Best Player: The Phillies added second baseman Cesar Hernandez to the 40-man roster following the 2010 season, even though he had played only as high as the short-season New York-Penn League. The 22-year-old began to deliver on his promise this season with Double-A Reading, showing improvement on both sides of the ball. Always a smart and gifted fielder, Hernandez's biggest improvement has come with the bat.
At 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, Hernandez is not big, but those who watch him every day say his body has matured and that has increased his ability to drive the ball to the gaps. The switch-hitter batted .312/.346/.439 with a homer and 19 doubles through 296 at-bats. Hernandez competed against shortstop Freddy Galvis—whom the Phillies also signed on July 2, 2006—as a youngster in Venezuela.
Biggest Leap Forward: Third baseman Cody Asche, the team's fourth-round pick out of Nebraska in 2011, hit just .192 in 68 games in the NY-P last season. One club official said Asche's bat looked dead, but the hard-working Husker, a lefthanded hitter, spent time working on his load and hitting mechanics with coaches in instructional league and the results have been impressive.
Asche batted .349/.378/.447 with two homers and 13 doubles in 255 at-bats with high Class A Clearwater prior to a late-June promotion to Double-A. The 22-year-old had played good defense, and team officials believe his power will come. Either way, the Phillies believe Asche could be the organization's first homegrown third baseman since Scott Rolen.
Biggest Disappointment: The Phillies sent a talented class of pitching prospects—including righties Trevor May, Jon Pettibone and Julio Rodriguez—to Reading this season. Righthander Brody Colvin, as talented as any, stayed behind in Clearwater after a difficult 2011 season.
The 21-year-old Colvin continued to struggle in 2012, going 4-4, 4.98 through 18 appearances. A seventh-rounder out of high school in 2009, he has all the tools, including a power arm and a plus curveball, but delivery and control issues have hurt him. Colvin shows flashes of brilliance but consistency has been a challenge.
• Third baseman Mitch Walding, a fifth-rounder out of high school last year, went 15-for-39 (.385) with three extra-base hits his first 10 pro games at short-season Williamsport.
• Reading righthander Jon Pettibone went 3-0, 1.67 during four June starts, notching 21 strikeouts and allowing 19 hits and four walks in 27 innings.