As most of the world enters the holiday season and the long winter months ahead, the baseball world enters the free agent season: a time of big free agent signings and huge deals that find key players switching from one team to another in the blink of an eye.
While this time is filled with excitement for major league fans, minor league fans can find themselves saying goodbye to fan favorites that they have watched develop and are now whisked away as an added bonus in a deal. An exciting season for some can be a depressing season for others.
Fans of the Reading Fightin’ Phils, double-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, probably don’t have much to worry about this offseason.
The Philadelphia Phillies are in the midst of a rebuild in their organization, making them unlikely to trade any high caliber minor league players that could provide help in the majors later down the road. Reading’s roster was packed with top prospects last year, and this year looks to be filled with more.
Baseball America recently released its annual top prospects list for each organization, and the Phillies looked much like many fans expected. Five of the top ten prospects, J.P. Crawford, Nick Williams, Jake Thompson, Andrew Knapp and Roman Quinn, were all part of Reading’s team last season and had a successful season that ended in the championship series.
While many of them may be moving up to triple-A this season, the Phillies system is stocked with talent to fill the gaps in Reading’s roster. Roman Quinn, number 8 on the list, missed the majority of the 2015 season with a groin injury and will probably need another season at double-A, where he is sure to light up the stadium and the base paths. Jorge Alfaro, a catcher acquired in a late-season trade and ranked at 5 on the list, finished the season at single-A and may be moving up to double-A in the coming season.
A look at mlb.com’s prospect watch shows the Phillies top 30 prospects, many of whom were playing at double A or lower last season. As these young players move up toward the majors Reading’s roster, and fans, will benefit.
Brock Stassi, one of the Fightin’s top players from last season and the Eastern League MVP, does not even make the top prospect lists. When one of the team’s best players doesn’t even rank in the organizations top 30, the talent behind him is something to keep an eye on.
Recognizing the quality of their farm system, the Phillies have recently announced a treat for fans. This season will feature the first ever Phillies Future game; a game where all of the top prospects in the organization will face-off against the major league team. In honor of 50 years of affiliation between Reading and Philadelphia, the Fightin’s will host the game on March 31, giving their fans the rare opportunity to see the top prospects and the major league players up close.
While the holiday stress mounts and the weather grows colder, Reading fans can look forward to another bright, exciting and hopefully successful season of baseball with all of the young stars of the future Phillies.
To purchase tickets for the 2016 Fightin’ Phils season, or for more information on the Phillies Future Game, visit www.fightins.com.