The Phillies are starting to play some decent baseball again. They are at .500 for the first time all season as they continue in a stretch of games of some of baseball's best teams. The Phillies minor league teams have also continued to turn some things around.
The news of Bryce Harper return is inching closer and closer. However, there are still improvements to the Phillies roster that could be made, and Dave Dombrowski is known for breaking into the farm system to make trades.
Clearwater Threshers (12-6)- A
Clearwater continues to play phenomenal baseball. The pitching has been electric, and the hitting is starting to get going a lot more. Two players I want to focus on from Clearwater in this report.
Caleb Ricketts is the Phillies 29th rated prospect. At age 22, I can see him as the future replacement to JT Realmuto behind the plate. Realmuto eventually will need to step away from behind the plate and move over to 1B, and if Ricketts continues to progress, he could be the future. In 2023 Ricketts has a slash line of .357/362/862 and catches 42% of people trying to steal on him. He currently leads the team with 15 RBI's and the player in second only has 7. He is a little bit older for a A player, but JT still has a few more years till we begin to faze him over to 1B.
The last time I did a Mack's Minor Report Justin Crawford was the Phillies 4th rated prospect, and now he is the 3rd rated prospect. Crawford started the year in rookie ball, but was quickly promoted to A, and he has been just as good. He has been the hottest hitter for Clearwater with a slash line of .306/359/361. After talking to some sources close to the Phillies, Crawford is expected to be the first name called up to AA Reading when a spot becomes available. Not saying this will happen soon, but I do not believe he ends the year in A.
Between Ricketts and Crawford, both are names you need to keep an eye on, and two guys who will one day be everyday players for the Phillies.
Reading Fightin Phils (5-13) - AA
Well Reading is still not winning games down in AA, but there are some guys we can still talk about. Let's talk about two pitchers that are not on the Phillies Top 30 Pipeline, but still are big name "prospects."
Ranger Suarez made his first rehab start yesterday for Reading. He pitched two innings with 1 strikeout, 1 walk, and allowed 1 hit. He is expected to make 3-4 starts rehab starts. He is definitely a name to keep an eye on for a possible call-up to complete the Phillies starting rotation. Still unclear if he will complete all his rehab appearances in AA or if he will pitch a little with AAA Lehigh Valley.
Nick Nelson is also expected to make a rehab start after completing rehab appearances with Clearwater. Phillies are taking their time with Nelson and will not reinstate him until they are 100% positive, he is ready.
The Phillies 2nd rated prospect Mick Abel started off rocky in his season debut, but since then has pitched two great starts. In his last two games, he's pitched 8 innings while having 8 strikeouts, 4 walks, and giving up 2 earned runs. Abel continues to build from his rocky start. He still is not ready to be called up to the MLB and will probably continue to pitch in AA for the foreseeable future.
The Phillies continue to monitor the Phillies top prospect Andrew Painter's injury. He injured his UCL during Spring Training and is expected to increase his long toss distance to 90 feet this weekend. Phillies are being very careful with the 19-year-old and do not want to rush him back and risk further injuries.
The hitting for Reading has been very cold. Carlos De La Cruz started the season as one of the Phillies top prospects and has quickly fallen off the top 30 list. His slash line in 2023 is .242/324/424, which puts him right in the middle of the pack in each of those categories.
Right now, if you want to see future Phillies sluggers you should check out Clearwater, and if you want to see future Phillies pitchers watch Reading.
*A name to keep an eye on. 4th rated prospect Griff McGarry has yet to pitch this year and does not appear on any injury list.
Lehigh Valley IronPigs (11-12)- AAA
The IronPigs 5 game win streak came to an end last night. The story line for pitching in AAA has been consistent. If the starter is solid, the bullpen struggles. If the bullpen is lights out the starter had a rocky start.
There are three hitters we are going to focus on. Phillies fans are always looking to send the guys in the MLB who are struggling down to AAA and call-up someone from AAA. There are three that could fit that role.
Phillies 18th rated prospect Jhailyn Ortiz was placed on the developmental list and returned as a new hitter. He was playing for the Phillies before being DFA, and after a stint on the developmental list he looks like he could be called up soon. In his first game back, he went 3-4 with a homerun. He is 2nd in all of baseball in batted balls behind Shohei Ohtani and just ahead of Giancarlo Stanton.
Dalton Guthrie started the season with the Phillies but was optioned down to AAA after just one game. Guthrie has split his time between RF, CF, and DH. He has been a very reliable part of the lineup, and regardless of his defensive spot, he has been a very reliable defender.
Phillies 11th rated prospect Simon Muzziotti is playing with a level of confidence similar to Bryce Harper's during the 2022 playoffs. He had 3 game winners for the IronPigs in a 4-game stretch for the Pigs. This season Muzziotti has been a consistent left fielder and DH with a slash line of .333/.346/.400. His defense is good, but not great. He has some MLB experience towards the end of 2022.
All 3 players are part of the 40-man roster.
The other concern Phillies fans have is pitching. If the Phillies want to call up someone from AAA to be added to the starting rotation, they should look somewhere else. However, if injuries occur and they need a reliver than they have options.
Let's talk about 2 that have not been called up to the MLB yet this season.
Phillies 25th rated prospect Hans Crouse has been unhittable in his last three appearances. In his last 3 games 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 8 K's. He has been unhittable lately and if Yunior Marte continues to struggle in the MLB, Crouse is an option to be the next called up.
Phillies 10th rated prospect Francisco Morales is similar to Crouse and has been unhittable. In his last 3 games, 4 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 5 K's. Morales had some stints in the majors last season and could be another possible call up.