The Phillies farm system has been ravaged in recent years by trades to acquire Major League talent with hopes of making a World Series run. Now that the proverbial window appears to be shut for the Phillies, the farm system needs some help in a big way.
Last week, two Phillies prospects received honors from Baseball America. Clearwater shortstop J.P Crawford was ranked at the No. 23 prospect in all of baseball while Lehigh Valley third baseman Maikel Franco was ranked as the 50th best prospect.
Crawford, 19, has advanced rather quickly as he reached Low-A Lakewood at the end of last season. The 6'2", 180 lbs. shortstop was batting .295/.398/.405 with three home runs and 19 RBIs at Lakewood before getting called up to High-A Clearwater where he is batting .239/.320/.388 with three home runs and seven RBIs in 17 games.
Franco, 21, has struggled a bit in his first full season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley batting .230/.285/.364 with six home runs and 42 RBIs in 87 games for the Iron Pigs. While his average is down from .320 last season, including a .339 average in 69 games with Double-A Reading, Franco has been white-hot batting .390/.419/.707 with one home run, two triples, six doubles and 11 RBIs to go along with four runs scored in the nine-game span since his mental break. Franco's OPS has ballooned to 1.126 since July 2nd and he is boasting an impressive .429 BABIP (batting average on balls in play.
These two guys have carried the Phillies farm system but the Phillies front office knows they're going to need more than that to build a contender on the field.
"There are not enough offensive players in our system," general manager Ruben Amaro told Marc Narducci of The Philadelphia Inquirer. "We feel we need to do better than that, and it certainly is something that is a priority for us."
Depth has been an issue for the Phillies farm system since they made major trades to acquire Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence just to name a few. The trades of Cliff Lee, Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence all attempted to begin to replenish the Phillies farm system but so far those trades have not produced much of anything for Philadelphia.
A focus on the minor league system, particularly it's depth, is going to be key as the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline approaches.
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