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Baseball America released its list of the top 100 prospects in baseball this season and four Phillies were featured. As we previously mentioned, right fielder Domonic Brown came in fourth on the list. However, with Brown looking set to start 2011 on the big league roster and at 23 years old, his time as a “prospect” is just about up. Rounding out the top five on Baseball America’s list is National’s OF Bryce Harper, Angel’s OF Mike Trout, Yankees’ catcher Jesus Montero, and at #5 is Braves’ rhp Julio Teheren.
As for the rest of the Phillies on the list, first baseman Jonathon Singleton comes in at #39, with his best tool being listed as “power” with an ETA in the majors set at 2013. Singleton is just 19 years old.
At #56 is right hander Brody Colvin, who is 20 years old with an ETA of 2013. BA lists his best tool as the fastball.
The Phillies other hard throwing right hander, Jarred Cosart comes in at #70 on the BA list. His best tool is also the fastball, he’s also 20 and also expected in the majors in 2013. He’s actually graded the highest of any of the Phillies prospects.
Amid the first leg of the Spring Training feel out process, Domonic Brown received some more recognition from prospect heads at Baseball America. Behind the likes of Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, Dom takes the 4th spot in prospect land. As Matt Gelb notes, it could be his last time on the list if he plays enough at the Major League level this season.
Dom is competing with Ben Francisco and, to a much lesser degree, John Mayberry, for the right field spot in Citizens Bank Park. Charlie Manuel has said, even if what was by accident, by saying that Brown is the frontrunner for the job. He later backpedaled, but it seems like the team would like nothing better than for Domonic to win the job outright in Spring Training. Ben serves much better as a 4th outfielder and late-game replacement for Raul Ibanez.
With more good news filtering in for Dom, the potential of a terrific first year and a bounceback season from a shaky Winter League is very high. Nothing like February baseball talk.
The Philadelphia Phillies are prohibitive favorites to not only win the NL East in 2011, but to go all the way and win their second World Series in four years. There’s plenty of big bats on offense, and the top four in the starting rotation is just silly: Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt. Of course, the Phillies have been highly regarded the two years as well yet failed to really live up to their expectations.
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is confident that the club will manage sky-high expectations just fine in 2011. In an interview with 98.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia, he talked about that, the camaraderie being built on the club, and whether he’d entertain a Ryan Howard for Albert Pujols trade offer. (partial transcript via: SportsRadioInterviews)
How will the Phillies handle being the overwhelming favorites to win the World Series throughout the season?
“Pretty much how they handle things normally. I don’t think these guys get too panicky. You don’t…they just try to play and they have in a way taken on the personality of Charlie [Manuel] and you know played one day at a time. I know that their goal is to be in the playoffs and hopefully win the World Series, but I don’t think they let that cart get out too far in front of the horse.”
What went went into the decision of the starting four aces (Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt, Cliff Lee) to include Joe Blanton when doing media interviews? Is that a good thing?
“As far as doing five instead of four? That was purely from the players standpoint. They would refuse to do any of this unless Joe was involved, so that was really the players. I think it’s the right thing. Absolutely, he’s certainly a part of the rotation and it shows a lot of camaraderie amongst the group. I think it means a lot. I know they have a great deal of respect for each other and how they go about their business, so I think it was the right thing for them to do.”
Check in at The Good Phight for extensive Phillies analysis and fan discussion as the 2011 MLB season rapidly approaches.
Chase Utley’s 2009 wasn’t bad by most standards, but it was an off year for the man most see as the best second baseman in baseball. He had his lowest OPS in 5 years and played the least amount of games since he became a regular starter as recovered from a torn ligament in his thumb. Arriving in Clearwater this week, Utley is feeling healthy and looking forward to a productive 2011.
“Baseball is a game of failure and good players learn how to deal with that failure and not let it affect them,” Utley said. “This year is no different. I’m going to try to improve on years past and go from there.”
Somewhat lost in the Cliff Lee craziness of the Phillies offseason was the fact that the team brought in hall of famer Ryne Sandberg to coach their triple A team. The fact that one of the great second baseman of all time is in the organization has not been lost on Utley.
“Without a doubt I’m planning to pick his brain,” Utley said. “We’ve already had a few conversations. He’s one of the best second basemen of all-time. I’d be dumb not to pick his brain.”
Phils manager Charlie Manuel says he hopes to give Chase a few more breaks to help preserve him over the course of the season, but that Utley is still going to play 145-150 games. As Manuel admits, it’s tough to keep the fan favorite off the field.
“He doesn’t want to come out of the lineup and he wants to play every day,” Manuel said. “But there are times you have to make up you’re mind and sit him.”
“I think Ut is the kind of guy who doesn’t look for attention and I’m not sure he has to have it at all. He loves baseball and he wants to play right and he wants our team to play right. His expectation of himself is high. I think they see how he plays and nationally, not only in Philadelphia, but when guys see how he plays, how he goes about it and how hard he plays, his makeup, I think that definitely helps people like to sit and watch him play. He’s quiet, he doesn’t smile a lot and he’s intense. He’s very professional.”
Bruce Bochy, who just so happens to manage the reigning World Series Champion San Francisco Giants, says that his team is not the favorite to repeat as NL champs. He says the favorite title has to go to the team he knocked out of the postseason last year.
"Because of track record, I think you would have to look at their staff as the best in baseball," Bochy told the San Francisco Chronicle. "I think everybody in the National League would tell you the road to the World Series has to go through Philadelphia, with the quality of their staff."
While Bochy certainly isn’t wrong to point out that most everyone in the NL sees the Phillies as favorites, but his statements reveal what the defending champs seem most puzzled how to deal with. Expectations.
"Last year, I don’t know when we were favored to win, ever, and we got it done," Bochy told the San Francisco Chronicle. "For us, it’s not what other people think. It’s what we think. We certainly believe in ourselves, in what we’re capable of doing. We’re not caught up with what the expectations are or the predictions."
The Giants relished playing the role of the underdog last season. The "torture" they liked to go on about so often last season is over. They aren’t the lovable underdogs anymore. While they certainly boast a pitching staff full of blue chips, their lineup was stocked with journeyman who just came up big time and time again in the postseason. Several of those journeyman are gone.
They can act like the Phillies are the big bad wolf… but the fact it is that the Giants are the team wearing the rings right now. It’s hard to play the underdog when you’ve got those.
Great Sunday to everyone. This Italian Stallion is FIRED UP about the City of Brotherly Love! Balboa workouts paid off and READY TO GO!!!less than a minute ago via ÜberTwitterJason Grilli
The Phillies will be looking to fill out their bullpen after the decision appears to have been made to pass on re-signing Chad Durbin. Ruben Amaro told Todd Zolecki this week, "I would say that we're probably not going to resign him" when asked about Durbin.
Recently named the 8th best prospect in the Phillies system by Keith Law, Aaron Altherr was in the top tier of outfield prospects in the lower levels of this loaded system. To alleviate some of the blockages there, and fill a need elsewhere, Phuture Phillies reports they will try Altherr at third base at least early on this season.
Altherr is one of the more athletic players in the system, a 6’5 stud drafted in the 9th round out of Agua Fria High School in Arizona. He’s a level-headed kid with an interesting blend of power, speed, and contact that led him to a triple slash of .350/.426/.775 at Williamsport last season. Moving to third could shoot him up the organizational ladder, because, aside from Cody Overbeck at Reading and young Maikel Franco, the Phillies have a dearth of prospects in the system. That’s presumably a reason they’re making the change.
Aaron played shortstop in high school, so the difficulty of the move should be somewhat lessened by the familiarity with that side of the diamond. If he can be even average defensively, he could get bumped to Clearwater midway through the season. This will be his first full season of baseball though, so the Phils will be prudent to take care of him as he goes.
Exciting news that came kind of out of nowhere — I would’ve expected to hear them considering a Jon Singleton move to the outfield, although this could be a precursor of that. Stay tuned.
After DFA’ing Sergio Escalona a few days ago, the Phillies found him a home in Houston. Making another deal with former GM Ed Wade, Ruben Amaro dealt Escalona for second baseman Albert Cartwright. Wade, who had signed Escalona in 2004, has made multiple moves with the Phillies since he’s left, including the Brad Lidge and Roy Oswalt deals.
Cartwright, 23, was drafted by the Astros in the 2007 Draft and played most recently for the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks in the last 35 games of 2010. He struggled in his first promotion to AA, as most prospects do, getting on-base at a .289 clip and slugging just .271. His career norms are much higher though, as he posted a .932 OPS in Single-A Advanced for the first 92 games of the season. He hit 10 home runs and 13 triples in those games, flashing his speed for 31 stolen bags between the two levels.
As is typical with toolsy speed guys, he strikes out too much and walks too little, but he’s got some pop in his bat and now that he’s around, could challenge Delwyn Young, Robb Quinlan and Brian Bocock for a utility position behind Wilson Valdez. He’d primarily be a pinch runner because of his weak fielding, but he’d be a cheap option for a couple years that can help the team.
It’s hard to deem a winner and loser in minor moves like this, but if I had to pick, Cartwright has a higher ceiling than Escalona and should continue his professional successes at Double-A Reading this year with a September call-up ahead.
When the Phillies brought back J.C. Romero, somebody had to go from the 40-man roster. It seemed likely that Brian Bocock was likely to go, but that was not the case as Ruben Amaro let left-handed reliever Sergio Escalona go. In the next 10 days, he’ll either be released, traded, or put on waivers.
The Philliies now have just three left-handed relievers on the 40-man roster: Romero, Mike Zagurski and Antonio Bastardo. Zagurski figures to play 2011 in Lehigh Valley while the other two will be with the big club. Even if one of them gets injured, it’s unlikely Amaro would be comfortable going to Zagurski and his 22 runs in the 28.1 ML innings he’s logged.
That’s why the Escalona move is a bit surprising. The 26-year-old bounced around quite a lot in 2009, moving from Reading to Lehigh Valley to Philadelphia and back, but remained in Double-A for 2010. It seemed unlikely that he’d ever have back of the bullpen stuff, but lefties batted just .174 against him last season, so a situational lefty is hardly out of the realm of possibility.
We’ll see over the next week or so what happens with Escalona. It’d be nice to have him back for insurance purposes if he clears waivers.
It’s been assumed by pretty much everyone since the Cliff Lee trade that Joe Blanton would be moved to shed salary before the 2011 season. With Vance Worley and Kyle Kendrick waiting in the wings, it seemed that there wouldn’t be much of a talent dip either.
Not so fast, according to PhillyBurbs.com. Amaro had this to say about having to move Blanton to clear space.
I don’t have to do anything … Joe Blanton is part of our rotation and the guys that you see on our roster right now are part of our club. We’ll see where it goes from there.
It’s not as if he hasn’t been shopping Blanton around. There’s just not a market for 30-year-old righties coming off a season where he allowed a .291 batting average to opponents. Not yet at least. Once we get closer to Spring Training and owners start panicking about their own 4th starter spots, they’ll start to put pressure on their GM’s to make a move.
Teams like the Cubs, who could rather dump Carlos Silva’s expiring, or the White Sox, who may need some insurance for Jake Peavy, or even Ed Wade’s Astros, who love to trade with the Phillies and may get jumpy as the spring goes on. Unexpected injury complications could pop up and force the hand of a previously unwilling GM to make the move for Blanton.
It’s certainly not final, but it appears the cool market means Joe Blanton will be a Phillie going into Spring Training.
As Spring Training approaches, the news starts to come in out of Clearwater. This from Matt Gelb, who heard from Phillies PR man Kevin Gregg on the seven camp invitees just announced. Michael Schwimer is the most recognizable name to the average fan, he ranks in the middle of a number of Phillies prospect lists as a right-handed reliever out of the University of Virginia. Schwim finished the 2010 campaign in Lehigh Valley, where he posted a 1.35 ERA in 16 relief appearances. He's got a legitimate shot to make the team out of camp and his play will indicate whether or not Ruben Amaro has to go out and sign a veteran reliever to take the spot of Chad Durbin. He also blogs at Phuture Phillies from time to time, which is beyond awesome since he was a journalism major and the kid can write.
Michael Stutes is another RHP who split time between Reading and LHV in '10. Originally a starter, Stutes spent all of 2010 in the bullpen, pitching 76.1 innings for a 3.42 ERA between the two levels. He's very much in the mold of a Durbin or Clay Condrey, in that he can get to the low 90s with his heat and will be able to go more than an inning or two in mop-up duty. He's more of a long shot to make the team, but there could be a hole for him to fill if Scott Mathieson continues to have injury troubles.
Brian Bass was recently signed by the Phils out of Pittsburgh and figures to be a disposable arm in Allentown the whole year. He most recently pitched in the Venezuelan Winter League to the tune of a 2.68 ERA in seven starts. Having been up in the Majors before, he's a good bet for a spot start in case one of the Phillies Five goes down.
Joel Naughton and Tuffy Gosewich are catching prospects that have bounced around quite a bit over the last four years in the Phillies system. This is Gosewich's third invite to camp, primarily as a body, but he can defend the position well even if his bad isn't ML quality. Naughton is a 24-year-old Aussie who batted .308 with some pop in Clearwater last season. Next to Sebastian Valle, he's the best catching prospect outside of rookie ball in the system, even if his ceiling tops out at ML backup. I wouldn't be shocked if he steals the role this season, but it's more likely he'll be in Reading.
Robb Quinlan and Delwyn Young have more than their share of ML experience on their resumes. Quinlan spent eight seasons with the Angels, having once been a prospect that was well thought of in their system. He's a career .276 hitter and could definitely earn a spot as a utility man if he hits in the Spring. Young has split time with the Dodgers and PIrates over his career, earning a reputation as a good pinch hitter, knocking 16 base-hits in 2010, good for third in the Majors. He's a switch-hitter that plays a bevy of positions and will be fighting with Quinlan to back up Wilson Valdez as the primary utility option.
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