Baseball America continues to lavish the Phillies with praise,
recently rating the organization's farm system as the fourth strongest
in baseball behind only the Rangers, Rays and Giants.
John Manuel, who has covered the Phillies for the last few seasons, couldn't say enough about the National League pennant winners in a November BA podcast (subscribe for free on iTunes; I highly recommend it). I can't remember his exact words, but he said something to the effect of the Phillies having toolsy outfielders coming out the wazzo. He seems generally high on many of them, even guys who didn't make the top 10 cut, like Jiwan James and Zach Collier. He's obviously most stoked about Domonic Brown, who was something of a reach by Manuel a season ago as the top prospect in the chain. Manuel's scouting sources think the still developing gazelle could hit 30 homers in the pros.
Long story short, Manuel's most striking observation during the podcast compared the system under assistant GM Chuck LaMar with that of Mike Arbuckle, who moved on to Kansas City after the promotion of Ruben Amaro Jr. Unlike Arbuckle, LaMar has been very aggressive to move prospects through the ranks and less inclined to demote struggling players. Look at someone like Kyle Drabek, for example, who needed only 10 starts at Clearwater before making the jump to Double-A, with only 35 injury-interrupted starts made before that point. Carlos Carrasco, now with the Indians, was another hard-throwing pitcher shuffled along quickly. Compare that to the methodical, step-by-step development of prospects during Arbuckle's early days.
I wonder, however, which is the correct approach. To me, Drabek and Carrasco each took their lumps for it; Drabek really faded after Toronto's scouts withdrew following the trade deadline. On the other hand, Drabek's mid-season promotion succeeded in buidling excitement around a potential trade chip. And to me, Carrasco never pitched with much consistency at any point during his hurried time with the club. Food for thought.