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Baseball America's Daily Dish
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Compiled by Kevin Goldstein, Chris Kline and Matt Meyers
Bloodlines are something that always intrigues scouts as the draft approaches, and perhaps one of the most interesting cases involving a pedigree this year comes out of Georgia.
Six years ago, the Expos took Brandon Phillips in the second round out of Redan High in Stone Mountain, Ga., the same school that produced Wally Joyner and last year’s ninth overall pick to the Rockies, Chris Nelson.
This year, the school adds another potential high-round pick in Phillips’ younger brother, P.J.--arguably the best high school product coming out of the Peach State.
“He’s a baller, man,” the elder Phillips says about his little brother. “Every time I see B.J. (Upton), I just think about him. That’s my world right there.”
P.J. Phillips played second base last season, teaming up with Nelson in the middle of the diamond for the Raiders, but since Nelson was drafted, the 18-year-old moved back to his natural position--shortstop.
While Brandon is only 5-foot-11, 190 pounds, P.J. Phillips is bigger, stronger and just as athletic as his older brother. Where Brandon’s career in the big leagues stalled out when he got away from getting on base and utilizing his speed, opting to try to hit for power; P.J. has the juice in his bat Brandon never had--projecting to hit 20-25 homers annually.
“It’s about projection, but it’s also what’s present,” says an NL scout of P.J. “He’s not fragile anymore. His shoulders got broader and he can roll the pole. There is some serious power potential there.”
At 6-foot-3, 170 pounds, P.J. has quick hands, and generates good bat speed, though his swing can tend to be a bit long at times. Defensively, all the actions are there with outstanding first-step quickness and a strong arm.
Brandon is more flashy than P.J. and is better suited at second base. He had a hard time responding to instruction and his cocky attitude didn’t help any after the Indians sent him down to Triple-A Buffalo when he batted .208 in 370 big league at-bats in 2003.
P.J. has all the tools to stay at shortstop long term, as well as the mental makeup that frequently brought Brandon’s overall abilities into question.
“He wants to play,” the scout says, also bringing up Upton’s name in the discussion. “He’s more down to earth, more consistent and more relaxed. I like the mental makeup.”
But makeup issues aside, it is the power potential that is the true separator between the two brothers.
“He’s a leadoff hitter,” an AL scout says of Brandon. “But he thinks he can hit home runs all the time. His swing has gotten really long and he doesn’t have consistent (at-bats), doesn’t get on base. That’s not a leadoff hitter. That’s a guy who’s confused himself with someone else.”
Maybe even his little brother.
--CHRIS KLINE AND JOHN MANUEL
• Ryan Doumit continues to hit and Zach Duke had the longest outing of the year as Triple-A Indianapolis defeated Pawtucket, 3-1 yesterday. Doumit went 2-for-4 and hit his 10th home run, while Duke went 8 1/3 innings and allowed a run on three hits. The Pirates have tried out Doumit at first base and the outfield this season, but there is no plan for him to see any game action at either position. “He’s a catcher,” farm director Brian Graham said. “We all want him to be a catcher. We’re trying him out there a little bit just to see what kind of versatility he has, but he’s going to catch.” On the season, Doumit is hitting .351/.431/.694 in 111 at-bats.
• Double-A Birmingham closer Bobby Jenks recorded his second straight save and 10th overall for the Barons in 6-4 win at Mississippi last night. A fifth-round pick of the Angels in 2000, Jenks is 0-0, 2.41 with 18 strikeouts and eight walks in 19 innings this season--his first working out of the pen.
• Devil Rays No. 1 prospect Delmon Young went off with a 4-for-4 performance in an 8-6 Double-A Montgomery win against Mobile Wednesday. Young drove in two and recorded his second triple in 2005. He is also running like crazy for the Biscuits with 17 steals in 21 attempts. Young is hitting .316/.410/.523 with six homers and 32 RBIs in 149 at-bats.
• Double-A Tennessee is loaded with Diamondbacks prospects, though none of them are doing anything eye-opening other than center fielder Marland Williams. On a team that boasts such talent as outfielders Jon Zeringue and Jarred Ball, catcher Phil Avlas and third baseman Jamie D’Antona, Williams has been the best of the bunch. The 36th-round pick in 2001 out of North Florida Community College is hitting .299/.364/.449 in 127 at-bats and is perfect on the basepaths, going 16-for-16 in stolen base attempts.
• Nationals lefthander Mike Hinckley made the longest start of the season, as he works back from a shoulder strain that caused him to miss the first month of the season. Against Kinston, Hinckley went 5 1/3 innings, and allowed three runs on seven hits--including giving up a solo homer and a double to Indians right fielder Ryan Goleski. In two games facing the Nationals’ No. 1 prospect, Goleski, a 24th-round pick out of Eastern Michigan in 2003, is 4-for-5 with three doubles and a homer. "I've had a lot of success just being patient with him," Goleski told the New Bern Sun-Journal. "He's a good pitcher. He'll hit his spots."
• Angels second baseman Albert Callaspo homered from both sides of the plate, driving in five in Double-A Arkansas’ 12-1 romp over Springfield last night. It was the second time in five games the Callaspo performed the feat, which is fairly astonishing considering the fact that the 22 year-old Dominican has hit just five home runs overall this year. For the season, Callaspo is hitting .295/.355/.423.
• Rangers lefthander C.J. Wilson, who missed all of 2004 recovering from Tommy John surgery, delivered his best outing since returning to the field in Double-A Frisco’s 4-3 loss to Midland. Wilson, a 2001 fifth-round pick out of Loyola Marymount, limited the Rockhounds to just one run on one hit over five innings, striking out eight.
• Look out, Royals third baseman Billy Butler is on a roll again. The 2004 first-round pick went 3-for-4 in high Class A High Desert’s 5-2 loss to Inland Empire last night--his fourth consecutive game of three or more hits. On the season, Butler is batting .364/.437/.649.
• The knock on Andy Baldwin last year was that he did not miss enough bats as he led the short-season New York-Penn League in hits allowed. That wasn't a problem last night as the Phillies righthander allowed only four hits and struck out seven in 6 2/3 innings as he earned his first win of the season for low Class A Lakewood. The Oregon State product has still not missed enough bats on the season as he has only 29 strikeouts in 41 2/3 innings while allowing 46 hits. His ERA is 4.97.
• Javy Guerra may have gotten the hop out of his step, but SAL hitters are putting a pop in his pitches based on his 5.55 ERA. Out of high school, Guerra was known for an unorthodox delivery which involved a slight crow hop and had some coaches questioning its legality. The Dodgers' righthander fell to 2-3 last night but pitched decently as he struck out four over six innings while allowing two earned runs and walking four. In his last four starts, his ERA is 2.37 in 21 innings, a promising sign for a 19-year-old pitcher in low Class A.
Contributing: Alan Matthews.