We continue our annual look at the top 50 prospects in the Phillies organization by highlighting players ranked between 16 and 20 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.
6. Mickey Moniak – CF (100), LF (9), RF (2) | B: Left, T: Right | May 13, 1998 (20) – Perhaps the hardest thing for a scout to determine is how a young player – especially a high school player – will handle the mental side of being a top prospect. Moniak got caught up in the thinking part of the game and struggled through two and a half seasons in the minors before some old friends taught him to relax. With friends from the west coast visiting him just prior to the 4th of July last season, Moniak relaxed and it did him a world of good. In the first three months of the season, Moniak batted just .244/.260/.303 and when his friends hit town, he got on a roll and hit .302/.351/.477 over the final two months of the season.
The trick now is to keep calm, stay relaxed and duplicate the output from late last season. If he can do that, the guy once thought to be a bust as the first overall pick in the draft will redeem himself.
Moniak has gotten bigger since being drafted and the added size has cost him a little speed and thus, range in the outfield. He’s still more than capable of playing center, but doesn’t now project to have the defensive skills it was first thought that he would have.
The Phillies put Moniak at Double-A Reading to open the season and it’s likely that he stays there for the entire season.
7. Jhailyn Ortiz – RF (96) | B: Right, T: Right | November 18, 1998 (20) – Ortiz 2019 season is already off to a tough start as he’s sidelined with a hamstring injuury that plagued him throughout the spring. When he’s healthy, the plan is to send him to High-A Clearwater.
Ortiz has lots of raw power and is starting to translate it into his swing, having hit 13 home runs last season with Lakewood. Plate discipline and making consistent contact is still an issue that needs to be sorted out by Ortiz, because his .225 average and .299 on-base percentage from last season simply won’t cut it. At times last season, Ortiz looked somewhat dismayed at the plate and needs to hone in on a better approach rather than just sitting on fastballs. Part off the issue was an early season shoulder injury that bothered him even after he was off of the DL.
Defensively, Ortiz has a big arm and can easily stick in the outfield. He’s also got good athleticism and some time to develop some skills since he won’t even turn 21 until after the season.
8. Ranger Suarez – SP (12 AAA / 9 AA / 3 MLB) | B: Left, T: Left | August 26, 1995 (23) – Suarez made his MLB debut last season becoming the first left-handed starter for the Phillies since Adam Morgan moved to the bullpen.
Suarez moved quickly through Double-A to pitch for the IronPigs and then jumped up to the majors thanks to the fact that he was on the 40-man roster and fellow lefty Cole Irvin wasn’t (and still isn’t). He needs some more time in the minors to work on his secondary pitches. His change-up is above average – slightly – but his slider is average at best. He needs to make each of those two pitches better if he’s going to have success as a starting pitcher. His fastball tops out at around 94, with an occasional 95 thrown in.
Suarez opens the season with Lehigh Valley, but is likely down to being the second call-up for the rotation behind Jerad Eickhoff.
9. Cole Irvin – SP (25) | B: Left, T: Right | January 31, 1994 (25) – If not for having to manipulate their 40-man roster, the Phillies would have had Cole Irvin in the majors last season when injuries to their starting rotation brought Enyel De Los Santos and Ranger Suarez to the majors for auditions. Irvin didn’t have to be added to the 40-man roster following the season, so they made the decision to bring up the two other pitchers when Irvin was clearly the best starter at Triple-A.
Repertoire wise, Irvin isn’t the type of pitcher to just blow hitters away or drop off a 12-to-6 curveball that screws hitters into the ground. His velocity is in the low-90s and his curveball is an average pitch. He also throws a slider and a change-up, both of which are above average. What Irvin does is move his pitches around the zone and mix his pitches well to keep hitters guessing. While it’s not the normal recipe for success, it’s worked for Irvin, who posted a 2.83 ERA in his first three professional seasons with 286 strikeouts in 358 1/3 innings, which isn’t overly impressive, but it has worked for Irvin because he keeps the ball low in the zone and depends on his fielders to get their job done.
Irvin opened the season with Lehigh Valley and likely won’t be the first starter to be recalled when the Phillies need to fill a hole in the rotation, but he is certainly on the short list of pitchers destined for the majors this season. Irvin will need to be added to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft in December, so there’s a roster spot that is going to be used for him after the season, so he may as well take it when needed during the season.
10. Luis Garcia – SS (43) | B: Both, T: Right | October 1, 2000 (18) – Even though Garcia was a high profile international free agent signing, his performance in the Gulf Coast League last season was a pleasant surprise. His defense – despite a few miscues particularly early in the season – was what it was advertised to be. Garcia showed strong range to go with a precise, powerful arm. Defensively, Garcia is well ahead of his young age and the Phillies aren’t entertaining any position moves or changing anything he’s doing defensively; he’s that good.
So, what was so surprising about his debut season?
The surprising part came at the plate where the young hitter, expected to struggle throughout his career, hit .369, good enough to lead the Gulf Coast League in hitting. He also posted an on-base percentage of .433, thanks in part to 15 walks in 43 games with just 21 strikeouts. Nobody saw those types of numbers coming from Garcia, so it bodes well for the future. When you combine the ability to make contact and get on base with Garcia’s speed, you have a player with a huge potential. So far, Garcia hasn’t developed base-stealing skills, but he’s got the speed and the ability to learn how to be a more successful thief.
The Phillies were impressed enough with Garcia that they decided against keeping him in extended camp and waiting for the short-season leagues to begin in June. Instead, they assigned him to Lakewood to open the season, which will be interesting to watch. Like last season, nobody is expecting the Garcia to lead the league in hitting, but if he produces strong enough numbers to at least be above the league averages, he’ll be in a good position for the future when you combine the added offensive potential with his defense.