Tracking The Affiliation Shuffle
The affiliation shuffle kicks off Sept. 16 and begins a two-week period when clubs can negotiate agreements with unattached affiliates. Consider it free agency for minor league teams. Teams had […]
Top Ten Prospects: Philadelphia Phillies
Complete Index of Top 10s
By Will Kimmey
Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2006.
The 88 wins marked the franchise’s most since it advanced to the World Series in 1993 and gave the Phillies three consecutive winning seasons for the first time since 1975-80. But falling short of the playoffs for the eighth straight year under general manager Ed Wade ultimately cost Wade his job. Team president David Montgomery hired former Blue Jays, Orioles and Mariners GM Pat Gillick as Wade’s replacement, passing over in-house candidates Ruben Amaro Jr. and Mike Arbuckle, both assistant GMs.
Gillick inherits a club coming off its best season in a dozen years, highlighted by a number of good individual player performances. Jimmy Rollins finished the year on a 36-game hit streak. Double-play partner Chase Utley emerged as a team leader and offensive force. Rookie first baseman Ryan Howard replicated the power production of injured slugger Jim Thome.
Pat Burrell bounced back with his best offensive season since 2002. Brett Myers developed into a staff ace. Robinson Tejeda and Eude Brito popped up from the minors to deliver 18 solid starts after injuries to veterans.
Each of those feel-good stories came from a player 28 or younger who was originally drafted or signed by the Phillies. Factor in catcher Mike Lieberthal, Ryan Madson, Jason Michaels and Randy Wolf, and the thrust of the roster is homegrown, a fact not lost on a Philadelphia front office that’s been trying to knock the Braves, the ultimate homegrown franchise, out of first place since 1995.
Though he didn’t get the GM job, Arbuckle has helped acquire and/or develop each of those contributors and plenty more in his 13 years in the organization. He became the Phillies scouting director in 1992, added farm director to his duties in 2000 and became the assistant GM for scouting and player development in 2001. Arbuckle learned from two of the best organization builders in the game, working under Braves scouting director Paul Snyder for 12 years as a scout and then with Phillies GM and manager Paul Owens once he got to Philadelphia.
The system has been thinned out by a lack of draft picks (no club has had fewer picks in the first five rounds since 2000 because of free-agent compensation) and the use of prospects in trades. Each of the Phillies’ six U.S.-based minor league affiliates had a losing record in 2005, and their combined .429 winning percentage was the worst in baseball.
"We don’t have a lot of top-line guys down there," Arbuckle said. "We’ve been hurt by not having a lot of picks and we’ve traded about 20 guys in the last few years to get players like Billy Wagner. Not all 20 were big prospects, but somebody else wanted them, so that says something."
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