There are a few interesting prospects in the Phillies system, but it’s uninspiring for the most part thanks to lackluster drafts and some trades. My favorite player in the system, Adrian Cardenas, was used to obtain Joe Blanton from Oakland last season… but you can’t exactly find fault with how the year ended for the organization. I know Eric was mildly pleased.
What to make of Carlos Carrasco? The soon-to-be 22-year-old hurler was having a pretty impressive minor league career until he visited Pennsylvania. The right-hander spent parts of two seasons at Double-A Reading, PA and his numbers were not good. Carrasco lost about 2.0 K/9 off his stats sheet over both seasons and his command/control regressed as well. Apparently, though, Triple-A suits him much better. After a promotion out Double-A last season, the Venezuelan posted a 1.72 ERA (2.19 FIP) in six starts. He allowed 37 hits in 36.2 innings and posted rates of 3.19 BB/9 and 11.29 K/9. It’s a good thing he doesn’t have to see Pennsylvania agai… Oh. Never mind.
Left-hander J.A. Happ rebounded from a poor season in Triple-A in 2007 and pitched well in both Triple-A and the Majors in 2008. The 26-year-old hurler has positioned himself to leave spring training with the big club this season, although his role could come in the bullpen or starting rotation. Last season, Happ allowed just 116 hits in 135 innings of work in Triple-A. He also posted rates of 3.20 BB/9 and 10.07 K/9. Not overpowering, he benefits from deception on his 88-91 mph fastball. Happ also has a good change-up and a slider.
Watch out, Ruiz, Paulino, and Coste. Catcher Lou Marson is about a half season away from becoming the No. 1 catcher on the Phillies. The right-handed hitter has improved offensively each season in the minors and had a solid year in Double-A in 2008. He hit .314/.433/.416 with a .102 ISO in 322. Right now, the biggest hole in his offensive game is the lack of power. Marson will take more than his fair share of walks (17.4 BB%) although he strikes out a bit too much (21.7 K%). He is solid but not spectacular behind the plate and his arm is not very strong, although he threw out more than 35% of base stealers in 2008.
A number of teams showed interest in trading for shortstop Jason Donald last season, but the Phillies hung on to him. Playing in Double-A, the infielder hit .300 for the season for a second straight year, with a complete line of .307/.391/.497 with 14 homers and 11 stolen bases in 362 at-bats. Donald walked 11.5% of the time, and posted a strikeout rate of 23.8%. He needs to show more power in-game if he is going to move to third base, a likely destination given his below-average skills at shortstop. The 24-year-old could also end up as an offensive-minded utility player.
Son of Doug, Kyle Drabek is a former first round draft pick out of high school. The right-hander’s career has been slowed by injuries and he had Tommy John surgery in 2007. Drabek returned in 2008 and showed much of his old self. In A-ball, he allowed just 11 hits in 20.1 innings, while walking six and striking out 10. His fastball can touch 95 mph, and he also features a good curveball and a developing change-up. Drabek’s lack of maturity is a concern.
Outfielder Dominic Brown is loaded with potential, but he is still scratching the surface on his baseball skills. He had a solid season in 2008 at A-ball by posting a line of .291/.382/.417 with 22 stolen bases in 444 at-bats. Brown posted good rates: 12.6 BB% and 16.2 K%. After getting caught stealing bases seven times in 29 attempts, he needs to improve his reads. Because he projects as a right fielder, the 21-year-old needs to show more power after hitting just nine homers last year with an ISO of .126. Keep an eye on Brown in 2009; he is a top candidate for a breakout season.
Michael Taylor had his breakout season in 2008. He wasn’t young for his leagues last year, though, and is entering 2009 as a 23-year-old prospect likely headed to Double-A. He split 2008 between A-ball and High-A. At the senior level he hit .329/.380/.560 with nine homers in 243 at-bats. In total, Taylor slugged 19 homers and stole 15 bases. The 6’6” 255 lbs outfielder needs to show a little more patience at the plate after walking just 7.3% of the time. His strikeout rate of 18.9% was reasonable for a power hitter. He has a strong arm but is just an average corner outfielder. Taylor still has some holes in his game so it will be interesting to see how he fares in Double-A in 2009.
Catcher Travis D’Arnaud was drafted out of high school in 2007 in the supplemental first round. He was considered a good defensive player, who might struggle with the bat. After 2008, though, it appears the 20-year-old could develop into an average hitter – at worst. D’Arnaud spent most of the season in extended spring training and short-season ball where he hit .309/.371/.463 with four homers in 175 at-bats. He received a late-season promotion to A-ball and hit .297 in 64 a-bats.
Zach Collier was a 2008 supplemental first round draft pick out of high school. The 18-year-old hit better than expected in his rookie ball debut with a line of .271/.347/.357. He did not hit a home run in 129 at-bats, but he stole five bases. Collier could open the year in A-ball, if he has a good spring.
Up Next: The Baltimore Orioles
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