Crystal Ball: Looking Ahead To The 2016 IronPigs

“I wonder what tomorrow has in mind for me
Or am I even in it’s mind at all
Perhaps I’ll get a chance to look ahead and see
Soon as I find myself a crystal ball”

–Tommy Shaw / STYX


JP Lines One Up.  Photo: Kram

JP Lines One Up. Photo: Kram

It’s not that I’m giving up on the 2015 IronPigs.  Really, it’s not.  Oh, I know, they’re too far behind in the standings, and even behind in the IronRail at this point.  Plus, they’ll only be home for 12 more games.  Only 8 of those games will be when I’m available, and five of those happen over the closing, Labor Day weekend.  Those last five games are all in September, when the MLB rosters will have expanded and some of our better players could be called up.  So I’m not giving up, just accepting the reality of the situation for this season, remaining.  We still have games to play, and fun to be had.  Some interesting players are around, including the two new starters who came over in the Rangers/Cole Hamels trade.  So I’m still paying attention.

No, what got me thinking about next season has more to do with an article I read this morning.  Matt Winkelman over at Phillies Minor Thoughts does a great deal of writing and thinking about the players in the Phillies’ minor league system.  He spends the time to watch the video of player performances and talk with people who have seen the players play in person, rather than getting fooled by “box score scouting.”  He approaches things very objectively–rather than emotionally–which I appreciate.  He did a mid-season “Top 30”–and that’s what I read this morning.  Of course, I couldn’t help but calculate when each player might arrive in Allentown to play AAA ball for the IronPigs.  A bunch of the top ones could be arriving soon.  Go read the article here.

My crystal ball tells me that a bunch of these guys will be invited to MLB Spring Training, whether they have 40-man spots, or not.  I’m not considering 40-man limits here, because I think space can be made.  Options are another matter, and I’ve got some notes, below.  Some MiLB free agents will be added, and MLB guys will be brought to camp as well.  But consider, these are some guys who COULD be 2016 IronPigs on opening day in April (Matt’s Top 30 ranking, in parentheses; HM=Honorable Mention):


Gabriel Lino (28)

Discussion:  I’d expect Rupp to remain with the big club, and some veteran talent to be around for both MLB and AAA–perhaps even Kratzy.  I think Andrew Knapp (22) will go back to Reading, to start.

Starting Pitchers:

Jake Thompson (3), Zach Eflin (9), Jesse Biddle (18), Jerad Eickhoff (19), Alec Asher (30), Ben Lively (31), Severino Gonzalez (HM), Joely Rodriguez (HM)

Discussion:  Certainly, that’s more than the five we need.  Some will make the big club, and some might be converted to relievers or be sent back to Reading.  A veteran arm or two might be added.  In any case, though, it’s a nice group to choose from.

Relief Pitchers:

Nefi Ogando (HM), Jimmy Cordero (HM), Tom Windle (HM), Mario Hollands (MLB-DL)

Discussion:  Again, guys will have the opportunity to earn MLB spots, and a veteran or two might appear at both levels.  Some guys who are with the big club right now, could be back.  However, there should be some nice choices and talent here, as well.

First Base:

Tommy Joseph (not ranked)

Discussion:  Perhaps he’s not a prospect any more, at 1B, but you never know–and his power may play up without the defensive responsibilities at catcher.  He’ll DH some, and there’s been talk about 3B.  However, I’m expecting to see him at 1B with either Reading or Lehigh Valley to begin next season.  He does have an option left.

Second Base:

Odubel Herrera (MLB)

Discussion:  Secure with the big club this season due to Rule 5, and now converted to outfield, he may be needed there again next season–depending on what else happens at the outfield position.  Plus, I’m not sure he has options left, which would probably assure him an OF spot.  Nevertheless, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him at 2B in Allentown on opening day.


JP Crawford (1)

Discussion:  I see no reason why he’ll need to go back to Reading in the Spring.  I think they get him some MLB time during March, then send him down to AAA to start the season.  His glove is MLB-ready right now.  He’ll just need to fine tune his hitting and he’ll be with the Phillies before the end of next season.

Third Base:

Cody Asche (MLB)

Discussion:  Like I said with Odubel, it depends on what they decide about the outfield.  If the Cody in LF experiment is over, and other players are manning the corner spots, then Cody could become the back-up for Maikel.  Maikel’s arm is wasted at 1B, and Cody has options.  It wouldn’t totally shock me to see him back with us to start the season at 3B.  An MiLB FA could man this spot, as well.


Nick Williams (3), Roman Quinn (7), Aaron Altherr (12), Kelly Dugan (23), Cameron Perkins (HM)

Discussion:  Pick four, I guess.  Quinn could go back to Reading to start, I suppose, and it’s likely Altherr earns a spot on the opening-day MLB roster.  A free agent could be added, too, but there should be some talent here for us to watch.


With the possibility of 11 of the top 30 players in the system starting with the IronPigs next season, the future looks bright.  Young, talented players who were previously ranked could occupy additional roster spots.  We know, of course, that crystal balls are not 100% accurate, and that nothing is guaranteed.  It does give us something to look forward to, though, and should give some hope to Phillies fans as well.


See you at the park,




Categories: Kram's Korner - From the Club Level, Lehigh Valley IronPigs


2 replies

  1. Good stuff! Any information on what the status of Jonathan Pettibone is expected to be in 2016? I know he was scheduled to have another surgery on his shoulder but I haven’t heard anything regarding recovery time. And you can count on the Phillies signing at least 7-8 minor league free agents with invitations to major league spring training. There are a few from the 2015 Ironpigs who I wouldn’t mind having back again next year.

    This is the top 30 at which was revised within 24 hours after the Hamels trade. I wish I still had the preseason top 30 to compare how much it has changed in 5 months. I’m not sure how much major league service time is required before a player comes off the prospect list but I’d expect Nola to be off this list by the end of 2015. Looks like at least 13 players on this list were not in the Phillies organization this time last year.
    #1: J.P. Crawford, SS Reading. 2013 1st Round Draft Pick
    #2: Aaron Nola, RHP Philadelphia. 2014 1st Round Pick
    #3: Jake Thompson, RHP. Reading. Hamels trade.
    #4: Nick Williams, LF Reading. Hamels trade.
    #5: Jorge Alfaro, C Reading. Hamels trade.
    #6: Cornelius Randolph, OF. 2015 1st Round Draft Pick.
    #7: Roman Quinn, CF. 2011 2nd Rd. Draft Pick
    #8: Franklyn Kilome, RHP. Williamsport. 20 yr. old Dominican
    #9: Zach Eflin, RHP Reading. Jimmy Rollins trade.
    #10: Scott Kingery, 2B Lakewood. 2015 2nd Rd. Pick
    #11: Ricardo Pinto, RHP. Clearwater 21 yr old Venezuelan.
    #12: Ben Lively, RHP. Reading. Marlon Byrd trade.
    #13: Nick Pivetta, RHP Reading. Papelbon trade.
    #14: Jerad Eickoff, RHP LV Ironpigs. Hamels trade.
    #15: Alberto Tirado, RHP (likely Clearwater). Revere trade.
    #16: Tom Windle, LHP Reading. Rollins trade.
    #17: Andrew Knapp, C Reading. 2013 2nd Rd. Draft Pick.
    #18: Matt Imhoff, LHP Clearwater. 2014 2nd Rd. Pick.
    #19: Jesse Biddle, LHP LV Ironpigs. 2010 1st Rd. Pick.
    #20: Cord Sandberg, OF Lakewood. 2013 3rd Rd. Pick.
    #21: Carlos Tocci, OF Clearwater. 19 Yr. old Venezuelan.
    #22: Malquin Conelo, SS Clearwater. 20 Yr old Dominican.
    #23: Aaron Altherr, OF LV Ironpigs. 2009 9th Rd. Pick
    #24: Alec Asher, RHP Ironpigs. Hamels trade
    #25: Deivi Grullon, C Lakewood. 2012 International signee.
    #26: Severino Gonzalez, RHP Ironpigs. 22 yr old, Panama
    #27: Kelly Dugan, OF Reading. 2009 2nd Rd. Pick
    #28: Victor Arano, RHP Clearwater, 20 yr old, Mexico
    #29: Brandon Leibrandt, LHP Clearwater, 2014 Rd. 6
    #30: Jonathan Arauz, SS/2B. Gulf Coast Phils. 16 yr old from Panama.
    More detail here:

    • Latest information about Jon Pettibone was a second shoulder procedure. My medical research told me that it’s to “tighten up” some looseness in the joint, and that it was likely an arthroscopic procedure. If that is indeed the case, the healing should be quick and hopefully he can get back to it soon. The only thing worse than a shoulder surgery is another one–so with each passing day and additional surgery, well, it’s not good. I hope he can get back. I hope Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez can become something, too, but neither are really “prospects” at this point, which is why I didn’t include them in the post.

      The other thing to note is that just because a player is a “prospect” doesn’t mean he’s going to perform well for us. Sometimes, these guys are going to struggle when they come to AAA, and we have to be ready for that, too. A good reason to have some AAAA veterans around….but I’m wondering if the MiLB free agents will be a bit fewer this next season. We’ll see. The vets with the MLB invites would be smart to accept them–they’ll get a good chance to win a job next season as the Phillies prepare all these prospects and don’t want to rush them.

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