Phils' system headlined by pair of intriguing hurlers
Lefty Biddle, righty Martin could be close to making impact at big league level
The future success of every Major League team lies largely in its Minor League pipeline. With that in mind, MLB.com is looking at each team's farm system, from the Top 20 Prospects to under-the-radar types.
The Phillies, a team built heavily on starting pitching in recent years, may be ready to replenish their supply. Two names -- left-hander Jesse Biddle and right-hander Ethan Martin -- stand out from the pack in Philadelphia's farm system, and both could be close to making a big league impact.
Phils director of player development Joe Jordan said that he liked the balance and depth of his farm system, which also boasts a potential plus offensive catcher in Tommy Joseph. But if the team is going to get a shot in the arm sometime soon, it may have to come from Martin or Biddle.
Martin, who came over from the Dodgers in last season's Shane Victorino trade, has already seen time against upper-level hitters in Double-A. Biddle will get his first shot against advanced hitters this season, and Jordan said that he's earned a promotion by making consistent progress.
"For me, the story on Biddle is he's going to have four pitches," said Jordan. "His pitchability improved last year. It's all going to be about executing and making pitches. He's going to have a really good mix. He's a very competitive kid. If he stays healthy, he's going to have a long career."
Health hasn't been a problem thus far for Biddle, who's made more than 20 starts in each of the past two seasons. Jordan said that he would like to see more consistency out of Martin, but the 23-year-old went 5-0 with a 3.18 ERA in seven starts after joining Philadelphia's organization.
"Ethan, for me, was phenomenal," Jordan said. "The command has been a question as far as industry wide, and we didn't see a lot of it when he was here with us. But at times, he's got power with three or four pitches. We're very excited about what's going to happen in his first full year for us."
Joseph, acquired from San Francisco in a trade that sent Hunter Pence to the Giants, gives the Phillies some balance. The 21-year-old batted just .260 combined between two Double-A affiliates last year, but Jordan said that Philadelphia is confident in the youngster's ability.
"He's got a chance to be an offensive catcher. It's hard to find," he said of Joseph. "The thing I like the most about him -- when you get past the physical ability -- is that I think the kid has a lot of pride. I think he wants to be a good player. I think he wants to be a good defensive player, which is very important. And I believe in the guy's offensive ability. He's going to be a hitter."
Top 20 prospects
The Phils may have unearthed a special offensive player in outfielder Larry Greene, and Jordan is also enthusiastic about shortstop Roman Quinn. Jordan said that Quinn, who has game-breaking speed, may profile as a switch-hitting leadoff man by the time he makes the Majors.
"If all the stars align and if you just said, 'Every guy in your system is going to maximize their physical ability,' this guy would have more than any of them," Jordan said. "He's young and he's got a lot to learn. Last year was his first year of switch-hitting and playing shortstop. ... He can impact the game in more ways than any other guy in our system. We've just got to keep the development train moving."
Philadelphia has a pair of interesting talents in third basemen Cody Asche and Maikel Franco. Asche, a former fourth-round Draft pick, broke out by batting .349 for Class A Clearwater and .300 for Double-A Reading last year, while 19-year-old Franco hit 14 home runs for Class A Lakewood.
There's also upper-level pitching depth for Philadelphia in Jonathan Pettibone and Adam Morgan, two arms with a chance to be mid-level big league starters. Austin Wright had a big year for Class A Clearwater last season, giving the Phillies another left-handed arm to pin their hopes on.
The Phils may also get relief help from finished products like Phillippe Aumont and Justin De Fratus, two guys who have had brief runs of success against big league batters. Aumont and De Fratus are both on the fringe, and they'll both be trying to make a statement in Spring Training.
Under the radar
You might not know his name yet, but Kenneth Giles may be on the verge of a breakthrough. Giles, a seventh-round pick in 2011, struck out 118 batters in his first full season as a professional, and Jordan said he has the kind of arm that can make a difference at the upper levels.
phillies' top prospects
"He's got the best arm in our system and he made as much progress on the mound last year as any pitcher," said Jordan. "He's got back-of-the-game stuff. He hasn't had any physical problems, but if we can keep him healthy and on the mound, it's the guy you run out there in the ninth inning."
Kelly Dugan, a former second-round draftee, had a huge year for Lakewood last season, batting .300 with a .387 on-base percentage and 12 home runs. Dugan split time between right field and first base, and his bat is going to have to carry him to greater heights at the next level.
Pitcher of the Year
It's hard to pick against Biddle, who hasn't shown much adversity in his odyssey through the lower levels of Philadephia's organization. The southpaw has struck out more than twice as many batters as he's walked (325 to 140) in the Minors, and he's been both durable and consistent.
Hitter of the Year
Greene is just beginning to scratch the surface of his considerable skills. The left-handed hitter had a rough transition to the pro game last year, but Jordan loved the way he competed for Class A Williamsport and thinks he may be ready to explode for average and power this year.
"It was his first full season as a pro. It was a challenge early, to say the least," said Jordan. "It was a challenge because he needed to learn what it meant to be a professional in many ways. He didn't know what kind of physical shape to come into camp in, and we needed to build a base for him. I felt that when he went to Williamsport, Larry Greene took total ownership of his game. I was really proud of what he did -- the doubles, the walks. The power is the least of our concerns. I have no question about the fact that this guy's going to hit for power, but I love that he went up and tried to be a hitter."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.