First-round pick joins Biddle, Franco in Philly's top five
Crawford cracks Top 20 prospect rankings as Futures Game reps claim top two spots
While some of the Phillies' top prospects have had disappointing seasons down on the farm, others have surged and made their names known.
Third baseman Maikel Franco has had the best start to 2013 of anyone in the Phillies' Minor League system and jumped nine spots to earn the No. 2 ranking on MLB.com's midseason list of the team's top prospects. The 20-year-old Franco started the season in Class A Advanced Clearwater, but was promoted to Double-A Reading in June.
His bat has not cooled down since the promotion, as he hit .379 with a .978 OPS in his first 28 games with Reading. Franco also played in this month's SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Citi Field, where he joined teammate Jesse Biddle.
The Phillies' top prospect, both preseason and midseason, Biddle has spent all of 2013 in Double-A. The left-handed starter has posted a 3.51 ERA, 115 strikeouts and 54 walks in 105 innings (20 starts). The Philadelphia native was a first-round selection (27th overall) in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.
Catcher Tommy Joseph, whom the Phillies acquired from the Giants in a deadline deal for Hunter Pence last year, has had an injury-plagued season, but remains among the Phillies' top-five prospects. Joseph has appeared in just 36 games this season, 21 of them with Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Four players from the Phillies' preseason prospect list made it to the Majors in the first half of the season.
Jonathan Pettibone, who was fourth on the preseason rankings, was called up in April and has become a fixture in the Phillies' rotation. The 23-year-old right-hander is 5-4 with a 3.97 ERA in 17 starts.
Justin De Fratus and Phillippe Aumont, both right-handed relievers, also made the jump. It's worked out better for De Fratus, who has a 5.57 ERA in 31 appearances and remains in the Phillies' bullpen. Aumont has had two separate stints with the Phillies, but command issues have him back in Triple-A.
First baseman Darin Ruf was rated as the Phillies' 16th-best prospect before the season and was promoted when Ryan Howard was placed on the disabled list earlier this month. He has become the Phillies' everyday first baseman for the time being, and hit .293 with four doubles, two homers and a .932 OPS in his first 12 contests.
Six new names grace the Phillies' midseason rankings. Three of them are 2013 Draft picks, led by shortstop J.P. Crawford at No. 4. The 16th overall pick, Crawford reported to the Gulf Coast League, where the 18-year-old hit .368 in his first 18 games. Catcher Andrew Knapp (No. 14), a second-round pick, and outfielder Cord Sandberg (No. 20), a third-round pick, also debut in the top 20.
Cesar Hernandez (No. 15), and outfielders Dylan Cozens (No. 18) and Aaron Altherr (No. 19) were also new additions to the list. Hernandez came through the system as a second baseman, and was called up for a brief stint with the Phillies earlier this season, but has recently been moved to center field.
phillies' top prospects
The team is hoping Hernandez can learn the position to give him more options at the Major League level.
"I keep working," Hernandez said of his transition to the outfield. "It gives me more opportunities to play second base and center field."
Right-handed pitcher Mitch Gueller made the biggest jump from the preseason to midseason rankings, as he jumped 10 spots to No. 8. The 19-year-old has spent the season with Class A Williamsport and is 3-2 with a 5.64 ERA in six outings.
Third baseman Cody Asche, who is hitting .292 with 12 homers at Triple-A, rose two spots to No. 7 on the organization's list. Asche recently played in the Triple-A All-Star Game and it might not be too long before the 23-year-old is in a Phillies uniform.
"You're learning to manage the ups and downs of the game, that's what it's all about," Asche said of his season. "You're going to have your ups, you're going to have your downs, you just go with it and try to even them out so the downs don't get too down, and the ups don't get too high."
Pitcher Ethan Martin, and outfielder/first baseman Larry Greene dropped eight and six spots, respectively, but remained in the Top 20.
Top 100 representation
Biddle and Franco are the only Phillies prospects listed among MLB.com's Top 100 prospects, and the Phillies' farm ranks 23rd in terms of "prospect points" -- points assigned to clubs based on their representatives on the Top 100 list, with 100 points going to the team with the No. 1 prospect, 99 to the team with No. 2, and so on.
Biddle was tabbed as baseball's 61st best prospect in the preseason rankings, but moved up 15 spots to No. 46. Meanwhile, Franco checked in at No. 79. He was not ranked in the preseason rankings.
Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.