Eyes on the Farm
Jake Thompson, was one of the many pieces to come to Philadelphia in return for Cole Hamels. The 21 year-old right-hander was producing solid numbers in the minors, before the trade to Philadelphia, but he really opened eyes following the move, going 5-1 with a 1.80 ERA in 45 innings pitched. He only allowed nine runs over those 45 innings. Entering the 2016 season, Thompson has been penciled in by “experts” to spend the year with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. While that is the most likely avenue to be taken by the team, the major league rotation is so thin, that it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he saw a call-up in the later days of April or early May.
Mark Appel is another piece that was acquired via trade. The former first-overall pick was traded to Philadelphia back in December by the Astros, in exchange for Ken Giles. The 24 year-old was signed with high expectations, as most first-overall picks are. To this point, he has failed to meet those expectations, not even coming close, truth be told. A change-of-scenery could do the former Stanford Cardinal some good. The talent is still there, as is the stuff that made him the first-overall pick. It’s just a matter of him putting it all together. Coming to Philadelphia, the pressure is not as heavy as it was in Houston, so he can develop without facing unrealistic expectations. I’m anticipating a refined Mark Appel to appear this year, earning himself a possible September call-up.
Nick Williams was another acquisition in the Cole Hamels trade. The 22 year-old outfielder has been the picture of consistency, during his minor league tenure. He hasn’t hit under .275 at any level, except for his first stint with Double-A Frisco, where he hit an anemic .227. Prior to his blockbuster performance last summer, Williams hit .299/.357/.479 with 13 home runs and 45 RBIs for Double-A Frisco. Following his move to Philly, Williams hit .320/.340/.536 with 4 round-trippers and 10 RBIs in 22 games. He possesses all of the tools to be a successful All-Star. Those tools however, remain raw. Williams will likely spend the 2016 season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley working on mastering his skills, although the chance exists for an early call-up if he shows progression.
Rounding the list of prospects to watch, is Jorge Alfaro. Alfaro was the third centerpiece involved in the Hamels trade. Alfaro struggled to get much playing time in 2015, as a result of an ankle injury that had him sidelined. In the time that he did play, he hit .258/.324/.438 with 9 homers and 61 RBIs. His physical tools are impressive, but he carries a considerable amount of risk. The route of catcher no longer seems to be an option for him with his ankles starting to give him problems. Still, with Ryan Howard on his way out, it seems that Alfaro could find a home at first base. A 2016 call-up is unlikely, but not out of the question if Howard begins to struggle.