Before we crank out a few more grades today, head over to minorleaguebaseball.com and check out the interview with Steve Noworyta, Phillies Minor Leagues Director, as he talks about some Phillies pitching prospects and CJ Henry moving from SS to 3B. The interview is located at the top left hand side of the page. Now, onto the grades.
McDonald, Darin, OF (age 19) Grade = C
McDonald, the Phillies 7th round pick in 2006, was probably seen as a somewhat fortunate sign for the Phillies, as he had signed to play for Yavapai College to play baseball, and he had a football scholarship to Idaho State. Nevertheless, he chose baseball, and he gives the Phillies another high ceiling athlete to go along with the nice crop drafted in 2006. He’s already 6’3, 195 lbs, so he has the frame of a guy who could add quite a bit of muscle, and who is already very athletic. His debut in the GCL wasn’t eye opening, he posted only a .651 OPS in 128 AB over a 31 game span, however, for a raw player experiencing his first taste of pro ball at 18, not the end of the world. He gets a C because his sample size is small, and because he is a high school player, you can’t expect every guy like him to put up D’Arby Myers or Adrian Cardenas numbers. A C is probably just about right.
2007 Outlook: The Phillies will be cautious with him, he’ll probably end up either repeating the GCL or going to Williamsport this season, and if he improves, will get a full season assignment in 2008. He has the physical frame to be an even better athlete than he already is, and he could develop plus power. The key, like all raw athletes, will be whether he develops the tools like plate discipline and proper route running needed to be a successful outfielder/big leaguer.
Durant, Michael, 1B (age 20) Grade = C-
Durant, a fourth round pick in 2005, has drawn plenty of watchful eyes since being drafted, namely for his large power potential, but he’s failed to live up to the expectations so far. Durant’s .666 OPS in his 2005 debut was lackluster, and injuries pretty much wiped out his 2006, allowing him only 31 AB’s, in which he posted a miserable .623 OPS again back in the GCL. It’s tough to really kill him on his 2006, since he wasn’t healthy, but he’ll be in short season ball for a third season, and at some point, he needs to show something in order for us to consider him an actual prospect. He just turned 20 in January, so he’s got time on his side, but this will be his third pro season, he needs to remain healthy as well as put up some big numbers. Numbers-wise, he probably deserves lower than a C-, but he still has potential, and because of his 2006 injuries, I cut him some slack.
2007 Outlook: I can’t see him going anywhere other than Williamsport in 2007. Charlie Yarbrough will more than likely play some 1B at Lakewood, I just don’t see any way Durant gets skipped over short season unless he absolutely destroys the ball in minor league camp before the season opens. He still has a ton of raw power, but he needs to remain healthy so we can see if any of his skills will translate onto the field.
Brown, Dominic, OF (age 19) Grade = C-
Brown signing, much like McDonald, has to be seen as somewhat of a coup for the Phillies, as he was ticketed to the University of Miami on a football scholarship, but instead signed with the Phillies. Brown was an outstanding pitcher in high school, posting a 1.09 ERA in 45 IP his senior year, but he was just as good with the bat, hitting .455 with an .818 slugging % as well. The Phillies chose to keep Brown in the outfield, and the results were….shall we say…not good. He posted a miserable .557 OPS in 117 AB at the GCL level, including a .214 BA and .265 slugging %. Really, nothing went right for him, except for his 13 stolen bases in 16 tries. I don’t know if the Phillies plan on letting him try to pitch or not, but it might not be a bad idea. If he remains in the outfield, he’s an obvious right field candidate because of his solid arm, but if he can’t hit, he won’t last long in pro baseball. I won’t give him below a C- simply because we only have 117 AB’s to judge him on, but don’t hold your breath right now.
2007 Outlook: Hard to say. At this point, he’ll probably repeat the GCL, or possibly go to Williamsport, but I think it’s probably the former. You’d think if he struggles again in 2007, the Phillies might consider letting him pick up pitching again. Because he just turned 19, he obviously still has time, so we’ll see what path the Phillies take with him.