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February 20, 2023

Phillies prospect watch: When will best young players make MLB impact?

The Phillies have a very interesting slate of prospects waiting in the wings for 2023. There's also a stark split between the kinds of players rated most highly by baseball experts in their farm system.

There are a handful of players ready to burst onto the scene, nearing big league readiness — and then there are a bunch of extremely young and untested prospects with raw talent and little track record.

In the past, the Phillies have kind of struggled with having a majority of their prospects falling some place in between. They were chock full of players in their early 20s. — "he's gotta be ready, right?" kinds of guys. 

In 2023, there should be a big impact on the veteran Phillies from their farm system. And there are also a ton of young prospects years away from being ready who could help them come the trade deadline.

Below we've given each of the top 15 prospects in 2023 — according to Keith law at The Athletic — an MLB ETA, an arrival date for each. Here are our expectations (in a world of best case scenarios) for the best young players in the organization:

1. Andrew Painter, 19, SP: ETA 2023

Painter is the sixth best prospect in baseball and has been in the conversation to be the fifth starter when camp breaks in March. The former first round pick can do it all, and is the kind of power pitcher Dave Dombrowski and the Phillies typically swoon over. He's also huge, at 6-foot-7, 215 pounds.

Barring injury, there's no chance he doesn't see the field in South Philly. Last season in their World Series run, Philly's lack of starting pitching depth came back to haunt them. A lot of the arms on this list will be doing their best to reverse that problem in 2023.

2. Mick Abel, 20, SP: ETA 2023

Abel is the Phillies second hurler in the top 100 among all prospects and he's really just a half step below Painter as far as talent goes. He has a killer fastball and slider, but needs some work on his changeup. He has excellent control and at 6-foot-5, will be an intimidating presence on the hill for years to come.

3. Johan Rojas, 21, OF: ETA 2024

There isn't much room for an outfield prospect to get on the field every day in the Phillies organization, with Bryce Harper, Kyle Schwarber, Nick Castellanos and Brandon Marsh all under contract for years to come. Which makes Rojas an interesting player to keep an eye on as a headliner in a trade package in the summer. He's lightning fast and has a great glove but needs to work on being better at the plate.

4. Hao Yu Lee, 19, SS/2B: ETA 2025

Remember how we mentioned the divide between the very close and very far from big league talent in the Phils farm system? Here's one of those extremely talented players with a lot to prove. Lee has a .290 batting average in the minors over two seasons but hasn't made it to Double-A yet. He's the most talented infielder in the system.

5. Griff McGarry, 23, SP: ETA 2023

The third best pitcher in organization, he's a prospect that most resembles what the Phillies have boasted in the past. He's had time to refine his skills in the minors pitching up to Triple-A at the end of last year. He is likely to start the year back in Lehigh Valley, but if depth is needed he should get an opportunity to pitch in the majors this summer.

6. Justin Crawford, 19, OF: ETA 2025

Crawford — son of former big leaguer Carl — was the team's first round choice last summer. He's immensely talented (obviously, as a first round pick) but he's still a teenager and joined the pro ranks right out of high school. If he can make a push to make the roster around 2025 when some of the team's outfield starters are off the books it would be ideal.

 7. Simón Muzziotti, 24, OF: ETA 2023

Muzziotti made some MLB appearances last season and is nearing middle age for prospects. He'll be fighting for a bench outfield job in spring training.

8. Emaarion Boyd, 19, OF: ETA 2025

Boyd is an 11th round pick from a year ago that many are excited about. He is raw but in a brief appearance in the low minors last year he hit .361.

9. Alex McFarlane, 22, SP: ETA 2024

A former fourth round pick from the University of Miami, McFarlane can throw 97 MPH and could leap into Triple-A with a good start to his spring. He might be in the conversation as a depth piece next spring, or a trade chip this deadline.

10. Gabriel Rincones Jr., 22, OF: ETA 2024

Rincones was a college third round pick who was too injured to play in 2022. He's got a power bat and could actually be a nice fit to move to first base (he has a lack of speed).

11. Carlos de la Cruz, 23, OF: ETA 2024

An intriguing prospect, de la Cruz is a true outcomes kind of guy who strikes out a ton but also could hit 30 home runs in a season.

12. William Bergolla, 17, SS: ETA 2026

The Phillies paid more than $2 million to sign Bergolla internationally and he was light's out in a shirt stint in the Dominican Summer League, hitting .380 in 83 plate appearances.

13. Christian McGowan, 23, SP: ETA 2024

McGowan projects as a depth starting pitcher in the short-term. He was injured last year but can hit 97 MPH on the gun.

14. Andrew Baker, 22, RP: ETA 2023

Finally a relief pitcher. Baker can throw 102 — no joke. He could be a late-inning reliever who makes an impact this season.

15. Rickardo Perez, 19, C: ETA 2025

A young catcher who hits for average but not power, he'll be the hopeful heir apparent to J.T. Realmuto.

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