We continue our annual look at the top 50 prospects in the Phillies organization by highlighting players ranked between 26 and 30 on the list. We’ll keep revealing five names on our 2019 list of the best prospects until we reach the top. We’ll provide the player and the positions he played in 2018, with the number of games at each position in parenthesis. Following that is the side of the plate the player hits from and which arm he throws with. We also list their birth date and age as of April 1, 2019 in parenthesis and provide a short scouting report on each player.
Keep in mind that with the trade of number-one prospect Sixto Sanchez and number-28 prospect Will Stewart, the rankings have shifted since our last scouting reports were published. You can get scouting reports on the two players that moved into our list of the Top 50 Phillies Prospects. Because of that trade, players from our last report – Abrahan Gutierrez and Tom Eshelman – have moved into the rankings between 26 and 30. We have carried their scouting reports over from our last listing.
26. Austin Listi – DH (51), 1B (34), LF (16), RF (16), 3B (3) | B: Right, T: Right | November 5, 1993 (25) – Because he’s older than most prospects, Listi doesn’t always garner a lot of attention on prospect lists. While he’s certainly not destined to be a superstar player, he’s got some skills that could make him a decent everyday player on lower tier teams and a decent utility player on better teams.
Listi has a good approach to hitting and generally gets the bat on the ball, having struck out just 140 times in 176 minor league games, with a 19-percent strikeout rate in his minor league career. He draws a decent amount of walks and boasts a .383 on-base percentage in the minors. He’s also got good power and hit 18 home runs last season between his time with Clearwater and Reading, which was basically split down the middle – 65 games at Reading, 58 with Clearwater – and he hit nine home runs at each stop. He also hit a combined .312 with a .412 OBP and a .502 slugging percentage.
Defensively, Listi is somewhat challenged as evidenced by the fact that most of his games were as a DH. When he moved up to Reading he was playing more defensively rather than just DHing and did a decent job. The upside is that he can play both corner outfield and infield positions, which makes him pretty versatile. With his positional flexibility and good offensive skill-set, Listi could be a decent utility player. He’ll open the year with Lehigh Valley, most likely, and with a good performance, it’s not out of the question that he could reach the majors.
27. Kevin Gowdy – DNP | B: Right, T: Right | November 16, 1997 (21) – This is a leap of faith to have Gowdy ranked this high even though his last time on the mound in a minor league game came way back when on August 27, 2016. Since then – after just four outings as a professional pitcher – Gowdy has been sidelined by a number of injuries, including the dreaded Tommy John surgery in the summer of 2017. He made it back to pitch in one game in the Florida Instructional League (FIL) and didn’t show anything resembling what he had when he last pitched, but at least he was back on the mound and facing hitters.
Before the surgery, Gowdy had a low-90s fastball, but he barely touched 90 in his one outing in the FIL. He didn’t mix in many breaking pitches, but what he did throw didn’t look anything over average, at best. The good news is that he is healthy and was able to get into a regular offseason routine rather than a rehab routine over the winter. He comes into camp ready to pitch, but will likely be watched closely. It’s likely that he’ll be kept behind when camp breaks to pitch in extended camp to keep him close to the Phillies camp instructors and out of cold weather. Once things warm up, he could head for Lakewood if all looks good.
28. Logan O’Hoppe – C (20) | B: Right, T: Right | February 2, 2000 (19) – The Phillies have a talented corps of young catchers in the lower levels of the minors, but decided one more wouldn’t hurt. O’Hoppe was taken by the Phillies in the 23rd round of last year’s draft and played in 34 games with the Phillies West team in the Gulf Coast League. O’Hoppe came out swinging and hit 2-21-.367/.411/.532 in the GCL, striking out 28 times in his 34 games.
O’Hoppe still needs a lot of work both offensively and defensively, but it’s not difficult to see the raw skills that he has on both ends. He has a decent, but not overly impressive eye at the plate and shows some patience, but it remains to be seen if he can maintain that when he’s facing more mature pitchers who are breaking off curveballs at the upper levels. Offensively, he’s a line-drive type hitter and has some power, but nothing that is going to become a big enough factor to carry him through the minors.
Defensively, O’Hoppe is good, but need some work on his mechanics and on his footwork, but he threw out a strong 33-percent of basestealers last season – the league average was 32.7-percent – so he’s not far off mechanically in that respect. He also boasted just two errors behind the plate in 148 innings and was hit with just two passed balls.
The following two scouting reports appeared previously on our rankings of players between 31 and 35, but are repeated here because they moved up two spots due to prospects included in the J.T. Realmuto trade, as noted above.
31. Abrahan Gutierrez – C (28) | B: Right, T: Right | October 31, 1999 (19) – After being declared a free agent after signing with the Braves as an international free agent, the Phillies grabbed Gutierrez when he was cut loose as punishment for the Braves violating international signing laws. While Gutierrez hasn’t had the quick, huge impact that a lot of people thought he would have after signing, there is still a lot to like.
As with most young players, there are some holes in his swing, but generally, he makes good contact and has a decent approach to his at-bats. In the Gulf Coast League last season, hitters put up a combined strikeout percentage of 21-percent, much higher than that of Gutierrez, who posted a strikeout percentage of just nine-percent. He was right at the league average walk percentage of five-percent. Those stats show that he’s got an idea what he’s doing at the plate and that the rest of the numbers .315/.362/.407 were no fluke. Yes, it was his second season in the league, but the numbers were a vast improvement over 2017 (14 K%, .264/.319/.357), although his walk percentage was higher in 2017 at seven-percent.
Defensively, Gutierrez has shown improvement with the glove, but he fell from a 38-percent caught stealing percentage in 2017 to 21-percent last season. In 452 minor league innings, Gutierrez has been charged with just five passed balls. While it would admittedly be interesting to see the Phillies challenge Gutierrez, the smart money is a trip one rung up the ladder to Williamsport for the 2019 season. Maybe a late season challenge to Lakewood will happen.
32. Tom Eshelman – RHSP (26) | B: Right, T: Right | June 20, 1994 (24) – Tom Eshelman probably tossed out his 2018 calendar and had a 2019 calendar hanging on the wall even before September was through. The guy went through a summer that was completely unexpected as he lost everything that made him the Paul Owens Award Winner as the best pitcher in the Phillies organization just a year before. Mentally – at least on the outside – Eshelman handled it all well and just kept plugging away, but there had to be times when he wondered what was going on and when would it end.
Eshelman would turn in a strong outing, or even two, and then implode right back to the struggles he had encountered all season long. His ERA went from a combined 2.40 between Reading and Lehigh Valley in 2017 to 5.84 with Lehigh Valley in 2018. While his strikeout percentage remained pretty steady, his walk percentage ballooned from three-percent to just under seven-percent from one summer to the next.
The Phillies took him off of the 40-man roster and nobody took a shot on selecting him in the Rule 5 Draft, so he sticks with the Phillies organization as he seeks a do-over on the 2018 season. Eshelman won’t compete for a job with the Phillies in camp, but will look to turn things around with Lehigh Valley. A new pitching coach with the IronPigs may be a fresh set of eyes to help him and if all goes right, the old Tom Eshelman will resurface and the Phillies will have another bona fide pitching prospect.