Over the past month, Philadelphia Phillies fans have had no choice but to ponder what the future holds for the ballclub. As trade speculations surround a number of players including Cliff Lee, Jonathon Papelbon, and Carlos Ruiz, it’s uncertain as to who will be wearing red pinstripes heading into the dog days of summer. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has said on numerous occasions that he won’t “mortgage this team” for the future, but because of the inconsistent play, two wins here, four losses there, he might have to make some moves in order free up some money and replenish the farm system.
Speaking of the future, on July 14th the organization will send two of their farm hands to Citi Field in New York to showcase their talents as a part of the 2013 Futures Game. Left-handed pitcher Jesse Biddle and Third baseman Maikel Franco will represent the Phillies in the annual game held the Sunday before the All-Star game.
Biddle, a native of Philadelphia drafted 27th overall in the 2010 Draft, is regarded as one of the top prospects in the team’s Minor League system. He has spent this season with Double-A Reading and his 91 strikeouts over 79.1 innings leads the Eastern League. His record (3-7) with the Fightin Phils doesn’t justify his performance on the mound however. The southpaw’s 3.29 ERA in 14 starts, two of which were complete games, is 12th among active starters. Walks have been the only glaring problem for Biddle, who holds opposing batters to a .190 batting average, but has given up 42 free passes.
With a fastball in the low to mid 90’s, he does a great job of changing speeds with a plethora of pitches in his arsenal. That arsenal was shown in its entirety during his 4th start of the season against the Harrisburg Senators back in April when he set a team record with 16 strikeouts over 7 innings. He followed that up by striking out 10 batters in his following start against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. These types of performances get both fans and Phillies brass excited for what he can give them in the future.
There is that word again.
Franco has recently burst onto the scene for the organization and is quickly rising up the ranks. The 20-year-old out of the Dominican Republic has recently been promoted from Class-A Clearwater where he hit .299 with 16 homers and 52 RBI’s in 65 games with the Threshers. The third baseman continued in Reading right where he left off in Clearwater, hitting two homers in his first 6 games in Double-A. He hit safely in his first 5 games and is currently batting .484 for the Fightin Phils. The hot corner has been a position of emphasis over the years for the organization where Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt and Gold Glover Scott Rolen once roamed. But since Rolen, the Phillies have had 14 different third basemen man the position. Although Franco’s sample size is small, it would be nice to see if he can make it so the team can solidify the position like it had back in the 80’s and 90’s.
Because of their recent success, Philadelphia’s farm system has diminished over the years by trading for high quality players like Lee, Roy Halladay, and Hunter Pence. Biddle and Franco give them some hope that there is something left in the cupboard, but trading players to restock the system is an option for a team who has had trouble getting back to the .500 mark. There is no hiding the fact that this team is getting old and the window of opportunity is closing if it hasn’t shut already.
Amaro will make the decision whether to keep or trade the big names. It seems as if he is still living in the glory years of 2008 and 2009 when the Phillies made back to back world championship appearances. It might not seem popular now, but adding some young prospects to surround Biddle and Franco could be just what this organization needs to flourish in the future.