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Phillies Prospects

Moderator: Will Kimmey compiled the Phillies top 10 list, and will discuss the organization at 3 p.m. ET.

 Q:  Don from Philly asks:
What is the ceiling of Cole Hamels and what big leaguer would you compare his pitching style to?

Will Kimmey: First, let me thank everybody for dropping by and sending questions. It's odd to talk about baseball with all the insane football over the weekend, but hey, college baseball opens in what, 10 days? John Manuel says Arizona State plays at Hawaii-Hilo on Jan. 16. On to the questions.

Will Kimmey: Hamels has as high a ceiling as any pitcher in the 2002 draft or the Phillies system. A lot of teams knocked him down on (or off) their draft boards because of he broke the humerous bone in his arm in high school. Still, some teams had him as the highest rated pitcher available. Phils asst GM Mike Arbuckle said he's ahead of Gavin Floyd and Brett Myers at this point in his career in terms of pitchability and command. That says a lot.

 Q:  Snapper Bean from Greater Kensington asks:
I noticed that BA no longer does an 11-15 list for the teams. Who would 5 names be that would sit in that 11-15 area in the Phillies organization? I'd go with RHP Carlos Cabrera, SS Carlos Rodriguez, 3B Jake Blalock, 3B Juan Richardson and maybe RHP Eric Junge.

Will Kimmey: We felt simply listing the names did little, so we added on the Others to Watch section. Plus the Prospect handbook offers full reports on 30 guys. As for the next few Phillies, you get credit for Richardson and Cabrera, and I'll add righthanders Seung Lee and Keith Bucktrot and remind everyone not to forget out outfielder Jorge Padilla.

 Q:  Snapper Bean from Greater Kensington asks:
With the trade of Johnny Estrada, the Phillies system looks particularly weak at the catcher position. Could you see the Phillies trading pitching prospects for a catching prospect? Do you think the Phillies will go after catching in the upcoming draft?

Will Kimmey: I guess they could, but trading prospect for prospect, while interesting, doesn't accompish much unless each is major league ready. They've got Lieberthal locked up for a while and really only need a backup to him, which can be found easily floating around. They signed Todd Pratt to a minor league deal. I think they would go after a C in the draft to address this organizational deficiency, and their first pick comes in the third round. They lost their first two for signing Jim Thome and David Bell.

 Q:  Don from Philly asks:
Do you think Taylor Buchholz is somewhat overlooked by those outside of the Phillies organization (not by BA, of course)? I think he's been overshadowed by Brett Myers and Gavin Floyd? Taylor is a workhorse and very resilient. He might not get to the Majors with the same type of flash or fanfare as Myers or Floyd, but it wouldn't surprise me if he turns out to be just as good.

Will Kimmey: I'd agree with that. I guess when Myers and Floyd get top billing, it's hard to overcome that. Watch Hamels enjoy the same next year. Buchholz is that under-the-radar kind of guy. He'll quietly bide his time and then make people say where'd he come from when he arrives in Philly. Their scouts feel his curve is as good or better than Floyd's. And he sits in the low 90s. Once he gets used to keeping the ball down and consistently commands his circle change, watch out.

 Q:  jim cook from norman ok asks:
do you think brad baisley will be a 4th or 5th starter in the majors do you think that carlos silva will be converted to a starter by 2005

Will Kimmey: Baisley eventually could be, but the backhalf of the rotation is a far cry from where people thought he'd end up a few years ago when he was the org's best pitching prospect. With the pitching depth in the org, however, I'd be surprised to see him hold down a rotation spot with this club. As for Silva, the Phils really like his makeup and ability to get groundball outs, that his future lies in the pen. He could be an eventual closer. They feel similarly about Carlos Cabrera.

 Q:  Mike from Orrville, OH asks:
Does Ryan Howard have enough athleticism to move to the outfield or third base? With Thome's signing he seems blocked. Or will Thome's back act up enough that the Phillies will leave Howard at 1st?

Will Kimmey: It seems he's a first baseman for good. Reminds me a little of Ken Harvey, but Howard doesn't make as much contact and isn't quite in Harvey's class as a hitter for average. Thome's there for four years, and yes he might be creaky by the time Howard's ready. They can afford to take it slow with Howard, giving him a year at each level and putting him in Philly for the last year of Thome's deal.

 Q:  Joe from Raleigh asks:
Ryan Howard has shown power, but don't you have to be worried about his swing and miss rate? It is a little suprising to see a 23 year old in A ball after being a college draft pick strike out 145 times. This would be fine if he were drawing more than just an average number of walks. I have seen some players at his age have a great year in A ball and be left off a prospect list because of their relatively advanced age for the league. Is this is a sign of a weak system, or is this just a flaw they think can be worked out?

Will Kimmey: The system surely isn't weak, so I'd go with the flaw angle here. Also while there's plenty to be said for having good walkstrikeout ratios, they aren't the only predictor of future success. The Phils really like Howard's power potential and feel if he shortens up his swing a bit, his average and power will each increase. I guess Lance Berkman is a decent example of a guy who strikes out plenty (100+) but is still a feared hitter. He doesn't have the best eye, walking just a shade less than he whiffs.

 Q:  Willie from Phillie asks:
Where does Phillie farm talent currently rank next to other MLB systems? Middle-of-the-road?

Will Kimmey: Upper third of the pack. There are plenty of high-end guys in Floyd, Byrd, Utley, Buchholz, Hamels who could all be major league stars and even down the list there's plenty of pitching depth.

 Q:  Mike from Central PA asks:
Hello. What's the ceiling on Darin Naatjes, a 14th-round pick highly regarded relievercloser from Stanford. My understanding is he was signed for a pretty good bonus. How do the Phillies view him? Thanks.

Will Kimmey: He's an interesting player, and a massive young man. Some thought he had a future as an NFL tight end after his days at Stanford, but he surprisingly signed. He hits the 91-92 mph range with his fastball, which garnered some mention from the Phils staff. It's always nice to add a power arm to the org. His future will likely become more clear this season, as we get to see what he can do when concentrating only on baseball.

 Q:  PSUPhilliesPhan from State College, PA asks:
Anderson Machado has always been known to have a fantastic glove. This year, still as one of the youngest players in AA, he showed improvement in plate discipline which lead to an increase in production. If this improvement continues what can you expect from Machado in the future?

Will Kimmey: He did come around with the bat this year, especially in driving in 77 runs. If he can keep getting stronger, enabling him to drive the ball into the gaps more, he'd be a solid major leaguer. With Rollins in the way, look for Machado to put in a season at Triple-A Scranton this year. David Bell's signing hurts both he and Chase Utley, as Utley goes back to 2b, keeping Machado at ss. Only one will be able to play next to Rollins in 2004, so this should make for an interesting year as SWB's double-play combo is fighting for one position.

 Q:  Keno Leighty from Vancouver, WA asks:
Good afternoon Will, and thanks for the chat. My question is reguarding Elizardo Ramirez. Do you see him as a potential Ramon Ortiz? If not who would you compare him too? Thanks

Will Kimmey: Afternoon to you, and thanks for stopping by. Ortiz is a nice comparison based on size and velo, but Ramirez has way more control than that. The way Ramirez works, he's more like Greg Maddux in that he has a feel for what he's doing, can set up hitters and then hit the places he wants. This is not to say Ramirez will be another Madduz, no one will, but that's what his style brings to mind.

 Q:  Brian from New York, NY asks:
Where do you see Eric Junge fitting in this year? Could he be a part-time starterlong reliever on the big league level?

Will Kimmey: He went to the Arizona Fall League to make a conversion from innings-eater to short reliver, and added an average to above average splitter. He could make the Phillies roster in that role, and also serve as a swingman because of his durability.

 Q:  Brandon from Philly asks:
How difficult was the decision to place Chase Utley ahead of Marlon Byrd on the list?

Will Kimmey: Just as Myers and Byrd were 1 and 1a last year, I think Utley and Byrd were 2 and 2a this year, with Buchholz maybe even being 2b. They were that close. The position players get the nod because they are closer to the majors and have more of a proven track record. Both Byrd and Utley should become major league starters. Utley could play 2b or 3b, and was the Phils future at 3b before the Bell signing, so his playing a tougher to find position sort of put him over the top. Bell's signing eliminates 3b from Utley's equation in Philly, but he still has value there. With his offensive talents, you might be looking at a Jeff Kent-type producer at 2b. Byrd could be a 25-25 guy.

 Q:  tj lawrence from Boca Raton, Fl asks:
With Gavin Floyd topping your list of Phillies' prospects, what does that say about his overall ranking in minor league baseball top 20, top 10 (or is that wishful thinking from a Phillie Fan). If he does well in the beginning of the year, could the Phils scrap the caution plan and put him in AA like they did with Myers skipping over Clearwater?

Will Kimmey: Floyd has to be among the best pitching prospects in the minors. Id put him right up there with Kazmir, Foppert and all the other names someone might put atop their list. Top 10 seems very realistic, but he might get squeezed out in a numbers game. Top 20 should be a lock. I don't think the Phils take any chance rushing him. There's plenty of pitching depth ahead of him in guys like Floyd, Buccholz, Carlos Cabrera, Eric Arteaga, Seung Lee and so on. At the earliest, he sees Double-A in the second half, but more realistically he gets there for a few late season starts. This all assumes he doesn't go 11-2, 1.37 or something to start off.

 Q:  Oskar from Pasadena, CA asks:
Does Eric Valent have any chance in the Phillies organization any more, or did his poor '02 erase his prospect status? Will he even be in the Top 30?

Will Kimmey: Valent's a solid corner OF who can play defense well, throws well, and has consistentlly driven in runs. His biggest problems are named Pat Burrell and Bob Abreu. They occupy Valent's positions in Philly. With Jason Michaels sort of established as the extra corner OF, bet on Valent being among the first men traded.

 Q:  Ed Olwine from The Bullpen asks:
Hey Will. Great Chats! My question is about 2 guys going in seemingly opposite directions: Chase Utley and Il Kim. Will Utley start in the bigs this year? and will Kim make a team out of spring training? Thanks!

Will Kimmey: Utley will be chilling out in Scranton Wilkes Barre for much of 2003. The David Bell signing set him back, as he had the chance to possibly move into 3b by midseason. Now, he might not get to Philly at all, especially barring injuries and assuming the Phils stay in contention. Il Kim has gone the opposite direction from Seung Lee. Lee adjusted to America this season, learning English and Spanish and making the adjustments his coaches wanted. Kim struggled to do so, and added weight. Count the Phils as 1 for 2 on those signings.

 Q:  John Walsh from Chicago asks:
Will, I enjoy the Web site! Thanks for your efforts. How high are the Phillies on Brett Myers? What is his projected ceiling, and what are his chances of reaching it?

Will Kimmey: Myers will be in that rotation this year, altough the Millwood deal means he probably will be the 5th guy. That's great from Myers and the team's standpoints, and he won't have as much pressure in that role. I'd say his ceiling remains the same as it was last year at this time as he enjoyed a productive season at Triple-A and was solid after his promotion. He still ranks among the better young pitching prospects in the majors.

 Q:  Arbuckle for President from Philadelphia asks:
Got to be excited about the homegrown talent the Phillies are developing after years of Arbuckle-led quality drafts. Utley jumped from 8th to 2nd on your list this year. Can you give us more background as to why you guys are so high on him? Are the Phillies over-selling him to you guys, or will he be our 2B of the future?

Will Kimmey: I see no reason why he can't play second for years. The biggest knock on him as a 3b was making the throws with an average arm. That gets negated when you move him halfway across the infield. He was a SS at UCLA, so he can handle the middle and turns the DP well. Offensively, what more could you ask? He jumped from Class A to Triple-A and had to deal with learning 3b from scratch and still led the IL in doubles. As i said earlier, I can see a nice future for Utley as an offensive second baseman.

 Q:  James from Southwest asks:
Hi Will, I have an Uncle who is a Minor League Scout and he says that a Phillies Lower Minor League Pitcher may have better stuff than Cole Hamels and Taylor Buchholz named Elizardo Ramirez. What is your thoughts on this guy and what are his current stats, his height weight along with his projections? Thanks again.

Will Kimmey: Your uncle probably has all of this info, and our website does as well. Check our stats page for his numbers, The best you will see is his 73 to 2 K to BB ratio. The other info sits in his bio in the top 10 writeup.

 Q:  Red from Reading asks:
I would have thought Anderson Machado would have been rated higher on your list, maybe even ahead of Utley. Why not?

Will Kimmey: Batting. He's really just a speedy player who can field with the best of them. He must show he can consistently hit the ball, and with a little authority. Baseball is too much of an offensive game these days for an all-field, no-hit player at any position really.

 Q:  LouieF from NJ asks:
How do you compare Brett Myers to Gavin Floyd? Which pitcher has a higher ceiling? the better stuff (or potential)? Thanks...

Will Kimmey: It's hard to stack a guy in the majors up with a pitcher with just one pro season under his belt. Both have that plus fastball and breaking pitch you'd want from a top of the rotation starter. The biggest difference in the two is demeanor, where Floyd is a hard worker but laid back while Myers is more hard core, so to speak. It's nice to have a pair of studs like this in your pitching stable. If you really have to pick one for some reason, go with Myers for the simple fact that he's reached the majors already.

 Q:  Pete Wilson from Melbourne Florida asks:
How far has Jorge Padilla fallen off the prospect radar screen? What adjustments didn't he make in Double A?

Will Kimmey: Padilla sits at No. 12 on the list. He did struggle to make adjustments at the plate, and hit the wall physically. He got tired and fell into a second-half slump that he couldn't seem to recover from. He's still a multi-tooled and talented player, but didn't react and adjust the way the Phils would have liked to have seen. He also has yet to translate his power potential into games. He mostly fell out because of the additions of Hamels, Ramirez and Segovia.

 Q:  Rob from Indiana asks:
What kind of stuff does Cole Hamels have and would you have taken him in the first round with the past injury history?

Will Kimmey: you're talking a 6-2 lefty who commands three plus pitches. If the doctors say he's fine, and you believe them (why would they lie?) why not grab him? it makes even more sense for the Phils to take a chance as they have the pitching depth to absorb the hit if Hamels can't cut it. But there are no reasons to believe that's true. It's more that a team with a much thinner system, might need him more and can't afford any risk.

 Q:  Jack from Boston asks:
In the report for Cole Hamels, you say that some teams considered him the best pitcher in the draft. Does this mean we should expect similar numbers and projection to Scott Kazmir?

Will Kimmey: I'd see no reason to believe otherwise.

 Q:  Andy from Germantown,PA asks:
Who has the better arms in their system, the Giants or the Phillies?

Will Kimmey: Interesting question. You have to think the Giants have more guys who are further along when you look at Foppert, Ainsworth, Jerome Williams and then there's some depth further down in guys like Ryan Hannaman, Jeff Clark and Boof Bonser who all pitched at high Class A. The Phils have some nice guys at higher levels in Buchholz and Ryan Madsen, who's been overlooked in general and in the chat, but the rest of their top guns like Floyd, Ramirez and Segovia are stilla few years away. So I say the Giants for now, but leave the door open for the Phils.

 Q:  Zach from Tampa asks:
Any idea where Jean Machi will be pitching this year and if he will be on the team's top 30? Thanks keep up the good work!

Will Kimmey: Machi, whose high-90s gas rates as the org's best, will be in a starting or long relief role at either Batavia or Lakewood in 03. He tends to rely too much on his heater and the Phils want him throwing longer outings to refine his offspead stuff. He checks in around the 20s in the list.

 Q:  Jared from Pottsville,PA asks:
Who is the better all around prospect, Kiel Fisher or Jake Blalock?

Will Kimmey: Couple of 3b here, and the nod goes to Blalock. He can rip the ball and also can play the OF some. Blalock has as much power potential as anyone and works really hard at his game. Until he plays his way off third, he's staying there, where he's an adequate defender and doesn't have the great hands his brother does, but he is bigger than Hank.

 Q:  Bruce from Minneapolis asks:
Will, The Phils have a nice, young rotation but where does that put Duckworth? He's penciled in as the 5th starter and maybe some swing work. Will this hurt his development? When Floyd and Madsen are ready will they be in the same situation as Duckworth?

Will Kimmey: I think that's a problem no one would complain about. I mean the Yanks have 8 starters. You have to figure Randy Wolf's good for an injury at some point and whoever can't crack the rotation will be in the pen or spot start. Madsen's probably a year away, and Floyd is two years. Who knows, Millwood might walk after one year. But i'd worry less about fitting guys into the rotation than I would if I was the Royals and couldn't find enough guys to fill it out.

 Q:  Jdbird77 from Washington, DC asks:
Will Marlon Byrd be the answer in center field next year? what will he likely produce now and in the future? Also, Are there any impact bats in the system behind him?

Will Kimmey: I say yes, but the Phils are looking for a lefthanded-hitting CF who can spell Byrd vs. tough RHPs early on. Give him 270-15-60 this year and he'll eventually give you 285-25-80. The next impact bats are Juan Richardson and Ryan Howard.

Will Kimmey: Now to the lightening round as we're running low on time.

 Q:  jdbird77 from Washington, DC asks:
Was exposing Chapman to the Rule V draft a mistake? After losing Turnbow and Ascension, are the Phillies not protecting the right people? Would he have made the Phillies top 10 and will he catch on in Detroit?

Will Kimmey: I like Chap, but he had nowhere to go in the org with Bell, Thome and then Utley. I say he plays 100 games for Detroit this year. He was in the 20s for Philly.

 Q:  Maximus from Wyncote, PA asks:
What do you make of Seung Lee? This guy seemed to get better each time the level of competition increased. Could he be a possible breakout player for 2003?

Will Kimmey: Like him, though he was older than most of his competition this year. His backdoor slide-piece is his best offering. He'll need to do a lot to make noise in this pitching rich org tho.

 Q:  Donavon McNabb from Veterans Stadium, Philadelphia asks:
Yo some of my boys aint getting no love from you guys. Tell me what you think about my top cats Jean Machi and Carlos Cabrera. McMachi throws some straight heat while C-Los is just flat nasty. Where they going to ball next year?

Will Kimmey: Yo Don, hope your ankle is feeling better, Mike Vick ain't no joke either. Hope you already peeped my piece on Machi, and Los will be rocking the rotation down in Lakewood this summer. Out.

 Q:  Tom from Lancaster asks:
Does Bud Smith fit into the Phillies plans or is he slated to pitch at Scranton for the year?

Will Kimmey: Who knows? The guy did no offseason work after 2001. He's got to be into playing to get better. It's a crowded situation in Philly, but lefties are always nice. Worst-case is he comes out of the pen this year.

 Q:  Ryan from Atlanta asks:
Do you think the Braves could have gotten Chase Utley as well as Estrada from the Phillies for Millwood if they had pressed the issue?

Will Kimmey: No.

 Q:  Tim Walker from Greenwich, CT asks:
It seems that since 2001, everyone has given up on Brad Baisley. Will Brad ever resurface as a top prospect? Where would he rank on the Phillies?

Will Kimmey: No, too many questions about his health. Must prove he can stay healthy. Ranks in the teens.

 Q:  chris dedrick from asks:
Will the Phils have intrest in dealing a package of prospectsvets to Montreal for Vidro andor Vasquez? My idea specifically would be to trade BDuckworth,RCormier,Anderson Machado,and Placido Polanco for Vidro and Vasquez. Could it happen and do you think its a fair trade? CD

Will Kimmey: They might move some guys, but those two are among the youngest with the best contracts. Your trade seems more like one of those quantity for quality deals that get offered up in fantasy leagues. Don't see it happening.

 Q:  Greg from Poolesville asks:
Will-- Is there a method to Mike Arbuckle's madness in drafting teen-aged power pitchers? Given the disastrous results that KC and other organizations have had with high school hurlers, have the Phillies been just lucky or is there more to it than good fortune (drafting guys with advanced mechanics, above average instruction, etc.)?

Will Kimmey: Will all the success, it's hard to argue luck isn't it? Call it good scouting, coupled, as always in sports, with some good fortune as well.

 Q:  joe from deptford,nj asks:
Kiel Fisher 3rd round pick overated or is Blalock just better.

Will Kimmey: Blalock's just better so far. Fisher's also solid player.

 Q:  Kenny A from Two Rivers, WI asks:
Who is the most promising left-hander in the organization?

Will Kimmey: Cole Hamels. By Far.

 Q:  Kenny A from Two Rivers, WI asks:
What current prospect is most likely to be a surprise this year?

Will Kimmey: Keith Bucktrot. His biggest problem is control. I say he gets it together and dominates his second trip thru the FSL.

 Q:  Banky37 from Red Bank, NJ asks:
Was it a mistake to let Travis Chapman go over Juan Richardson?

Will Kimmey: No, Richardson has way more pop and is a solid 3b defensively.

 Q:  andrew from williamsburg, va asks:
Do you think the Phillies will begin changing their preference for veteran relievers given the success of Carlos Silva last year? In other words, do Jeremy Wedel and Elia Serrano have a realistic chance of making the major league team in 2003 if they pitch well in spring training, or well there still be the prejudice toward veterans?

Will Kimmey: He should open their eyes. Also in this age of financial cutbacks, you could see cheaper, younger guys unseat average, overpaid guys like Mike Timlins and Ricky Bottalicco all over the majors. it only makes sense.

 Q:  Don from Philly asks:
Is Ryan Madson projected as a No. 2 or No. 3 rotation guy?

Will Kimmey: He quietly dominated Double-A by pitching inside aggressively and keeping the ball low. He's a middle of the rotation kind of arm.

 Q:  Scott from Palo Alto, California asks:
Holy Pitching, Batman. How is it that the Phillies have collected such a fine group of pitching prospects? It seems that Mike Arbuckle has done a fantastic job of assembling a future rotation of staff aces. I remember ten years ago, being excited about rotations including Joe Cowley and Starvin' Marvin Freeman, Bruce Ruffin and Floyd Youmans.

Will Kimmey: Good scouting, drafting, instruction, development, fortune. Just like with the Braves.

 Q:  Joe from NE Philly asks:
Do you see the lose of Travis Chapman as minimal??? And how long do you think until Anderson Machado arrives in Philly?

Will Kimmey: He can be a decent major league player, but didn't have much of a place with the Phils. Same with Valent. Machado will fight for a job in 04

 Q:  andrew from williamsburg, va asks:
Are we likely to see a trade in which the Phillies package three or four minor leaguers for a Joe Randa type? They seem in great position to do such a trade.

Will Kimmey: Maybe not Randa, but yes with their depth in the minors, they could move some prospects to fill whatever holes develop this season should they be in contention late.

 Q:  Andy from Washington, DC asks:
Any insights on a few of the younger Latin American pitchers in the rookie leagues last year: Carlos Cabrera, Erick Arteaga?

Will Kimmey: Cabrera and Arteaga dont have a significant difference between them. Durable power arms with low 90s heat that bores in on hitters, decent curve, change is progressing nicely. Command, innings needed.

 Q:  Don from Philly asks:
How significantly is Jake Blalock's prospect status boosted just because he is the brother of Hank Blalock?

Will Kimmey: A bit, more on the hype side. Scouting directors won't risk their jobs to draft a player just because of his name.

 Q:  Squire from asks:
Where would newly acquired Josh Hancock fit into the Top 30 Phillies prospects?

Will Kimmey: He's at 21

 Q:  Banky37 from Red Bank, NJ asks:
How fast can Zach Segovia mov up the ladder? He seems like a great closer candidate.

Will Kimmey: He's a HS draft, so he'll take his time. He'll move one level at a time, like most of the pitchers in the org, because of the tremendous depth. His slider is devastating and he has that closer's competitiveness.

 Q:  joe paterno from happy valley, PA asks:
what are the plans for Danny Gonzalez? good player but is he better than Utley, byrd, or jimmy rollins?

Will Kimmey: He sandwiched between Carlos Rodriguez and Anderson Machado, and both are better prospects and players. Gonzo will head to high class A.

 Q:  Banky37 from Red Bank, NJ asks:
Opinions on Carlos Rodriguez?

Will Kimmey: Plenty of tools, defense is his calling card. Runs well. Good bat speed and mechanics should allow him to improve with the stick.

Moderator: That's it folks. Thanks for all the questions. Sorry I coudn't get to them all.

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