There are two weeks left for the Orioles to trade Manny Machado. Just yesterday, Machado told reporters that he would love to stay with the Orioles but knowing the trade is inevitable, would rather be dealt sooner than later, if only so he doesn’t have to keep being asked questions about it. The O’s may oblige and deal him before the All-Star break is over.
A chase that once had at least eight teams involved has, according to the latest from the rumor mill, narrowed its way down to three finalists: Brewers, Dodgers, and Phillies. A surprise team could still jump back up from the second tier. For now, though, those are the three.
In an effort to avoid a “Who the heck are these guys?” reaction to a trade, I’ve been surveying the farm systems of some of the possible trade suitors over the course of this month. That survey has gone through Milwaukee and Los Angeles previously. Today, it’s the Phillies turn.
The Phillies farm system was ranked fifth-best in MLB by Keith Law prior to the season. This makes them an exciting team for an O’s fan to hear in trade talks because if they’re deep with talent, then they have talent to spare in a possible trade for a star like Machado. However, since those rankings were made, three top Phillies prospects have graduated from prospect status: J.P. Crawford, Scott Kingery, and Jorge Alfaro. So their strength still in the minors as potential trade bait is less than it was six months ago.
Prospects are listed below according to their current rankings from MLB Pipeline. Additional information on prospects comes from Law’s preseason prospect rankings for the system and the Fangraphs rankings of Phillies prospects from late March.
Names said to interest the Orioles come from a recent report by NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury.
#1 - RHP Sixto Sanchez
2018 stats, High-A: 8 GS, 46.2 IP, 2.51 ERA, 45 K, 11 BB
The prospect ranking world likes Sanchez. He was Law’s #23 prospect in the game before the season, and ranks 23rd on Pipeline now. It’s no surprise why not with his pitching so well at a relatively advanced level in his age 19 season.
By the way, the Phillies signed Sanchez out of the Dominican Republic for just $35,000. The Orioles keep missing out. By all accounts, he is not on the table for any potential deal, so for the O’s purposes it doesn’t matter how good he is. He hasn’t pitched since June 3 due to elbow inflammation.
#2 - RHP Adonis Medina
2018 stats, High-A: 15 GS, 71.1 IP, 4.92 ERA, 75 K, 26 BB
Medina is pictured above from Sunday’s All-Star Futures Game, where he pitched for the World team. As it worked out, Medina took the loss, giving up three runs in just one third of an inning. Oops. The 21-year-old righty was described by Law as having potentially “the best pure stuff of all of their starter prospects,” with concern remaining about his command.
His place on the prospect rankings comes after last season when he was just 20 and racked up the fourth-most strikeouts in the South Atlantic League - Low-A, where the O’s affiliate is Delmarva - along with the ninth-best ERA. As you can see, the immediate ERA results are not on that level in 2018.
Medina is one of the players the O’s have been seeking into the later stages of trade talks.
#3 - OF Adam Haseley
2018 stats, High-A/Double-A: .303/.350/.434 in 83 G, 7 HR, 56 K, 21 BB, 7 SB
Last year’s #8 overall pick earned the promotion to Double-A just within the last week, soon enough for him to go play and abuse the pitching of the O’s Double-A team, the Bowie Baysox.
Haseley made his way into the top 10 picks after hitting for power in his junior season at Virginia, though Fangraphs notes that there’s doubt it will play that way in the pro ranks. Law believes the on-base skills are good enough to carry him as long as he at least has a little power. Whether he sticks in center field is not unanimous among the scouts.
#4 - OF Mickey Moniak
2018 stats, High-A: .242/.268/.327 in 75 G, 3 HR, 81 K, 9 BB, 4 SB
Moniak was the #1 overall pick in the 2016 draft. Although he signed for under slot, the signing bonus was still $6.1 million. One imagines there must be regrets. The Fangraphs team noted his problem has been breaking ball recognition and poor plate coverage. They thought he looked stronger in the spring, another problem having been Moniak wearing down towards the end of last season. Safe to say that hasn’t translated into results yet.
#5 - OF Jhailyn Ortiz
2018 stats, Low-A: .238/.293/.389 in 66 G, 9 HR, 82 K, 16 BB
Some of the international signings are inexpensive. Ortiz was not, costing the Phillies $4 million in 2015. He is just 19 years old and has convinced some scouts who initially believed him to be 1B only that he can handle the outfield - though they’re not all convinced, with Fangraphs noting Ortiz is “already bigger than Jose Abreu.”
Law, who put Ortiz at #83 in his preseason prospect ranking, sees a future middle-of-the-order bat in Ortiz, with “an advanced approach at the plate ... some power at the plate and more to come down the road.” The Orioles have reportedly had their eye on Ortiz as a possible target in trade talks.
#6 - LHP JoJo Romero
2018 stats, Double-A: 18 GS, 106.2 IP, 3.80 ERA, 100 K, 41 BB
The Phillies fourth round pick in 2016 quickly impressed Law, who rated him as the #59 prospect in baseball before the season, praising a “four-pitch mix, command, and ability to miss bats” with upside as a #3 starter. As a draftee from a junior college, Romero is still just 21 years old and already averaging about six innings per start at Double-A, with nearly a strikeout per inning. That’s pretty good, though the walk rate is a bit high this season.
#7 - RHP Franklyn Kilome
2018 stats, Double-A: 17 GS, 89 IP, 4.35 ERA, 73 K, 45 BB
This guy is 6’6” and on the Phillies 40-man roster at age 23. They added him this past offseason, so two options remain after this year, which is good since he’s got a case of walking too many dudes. The Orioles, according to Salisbury, have some interest in him nonetheless. Of course.
The phrase that pops up in his scouting report from MLB Pipeline is a common one with those tall guys who have walk problems: “command has been inconsistent as he is still learning to get all of his 6’6” frame in sync on a regular basis.” And we all know how the Orioles are about putting that polish on raw pitching prospects.
#8 - SS Arquimedes Gamboa
2018 stats, High-A: .228/.322/.309 in 78 G, 2 HR, 76 K, 39 BB, 2 SB
Love the name, don’t love the slugging percentage. The Phillies signed this 20-year-old out of Venezuela for $900,000. The switch-hitter gets some praise for his defense from Fangraphs for his “speed, agility, and arm strength” meaning he’s got a good chance to stick at shortstop. That’s good for him since he isn’t hitting quite yet.
A .261/.328/.378 batting line in his first year of full season ball last season gave some hope that he might be starting to figure things out offensively. That hasn’t quite carried over to this year - though the walk rate is nice. Law didn’t even rate this guy in a Phillies prospect list that went out to 25 names.
Gamboa is also on the list of those who’ve interested the O’s.
#9 - LHP Ranger Suarez
2018 stats, Double-A/Triple-A: 14 GS, 84.2 IP, 2.55 ERA, 63 K, 23 BB
Suarez is yet another name who has apparently gotten the O’s attention. The lefty turns 23 next month and had Law’s attention from before the season even started, for having “a starter’s build and delivery, very athletic, and a good repertoire, with a fastball up to 95 and a feel for three pitches.” That will work for a lefty, indeed.
One thing that stands out to me is that he has only allowed two home runs all season. That’s not an aberration, as last year he only allowed five home runs in 122.2 innings between Low-A and High-A. He earned the Triple-A promotion. If the O’s really want him and the Phillies will part with him for Machado, perhaps he’ll soon be taking his talents to Norfolk.
#10 - 2B Daniel Brito
2018 stats, Low-A: .239/.309/.326 in 78 G, 3 HR, 57 K, 26 BB, 12 SB
The 20-year-old Brito posted a .615 OPS at Low-A last season, which is why he’s back at Low-A this season. Preseason comments on him said “needs to add strength,” which the .326 SLG suggests hasn’t happened yet. The scouts still believe that there’s room for strength when his body fills out. You probably weigh more than you did when you were 20. Will he add enough to succeed in professional baseball? That’s a question for the next couple of years.
#11 - RHP Enyel De Los Santos
2018 stats, Triple-A: 16 GS, 95.1 IP, 1.89 ERA, 87 K, 31 BB
De Los Santos found his way to the big leagues for a couple of starts and still remains on the MLB roster at the All-Star break. At 22, he’s still young for Triple-A, so his success there is interesting - as is the fact that he was acquired from the Padres for the low price of Freddy Galvis. He was also mentioned by Salisbury as being interesting to the Orioles.
There are some doubts about whether he’ll last as a starter due to what Fangraphs notes is a combination of “fringe command of the fastball and poor extension.” I think we know the outcome if he gets traded to Baltimore. But he’s definitely having a good season in Triple-A, which is better than if he was having a bad season.
#12 - RHP Tom Eshelman
2018 stats, Triple-A: 18 GS, 89.2 IP, 6.32 ERA, 66 K, 29 BB
Originally drafted by the Astros in the second round in 2015 and made his way to the Philly system in the Ken Giles trade. Per Fangraphs: “Surgical command has enabled Eshelman to succeed up through Triple-A despite fringe stuff across the board.” The 2018 performance seems to suggest that he has bumped into a ceiling of his fringe stuff.
The surgical command isn’t there as much, either: Last year, he walked only 14 batters in 150 innings and had a sub-1.00 WHIP. This year, not quite.
#13 - OF Roman Quinn
2018 stats, Triple-A: .289/.340/.444 in 23 G, 2 HR, 19 K, 7 BB, 12 SB
Currently on the disabled list due to tearing a ligament in his right middle finger in May. The first words in the article about that injury are “oft-injured.” Some people just aren’t lucky about that, and it seems Quinn, 25 and drafted all the way back in 2011, might be one of them.
#14 - OF Cornelius Randolph
2018 stats, Double-A: .215/.304/.265 in 80 G, 1 HR, 70 K, 35 BB
Law describes him as “a pure bat without a position, yet he hasn’t hit like that in pro ball.” The sub-Davisian slugging percentage is less than ideal. Did not crack the Fangraphs top 26, and with how he’s done so far this year, they seem like the ones who might have pegged his true talent level at this time. He’s just 21 at Double-A, so still pretty young for the level, but after briefly finding a power stroke at High-A last season, it seems that he’s lost it this year.
#15 - OF Dylan Cozens
2018 stats, Triple-A: .234/.330/.500 in 54 G, 14 HR, 79 K, 27 BB, 7 SB
You don’t find many 6’6” outfielders. Cozens, drafted in the second round back in 2012, is such a player. His performance at the top of the Phillies system got him a 14 game cup of coffee with the big club, where he batted .111/.238/.278 in a small sample size of 21 plate appearances.
This is the second year at Triple-A for Cozens. Though he hit 27 dingers last year, he struck out 194 times in 135 games. And speaking of that MLB time, he struck out in a whopping 12 of his 21 MLB plate appearances. That’s, uh, not great. Don’t worry, he hasn’t been linked to the O’s.
There are those in the baseball pundit world who have thought the Phillies are the most likely Machado destination all along. The front office is familiar with him since there are many former Orioles executives who were involved in drafting Machado here. They might want to try to nudge him towards signing there as a free agent with a couple of fun months this season.
The Phillies have the pitching prospects to spare if they want to part with some of them. Perhaps we’ll find out by the end of the break how this trade saga ends.