With the minor league season over and the major league season winding down, it’s a good time to take a look back at our list of the Top 50 Prospects that we published prior to the season. We’ll start at the bottom and work our way to the top with our review.
21. Drew Anderson, RHP, 24 – Anderson made a somewhat undistinguished debut with the Phillies in 2017 basically because he was on the 40-man roster and they didn’t have to make any moves to bring him to the majors. He pitched in just two games out of the bullpen with a 23.14 ERA. In 2018, he made one start and two relief appearances (as of September 19th) with an ERA of 5.19 in those games. While he’s struggled to find his groove in the majors, he’s been reliable at Triple-A with a 9-4 record and 3.87 ERA in 19 starts in 2018. He opened the season on the DL with a right forearm strain.
If the Phillies get desperate for a 40-man roster spot, Anderson could be a guy they would look at removing from the roster. There are a lot of other guys ahead of him though, so he’s likely to be safe and come into camp looking for a spot either in the bullpen or starting rotation. If the Phillies decide to use an “opener” as the Rays have done this season, Anderson could be an option.
22. Cole Irvin, RHP, 24 – Irvin won the International League Pitcher of the Year Award in 2018 and was the IronPigs most consistent pitcher throughout the season. The only reason he didn’t pitch in the majors was because of having to juggle the 40-man roster; Irvin isn’t on the 40-man and doesn’t have to be added this winter because he’s not eligible for the Rule 5 Draft of minor league free agency. With that in mind, the Phillies promoted pitchers Enyel De Los Santos and Ranger Suarez ahead of Irvin.
Look for Irvin to be in major league camp and compete for a spot in the Phillies rotation. He should definitely be making his MLB debut some time during the 2019 season.
23. Kevin Gowdy, RHP, 20 – Gowdy missed all of the 2017 season with a myriad of injuries, including biceps tendinitis and then underwent Tommy John surgery in mid-August of 2017. The surgery caused him to miss all of the 2018 season but he is on track to resume throwing and should pitch at some point during the 2019 season. Gowdy was thought to have a shot at being drafted in the first round of the 2016 Draft, but the Phillies were able to get him in the second round.
After having missed two full seasons, Gowdy will need to show he’s healthy at some point in 2019 and can get himself back on track.
24. Spencer Howard, RHP, 22 – Howard was impressive in 2018 and put an exclamation point on his season with a postseason no-hitter for Lakewood. The Phillies drafted Howard in the second round of the 2017 Draft out of Cal Poly and he made nine starts for Williamsport that season. In 2018, he went 9-8 with a 3.78 ERA for Lakewood and struck out 147 batters in 112 innings of work.
It will be interesting to see what the Phillies do with Howard in 2019. They could simply move him up a step to Clearwater – the most likely move – or they could decide to challenge him more and send him to Double-A Reading to open the season.
25. Jose Taveras, RHP, 24 – The 2018 season was not kind to Jose Taveras. He experienced a sore shoulder in spring training and was shut down and didn’t resume throwing until May. He pitched in three games with the GCL Phillies and then reported to Double-A Reading where he pitched in six games – three starts – with mixed results that had him finish the year with a 5.95 ERA with the Fightins. Ironically, the Phillies had added him to the 40-man roster last November after a combined 9-6 mark with a 2.22 ERA in 25 starts between Clearwater, Reading and Lehigh Valley. They had to remove him from the 40-man roster in August to clear a spot for healthier pitchers.
The question is whether the Phillies will place him back on the 40-man roster or risk losing him in the Rule 5 Draft. In many ways, Taveras will be one of the more difficult decisions for the Phillies during the offseason. They could gamble that he’ll make it through the Rule 5 Draft but don’t be surprised if that strategy doesn’t work.
26. McKenzie Mills, LHP, 22 – The Phillies added Mills in a trade with the Nationals that sent Howie Kendrick to Washington during the 2017 season. He was 2-5 with a 3.51 ERA at Clearwater when the Phillies flipped him to Miami this July for Justin Bour. Mills pitched at both High-A Jupiter and Double-A Jacksonville in the Marlins organization.
27. Jose Gomez, 3B/2B/SS, 21 – When the Phillies traded Pat Neshek to Colorado in July of 2017, Gomez didn’t garner as much attention as part of the package of players they got back. J.D. Hammer and Alejandro Requena were the bigger names and Gomez was actually on the DL when he was dealt. Defensively, Gomez excels in the middle infield and made just four errors in 56 games between second and short this season. Offensively he struggled to bat just .224, after batting a combined .310 in three stops last season with Colorado and the Phillies.
Gomez is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft and it’s highly unlikely that the Phillies will protect him. It’s also unlikely that a team will take him, although they could use him as a defensive replacement off the bench if they think they’ll have room and/or need for such a player. Odds are that he’s back with the Phillies and likely back at Clearwater.
28. Abrahan Gutierrez, C, 18 – The Braves messed up and it cost them a couple of minor league players that they had signed as international free agents. Gutierrez was one of those players and the Phillies jumped to add him to the organization. Gutierrez spent his second straight season in the Gulf Coast League where he hit .264 in 2017 and upped that to .315 this past season with the GCL Phillies West team. Gutierrez turns 19 on Halloween and the Phillies see a lot to like about him but there’s also work to do, especially defensively when it comes to throwing out baserunners.
Gutierrez will likely move up to Williamsport in 2019 and if he begins to put things together, could be a candidate to move up to Lakewood at some point during the season.
29. Victor Arano, RHP, 23 – It seems like Arano, who was acquired along with Jesmuel Valentin from the Dodgers in the Roberto Hernandez trade back in August of 2014, has been around for longer than his four seasons. Arano made his MLB debut with the Phillies last September and pitched in 10 games with a 1.69 ERA. This season, he spent some time on the DL, but still has pitched well, giving the Phillies 55 2/3 innings over 55 outings this season while posting a 2.43 ERA. He’s converted three of the five save opportunities that he’s been given but doesn’t profile as a closer. Instead, he’s more suited to a role as a set-up man.
Arano is one of the more reliable arms in the Phillies bullpen and at just 23 years old, figures to be able to help for a long time.