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Philadelphia Phillies: Top 10 Prospects

General Manager: Ruben Amaro Jr.
Farm Director: Steve Noworyta
Scouting Director: Marti Wolever

FanGraphs’ Top 10 Prospects:
(2009 Draft Picks/International Signees Not Included)

This organization definitely has a different feel after the Roy Halladay/Cliff Lee trades. The loss of prospects Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor and Travis D’Arnaud to the Blue Jays (Taylor later got flipped to Oakland) hurts the overall depth of the Top 10 list, and the players that came back from Seattle were not of an equal value. Beyond Brown there are a lot of question marks.

1. Domonic Brown, OF, Double-A
DOB: September 1987 Bats: L Throws: L
Signed: 2006 20th round – Georgia HS
MLB ETA: Mid-2010 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3

The club is lucky to still have Brown, aka the player Toronto really wanted in the Roy Halladay trade. The 2010 season could be the year that Brown vaults into elite prospect status, if he’s not already there for most people. The outfielder is a speed/power threat with two straight seasons of 20-plus steals and an ISO of .214 at high-A in ’09 (His .177 ISO in double-A wasn’t bad, either). Overall, he hit .298/.376/.494 on the season. One minor knock on Brown to this point has been his durability. Injuries have kept him from appearing in more than 114 games over the past three seasons. Of concern, as well, is the jump in strikeout rate last season (20.2 in high-A, 25.2% in double-A) but that is to be somewhat expected with a jump in his power output. His walk rate remained solid (12.1 in high-A, 8.6% in double-A).

2. Phillippe Aumont, RHP, Double-A
DOB: January 1989 Bats: L Throws: R
Signed: 2007 1st round – Quebec HS (Seattle)
MLB ETA: Mid-2011 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
Repertoire: 89-95 mph fastball, slider, change-up

The top player acquired in the surprising Cliff Lee trade with Seattle, Aumont is armed with a big-time fastball but his secondary pitches leave something to be desired. Despite that fact (and a history of injury problems), his new organization is planning to stick him back in the starting rotation. Drafted in the first round as a raw Canadian prep pitcher, Aumont quickly reached double-A in less than two seasons (in part due to Seattle’s aggressive approach). The 21-year-old pitcher’s ’09 season was solid. He began the year in high-A – in a very good hitter’s league – and posted a 3.53 FIP while allowing 24 hits in 33.1 innings of work (thanks in part to a .264 BABIP). He showed OK control with a walk rate of 3.24 BB/9 and a solid strikeout rate of 9.45 K/9. That whiff rate jumped to 12.23 K/9 upon his promotion to double-A, but his walk rate also rose to 5.60 BB/9. His BABIP-allowed jumped to .436 and his LOB% plummeted to an unlucky 59.5%. Aumont will be a pitcher to watch closely in 2010, as he is one of the most volatile prospects in the game.

3. Trevor May, RHP, Low-A
DOB: September 1989 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2008 4th round – Washington HS
MLB ETA: Mid-2013 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
Repertoire: 89-94 mph fastball, curveball, change-up

May had an excellent season, but caution must be used due to his limited sample size. In 15 low-A starts, the right-hander posted a strikeout rate of 11.06 K/9 and allowed just 58 hits in 77.1 innings of work. He had control issues and had a walk rate of 5.00 BB/9 but a HR/9 rate of 0.35 helped to keep the damage to a minimum. May also benefited from luck with a LOB% of 80.0%. He needs to try and get his ground-ball rate up above 40%. The youngster could begin 2010 back in low-A or the organization could be aggressive and move him up to high-A. Either way, he needs to get 25 starts this year so we can see what his potential is with a larger workload.

4. Juan Ramirez, RHP, High-A
DOB: August 1986 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2005 non-drafted international free agent (Nicaragua)
MLB ETA: Mid-2012 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
Repertoire: 90-95 mph fastball, curveball, change-up

Another piece obtained in the Lee deal with Seattle, Ramirez has a nice fastball but he is still trying to put all the pieces together. The right-handed prospect had a rough time playing in a good hitter’s park in high-A in ’09. He posted a 4.76 FIP and allowed 153 hits in 142.1 innings. His strikeout rate also dropped below 8.20 K/9 for the first time in three years to 7.02 K/9. His walk rate, though, remained respectable at 3.35 BB/9 and he kept his line-drive rate to 12%. Despite a 42% ground-ball rate (which is OK, not great), Ramirez allowed quite a few homers (1.14 HR/9) so he’ll need to improve that for 2010. At worst, he should develop into back-of-the-rotation starter, with the potential to be a No. 3. A set-up role in the bullpen would not be out of the question.

5. Sebastian Valle, C, Low-A
DOB: July 1990 Bats: L Throws: R
Signed: 2006 non-drafted international free agent (Mexico)
MLB ETA: Mid-2013 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3

Valle has the makings of a solid offensive-minded catcher, although his wOBA plummeted to .301 in his first taste of full-season ball in ’09. At low-A ball, the catcher hit just .223/.313/.331 in 157 at-bats. In short-season ball, though, the left-handed hitter posted a .390 wOBA and a triple-slash line of .307/.335/.531 in 192 at-bats. Valle showed a better walk rate at low-A (8.9%) than in short-season ball (4.9%) and his +20% strikeout rate is a tad high, although his ISO rate was .224 at the junior level. He needs to improve against southpaws, as his OPS was .659 against them, compared to .815 against right-handers. Defensively, the Mexico native is a work-in-progress and he threw out just 18% of base runners in ’09.

6. Tyson Gillies, OF, High-A
DOB: October 1988 Bats: L Throws: R
Signed: 2006 25th round – Iowa Western CC (Seattle)
MLB ETA: Mid-2012 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3

The is reason to be excited about Gillies, but the outfielder was playing in one of the best hitter’s leagues in all of baseball. His .411 wOBA is nice, as is his triple-slash line of .341/.430/.486, but his BABIP was .395. There are two things about his game that he cannot luck into, though: his walk rate of 10.1% and his 44 steals (although he was caught 19 times). The 2010 season will be a telling one for Gillies, who will be moving to a more neutral league. To have success, he just needs to keep doing what he’s doing: Hitting a lot of ground balls (61% in ’09) and using his speed to get on base (and then into scoring position).

7. Anthony Gose, OF, Low-A
DOB: August 1990 Bats: L Throws: L
Signed: 2008 2nd round – California HS
MLB ETA: Mid-2013 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3

In some regards, Gose is similar to Gillies – only more raw. Gose had a respectable first full season in the minors and hit .259/.323/.353 in 510 at-bats. His speed was on full display as he stole 76 bases in 96 attempts. To fully take advantage of his speed to its full extent, though, he needs to improve his .323 OBP and 6.1% walk rate. The strikeout rate is also far too high (21.6%) for someone with an .094 ISO rate. Like Gillies, Gose does a nice job of keeping the ball on the ground (64 GB%). Oddly, the left-handed hitter fared much better against southpaws than right-handers in ’09 (.824 vs .638 OPS).

8. Antonio Bastardo, LHP, Majors
DOB: September 1985 Bats: L Throws: L
Signed: 2005 non-drafted international free agent (Dominican Republic)
MLB ETA: Now 40-Man Roster: Yes Options: 2
Repertoire: 87-92 mph fastball, plus change-up, slider

It was a busy year for Bastardo, who pitched at five different levels, spent time on the DL and made his MLB debut. In six Major League appearances, the lefty posted a 5.08 FIP but showed solid control with a walk rate of 3.42. He spent the majority of the season in double-A, where he posted a 2.03 FIP and allowed 22 hits in 36.0 innings. His strikeout rate was an eye-popping 10.25 K/9 and his control was spot-on at 1.75 BB/9. A starter in the minors, Bastardo could make the Phillies bullpen in 2010, as he possesses a slightly-above average heater for a lefty and good slider. His change-up was a well-below-average pitch in his brief MLB debut.

9. John Mayberry, OF, Majors
DOB: December 1983 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2005 1st round – Stanford University (Texas)
MLB ETA: Now 40-Man Roster: Yes Options: 1

A former two-time No. 1 draft pick (out of high school and college), Mayberry’s dad (of the same name) was also a pretty good hitter in his day. The younger Mayberry has massive power potential but he has yet to show an ability to hit for a high average in pro ball, which drags down his overall numbers – especially considering his OBP is relatively low, as well. The prospect showed his power potential by mashing the ball (.263 ISO) in a 39-game MLB trial in ’09. He spent the majority of the year in triple-A where he hit .256/.332/.456 with an ISO of .199 in 316 at-bats. Despite his size (6’6”, 230 lbs), Mayberry also possesses the ability to steal 10 bases with regular playing time. Already 26, the outfielder (who can also play first base) is big-league ready but there is no spot for him. If he makes the 2010 opening day roster, it will be as a part-time player – or due to an injury to Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez or Jayson Werth.

10. Scott Mathieson, RHP, Double-A
DOB: February 1984 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2002 17th round – British Columbia HS
MLB ETA: Mid-2010 40-Man Roster: Yes Options: 1
Repertoire: 91-97 mph fastball, slider, change-up

Mathieson is a great story and he gets the nod over some other players like Jarred Cosart and Domingo Santana, both of whom played in the Gulf Coast League (rookie ball) this past season. He had a lot of success in the bullpen in ’09 while recovering from his second Tommy John surgery (interesting fellow Canadian hurler Shawn Hill, now with the Jays, also underwent a second procedure last June and is on the comeback trail). In 33.0 combined innings in ’09, the right-hander allowed 22 hits (.188 AVG), a walk rate of 3.27 BB/9 and a strikeout rate of 8.45 K/9. He also gave up just one homer (0.27 HR/9) despite a low ground-ball rate (39.4%). If his elbow holds up, Mathieson could eventually see time as a closer. He will turn 26 by the time the season begins and he will likely receive some more fine-tuning in triple-A before he trusted with a big-league bullpen role. If he can continue to show good control and a blazing fastball, Mathieson could be contributing at the MLB level by mid-season.

Up Next: The Toronto Blue Jays