It’s no secret the Phillies minor leagues have been in dire shape at some points in recent years.
Mostly, the damage dates to the system being emptied in pursuit of players like Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, and Hunter Pence, and to a frustrating inability to find success at the top of the MLB draft.
Following the 2008 World Series victory, General Manager Pat Gillick retired and his Assistant, Ruben Amaro Jr.took over.
Leaving with Gillick, after being passed over for the GM job, was long time development guru and Gillick’s other Assistant GM, Mike Arbuckle.
Arbuckle was the Phillies’ Director of Scouting beginning in 1992, and oversaw a period of remarkable success in the draft that formed the core of the World Series team.Since Arbuckle and Gillick departed in 2008, a Phillies’ first round selection has yet to reach the majors.
That doesn’t say a lot of good things about the organization’s drafting, but it doesn’t tell the whole story either.
The team’s most recent first round selection could reach the majors by the end of this season, and there are several players taken in later rounds who have reached the big leagues and set about making a name for themselves.
On the eve of the 2015 MLB draft, we’ll take a look at some of the best, and worst, selections of Amaro’s tenure as the Phillies GM.
Five Best Selections
2014 – Aaron Nola, RHP, LSU, First Round
The Phils’ best pick may just prove to be their most recent one. Nola, considered one of the most major league ready prospects in the 2014 draft, has been flying through the minors and could reach the majors by the end of this season.At the moment, he’s taking it to Double-A batters, with a 7-3 record, 1.76 era and just eight walks in 71.2 innings for Reading in 2015.
2011 – Ken Giles, RHP, Yavapai College, Seventh Round
The Phils’ current setup man was originally drafted by the team out of high school with their 44th selection in 2009.He chose to go to college instead, and the Phillies can be glad they followed through on the pick two years later. In two seasons understudying for Jonathan Papelbon in the majors, Giles has posted a 1.57 era and notched 87 strikeouts in just 69 innings pitched.If the Phillies do move Papelbon at the trade deadline, as often speculated, they can feel confident in the man replacing him.
2013 – J.P. Crawford, SS, Lakewood High School, First Round
The revitalization of the Phils’ minor leagues started here.Crawford won the 2014 Paul Owens award as the best player in the Phillies minor league system after hitting .285 with 11 home runs and 24 steals throughout all levels.In 2015 he hit .392 for Clearwater in 21 games before being promoted to Double-AReading, where he is hitting .267 through his first eight games.
2011 – Roman Quinn, CF, Port St. Joe High School, Second Round
Quinn has really taken off in 2015, batting .300 with 25 stolen bases through just 53 games so far for AA Reading.In four seasons in the minors, the centerfielder already has 119 career steals, and flashes the speed that could one day find him among the league leaders in that category.Originally drafted as a shortstop, the Phillies moved Quinn to outfield in 2014, and it would certainly be a relief if he could make the majors and add some consistency to that position.
2011 – Cody Asche, LF, Nebraska, Fourth Round
Recently fans were concerned when Asche, for the past few seasons an apparent part of the team’s future at third base, was demoted to the minors to re-learn left field.Fears have been somewhat assuaged by both Asche’s swift return to the majors and his replacement at third, Mikael Franco’s, knack for big moments. Now, Asche, apparently settled in left already, can focus on improving his offense, as his numbers are down from last year’s .252 average, 10 home runs and 46 runs batted in.
Five Worst Selections
2011- Larry Greene, OF, Berrien High School, First Round
Greene, the first round pick in a draft that saw Asche, Giles, and Quinn obtained later, announced his retirement as spring training started this season.In three seasons in the minors, never progressing past Single A Lakewood, Greene hit .224 and had eight career home runs, a far cry from the 19 he hit as a high school senior that prompted the Phillies to draft him.
2010 – Perci Garner, RHP, Ball State, Second Round
Garner was just released by the Phillies this March, following five minor league seasons where he struggled mightily with walks, allowing 224 while striking out 306 in 398.1 innings of work.He has since signed with the Indians, his childhood favorite team.
2009 – Kyrell Hudson, OF, Evergreen High School, Third Round
Hudson, another player from the era of picking high ceiling tool-laden high school prospects, had some encouraging moments. In 2011 he hit .275 and stole 28 bases for Single A Williamsport.But that average dipped to .224 in Lakewood in 2012 and finally .202 in Clearwater in 2013 before Hudson was ultimately cut by the Phillies. He has not caught on anywhere else since.
2010 – Bryan Morgado, LHP, Tennessee, Fourth Round
Morgado also struggled with walks during his time in the Phillies organization. In three injury plagued seasons in the minors, Morgado walked 50 batters in 83.1 innings before the Phillies released him.He played for Camden, York, and Lancaster in the Atlantic League, before being invited to Spring Training this year with the Marlins.He did not make the team.
2009 – Matt Way, LHP, Washington State, Fifth Round
Way had his share of injuries as well, and missed the entirety of the 2011 season before being cut during Spring Training in 2012. When he did pitch, Way was actually pretty impressive, posting a 13-9 record with a 3.22 era and 170 strikeouts in 167.2 innings during his time in the minor leagues. He did, however, never progress past Single A ball.