By Harry Allison
Nothing the Phillies do is easy.
Last week it leaked that they had traded legendary shortstop Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers, but it took until yesterday — when Matt Kemp was finally traded to the San Diego Padres — that the Rollins trade became official.
The Phillies will get Zach Eflin, a 20-year-old pitcher (photo above), in return.
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr., whose tenure began with a NL pennant in 2009 and a 97-win season in 2010, has overseen the slide that has resulted in consecutive 73-victory seasons.
Amaro’s predecessor, Hall of Famer Pat Gillick, took over as interim club CEO in September and proclaimed in October that “it’s probably a couple of years” before the Phillies compete again.
After firing scouting director Marti Wolever and replacing him with Johnny Almaraz, previously the international scouting director with both the Rangers and Braves, it will sure be interesting to watch this team’s process unfold for the draft this season and moving forward. The farm system was greatly depleted during the playoff runs from 2007 through 2011 and it is Almaraz who is charged with re-stocking it.
The Phillies don’t have much help coming in 2015. Their best prospects— shortstop J.P. Crawford, righthander Aaron Nola and third baseman Maikel Franco—rival any organization’s, but the system lacks depth, particularly in the upper levels.
It could be several years before the farm system yields the kind of core that it once did with Rollins, Utley, Hamels and Howard among the cornerstones of last decade’s sustained run of success.
With that in mind, here is a look at the Phillies’ top prospects as released by Baseball America:
1. J.P. Crawford – Shortstop
2. Aaron Nola – Right-handed pitcher
3. Maikel Franco – First base/Third base
4. Roman Quinn – Outfield/Shortstop
5. Carlos Tocci – Outfield
6. Aaron Brown – Outfield
7. Matt Imhof – Outfield
8. Jesmuel Valentin – Second base
9. Yoel Mecias – Left-handed pitcher
10. Franklyn Kilome