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January 04, 2023

The top 10 Philly athletes under age 25

From Andrew Painter to Jalen Hurts, which names are leading Philly sports' next generation?

Eagles Phillies
Jalen-Hurts-DeVonta-Smith-Celebration-Eagles-Titans-Week-13-NFL-2022.jpg Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

Eagles WR DeVonta Smith celebrates his first-quarter touchdown against the Titans with QB Jalen Hurts on December 4, 2022 at Lincoln Financial Field.

It's a new year, and it's made me realize that a very large majority of Philadelphia's stars are middle-aged (by sports standards of course).

The Phillies' potential issues with age were already documented as they have no players under 25 on the 40-man roster and a bevy of players in their early 30s who'll grow old together for the next half-decade plus. The Sixers are led by MVP candidate Joel Embiid who himself is nearing 30, and James Harden who has already crossed that threshold. And the Eagles have a pretty eclectic mix of young and old, but won't be getting contributions from Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Jason Kelce, and other Pro Bowlers for much longer.

So what will the new generation of stars from the city look like?

Here's a look at the top 10 athletes on the four major squads under the age of 25:

10. ANDREW PAINTER | 19 | STARTING PITCHER | PHILLIES FARM SYSTEM

The Phillies' top prospect, he's the only member on our list who has yet to play a game in the "majors" in his respective sport. But he will soon. And he could wind up being a superstar. 

Wrote Joshua Schulman from That Ball's Outta Here:

Painter has already been recognized nationally on many platforms, being ranked as MLB’s No. 24 prospect. The 13th pick of the 2021 Draft was spectacular in all three levels he competed in last season, combining for an otherworldly 1.56 ERA.

Not only is Painter supposed to be the next stud pitcher in Philadelphia, but his style seems very mature for his age. For a 6-foot-7, hard-throwing teenager, his control is off the charts. He walked only two batters in 28 1/3 innings in Double-A Reading, the highest level of competition he has faced thus far. Control is normally an issue for young, blooming pitchers, but this does not seem to be the case with Painter. [FanSided]

9. NOAH CATES | 23 | LEFT WINGER/CENTER | FLYERS

Cates became a fifth-round steal for the Flyers from five and a half years ago as one of the few bright spots on an agonizingly bad team now. Including his short-handed game-winner to end the calendar year of 2022, Cates has 16 points this season and is fifth on the team in assists and fourth in plus/minus (+3).

The youngster does it all and could be a mainstay as a top-six forward for years to come.

"I am looking for Noah all the time in all situations," Flyers head coach John Tortorella said earlier this season.

8. DE'ANTHONY MELTON | 24 | GUARD | SIXERS

If Cates was a steal for the Flyers, Melton was grand larceny for the Sixers. Daryl Morey was somehow able to nab Melton, a former second-round pick, for Danny Green and the 23rd pick in 2022 this past offseason, and the young guard has fast become a starter for the Sixers (seizing an opportunity when Tyrese Maxey got hurt). Melton is a talented two-way guard who can shoot well from long-range.

Through 26 starts and 33 games this season, Melton has career-highs in points, steals, assists, rebounds and minutes per game. But more importantly, he seems to be a clutch player who can step up under pressure.

7. LANDON DICKERSON | 24 | LEFT GUARD | EAGLES

It feels like Philadelphia is the only city where offensive linemen can become stars. Jason Kelce is. Lane Johnson is. Brandon Brooks and Jason Peters were. And the next generation seems to have them too in Jordan Mailata and Landon Dickerson.

Dickerson was a second-round pick back in 2021, and he's quickly risen to the starting left guard role. He's made a huge, mostly positive impact, though sometimes the refs get in the way — like they did on what should have been a big touchdown last week against the Saints.

Dickerson made his first Pro Bowl in 2022.

6. JORDAN DAVIS | 22 | DEFENSIVE TACKLE | EAGLES

Eagles fans were clamoring for the athletic monster in Davis during the 2022 NFL Draft, and Howie Roseman rewarded them, taking the promising run-stopper with the 13th overall pick. He's served as a rotational player so far in 2022 and has battled some injuries but there is little doubt in regard to his impact, particularly in the run game.

“Everybody has a different role on the team,” said Davis said two weeks ago, via AP and the Trentonian. “It doesn’t matter, at least right now for me, what my position is or my role. I’m just happy to be here, I’m happy to be playing. That’s something that I pride myself on because every opportunity I get on the field, it’s an opportunity to play the game I love. Whether I come away with zero tackles or 100, I’m still going to enjoy it, play the game the same way and play with the same tenacity that I have.”

The hole in the roster was so big (literally and figuratively, I guess) when Davis got hurt that the Birds went out and signed veteran DTs Ndamukong Suh and Linval Joseph to fill the void. Davis' ranking here is based largely on potential. At just 22, he's got a lot of great football ahead of him.

5. JOEL FARABEE | 22 | LEFT WINGER | FLYERS

It was shocking to me as well that Farabee is still just 22. Drafted 14th overall back in 2018, the left-handed shot was lauded as the future of the franchise by Claude Giroux before he left and has 20 points so far this season. Recovery from disc replacement surgery over the summer saw Farabee off to a slow start, but he seems to be turning a corner with four points over the Flyers' five-game holiday road trip.

He looks like he's one of the leaders of the youth movement going on in South Philly, and he's one of the reasons why the Flyers' rebuild has just a little bit of hope. From Monday night's win out in Anaheim:

4. CARTER HART | 24 | GOALIE | FLYERS

Sticking with the Flyers, we have the best young goalie the team has had in ages. Hart is still under 25 and doing the best he can behind a pretty terrible defense this season.

Here's some color on Hart so far this year from Jacob Russell at Broad Street Hockey:

The numbers say that Carter Hart is one of the most overworked goalies in the entire NHL. Among goalies who have played 1000 or more minutes of action this season, only former Vezina trophy winner Connor Hellebuyck has faced more shots than Hart. Hart also has the second highest expected goals against in the league, and the second most high danger shots against.

All of the numbers say that Hart should be getting shelled on a nightly basis, and a lesser goalie probably would be, as we have seen at times when rookies Felix Sandstrom or Samuel Ersson have taken Hart’s place and promptly gotten rocked. But Hart has all the tools to be a consistent, quality NHL starting goalie; if you don’t believe it now after how well he played to start the year, you never will. Put him on a team like the Hurricanes, Maple Leafs, or Bruins who are more adept at suppressing shots, and his numbers would rival any goaltender in the league. [Broad Street Hockey]

3. TYRESE MAXEY | 22 | GUARD | SIXERS

Maxey has improved every year as a Sixer. A late first-round pick with relatively low expectations in 2020, he's become Philadelphia's third star and, prior to his recent injury setback, looked like he was headed toward his first NBA All-Star appearance.

The dynamic scorer can really do it all with the basketball and even after two games off the bench (his return from said injury) he is still averaging 21.4 points per game on 41% three-point shooting.

The fans love him, and the fans are pretty tough. That really says it all:

2. DEVONTA SMITH | 24 | WIDE RECEIVER | EAGLES

Roseman got it wrong at wide receiver a few times before he finally got it right. JJ Arcega-Whiteside was a total bust. Jalen Reagor was too. But in 2021, the Eagles traded up to take the Heisman Trophy-winning DeVonta Smith — and it appears to be working out just fine.

Paired alongside fellow superstar and thousand-yard receiver A.J. Brown, Smith has been a stud in his sophomore year, boasting 1,129 yards on 88 receptions with seven touchdowns. The thin-framed pass catcher is not only lightning fast, but he also has excellent hands and even more excellent feet — making elite sideline grabs look routine. Few quarterbacks have it as good as Jalen Hurts has with Smith, Brown, and Dallas Goedert as his top three targets.

1. JALEN HURTS | 24 | QUARTERBACK | EAGLES

And finally, the man who should be the MVP. Prior to his shoulder injury in Week 15, Hurts was the leading candidate to win the NFL's highest individual honor. Across the board, Hurts can throw every kind of pass and use his legs better than nearly any running quarterback before him.

Here's what The Philadelphia Inquirer's Marcus Hayes said after the Eagles' second loss without Hurts (and his 67.3% completion percentage, 22-to-5 TD-to-INT ratio, and 747 rushing yards with 13 rushing touchdowns):

If the Eagles hope to beat the Giants in the season finale, Hurts must play next weekend. If the Eagles hope to control their fate as NFC East champions and the No. 1 overall seed, Hurts must play next weekend.

If a player’s value to his team determines whether he’s the league’s most valuable, then there is no argument against Hurts. Will all due respect to Patrick Mahomes, who is more accomplished and more talented, and with all due respect to Joe Burrow, who might lead his team through Mahomes and Kansas City and to a second consecutive Super Bowl, neither is as valuable to the 2022 edition of his team as Hurts is to Philadelphia. [Inquirer.com]

Honorable mentions: Mick Abel (Phillies farm system), Griff McGarry (Phillies farm system), Cam Jurgens (Eagles), Nakobe Dean (Eagles), Justin Crawford (Phillies farm system), Jaden Springer,(Blue Coats), Cam York (Flyers), Cutter Gauthier (Flyers), Owen Tippett (Flyers)

(We should also mention that there are also a ton of really good 25-year-olds in the city that just aged off this list, including A.J. Brown, Jordan Mailata, and Bryson Stott.)


Follow Evan on Twitter:@evan_macy

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