Top 5 Prospects for 2015: Philadelphia Phillies by Marc Hulet November 21, 2014 This 30-part series will look at the projected Top 5 freshman contributors for each big league club for the year ahead. The rankings take into consideration a mixture of ceiling, readiness and potential playing time allocation, which is to say some players with lower ceilings may be ranked ahead of others with higher ceilings because they project to have a greater impact in the coming season. In a nutshell: This veteran club doesn’t appear to have many holes in the field but injuries are going to happen — especially when most of your starters are 30+ years old. The biggest need will likely be reliable pitching. The Top 5 Freshman for 2015 1. Maikel Franco, 3B/1B: Franco rebounded from a terrible start to 2014 to have a respectable second half in the minors, which earned him a big league cup of coffee. Unfortunately for both the young player and the Phillies, incumbent first baseman Ryan Howard is locked up in Philly for at least two more seasons. That limits Franco’s potential playing time and could push him over to third base, which is currently manned by the replacement-level Cody Asche. It might seem like a decent upgrade but the former doesn’t project well defensively at the hot corner. 2. Aaron Nola, RHP: One of the top arms available in the 2014 amateur draft, Nola should cruise through the minor leagues and could be a contributor to the Phillies in the second half of 2015 — if not sooner, especially considering the lack of depth in the rotation. He doesn’t have the most overpowering repertoire but his above-average command/control helps it play up and he could develop into a No. 2/3 hurler in time. 3. Jesse Biddle, LHP: Biddle might very well be in the big leagues by now — based on his raw stuff — if not for his inconsistencies and lack of command/control. The big, strong lefty got off to a very strong start to the 2014 season before melting down at the start of the summer and eventually taking time off to clear his head. He has the frame to be a durable innings-eater but he might be better suited, mentally, for a role in the bullpen. 4. Severino Gonzalez, RHP: This righty from Panama failed to build upon his breakout 2013 season but he still showed enough potential at the Double-A level to be considered a future contributor to the Phillies starting rotation — even though it might be in the back end. He has above-average control but he needs to keep the ball down in the zone more and he needs a consistent out pitch. 5. Aaron Altherr, OF: Big league veteran outfielder Marlon Byrd has reportedly been a hot trade target early on in the 2014/15 off-season and Altherr could end up benefiting from a potential deal. Extremely raw when he was drafted in 2009, this toolsy outfielder struggled in his first taste of Double-A action in 2014 but he has the potential to develop into a power/speed/defense threat if the club can tolerate the growing pains.