Former Phillies prospect Jonathan Singleton (Astros AA) is tagged out at second by Jean Segura (Angels AA) during the Futures Game on July 8. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Hindsight is and always will be 20/20 for the viewer.
A look back at four of the biggest trades Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro has made will raise two opinions: 1) Amaro pulled some seriously big names from Cleveland, Toronto and Houston; 2) Amaro also depleted the Phillies farm system so much that it ranks near the bottom of baseball currently.
Let’s cut to the point: Jonathan Singleton (23), Travis d’Arnaud (19) and Anthony Gose (38) rank in the top 50 in Baseball America’s prospect list. The Phillies have none on that list.
For a while it’s bothered me that those three names are very close to being every day Major Leaguers with the potential to be very good mainstays in the bigs. It wasn’t until Matt Gelb went to Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City to watch the Phillies past and future prospects play and wrote a fantastic piece this morning that I had to at least say something about it beyond an occasional tweet.
Let’s break down Gelb’s report.
For starters, d’Arnaud, the 23-year-old catcher who was a major part of the deal to Toronto for Roy Halladay along with Michael Taylor (traded to Oakland immediately), didn’t participate in the Futures Game because he tore a ligament in his left knee. But the catcher had a .975 OPS for the Blue Jays Triple-A Las Vegas 51’s.
Then there is Gose, the 21-year-old center fielder with Houston’s Triple-A Oklahoma City Redhawks, who is hitting .290 with 29 stolen bases. Gose was a part of the deal that brought Roy Oswalt to the Phillies.
Gose made a spectacular catch during the Future’s Game that topped highlight reels this morning.
And lastly, the most frustrating prospect of the trio I’m talking about is Singleton.
The Phillies tried him out in left field because they had a $25 million player blocking first base for the next seven years. Singleton failed in the eyes of the Phillies in left field so they traded to Houston along with pitcher Jarred Cosart as well for Hunter Pence.
Singleton is only 20 and is absolutely crushing Double-A pitching. If he isn’t in the Majors by next season I will be shocked. He ripped three hits in the Future Stars game in which USA beat the World, 17-5.
In 81 games with the Corpus Christi Hooks, Singleton is hitting .271 with 18 doubles, three triples, 12 homers and 47 RBIs. He has an OPB of .393 and an .881 OPS.
Any one of those guys could have been replaced with Domonic Brown and maybe, just maybe, this post wouldn’t be relevant.
Imaging having Gose or Singleton in the Phillies minors still lighting it up? It would ease the thought of there still being a whole in left field with Shane Victorino on his way out the door in center. It would give the fans a new and young exciting hitter to look forward to.
Instead there is Freddy Galvis, who can field but can’t hit and is now injured as well as serving a 50-game suspension for PEDs. There’s first baseman Chris Duffy in Single-A Lakewood as well as outfielder Tyson Gillies in Double-A Reading.
Then there’s Brown, who has more trouble with injuries than his actual progression as a hitter.
For Cliff Lee, Halladay, Oswalt and Pence, the Phillies traded away 17 players. 16 of those players have already played in the Majors or have a direct route towards the big leagues. The only exception is Jason Knapp of Single A Lake County Captains, who just had his second major surgery on his right shoulder since being traded to the Indians in 2009 as a part of the Lee deal.
Do the fans, and certainly the organization care? Most definitely. Potential talent is often traded for proven talent all the time, but it’s a risk. It’s a risk that only the traders will know was the right move after it was made.
Do the players involved have any ill feelings towards the Phillies for seemingly making the mistake on their talent?
“It’s obviously something you think highly of, being traded for Oswalt, Jonathan for Pence, Travis for Halladay,” Gose said. “. . . It’s a tremendous honor to be traded for them and definitely adds some incentive. When you come back, you can say: ‘I was traded for this guy.'”
It’s just a shame that if the Phillies valued those players high enough, why not hold onto them?
Hindsight is still 20/20, and unfortunately Amaro has proven himself blind to the talent hiding within the Phillies farm system.