Keith Law: Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: Top 10 prospects 

January, 30, 2015
Jan 30

Org Ranking: 25

I've ranked every farm system, as well as the top 100 MLB prospects for 2015. Below, I've ranked at least the top 10 Phillies prospects, plus an overview of the system and any other names of note beyond the top 10. I also discuss any prospects who might help the big league club in 2015, one or two prospects whose stock has taken a big hit in the last year, and a sleeper prospect who I think can jump into the main top 100 list for 2016.

Non-Insider subscribers: Check out the free Tampa Bay Rays top-10 prospects report to see what these entail

Byrd deal makes sense for Phils, not Reds 

December, 31, 2014
Marlon ByrdAP Photo/Gene J. PuskarMarlon Byrd is headed to the Cincinnati Reds, his sixth team since the start of the 2012 season.
The Phillies refused to begin a rebuilding process in July when they needed to take advantage of the market for several of their players, but they've committed to it now, having traded Jimmy Rollins, Antonio Bastardo and now Marlon Byrd, clearing payroll and adding some much-needed young talent to the top two levels of their farm system.

The Reds, meanwhile, fill their hole in left field all right, but it's nowhere near enough to change their outlook for 2015, and it might muddle their outfield picture beyond that.

Philadelphia gets right-hander Ben Lively back from the Reds in the exchange, a fair return for a player of Byrd's age and value.

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Moving Rollins the right move for Philly 

December, 11, 2014
Jimmy RollinsAP Photo/Charlie NeibergallThe Dodgers got exactly what they needed in Jimmy Rollins. And Philly did the right thing.
The Philadelphia Phillies threw up the black flag about a year or so too late, but appear to be finally acknowledging that their major league roster was too damaged to repair and that it was time to begin the process of weeding out the old guard. In trading Jimmy Rollins, their icon shortstop and one of the best players in franchise history, they've taken a critical first step in turning the page on the 2008-09 pennant winners so that the next season isn't wasted again on a team that can't go anywhere.

Rollins, 36, is exactly what the Dodgers need

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Scouting Yankees and Phillies prospects 

April, 22, 2014
Aaron Judge Tom Priddy/Four Seam Images/AP PhotoAt 6-foot-7, Yankees prospect Aaron Judge is one of the biggest players in pro ball.
LAKEWOOD, N.J. -- The New York Yankees' low Class A affiliate, the Charleston Riverdogs, are currently making their one visit to play the Lakewood BlueClaws, the Philadelphia Phillies' farm club in the South Atlantic League. I was there Monday night, when Charleston threw its best starter, and a pair of 2013 first-round picks were in the starting lineups as well. Here's my report from the game.

• Charleston starter Luis Severino showed an impressive three-pitch mix in 5 2/3 innings of work, the longest outing (by outs recorded) of his professional career.

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Assignments for Law's top prospects 

April, 3, 2014

With the help of Christopher Crawford of MLB Draft Insider, we have compiled the minor league assignments for all prospects in Keith Law's organizational top 10 rankings.

Due to injuries and late assignments, some minor league rosters are not yet official. In those instances, we took our best guess as to where those prospects will be assigned to begin the year.

Note: Players with an asterisk have been traded since the top-10 lists came out, and they are listed with their assignment for their new club.

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Picking division and award winners 

March, 29, 2014
Yu DarvishAP Photo/Darron CummingsThe AL leader in strikeout rate last year, Yu Darvish is an AL Cy Young frontrunner.
Keith Law offers up his win-loss predictions for all 30 teams and winners for the six major postseason awards. Furthermore, explanations for each team are included, along with notes on key players or possible impact call-ups. Award predictions follow the division picks.

AL East

It's hard to pick against a Boston Red Sox team that returns so many of the players who helped them win the World Series last year, losing Stephen Drew but replacing him with one of the majors' best rookies in Xander Bogaerts.

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Most-blocked position-player prospects 

March, 4, 2014
Mookie BettsMark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY SportsRed Sox second-base prospect Mookie Betts is currently blocked by All-Star Dustin Pedroia.
My annual ranking of the top 100 prospects in baseball and the top 10 (or more) prospects in each organization is completely organization-neutral: I don't consider the makeup of the club each prospect plays for when evaluating his potential as a major leaguer.

Many prospects on the list each year will face some obstacles in reaching the majors with their current employers because they're blocked by more established players, or even other prospects higher up in the system, and I've outlined the six prospects most affected by this phenomenon below.

I didn't include pitchers here because the injury rate for starters is high enough that no starting pitching prospect is every truly blocked; Noah Syndergaard and Archie Bradley are one sore elbow away from reaching the majors, and you can bet that the Mets and Diamondbacks, respectively, will have such openings before the 2014 season is out.

1. Mookie Betts, 2B, Boston Red Sox

Betts is the most-blocked prospect in baseball at this point. He's one of the top pure second-base prospects in the game, but he's blocked by Dustin Pedroia, who is among the majors' best second basemen and is under contract through 2021.

Betts is a great athlete and could probably play shortstop … at which he's currently blocked by uber-prospect Xander Bogaerts, and he could probably play center field, at which he's blocked by elite defender Jackie Bradley Jr.

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Phillies flounder with A.J. Burnett deal 

February, 12, 2014
A.J. BurnettJoe Robbins/Getty ImagesA.J. Burnett's transformation into a ground ball pitcher won't be as useful given the defense in Philly.
Without context, the signing of A.J. Burnett looks like a coup for the Phillies. They signed one of the top dozen starters in the National League from 2013 to a one-year deal that, at $16 million, doesn't overpay based on his recent standard of production. Burnett is 37 years old and has had injury problems earlier in his career as well as a reputation for an unwillingness to play through pain or discomfort that he has disproved in the past few seasons. He was worth 4 Wins Above Replacement in 2013 (using Fangraphs' version, which normalizes BABIP), 3 the year before, and even at that level would represent good value at $16 million.

Context is everything, of course, and the Phillies aren't the right team to hand a 37-year-old pitcher a one-year deal unless it is with the idea of flipping him for long-term assets at some point during the season.

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Complete guide to 2014 prospect rankings

February, 11, 2014
Now that the 2014 preseason top prospect package is complete, here are links to all of the rankings, videos, podcasts and chat wraps.

Top 100 prospects Insider
Index | Prospects No. 1-50 | Prospects 51-00
10 who just missed
Top 20 impact prospects for 2014

Top 10 prospects by team Insider
AL East | AL Central | AL West
NL East | NL Central | NL West
Astros No. 1 in farm system rankings

Videos Video
Why Buxton is the No. 1 prospect
AL breakout prospects | NL breakout prospects
Twins, Pirates just behind Astros in farm rankings

Podcast Listen
Discussing the top 100 rankings
Xander Bogaerts and Mets GM Sandy Alderson

Chat wraps
Keith Law
Astros GM Jeff Luhnow
Byron Buxton
Addison Russell

Roy Halladay a HOF test case 

December, 10, 2013
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Roy Halladay's retirement brought about the usual postcareer canonization we hear when any very good player hangs them up -- He's a surefire Hall of Famer! He's a lock! If he's not a Hall of Famer, just tear the place down!

There's a five-year waiting period between a player's retirement and his first year on the ballot, a lag I always assumed was there to help escape the emotional response to the end of a great player's career and add the perspective that distance can provide. Halladay may very well get into the Hall of Fame, and I'd certainly be thrilled to see him get in as a fan and as someone who got to see several of his best years up close when I was working for Toronto, but I don't think his case, examined objectively, is quite so clear-cut.

In fact, Hall voters have summarily rejected a number of pitchers comparable to Halladay, which is why I think Halladay could turn out to be a very interesting test case for the modern era.

Halladay's HOF résumé

Halladay's case for the Hall revolved around his high, lengthy peak, as he won two Cy Young Awards, deserving both of them, and having a solid case for a third in 2011, while ranking in the top five in his league in Baseball Reference's WAR eight times, all in a 10-year span.

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Phillies again overpay an aging player 

November, 18, 2013
The Philadelphia Phillies have made the first two notable signings of the offseason, and this latest one is even worse than the first. Giving Marlon Byrd a little more than he was worth was bad, but giving Carlos Ruiz, a 34-year-old catcher with platoon problems who's coming off a PED suspension a three-year deal is absolute lunacy.

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Phils put faith in Byrd's outlier season 

November, 12, 2013
I said I wouldn't go beyond $6-7 million and one year for Marlon Byrd, but Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro just couldn't help himself and signed the outfielder to a two-year, $16 million deal that is a little overpriced but also indicates that Amaro believes, in the face of a lot of contrary evidence, that Byrd's fluke 2013 performance is real.

Byrd will play his two years for the Phillies at ages 36 and 37, well into the decline years for any hitter, and the time when even premium hitters see their chances of going over the cliff into irrelevance increase quickly. While Byrd had a 4-WAR season in 2013, it was built on a huge BABIP spike (.353) that was well out of line with his entire history in the majors (.325 career BABIP), and on him staying healthy for 140 games for just the third time in his career.

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Teams that should have bought or sold 

August, 1, 2013
TBDHoward Smith/US PresswirePhillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. decided not to make any deals at the trade deadline.
I hope everyone has recovered from the excitement of this year's trade deadline, which included all of three sellers -- Houston and the two Chicago teams. Here's a look at teams that didn't do anything but should have, or could have if the market had cooperated.

Sellers who didn't sell

Philadelphia Phillies: The Phillies couldn't even execute the biggest no-brainer trade of all -- dealing Michael Young, age 36 and an impending free agent, so they could play prospect Cody Asche every day at third and Darin Ruf at first for the rest of the year. Young could still move in August if, say, the Yankees claim him on waivers, but the Phillies also lost opportunities to deal other free agents-to-be, including Carlos Ruiz (age 34) and Chase Utley (34).

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Farm systems rising and falling 

July, 2, 2013
With the major league season reaching its midpoint and the bulk of high picks from this year's draft already agreeing to contracts, it's a good time to re-examine farm systems to see which organizations have improved or declined since my organizational rankings at the start of the season.

For the purposes of this exercise, some parameters to keep in mind:

1. I'm only including draft picks who've signed.
2. I'm going to assume players in the majors right now are going to lose their rookie eligibility and won't count for the next org rankings I do in the winter. (This matters because graduating prospects will hurt a system as much as a lack of performance.)

With that noted, let's take a look.

Rising systems

Minnesota Twins | Preseason rank: 2

The Twins have benefited from big jumps by several of their top prospects, balancing out the promotions of their No. 3, 4, and 5 prospects to the majors this year.

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