Sep 112010

Phillies prospect Jesse Biddle

September 11 Philadelphia Inquirer:

“In theory, the way the Phillies‘ minor-league system is situated right now coincides nicely with the Phillies’ major-league roster. 

By all accounts, the Phillies‘ best prospects are now in the lower levels of the farm system. Outfielder Domonic Brown figures to replace Jayson Werth as the regular rightfielder next season, but the remainder of the team’s core players will likely be around long enough to give the cream of the Phillies‘ minor-league crop time to climb through the system.

“Over the last four years, we’ve traded over 20 players from our minor-league level and any organization that trades that many prospects is going to feel the effects,” said Chuck LaMar, the Phillies‘ assistant general manager in charge of player development.  “But we still feel like we’re in the best position of any organization in baseball to withstand those trades. We still have many prospects.”

With only single-A Lakewood still playing games – the BlueClaws are vying for their second straight South Atlantic League championship – it’s time to wrap up the minor-league season. LaMar said he would not rank the players at each level, but he agreed to comment on most of the players we have ranked.

Triple-A Lehigh Valley (58-86, 5th place International League North Division)

Best player: Brown. “We thought he had an outstanding year, but there is more development to come,” LaMar said. “He’s not one of those big-time prospects ready to step in and perform at the major-league level. I think it’s going to be the next couple of years before the fans of Philadelphia really see his full potential.”

Best pitcher. Scott Mathieson. “He is to that point where he has to have success at the major-league level,” LaMar said. “Everything he does has to be geared toward that.”

Most improved. John Mayberry. At the season’s midpoint, Mayberry was hitting .241 and qualified as the IronPigs’ most disappointing player. He finished strong, however, batting .286 over the final three months. “Like Mathieson and a lot of guys who started at the upper levels this season, he has to go make the major-league club. He has to go into spring training and beat people out.”

Most interesting. Joe Savery. The former first-round pick will go from pitcher to hitter in the Florida Instructional League and LaMar said he would not be surprised if he does well enough that he opens next season in the high minors.

Most disappointing. Savery’s 1-12 record, 4.66 ERA and lack of command are the reasons the Phillies are now considering him as a hitter.

Double-A Reading  (69-72, 4th place Eastern League Eastern Division)

Best player: Matt Rizzotti. The first baseman batted .343 with 17 home runs and 62 RBIs while climbing from single-A Clearwater at the start of the season to Lehigh Valley by the end of the year. He put up his best numbers at Reading. “He’s one of those guys that has to hit because he doesn’t have a lot of other tools or athleticism,” LaMar said. “The Arizona Fall League will be a good test for him.”

Best pitcher. Vance Worley. He jumped from double-A to the big leagues this season and will likely compete for the fifth spot in the Phillies‘ rotation in spring training. “Eventually he’s going to be one of the 12 pitchers on the staff and help us at the major-league level. It’s a matter of when that is, and it could be this September.”

Most improved. Justin De Fratus. An 11th-round pick in 2007, De Fratus, a pitcher, had what LaMar called a “breakout season.” Pitching for Reading and Clearwater, he was a combined 3-0 with 1.94 ERA and 21 saves. “If he stays healthy and keeps his head screwed on right, it’s a matter of time before he gets the chance to pitch in the big leagues.”

Most interesting. Harold Garcia. The second baseman set a Florida State League record by hitting in 37 straight games and batted .281 after being promoted to Reading. LaMar said he believes Garcia can be a major-league second baseman, but he may also evolve into a super utility player. He’ll work on playing left field and third base in the FIL.

Most disappointing. Tyson Gillies. The outfielder’s most noticeable moment came when he was charged with cocaine possession last month by the Clearwater police. He missed most of the season because of hamstring problems. “The legal situation will run its course,” LaMar said. “His baseball situation is he must get healthy.”

Single-A Clearwater (67-72, Florida State League North Division)

Best player. Anthony Gose. The centerfielder was the Threshers’ best player and he will always be known as one of the players who brought the team pitcher Roy Oswalt.

Best pitcher. Austin Hyatt. The Phillies’ 2009 15th-round pick out of Alabama was 11-5 with a 3.04 ERA before being promoted to Reading. “He was the pitcher of the year in the Florida State League, so not only did we think he had an outstanding season, so did a lot of other folks.”

Most improved. Cody Overbeck. The third baseman earned a promotion to Reading this season by hitting .302 with 11 home runs. He finished with 24 home runs in his two stops.

Most interesting. Gose. It will be interesting to watch what kind of player he becomes in the Toronto system.

Most disappointing. Phillippe Aumont. A key acquisition in the Cliff Lee trade with Seattle, the pitcher went a combined 3-11 with a 5.68 ERA at Reading and Clearwater. “It was a disappointing year for Phillippe Aumont, but we’re not disappointed in him,” LaMar said. “We have to do a better job developing him in 2011.”

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