Phillies prospect watch: Zach Eflin, Alec Asher pitch like aces, Tommy Joseph red hot at plate

Phillies prospect watch: Zach Eflin, Alec Asher pitch like aces, Tommy Joseph
Getty Images

The Phillies have been playing a lot better than expected at the big level. And interestingly, so too have many of the team’s top prospects.

It appears, early in the spring, that more than a few players are just begging to be looked at by the Phillies’ brass. And should a principle player in South Philly get cold, or go down with an injury there is no shortage of talent waiting in the wings to take their jobs.

Here’s a look at who’s hot and who’s not among the young talents in the Phillies’ system:

Who’s hot

Tommy Joseph: Remember him? He came to the Phillies a few years ago in the Hunter Pence-Giants trade and was pegged as the catcher of the future. After a few concussion issues, Joseph has moved to first base and he’s been scorching hot at the plate in Triple-A over the last few weeks. Batting .368 overall, he’s hit .405 over his last 10 games and has lifted his average to one of the best on the Iron Pigs.

Zach Eflin: Eflin’stwo most recent starts have been just as good as his first two, as the 22-year-old Iron Pig has allowed just six runs through four starts and 26.1 innings pitched. Five of these runs came on April 22, with his other three starts allowing just one. He has a 2.05 ERA and 3-0 record.

Mark Appel: The former No. 1 pick has permitted even fewer runs to cross home plate, with just four earned runs allowed in 22 innings pitched. Appel is also 3-0, but has less overpowering stuff as demonstrated by just 17 strikeouts. But his 1.64 Double-A ERA is pretty impressive.

Nick Williams: The Phillies’ 22-year-old slugger of the future is finally slugging. Okay, he might only boast one home run this season, but in the last ninegames he’s improved his batting average from .184 to .282 (a .366 clip) in Reading. From April 19 through the 30th he had recorded a hit in eight of nine games and totaled 15 in that stretch.

Roman Quinn: The Phillies’ speedy Double-A outfielder has hit .325 over the last week and a half and has upped his stolen base total to nine on the year. In his last four games in Reading he has been piping hot, recording nine base hits in those games.

Ben Lively: Lively is 3-0 for the Fightin’ Phils and has lowered his ERA from 3.27to 1.55 in his three most recent starts. He’s permitted just five earned runs in 29 innings pitched and could be a candidate for a promotion sometime soon.

Alec Asher: The 24-year-old was called up from Double to Triple-A last week and was lights out during his first appearance for the Iron Pigs. In 8.2 innings Saturday, Asher struck out five and allowed no earned runs in a 3-2 win over the Buffalo Bisons.

Who’s not

Andrew Knapp: The Phillies’ Triple-A catcher Knapp has been cold this week, watching his average drop from .364 10 games ago to .268 as of Tuesday afternoon. He’s also had trouble handling the pitching staff, which has the fifth worst ERA in the International League and second-least total strikeouts.

Jake Thompson: Thompson has nearly one strikeout per inning pitched (18 in 19 frames) but he has struggled at Triple-A through his first four starts. His most recent outing, on April 25, relented eight hits and five runs in five innings of work. His ERA currently stands at 6.16.

J.P. Crawford: The Phillies top prospect is under “who’s not” not because he is cold, but he has certainly cooled down after a fast start. He’s batted .265 over the last 10 games and his overall average has dropped from well over .300 to just .278. However he has had three stolen bases and drew an impressive 12 walks during that span.

Who’s hurt:

Cornelius Randolph: The Phillies’ first round pick last season was picking things up after a slow start, lifting his batting average by over .100 points (including his first home run of the year on April 19) before he was placed on the disabled list on April 22. His sore shoulder is nothing to be worried about.

Jorge Alfaro: The Fightin’ Phils’ catcher was as hot as could be, winning player of the month honors just before being placed on the DL with a batting average of .500. He is expected to return to the lineup soon as hisoblique strain heals in May.