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Philadelphia Phillies

50 Percent Return

PHILADELPHIA–On a sunny spring day in March 2001, the Phillies announced the most significant leap forward in their fledgling Pacific Rim scouting initiative.

Two Korean righthanders, Seung Lee and Il Kim, had been signed to lucrative contracts. Lee got a $1.2 million bonus; Kim received $800,000. "It’s like getting two extra No. 1 draft choices," said scouting director Mike Arbuckle.

A lot has changed since then.

Lee emerged from a turbulent first year that included back surgery to show the promise that the organization saw. Pitching for Class A Lakewood, he was 7-10 but had a 3.24 ERA while allowing 132 hits in 147 innings. He also pitched briefly with Class A Clearwater and Double-A Reading.

"The surgery set Lee back," Arbuckle said. "But when he returned this year, his velocity had improved. Now that he’s made the adjustment, we see him as a highly touted prospect."

Added former BlueClaws manager Jeff Manto: "I just think he needed to get acclimated in this country. Once he got comfortable over here, he relaxed and really started throwing the heck out of the ball."

Kim’s stock, on the other hand, has dropped precipitously. After leading the New York-Penn League with two shutouts in 2001, he made just 21 relief appearances at Lakewood (2-1, 4.14) this year.

"He’s gotten thicker," Arbuckle said. "He just has not progressed."

The different career paths of the two pitchers demonstrate the difficulty of international scouting, Arbuckle said.

"You get a much shorter glimpse," he said. "In this country, you’ll see a prospect for two or three years. It’s much more of a shot in the dark internationally. You’re just getting limited looks at the tools and the stuff. You really can’t get the whole picture."

Because of the limited returns from Asia, the Phillies are restructuring their approach. Pacific Rim supervisor Doug Takaragawa was fired, and the team is likely to hire a local scout in Japan, Korea and Australia and use international supervisor Sal Agostinelli to crosscheck in those areas.


Righthander Franklin Nunez, just a year ago considered a top pitching prospect, was claimed on waivers by the Mets. Nunez (2-1, 3.18 at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre) was limited to four starts by shoulder problems in 2002.

Three pitchers from the Phillies system were honored as pitcher of the year in their respective leagues. Righthander Joe Roa, 30, was the International League’s top pitcher. At Double-A Reading, Ryan Madson was the Eastern League’s pitcher of the year, and Class A Clearwater’s Taylor Buchholz was the Florida State League’s pitcher of the year.

Previous organization report: Gene Schall

General manager:
  Ed Wade
Farm director:
  Mike Arbuckle
Scouting director:
  Marti Wolever

Farm System
AAA Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre
AA Reading
A Clearwater
A Lakewood
A Batavia*
R GCL Phillies
* short-season

Top 90s Picks
1990 Mike Lieberthal
1991 Tyler Green
1992 Chad McConnell
1993 Wayne Gomes
1994 Carlton Loewer
1995 Reggie Taylor
1996 Adam Eaton
1997 *J.D. Drew
1998 Pat Burrell
1999 Brett Myers
2000 Chase Utley
2001 Gavin Floyd
* did not sign

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