Chat Wrap: Will Kimmey took your Phillies questoins
Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections
of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development
personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards
of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time)
are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2006.
Pushing the eject button on Larry Bowa’s managerial career netted
the Phillies just two more wins in 2005 than the hyper-intense Bowa
earned in each of the previous two seasons. Though Philadelphia won
14 of its last 20 games, it still ended up one game behind the Astros
in the National League wild-card race.
The 88 wins marked the franchise’s most since it advanced to
the World Series in 1993 and gave the Phillies three consecutive winning
seasons for the first time since 1975-80. But falling short of the playoffs
for the eighth straight year under general manager Ed Wade ultimately
cost Wade his job. Team president David Montgomery hired former Blue
Jays, Orioles and Mariners GM Pat Gillick as Wade’s replacement,
passing over in-house candidates Ruben Amaro Jr. and Mike Arbuckle,
both assistant GMs.
Gillick inherits a club coming off its best season in a dozen years,
highlighted by a number of good individual player performances. Jimmy
Rollins finished the year on a 36-game hit streak. Double-play partner
Chase Utley emerged as a team leader and offensive force. Rookie first
baseman Ryan Howard replicated the power production of injured slugger
Pat Burrell bounced back with his best offensive season since 2002.
Brett Myers developed into a staff ace. Robinson Tejeda and Eude Brito
popped up from the minors to deliver 18 solid starts after injuries
Each of those feel-good stories came from a player 28 or younger who
was originally drafted or signed by the Phillies. Factor in catcher
Mike Lieberthal, Ryan Madson, Jason Michaels and Randy Wolf, and the
thrust of the roster is homegrown, a fact not lost on a Philadelphia
front office that’s been trying to knock the Braves, the ultimate
homegrown franchise, out of first place since 1995.
Though he didn’t get the GM job, Arbuckle has helped acquire
and/or develop each of those contributors and plenty more in his 13
years in the organization. He became the Phillies scouting director
in 1992, added farm director to his duties in 2000 and became the assistant
GM for scouting and player development in 2001. Arbuckle learned from
two of the best organization builders in the game, working under Braves
scouting director Paul Snyder for 12 years as a scout and then with
Phillies GM and manager Paul Owens once he got to Philadelphia.
The system has been thinned out by a lack of draft picks (no club has
had fewer picks in the first five rounds since 2000 because of free-agent
compensation) and the use of prospects in trades. Each of the Phillies’
six U.S.-based minor league affiliates had a losing record in 2005,
and their combined .429 winning percentage was the worst in baseball.
"We don’t have a lot of top-line guys down there,"
Arbuckle said. "We’ve been hurt by not having a lot of picks
and we’ve traded about 20 guys in the last few years to get players
like Billy Wagner. Not all 20 were big prospects, but somebody else
wanted them, so that says something."
22 Ht: 6-2 Wt: 185 B-T: L-L
HS—San Diego, 2002 (1st round) Signed by:
Background: Hamels broke the humerus in his
left arm as a high school sophomore, but despite a full recovery and rehabilitation
work with noted pitching guru Tom House, his medical history scared off
some clubs in the 2002 draft. He dropped to the Phillies with the 17th
overall pick and signed for $2 million, and he hasn’t shown any
effects from that injury since. However, an assortment of other maladies
has limited him to just 28 appearances over three seasons. After holding
out in 2002, he showed up out of shape to instructional league and thus
wasn’t ready for a full-season assignment in 2003, which he began
in extended spring training. He pulled a muscle behind his right shoulder
at the end of 2003, knocking him off the U.S. Olympic qualifying team.
He missed most of 2004 after pulling a right triceps muscle while throwing
too hard too early during a stint in major league spring training, during
which he struck out Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. The injury worsened
when he failed to tell the organization about it in an effort to pitch
through the pain. Hamels broke his left hand in a bar fight in January
2005 in Clearwater, Fla. He returned in June and made just six appearances
before a stress fracture in his back ended his season and a chance at
making up lost time in the Arizona Fall League. When healthy, Hamels has
dominated, going 11-3, 1.54 with 208 strikeouts in 152 innings.
Strengths: Hamels is a lefthander with three above-average pitches
and the command, feel and mound presence of a veteran. His changeup,
which sinks and fades away from righthanders, is a plus-plus pitch that
may be the best in the minors. His fastball hovers around 90 mph and
tops out at 93-94 with good life, and he has shown a knack for being
able to reach back for extra velocity when needed. His curveball has
shown more consistency with its break and location. Hamels maintains
an even keel on the mound, never letting his emotions tell the tale
of his outing. He’s also a very good athlete with clean mechanics
and the ability to field his position and hold runners well.
Weaknesses: Durability is a major concern with Hamels. The good
news is that all his injuries have been unrelated and that only his
high school break involved his arm. The bad news is that he has lost
so much development time. Had he stayed healthy, he’d be a strong
candidate for the major league rotation rather than having pitched just
19 innings above high Class A.
The Future: Hamels was working at Double-A Reading when his
back forced him out, and he should start 2006 there. His 2004 spring-training
success remains in the minds of the Phillies’ decision makers,
however, keeping him on a very fast track. A quick jump to Triple-A
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and eventually Philadelphia are both possible.
Despite the setbacks, the Phillies still envision Hamels as a top-of-the-rotation
2005 Club (Class)
Clearwater (Hi A)
20 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-0 Wt.: 190
HS—Austin, 2004 (1st round) Signed by: Steve
Background: The consensus best athlete in the
2004 draft, Golson signed for $1.475 million as the 21st overall pick.
Injuries hampered him in 2005, as a high ankle sprain cost him six weeks
at the beginning of the year and a sprained knee sidelined him for more
than a week in July.
Golson boasts five-tool potential, as well as solid baseball instincts
and a willingness to learn. He has the bat speed to hit for average
and the strength to hit 15-20 homers annually in the majors. His
above-average speed makes him a threat on the bases, and that
and his plus arm make him a plus defender.
Golson still must refine his overall plate discipline and his
pitch recognition in particular. He did most of his damage against
lefthanders in 2005, hitting .346 compared to .241 against righties.
He continues to work on his reads in the outfield.
Because Golson lost 150 at-bats to injury, he could begin 2006
back at low Class A Lakewood. If he dominates the South Atlantic
League, he’ll move up quickly to high Class A Clearwater.
There’s substantial center-field depth in the system, so
he won’t be rushed even though he should become the best
of the group.
Houston, 2003 (4th round) Signed by: Dave Owen
Background: After Bourn posted a .431 on-base
percentage in low Class A in 2004, the Phillies skipped him a level to
Double-A. His offensive numbers weren’t as robust, but he handled
the move well and made adjustments. Managers rated him the Eastern League’s
most exciting player and he led the system in steals.
Bourn offers the quickness, aptitude and offensive approach required
of a leadoff hitter. He’s the system’s best defensive
outfielder and also has an above-average arm. The fastest player
in the system, he outraced Greg Golson by a step in the 60-yard
Bourn’s strikeout rate jumped in 2005, though the Phillies
aren’t as concerned because he faced a two-level jump and
pitchers with more advanced command than he had previously seen.
His tendency to hit deep in counts also contributed, and he should
be able to adapt with more at-bats against better pitchers.
Bourn likely will return to Double-A to gain confidence before
moving to Triple-A sometime in 2006. He could take over everyday
duties in Philadelphia in 2007, though Greg Golson should press
him for the center-field job down the road.
HS—Aldergrove, B.C., 2002 (17th round) Signed
by: Tim Kissner
Background: Mathieson has pitched for several
Canadian national teams, and he beat Sweden and lost to Cuba (after shutting
them out for four innings) at the World Cup in September. He also served
as Philadelphia’s Futures Game representative in 2005. His grandfather
Doug tried out for the Philadelphia Athletics during the Connie Mack era.
A projection pick who threw 84 mph as a high school senior, Mathieson
now reaches 95-96 regularly and works in the low 90s. He switched
from a curveball to a slider midway through 2005, and his new
breaking ball has a chance to become his second plus pitch. His
down-breaking changeup is solid, as are his mechanics.
Though Mathieson showed solid progress in 2005, he must continue
to improve his overall command. It’s not a question of throwing
strikes, but of throwing better strikes.
With the makings of three average-or-better pitches, Mathieson
could emerge as a No. 2 or 3 starter if all goes well. He also
could become a power closer if the Phillies need him to. He’ll
pitch in Double-A in 2006.
Dominican Republic, 2002 Signed by: Wil Tejada
Background: Baez’ immense physical gifts,
including a power arm that led some scouts to project him as a pitcher,
earned him a $250,000 signing bonus. In 2005, he finally shed a reputation
for hitting well in extended spring training before fizzling in actual
league play. He was short-season Batavia’s most dangerous hitter
while playing out of position at shortstop to accommodate second-round
pick Mike Costanzo.
Filling out physically and recognizing breaking balls better allowed
Baez to show the first signs of unleashing his plus loft power.
His 70 arm strength on the 20-80 scouting scale rates as the organization’s
best, and he makes accurate throws as well. He charges bunts well
and shows soft hands.
Baez remains raw and will have to continue to make adjustments.
His size means he must work to stay low in his defensive positioning
to gather more groundballs.
Baez owns one of the highest ceilings in the organization. The
Phillies will try to separate him and Costanzo in 2006 so both
can play third base, and Baez likely will go to low Class A.
Coastal Carolina, 2005 (2nd round) Signed by: Roy
Background: Costanzo grew up a Phillies fan
in Springfield, Pa., and came home from the hospital when he was born
in a tiny Phillies jacket. Before signing for $570,000 as Philadelphia’s
top draft pick, he was named Big South Conference athlete of the year.
He led Division I in walks (68) while blasting 16 homers and earning 14
The Phillies immediately changed Costanzo’s stance when
he got to Batavia, making him more upright and open. He started
slowly, but his hitting skills and bat speed ultimately shined
through as he drove balls to all fields with authority. Defensively,
Costanzo offers good body control and agility along with an above-average,
Costanzo split time between first and third base in college, so
he’s still getting used to everyday action at the hot corner.
His hard work should help him improve his reads and routes. He
batted just .170 with 25 strikeouts in 53 at-bats against lefthanders.
Because he’s older, Costanzo is more likely than Welinson
Baez to open 2006 in high Class A. Costanzo’s maturity and
approach should allow him to handle skipping a level.
Background: The Phillies have signed several
players from Australia in the last three years, and Harman rates as the
best. None have commanded bonuses of more than $50,000, a welcome change
from the Latin American market the organization believes has become overpriced.
Harman played for Australia in the 2005 World Cup, posting a .412 on-base
percentage and playing eight errorless games.
An instinctive player, Harman has improved quickly because of
his work ethic and ability to learn. His bat speed has increased
and he now shows some loft power after filling out a bit. Harman
fields balls with sure hands and smooth actions and offers a strong,
accurate arm. He’s better defensively than Chase Utley.
Harman’s speed is average at best. This limits his range,
so he’s working to improve his first-step quickness and
reads on grounders.
Philadelphia thinks Harman can play shortstop with average range,
and he also has worked at second and third base. He’ll continue
to play mostly shortstop in high Class A in 2006, and he’s
at least two years away from the majors.
2005 Club (Class)
Lakewood (Lo A)
24 B-T: R-R Ht: 5-9 Wt.: 150
Texas, 2003 (3rd round) Signed by: Dave Owen
Background: The Phillies made Moss their top
pick (third round) in 2003, a year after he helped Texas win the College
World Series. Though he’s an excellent athlete, he was extremely
raw for a player from a top college program. Some club officials were
ready to write him off before he exploded in 2005.
Moss isn’t big but offers surprising power for his size
because of his bat speed. His bat and foot speed actually increased
in 2005, when he once again got down the first-base line in 4.1-4.15
seconds, as he had in college. He’s unorthodox in the field,
but his speed allows him to make plays and he’s solid on
the double-play pivot.
One Phillies front-office member questions whether Moss really
made any significant improvement in 2005 other than building confidence
after a hot start. He still strikes out too much and needs to
do a better job of getting on base. He struggles on routine defensive
plays and has awkward throwing mechanics.
It remains to be seen whether Moss’ breakout was a fluke.
He’ll move to Double-A in 2006 and try to show that a smallish
second baseman can keep punishing baseballs.
2005 Club (Class)
Clearwater (Hi A)
23 B-T: B-R Ht: 6-0 Wt.: 200
Oklahoma State, 2004 (2nd round) Signed by: Paul
Background: The Phillies initially drafted Jaramillo
in the 42nd round out of a Wisconsin high school in 2001. Three years
later, they picked him 40 rounds earlier and were able to sign him for
$585,000. Older brothers Frankie and Lee both played in the minors.
Managers rated him the best defensive catcher in the South Atlantic
League, though his 20 errors led all minor league catchers. His
agility helps him block balls well, and his above-average arm
helped him throw out 34 percent of basestealers. He made strides
in game-calling and handling pitchers. He’s a line-drive
hitter who started switch-hitting in high school and is equally
adept from either side.
Jaramillo doesn’t offer much power and may not hit more
than 10-15 homers in a big league season. He projects as a bottom-of-the-order
hitter on a contender, though his defense should make up for what
he lacks offensively. He has below-average speed.
Philadelphia’s catcher of the future, Jaramillo will open
2006 in high Class A. He reminds some club officials of former
Phillies farmhand Johnny Estrada.
Dominican Republic, 2004 Signed by: Wil Tejada
Background: The Phillies tracked Garcia for
more than a year and signed him right before he played in the Perfect
Game/Baseball America World Wood Bat Championship in the fall of 2004.
He worked out for the Phillies, who were in nearby Clearwater, Fla., for
their organizational meetings, and they signed him for $500,000 before
he could boost his stock at the showcase. He made significant progress
in his first year in the system.
Garcia features a lively 91-94 mph fastball along with smooth
mechanics and a sturdy build that offer the promise of more velocity.
Garcia’s changeup should emerge as a plus pitch, as he sells
it with fastball arm speed and will throw it in any count. His
feel and poise are impressive.
Garcia’s 12-to-6 curveball is still inconsistent. Given
time, he should be able to refine it into at least an average
The Phillies will move Garcia slowly, with Batavia his scheduled
stop for 2006. They believe he may be two years before starting
to put everything together, after which he could ascend rapidly
and ultimately wind up as a No. 2 or 3 starter
2005 Club (Class)
GCL Phillies (R)
Baez, Costanzo: Rich Abel
Hamels: Rick Battle
Golson: Mike Janes
Bourn, Jaramillo: Steve Moore
Garcia, Harman, Moss: Andrew Woolley