Not long after claiming the World Series title, the Philadelphia Phillies organization added a group of prospects to its 40-man roster, including pitchers Carlos Carrasco, Drew Naylor, and Sergio Escalona, as well as catcher Joel Naughton.
Carrasco has been near the top of the Phillies’ prospect list since recovering from a brutal 2005 season. The 21-year-old began the 2008 season in Double-A and held his own by allowing 109 hits in 114.2 innings of work. He posted rates of 3.53 BB/9 and 8.56 K/9, with a FIP of 4.11. Promoted to Triple-A towards the end of the season, Carrasco allowed 37 hits in 36.2 innings and posted rates of 3.19 BB/9 and 11.29 K/9. He did a better job of keeping the ball down and allowed just one home run in Triple-A, after allowing 13 in Double-A. Carrasco’s phone number should be on General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr.’s speed dial in 2009 for when the club tires of Adam Eaton and/or Kyle Kendrick.
Naylor had a breakout 2008 season after spending the previous two seasons in short-season ball. Beginning the year in A-ball, the Australian hurler allowed 69 hits in 87.1 innings of work and posted rates of 2.16 BB/9 and 10.00 K/9. His K/BB ratio was 4.62. Naylor, 22, did not fare as well in High-A ball and allowed 86 hits in 78 innings. The right-hander posted rates of 3.58 BB/9 and 6.81 K/9, with a K/BB ratio of just 1.90. His FIP went from 2.99 to 4.29. He should start 2009 back in High-A ball but could move up quickly if he rights himself. Naylor has an 88-92 mph fastball, curveball and developing change-up.
Escalona, a southpaw, was added to the 40-man roster after a fast-moving season that saw him begin in A-ball and end in Double-A. He recovered nicely from a poor 2007 season, in which he allowed 91 hits in 70.1 innings over three minor league levels as a starter. The 24-year-old reliever started 2008 by allowing 36 hits in 44.2 innings with rates of 3.63 BB/9 and 12.09 K/9. He also allowed just one home run. Promoted to Double-A, Escalona allowed 27 hits in 24.1 innings and posted rates of 5.18 BB/9 and 10.73 K/9. His struggles should not be surprising given the two-level jump. Escalona’s slider makes him a good bet for a future LOOGY role after holding left-handed batters to a .188 average in 2008, compared to right-handers at .281. In his career, right-handed batters have hit .300 against him.
Naughton, like Naylor, is Australian. He was definitely the most surprising addition to the 40-man roster, especially given the presence of top hitting prospect Lou Marson. The club also has three Major League catchers (although they are all more second-string catchers than starters) in Chris Coste, Carlos Ruiz and Ronny Paulino. Naughton, 22, has spent the past two seasons in A-ball. In 2008, he hit .275/.336/.359 with an ISO of .083 in 276 at-bats. He also walked 8.9% of the time and struck out 14.1% of the time. The left-handed hitter has held his own against southpaws in his career (.244 average versus .264 against RHPs) but he has not been allowed to face many: 131 career at-bats versus left-handers, 569 at-bats versus right-handers. Naughton will likely use up all his options before he is ready for the Majors.
Outfielder John Mayberry Jr. was also added to the 40-man roster for the first time after being acquired from Texas for fellow outfield prospect Greg Golson. Both players were also former first round draft picks (Mayberry 19th overall in 2005 out of Stanford University, Golson 21st overall out of a Texas high school). Both outfielders are basically Major-League ready. Golson is more athletic, with tons of raw potential. Mayberry, 25, is less athletic and is close to being a one-dimensional, offensive player with above-average power. In a sense, he’s almost a younger Pat Burrell, whom the Phillies recently lost to free agency. The signing of free agent Raul Ibanez, formerly of Seattle, makes it unlikely that Mayberry will begin 2009 in Philadelphia. It’s unfortunate that his Major League progress will be hindered by the likes of Ibanez, Geoff Jenkins, and Matt Stairs.