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Hamels had nothing but question marks entering his pro career and has provided only exclamation points since signing. He ranked as one of the top pitchers in the 2002 draft, but a broken humerus in his left arm caused him to miss his junior season at Rancho Bernardo High and slip to the 17th overall pick. He originally injured his arm in an off-field accident and aggravated it by pitching. He had surgery performed by the Padres team doctor in his native San Diego and rehabbed with pitching guru Tom House before returning and impressing as a high school senior. Protracted contract negotiations kept Hamels away from baseball before he agreed to a $2 million bonus, and then he showed up out of shape from the long layoff. Because he got little done in instructional league, the Phillies sent him to extended spring training in 2003. Once they turned him loose, he dominated the low Class A South Atlantic and high Class A Florida State leagues. His combined 1.34 ERA would have led the minors had Hamels accumulated 11 more innings to qualify. He allowed just 15 earned runs and not a single home run all season. His command, stuff and feel for pitching allowed him to edge Gavin Floyd for the top spot, and being lefthanded also aided Hamels' cause. Hamels should have three above-average pitches when he reaches the majors. He already shows plus command of a fastball that sits between 89-92 mph with plenty of movement. He can reach back for more when he needs it, topping out at 94. His best pitch might be his plus-plus changeup, which was neck-and-neck with Ryan Madson's as the best in the organization and possibly the minors. Hamels displays exceptional control of his changeup at such a young age, and it drops and fades away from hitters. Hamels shows a businesslike demeanor, with no great highs or lows. He's a great athlete, allowing him to repeat his delivery, hold runners and field his position well. Hamels' curveball should become a third plus pitch, and its movement is already there. He just needs to develop more consistency with the curve. His overall command and control are advanced for his age--and ahead of where Floyd and Brett Myers were at similar stages in their development--but he can continue to improve it as he progresses. Hamels hasn't experienced any repercussions from his high school arm injury. A pulled muscle in his right shoulder blade caused the Phillies to remove him from the trials for Team USA's Olympic qualifying squad. The minor injury isn't a long-term concern, and he should begin 2004 on schedule by returning to high Class A Clearwater. He'll be challenged in Double-A Reading as soon as he proves he's ready.
Floyd would rank as the top prospect in many other organizations. He signed for a club-record $4.2 million as the fourth overall pick in 2001--one spot before fellow Mount St. Joseph High product Mark Teixeira. Philadelphia signed Gavin's older brother Mike, an outfielder, as a 22nd-rounder out of the same draft. Floyd entered his pro career with two plus pitches, a 92-95 mph fastball with movement, and a shoulders-to-shoelaces hard curveball that rates 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale at times. His main focus since has been developing a changeup, which now rates average. Floyd works hard at improving his skills and shows above-average makeup. A longtime fan of Kevin Millwood, Floyd tried to emulate his idol's deliberate delivery after watching him in spring training. It cost Floyd his rhythm and deceptiveness, and it took a month to remedy the problem. He must continue to hone his location and ability to repeat pitches, but he's still ahead of most pitchers his age. Floyd's development is right on track. He'll move up to Double-A in 2004, and the pitching depth in the organization means the Phillies won't have to rush him.
Howard was a potential first-round pick before a junior slump that included a school-record 74 strikeouts. He ended up being a nice prize in the fifth round, leading the Florida State League in batting and homers in 2003, and missing the triple crown by seven RBIs. Howard has legitimate power to all fields, especially on low pitches, and even launched a blast over the batter's eye behind the 400-foot center-field wall in Clearwater. He has made progress in his approach as an all-around hitter, opening his stance to better handle inside pitches. He has proven to be a surprisingly good defender for a big man, with average range and plus hands. Howard still has work to do in identifying pitches. As a power hitter, he'll always strike out some, but he needs to trim his lofty totals. As he matures as a hitter, Howard should learn to wait for specific pitches and to take or foul off those he can't drive. There's no reason Howard can't reach 35 homers a year in the majors. His power should play fine in Double-A in 2004. He won't be rushed because of Jim Thome's presence in Philadelphia, but likely will be ready before Thome's contract expires after 2008.
Madson has reached double-digits in wins three times since 2000, and rebounded from an off year in 2001 by becoming more aggressive and attacking hitters on the inside half of the plate. He started the 2003 Triple-A all-star game for the International League. Madson's father wouldn't let him throw a curveball in Little League, so he had to settle for a changeup. It has emerged as a plus-plus pitch, edging Cole Hamels' as the system's best. It has natural movement, and some hitters think it's a splitter or breaking ball. Madson's two-seam fastball sits at 90 mph and touches 92. It has sinking action and runs away from righthanded hitters. He junked his curveball for a slider, which improved over the season. Madson could stand to add muscle to his lanky frame, especially his lower half, to increase his velocity and durability. Madson will have a shot to win the fifth starter's role in Philadelphia this spring. He made a positive impression with pitching coach Joe Kerrigan during his September callup last year.
Bucktrot always had the makings of plus stuff, but his mechanics were so inconsistent that some teams liked him better as a hitter during his high school career. He improved his command and trimmed his walks per nine innings from 4.4 in 2002 to 2.5 in 2003. Bucktrot improved as much as anyone in the organization in 2003, and part of the credit goes to his makeup. Asked to repeat high Class A, he worked hard and improved the quality of his pitches after getting to Double-A. His heavy fastball sits in the 92-94 mph range with sinking action. It touched 95-96 more often in instructional league. His changeup is a solid-average pitch. Bucktrot switched from a curveball to a slurve, an intermediate step to a hard slider. It should be at least average but is still inconsistent. Despite his repertoire, he doesn't strike out many hitters. Bucktrot reported to the Arizona Fall League, but felt an elbow twinge and was pulled off the roster. He'll begin 2004 back in Double-A but once he's ready, the Phillies won't hesitate to make room for him in what could become a crowded Triple-A rotation.
Simon posted three solid seasons in the organization while known as Carlos Cabrera, before visa problems revealed his true name and birthdate (21 months earlier than originally believed). Once he was allowed to re-enter the United States last June, he pitched well and continued to mature physically. His massive 6-foot-4 frame has grown from 174 pounds when he signed to 215. Simon runs his fastball into the 93-96 mph range and should reach 98 when he finishes filling out. His heater bores in on hitters, sawing off bats and making solid contact difficult. His physical size and arm strength give him plenty of durability. Simon must develop consistency with his secondary pitches. His changeup is too soft, allowing hitters to recognize it and tee off. He has gone from a curveball to a power slider while trying to find an effective breaking ball. Repeating his delivery better, and the mechanics on these two pitches specifically, would help. While he could still emerge as a middle-of-the-rotation starter, it's more likely Simon will become a late-inning reliever. He'll work on all of his pitches as a high Class A starter in 2004.
An excellent high school athlete and scholar, Bourn turned down the Astros as a 19th-round pick in 2000 in favor of a scholarship to Houston. Though hampered at times by a broken hamate bone and sore hamstring, Bourn stole 90 bases in three seasons with the Cougars and ranked fifth in the short-season New York-Penn League in his pro debut. Bourn is a Kenny Lofton type and he knows it. He doesn't try to do too much and is content to work a walk or lay down a bunt. His top-of-the-line speed comes with quick acceleration, making him play even faster. He's an obvious threat on the bases and tracks down everything in center field. Bourn's arm strength is fringe average, but his reads and instincts still make him an above-average defender. He's not a home run hitter by any means, but he can shoot balls into the gaps when he gets his pitch. Bourn and fellow 2003 draftee Javon Moran are similar players. They'll continue alternating between left and center field at low Class A Lakewood in 2004. The Phillies hope Bourn can become a leadoff hitter with game-changing skills.
Ramirez jumped from the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League to high Class A in 2003 and made the move look much like his nickname, "Easy." He didn't repeat his 73-2 strikeout-walk ratio from 2002, but still registered a 101-33 mark. His composure, command, desire and build recall a young Pedro Martinez, but Ramirez doesn't have that kind of stuff. Ramirez has a loose arm and an easy, compact delivery that should allow him to be a workhorse. His fastball sits at 90 mph and tops out at 91-92. He throws an average curveball and changeup. Ramirez succeeds because of his advanced feel for pitching and excellent location. While his command is impressive, Ramirez' strikeout and hit rates were troubling, owing to average stuff across the board. He must stay sharp and maintain a consistent delivery, being careful not to be too precise by working around batters he can retire. Ramirez also can become more consistent with his breaking ball. Ramirez could repeat high Class A because of his youth and a glut of pitchers ahead of him in the system. If there's an open spot in the Double-A rotation, however, he'll be ready for it.
Off-the-field developments have hampered Richardson's progress the last two years. He had two years added to his age, then in 2003 he slipped on the stairs at his home and badly sprained his ankle. The injury ended his season in June, just after he had been named to the Eastern League all-star team while leading the circuit in home runs. The injury problems continued in the offfseason, as Richardson had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. When healthy, Richardson ranks behind only Howard for pure power in the organization. He probably won't ever hit for much average, but he could produce 30-35 homers annually. He's an average third baseman with an average arm, and he improved his range in 2003. Plate discipline has been Richardson's undoing. Like many power hitters he's eager at the plate, and he must lay off breaking balls in the dirt. His defense often mimics his performance at the plate. Because he missed half the year in Double-A, Richardson will probably return there when he's ready to play. He'll likely miss the first month of the season. The best all-around third baseman in the system, Richardson could take over in Philadelphia by 2005 if he stays healthy.
The Phillies used a $500,000 bonus to buy Jones out of a University of California scholarship in 2001, and his skills finally are starting to catch up to the athleticism that turned scouts' eyes during his prep career. He's also a second cousin of NFL quarterback Rodney Peete. Jones has drawn comparisons to Chipper Jones, as both were high school shortstops with solid power. Having the same surname didn't hurt, either. He showed the ability to turn on, lift and drive balls better in 2003. Defensively, he's the best third baseman in the system, owing to his athleticism and average to plus arm. Looking at Jones' raw numbers, it's hard to see a lot of bat potential in a .233 career hitter. But he made strides in 2003, especially after a dreadful .192 average in April. Jones must develop more selectivity at the plate. He often gets overaggressive and tries to do too much. Phillies officials say Jones can be an above-average major league hitter capable of hitting .280 with 20-25 homers annually. He'll work on his patience in high Class A in 2004.
After hitting .251-12-77 in 2002, Machado looked ready to head to Triple-A. But the Phillies sent him back to Reading and his 2003 season didn't go as planned. Machado was beset by personal and family problems that led to a deep slump at the plate and culminated with a monthlong hiatus in Venezuela. After the dreadful season ended, Machado headed to instructional league and spent a week with hitting instructor Don Long reworking his swing before going to winter ball. He changed his set-up at the plate, which had created a loop in his swing, and worked to remove an uppercut from his stroke. That adjustment would allow him to hit more grounders and make better use of his above-average speed. While Machado always had nice pop for his size, he must focus on working counts and playing small ball. Defensively, he's without parallel in the system and could serve as a first-division shortstop immediately. He has above-average hands, range and arm strength. He committed 26 errors last year, but organization officials attribute those to his wide range and youth. He'll finally get that trip to Scranton this year, which should determine if he's an everyday major leaguer, utility player or slick-fielding shortstop without an offensive game.
After forgoing a scholarship to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and signing with Philadelphia as a surprise third-round pick in 2002, Fisher had a mediocre pro debut. The system's depth at third base kept him in extended spring training to begin 2003, as the Phillies wanted Terry Jones to play every day in low Class A. Fisher continued to struggled during extending spring, so he went to the Gulf Coast League when short-season play started. His bat finally got going, and improved again after a promotion to short-season Batavia. The key to Fisher's success was eliminating a loop in his swing, allowing him to be quicker to the ball and make use of his natural bat speed and loft. He projects average to plus power and makes adjustments well enough to hit for a solid average. He draws a good amount of walks for a young player, stays back on breaking balls and crushes fastballs. Defensively, Fisher shows average range with suitable feet and hands at third. He's big and built well, so a switch to first base or the outfield might be necessary. There's no doubt his bat would play at a more power-driven position. He'll head to Lakewood in 2004.
Don't be fooled by Kendrick's 0-4, 5.46 pro debut. He has the makings of a special pitcher, and Phillies assistant GM Mike Arbuckle compares him to a young Jason Schmidt. Like Schmidt, he hails from Washington state, is athletic (he played three sports in high school) and shows the raw ingredients of three plus pitches. Kendrick would have gone earlier than the seventh round last June had teams not been scared off by a scholarship to play quarterback at Washington State. His two-seam fastball has good movement at 89-92 mph and projects to add velocity, while his overhand curveball shows signs of becoming a plus pitch. He also has made strides with his circle changeup, which fades away from lefthanders and is already an average pitch at times. During instructional league, Phillies pitching prospects watched film of Josh Beckett throwing his changeup in the postseason and it gave Kendrick more confidence in his. He fanned three hitters with his changeup in his next instructional league outing. He has shown the aptitude to pick up things quickly and the work ethic to master them. He used to get his head out of line in his delivery, causing him to fall off to the side of the mound. He fixed the problem through video work in instructional league. The key for Kendrick is to get his lanky limbs and quick arm working in unison as he becomes more consistent in repeating what is already a good basic delivery. He'll work on that in 2004 at either Batavia or Lakewood.
British Columbia made its presence felt atop the 2002 draft, with Adam Loewen going fourth overall and Jeff Francis following closely at No. 9. Mathieson was the third pitcher selected from B.C.'s lower mainland, though he lasted until the 17th round. The Phillies bought Mathieson, who pitched with Francis and Loewen on national and select teams, out of a scholarship to El Paso (Texas) Junior College. Though he has been hit hard in two Gulf Coast League stints, Mathieson has made significant strides. He even has a new nickname, "The Goose." He has filled out and packed on strength. He also worked several flaws out of his delivery and now has mechanics as smooth as any pitcher in the organization to go along with his loose, quick arm. The result: A fastball that reached 84 mph when he was a high school senior now touches 94 and sits at 90-91. Mathieson also works with a down-breaking curveball with depth and a changeup that sinks and tails. Both pitches are average to above-average. He still has room for more projection, and adding more muscle could result in more added velocity. He'll be tested in low Class A this year.
Speed was the overriding theme of the Phillies' 2003 draft, and Moran fits the bill. He's close to an 80 runner on the 20-80 scouting scale and led the New York-Penn League with 27 steals in his pro debut, though he was caught 11 times. He also uses his speed as a center fielder to outrun balls hit into the gaps. Moran split time between center and left field with fellow 2003 draft pick Michael Bourn as the Phillies wanted each to learn both slots. Moran followed Bourn (a fourth-round pick) in the draft and in the Batavia lineup, often in the No. 2 spot. Though he broke Tim Hudson's Auburn record with 18 multi-hit Southeastern Conference games and led the Tigers in runs for three straight years, he struggled some with the transition from aluminum to wood. Phillies instructors had to teach Moran to trigger with his hands to help add the extra sock he lost without aluminum. He's a singles hitter anyway, but still needs to generate a bit more power to smack balls to the fences and use his speed for extra bases. Moran's build and hitting style remind some of Pokey Reese. He's learning to incorporate more bunting into his game, and he needs to draw more walks as well. Moran will move up to high Class A as the Phillies look to see if there's any separation between him and Bourn.
Butto and Yoel Hernandez are products of the Phillies' improving scouting and developmental efforts in Venezuela. The organizational glut of pitchers at the two Class A levels forced Butto to come out of the bullpen early in 2003 at Clearwater. Once he found a place in the rotation, Butto settled in nicely and reeled off the best year of his pro career. His fastball, which tops out at 93 mph, and breaking ball rate as average and can be a touch above at times. His changeup has a chance to be average. Like Hernandez, Butto has a good feel for pitching and solid command. Butto also spent the 2002 offseason pitching for Aragua in his native Venezuela, and the experience allowed him to grow mentally and emotionally, and made him more confident on the mound. He had another strong winter in the Venezuelan League after the 2003 season, which should further build his confidence. Butto will focus on consistently repeating his delivery and stuff in Double-A. He should fold into the back of a rotation or a middle-relief role in the long term.
Like his father Rick, who played seven seasons in the NBA, Roberson is athletically gifted. He showed signs of parlaying his tools into performance in 2003, especially in the last three months of the season. He started making contact more consistently, a must for a top-of-the-order hitter with plus speed. He stole an organization-high 59 bases and could have pushed into the 80s had he reached base more frequently. He was thrown out 16 times but is continuing to work on getting jumps and running in the right counts. Roberson's strength could produce 15 home runs per year at the major league level, but hitting instructors are discouraging him from loading up right now, stressing the importance of contact. Defensively, Roberson shows plus-plus range in center field, getting great jumps on balls and running everything down. His arm is fringe average. Roberson is less polished than fellow center fielders Michael Bourn and Javon Moran, both 2003 draftees, but has more room for projection as he's a year younger and didn't play in college. He'll move up to high Class A, staying a level ahead of his competition.
The Red Sox wanted Jeremy Giambi and his high on-base percentage, so they sent Hancock to the Phillies at the 2002 Winter Meetings. But as he had in Philadelphia, Giambi fell out of favor quickly in Boston and never made any real impact. Hancock, on the other hand, enjoyed a solid Triple-A season and will compete for the Phillies' No. 5 starter's role this season. It appears to be Ryan Madson's job to lose, but Hancock is more than capable. He shows average stuff across the board, but can boost his fastball from 91 mph to 94 when he needs it. Hancock's curveball and changeup still lack consistency, but at his best, he locates all three pitches on both sides of the plate. He has shown his tough nature over the last two seasons as he's battled back from injury. He returned a month early after a line drive broke his jaw in June 2002, and also healed rapidly after surgery in December 2002 to repair a small tear in his pelvic wall. If the major league pitching staff shakes out the way Phillies executives hope, Hancock will spend his third straight season in Triple-A. But he'll be a nice insurance policy or trade bait.
The Puerto Rican-born Gonzalez played high school baseball at the Florida Air Academy in Melbourne, where the Philllies found Jorge Padilla two years earlier. While off-field problems caused Anderson Machado and Carlos Rodriguez to regress in 2003, Gonzalez' work ethic made him one of the organization's few shortstops to show improvement last season. While his raw tools aren't as good as theirs, Gonzalez is average across the board and has an outstanding mental approach. He's reliable at shortstop and makes all the routine plays, though he doesn't have the athleticism to complete the exceptional ones. Gonzalez is adept at reading the ball off the bat, enabling him to get to more grounders than his average speed should allow. He's a slap hitter at the plate, where he doesn't try to do too much. Gonzalez did show more pop in 2003, cranking 22 doubles after hitting just 23 the previous two seasons. He'll need to continue getting stronger and enhancing his on-base skills this year in Double-A, because his bat ultimately will decide if he can play every day or serve as a utility infielder.
Blalock's surname immediately brings to mind his older brother Hank, but let the comparisons end there. Jake bats righthanded and projects to have more power and hit for less average than Hank, and his upside is more comparable to Pat Burrell. Blalock has the raw pop to hit 35 homers annually, and like Burrell has moved to the outfield after playing third base. Blalock, a high school shortstop, projects to be an adequate outfielder with limited range, and his arm strength plays fine in left or right field. He struggled at the plate some in his first full pro season, as he was too pull-conscious and his swing was too long. Blalock must focus on keeping his front shoulder in and using the entire field. He handles offspeed pitches as well as fastballs but gets too aggressive at the plate. He's a hard worker, though he sometimes is too hard on himself. His next stop is low Class A.
Padilla just can't stay healthy. A foot problem bothered him in 2000, and a hamstring injury cost him a chance at a 20-20 season in 2001. He avoided the disabled list in 2002, but wore down playing a full year. His 2003 season ended in June after he dove for a ball and sustained a stress fracture in his left hand. He returned to instructional league in good shape, and spent a week there to regain his timing before heading to Venezuela for winter ball. Padilla did show an improvement in his plate discipline but still hasn't developed the loft power expected of him. Though his basestealing speed remains, he gets thrown out too much to be a true threat. Padilla is an above-average right fielder and can play center in a pinch. He has an average arm. He was close to a Triple-A promotion when he got hurt, and will head there in 2004. The 30-30 projections and Bobby Abreu comparisons have ceased, and Padilla now seems most likely to end up as a fourth outfielder.
Moss was the first of the three speedsters the Phillies took at the top of their 2003 draft. He's also the least polished. Moss comes from an athletic family, as his father Harry played baseball at Tennessee State and his sister Lanette played tennis at Texas-Arlington. The Phillies say that Moss' superb athleticism allowed him to skate through college with poor fundamentals, which caught up to him as a pro. He has a raw swing that's more suited for an aluminum bat. He has trouble getting his hands started to provide the bat speed and pop that doesn't come as easily with wood. He needs to draw a lot more walks and make a lot more contact to be anything more than a No. 8 hitter. Defensively, Moss has soft hands but needs to significantly improve his footwork. Moss got a late start at Batavia and was tired when he arrived because of a long college season. He struggled at first and then pressed, which caused a further downward spiral. The Phillies believe Moss has the athleticism and work ethic to improve, and they've compared him to Mark McLemore, who plays a similar game and also developed slowly. If Moss makes enough improvement over the offseason, he could begin 2004 in low Class A.
A typographical error by a Phillies player-development staffer raised a red flag on Tejeda's visa application, delaying his return from the Dominican Republic by four months. He returned to action in late May, but the lost time really ate into Tejeda's development as he missed spring training and had to return to Lakewood after ending 2002 in Clearwater. Whether it had anything to do with the visa process is uncertain, but Tejeda came back to the United States with added maturity, and he focused on playing hard and improving his skills. His delivery and breaking ball were more consistent in 2003 than ever before, and his fastball was clocking in at 93-94 mph. He also throws an average changeup. Tejeda profiles as a back-of-the-rotation starter or middle reliever, but could improve his stock with a solid year of development. Spring training will determine whether he heads to high Class A or Double-A this year.
Rodriguez tried the Phillies' patience in 2003. He refused to show focus or take accountability, and his immaturity got him sent home to the Dominican Republic for a month. Makeup questions aside, Rodriguez' tools and abilities rival those of any shortstop in the organization. He has plus arm strength, hands, range and agility. He entered the 2003 season a .293 career hitter before dropping off terribly, but still has the skills to become more than a defense-first shortstop. His above-average bat speed and potential to reach double figures in homers played a large role in the Phillies signing him for $700,000 after a showcase at the 2000 Area Code Games. If Rodriguez doesn't return to spring training in a better frame of mind, his time in the organization could be waning. If he grows up, however, he could develop into a big league regular. He'll give high Class A another try in 2004.
Segovia debuted at No. 10 on this list a year ago, but fell after having Tommy John surgery in the fall. He had a solid showing in spring training, but came down with a tender elbow a few starts into his first full season. He didn't tell anyone and tried to continue pitching. The Phillies knew something was wrong when his velocity dipped from 92-93 mph to the mid-80s. Segovia eventually went on the disabled list to rest his arm and tried to rehab it. He saw several doctors and had a few MRIs, but it took until after the season to find out what was wrong. It's the first arm problem Segovia has experienced, and it left both him and the Phillies puzzled and frustrated. He lost a year of development already, and will now miss a significant portion of 2004 as well, if not the entire season. Before he was sidelined, Segovia used a tight-breaking slider and rapidly improving changeup along with his fastball to dominate hitters. He projected as a solid starter with the stuff and mindset to become a closer if needed in the bullpen. The prognosis remains the same if he can put his elbow woes behind him, though surgery sets his timetable back.
Dan Plesac's retirement left an opening for a lefthanded reliever in the Philadelphia bullpen, and the Phillies found a candidate to replace him when they claimed Alvarez off waivers from the Dodgers. His two main pitches are a 90-91 mph fastball and a slurvy, low-70s breaking ball. He split time between the rotation and bullpen last year in Triple-A, with a 1.71 ERA as a reliever and a 3.69 ERA as a starter. He held lefthanders to a .203 average and projects as a specialist. Alvarez still has to prove he can pitch in the majors. His stuff and slight build haven't intimidated many big league hitters, and he looked a bit scared at times during two brief stints with Los Angeles. If Alvarez can't fill in for Plesac, he'll go to Triple-A.
The Phillies spent $2 million on Lee and righthander Il Kim in March 2001, figuring they nabbed two first-round talents while announcing their Pacific Rim presence. They since have released Kim and fired Doug Takaragawa, the scout who signed the two pitchers. Meanwhile, Lee isn't reaching the 95 mph velocity he showed as a Korean amateur and hasn't developed into an upper-tier prospect. He struggled through his Phillies debut with a bulging disc in his back and has had trouble adjusting to the United States. His rising weight drew concerns a year ago, especially with the back troubles, but he reported in better shape in 2003. The Phillies still think they can get some return on their investment. They've pared down Lee's hands-over-head delivery. His best pitch is a backdoor slider, and his fastball sits right around 90 mph. He often pitches hitters backward, using the breaking ball to set up his fastball. He also has a decent changeup and occasionally mixes in a splitter, which might be his best pitch in the long run. Lee makes up for his lack of dominant stuff with a solid approach to pitching and setting up hitters. He'll return to Triple-A in 2004, trying to makeup for a couple of ugly outings late in 2003. He can still be a back-of-the-rotation starter, but more likely will end up in middle relief.
The Phillies found Squires, an Idaho native, at tiny Whitworth College, an NCAA Division III school in Spokane, Wash., with an enrollment around 2,000. Squires spent the early part of his college career as an outfielder, and continued to DH even as he threw a no-hitter and earned all-Northwest Conference honors on the mound as a senior. Squires uses an easy delivery and gets his fastball in the 89-91 mph range. He has a good feel for his changeup and also throws an 81 mph slider. While Squires doesn't have great stuff, his command, competitive nature and strong makeup allow him to succeed in his role as a lefthanded specialist. He held lefties to a .194 average in 2003. He's the kind of player who must prove himself at each level. He was a late addition to the Arizona Fall League, replacing Keith Bucktrot, who left with an elbow twinge. Squires made the most of his opportunity, opening his AFL campaign with 10 scoreless appearances. While he has a limited ceiling, Squires still could be a successful lefty in a big league bullpen. So could 2003 draftee Daniel Hodges, whose screwballing success at Lakewood should help him follow Squires up the organizational ladder.
Signed for $250,000 in the summer of 2002, Baez illustrates both the Phillies' efforts in Latin America and depth at third base. He's still raw, but his overall package of tools ranks among the best in the organization. He reminds some Phillies officials of Juan Richardson from a physical and mental standpoint. Richardson struggled in his first year in the United States. Once he made cultural adjustments, he gained confidence and improved rapidly on the field. Baez generates good bat speed and power. The ball really jumps when he makes contact, but that's the rub. He's a free swinger who must improve his ability to identify pitches and not chase poor ones. He also has a few holes in his swing. At third base, Baez gets good reads off the bat and displays average to plus hands and arm strength. His speed is fringe average. He has the skills and athleticism to play shortstop in a pinch, but will grow too big for the position as he fills out his 6-foot-4 frame. Baez didn't play much organized baseball until he signed and needs more experience to enhance his feel for the game. His spring performance will determine his destination in 2004, and a return to the Gulf Coast League wouldn't be viewed as a setback.
The Phillies found an interesting prospect just 100 miles away from Citizens Bank Park at Maryland-Baltimore County. Wilson transferred there after spending his freshman season at St. John's. After going 9-3, 2.26 as sophomore, he tailed off to 4-6, 6.05 in 2003 and fell to the 13th round of the draft. Despite his slump, Wilson impressed the Phillies in his pre-draft workout in Philadelphia, where he showed his athleticism, a strong body and sound delivery. Wilson works with a loose, quick, strong arm, and shows the makings of three average pitches. He throws his fastball in the 89-93 mph range with good life. He'll need to improve his secondary offerings, which are inconsistent. Wilson gets a hard downward bite on his slider when it's working, and has shown an excellent feel for his changeup, which he focused on in his first pro summer. He'll continue his quest to join fellow Retrievers Jay Witasick and Wayne Franklin in the majors by working out of the rotation in low Class A this season. Philadelphia projects his ceiling as a No. 4 or 5 starter.
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