The Clearwater Report, Week 1

In the first edition of the Clearwater affiliate report, we’ll look at the composition of the roster, the potential excellence of the pitching staff, and how the team can make a run at the Florida State League title.

Last season, the Threshers posted a 67-72 record, which doesn’t look great until you consider the fact that they were an unbelievably bad 41-95 the year before. Everyone that follows the minor leagues will tell you that the records of the minor league affiliates aren’t important, that it is all about player development, and they are correct. However, everyone likes to win, at whatever level they are at, whether it be little league or the International League, and losing hurts, regardless of the situation. Last year’s team was in a state of flux, as two of their better pitches, James Happ and Zach Segovia, as well as their best reliever Joe Bisenius, were promoted to Reading mid season. This year, the staff is loaded from top to bottom, starting with the Phillies #1 ranked prospect, Carlos Carrasco.  Following Carrasco are 2006 draft picks Andrew Carpenter and Dan Brauer, as well as rising prospect Josh Outman, and the rotation is rounded out by Patrick Overholt, a reliever being converted to a starter this season. In the bullpen, Brett Harker is likely the closer, with lefty Mike Zagurski setting up and Will Savage also getting into some high leverage situations. The offensive core is led by Brad Harman at 2B, looking for a rebound season after a terrible 2006, outfielder Jeremy Slayden, catcher Lou Marson, and CF Greg Golson.

In the early going, the lineup has fluctuated a bit, but Golson, Harman and Slayden have hit 2-3-4 a few times, with Marson hitting 5th or 6th. Chris Coste had been rehabbing in Clearwater, and was batting in the middle of the order, and Freddy Garcia is doing his rehab here as well, plus an appearance from Jon Lieber has meant a changing lineup/rotation. Once the season starts to take off, Golson, Harman, Slayden and Marson should consistently be in the 2-5 spots every night in some order. Welinson Baez has been hitting lower in the lineup, likely to try and put him in low pressure situations as he adjusts to High A after struggling at Lakewood. Slayden is likely the first of this group to be promoted, as he’s still too old for this league. On the pitching side, Outman probably has the ability to move up to Reading first depending on how he pitches.

Clearwater opened the season with 4 games against Dunedin, going 2 and 2. Carrasco produced a nice 5 inning debut, while Brauer and Carpenter combined on a 9 inning, 2 run performance. Josh Outman, pitching in relief in his first appearance due to a Jon Lieber rehab appearance, struggled mightily, allowing 7 ER in 2.1 IP, with 3 BB and 3 K. It may have been nerves, or it may have been because he was pitching in relief, something he isn’t accustomed to doing, but we shouldn’t worry too much about it. Once the rehab assignments are done with, he’ll be back in the starting rotation and should be able to get comfortable. Offensively, Jeremy Slayden is off to a solid start, hitting .533 in 15 AB. Greg Golson also has come out of the gates strong with a .389 BA in 18 AB, with 4 extra base hits and 2 SB. This week, Clearwater will play 4 games against a good Tampa team, and then 3 games against Lakeland, all at home.