Philadelphia Phillies Top 10 Prospects
Index of Top 10 Prospects for all 30 Major League Teams
By Josh Boyd
1. Jimmy Rollins, ss
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-8. Wt.: 160. Drafted: HS--Encinal, Calif., 1996 (2nd round). Signed by: Bob Poole.
Background: Rollins has been among his leagues youngest players at every level since coming out of high school in the East Bay, but that hasnt stopped him from turning heads. Traditionally a slow starter, Rollins hit .134 in April and was below .200 through mid-May last year, before busting out and hitting .327 in the last two months. He was one of the final candidates to join the U.S. Olympic team, and many thought he would have been a better choice than Adam Everett or Gookie Dawkins, who hit a combined 1-for-29. Rollins continued to exceed expectations by shining in his September callup. Hes the cousin of former big league outfielder Tony Tarasco.
Strengths: His play belies his stature, as he has improved all facets of his game each year. Rollins batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage all have increased steadily in each of the last three seasons. He displays surprising pop from both sides of the plate and puts a lot of pressure on opposing defenses with his quickness. At shortstop, hes a slick fielder with great range in the hole and up the middle, and he possesses the arm strength to make those plays. Rollins has all of the tools to become an exciting leadoff hitter, including bunting skills, basestealing success and bat control. The fact he starts slow and makes necessary in-season adjustments is a tribute to his work ethic and instincts.
Weaknesses: At times Rollins gets anxious at the plate and chases pitches early in the count. His pitch selection improved during the year and has been solid throughout his career, but hell be tested again against big league hurlers. The Phillies want him to concentrate on doing the little things atop the lineup, and hell need to draw a few more walks to be effective in the No. 1 slot. He tends to get home run conscious and needs to stay within his limitations.
The Future: New manager Larry Bowa got his first look at Rollins in the Arizona Fall League and was inspired. Rollins was named to the AFLs all-prospect team, setting the stage for his arrival atop Bowas first lineup card. He could set the tone for the offense in the same way Rafael Furcal did for Atlanta last year.
2. Brett Myers, rhp
Age: 20. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 215. Drafted: HSJacksonville, 1999 (1st round). Signed by: Miguel Machado.
Background: After an All-America high school career, Myers took the first step last year toward backing up his claim to be the next Curt Schilling. Hes built along the same lines and displayed similar workhorse capabilities by logging at least six innings in 15 consecutive starts last summer. Myers appeared to get stronger and more polished as the season went on.
Strengths: Armed with the best fastball in the system, Myers comes right after hitters with a pure power arsenal. He fires his lively heater consistently at 92-93 mph and can pump it up as high as 96. His hard-breaking curveball already is becoming a second plus pitch to put hitters away with.
Weaknesses: A former amateur boxer, Myers brings a fighting mentality to the mound at times. He still is learning to control his emotions and his pitches. His mindset and his maximum-effort delivery have led some to wonder if his future is as a closer.
The Future: Myers performance last year buried many of those concerns. Hes a future No. 1 prospect and potential ace. Hell be handled with care, progressing one step at a time, though it will be hard to hold him back when he starts to overpower Class A hitters.
3. Brad Baisley, rhp
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-9. Wt.: 205. Drafted: Land O Lakes (Fla.) HS, 1998 (2nd round). Signed by: Miguel Machado.
Background: On the heels of Baisleys breakout 1999 campaign, expectations were sky-high entering last season. A tender elbow forced the lanky righthander to sit out most of the summer as a precautionary measure. He was back on track by instructional league.
Strengths: At 6-foot-9, Baisley uses his size as a weapon, bearing down on hitters with a lively 89-93 mph fastball that could improve, and a sharp curveball. His balanced delivery also gives him an advantage, as his stuff bores on hitters from a tough downward angle. Like many of the young Phillies pitchers, Baisley demonstrates an advanced understanding of what hes doing on the mound.
Weaknesses: Baisley changes speeds well, though his changeup lacks consistency at this point. It shows promise as an effective third option. His body still is growing and there may be some necessary mechanical adjustments to make along the way to avoid further injury.
The Future: Despite having last season interrupted by tendinitis, Baisley is expected to compete for a spot in Double-A Readings rotation in 2001. His ceiling ranks right below Myers, as a potential No. 2 or 3 starter who should be ready for the majors in a couple of years.
4. Ryan Madson, rhp
Age: 20. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-6. Wt.: 180. Drafted: Valley View (Calif.) HS, 1998 (9th round). Signed by: Jim Fregosi Jr.
Background: After he had two .500 seasons in short-season leagues, Madsons stock soared in his first exposure to full-season ball. He tied teammate Frank Brooks for the South Atlantic League lead in wins while ranking third in ERA.
Strengths: Madson fits the mold of the young, projectable arms the Phillies are trying to build their future rotation around. He has imposing size on the mound, and his stuff further sets him apart. Like Baisley, he throws an effortless 91-93 mph fastball that still has room to add velocity, along with a biting, overhand curveball. Hes sound mechanically and able to consistently repeat his delivery.
Weaknesses: Madson already displays good control, but he could use a little refinement of his offspeed offerings. Hes working on tightening the spin on his 12-to-6 curve, while his changeup is showing signs of improvement already.
The Future: The Phillies think the towering trio of Myers, Baisley and Madson can be special. Baisley is one step ahead right now, but they could climb the ladder together. Madson will pitch in high Class A Clearwater in 2001.
5. Chase Utley, 2b
Age: 22. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 180. Drafted: UCLA, 2000 (1st round). Signed by: Matt Lundin.
Background: Drafted as a shortstop in the second round out of high school by the Dodgers, Utley spurned their offer to attend UCLA. He achieved All-America honors as a junior, batting .382 and leading the Pacific-10 Conference with 82 runs scored, before the Phillies used the 15th overall pick and $1.7 million to sign him.
Strengths: Utley was considered the best pure hitter available among college draft prospects, and he has plenty of sock for a middle infielder. He lived up to his reputation in his pro debut. He always has demonstrated a good idea of the strike zone and handles the bat well.
Weaknesses: Utley has drawn comparisons to Todd Walker and Adam Kennedy, based on both his offensive prowess and defensive shortcomings. At the plate, Utley needs to use the whole field more effectively. Hes improving in that regard by staying inside pitches better and driving them to left-center. Hes adjusting to the finer points of playing second base and will have to prove he can stick there.
The Future: The Phillies envision Utleys bat fitting in nicely with their young nucleus in the near future. Hes expected to begin a rapid ascent through the system by beginning 2001 in Clearwater.
6. Anderson Machado, ss
Age: 19. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 165. Signed: Venezuela, 1998. Signed by: Jesus Mendez.
Background: Signed as a 17-year-old, Machado did little offensively during his first two years that would merit a promotion all the way to the Florida State League last season. But not only did he hold his own as one of the FSLs youngest everyday players, he started for Double-A Reading in the Eastern League playoffs.
Strengths: Machado has drawn comparisons to fellow countryman Dave Concepcion for his smooth actions, cannon arm and flashy range. Despite committing 43 errors, managers ranked him the FSLs best defensive shortstop as a teenager. The Phillies applaud his instincts.
Weaknesses: He hasnt shown proficiency from either side of the plate and has struggled to make consistent contact. Power is the one tool hell never have, but Machado should have more success ripping balls into the gaps as he matures physically. His speed is raw, as he was caught stealing 18 times in 2000.
The Future: With Rollins set to take over in Philadelphia, theres no need to continue rushing Machado through the system. Hell be able to develop at a more natural pace, starting back at Reading.
7. Reggie Taylor, of
Age: 23. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 175. Drafted: HSNewberry, S.C., 1995 (1st round). Signed by: Bob Poole.
Background: Taylor has made the top 10 six straight years since being drafted in the first round. A separated shoulder in the Venezuelan League nearly derailed his 2000 season, but to his credit he battled back to return by the end of May. He still had time to show off his five-tool potential and tie a career-high in home runs.
Strengths: Some scouts believe Taylor would be among the best defensive center fielders in the majors right now. He can close the gaps with impressive bursts of speed, while his powerful throwing arm cuts down runners with its strength and accuracy. He generates above-average pop with a quick bat and his wiry athletic strength.
Weaknesses: Considered a raw athlete six years ago, Taylor has yet to shed that label. His lack of concern for working counts is the key factor holding him back. A career .296 on-base percentage is a major concern, no matter how impressive his tools may be.
The Future: Taylor is the most athletic player in the system, bar none, but the perennial top prospect is entering a pivotal season. He showed steady improvement in Venezuela this winter.
8. Eric Valent, of
Age: 23. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 191. Drafted: UCLA, 1998 (1st round). Signed by: Mark Ralston.
Background: Valent broke Troy Glaus home run record at UCLA, but wont approach his power exploits in the majors. Valent was drafted with the compensation pick the Phillies received for failing to sign J.D. Drew in 1997. Valent finished third in the Eastern League in home runs and RBIs en route to earning recognition as the loops sixth-best prospect.
Strengths: Valents 30-point decline in average from 1999 to 2000 isnt a major concern because of his excellent plate discipline. Dating back to college, he has shown a knack for driving in runs. His intensity and solid makeup also will work to his advantage in the upper levels. His arm is one of the best in the organization, and he displays good all-around skills in right field.
Weaknesses: Valent hit just .238 from July on last year. He has been prone to peaks and valleys and can become too pull conscious at times, compounding his slumps. Hes no more than an average runner.
The Future: Entering his third full season, Valent will have to turn up his offensive production a notch and make the adjustments to avoid stagnating in Triple-A. With Bob Abreu in Philadelphia, Valent projects as a left fielder in the majors.
9. Brandon Duckworth, rhp
Age: 24. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 185. Signed: Cal State Fullerton, 1997. Signed by: Dick Lawlor.
Background: Duckworth has risen from not getting drafted after his senior college season to the verge of the Phillies rotation. Coming off a subpar 1999 season in Clearwater, Duckworth led the Eastern League in strikeouts and earned recognition as an all-star and as the circuits No. 5 prospect.
Strengths: Duckworth doesnt try to blow hitters away, but he can show surprising pop and movement on his fastball. It regularly sits in the 87-92 mph range, topping out at 94. His sharp, 12-to-6 curveball was rated the best breaking pitch in the EL, and he also has a changeup. Hell throw any of his three pitches at any point in the count.
Weaknesses: There are no glaring weaknesses in Duckworths arsenal, but at the age of 25, he may have to prove that his breakthrough was no fluke. Often labeled as a finesse guy, hell need to maintain his increased velocity to enjoy success in the majors.
The Future: Duckworth effectively placed himself on the fast track by outdueling hitters in Double-A. Hell get a long look in spring training, and has the inside track over rookies Dave Coggin and Evan Thomas for consideration on the big league staff.
10. Marlon Byrd, of
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 225. Drafted: Georgia Perimeter JC, 1999 (10th round). Signed by: Steve Gillispie.
Background: Byrd attended Georgia Tech intending to play football out of high school, but quickly changed his path by focusing solely on baseball and transferring to Georgia Perimeter JC. Physically, he resembles Dee Brown, a high school gridiron standout-turned-Royals prospect. Byrds assault on the South Atlantic League earned him the organizations minor league player of the year award.
Strengths: Byrd generates tremendous power with his muscular build and compact stroke. He can mash fastballs into the gaps and his over-the-fence power should increase with experience. Hes a gifted baserunner and a potential 30-30 threat in the future.
Weaknesses: Though he pulverized the Sally League, Byrd wasnt young for the level and needs to prove he can hit pitching at the higher levels by sharpening his command of the strike zone. His arm is his biggest weakness and almost certainly will relegate him to left field.
The Future: Given his lack of baseball experience, the Phillies were thrilled with the aptitude Byrd showed in a full-season league in 2000. His work ethic is off the charts, which should give him an edge as he takes on the challenges of the upper levels.
Rest of the Best:
11. Carlos Rosario, ss
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