Mack's Minor Report 5:15:23
Hello Phillies and baseball fans! The Phillies have had a rollercoaster of a two weeks. A horrible losing skid then back-to-back series win. The Phillies farm system has been just as crazy. Some players are starting to get the call that they are progressing enough for a promotion to the next level.
In this edition of Mack's Minor Report, we will as always recap what is happening in A, AA, and AAA, but also give my first ever Phillies Minor Leaguer Rankings. It is like the MLB Pipeline's rankings, but cooler. Let's jump right into it.
Lehigh Valley IronPigs AAA (19-19)
The IronPigs continue play very average baseball. The pitching has been super shaky this season from both the starters and the bullpen. However, the hitting and the defense has been great.
Let's start with the strengths of the IronPigs, the offense. Phillies 10th rated prospect according to MLB Pipeline Simon Muzziotti has been electric all season, but just had a 13-game stretch where he looked like the best prospect in Phillies history. Muzziotti had a 13-game hitting streak going till Saturday and in that stretch, he went 28-for-53 (.528) with three homers, three doubles, and a triple. The triple slash during the run worked out to .528/.576/.793 for a 1.369 OPS. Muzziotti currently leads the IronPigs with 15 multi-hit games, with the next closest being 7.
Phillies recently sent down Jake Cave to AAA after reinstating Bryce Harper back into the rotation. In his first full series back in AAA against the Memphis RedBirds, Cave went 8-16, 3 2B, 2HR, 4RBI, 5R, 2BB, and made some key defensive plays.
A couple of other hot hitters have been Weston Wilson and Dustin Peterson. The player of the week for his 5-16, 2B, 3HR, 3RBI, 4R, BB performance, Dustin Peterson came up with many big-time hits. While Weston Wilson continued to have the biggest power bat on the team, with multiple late inning home runs.
The IronPigs have a group of guys who have spent time in the MLB while the Phillies battled some injuries. McKinley Moore has been struggling with walks but has been fantastic at pitching out of jams. Yunior Marte has been unhittable in the minors, unfortunately he has not been able to replicate his AAA success in the MLB.
The starting pitching has been hit or miss. When Noah Skirrow is on the hill, just know we have what I consider the minor league version of an ace. Many people who pitched in the World Baseball Classic, started the MLB season very slow except for Skirrow, who pitched for Team Canada. He is the only starter with more than 2 wins and he is the only starter that has a winning record.
Christopher Sanchez who was competing for the 5th starter spot with the Phillies continues to struggle in AAA. Look for him to probably finish 2023 in AAA.
Reading Fightin Phils AA (12-20)
Phillies #2 prospect Mick Abel has been the talk of the town this season in AA. He has pitched brilliantly during most starts. His first and his last starts are both outings he hopes to forget. In his last start, Abel was never really able to settle in and was ultimately handed the loss. He really struggled to reach his peak velocity and was having some major control issues. Not a great outing, but like every pitcher, bad starts happen. Even with a tough outing, his last 4 starts have been electric. He is almost unhittable and looks like a veteran out there. A promotion to AAA should be soon.
Fans are still patiently waiting for Andrew Painter to get called up to the MLB. However, the 12th rated prospect in all of baseball still continues to rehab an UCL injury. He has increased his throwing distance to 120 ft, and the Phillies will look to have him start throwing from an elevated position soon. I get the fans want to see him up in the MLB soon with the pitching struggles they have had, but the Phillies are being extremely cautious, and I can't see him being called up in 2023.
A name to keep an eye on for the Phillies for the future is Carlos De La Cruz. Nothing crazy exciting as an outfielder, but a possible DH in the future. He is a great power bat to the lineup and this year he is batting .280, 7 HR, 15 RBI. He continues to show a lot of confidence and discipline when he is at the plate. He currently leads the Fightin Phils with 11 multi-hit games.
Reading has struggled this year. The pitching from both the starters and the bullpen has been an overall miss. Even though Abel has dominated, the bullpen has failed to keep his lead, or the offense has failed to get going for him when he is on the mound.
Hoping to see a turnaround with players continuing to get promoted from Low-A and High-A.
Clearwater Threshers (Low-A) and Jersey Shore BlueClaws (High-A)
The Phillies announced the first and second promotions of the season that did not involve getting promoted to the MLB last week.
Caleb Ricketts and Orion Kerkering were both promoted from Low-A to High-A. Ricketts continues to impress down in the minors. He is a name to keep an eye on as the future replacement for JT Realmuto. Even though Realmuto still has many years left at catcher, eventually in 3-4 years will start to slowly transition to 1B. Ricketts is going to be his replacement. Offensively Ricketts is a hitting machine with a slash line of .379/402/552. His teammate Jordan Viars described his offensive production "he can hit anything against anyone." When it comes to his defense, he is just as good if not better. He led all of A with throwing out 46 runners attempting to steal. He has been absolutely brilliant in all aspects of his game.
While in Low-A Kerkering appeared in 9 games in 2023. He struck out 18 batters, allowed 2 hits, walked 1 batter, and gave up no runs. He was as good of a pitcher as we have seen from any pitcher within this organization from Low-A all the way to the MLB. He rightfully deserved the promotion to High-A. He has not been as dominate as he was in Low-A, but has only appeared in two games allowing two runs so far. Everyone is focused on Mick Abel and Andrew Painter, but Kerkering is a sleeper pitcher to keep an eye on.
Phillies 3rd rated prospect Griff McGarry has been completing rehab appearance in Low-A, and has struggled early in his return. Not a great outlook for him, who looks to move his name into position with Abel and Painter.
Justin Crawford is the 4th rated prospect according to MLB Pipeline and the son of MLB All-star Carl Crawford, and looks like a future MLB All-star. So far he is batting ..315/376/380. He has been such a huge bat. He is going to be the next player to get promoted. He started the year in rookie ball and has already progressed so well. Not only is a promotion in his near future, but we are looking at the future Phillies corner outfielder.
Adam's Top 10 Phillies Prospects
1 Andrew Painter- AA
2. Mick Abel- AA
3. Justin Crawford-A
4. Hao-Yu Lee-A
5. Simon Muzziotti-AAA
6. Caleb Ricketts-A
7. Gabriel Ricones Jr.-A
8. Orion Kerkering-A
9. Carlos De La Cruz- AA
10. Griff McGarry- AA
*Currently in Low-A on rehab appearance
*I would feel awful to not include someone who is technically no longer a "prospect," but is in the minor leagues. Scott "The Jet" Kingery has been so great in AAA this year. If he continues to play like this, he could and should be a depth position for a possible playoff run. Long live Scotty!