"What, they wonder, happens to a player like Johan Rojas? In the barren Phillies’ system, Rojas popped into most top 10 lists with an impressive half-season at Williamsport in 2019. He signed as a teenager for $10,000 to help field a second Dominican Summer League team; he was considered mere roster filler. He had a good summer. His coaches wrote glowing reports. Then, the Phillies started to measure his progress through trackers and sensors that became more prevalent at their Dominican academy. They found better bat speed than they expected and fast-tracked Rojas to America at age 18. Rival scouts liked him."
This paragraph summarizes the situation on the position-player side quite well, in my view. We start with the description of "the barren Phillies farm system" and recognize that what the Phillies were doing (in some ways still are doing?) hasn't worked. Taking a volume approach should yield a lot of depth in the system, which outside observers say hasn't happened. With Bohm and Howard graduated, BA ranks our farm among the handful of the very worst in baseball. Other rankers gave us a middling rating, based upon Howard and Bohm, but commented upon lack of depth.
On the plus side, we are implementing technology at the Dominican academy which allows the intrinsic hitting pluses of a guy like Rojas to be identified early on. This bodes well for us to move on from 2 Dominican teams to one. We just need to improve our ability to spot plus ability during the first Dominican summer, then move the guys on to GCL, where we similarly identify the guys with continuing potential and have them in Lakewood the following season. It's not like the current approach has left us with a depth of plus position prospects in the lower minors. Indeed, a very strong case can be made that the Phillies haven't spent their big bonus $ wisely on LA position players and need to also up their game in scouting the candidates for bonuses.
The situation with pitchers is not as rosy, as we have had luck with low bonus pitchers, and by and large haven't given big bonuses to LA amateur pitchers. Perhaps we will have to up the bonus $ per player and sign guys with more visible talent, rather than taking the numbers approach. Apart from Sixto, it's far from clear that our numbers approach has yielded unusual success.
One looks at the Lakewood, CLW, and Reading rosters of the past handful of years and sees a lot of filler on the roster, with a dearth of serious prospects. It is good that we are bidding up hitting instructors with Driveline experience and using younger instructors and managers/coaches. That will help us going forward.
It will be interesting to see how this turns out. It takes time to upgrade personnel and methods and see success. Now every team is, in a very real sense, having to re-gear their approach in the lowest minors. That can only benefit a team like us, with an inferior minor league talent base. I'm not going to cry tears for the Phillies over this change.