Philadelphia Phillies Top 10 Prospects
Index of Top 10 Prospects for all 30 Major League Teams
By David Rawnsley
1. Pat Burrell, 1B
Strengths: Burrell's top-end offensive potential is in the range of a Jeff Bagwell or Jim Thome. He can hit for average and enormous power, and has excellent control of the strike zone. For the contract he was given, the Phillies will expect nothing less than a .300 hitter with 35 home runs and 100 walks a year out of the cleanup spot. National League pitchers will quickly learn how dangerous it is to allow Burrell to get his arms extended. Realistically, his defense is secondary, but Burrell made a smooth transition to first base and his work ethic and natural ability should make him a competent defender.
Weaknesses: Burrell's biggest weakness might be the position he plays: A power-hitting first baseman is easier to find than a slugging catcher. His range at third base, his college position, was below average. But Burrell's hands, arm strength and balance, the key elements in a defensive catcher, are all exceptional. He's just never played there. Being at first base, though, could keep him healthy. His spring back problems did not reemerge during the summer or fall, much to the Phillies relief. Burrell can be beaten under his hands on the inside half of the plate, but few pitchers can hit that spot consistently.
The Future: With all due respect to 100-RBI man Rico Brogna, first base in Philadelphia is Burrell's as soon as he's had a little time to adjust to upper-level pitching. Any evaluator questions any player's ability to hit big league pitching: Witness Paul Konerko, Burrell's clone when it comes to tools. For now, however, Burrell has no major discernible weaknesses at the plate.
2. Marlon Anderson, 2B
Age: 25 B-T: L-R Ht: 5-11 Wt: 190
Drafted: South Alabama, 1995 (2nd round) Signed by: Eli Grba (Dodgers)
Background: The Phillies have moved Anderson up step by step and he rewarded them with a stellar 1998 season, leading the International League in hits and triples while amassing 62 extra-base hits. His September big league audition was impressive and he was one of the top offensive performers in the Arizona Fall League.
Strengths: Anderson has the tools to be a dynamic offensive middle infielder. He has a short aggressive swing, makes consistent contact and has surprising gap power. His first-step quickness and overall speed are above average, as are his baserunning instincts.
Weaknesses: Anderson is not a fluid second baseman and can look awkward in the field, but his range and defensive statistics have been outstanding. As a top-of-the-order hitter, he does not draw enough walks.
The Future: On Opening Day, Anderson is expected to be Philadelphia's second baseman and No. 2 hitter. Scouts and Phillies officials alike describe Anderson as a player you appreciate more the longer you see him play.
3. Randy Wolf, LHP
Age: 22 B-T: L-L Ht: 6-0 Wt: 190
Drafted: Pepperdine, 1997 (2nd round) Signed by: Mark Ralston
Background: As soon as he joined the organization, Wolf showed little need for lower-level minor league baseball. He went 6-0 in 11 starts below Triple-A.
Strengths: Wolf's only above-average pitch is his changeup, but his other pitches are solid big league quality. He can spot his 89-91 mph fastball on both sides of the plate, and the pitch has good life down in the zone. Wolf also helps himself defensively and at the plate.
Weaknesses: The Phillies sent Wolf to the Arizona Fall League to work on his curveball and were pleased with the pitch's progress, along with Wolf's 2-1, 2.83 showing in nine starts.
The Future: Philadelphia has had trouble getting young pitchers over the hump for many years, but Wolf depends less on raw ability and more on refined major league skills than his predecessors. The Phillies would like to see Wolf gain more Triple-A experience before making his big league debut.
4. Eric Valent, OF
Age: 21 B-T: L-L Ht: 6-0 Wt: 200
Drafted: UCLA, 1998 (Supplemental 1st round) Signed by: Mark Ralston
Background: Valent has been a fixture on U.S. national teams since he was a junior in high school. He broke Angels prospect Troy Glaus' career home run record at UCLA, including 30 in 1998, and had one of the most impressive debuts in the 1998 draft class.
Strengths: Most hitters are better with aluminum bats than wood, but Valent may be the exception. He was overly pull-conscious in college, but the heavier wood bat forced him to hit to the opposite field and make better use of his mechanics. The Phillies feel he is a pure ballplayer with plus-plus makeup.
Weaknesses: Valent has played center field in the past but is more suited on the corners. He'll probably be slotted in right field, where his arm is slightly above average. He is a below average runner and not a threat on the bases.
The Future: The Phillies admit they may have bumped Valent up quicker than they planned. but he gave them no choice when he overmatched the South Atlantic League. Valent originally drew attention as the compensation pick for not signing J.D. Drew. Now he's making a name for himself.
5. Brad Baisley, RHP
Age: 19 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-9 Wt: 200
Drafted: HS--Land O'Lakes, Fla., 1998 (2nd round) Signed by: Miguel Machado
Background: The towering Baisley was better known as a basketball player before last spring, when his fastball jumped from 87 to 93 mph. He was a first-round pick on many teams' draft lists.
Strengths: Baisley is a surprisingly agile athlete for someone his size. He has loose, easy arm action and is able to get an excellent plane to all his pitches. While he pitches aggressively with his fastball now, the Phillies think his curveball could become his best pitch in the future.
Weaknesses: Baisley will never remind anyone of Mark McGwire physically but he'll need to gain a few pounds of muscle as he matures. He needs to gain more consistency with his fastball and work more on refining his changeup.
The Future: Because of his athleticism and sound pitching mechanics, Baisley will be able to compete and advance right away--unusual for a tall, projectable pitcher. Phillies officials try to moderate their enthusiasm for Bainsley by citing his age and lack of experience, but it is evident they are thrilled about his potential.
6. Carlos Duncan, 3B
Age: 21 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-1 Wt: 155
Signed: Dominican Republic, 1994 Signed by: Will Tejada
Background: Duncan is the brother of former major league infielder Mariano Duncan. Carlos was named the top prospect in the short season New York-Penn League in 1998 in a survey of the league's managers.
Strengths: Duncan is a pure athlete with above-average bat speed, running speed and power potential. He is significantly stronger than he was when he signed, and he could develop into a steady run producer. He has the hands, quickness and arm strength to become a solid third baseman.
Weaknesses: Like his brother, Duncan is hyper-aggressive at the plate. He led the NY-P with 101 strikeouts, mostly on pitches out of the strike zone. The Phillies would like Duncan to play more second base, but he feels more comfortable at third.
The Future: The Phillies have put considerable faith in Duncan to lead a resurgence in their Latin American program. He is a high-ceiling player who's looking to make the most of his natural hitting skills.
7. Jorge Padilla, OF
Age: 19 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-2 Wt: 210
Drafted: HS--Melbourne, Fla., 1998 (3rd round) Signed by: Miguel Machado
Background: Padilla is a Puerto Rican native who attended high school in Florida. In his first professional season, he was named the fifth-best prospect in the Rookie-level Appalachian League.
Strengths: Scouts who saw Padilla were stunned by his bat speed with wood. The Phillies think he has the ability to combine plus power with above-average hitting skills. He also has shown advanced outfield instincts and a willingness to work at learning basic fundamentals.
Weaknesses: Scouts are hard-pressed to point out any weaknesses in their young outfielder. Padilla's speed is average at best and his walk-to-strikeout ratio indicates that he is far from a polished hitter, but those are minor areas of concern for a 19-year-old prospect.
The Future: Other organizations have already developed an opinion on Padilla: They wish they hadn't let him slip to the third round. The Phillies are anxious to see how he handles Class A pitching this spring.
8. Reggie Taylor, OF
Age: 22 B-T: L-R Ht: 6-1 Wt: 175
Drafted: HS--Newberry, S.C., 1995 (1st round) Signed by: Roy Tanner
Background: Taylor was considered to be the closest thing to a five-tool outfielder in the 1995 draft, but he has been slow to develop as a hitter. In 1998 he missed time with a broken little finger on one hand, came back and broke the little finger on his other hand four days later. He'll work on sliding feet-first in spring training.
Strengths: Taylor still excites scouts with his raw ability, especially on defense, where he has Gold Glove-winning potential. He has plenty of natural power but when he tries to go deep, which is frequently, he pulls off the ball badly and is easy pickings for most pitchers.
Weaknesses: The big question with Taylor is whether he will hit or not. His other offensive fundamentals, such as base running and pitch selection, are also weak.
The Future: In fairness to Taylor, the Phillies have moved him quickly through their system, especially for a raw player with limited experience. He will repeat Double-A in 1998, where the Phillies new development team will continue to stress his offensive approach.
9. David Coggin, RHP
Age: 22 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-4 Wt: 195
Drafted: HS--Upland, Calif., 1995 (Supplemental 1st round) Signed by: Jim Fregosi Jr.
Background: Coggin was a highly acclaimed high school quarterback who would've played two sports at Clemson University had he not signed with the Phillies. After making steady progress in his first three minor league seasons, he took a step backward last year, by his own admission.
Strengths: Coggin has the best pure stuff of all the Phillies upper-level pitchers. His fastball is in the 91-94 mph range, he has an above-average changeup and curveball at times and he has learned to cut his fastball effectively.
Weaknesses: When he struggled at the start of last season, Coggin may have become his own worst enemy. He became mentally and emotionally tough on himself when he wasn't able to throw strikes consistently and lost his focus.
The Future: Many of the Phillies internal changes were in response to the problems their top young prospects experienced in 1998. Coggin still has the ability to become a premium starting pitcher and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him jump forward this season.
10. Ryan Brannan, RHP
Age: 23 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-3 Wt: 210
Drafted: Long Beach State, 1996 (4th round) Signed by: Jim Fregosi Jr.
Background: Brannan has become an enigma to the Phillies. Their top prospect entering 1998, he struggled all year with his mechanics, was demoted to Double-A and couldn't correct his problems in the Arizona Fall League.
Strengths: When he is on, Brannan has a mid-90s fastball with hard, late-sinking action. He also throws a sharp slider, giving him a perfect two-pitch combination for a late-inning reliever.
Weaknesses: Brannan has lost all feel for his arm angle and release point. In the AFL, his fastball was in the mid-80s and his slider was flat and up. Brannan is not a good athlete and he's had trouble getting comfortable with his delivery.
The Future: At least Brannan's been in this jam before. He endured the same problems at the University of Miami before transferring to Long Beach State University and finding his groove for coach Dave Snow. This year, Brannan will be pet project No. 1 for the Phillies' overhauled minor league staff.
Rest of the Best:
11. Jimmy Rollins, ss
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