In the Phillies’ recent run of success, they’ve been buyers at the trade deadline and for good reason. Contenders should always try and bolster their World Series chances when they have an opportunity, and they’ve done just that. This is different from the first half of the decade when they were frequently in the gray area of contending or becoming sellers and had no real direction.
If this blog existed several years ago, I would’ve been covering players like Josh Outman, Lou Marson and Kyle Drabek like I covered Jarred Cosart and Domingo Santana before they were traded. Fans followed those players closely as prospects making their way to the majors, expecting them to fill holes on the major league roster soon. That did not happen, but prospects can be very helpful to big market teams as trade chips, and the Phillies have demonstrated that every deadline for the past few seasons.
Once those prospects are traded, the discussion about them stops, and they usually become footnotes in future discussion. Not much attention is paid to them and probably for good reason. Most fans are only interested in prospects impacting their own organization, and once they’re traded, it’s up to another fanbase to pay attention. This will provide an update on the minor leaguers the Phillies have traded away since the trade deadline at 2008. I’ll admit it’s a pretty arbitrary cutoff date.
July 17, 2008: Joe Blanton traded by the Oakland Athletics to the Philadelphia Phillies for Adrian Cardenas, Matt Spencer and Josh Outman.
Adrian Cardenas was probably the key piece of this trade that proved to be important for the Phillies’ World Championship run. Prior to 2008, he was Baseball America’s #76 prospect in baseball after just one full professional season. That was probably the peak of his stock although he was ranked #74 by Baseball America the next year. He’s a career .300 hitter in the minors with a decent approach, but he doesn’t have much power. His defense limits him in the field, and his ceiling probably isn’t as a starter but as a utility player that can play second base and left field, third base and shortstop in a pinch.
Matt Spencer was the third player involved in the deal. He was a third rounder in 2007, but he wasn’t expected to have much upside. After a decent pro debut with Williamsport that year, the Phillies aggressively promoted him to Clearwater to start 2008 where he played before being traded to Oakland. His hitting stats were below average which doesn’t bode well for a 22 year old in High A. Before 2010, he was traded to the Cubs organization in a deal that involved Jake Fox, and he hasn’t had success advancing past AA.
Josh Outman was closest to the majors at the time of the trade, and so far he’s the only player in this trade to make it to the big leagues. He was mainly working out of Reading’s bullpen and was having a pretty up and down season. He struck out a lot of batters, but he walked far too many. When Oakland acquired him, they moved him back into the rotation, and he suddenly started walking fewer batters. In 2009, concerns about Outman’s mechanics came to fruition while he was enjoying a breakout season. Tommy John surgery kept him out for a year and a half.
November 20, 2008: John Mayberry traded by the Texas Rangers to the Philadelphia Phillies for Greg Golson.
Greg Golson was a classic Phillies pick in the first round of the 2004 draft. He had incredible tools, and some say they were the best tools in recent memory. His power, speed and arm always gave scouts hope, but his skills never translated to baseball ability. After one subpar season in the Texas organization, he was traded to the Yankees for an organizational filler type player, but he has had some time in the majors with New York. Some still believe he could fill a role off an ML bench.
July 29, 2009: Cliff Lee traded by the Cleveland Indians to the Philadelphia Phillies for Jason Knapp, Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald and Lou Marson.
Jason Knapp had the highest ceiling in this trade, but he also came with the most risk. Concerns about his delivery were well known at the time, but it still became controversial when Knapp underwent shoulder surgery a few months after the trade. The Indians knew he could have problems but made the trade anyway. Knapp threw 40 innings for Indians affiliates between 2009 and 2010, and it was announced this year that he needed more shoulder surgery. Knapp has the stuff to pitch at the top of a rotation, but will his shoulder ever give him the chance?
Carlos Carrasco really had an up and down career with the Phillies organization, and no one has been able to figure him out. On one hand, he has very good stuff, and that allowed him to succeed at all levels of the minors. On the other hand, he’s believed to not be strong mentally on the mound, not trusting his stuff and easily getting frustrated. After a 2009 ML debut that saw him do as poorly as possible, he rebounded in 2010 with a solid 44.2 IP stint. In 2011, he was once again wildly inconsistent, and we may never see how good Carrasco could’ve been.
Jason Donald is another player whose stock probably peaked while he was still with the Phillies. After a 2008 season at Reading where he hit for average and power, he struggled with injuries and poor play the next year with Lehigh Valley. The Indians traded for him anyway, and he’s been better at AAA for Cleveland in the two years since. The Phillies thought he could be a solution at third base, but he’s probably not going to be an every day player. His ceiling is probably a utility guy that can hit off the bench even if he hasn’t in limited ML action so far.
Like Donald, Lou Marson’s breakout year came in 2008 with Reading. He appeared to be a catcher who could be decent behind the plate, hit for a good average with nice plate discipline. However, there was a red flag in scouting reports; he hit a lot of ground balls and didn’t make great contact. That probably led to the decline of his stock. His .314 average in 2008 looks to be a fluke at this point. He hasn’t hit well at all in the majors, and it appears that his ceiling is Carlos Santana’s backup with the Indians.
December 16, 2009: Roy Halladay traded by Toronto Blue Jays to the Philadelphia Phillies for Michael Taylor, Travis D’Arnaud and Kyle Drabek.
In 2009, fans debated between Domonic Brown and Michael Taylor– who would be better? The Phillies decided on Brown, and they made the right choice. Taylor had all the makings of an athletic power hitter with the Phillies, but he flopped in 2010. After the Halladay trade, he was immediately flipped to Oakland for Brett Wallace who will be mentioned again soon. His 2011 has been better, but it appears that Taylor won’t become the force he appeared to be with the Phillies, rather a 4th outfielder or maybe a platoon partner against left handed pitchers.
Travis D’Arnaud was probably the third player in this trade, albeit a very good one. As it stands now, his stock may be the highest of the three players sent to Toronto. His statistics were only okay in 2009 and 2010 across two organizations, but the scouting reports always said he would hit. Now, he is. 2011 has been a breakout season for D’Arnaud, and he’s emerging as one of the best all-around catching prospects in baseball. He’s not great in any area, but he’s good or very good in all of them, and he could be a top 25 prospect in the league.
Kyle Drabek was probably the most highly touted player in the deal. He had Tommy John surgery in 2007, but he rebounded from that and became a top 25 prospect in the league before the 2010 season. He has the stuff to become a #2 or 3 starter, but will he reach his ceiling? His walk rate increased with the Blue Jays organization, and he melted down in the majors with a 6.4 BB/9 and ERA at 5.70. His results in AAA may be even worse, and if he’s not injured, it’s truly concerning that his performance has declined so badly. He’s still only 23 and has plenty of time to improve.
July 29, 2010: Roy Oswalt traded by the Houston Astros to the Philadelphia Phillies for Anthony Gose, Jonathan Villar and J.A. Happ.
Anthony Gose was immediately flipped to Toronto for Brett Wallace and never played for the Astros organization. He’s one of the best athletes in baseball. He’s one of the fastest runners, one of the best defenders in centerfield, and he has a great arm. He’s raw though, but this year he’s shown some improvement. He’s walking more and his stolen base efficiency is up again, but he still doesn’t hit for a high average and strikes out a lot. Toronto has to be satisfied with swapping Wallace for Gose.
Jonathan Villar is now a top 100 prospect baseball, but Houston still has to be patient with him. They have been anything but that, promoting him up to AA at just 20 years old. Whether or not he’s ready for that is debatable. He’s showing some power, but his game is very raw. He’s hitting below .220 in AA, his plate approach needs work, and he’s still clumsy in the field. His errors are down this year, but he’s still committing too many. Since he’s still in the minors, having the athleticism to have shortstop is the most important thing, but eventually the errors need to come down.
Houston taking back J.A. Happ in the Oswalt trade never made sense to me, even before his disastrous 2011 campaign. What do they gain by acquiring a 27 year old 4 or 5 starter who just came off a lengthy DL stint with an elbow injury? He has little upside, and when he gets into his arbitration years with an increasing salary, he loses value, and the team still won’t be very good. While he’s not as good as he showed in his 2009 rookie season, he’s probably not as bad as his 2011 statistics either.
July 29, 2011: Hunter Pence traded by the Houston Astros to the Philadelphia Phillies for Jarred Cosart, Jonathan Singleton, Josh Zeid and Domingo Santana.
It’s still far too early to draw anything meaningful from these prospects’ sample sizes with Houston, but I’ll cover them anyway. Jarred Cosart was promoted to AA immediately following the trade to avoid pitching in homer-friendly Lancaster in the Cal League, and he’s done well. Aside from one terrible outing, Cosart has dominated the Texas League. His hit and walk rates are shrinking, but so has his already declining K rate. For whatever reason, Cosart isn’t striking out batters this season despite his great stuff, but he is generating a lot of ground balls.
Jonathan Singleton’s line has been interesting since the trade. He was expected to show more power in the Cal League, especially in his new home park in Lancaster. He has, and his slugging is .559 with his new organization, but all four of his home runs have come on the road. He’s also hitting for a higher average, but his walk rate is way down. His ability to see pitches was one of his biggest strengths as a Phillie, so maybe he feels a little pressure to perform for his new team. He’s currently playing first base and not left field.
Josh Zeid was the least heralded player involved in the original trade and for good reason. He doesn’t have upside anywhere near Cosart’s or Singleton’s since he’s already a minor league reliever. His overall stats at Reading looked bad, but he was effective coming out of the bullpen for them. At the time of the trade, one scout even said he was major league ready now, but his brief time with Houston’s AA team since the trade indicates otherwise. His ERA is over 10 due to a .378 opponents batting average, but his K:BB ratio is still pretty good.
Domingo Santana was the PTBNL in the Pence trade and is better than the typical player to be named later. He’s still raw and far away, but he has great upside, and that’s the kind of player Houston should be looking for to improve their fortune in future years. Since the trade was completed, he’s shown glimpses of his big potential. He already has four home runs in nine games, and he’s slugging .750. He just turned 19 earlier this month, so he still has plenty of time to develop into the player some expect.
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