PHILADELPHIA—Outfielder Jiwan James didn't pay much attention to the Rule 5 draft in December. He knew he was eligible to be selected, but whether it happened or not wasn't going to change his approach in 2012.
No matter what, he was still going to compete and try to become more consistent in his game.
"If I was younger I might have paid more attention to it," the 23-year-old James said. "But I've learned not to worry about what I can't control. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't hopeful, but I just have to keep working and try to open some eyes. That's what I can control."
A 6-foot-4 switch-hitter, James made the jump to Double-A Reading this season and came out of the chute strong, hitting .304 with eight extra-base hits in his first 18 games.
"Basically I'm being aggressive, getting good pitches to hit and not missing them," said James, who cooled afterward and had batted .241/.276/.418 through 79 at-bats.
The personable James was a three-sport star at Williston (Fla.) High who had intended to attend the University of Florida to pitch and play outfield. He also hoped to get a look on the football field.
The Phillies enticed their 2007 22nd-round pick to turn pro with a $150,000 bonus. A righthander, James debuted as a pitcher in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, but a stress reaction in his arm forced him to miss 2008. He came back in 2009 as an outfielder.
James is one of a handful of high-ceiling outfielders in the system, along with Domonic Brown (Triple-A), Tyson Gillies (Double-A), and Aaron Altherr and Kyrell Hudson (low Class A). Team officials, mindful of an aging roster in Philadelphia, are hoping some of these players click.
To accommodate Gillies in center field, James has played both corner outfield positions for Reading this season. He has made strides with his consistency at the plate since widening and limiting movement in his stance at high Class A Clearwater last season.
• The Phillies shut down righthander Justin De Fratus for a month with a strained flexor pronator in his right elbow. The 24-year-old reliever had suffered elbow problems since spring training and appeared in only one game for Clearwater.
• Top prospect righty Trevor May won his first five starts for Reading, while posting a 2.40 ERA and racking up 33 strikeouts, a total that ranked second in the Eastern League.