The 2014 baseball season is officially underway in Australia, but for most Major League clubs, rosters have yet to even be sorted.
Still, it should be easy at this point in camp to pinpoint where most players will wind up within the organization and, more importantly, what the future may hold for them within the organization.
The Lehigh Valley IronPigs’ roster is becoming more and more clear everyday. So what better time than now to take a look at which of the Philadelphia Phillies’ top prospects you should be keeping an eye on this season at Coca-Cola Park.
The Phillies’ top prospect not named Maikel Franco, the left-handed Jesse Biddle could very well make his Major League debut sometime this year. In the meantime, though, Biddle will likely start his season at Lehigh Valley with the intent of improving his command and perfecting his delivery.
Despite a poor win-loss record last season in Reading, Biddle had a pretty good campaign for the Fightin’ Phils posting a 3.64 ERA with 154 strikeouts in 138.1 innings pitched. He’ll look to improve on that in 2014.
It’s not a complete certainty where the Phillies’ top prospect will start the 2014 season, but his best bet could be with the Triple-A IronPigs. The third base prospect has become the buzzworthy prospect this spring after hitting .339 with 15 home runs and driving in 51 runs in just 69 games at Double-A Reading last year.
Franco has excelled at all levels of play thus far, and despite just half a season with the Fightin’ Phils, the 21-year-old’s strong performance may have earned him a promotion to Lehigh Valley to start the year. He boasts all the tools you look for from a Major League third baseman and he can only get better with time.
Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez
The enigma that is Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez has only become more baffling as this spring has led on. Shoulder soreness has sidelined him some, but the Cuban import was struggling long before he hit the shelf.
The Phillies have time to be patient with Gonzalez, but he isn’t being paid to be a Minor League pitcher—which he is very much starting to look like.
At this point, it doesn’t appear likely he’ll open the season on the Phillies roster. Where he will be slotted in the IronPigs’ rotation will be interesting, but what will be even more interesting is how he performs.
Can the 27-year-old right-hander live up to the hype? Time will tell.
Castro’s free-swinging attitude is likely his greatest detriment to date. However, the 24-year-old boasts phenomenal speed and presence on the basepaths, as evidenced by his 20 stolen-base total a season ago.
He’s a solid defensive outfielder, though his arm is not good enough for the position he was slotted in last season with the IronPigs (right field). Still, he has much to offer the big-league club based on his defensive skills and speed alone that should he ever improve his plate discipline, he may get a chance for a callup to Philadelphia in the future.
Morgan will be unable to pitch unable August due to shoulder surgery he underwent in December. But when the 24-year-old returns to the IronPigs’ rotation, regardless of how limited his playing time is, he will be a must-see prospect.
Despite the shoulder injury, Morgan is currently one of the more polished prospects within the organization. Had it not been for his surgery, it’s very likely he could be competing for one of the Phillies’ backend slots in the starting rotation.
Morgan displays excellent control of his pitches, the best of which is a slider Baseball America considers the best in the organization. He will likely only have a few outing to showcase his talents once he has finally recovered, but what he is able to accomplish could be an inside look into what to expect from the young strikeout pitcher.
Lou Musto covers the Lehigh Valley IronPigs for Examiner.com. You can follow him on Twitter @LouisMusto for all the latest Lehigh Valley IronPigs news.