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Phila. Phillies:
1999 Top 10

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Philadelphia Phillies Top 10 Prospects
Index of Top 10 Prospects for all 30 Major League Teams

By David Rawnsley

1. Pat Burrell, 1B-OF
Age: 23  B-T: R-R  Ht: 6-4  Wt: 225
Drafted: Miami, 1998 (1st round)  Signed by: Miguel Machado

Top Prospects of the 90s

1990 Pat Combs, lhp
1991 Mickey Morandini, 2b
1992 Tyler Green, rhp
1993 Tyler Green, rhp
1994 Tyler Green, rhp
1995 Scott Rolen, 3b
1996 Scott Rolen, 3b
1997 Scott Rolen, 3b
1998 Ryan Brannan, rhp
1999 Pat Burrell, 1b

Background: The Phillies have been patient with Burrell despite the record-setting $8 million major league contract he signed after being the No. 1 pick in 1998. They left him in the Double-A Eastern League most of the season, and he was the league’s top prospect. Burrell didn’t receive a September callup, in part so that he could attend instructional league and work on his second defensive move in two years before playing in the Arizona Fall League.

Strengths: Burrell may be the top hitting prospect in the minor leagues. Strength is not a problem. The ball explodes off Burrell’s bat with the special sound scouts look for but rarely find. Watching Burrell take batting practice can be reminiscent of a Mark McGwire show. Burrell is more than brute strength, though. He is adept at lining pitches down and away to right-center field, works counts like a leadoff hitter and adjusts his swing to different pitchers and situations. He has significantly improved his ability to get his hands through the hitting zone on plus inside fastballs.

Weaknesses: Burrell is solid defensively at his natural position, which is first base. His experience fielding ground balls from his high school and college days as a third baseman helps him. Still, the Phillies see hope for him in left field. His below-average speed limits his potential there, yet Burrell has shown surprising agility and instincts in tracking fly balls. He still needs work on going back on the ball. Burrell’s arm is solid average and will be a benefit in left field as he improves his accuracy and ability to throw to the right base.

The Future: On the topic of Burrell in left field, one Phillies executive remarked, "Hey, this is the organization that has put Greg Luzinski, Pete Incaviglia and Gregg Jefferies out there. Burrell has to be better than all those guys." In truth, Burrell is not only a better fielder but also potentially a far better hitter. The Phillies have some decisions to make, with first baseman Rico Brogna signed for two more years, left fielder Ron Gant around for one more year, and Burrell obviously ready for the major leagues.

1999 Club           AVG   AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB
Reading (AA)       .333  417  84 139  28   6  28   90  79 103   3
Scranton/WB (AAA>  .152   33   4   5   0   0   1    4   4   8   0

2. Brad Baisley, RHP
Age: 20  B-T: R-R  Ht: 6-9  Wt: 205
Drafted: HS--Land O'Lakes, Fla., 1998 (2nd round)  Signed by: Miguel Machado

Background: The Phillies had no problem sending Baisley to a full-season league at his age, and he rewarded their faith. Baisley finished third in the South Atlantic League in ERA at 2.26 and threw a no-hitter against Hagerstown Aug. 12.

Strengths: Baisley has the leverage, extension and intimidation that come with his height, as well as excellent coordination and maturity on the mound. Unlike tall lefthanders such as Ryan Anderson and Randy Johnson, Baisley has a high arm slot that enables him to get over an above-average curveball. Baisley’s fastball ranges from 89-94 mph and may get faster with maturity.

Weaknesses: The Phillies don’t consider Baisley physically mature, which made his performance somewhat unexpected. Strength and endurance are factors at his size, as is consistency with mechanics.

The Future: Baisley is a high school coach’s son with an advanced idea of how to pitch. The Phillies are intrigued about how much better he can get, just based on his physical gifts.

1999 Club         W  L   ERA   G  GS  CG  SV   IP   H  BB  SO
Piedmont (A)     10  7  2.26  23  23   3   0  148 116  55 110

3. Brett Myers, RHP
Age: 19  B-T: R-R  Ht: 6-4  Wt: 210
Drafted: HS--Jacksonville (1st round)  Signed by: Miguel Machado

Background: Scouting director Mike Arbuckle zeroed in on Myers from the start of the spring, stayed with him and signed him quickly after the draft. Myers boxed as an amateur, an indication of his bulldog approach.

Strengths: Myers has a power pitcher’s build and power pitcher’s stuff. His mainstay is a fastball that is consistently 93-94 and will top at 96 mph. Myers’ secondary pitches are advanced for a pitcher a few months removed from high school. He throws a power curveball in the upper 70s with sharp downward break when he stays on top of it. He complements it with an effective sinking changeup.

Weaknesses: Many teams worried about Myers’ maturity and emotional nature prior to the draft. His curveball needs the most work, especially in establishing a consistent release point.

The Future: The Phillies went after Myers with their eyes open. He impressed them with his professionalism and work ethic in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. They liken his style, physique and personality to Curt Schilling, which is high praise.

1999 Club         W  L   ERA   G  GS  CG  SV   IP   H  BB  SO
GCL Phillies (R)  2  1  2.33   7   5   0   0   27  17   7  30

4. Jimmy Rollins, SS
Age: 21  B-T: B-R  Ht: 5-8  Wt: 160
Drafted: HS--Alameda, Calif., 1996 (2nd round)  Signed by: Bob Poole

Background: The Phillies soured on Rollins after a mediocre 1998 season and a perceived lackadaisical attitude. A new staff saw a different player in 1999. Rollins improved his skills on the field and became a leader on both teams he played for.

Strengths: Though only 5-foot-8, Rollins plays with the skills of a bigger player. He is smooth and quick in the infield with a plus arm from the hole and no fear around the bag. Rollins is equally proficient from both sides of the plate and has surprising pop for his size. He stays under control at the plate and doesn’t overswing.

Weaknesses: As long as Rollins maintains a solid approach, continues to polish his skills on routine plays and learns the nuances of baserunning and situational hitting, he has a bright big league future. He has all the tools.

The Future: The Phillies’ middle infield is wide open. Rollins was playing well in the Venezuelan League, and it wouldn’t be a shock if Rollins made his big league debut next summer.

1999 Club           AVG   AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB
Reading (AA)       .273  532  81 145  21   8  11   56  51  47  24
Scranton/W-B (AAA) .077   13   0   1   1   0   0    0   1   1   1

5. Eric Valent, OF
Age: 22  B-T: L-L  Ht: 6-0  Wt: 191
Drafted: UCLA, 1997 (1st round supplemental)  Signed by: Mark Ralston

Background: After starting Valent in Class A after drafting him out of UCLA in 1998, the Phillies chose a conservative approach and left him at Class A Clearwater in 1999. He led the Florida State League in RBIs.

Strengths: Valent has the classic tools of a right fielder. He has a strong swing with loft power potential at the plate. His arm is above-average and he has enough speed to have played center field in the past and be a factor on the bases. He is a hard worker with leadership qualities.

Weaknesses: Valent has shown the ability to hit the ball the other way in the past, but not consistently. He can become overly pull conscious, as he was in the Arizona Fall League, making him an easy out on anything on the outside corner.

The Future: The Phillies compare Valent to Red Sox right fielder Trot Nixon but hope he develops more like the Brewers’ Jeromy Burnitz. Double-A in 2000 will be a good test of Valent’s aptitude in learning to drive what the pitchers give him instead of pulling everything.

1999 Club           AVG   AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB
Clearwater (A)     .288  520  91 150  31   9  20  106  58 110   5

6. Derrick Turnbow, RHP
Age: 21  B-T: R-R  Ht: 6-3  Wt: 195
Drafted: HS--Franklin, Tenn., 1997 (5th round)  Signed by: Eli Grba

Background: Turnbow was a scout’s pick, a raw high school pitcher with a loose arm and the ability to spin the ball. After two dreadful stints with Rookie-level Martinsville in the Appalachian League, Turnbow blossomed at Class A Piedmont.

Strengths: Turnbow throws a hard sinking fastball with consistent velocity, topping out around 94 mph. His curveball has a chance to be a plus pitch, too. The Phillies rave about his ability to pitch every game with purpose and intensity–hard attributes to teach.

Weaknesses: Most of Turnbow’s weaknesses are a function of age and lack of innings. The experience will come. He has a durable arm and has never missed a start or even a workout since signing.

The Future: It’s easy to see the Phillies moving their prospect-laden Piedmont staff–including Baisley, Turnbow, hard-throwing Dominicans Franklin Nunez and Carlos Silva and lefthander Greg Kubes–together level by level. The Florida State League should be the next stop.

1999 Club         W  L   ERA   G  GS  CG  SV   IP   H  BB  SO
Piedmont (A)     12  8  3.35  26  26   4   0  161 130  53 149

7. Reggie Taylor, OF
Age: 22  B-T: L-R  Ht: 6-1  Wt: 178
Drafted: HS--Newberry, S.C., 1995 (1st round)  Signed by: Bob Poole

Background: Taylor has become a fixture in the middle of this list. He enjoyed his best season in 1999, so there is still reason for optimism. He was playing well this winter in the challenging Venezuelan League.

Strengths: Taylor is still a five-tool player. His power took a significant step forward in 1999 and his strikeouts plummeted, a rare and encouraging sign in a young hitter. Taylor’s defense remains top-notch. He gets excellent jumps on the ball and has the speed to run down balls most center fielders would field off the wall. His arm strength is also above-average.

Weaknesses: He lacks patience at the plate, shown by his .293 on-base percentage in 1999. Until this improves, Taylor won’t hit for enough average or reach base enough to be more than a defensive replacement in the big leagues.

The Future: The Phillies can afford to bring Taylor along slowly. If he brings the lessons he is learning in Venezuela back with him, Taylor should continue to improve at Triple-A Scranton in 2000.

1999 Club           AVG   AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB
Reading (AA)       .266  526  75 140  17  10  15   61  18  79  38

8. Doug Nickle, RHP
Age: 25  B-T: R-R  Ht: 6-4  Wt: 210
Drafted: California, 1997 (13th round)  Signed by: Tom Davis (Angels)

Background: The Angels signed Nickle as a college senior in 1997 and traded him to the Phillies for Gregg Jefferies a year later. The Angels had used him primarily as a starter, but the Phillies made Nickle a full-time closer during spring training, and he responded by finishing fifth among Class A closers in saves.

Strengths: Nickle has the two most important attributes for a closer: two power pitches and the confidence and makeup to excel in the role. Nickle’s fastball went from the high 80s as a starter to 92-96 mph with sinking, boring life as a closer. He also throws a knuckle-curveball with good biting action.

Weaknesses: Nickle lost development time as a senior sign and while working as a starter, so he needs to begin moving quickly. More consistency with his knuckle-curve is the only major skill that requires Nickle’s focus.

The Future: The Phillies bullpen is wide open, from the closer’s role down to the 11th man. Nickle should get ample opportunity to prove himself and move toward the big leagues.

1999 Club         W  L   ERA   G  GS  CG  SV   IP   H  BB  SO
Clearwater (A)    2  4  2.29  60   0   0  28   71  60  23  70

9. Josue Perez, OF
Age: 22  B-T: B-R  Ht: 6-0  Wt: 180
Signed: Cuba, 1999  Signed by: Sal Agostinelli

Background: The Dodgers signed Perez in May 1998, and he hit .335-2-17 with 24 stolen bases in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League that year. He became a free agent midway through the 1999 season when the commissioner’s office ruled the Dodgers signed him directly out of Cuba in violation of major league rules.

Strengths: Perez is a pure center fielder with above-average speed, good defensive instincts and above-average arm strength. He has strong fundamentals and instincts for the game both offensively and defensively. Perez has a short stroke from both sides of the plate, and scouts think he will develop the ability to drive the ball.

Weaknesses: Whether Perez develops as a hitter will determine his value as a player. Right now he lacks the bat speed to drive the ball to the gaps. He must work on getting stronger.

The Future: Perez is a half-grade behind Taylor in overall tools and a full step behind on the development ladder, but they are similar players. Perez will likely start 2000 in Double-A.

1999 Club           AVG   AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB
Vero Beach (A)     .279  201  24  56  14   1   2   22  21  29  14
Clearwater (A)     .204   93  15  17   2   0   0    6   7  17   6

10. Ryan Madson, RHP
Age: 19  B-T: R-R  Ht: 6-6  Wt: 180
Drafted: HS--Moreno County, Calif., 1998 (9th round)  Signed by: Jim Fregosi Jr.

Background: Madson was a classic projection draft pick, lured away from a Southern California scholarship with a $350,000 bonus. He is closer to 6-foot-7 than his listed height and is growing into his lanky frame.

Strengths: Madson’s biggest strength may be his youth; he will pitch almost all of 2000 at 19. His fastball has crept up to the solid average range and will occasionally hit 93 mph. While it isn’t a consistent pitch yet, Madson’s curveball will flash good spin and biting action, and he has shown the ability to throw it for consistent strikes.

Weaknesses: As with any work in progress, most of what Madson needs to do is to develop consistency with his mechanics, release point and the quality of his stuff. With his fastball and command potential, the development of his curve and changeup will be vital.

The Future: Madson is just reaching the point physically and mentally to be able to take advantage of his natural gifts. He will get his first taste of full-season ball in 2000.

1999 Club         W  L   ERA   G  GS  CG  SV   IP   H  BB  SO
Batavia (A)       5  5  4.72  15  15   0   0   88  80  43  75

Rest of the Best:

11. Jason Brester, lhp
12. Carlos Silva, rhp
13. Anderson Machado, 2b
14. Franklin Nunez, rhp
15. Russ Jacobson, c

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