Who has the highest upside among young athletes in Philadelphia? Put it this way: Who are the players who’ll provide the most value between now and the end of their careers?
Here’s my take. I made the upper-end cutoff here age 26; about the time most athletes enter their prime. And I only chose varsity players, so prospects like the Phillies’ Adonis Medina or Flyers’ Morgan Frost don’t qualify.
A year ago, I’d have included Shayne Gostisbehere and saved a spot for Scott Kingery. Two years ago, I slotted in Markelle Fultz. Ugh. So you see, this is not an exact science.
10. Tobias Harris, Sixers, 26 – This is speculative since the sharpshooter hasn’t finished unpacking his bags. But I’m betting Brett Brown devises a way to fit this versatile player into the offense, and that the soon-to-be free agent is swayed and paid enough to stay here for years.
9. Dallas Goedert, Eagles, 24 – Count on Zach Ertz snagging 80-plus receptions over the next few seasons. But also count on Goedert’s production increasing and the South Dakota kid becoming an elite tight end for a decade.
8. Seranthony Dominguez, Phillies, 23 – The Dominican righty looked like Pedro Martinez when he arrived last May – allowing just two hits, no walks and no runs through his first 14.2 innings. Then, reality and fatigue set in and he got smacked around. He’ll be older, smarter and surrounded by better teammates. He offers a decade of great bullpen work.
7. Ivan Provorov, Flyers, 22 – It hasn’t been a straight line up, as the Russian-born defenseman’s slumps and stumbles parallel the franchise’s ineptitude in recent seasons. But the talent is there. The last month, at least, looks like redemption time for Provorov and his teammates.
6. Rhys Hoskins, Phillies, 25 – His power numbers over his first season-and-a-half project to full-year averages of 41 homers and 115 RBIs. Those numbers would make him the best slugger around here since Ryan Howard. He’ll be better with the move to first base and protected by a stronger lineup around him.
5. Ben Simmons, Sixers, 22 – An incendiary talent who can pass, drive, rebound, and fill up a box score. What he can’t (or won’t) do so far is launch a jump shot. When that comes around the young all-star will find himself among the NBA’s elite players.
4. Carter Hart, Flyers, 20 – Too soon, you think? Maybe. But Hart has been an elite prospect since age 12 and his NHL arrival has been spectacular. He’s fundamentally solid, poised and fast on his feet and with his glove. He’s the goalie Flyers fans have waited to come along for 30 years.
3. Aaron Nola, Phillies, 25 – What a great breakout season he had in ’18, leading MLB pitchers in WAR (10.5) and going 17-6 with 224 strikeouts and a 2.37 ERA. A smart, fundamentally sound pitcher who would have fit right in with the Phils’ great rotations of a decade earlier.
2. Carson Wentz, Eagles, 26 – Don’t stop believing. Injuries limited Wentz’s mobility and ended his season early, but the kid still has the stuff to be a franchise quarterback. I’ve always foreseen a Roethlisberger-type Hall of Fame career with few Super Bowl trophies of his own.
1. Joel Embiid, Sixers, 24 – The Alpha Dog. A top-five NBA player now, who keeps getting better. A great teammate, fun personality and motivated winner. With the injury worries behind him (knock on wood), Embiid will go on to win MVPs and be a Hall of Famer. I don’t think I’d trade him for anyone in sports.
That’s my list. Who’s on yours?