Philly Baseball Insider has increased our list of the top Phillies prospects from the usual 50 prospects that we’ve ranked in previous seasons to 80 players coming into the 2018 season.
Our list is compiled by comparing notes with scouts, coaches, broadcasters, reporters and other analysts both throughout the season and following the season.
To be eligible for the list, a player must have his MLB rookie status intact coming into the 2018 season, meaning that they do not have more than 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the majors during a previous season or seasons. They also may not have accumulated more than 45 days on a major league roster during the 25-player limit period (April through August), excluding time on the DL.
The plan is to unveil our list throughout January with short scouting reports on each player. We will also be starting to assemble a list of player pages that will include stats and information on players throughout the Phillies organization.
Our list of the Top 80 Phillies Prospects begins with players ranked 56 through 60.
56. Tyler Gilbert, LHP, 24
Even though he was drafted out of USC, Gilbert figures to need a little more work than the average pitcher coming from a program like that. He only spent one season with the Trojans before pitching two seasons for Santa Barbara city College, a junior college. When he was with USC, he was used both as a starter and reliever.
The Phillies used Gilbert as a starter for his first couple of seasons, but moved him to the bullpen with Clearwater last year and he responded with a 3.25 ERA in 35 games with the Threshers. He’s got a low-to-mid-90s fastball with good movement to go along with a curve and change-up that have gotten better since he was drafted, but are still average. While his repertoire wasn’t good enough to keep him in the rotation, he’s got good command of all his pitches and in three minor league seasons has averaged just under two walks per nine innings while striking out just under eight batters per nine innings.
57. Mitch Walding, 3B, 25
The 2016 season saw Walding start to show the type of player that the Phillies believed he would blossom into and he continued that with the 2017 season. Th difference between the two seasons is that Walding nearly doubled his home run totals from 13 to 25, although as often happens when there’s an increase in power, Walding’s average dipped from .269 in 2016 to .242 this past season. If he can make a little more contact to pump up the average, he’s going to quickly become a part of the Phillies discussions about the future.
Walding played in 99 games with Reading last season and played in two games with the Gulf Coast League Phillies on a rehab assignment after fracturing his ear in a collision with catcher Chace Numata while the two went after a pop-up. Walding likely opens the season at Lehigh Valley, but the Phillies could decide that just a bit more Double-A seasoning is in order. Walding was a minor league free agent following the season, but the Phillies quickly moved to re-sign him for at least another season.
58. Damek Tomscha, 3B/1B/LF, 26
Tomscha’s days at third base could well be over. He’s always been a bit of an adventure at the hot corner and the Phillies have found that he appears more comfortable either at first base or tucked away in left field. With his defensive issues addressed, Tomscha can focus more on the offensive side of his game, where he is already having success.
In four minor league seasons, Tomscha is a career .282 hitter and hit a career-high 11 home runs last season between Clearwater and Reading. He also hit a combined .307/.386/.439 between the two stops. Tomscha struck out once every 6.1 plate appearances in 2015 and improved that to once every 9.1 plate appearances the following season. With the improved power this past year, his strikeout rate fell to once every 7.4 plate appearances, which is likely close to where he figures to be able to keep it at down the road.
59. Jake Scheiner, 2B/3B, 22
The Phillies took Adam Haseley in the first round of last year’s draft and then took two pitchers before returning to a position player. When they made their fourth round pick, they sent analysts scrambling to find information on Jake Scheiner, who they drafted out of the University of Houston. Scheiner wasn’t on scout’s radar for that early in the draft, but the Phillies saw something that they liked in the kid and decided to take a chance on him.
The Phillies shifted him off of his shortstop position from college to play at both second and third base last season and it appears that his future may be at second base. Offensively, Scheiner showed decent numbers with a line of 4-19-.250/.317/.377 at Williamsport in his first professional season. The tools to hit appear to be there, but Scheiner likely will just take some time to make the adjustments needed to legitimize him as a fourth round pick.
60. Will Hibbs, RHP, 24
Will Hibbs was flat-out impressive in his 40 relief appearances with Lakewood last season, posting a 1.77 ERA and striking out nearly 11 hitters per nine innings, while walking 2.5 per nine. He kept the ball on the ground and allowed just two home runs in 61 innings of work, while recording 20 saves. A late season promotion to Clearwater didn’t go nearly as well, as Hibbs was tagged for runs in three of his five outings, twice allowing three earned runs. The result with the Threshers was a 7.88 ERA.
You do have to keep in mind that Hibbs was a little old for pitching in Low-A ball, but his accomplishments there were certainly encouraging. It’s going to be interesting to see how he fares in 2018, likely starting the season back at Clearwater and hopefully putting up strong enough numbers to get himself moved up the ladder to Reading before the end of the season.
You can also use our Prospect Rankings menu at the top of this page to see the full rankings for 2018 and previous years.