Tommy Joseph has been in the Philadelphia Phillies organization for just short of a month. But his presence since his trade to the Phillies in the deal that sent Hunter Pence to San Francisco has already been felt.
It was said by pundits that Joseph may have been the best Phillies prospect before he ever caught a game in the organization. Those pundits were close.
In a survey conducted by the Reading Eagle of 15 sports writers and broadcasters who cover every level of the Phillies' organization, Joseph was voted as the Phillies' No. 2 minor league prospect. The Reading catcher received 155 points, and trailed just Jesse Biddle, a left-handed pitcher currently in Clearwater. This is the first time on any published list that Biddle has been named the Phillies' top prospect.
In last year's survey conducted by the Reading Eagle, Biddle was the No. 3 prospect behind pitcher Trevor May and catcher Sebastian Valle. After struggling for much of the year, May fell to sixth this year and Valle is fifth.
The list of 25 Phillies prospects contains 18 current or past Williamsport Crosscutters. Current Cutters shortstop Roman Quinn appears on the list at No. 13, and current Cutters left fielder Larry Greene Jr. is at No. 21.
Quinn has separated himself as the organization's best speed prospect in his first season of minor league baseball after being taken in the second round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. His .284 batting average with the Crosscutters is fourth-best on the team behind just Chris Serritella and Cameron Perkins, two players who were drafted out of college this year. The third-highest average belongs to outfielder Diego Gonzalez who was called up to Lakewood in early July.
Quinn's nine triples lead the New York-Penn League and his 27 stolen bases lead the team. His pure speed has brought about comparisons to Reds prospect Billy Hamilton, who has stolen more than 140 bases in the minor leagues this year.
Greene represents potentially the Phillies' best power-hitting prospect and maybe the most dangerous power-hitting potential since Jonathan Singleton despite having hit just two home runs this year. The supplemental first-round pick out of Georgia a year ago has shown good plate discipline and a keen understanding of the strikezone in his first season of professional baseball.
Biddle, who pitched in three games for the Crosscutters in 2010 represents one of two left-handed pitching prospects in the Top 7 of the list. Biddle was the only left-handed pitcher in the Top 10 a year ago, and in 2010, there were no left-handed pitchers in the Top 10.
The former first-round pick out of Germantown Academy, is 10-5 with a 3.10 ERA this year for Clearwater. But he's given up fewer hits than innings pitched, he's averaging 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings, and 2.75 strikeouts per walk.
The other left-hander in the Top 7 is former Crosscutter Adam Morgan who has ascended all the way to Class AA Reading this year after going 3-3 with a 2.01 ERA last year with the Crosscutters in 11 games. Morgan was a third-round pick out of Alabama a year ago and started turning heads with a 3.29 ERA in advanced Class A Clearwater this summer. Despite a 4-10 record, he allowed 20 fewer hits than innings pitched, struck out 140 in 123 innings, and has a five-to-one strikeout to walk ratio.
Since being promoted to Class AA Reading, Morgan is 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA.
What this list represents is a renewed excitement in the Phillies' minor league system since the depletion of the farm system thanks to trades to acquire the likes of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Hunter Pence and Brad Lidge have been made. Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. helped restock the system this summer with the trades of both Pence and Shane Victorino.
Two of the players received in those trades, Joseph and pitcher Ethan Martin, appeared in the Top 10. Martin, a right-handed pitcher with a very high ceiling, was ranked ninth on the prospect list.
But on top of near Major League-ready talent on the list -eight of the Top 10 are in Class AA or AAA - but there's an infusion of young talent, as well. Quinn and Greene are both just 19. Third baseman Maikel Franco (ranked 10th) is just 19. And all the way down at No. 22, Carlos Tocci is hitting .278 with a .330 on-base percentage for the Gulf Coast League Phillies as a 16-year-old.
Seriously. He's just 16.
Tocci was maybe the most sought-after international free agent signing a year ago out of Venezuela. The Phillies were able to sign the outfielder for more than $750,000.
There's hope in this list. There's reasons to be excited by anybody in the Top 15 of this year's list. And that's something Phillies fans haven't been able to say much in recent years.
Mitch Rupert covers the Williamsport Crosscutters for the Sun-Gazette. He can be reached at 326-1551, ext. 3129, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/Mitch_Rupert.