With the Phillies’ rebuilding efforts officially under way, the 2015 season looks bleak in Philadelphia. In fact, so does the 2016 season and perhaps even the 2017 season. According to a recent article published by MLB.com, Pat Gillick believes that the team may complete again in 2017; however, this may be a stretch. The admission by the Phillies’ brass that the team is in fact rebuilding changes the dynamics of their minor league system and gives some insight to the team’s timetable. The benefactor of all of this upheaval in 2015 will be the Reading Fightin’ Phils.
The Fightin’ Phils are setting up to have one of the most prospect laden teams they have had in a very long time. Top prospect J.P. Crawford is expected start and play the entire season with the team. Roman Quinn, currently listed as the #4 top prospect according to MLB.com, should also make the jump from Clearwater to Reading. As the fastest guy in the organization it will be fun to watch him bat in front of Crawford. In addition to the two most exciting position prospects in the system, the influx of young arms should dominate the team’s rotation.
Leading the rotation should be the Phillies’ 2014 top draft pick and, according to MLB.com the team’s 2nd top prospect, Aaron Nola. Many had expected Nola to have a short stay in Reading; however, with the team’s adjusted time table he may stay a bit longer to ensure he continues his development. Zack Eflin should also join the rotation. Eflin was acquired by the Phillies in the Jimmy Rollins deal. He was a 1st round pick in 2012 and pitched a full year at the high A level last year. At the time of the Jimmy Rollins trade, MLB.com listed him as the Padres #10 top prospect and he is currently rated as the Phillies’ #5 top prospect.
Tom Windle, the other player acquired from Los Angeles in the Jimmy Rollins deal, should also join Reading’s rotation. At the time of the trade MLB.com listed Windle as the Dodger’s #7 top prospect and he is currently listed as the Phillies #6 top prospect. Windle pitched the entire 2014 season at the high A level and should be ready to move up to AA. Ben Lively, perhaps the organization’s most exciting addition, is also in line to start in Reading. Lively was acquired from the Reds for Marlon Byrd. MLB.com listed Lively as the Reds #8 top prospect, and he is also currently listed as the Phillies’ #8 top prospect. He was inevitably the Reds 2014 Minor League Player of the Year as he spent the first half of the 2014 season at high A and the second half of the season at AA.
Many of last year’s top prospects, prior to the rebuilding effort, will probably start in Leigh Valley. A good deal of these marginal major leaguers, such as Kelly Dugan and Cameron Perkins, may even get a cup of coffee in Philadelphia before the season’s end; however, these aren’t the guys that are going to build the team back into a contender. Most of guys worth getting excited about, and worth trading proven major league talent for, will be playing in Reading. Overall, Reading’s roster may contain 6 of the system’s top 10 prospects and possibly even a 7th (Jesse Biddle). The foundation of the team that could possibly content in 2017 will be playing in Reading in 2015.