospects have to earn their way onto the UTR OAS lists. How projection doesn’t really get you anywhere unless you produce on the field. Well, Luis Garcia is the quintessential top prospect who MORE than earned his way onto this year’s list. What a stud. The Phillies signed Garcia out of the Dominican Republic in 2017 for $2.5M and he’s already making his money’s worth after his debut in the Gulf Coast League where he won the league batting title with a 369 average. Quite a feat for a player who carries more of a defense-first profile. In December, the Phillies sent former top prospect J.P. Crawford to Seattle in the deal that brought fellow shortstop Jean Segura to Philadelphia. Segura turns 29 in March the Phillies have him under team control for the next five years. Yet, if Garcia continues to rake with the bat and polish his already plus plus-defense, Segura may not make it to the fifth year. If you have room for a young up-and-coming minor league stud infielder on your fantasy roster, add Garcia immediately. LF – Ben Pelletier – In MLB Pipeline’s 2019 Phillies top prospect list, five of the thirty spots are occupied by outfielders, with a bevy of first rounders taking up the list: Adam Haseley (2017), 2016 – 1st rounder Mickey Moniak and 2015 international signee Jhailyn Ortiz as your top three, and Venezuelan Simon Muzziotti and first-rounder out of 2015 Cornelius Randolph rounding out the five. Not that I expect him to be a part of the list, but if you look at age/level, performance, from a UTR point of view, 2015 – 34th rounder Ben Pelletier deserves some recognition too. Drafted out of out of Ecole Secondaire des Montagnes (Saint-Michael-des Saints, QC, Canada), the Phillies liked his potential power bat, knack for good contact as well as his strong arm in the outfield. He spent his first two seasons in the Gulf Coast League, where, combined, played in 73 games, but saw much improvement in year two. Last season he was sent to SS Williamsport and his 71 hits and 123 total bases ranked behind only Cleveland top prospect Tyler Freeman (95 & 138) for the league lead; and he tied for third in home runs (9). In 184 career chances in 890.1 innings, the 6’2”- 190 lb. righty has only committed three errors. Just another name in the long line of UTR prospects to keep your eye on. Pelletier should take one more step up the ladder to LoA Lakewood this coming season. CF – Johan Rojas – I won’t repeat the sentiment I declared inside Ben Pelletier’s bio above. Just like Pelletier, the 6’1”-165 lb. Rojas is another young outfielder on the outside looking in, but hopefully his 2018 can help him gain more attention moving forward. Signed out of the Dominican Republic in January 2018, he was sent to the DSL and proceeded to bat .320 with 18 extra bases hits, including two home runs, score 42, steal 19 bases and walk 18 times in 68 games. There really isn’t much more to add other than this is a UTR All-Star list based upon 2018 statistics. Do we suspect Rojas is going to light 2019 on fire? Who knows. Did we suspect 2018 – 1st round draft choice Alec Bohm was going to hit .252 with zero home runs and 17 RBi in his pro debut? No. Anything can happen. RF – Jose Pujols – Other than age, Jose Pujols and top outfield prospect Jhailyn Ortiz are fairly similar. Sure, Ortiz may have a few more pounds on Pujols, but statistically in 2018, Pujols put on a greater show. Now, like before, I’m not saying Pujols is a better prospect than Ortiz. I love the 19-year-old Ortiz and to do what he did in LoA as a 19-year-old is extremely impressive. But let’s not discount the fact that Pujols’ 18 home runs tied him for first with LoA catcher Rodolfo Duran for the most home runs among all Phillies prospects HiA down through the DSL last season; and I imagine though too that had Pujols stayed in HiA Clearwater all season, he would have certainly added to that total. But he saw an early August promotion to Double-A Reading, leaving behind a .301/.364/.523/.887 Florida State League slash line, and continued the pace with a .270 average, four more home runs and 18 more RBi’s. He finished the season with a combined .295 batting average, 22 homers, 76 RBi and 67 runs scored. The concern for Pujols moving forward is the strikeouts. Scouts wonder if he has the ability to maintain his average while cutting down his punchouts against higher level pitching. We’ll see this season, as he most likely face his toughest test, spending all of 2019 in the Eastern League with Double-A Reading. Top 5 Starting Pitchers – (Factor Score) / Highest Level Attained
1. RHP Ramon Rosso – (22.5) / HiA Clearwater “Legit UTR”
** Two years later, the Dodgers must be still looking to the East Coast and saying what have we done. The LA Blue cut ties with Rosso in 2016 and the 22-year old Dominican took it personal. He never pitched an inning with the Dodgers and began his Phillies pro debut in the Dominican League in 2017. The 6′ 4″ 215 lb right-hander has already made it to HiA Clearwater, splitting time last season at LoA Lakewood. Looking at those two seasons as a whole, Rosso posted a 18-4 record in 38 appearances (36 starts), 1.73 ERA, and a 81/20 K/BB ratio over 199 innings. He possesses a cutting fastball that sits near 90-92 along with a slider that generates swing-and-misses. Rosso was my Phillies #5 ranked UTR-OAS during that debut season, a performance that qualified him as my UTR “One to Watch” for the 2018 season.
2. LHP David Parkinson – (19.5)/ HiA Clearwater
** Parkinson was the organization’s top minor league pitcher in 2018. In this breakout season, the 2017 12th round pick posted a combined 11-1 record and 1.45 ERA in 21 starts over two levels. In 124.1 innings, he walked 35 (2.5 BB/9) and struck out 141 (10.2 K/9) while posting a 1.013 WHIP. He led all minor league pitchers with his 1.45 ERA, the lowest since 2005. He joins company with fellow UTR-OAS Jon Duplantier (D-Backs) and Blake Snell (Rays), who posted lower ERA’s over that time.
3. LHP Bailey Falter – (18) / HiA Clearwater
** Falter could have ranked higher if wasn’t for a month-long DL stint. The 5th round pick in 2015 posted near identical peripherals when compared to 2017 during his time at LoA Lakewood. So 2019 could be a watershed year, to see if his stuff plays at the Double-A level. He throw three average pitches with very good control. He’s able to miss bats (8.0 K9), limited walks and home runs (1.3 BB9 / 0.6 HR9). Will Stewart would have ranked here at #3, but was included in the trade with the Marlins for J.T. Realmuto.
4. RHP Adonis Medina – (15) / HiA Clearwater
** The Phillies off-season deals gave their fans a shot of adrenaline, after the high then lows following the Eagles Super Bowl championship in 2017. Rumors swirled on who Philadelphia would include to pull-off these trade deals. Medina’s name was front and center in a few articles that I read, and now, the 21-year old Dominican is the top arm in the system when the Phillies departed with Sixto Sanchez. Medina had bouts with inconsistent starts in 2018, but that’s to be expected from one of the youngest arms in the Florida State League.
5. RHP Mauricio Llovera – (14) / HiA Clearwater
** Llovera was on my International Watch list before the 2016 season. He made his state-side debut with the GCL Phillies and posted a 7-1 record, 1.87 ERA, and 56 K’s over 53 innings. Last season, the 22-year old Venezuelan just missed the 2017 UTR-OAS roster during his first full season at LoA Lakewood. He took a huge step in 2018 by adding a splitter into his repertoire, which became a near plus offering late in the season. This additional pitch now accompanies his plus-breaking ball and a upper 90’s fastball. I would look for Llovera to season his stuff back at Clearwater than a taste at Double-A Reading. The Phillies are system stacked with outstanding pitching, so there’s no need to rush Llovera.
Top 3 Relief Pitchers – (Factor Score) / Highest Level Attained
1. LHP Kyle Dohy – (25.5)/ Double-A Reading
2. RHP Addison Russ – (12) / HiA Clearwater
3. LHP Zach Warren – (9) / LoA Lakewood