You’ve had your say, both individually and as a collective group, now I’ll toss you my list. Before I get into it, I want to make a few general comments. The minors are generally like kindergarten; you’re there to learn to interact with others, to learn how to listen to a teacher, and to pick up basic skills which you’ll use as you progress. Similarly, the main job of a minor leaguer is to learn how to improve different aspects of his game, whether it be hitting for contact, base running, refining a changeup, or hitting the ball to the opposite field. If you look at a generic stat line, with no context, it tells you absolutely nothing. The work that I have been doing is aimed at trying to look at a player’s statistics, consider the league he was in, his age relative to the prospects in the league, and then figure out just what his numbers mean. Generally speaking, I’m not that concerned with the traditional statistics, because they mean very little. Instead, I targeted things like walk rate and strike out rate, as I think those metrics lead to some idea in terms of prediction. After compiling the numbers, I considered everything I know about the prospect in terms of scouting reports. This point here is really important. While I tend to bristle when people only consider a player’s raw tools, it’s equally foolish to just assume a guy with good numbers in Low A will be good just because he has a good K rate. The truth is, if he has an 85 mph fastball and a good curveball, he’s likely to get clobbered as he moves up the ladder. I place more emphasis on performance to date over projection, but it’s a close split. So let’s get on with it..
But before we do. I’ve decided that I won’t be able to find the time to go over a Top 30 for every team. I simply don’t have the time to dig up information on every prospect on every team. I will do some more detailed stuff concerning Phillies prospects and how they compare to other top prospects, but I think I’m going to hold off on going into more detail, and I’m curtailing the idea of starting another blog for all the minors. I also want to bring up one other point which I kind of figured out while doing the leg work on this. Pitching prospects are nearly impossible to really gauge. Fluctuation is much greater for pitchers than position players, and the sample sizes are a lot smaller. If we have 600 plater appearances for a batter, than probably tells us a lot more than 40 IP for a pitcher. Pitchers tend to move to new levels quicker than hitters, and splitting time between 2 or even 3 levels for a pitcher makes it tougher to really get a hold of.
Ok, so now my list. This list of 30 prospects is my assessment of their current ability, their past performance, and my expectation for them at this time next season. In other words, these 30 guys have performed the best, and I expect them to perform well in 2008. For guys who I suspect will regress in 2008 based on the indicator stats I consider, I will move them down my list, and likewise, guys who I see jumping up and playing well in 2008 will get a bump up. I’ve made a few exceptions on the list, where I’ve considered a player’s sizeable ability where his performance doesn’t match, or where he has no performance to even go by. This is a case of me saying, do I value a guy who has underachieved for 3 or 4 minor league seasons, a guy who might end up a mop up reliever at best, or do I go with the guy who has a substantially higher amount of talent, but doesn’t have the track record? In some cases, I went with the latter. Part of this game is gut feel and instinct, and I was willing to take a few risks.
Ok, now that I’ve babbled on, we’ll get started. I welcome all feedback of course, and I’ll answer any questions as to why I put player X ahead of player Y. I’ll go in reverse order. You’ll see the player’s name, his position, his age as of 4/1/08, his highest level reached, draft position, then his stats, and then a blurb. SS = Short Season, RK = Rookie League, A- = Low A, A+ = High A, etc etc
30. Freddy Galvis, SS — Age 18 — (SS) — 2006 (Free Agent)
2007: 156 PA — .255 OB% — .252 SLG% — 6.4 BB% — 12.8 K% — 20.7 XBH%
The Phillies signed Galvis out of Venezuela, and were already comparing him to a young Omar Vizquel before he even stepped foot on US soil. So how did they decide to break him in? By sending him to the offensive nightmare that is the New York Penn League. The results weren’t pretty, as expected, but his numbers are actually not all that bad, considering he was 17 playing with a bunch of 21 year old college pitchers. Galvis is a lights out defensive short stop, already advanced well beyond his years in that aspect of the game. His bat is going to lag behind, but he’s already shown decent contact skills against advanced competition. He didn’t hit for much of an average, but only had a 2:1 K to BB rate, which isn’t too bad, and did manage 6 extra base hits out of his 29 hits. The Phillies think very highly of Galvis based on his initial assignment. His defense, as mentioned, is spectacular, but he’s going to need to hit to make it and stick at the major league level. That’s obviously quite a ways away, so he has time. Based on offensive performance, he would be closer to #60 than #30, but his glove is special, and the Phillies love his baseball intelligence and maturity. Couple that with his glove, and I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt here and put him at #30.
29. Alex Concepcion, RHP — Age 23 — (A+) — 2004? (Free Agent)
2006: 84.0 IP — 1.82 BB/9 — 7.71 K/9 — 7.82 H/9 — 0.86 HR/9
2007: 107.0 IP — 3.16 BB/9 — 8.43 K/9 — 9.00 H/9 — 0.81 HR/9
In his 3rd season in the states, Concepcion took a step forward, despite the ugly ERA at Clearwater. Having moved one level per season, starting with the GCL in 2005 and then the NYPL in 2006, the Phillies started him at Lakewood this season, where he posted solid peripheral numbers, including a 44:17 K to BB ratio, while allowing only 2 HR. As I indicated above, Lakewood does a great job of suppressing home runs, and he found that out when arriving in Clearwater, where he allowed 8 HR in 67 IP. Despite the uptick in home runs, the rest of his numbers were solid, with a 60:22 K to BB showing, and only 73 H in the 67 innings pitched. Lefties fared a bit better against him in Lakewood, but he showed no real platoon split in Clearwater. The one alarming trend in his record is the fly balls, as he allowed more flyballs than groundballs at Clearwater, 62 GB to 78 FB, which will cause him trouble. However, he has shown very good control, and he does have swing and miss type stuff, so he could overcome the fly ball problems, as long as he’s not putting a lot of people on base in front of his mistakes. He was used almost exclusively out of the bullpen in Lakewood, mainly a product of a jammed up rotation, but returned to starting at Clearwater. His role in 2008 is undefined, but it’s likely he’ll have a chance to start. I like the stuff here, I like the control, and he also generates the swings and misses. He does need to keep the ball on the ground more, but I like what I see, especially since the Phillies chose to accelerate his path this season, and he didn’t back down, despite the ugly surface ERA.
28. Will Savage, RHP — Age 23 — (A+) — 2006 (26th Round)
2006: 40.0 IP — 1.35 BB/9 — 8.10 K/9 — 8.33 H/9 — 0.00 HR/9
2007: 62.0 IP — 2.47 BB/9 — 6.97 K/9 — 8.85 H/9 — 0.29 HR/9
Savage was a mid-late round pick, and these guys you generally assume will become organizational filler. I think Savage has a chance to be a little bit more than that. Savage spent the bulk of his time at Lakewood last season after a short stop in Batavia, and in 2007 he spent the entire season at Clearwater. A year too old for his league, he still put up good peripheral numbers, and did a nice job of keeping the ball on the ground (2.29 GB:FB) and in the park, allowing only 2 HR in 62 innings. He has good control, but he didn’t miss the number of bats you’d hope to see. Because he doesn’t have overpowering, swing and miss type stuff, he probably profiles more as a 7th inning reliever, but because he has good groundball tendencies and good command, he’s got a pretty good shot to at least make it to the majors and hopefully contribute in his 0-3 years.
27. Tyson Brummett, RHP — Age 23 — (SS) — 2007 (7th Round)
2007: 76.2 IP — 1.65 BB/9 — 6.50 K/9 — 8.39 H/9 — 0.24 HR/9
Brummett, an anchor in the UCLA rotation for the bulk of his college career, was probably a bit fatigued from a heavy college workload, and chances are we didn’t see the best of him, but what we did see should give us reason for hope. As most polished college starters do, he showed great control, he kept the ball in the park, and allowed less than a hit per inning, while logging a decent amount of innings for a short season effort. He didn’t miss a lot of bats, but again, I’ll attribute that mostly to workload fatigue. He was very tough on lefties, an indication that he used his changeup well. Brummett is your standard 4 pitch pitcher, none of his pitches are likely above major league average, but he did pitch in pressure situations in a good baseball conference, and as the Friday starter his senior season, he was facing many of the top pitching prospects in the Pac 10 week in and week out. If he keeps the ball on the ground and around the plate, he should be able to remain a starter, profiling in the back of the rotation. If he does have to move to the pen, he should at least be a league average contributor. Because of his polish and experience, he should skip Lakewood and pitch at Clearwater.
26. Scott Mitchinson, RHP — Age 23 — (A-) — 2003 (Free Agent)
2006: 63.0 IP — 2.57 BB/9 — 9.71 K/9 — 8.14 H/9 — 0.57 HR/9
2007: 67.1 IP — 3.22 BB/9 — 10.06 K/9 — 7.38 H/9 — 0.94 HR/9
Mitchinson is one of the more frustrating prospects in the system, for me at least. When he’s been on the mound, he’s pitched very well, with the exception of a rough 2005, but he’s been limited by injuries over the last two seasons, and has accumulated only 130 innings in his age 21 and 22 seasons, and hasn’t made it past Lakewood. The control is good, the stuff is good, with a low 90’s fastball and at least average secondary pitches, but his durability problems drop him down the list a substantial distance. If he were healthy the last 2 seasons, and put up similar numbers across, say, 225-250 innings, he’d probably be pushing the Top 10 on this list. He remains a starter, but it might get to the point where the Phillies feel like he needs to be moved to the bullpen, and that time might be 2008, as he will need to be added to the 40 man roster after 2008. He should start at Clearwater, where he will still be too old for his league, but if he continues to put up numbers, he remains an attractive arm, and could end up a good 7th inning reliever, if he can stay off the trainer’s table.
25. Quintin Berry, OF — Age 23 — (A-) — 2006 (5th Round)
2006: 247 PA — .314 OB% — .248 SLG% — 10.1 BB% — 20.6 K% — 8.7 XBH%
2007: 581 PA — .395 OB% — .386 SLG% — 10.5 BB% — 14.6 K% — 17.1 XBH%
Berry rebounded from a poor debut at Batavia with a solid showing in the SAL. Despite being 2 years too old for the league, he compiled a .395 OB% and swiped 55 bases at a 75% clip. His stolen base percentage actually dropped from 83% in 2006, when he stole 19 of 23. Berry is your typical speedster, and while a good bit of his value is going to come from the stolen base, he does have the ability to draw a walk, and he did show a little pop in his bat, while also drastically cutting down on the strikeouts. All signs here are positive, but I’m still not 100% sold on the idea that he’s more than a 4th outfielder. His numbers look great in 2007, but were pretty awful in 2006, and I want to see if he can replicate this success at Clearwater and Reading before I begin to think he’s anything more than a 4th or 5th OF. He doesn’t possess much of a platoon split at all, which is a point in his favor, and he made only 3 errors in 2007, so he does have the chance to at least be a reserve outfielder if all goes well.
24. Antonio Bastardo, LHP — Age 22 – -(A-) — 2004? (Free Agent)
2006: 23.0 IP — 5.48 BB/9 — 10.57 K/9 — 7.83 H/9 — 0.39 HR/9
2007: 96.2 IP — 4.21 BB/9 — 10.29 K/9 — 6.36 H/9 — 0.28 HR/9
I’m afraid I’m going to lose some of you here because I ranked Bastardo a bit lower than many of you did in the community ranking. Bastardo, an undersized lefty with decent velocity (87-89 mph) and fringy secondary stuff, has done reasonably well since coming stateside. I don’t remember what year he was signed, but 2006 was his first year in the US, and while he was wild, he was effectively wild, and put up solid numbers in the GCL. The Phillies sent him to Lakewood and he responded by pitching pretty darn well, compiling a 1.87 ERA in 91.2 innings before getting a brief cameo in Clearwater. Bastardo was equally tough on lefties and righties, holding lefties to a .465 OPS and righties to a .533 OPS. Now comes the “bad” news, or why I don’t think of him quite as highly as most here. First, he is not a groundball pitcher. He recorded only 91 groundballs to 83 fly balls. He hasn’t allowed the long ball, which was partly helped by Lakewood’s park in 2007, but he isn’t generally keeping the ball on the ground. As he moves to a more neutral park next season in Clearwater, this could come back to bite him, just as it did Carlos Carrasco in his transition in 2007. The second concern, and this is actually my bigger concern, is the walks. He did cut his walk rate from his 2006 debut, but 4.21/9 is still too many, and when you couple that with the fly ball tendencies, his margin for error is reduced. Because he isn’t overpowering and his secondary pitches are not plus, or haven’t gotten to that stage yet, he could hit a wall in A+. He still has a lot of upside, and he’s still raw, comparatively speaking. He’ll pitch 2008 at age 22, and isn’t too old considering his actual experience. If he further improves on his walk rate and keeps the ball on the ground, I’ll definitely upgrade him in next year’s version of this list.
23. Travis Mattair, 3B — Age 19 — (RK) — 2007 (2nd Round)
2007: 219 PA — .297 OB% — .340 SLG% — 5.5 BB% — 26.5 K% — 30.0 XBH%
Leading up to the June draft, Mattair was a guy I was really pushing for. He’s a big, physical player, but also a pure 3 sport athlete who had a basketball scholarship waiting for him if he wanted it. On top of the raw power and the plus arm at third base, he was praised for his great work ethic and baseball IQ, and it was thought that he’d make a quick transition from metal bats to wood. Well, it didn’t happen quite that fast, but after posting a .379 OPS in 36 June AB’s, he started to show some progress at the plate. He’s clearly still very raw, but has all the tools necessary to be a starting 3B in the majors. While some are already comparing him to Scott Rolen because of his size and athleticism at 3B, I’ll settle for just giving him time to develop and see what happens. His makeup was graded very high in high school, and we’ll see if he’s able to make the adjustments heading into his 2nd pro season. He has the ability to jump up this list at this time next year, much like Dominic Brown did this year.
22. Jacob Diekman, LHP — Age 21 — (SS) — 2007 (30th Round)
2007: 53.0 IP — 3.57 BB/9 — 7.81 K/9 — 6.62 H/9 — 0.34 HR/9
The Phillies went over slot to sign Diekman out of Cloud County Community College, as he had a scholarship to Nebraska lined up if he didn’t turn pro. The Phillies offered him 7th round money, according to Diekman, which is somewhere in the $50-100k range, and he accepted. He’s tall (6’4) but athletic, with low 90’s velocity and a good slider. He still needs some work, but seems to have good makeup, and his debut was fairly solid. He pitched a bit better in the GCL, but held his own in the NYPL after being promoted. Despite pitching on a downward plane, he didn’t generate the number of groundballs you’d expect, and that’s an area he’ll need to address going forward. Diekman warrants this spot because he has better pure stuff than Bastardo, in my opinion. He’ll likely start the season at Lakewood, and could reach Clearwater in the summer. Age to level he’ll be ok as long as he’s in Clearwater at some point this season. At this point, he looks like a #4/#5 starter, or at worst, a middle reliever. Lefties hit only .184 against him in limited action this past season.
21. Justin De Fratus, RHP — Age 20 — (RK) — 2007 (11th Round)
2007: 46.0 IP — 0.59 BB/9 — 6.65 K/9 — 9.98 H/9 — 0.20 HR/9
Like Diekman, De Fratus was drafted out of a Junior College, Ventura Junior College in California, and like Diekman, he had a strong debut. The Phillies chose to send him to the GCL, where he pitched at age 19, and he responded by walking only 3 batters in 46 innings, recording 34 strikeouts. De Fratus features great velocity, in the 91-94 range as well as an above average slider, but he struggled to hold his velocity in his starts while at VJC, and this might have led to him sliding down a few draft boards. His control highlights his polish, and as he gains some consistency, the strikeouts should follow. If the Phillies are unable to help him develop a program to gain endurance and stamina, he’ll likely shift to the pen where his 2 above average pitches could allow him to sneak into the 7th or 8th inning. If he does improve his endurance, he could remain a starter at least in the short term to help him develop and refine his changeup. It will be interesting to see if the Phillies skip him over short season and unleash him at Lakewood, either as a starter or as a swingman, as his JuCo experience should allow it.
20. Travis d’Arnaud, C — Age 19 — (RK) — 2007 (1st Round)
2007: 151 PA — .278 OB% — .348 SLG% — 2.6 BB% — 15.2 K% — 20.6 XBH%
d’Arnaud, taken in the compensation round in the June draft, was regarded as one of the best defensive catchers in the draft, and the best prep catcher behind Devin Mesoraco, a PA product with a bit more offensive upside. d’Arnaud has soft hands, good receiving skills, and a great arm. While I was skeptical of the pick, the aforementioned Keith Law raves not only about d’Arnaud’s receiving skills, but also his line drive swing, and thinks he should end up as at least an average offensive catcher. His debut wasn’t amazing, but he did hit 4 home runs in 151 plate appearances, and showed decent contact skills. He’ll obviously need to work better counts, but he should improve in that department. I’m sure Keith will disagree with this ranking, I think he needs to go here, and let his 2008 determine how far up he climbs in the rankings. Catcher is the most demanding position on the diamond, and he gets the nod over Galvis.
19. D’Arby Myers, OF — Age 19 — (SS) — 2006 (4th Round)
2006: 136 PA — .353 OB% — .430 SLG% — 5.1 BB% — 23.5 K% — 25.0 XBH%
2007: 194 PA — .286 OB% — .296 SLG% — 5.7 BB% — 17.5 K% — 18.6 XBH%
You’re looking at D’Arby Myers fan #1 here, so it pains me to have to drop him this far down my list. I wanted to rank him higher, and I probably could have justified it, but I chose to put him at #20 and give him a year to improve his stock. He came flying out of the gates last season as a raw 17 year old in the GCL, but hit an impressive .313 to finish with a .783 OPS in the notoriously tough GCL and he did it while being one of the younger players in the league. Unfortunately, his 2008 wasn’t quite as good, as he started very strong and then tailed off drastically, ultimately breaking his hand and finishing his season on a down note. However, not all was lost, as he did cut down on his strikeouts while slightly improving his walk rate. The big thing was the drop in power, but the New York Penn League is arguably the toughest hitting league in the minors, as it’s loaded with polished college pitchers, and Myers was only 18, facing much older competition. The 5 tool potential is still there, and there’s no reason to give up, or even really get down on him. I think everyone probably got a bit excited last winter, and the 4.5 to 1 K:BB ratio probably should have alerted us, but he has plenty of time to figure that out. He struggled mightily against LHP in 2007, hitting only .175 with a .458 OPS, so that’s an area where he’ll look to improve, and he’ll also try to refine and better use his speed on the base paths. The Phillies have a few options, as they can choose to keep him in extended ST and then assign him to Williamsport for another go at the NYPL, or they could aggressively assign him to Lakewood, where there are no real impact center fielders blocking his path. Either way, he’s just fine in terms of age relative to level, and he could easily shoot up this list at this time next season with a solid 2008 campaign.
18. Julian Sampson, RHP — Age 19 — DNP — 2007 (12th Round)
I know some of you are shaking your head, and that’s ok at this point. Outside of D’Arby Myers, Sampson has a higher ceiling than any prospect we’ve gotten to so far on this list. He was looked at as a 2nd round pick heading into the 2007 draft, but slid to the 12th round because of signability issues and a scholarship to the University of Washington. Sampson has the perfect pitcher’s frame, already 6’5, 210 lbs with some room to add a bit more size. Right now, his fastball is in the 90-92 range with late life, and in the next 2-3 years, he could end up in the 92-96 range, with heavy sink. Because of his build and smooth mechanics, durability shouldn’t be an issue, and he possesses all of the ingredients to become a middle of the rotation starter. Ranking a guy who hasn’t thrown an inning at 18 is a risk, but the upside to me far outweighs the risk. The Phillies have no need to rush him, and I expect he’ll start in the GCL and could split his season between the GCL and the NYPL. Sampson’s pure stuff could rival Carrasco’s and Drabek’s when all is said and done, and his frame could give him a slight edge in terms of being able to generate lots of groundballs as well as piling up strikeouts. This might end up being the best pick of the draft in 3 years.
17. Jason Jaramillo, C — Age 25 — (3A) — 2004 (2nd Round)
2006: 371 PA — .316 OB% — .384 SLG% — 8.8 BB% — 15.1 K% — 40.0 XBH%
2007: 496 PA — .350 OB% — .361 SLG% — 10.1 BB% — 15.9 K% — 19.5 XBH%
This is the point on the list where I have to start juggling probability and ceiling, and trying to figure out the proper mix. I have very little doubt that Jaramillo, a 2nd round pick in 2004, is going to play in the majors. I also have little doubt that he’ll likely never be an above average starting major league catcher. Jaramillo’s defense has always been his strength, except in 2006 when there were mixed reports on his defense, but he seemed to recover in 2007, and the focus has always been on his offense and what he would do at the plate. In 2007, his plate discipline improved slightly, his K rate remained very similar, but his power plummeted. Ottawa is not a hitter friendly park, but it’s also not PETCO Park, and Jaramillo really struggled, racking up only 23 XBH while hitting a modest .271. Jaramillo has all the makings of a major league backup catcher who can play strong defense, but is only going to hit .250/.320/.370 when he’s in there. He won’t kill you playing once a week, or filling in for the starter if he gets hurt, but he’s not someone you want to plan on giving 500 PA to and expecting quality offensive production. The Phillies have a relatively strong lineup and could probably live with his bat hitting 8th, but Carlos Ruiz looks ok at this point. If the team does not sign another Proven Veteran™, Jaramillo could compete with Chris Coste for the backup role in spring training. As I said, I could have ranked him a touch higher, especially over the next guy, but this is a prospect list, and I’ll go with the ceiling over the probability in this spot.
16. Matt Spencer, OF — Age 22 — (SS) — 2007 (3rd Round)
2007: 198 PA — .320 OB% — .469 SLG% — 5.6 BB% — 23.2 K% — 40.4 XBH%
The Phillies lacked anything resembling a true power prospect in the system prior to the 2007 draft, so the braintrust picked 3 guys in the first 6 rounds that fit the bill, Matt Rizzotti, Michael Taylor, and the best of the bunch, Matt Spencer. Spencer, a junior out of Arizona State, had a somewhat disappointing college career after being considered a quality prep talent in the 2004 draft, starting at UNC and transferring to ASU due to a lack of playing time at UNC after dealing with injuries. He has great raw power, and has shown it with wood bats, most recently on the Cape in 2006, where he compiled 16 doubles and 8 HR in 179 AB. In the pitcher friendly NYPL, Spencer logged 10 doubles and 9 HR in 179 AB, a sign that the power is there. The BB rate and K rate are troubling, and he could easily struggle next season at Lakewood or Clearwater if he doesn’t adjust, but the raw power is there, and he is at least an average right fielder, but could end up in left. The Phillies still lack a true impact power prospect, and Spencer could be that guy. He’ll need to put in more quality AB’s and work the count. The strikeouts are likely to always be there, as they are with most big power hitters, but if he can get in the 11-13% BB rate area, he’ll be a Top 10 prospect at this point next year. If he opens in Lakewood, he’ll be 2 years too old for the league, but he should be able to take advantage of weaker competition and put up big numbers before moving on to Clearwater in the summer. He profiles as an every day corner OF with 25-30 HR power, lots of strikeouts, and hopefully a decent amount of walks as well….a three true outcomes kind of guy possibly.
15. Greg Golson, OF – Age 22 — (2A) — 2004 (1st Round)
2006: 593 PA — .277 OB% — .374 SLG% — 5.1 BB% — 27.0 K% — 35.4 XBH%
2007: 607 PA — .305 OB% — .426 SLG% — 3.8 BB% — 28.5 K% — 33.3 XBH%
I’ve been told I have an anti-Greg Golson bias, and I’m sure ranking him #15 on my list won’t do me any favors with that crowd, but I’m okay with that. Golson was and still is a scout’s dream. He can run really fast, when he hits the ball, it can go really far, he has a strong arm, and I’m sure he’s a really nice guy. The problem is, much like Pedro Cerrano in Major League, he can’t hit a curveball. Keith Law spoke about Golson a few weeks ago in our Q/A, mentioning that Golson’s pitch recognition is poor, and because of it, his entire offensive game struggles. Having great raw power is fairly useless if you can’t identify breaking balls and make contact, and when you’re striking out nearly 30% of your plate appearances, you aren’t making much contact. Putting aside everything else. If you saw the stat line for a 21 year old prospect in High A/Double A, which is age appropriate, with a .731 OPS and 173 strikeouts to only 23 walks, would you even give that guy a second look? Golson did pile up 42 extra base hit, but hit only .285 in Clearwater and then dropped off to .242 at AA Reading. After a slow start, he picked it up in the Arizona Fall League, but he still has a long way to go. He’s not Jeff Francouer, in that he can consistently hit .300 and be a positive offensive force without drawing a walk. He’s not a free swinger like Howie Kendrick, who doesn’t draw many walks but who is an excellent contact hitter than doesn’t strike out all the much. People will continue to hold out hope for Golson until he’s out of the game, and I’m one of them. Despite all of the pessimistic things I say about Double G, he’s still a Phillie, and I still root for him just as hard as anyone else. He’ll likely open 2008 back at Reading, his age 22 season, and needs to figure himself out at the plate. A 4% BB rate just isn’t going to cut it at the plate, unless he can drastically reduce his strikeouts and put more balls in play, where his raw power will be better served.
14. Heitor Correa, RHP — Age 18 — (RK) — 2005 (Free Agent)
2006: 23.0 IP — 2.74 BB/9 — 5.48 K/9 — 13.70 H/9 — 0.39 HR/9
2007: 65.0 IP — 2.77 BB/9 — 6.78 K/9 — 8.03 H/9 — 0.55 HR/9
Correa was signed along with 3 other prospects from Brazil for a measly $200,000, and it looks like he’s going to pay for that investment all by himself. The Phillies have resisted going after the big money Latin American signings, but have found plenty of gems in Carlos Carrasco, Edgar Garcia, and now Correa for less than the big teams throw around. Correa is still mainly projection, but he projects into something special. He’s got plenty of room to grow yet and fill out his frame, but already possesses a low 90’s fastball and a slow big breaking curveball. The Phillies were really cautious with him in 2006, and again kept a close eye on his innings in 2007, but they figure to give him a bit more action in 2008. At only 17 years of age, his 2007 performance was excellent, as he kept his walk rate almost identical to 2006, while striking out a few more batters and greatly reducing his hits allowed, a sign that he is commanding his pitches a bit better. Correa was much better against lefties, holding them to a .520 OPS, compared to a .733 OPS against RHB, an indication that his changeup has some promise as well. As mentioned in Chris Kline’s chat, Correa speaks 3 languages, and is very mature for an 18 year old. Because of this, the Phillies could challenge him with a promotion to Lakewood, but will likely send him to Williamsport, where he will still be a year young than the average prospect. Correa still has a long way to go, but there’s plenty here to dream on, and he could end up in the middle of the big league rotation 5 years from now, when he would still only be 23.
13. JA Happ, LHP — Age 25 — (3A) — 2004 (3rd Round)
2006: 161.0 IP — 2.74 BB/9 — 9.06 K/9 — 6.93 H/9 — 0.67 HR/9
2007: 118.1 IP — 4.72 BB/9 — 8.92 K/9 — 8.99 H/9 — 0.91 HR/9
After a whirlwind 2006 that saw him pitch at 3 different levels, Happ took a step back in 2007 from a performance standpoint. The Phillies were excited about Happ heading into 2007, as they’d made a slight mechanical adjustment with his motion, allowing him to add a tick or two of velocity and get into the 88-91 range instead of the 86-90 range. He pitched well at Clearwater and Reading, striking out more than a batter per inning while limiting the walks and hits, and doing a reasonable job keeping the ball in the park. 3A would prove to be his biggest test, and the most noticeable lapse was with his control, as he walked 2 more batters per 9 in 2007. The strikeouts are still there, thanks to a solid changeup and a slurvy breaking ball, but he did allow a few more home runs in 2007. The other thing going against Happ is his fly ball tendencies, allowing 105 fly balls and inducing only 103 ground balls last year. He can’t afford to pitch up in the zone at Citizens Bank Park, especially because he still doesn’t have the pure stuff to blow people away. His fastball plays up a bit because of the deception he gets from his long delivery, and his changeup is still an above average pitch. Lefties actually fared better against him in 2007, posting a .296/.362/.391 line, compared to a line of .255/.349/.400 from righties. This is common among lefties that don’t have a sharp slider to retire lefties and deal mainly with a fastball and changeup. Happ’s role going forward is kind of up in the air. If he can fine tune his breaking ball and add some sharpness to it, he can probably make it as a fairly reliable #5 starter, but he might have more short term value working out of the bullpen, either as a long man or a 6th inning reliever. Durability has been a concern, and he missed time in 2007 with elbow soreness, but surgery wasn’t needed. Barring a spring training injury, he’s likely to start at 3A Allentown, unless the Phillies decide to give him a look in the bullpen.
12. Dominic Brown, OF — Age 20 — (SS) — 2006 (20th Round)
2006: 131 PA — .292 OB% — .265 SLG% — 9.2 BB% — 22.9 K% — 16.0 XBH%
2007: 328 PA — .363 OB% — .415 SLG% — 8.5 BB% — 15.5 K% — 22.6 XBH%
The Phillies had to bust slot to sign Brown in 2006, giving him a $200,000 bonus as a 20th round pick, and this year started to show why they like him. Brown is a pure athlete, with a 6’5, 210 lb frame with room for even more muscle. A disappointing debut dropped him under the radar, but he burst onto the scene this year with a 3 game stint at Clearwater before the short season leagues began, where he went 4/9 with 1 HR and 7 RBI. He promptly went to Williamsport and put up a fine season, his age 19 season, which saw him drastically raise his OB% and Slugging%, cutting down on the strikeouts and adding power to his game. His efforts got him recognized as one of the 20 best prospects in the NYPL, and his 2007 ascent up prospect lists rivals anyone else in the system. He split his time between RF and CF, he can probably play CF for now, but will likely end up in RF as he fills out further and loses a step. He has a good bit of raw power which he still hasn’t tapped into, as well as a pretty good eye at the plate already. He should hold down RF at Lakewood next year, and could find himself at Clearwater sometime in the summer, depending on his ability to adapt. He will need to work on better utilizing his speed on the bases, where he was thrown out 7 times in 21 attempts after going 13/16 in his debut. Brown offers a tools package similar to that of Greg Golson, but he has already shown a better eye at the plate. The sky is the limit on Brown, but I want to see him replicate or better his 2007 before I put him into the Top 10, as his 2006 really was a completely different story.
11. Edgar Garcia, RHP — Age 20 — (A-) — Free Agent (2004)
2006: 66.0 IP — 1.36 BB/9 — 6.27 K/9 — 8.45 H/9 — 0.68 HR/9
2007: 122.0 IP — 2.54 BB/9 — 6.60 K/9 — 9.46 HR9 — 0.80 HR/9
It seems that some people are ready to jump off the Edgar Garcia train, but not me. Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2004, Garcia has pitched well every step along the way, despite always being young for his league. He made the jump from short season ball to the Sally League in 2007, his age 19 season, and handled himself well, maintaining his excellent command as well as the rest of his peripheral numbers. Baseball America ranked him the Phillies #4 prospect after last season, but downgraded him out of the Top 10, and now say that he might only be a reliever, and that his work ethic dropped. Well, I can’t speak to the last part, but numbers wise, he didn’t really drop off all that much. His walk rate was still much better than the league average for the SAL, his K rate actually improved slightly, and he allowed 1 more hit per 9 innings in 2007. Chris Kline mentioned in his chat that his velocity dropped early in the season but returned to the 92-94 range in the Florida Instructional League. The one area it seems he still needs to improve is his changeup, which he slows his arm down on, resulting in the tipping of the pitch. Despite the lack of a plus changeup, lefties fared the same as righties, with a .727 OPS against a .730 OPS for RHB. Garcia still generated his share of groundballs, 158 to 102 flyballs, but he’ll need to emphasize that aspect even more, as Lakewood helps keep home runs down, and Clearwater is more neutral. Garcia enters 2008, his age 20 season, with something to prove. He’s likely ticketed to Clearwater, where he’ll again be a year younger than the league average, and there’s no logical reason to move him to the bullpen just yet. If that ends up being his final destination, he could become a viable setup man, or even a closer, as his low-mid 90’s fastball with life, plus his two variations of a curveball could suit the late innings. He’ll need to attack hitters more, and that could come with the improvement of his changeup and approach.
10. Brad Harman, 2B — Age 22 — (A+) Free Agent (2003)
2006: 482 PA — .322 OB% — .305 SLG% — 10.0 BB% — 21.2 K% — 21.6 XBH%
2007: 499 PA — .341 OB% — .449 SLG% — 8.0 BB% — 21.0 K% — 34.9 XBH%
Brad Harman may be one of the most interesting prospects to me, especially after his 2007 season. It was reported last year before the season that Harman’s mom had passed away back in Australia, and when he turned in a poor season, people kind of just wrote it off (myself included) to him being distracted off the field. Then, earlier this season, a reader of this blog with knowledge of Brad’s situation said that his mom was fine, and that nothing was wrong with her. Adding more intrigue to the situation was Harman’s mid season resurgence. Harman posted an OPS of .542 in April and .554 in May, but then the light went on, and the cover of the ball came off, as he posted an OPS of .794 in June, 1.033 in July and .998 in August. Over the last 3 months of the season he hit .321 and slugged .524, drawing 28 walks and striking out 59 times. Basically, he had two different seasons all wrapped into one, and has alternated between good, bad, and good seasons from 2005, 2006 and 2007. Harman moved from SS to 2B in 2007, and that adjustment might have taken its toll early in the season, but he seemed to settle in. He made only 14 errors at 2B in 2007, compared to the 36 he committed at SS in 2006. There was some talk of possibly shifting him to 3B, he has good hands and reactions, and his arm should be playable at 3rd. The Phillies are set at 2B and SS for the next 5 or 6 years it would seem, but Harman could possibly take up 3B as his own, or at worst, become a super utility guy, or maybe even force a trade if he continues to hit. The first step will be replicating his late season mashing at Reading. He’s still just 22, so despite all the ups and downs, he remains on track age wise.
09. Drew Carpenter, RHP — Age 22 — (A+) — 2006 (2nd Round)
2006: 15.0 IP — 3.75 BB/9 — 12.00 K/9 — 9.00 H/9 — 0.00 HR/9
2007: 163.0 IP — 2.93 BB/9 — 6.40 K/9 — 8.28 H/9 — 0.88 HR/9
The Phillies selected Carpenter out of Long Beach State in the 2006 draft and basically shut him down for the summer, giving him only a few innings as to allow him to rest after piling up a boatload of innings in college. Carpenter is a workhorse type starter that lacks overpowering stuff, but he does have good command and good mound presence, evident in him piling up 17 wins this season in the Florida State League. He has an average fastball in the 88-92 range, as well as a slider, curveball and splitter. His changeup is a below average pitch, but with his splitter, he might not really need to lean on the pitch going forward. He showed the ability to eat up innings this season, he has good command, but because he lacks dominant strikeout stuff, it’s hard to envision him as more than a #4 starter. The Phillies don’t have to rush him at this point, and they can allow him to continue to try and get comfortable with his changeup. Lefties did hit him harder, putting up an OPS of .778, compared to the .640 OPS righties registered against him. His splitter is his true out pitch, and he’ll need to use it more against lefties, as he doesn’t have enough fastball to blow it by guys. The Phillies decided to jump him over Low A despite only having 15 innings of pro ball under his belt, and he responded. He’ll start in Reading and anchor the rotation alongside Carrasco and Outman. If his changeup doesn’t improve, it’s not hard to see him developing into a setup reliever, but if he further refines his splitter, he can remain in the rotation.
08. Drew Naylor, RHP — Age 21 (SS) — Free Agent (2004)
2006: 37.0 IP — 2.19 BB/9 — 5.35 K/9 — 10.46 H/9 — 0.49 HR/9
2007: 93.1 IP — 2.71 BB/9 — 9.38 K/9 — 7.54 H/9 — 0.29 HR/9
Naylor is the 3rd Aussie to make my list, and the highest ranked of the lot. His 2006 debut was a mixed bag, as he flashed excellent control but didn’t generate a whole lot of whiffs. 2007 was a different bag, as he kept the walks down and piled up the strikeouts, while also cutting his hits allowed and more importantly, his home runs allowed. In 2006, he managed 1.42 GB per FB, and in 2007 he maintained the same ratio, while keeping the ball out of the middle of the zone and off the sweat spot of opposing hitters’ bats. Naylor’s stuff is legit, with a low 90’s fastball that has heavy sink, as well as a good curveball and changeup. His changeup made up the most ground in 2007, and he’s shown a willingness to learn and adapt quickly. Most Australian baseball players take longer to develop because they play less baseball at a younger age, but Naylor seems to be a quick study, and took only 1 year in the States before his breakout. He’ll probably start at Lakewood, and if all goes well, could be off to Clearwater before the end of the year. I probably could have put Carpenter ahead of him, or Harman, but I feel like he’s going to make a big jump forward again in 2008. His scouting report matches his numbers, and I think he still has some untapped potential here.
07. Josh Outman, LHP — Age 23 — (2A) — 2005 (10th Round)
2006: 155.0 IP — 4.35 BB/9 — 9.35 K/9 — 6.91 H/9 — 0.29 HR/9
2007: 159.1 IP — 4.36 BB/9 — 8.54 K/9 — 8.03 H/9 — 0.68 HR/9
After a rough first outing in Clearwater, Outman pitched very well, slowly gaining a bit more control and becoming very stingy with the hits allowed. Then he was promoted to Reading and the wheels came off, as he 5 HR and 23 BB in just 42 innings, while striking out only 34. By now, everyone knows the Josh Outman story. His father wrote a book on pitching mechanics and taught Josh an unconventional, homemade pitching delivery, which he used up through his sophomore year in college. Before his junior year he switched to a conventional motion, added 4 or 5 mph to his fastball, and his draft stock shot up. The Phillies grabbed him in the 10th round, and he’s paid dividends already, showing more and more promise every season. Now that he’s using a “normal” pitching motion, he sits in the 91-93 mph range, excellent velocity for a lefthander, and has a hard, sharp breaking slider which serves as his out pitch. He hides the ball well, which makes the velocity play up even more. While those are the good parts, the bad part is the control. Because he’s still somewhat raw when it comes to the mechanics of pitching, he tends to get a bit out of sync, and his control comes and goes. Beyond just learning better control, he needs to throw better quality strikes in all four quadrants of the zone. More advanced hitters will be less likely to swing at his slider if he can’t consistently throw strikes, and he found that out in 2A. He’s still young, he’s still somewhat raw and learning to pitch “the right way”, so he’s going to have his struggles. If he can harness his stuff, improve not only his control but his command, and develop consistency with his changeup and delivery, he has all the makings of a #3 or #4 starter. His changeup made big strides last year, but if he can’t throw it consistently, he might end up in the bullpen. Outman has considerable upside, but his long term success is going to hinge on his control.
06. Jason Donald, SS — Age 23 — (A+) — 2006 (3rd Round)
2006: 243 PA — .347 OB% — .362 SLG% — 9.5 BB% — 17.3 K% — 30.4 XBH%
2007: 574 PA — .395 OB% — .473 SLG% — 11.1 BB% — 19.0 K% — 34.2 XBH%
The 2007 version of Jason Donald is what the University of Arizona had hoped they were getting, and what the Angels though they were getting when they drafted Donald in the 2003 draft. He reportedly turned down a large bonus in the 7 figure range to attend Arizona, where his college career was viewed as a disappointment, with him never living up to his potential offensively. Upon being drafted, his throwing arm was considered his only above average tool, and he was pegged as a future utility player because he lacked a big bat. His 2006 debut didn’t do much to thwart that appraisal, but he responded with an excellent 2007 split between Lakewood and Clearwater. His numbers actually improved after being promoted, as he posted an .877 OPS in 293 High A at bats. Virtually every facet of his offensive game improved in 2007, as he raised his batting average from .263 to .304, his OB% by nearly 50 points, and his slugging % over 100 points. He drew more walks and a few more strikeouts, and hit for more raw power. While his numbers improved, most people still apparently don’t see him as a legit offensive player going forward. Maybe I’m in the minority, but I see an improved walk rate and an improved extra base hit rate, and this was after being promoted. The big test will come at 2A, and he should remain at shortstop for now, but there is already talk of having him slide over to 3B. On the minor league level he isn’t blocked at either position, obviously he’s not going to be playing shortstop at the major league level unless something happens with Rollins, and 2B is also occupied. He could play alongside Brad Harman again in the middle of the diamond, or one of them could shift to 3rd. Donald didn’t get much love for his breakout in 2007, but if he repeats the story in 2008, he’ll open some eyes. He could drop down this list next season, or he could jump up everyone else’s list, we’ll see.
05. Lou Marson, C — Age 21 — (A+) — 2004 (4th Round)
2006: 410 PA — .343 OB% — .351 SLG% — 12.0 BB % — 20.0 K% — 29.4 XBH%
2007: 457 PA — .373 OB% — .407 SLG% — 11.4 BB% — 17.5 K% — 28.3 XBH%
Marson, prior to the last few months, might have been the most under the radar prospect in the Phillies system. Prior to this season he’d shown the ability to draw a walk, but hadn’t hit a whole lot, while remaining a very solid defensive catcher. In 2007, he raised the ole battin’ average 40 points, the walk rate remained solid, he cut down on the K’s a bit, and he turned himself into a quality all around prospect. We’ve already outlined how valuable the catching position is, and Marson’s receiving skills have drawn pretty solid reviews. He handled one of the best staffs in the minors at Lakewood in 2006, at the tender age of 19.5, and handled another upper echelon staff at Clearwater in 2007, including the likes of Outman, Carpenter and Carrasco. He’s always been a tad on the young side for his league, but has kept his line drive stroke in order. Marson should start in 2A, at age 21, and again handle some of the best arms in the system. He offers more offensive upside than Jaramillo, while matching him, if not bettering him, on the defensive side of the game, and thus, is the best all around catching prospect in our system right now, with Travis d’Arnaud at least 2, probably 3 years behind. If Marson can further cut his K rate down into the 12-13% range, he could turn into a .300/.400/.425 guy, which would be extremely valuable from the catcher position.
04. Joe Savery, LHP — Age 22 — (SS) — 2007 (1st Round)
2007: 26.1 IP — 4.48 BB/9 — 7.59 K/9 — 7.59 H/9 — 0.00 HR/9
The Phillies raised a few eyebrows when they selected Savery 19th overall in the June draft. Coming out of high school, Savery was regarded as one of the top prep two way players in the country. He shrugged off the Dodgers, who took him in the 15th round after he slid due to signability concerns and headed to his home state Rice. He had a monster freshman year, playing 1B and pitching as well, but would then be hit with the injury bug his sophomore year, putting a damper on his draft stock. He had a surgical procedure done to remove a bone growth that was fraying his labrum, and it took him months to rebuild his velocity and regain his pure stuff. While he wasn’t pitching, he was mashing for Rice at 1B and DH, still maintaining his 2 way brilliance that made him such a coveted prep recruit. Near the end of the season, his low 90’s velocity had almost returned 100%, and the Phillies snapped him up at 19. Had he never had the labrum issue, he’d have likely been a top 5 pick, and rivaled David Price as the best college lefty in the class. His slide could turn out to be the Phillies fortune, as it reminds you of the Phillies being able to take Cole Hamels, another immensely talented lefty, who slid due to injury woes. Savery will have the “Rice Stigma” follow him until he makes it to the big leagues and pitches a full season. His fastball is above average, sitting at 89-92 with good movement, as Joe described it for us in a Q/A a few weeks ago. His curveball and changeup are both at least average, with his changeup probably being the better of the two at present. Because Savery split time between the mound and 1st base, he’s never fully concentrated his efforts on pitching, which is what the Phillies are going to have him do now. He’s a classic three pitch lefty with good stuff, and he’s very athletic on the mound. Once he gets used to the workout patterns and into the routine of being solely a pitcher, he could move fast. Reports are that he will start at Lakewood, but that could change. He struggled with his command in Arizona and in his brief debut, and he’ll need to continue to strengthen and shake off the rust. He profiles as a #2 or #3 starter, and could end up in Reading before the end of the season.
03. Kyle Drabek, RHP — Age 20 — (A-) — 2006 (1st Round)
2006: 23.0 IP — 4.30 BB/9 — 5.48 K/9 — 12.91 H/9 — 0.78 HR/9
2007: 50.0 IP — 3.83 BB/9 — 7.67 K/9 — 8.33 H/9 — 1.50 HR/9
By now, everyone knows the Kyle Drabek story. His dad happened to be a pretty good pitcher, he grew up in big league clubhouses and experienced the riches of being the son of a pro athlete. He pitched in arguably the biggest baseball hotbed in the country, for one of the best high school teams in the US, and was one of the most dominant high school athletes in the country over his junior and senior seasons. He put up video game like numbers his senior season, throwing tons of pitches, playing SS on days he didn’t pitch, and winning a State Championship. He had substantial off the field problems, which we won’t detail here again, and because of this baggage, many teams passed on him, despite the considerable talent. He was regarded as the 2nd best prep arm in the draft behind Clayton Kershaw, who went to the Dodgers earlier in the draft, and was also viewed as a potential 2nd round pick as a shortstop, as his bat was that good. The Phillies took him, and signed him that July. His debut was short, his numbers not very good, and the Phillies worked on slightly tweaking his delivery and trying to make him more compact. He started well in 2007 before getting knocked around, and ultimately tearing his UCL, requiring Tommy John surgery. The off the field problems don’t really seem to have followed him after his debut. He got great reviews in spring training and actually pitched in an exhibition game before being optioned to minor league camp, but guys like Jamie Moyer had positive things to say about him and his work ethic. He features the best pure stuff in the system, with a fastball that can touch 97, and one of the best cuveballs not only in the system, but in the entire minor leagues, a true spike curveball similar to the one Josh Beckett throws. Because he was likely pitching hurt the entire time after being drafted, a by product of his excessive high school work load, it’s tough to look at his numbers and really draw any conclusions. You can argue he’s ranked way too high here, but I think this might actually be a conservative ranking. You always fear an injury with a pitcher, but Drabek now has TJ behind him, and he should come back stronger than before, and if anything, this will help him in terms of learning how to take care of his arm and strengthen himself. His stuff is unmatched in the system, and has the potential to be a true #1 starter. He’s still very young, and maybe most importantly, he’s saved himself a bunch of miles on his shoulder at a young age, a big worry for young power pitchers. I expect good things out of Drabek in 2008 and beyond, and he could top these rankings next season.
02. Carlos Carrasco, RHP — Age 21 — (2A) — Free Agent (2003)
2006: 159.0 IP — 3.68 BB/9 — 9.00 K/9 — 5.83 H/9 — 0.34 HR/9
2007: 140.0 IP — 4.37 BB/9 — 6.56 K/9 — 7.33 H/9 — 1.09 HR/9
The Phillies signed Carrasco out of Venezuela in 2003 for $300,000, and it looks like money well spent. Most of you already know the background, so I won’t expound much. 2006 was a breakout season in many respects, as he pitched very well at the front of a good Lakewood staff, carving up the Sally League at age 19. However, his 2.26 ERA was helped by Lakewood’s park keeping a lot of fly balls in the yard, which is one of the biggest areas where C squared needs to improve. At Clearwater he maintained a 1.40 GB:FB mark, but at Reading he really struggled, posting a 0.80 ratio. As he moved out of the spacious confines at Lakewood, not only his HR rate shot up, but his walk rate jumped as well, and his K rate went in the opposite direction, while he allowed an additional 1.5 hits per 9 from his stellar 2006. Carrasco fought himself on the mound, often times struggling to repeat his delivery, and thus struggling with command and control. He was pitching in 2A at age 20, so clearly youth is on his side. The Phillies needlessly rushed him in 2005, they slowed him down last year, and it appears they rushed him again in 2007, as he wasn’t completely dominating at Clearwater when he was promoted. 2008 is his age 21 season, and he doesn’t turn 21 until late March, so he’s still got plenty of time. He needs to work on repeating his delivery, and as Keith Law mentioned, he needs to maintain his arm speed on his changeup to prevent tipping hitters off on it. If he refines his game, he can easily be a #2 starter in the bigs. His fastball has plenty of life and velocity, he has the abilit to not only roll up ground balls, but also strikeouts. The Phillies need to slow him down, let him get comfortable, and allow him to focus on strengthening his pitches and delivery, not worry about when he’s going to get thrown into the starting rotation. Carrasco should start at Reading, and could end up at Allentown, or maybe even get a callup in September (or sooner, in a pinch), but there is no need to rush him for a 3rd time.
01. Adrian Cardenas, 2B — Age 20 — (A-) — 2006 (1st Round)
2006: 177 PA — .384 OB% — .442 SLG% — 9.6 BB% — 15.8 K% — 22.4 XBH%
2007: 564 PA — .354 OB% — .417 SLG% — 8.3 BB% — 14.2 K% — 27.9 XBH%
We’ve finally arrived at the #1 spot on my list. I’m sure most assumed I’d go with Carrasco, but at this point, I’m more comfortable going with the position player. Cardenas was the High School Player of the Year in 2006, outshining fellow prospect Chris Marrero and breaking Florida High School records in the process. He’s a pure hitter, not the toolsy special like many of the hitters down the line in the Phillies system. He lacks great defensive skills, he’s already only an average runner, and will likely end up below average, but he can hit, and it’s his bat that will carry him. The Phillies jumped him over the short season circuit after a great debut, and he responded by hitting .295 at Lakewood at age 19, with 41 extra base hits (30 doubles) and 19 stolen bases, while doing a pretty good job of controlling the strike zone. After a very slow start with a .639 OPS in April, he posted back to back solid months with an .824 OPS in May and an .899 OPS in June. Possibly feeling the effects of his first full season, he dipped down to a .709 OPS in July, but bounced back with a .790 OPS in August. The most common trend for 18 year olds heading straight to Low A after their rookie league debut is a spike in strikeout rate, but Cardenas actually cut down on his strikeouts, which is what probably allowed him to nearly hit .300. His power increased, and will continue to increase as he fills out and matures. He’s only 5’11, 190, but he draws the Chase Utley comparisons because he has quick wrists and good instincts at the plate. Utley’s power didn’t really emerge until his age 23 season in 3A, so Cardenas has plenty of time, and over the next 3 seasons the power should slowly grow. The biggest doubt right now is his defensive position, mainly because he is blocked at 2B by Utley, and he doesn’t have the range for SS. Some are already wondering about moving him to 3rd, or if he’ll end up in left field. He should move to Clearwater in 2008, and there is no immediate need for him to change positions. If his bat continues to develop, he’ll likely have enough offense to play left field in the majors, but he could wind up being a very valuable trade piece for the Phillies before then, or he could possibly wind up at 3rd, depending on his ability to get off the long throws. Regardless, his bat is going to carry him, and if he continues to rake, the Phillies will find a spot for him, or another team will beat down the door and look to give him that spot.
So there you have it. Let’s here your feedback, your complaints, and anything else you want to share. This is just my list, I’m sure some of these picks will look bad in a year, but hopefully I’ll have more hits than misses. Speaking of misses, the guys right at the cutoff for me were Brian Schlitter, Jarrod Freeman, Carlos Monasterios, Jeremy Slayden, Matt Rizzotti, Ben Pfinsgraff, and Tyler Mach.