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As spring training nears its end, where are the Phillies prospects?

Maybe it's time to start paying more attention to prospects at the lower minor league levels.
J.P. Crawford will start yet another April in the minor leagues.Getty Images

Up until a few years ago, patience was a seldom used word around the Philadelphia sports world.

It has since become synonymous with all of the city’s franchises, whether it be with Carson Wentz’s development, the Sixers’ process or the Flyers' stockpiling of high-end prospects. While the Sixers often get credit for beginning the “patience period” in Philadelphia sports, the Phillies began their rebuild right around the time the city’s hoops team shipped its top guard, Jrue Holliday, for Nerlens Noel, thus beginning their process.

Yet, the Phillies’ stash of prospects that have been collected over the years are, for the most part, stuck in the minor leagues. Does that mean all of this hype has been under false pretenses?

Looking at the team’s projected Opening Day lineup, names like Maikel Franco, Odubel Herrera and Tommy Joseph look to be a part of the future. None of them, though, were high draft picks or brought in as a center piece of a trade. Franco was signed as an international free agent in 2010, Herrera a Rule-5 selection and Joseph came as part of the Hunter Pence deal in which Nate Schierholtz’s name held more value.

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What about the big guns the Phillies have acquired? J.P. Crawford? Nick Williams? Jorge Alfaro? Roman Quinn?

Well, they’ll all be back in the minors this season.

It’s a bit frustrating, particularly with Crawford, who has been among baseball’s most talked-about prospects yet hasn’t been able to get over the hump. Guys like Williams and Quinn could’ve had a chance to make the Opening Day roster, especially Quinn, if the Phillies didn’t venture into free agency for Howie Kendrick and Michael Saunders.

The latter moves help the team now, but does it slow down the development of their young outfielders?

While fans may bebecoming tired of the waiting game for some of these players, it doesn’t mean these prospects have been over-hyped or are losing ground. Sure, Crawford probably was unfairly labeled as the No. 1 prospect in baseball two years ago and maybe there were too high of expectations placed on the power-swinging Williams, but these two — along with the dozens of other notable prospects —are going to make some noise on the Phillies … eventually.

Rather than rush the youngsters or expect too much out of an individual prospect, take a look at what may be the biggest reward of the Phillies’ process and look no further than their youngest talent.

Mickey Moniak, the No. 1 overall pick two years back, has all the tools to be a very special big leaguer. Cornelius Randolph, the team’s first round pick in 2015, turned heads at Single-A. Third baseman Cole Stobbe batted .270 in rookie ball after being taken in the third round of the 2016 draft. Carlos Tocci, a 21-year-old, made strides in Clearwater (A), as well.

Point being: Perhaps there has been too much stock placed on the bigger name prospects at the higher levels and not enough attention on the newer faces in the lower levels.

When that talent comes to the forefront in two to four years as the likes of Crawford, Williams and Quinn settle into the big leagues, well, that’s when the patience will finally pay off.

So, no, the Phillies process hasn’t been flawed, it’s just a slower developing process that comes naturally with baseball.

It’ll be worth it.

 
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