The Philadelphia Phillies organization has done a nice job of developing its own players, as witnessed by the likes of Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Jimmy Rollins. That pipeline, though, has been slowed in recent years. The club lacks the can’t miss prospect at the top of the system, although outfielder Domonic Brown is a very talented player and could develop into an above-average player.
Trades for the likes of Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay have weakened the system. The re-trade of Lee for a collection of prospects including Juan Ramirez, Phillippe Aumont, and Tyson Gillies does not come close to replacing the likes of Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor, and Travis d’Arnaud.
With all that said, there are some interesting names in the minor league system, including pitchers Trevor May, Scott Mathieson, and Brody Colvin, as well as catcher Sebastian Valle, first baseman Jonathan Singleton, and outfielder Anthony Gose. Many of those players, though, are very raw.
The club is definitely veteran-heavy at the MLB level. Starting pitcher J.A. Happ is one of the few players 27 years of age or younger. The youngest hitter on the 40-man roster is shortstop Brian Bocock (age 25), a fringe big leaguer who was claimed off waivers during the off-season.
Although not a major player in the world market, the club has nine international prospects on its Top 30 prospect list, according to Baseball America. The organization’s draft results have been modest over the past three seasons but the club remains loyal to scouting director Marti Wolever, who is in his ninth season as scouting director. First round picks Joe Savery (2007) and Anthony Hewitt (2008) have been disappointments, while the club lacked a first-round selection in 2009. It’s no secret that the club likes to gamble with prep picks. Over the last three drafts, the club has selected just three four-year college players in the Top 3 rounds and with its over-slot deals (20 picks in total). That puts a heavy burden on the player development system, and the jury is still out on that.
Once the main core of star players start to fade out or become too expensive, Philadelphia could be in trouble. The minor league depth is certainly showing signs of wear and tear. The organization has also had trouble developing impact pitching with the likes of Cole Hamels, Brett Myers (now with Houston), and Carlos Carrasco (Cleveland) failing to reach their potentials. Former prep phenom Gavin Floyd did not start pitching well until he reached the Chicago White Sox organization.
The Phillies’ Major League roster is a World Series threat entering 2010, but cracks are starting to show on the foundation.
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