Philadelphia Phillies Top 10 Prospects
Index of Top 10 Prospects for all 30 Major League Teams
By Josh Boyd
1. Marlon Byrd, of
Age: 24. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 220. B-T: R-R. Drafted: Georgia Perimeter JC, 1999 (10th round). Signed by: Steve Gillispie.
Strengths: Byrd removed all of his limitations in 2001 and now offers average to above-average tools across the board. He resembles a young Kirby Puckett, but dont be fooled by his stocky frame. Byrd is a fitness freak with a rock-solid physique. He has a quiet, compact stroke, and the ball jumps off his bat to all fields. He stays back on offspeed stuff and is an intelligent hitter with a decent idea of the strike zone. Like Puckett, Byrd uses his instincts well in center field and gets good jumps in all directions. The Phillies call him a managers dream because he never stops striving for improvement.
Weaknesses: A year ago, Byrds below-average speed and below-average arm relegated him to left field. He got himself on a long-toss program and improved his throwing. He also worked on his running, resulting in 30 steals. His power was in question, so he built up his upper-body strength and slugged a career-best .555. He doesnt have as much baseball experience as the typical 24-year-old prospect because he lost two years to his leg injury, but hes quickly making up for lost time.
The Future: Byrd has rapidly emerged as the Phillies center fielder of the future. He has already caught manager Larry Bowas attention with his work ethic. Adding him to an outfield with Pat Burrell and Bob Abreu would give Philadelphia two potential 30-30 men in the lineup.
2. Brett Myers, rhp
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 215. Drafted: HSJacksonville, 1999 (1st round). Signed by: Miguel Machado.
Background: Myers was challenged by jumping past Clearwater into Readings rotation as one of the youngest players in Double-A. The fiery righthander answered the call. Myers showcased his overpowering arsenal in two scoreless innings at Safeco Field in the Futures Game.
Strengths: For the second year, Myers got better as the season went on, proving his durability. He added a darting two-seam fastball to a dominant 92-94 mph four-seamer that touches 95-96. He also throws a plus-plus curveball with late, sharp bite, and he has an average changeup.
Weaknesses: Myers didnt make the Eastern League prospect list because he didnt consistently show his outstanding stuff. Some think his future is in the bullpen because of his intensity and delivery, but he has smoothed out his mechanics and built up his endurance. His emotions sometimes get the best of him.
The Future: Like he was a year ago behind Jimmy Rollins, Myers is the organizations No. 1A prospect. Hell anchor the staff someday like his idol Curt Schilling, and he shares the same big league swagger. Myers went 6-0, 3.26 after a pep talk from Schilling in Seattle, and he was generally more in control of himself in the second half.
3. Gavin Floyd, rhp
Age: 18. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-6. Wt.: 210. Drafted: HSSeverna Park, Md., 2001 (1st round). Signed by: Ken Hultzapple.
Background: With consecutive picks the Phillies and Rangers selected a pair of Severna Park, Md., neighbors, Floyd and Georgia Tech third baseman Mark Teixeira. Floyds brother Michael, an outfielder, was selected by the Phillies in the 22nd round. The Floyd brothers were enrolled at South Carolina and on campus before Gavin agreed to a club-record $4.2 million bonus.
Strengths: Floyds arm draws comparisons to Darryl Kile, Wade Miller and Brett Myers. He signed too late to pitch during the season, but he made a strong first impression in instructional league. Floyd showed his best stuff for Phillies brass, including an explosive 95-96 mph fastball that bores in on righthanders. Roving pitching instructor Gary Ruby called Floyds punchout curveball the best hes seen in 16 years of coaching in the minors.
Weaknesses: Floyd hasnt had to use his changeup much, though it could be a plus pitch. Hes refined for his age but needs mechanical fine-tuning. He finished his delivery too straight up in instructional league.
The Future: Spring training will dictate where Floyd debuts. His ceiling is comparable to that of Myers, who spent his first full season in the low Class A South Atlantic League.
4. Taylor Buchholz, rhp
Age: 20. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 220. Drafted: HSSpringfield, Pa., 2000 (6th round). Signed by: Ken Hultzapple.
Background: After starting his first full season with a 1-10 record, Buchholz kept his composure and reeled off six straight victories, including four complete games and three shutouts. Buchholz slid to the sixth round in the 2000 draft because most teams expected him to attend North Carolina. It took third-round money to sign him, but it looks like a wise investment.
Strengths: Buchholz is an exceptional athlete with a major league body, and the Phillies love his aggressiveness. He goes after hitters with a lively 92 mph fastball that tops out at 94. His curveball and changeup improved throughout the season as he became more consistent with his delivery. He showed his strong makeup by bouncing back from his ugly start.
Weaknesses: Buchholz was one of the most consistent starters in a young rotation at low Class A Lakewood, and the Phillies believe that he just needs to improve his situational pitching. The biggest culprit behind his 1-10 start was an offense that averaged 3.7 runs a game.
The Future: Philadelphia has been willing to move pitchers quickly, but Buchholz will follow a more normal ascent for now. Hell head to Clearwater as one of the youngest starters in the Florida State League.
5. Miguel Ascencio, rhp
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 160. Signed: Dominican Republic, 1998. Signed by: Sal Agostinelli.
Background: After three nondescript seasons, Ascencio emerged as a prized prospects from the Phillies flourishing Dominican academy. Signed as a 17-year-old, the wiry righthander developed slowly in the lower levels before showing promise at the end of 2000 and leading the Florida State League in ERA in 2001.
Strengths: The Phillies attribute much of his turnaround to physical maturity. Despite never surpassing 73 innings in a season before 2001, Ascencio finished strong and went 3-1, 2.08 in his final six starts. His velocity increased throughout the year. He locates a lively 90-93 mph fastball and can maintain it deep into games, and he generates outstanding arm speed on an above-average changeup.
Weaknesses: Ascencio still needs to hone his command, but he made significant strides in ironing out his delivery and remaining consistent with his arm slot and mechanics. His curveball is coming around, occasionally showing the tight spin of a quality pitch, but too often he telegraphs the pitch with his arm action.
The Future: Ascencio figures to spend all of 2002 in Reading. With a consistent curve, he profiles as a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter.
6. Anderson Machado, ss
Age: 21. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 165. Signed: Venezuela, 1998. Signed by: Jesus Mendez.
Background: Machado returned to Clearwater in 2001 and still was one of the youngest everyday players in the Florida State League. He was named the circuits top defensive shortstop for the second straight year. Machados slick glovework has landed him in the Double-A playoffs in the last two seasons as a teenager.
Strengths: Machado cut his errors from 43 in 2000 to 25 in 2001. He has a knack for making tough plays in the hole and is close to major league-ready on defense with a strong arm, quick feet, soft hands and body control. He has excellent speed, running the 60-yard dash in 6.6 seconds.
Weaknesses: Machado can drive the ball to the opposite field from the left side, but he doesnt have any power in his frail frame. He strikes out much too often. He also suffers through momentary concentration lapses in the field, a product of his youth.
The Future: After looking overmatched in Reading, Machado headed to Venezuela for the winter. With Jimmy Rollins at shortstop, the Phillies dont need to rush Machado. They have depth at the position but plan to keep him at short for now.
7. Jorge Padilla, of
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 200. Drafted: HSMelbourne, Fla., 1998 (3rd round). Signed by: Miguel Machado.
Background: Padilla, a Puerto Rican who attended high school in Florida, has the size and tools that make scouts jump. Inconsistent performance has prevented him from getting the most of his ability since being drafted. A foot injury kept him out for a month in 2000, while a hamstring robbed him of 40 games in 2001.
Strengths: Padilla has tremendous untapped power, which began to surface in 2001. He uses a strong lower half to drive pitches, and he does a good job of staying inside the ball with his swing. Hes a solid fielder with an above-average arm and good speed. Padilla nearly doubled his previous career total by stealing 23 bases in 2001.
Weaknesses: There were some concerns about Padillas approach prior to 2000, but he has responded well to the criticism and now its just a matter of staying healthy. His plate discipline also was lacking, but he has made strides there as well.
The Future: The Phillies compare Padillas upside to that of White Sox all-star Magglio Ordonez. While Padilla needs to prove his durability, he hasnt allowed injuries to hinder his ascent. Double-A will present a good measuring stick for him in 2002.
8. Chase Utley, 2b
Age: 23. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 185. Drafted: UCLA, 2000 (1st round). Signed by: Matt Lundin.
Background: Utley was drafted out of Long Beach Poly High, the same school that produced Tony Gwynn and Milton Bradley, before spurning the Dodgers to attend UCLA. A Little League teammate of Padres prospect Sean Burroughs, Utley was reunited with him at the 2001 Futures Game. After Marlon Anderson hit .228 in 2000, the Philadelphia press hailed Utley as his successor. While Anderson had a career year in 2001, Utley was challenged by the Florida State League.
Strengths: Utley profiles as a productive hitter for average and generates good power with a quick bat. He has become more conscious of using the entire field.
Weaknesses: Utley will never be a Gold Glover, but the Phillies are thrilled with the progress he made with his range and double-play pivot. He has enough arm to play second base but lacks natural actions around the bag. Utley hit .203 against southpaws and his swing can get long through the strike zone.
The Future: Utley could have debuted at Lakewood and posted better offensive numbers, but the Phillies wanted to test him. Hell make the jump to Reading with double-play partner Anderson Machado.
9. Eric Valent, of
Age: 24. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 191. Drafted: UCLA, 1998 (1st round). Signed by: Mark Ralston.
Background: Valent, who broke Troy Glaus career home run record at UCLA, got his first opportunity in Philadelphia in 2001. After collecting hits in four of his first five games, he went hitless for the rest of the season. He was leading the International League in RBIs when he was called up.
Strengths: Valent is a solid major league corner outfielder with right-field arm strength and accuracy. He generates above-average pull power with quick hands and hips. Valent hits hard line drives from alley to alley against both lefties and righties.
Weaknesses: Prior to his big league callup, Valent was able to avoid the peaks and valleys that had led to his label as a streak hitter. After spending time on the Phillies bench, he took a while to get back into gear in Triple-A. His swing tends to get long when hes trying to do too much at the plate.
The Future: Valent could be a victim of the organizations outfield depth. He played 27 games at first base and has the potential to be a potent bat off the bench if he isnt dangled in a trade.
10. Carlos Silva, rhp
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 225. Signed: Venezuela, 1996. Signed by: Sal Agostinelli.
Background: The story remains the same on Silva. He has had one of the organizations best arms since signing at age 16, yet has never dominated hitters. He has established himself as a workhorse and finished second in the Eastern League in 2001 with 180 innings.
Strengths: Silva throws a heavy 93-94 mph sinker from a three-quarters angle, and the pitch moves on a tough downward plane. Hell touch 95-96 on occasion and offers a fringe-average changeup that helps him get tons of groundouts.
Weaknesses: Silva is around the plate too much with his fastball. He lacks confidence in his secondary pitches and allowed opponents to settle in and hit him at a .284 clip with 20 home runs in 2001. There had been some discussion of moving Silva into the bullpen due to his lack of a consistent breaking pitch, but that was shelved after he made encouraging progress with his slider in instructional league.
The Future: The Phillies once again are encouraged that Silva will be a 200-inning starter in the majors. Hell have to use his 84 mph slider and his changeup well in the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre rotation in 2002 to avoid being banished to the bullpen.
Rest of the Best:
11. Yoel Hernandez, rhp
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