Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz and Cole Hamelsare heroes in Philadelphia.
The Phillies now departed core grew up together, led the team to five straight NL East titles and to the 2008 World Series title. And then, one by one, they aged and were shipped off to begin the rebuilding process.
Could Mark Appel, Jake Thompson, Nick Williams, Maikel Francoand a bevy of others eventually create the nextlegendary Phillies core?
“It’s cliche,” Jake Thompson, a 21-year-old pitcher and one of the Phils’ best prospects, said.”Everyone is saying it but it is exciting to see what it turns into. There is so much talent in such a close age range.”
The Phillies boast one of the most improved farm systems in baseball after recent jettisons of Cole Hamels, Ken Giles, Chase Utley and Jonathan Papelbon — among others — have given the organization an impressive haul. It’s a group that pitching prospect Alec Asher is really proud to be a part of.
“It’s very exciting,” Asher, who got called to the big league club last summer, said.”A lot of these guys in here I have played with or against. And you know what you’re dealing with. It’s a bunch of young guys, it’s exciting to take this adventure together and see where we can go with it.”
The Phillies made an under-the-radar move in the fall that cost them closer Giles, but netted them a former No.1 overall draft pick. And perhaps Mark Appel’s change of scenery can turn him into the Roy Halladay-esque hurler many thought he would be coming out of Stanford when he was drafted by the Astros.
“I feel the same culture is being created here,” the 24-year-old prospect said, reflecting on his former club in Houston which unexpectedly made the playoffs last season.”We have a lot of talented players in the organization… it starts with creating a culture of hustle, excitement and of playing the game the right way. Ultimately that leads to winningwherever we are in the minors. The ultimate goal is bringing a World Series to Philadelphia.”
Phillies fans and Phillies prospects appear to be on the same page, wanting to bring another World Series toPhiladelphia. Whether the situation in the minors echoes that of the mid 2000s, when the Utleys, Howards and Rollins’ were paying their dues is yet to be scene. But the optimism and anticipation is certainly similar.
“I think it’s an ideal situation,” Thompson said.”We’ve all played together, we all like each other. We have the chemistry. We have to get [to the big league] first. But once we get there and see what pans out and what doesn’t pan out, if you have that core group of guys, that’s what the 2008 Phillies did… What they had for that stretch, it was a core that led the team, they were well respected and talented and they succeeded.”