Sign Up! Join our newsletters, get a FREE e-Edition
Howard enjoyed a standout sophomore season at Southwest Missouri State and looked poised to be a 2001 first-round pick. But he slumped with a wood bat while with Team USA, and the struggles continued into his junior year. On the verge of setting several school records, he wound up breaking only the record for strikeouts in a season with 74. Teams backed off until the Phillies took a chance on him in the fifth round. They were rewarded when he regained his power stroke. Howard fell seven RBIs shy of winning the high Class A Florida State League triple crown in 2003, then crushed 46 homers to lead the minors last season. He went on a couple of homer binges, launching 10 in a nine game span at Double-A Reading and eight over 11 days in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He was leading the minors with 131 RBIs when he left to make his big league debut and finished second in that category, as well as fourth in total bases (309) and fifth in slugging (.637). Howard continued to make an impression in the majors, drilling homers off Bartolome Fortunato and T.J. Tucker, and then led the Arizona Fall League with 14 doubles. Howard's prodigious power rivals that of any prospect. He can hit home runs from foul pole to foul pole, and when he gets his pitch--especially one low and inside--he rarely misses it. Howard used to be vulnerable to inside fastballs, but he made that adjustment and can jerk those pitches over the wall now as well. He also made strides in laying off bad breaking balls on the outer half. He's willing to take walks when pitchers refuse to challenge him. Howard plays better defense than most give him credit for. He's surprisingly nimble for such a big man and possesses average hands and average range. Howard strikes out a lot, including 179 times in 524 at-bats in 2004. He has tried unsuccessfully to put more balls in play, but the Phillies won't mind lofty strikeout totals as long as he brings that lefthanded power to the plate. There's still concern about how he'll handle quality fastballs in on his hands. Jim Thome's presence prompted the organization to send big league coach Milt Thompson to the AFL to work with Howard on a possible position change. Howard showed just enough range and a solid arm to be able to play left field occasionally, but he's not going to be able to move there full-time. He doesn't run well, but he has decent instincts and isn't a baseclogger. For all his success, Howard is 25 and always has been a bit old for the leagues he has played in. Realistically, Philadelphia knows it must trade Howard because Thome is signed through 2008. Even if he could handle left field regularly, Pat Burrell would block him. The Phillies won't give away one of the game's best power prospects, so if they can't find a good trade he'll have to settle for a major league reserve job or a return to Triple-A in 2005.
Floyd was the first of three Mount St. Joseph High products selected in the 2001 draft, going fourth overall, one pick before Mark Teixeira and 21 rounds before his brother Mike. Gavin and Mike Floyd both signed days before they were to attend classes at South Carolina, with Gavin getting a club-record $4.2 million signing bonus. Though he was out of gas in September, he pitched well in his major league debut. Floyd's 12-to-6 hammer curveball rates as one of the best in the minors and proved effective against major leaguers. His fastball sits at 89-90 mph, topping out at 94. His changeup has improved to a consistent solid-average pitch that's a plus offering at times. Floyd's velocity tailed off and his delivery was less consistent at the end of 2004. He must improve his stamina and lower half strength. Floyd also needs to command his fastball better. Floyd could make the 2005 rotation, but will return to Triple-A if he's not ready. He projects as a No. 2 or 3 starter.
The organization's top prospect after posting a 1.34 ERA in his 2003 pro debut, Hamels looked just as good in big league camp last spring. But he tried to throw too hard too early, pulling his left triceps muscle. He never felt right and made just four appearances all year. Hamels will throw his plus-plus changeup in any count, sinking and fading it away from righthanders. He pitches at 88-91 mph and can reach 93-94. His poise and feel for pitching are advanced. Hamels' curveball shows the makings of a third plus pitch, but he needs to locate it more consistently. Though the Phillies have no long-term concerns about his health, he has a checkered medical history. He broke the humerus bone in his left arm in high school, scaring some teams off in the 2002 draft. He also pulled a muscle behind his right shoulder in 2003, costing him a spot on the U.S. Olympic qualifying team. He got back on the mound in instructional league, where his arm and stuff were fine, but then broke his left hand in Clearwater, Fla., in January, in what the Phillies described only as an altercation. He could miss as much as three months, and when he returns he'll go to Double-A.
The best athlete in the 2004 draft, Golson turned down the University of Texas to sign for $1.475 million as the 21st overall pick. There were some questions about his swing, but he made adjustments and finished eighth in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League batting race. Golson displays excellent baseball instincts along with blazing speed that gets him from home to first base in 3.8 seconds. Those feet, along with an above-average arm that would play in right field, make him a top-flight center fielder capable of stealing doubles from hitters and bases off pitchers. He also has the strength to become a 20-homer threat. Golson's older brother Justin is a Naval Academy graduate, and he shows similar makeup and work ethic. Though he fared well in the GCL, Golson needs to see more professional-quality breaking balls to get better at hitting them. He struck out too frequently in his debut, which cut down on his chances to use his speed. With the similar Michael Bourn two steps ahead of him, the Phillies have no need to rush Golson. If he has a good spring he'll open the season at low Class A Lakewood.
The Astros chose Bourn in the 19th round out of high school, but he opted to attend Houston, where he stole 90 bases in three years. He picked up two hits, two walks and three steals in his first game of 2004 and never looked back. He tied for third in the minors in triples while leading the South Atlantic League in walks, on-base percentage and steals. Bourn knows his role as a leadoff hitter. He works counts, hits the ball on the ground and then makes use of his excellent speed. He beat Greg Golson by a step in a 60-yard dash in instructional league. He's also an above-average defender with good instincts. His arm is average. Hitting instructor Donnie Long reminds Bourn not to always beat the ball into the ground because he has enough strength to drive low, inside pitches for extra-base hits. Bourn's a solid bunter but the Phillies want him to get better. Bourn's first two pro seasons impressed the Phillies enough that they now consider him their long-term center fielder. He'll move to high Class A Clearwater and could reach Double-A by the end of 2005.
Mathieson played with fellow British Columbia natives Adam Loewen and Jeff Francis on Canadian national teams, and he went 16 rounds after them in the 2002 draft. His grandfather Doug tried out for the Athletics during the Connie Mack era and played first base for the Air Force at Pearl Harbor. After going 2-9, 5.09 in his first two seasons, Mathieson made considerable progress in 2004. Mathieson threw 84 mph as a high school senior, but the Phillies gambled on his projectability because he had a lanky frame, loose arm and smooth mechanics. It's paying off as he hit 96 mph last season while consistently pitching in the low 90s with average life. His changeup has improved to an average pitch. Mathieson is finally done growing into his body, so now is the time for him to fine-tune his command across the board. His curveball breaks straight down but not consistently enough. It's still a below-average pitch. If Mathieson masters his curve, he could emerge as a No. 2 or 3 starter. Otherwise, he shows the makings of a power reliever. He's ready for high Class A Clearwater.
Blalock played with Cole Hamels at San Diego's Rancho Bernardo High. He's more associated with his all-star brother Hank, but Jake couldn't be more different as he possesses more raw power but not the same ability to hit for average. A high school shortstop, Blalock moved to third base and then the outfield as a pro. Blalock worked hard on his defense, playing an average left field and showing solid arm strength in 2004. Relaxing on defense helped him do the same at the plate, where he boosted his average by making more contact. He also learned to keep his front side closed longer against breaking balls, allowing him to show plus power to the opposite field. He led the South Atlantic League in doubles. Blalock is still a streaky hitter. He didn't homer until May and ran hot and cold all season long. Though he cut down on his strikeouts, he still whiffed 126 times and may be exploited by more advanced pitchers. The Phillies will continue to show patience with Blalock. He'll go to Clearwater, where the spacious Florida State League parks should test his power output and hitting skill.
Carrasco signed for $300,000 out of a Venezuelan tryout camp and did nothing but improve during his first year with the organization. He added 20 pounds and really turned a corner from extended spring training through instructional league. Carrasco works at 92-93 mph now and should add velocity over the next few years. He throws his fastball on a downhill plane with average life. He showed consistent improvement with his curveball, which should develop into a plus power pitch. His smooth delivery and good changeup are reminiscent of a much older pitcher. He's an excellent athlete, which enables him to repeat his delivery. Carrasco needs to relax on the mound. Early in the season when things didn't go well, he tended to get amped up rather than thinking about what adjustments he needed to make to throw quality strikes. His breaking ball needs more consistency and depth. Carrasco should be ready for a full-season league, but an organizational logjam of starting pitchers probably will keep him at short-season Batavia. Considering his age, there's no rush.
Sal Agostinelli and Wil Tejada doggedly tracked Garcia's progress for a year before he headed to the Perfect Game/Baseball America World Wood Bat Championship last fall. Garcia made a quick pit stop to pitch at the Phillies' training complex in nearby Clearwater, and the staff regarded him as the equivalent of a second- or third-round pick. They signed him for $500,000. In his Clearwater workout, Garcia showed off a plus fastball that reached 94 mph and flashed a power 12-to-6 curveball at 80 mph. His delivery and arm action are clean, especially for a 17-year-old pitcher with limited experience. His big, strong frame should lend itself to durability and more velocity down the road. The Phillies also like his tenacity on the mound. Garcia's changeup still has a ways to go before it's considered average. His biggest need now is more experience to learn how to make in-game adjustments. His arm slot is a little high, but that should be easily correctable. Garcia will make his pro debut in the Gulf Coast League in 2005. He should emerge as a No. 2 or 3 starter.
The Phillies signed Mitchinson on the first of what has become an annual scouting trip to Australia for youth tournaments. He was one of four Aussies to debut in the U.S. in 2004, with four more coming in '05. Mitchinson received a $10,000 bonus and spent a year at Major League Baseball's academy in Australia before tying for the Gulf Coast League lead in wins in his U.S. debut. Mitchinson's fastball has improved from 85 mph to the low 90s in two years and there's room for more velocity. But his heater takes a backseat to his command, and he posted a jaw-dropping 60-1 strikeout-walk ratio in the GCL. He throws his curveball and changeup for strikes. Mitchinson succeeds more because of his feel for pitching than raw stuff. That was enough to dominate young hitters, but he'll need to improve the quality of his pitches to succeed as he rises up the ladder. He appears ready for the challenge of low Class A. But as with Carlos Carrasco, a backlog of starters could lead to Mitchinson spending 2005 at short-season Batavia.
Sal Agostinelli watched a young Ruiz playing second base in Panama, noticing both his lack of agility and impressive arm strength. Agostinelli put Ruiz behind the plate, liked what he saw and signed him for $8,000. The Phillies profiled Ruiz as a backup catcher with solid defense and a little pop in his bat, but he had struggled to get in an entire season between platoon duties and minor injuries. He opened 2004 in a platoon, but an injury to Russ Jacobson opened the door to a more regular role that his bat and improved maturity meant he wouldn't relinquish. Ruiz set career highs in nine offensive categories, none more eyeopening than his home run total. His raw power emerged as everyday at-bats allowed him to make adjustments and cut down his swing. He capped his year by hitting .297/.409/.622 in the Arizona Fall League and getting added to the 40-man roster. Now, Ruiz projects as a .250 hitter capable of delivering 20 home runs in a season. Defensively, Ruiz shows an above-average arm, quick feet and a strong lower half. He ranked sixth in the Double-A Eastern League by throwing out 29 percent of basestealers. At Triple-A in 2005, Ruiz will be just a step away from backing up Mike Lieberthal, or possibly replacing him in 2006 if the Phillies buy out his $7.5 million option for $1.25 million.
Roberson's athleticism has never been a question. It comes from his father Rick, who played seven seasons in the NBA. He finally turned those skills into production in 2004, a year after the Phillies lauded his potential following a low Class A campaign in which he hit just .234 with a .309 slugging percentage and 108 strikeouts in 132 games. Roberson made as much improvement as any Phillies prospect by cutting down on his swing and making adjustments to better handle breaking balls. He not only trimmed his strikeouts but also ramped up his power while moving into the less forgiving ballparks of the Florida State League, where he was voted an all-star. Once Roberson got going, the confidence boost helped him carry the success through the season--which ended in mid-July following a stress fracture in his right leg. He's more physical than the organization's other center fielders (Greg Golson and Michael Bourn), but doesn't possess their baseball instincts or do things as easily. Still, Roberson's above-average speed and arm strength make him a strong outfielder, but he trimmed his basestealing attempts. He's slated for Double-A this year.
Jaramillo's older brothers both played in the minors, with Frankie playing shortstop for the Rangers and Lee a catcher for the Brewers. The Phillies drafted Jaramillo in the 39th round out of high school in Franksville, Wis., in 2001 but he instead went to college, as each of his brothers had. His college career included a championship summer with Orleans of the Cape Cod League, where he teamed with fellow 2004 Phillies pick Anthony Buffone (22nd round). Jaramillo's catch-and-throw skills combined with above-average arm strength allow him to rate as the best defensive catcher in the organization, though he managed to gun down just two of 15 basestealers at Batavia. He moves well behind the plate to block balls and does a good job calling games since gaining practice with that type of autonomy as a junior at Oklahoma State. Pitchers like throwing to him. Jaramillo won't be a power hitter; he's more likely to make solid contact and shoot doubles alley to alley. The natural righthanded hitter began to switch-hit in high school and now swings the bat just as well from either side. He profiles as a solid major league catcher who bats in the lower portion of the order. He'll begin 2005 working with a talented staff in low Class A.
Segovia debuted at No. 10 on this list in 2002, but struggled in 2003 when he tried to pitch with a tender arm by not telling the organization. He ended up having Tommy John surgery that fall, missed all of 2004 before returning for four instructional league outings 11 months after the operation. The Phillies wonder if a 150-pitch outing during the Texas high school playoffs contributed to the arm trouble, but credit Segovia's work ethic for his speedy return from surgery. His arm worked--and he said felt--fine in instructs, and his velocity was just under the 92-93 mph he showed prior to surgery. Segovia's fastball also features heavy sinking action, while his hard, biting slider rates as the organization's best. A full year of experience should help his changeup progress to average as he gains a better feel for it. Segovia will start his comeback at high Class A, and could ultimately develop into a No. 2- 3 starter, though his mindset and fastball-slider combination could also yield a closer.
Bucktrot's raw stuff has always tantalized the Phillies. He can fire his fastball up to 95 mph, and it regularly reaches 90-93 with sinking action. After switching from a curveball, his slider bites so hard it also can be considered a plus pitch. His changeup is also solid. But command and poor mechanics have always spoiled the package--so much so that some teams liked him better as a hitter out of high school. Bucktrot has worked to hone his command, trimming his walk totals the past two seasons, but it has come at the expense of his ability to strike out hitters. He missed last June with tendinitis, then followed it with an ordinary summer. Then, in a move that surprised the same official, Bucktrot seemed to translate his pro experience into a newfound maturity in the Arizona Fall League, showing better command while finally seeming to take what his coaches taught him and putting it to work. He issued 11 walks in 31 AFL innings, but with 31 hits allowed and 22 strikeouts. He'll move to Triple-A, with the Phillies hoping that being just a step from the majors will give him a sense of urgency to maintain his work ethic and continue improving.
Happ is a good athlete--he's the all-time leading scorer for his high school basketball program-- who became the first Northwestern baseball player to be named first-team all-Big 10 Conference three times. He shows a great feel for pitching and a deceptive delivery. Hitters rarely get a good look at his offerings, and righthanders often swing late on his upper-80s fastball, which can touch 90. Happ can locate that pitch and his slider to either side of the plate, and features an average changeup. Those attributes helped Happ register better than a strikeout per inning during his college career, a trend that carried over to his pro debut. His polish should allow him to quickly reach his eventual future as a back-of-the-rotation starter, beginning this year in low Class A.
Baldwin rates as an intriguing pick on several levels, the first being that the Phillies brought in solid fifth-rounders the previous three years in Javon Moran, Jake Blalock and Ryan Howard. Baldwin's uncle John Hiller was a Tigers reliever who missed 1971 after a heart attack, but returned to set a major league record with 38 saves in 1973. Baldwin went 5-5, 5.10 as a draft-eligible sophomore at Oregon State (where he also sat on a student-athlete advisory committee), and impressed Phillies scouts with a lively 91-94 mph fastball and plus slider in a February appearance before losing his confidence and command late in the season. The Phillies still liked his potential for two plus pitches, and they say his athleticism and inexperience work in his favor because his arm is fresh and there's room for projection. His changeup and breaking ball are inconsistent. Baldwin could emerge as a No. 3 or 4 starter at the major league level, but he'll need to miss more bats after leading the New York-Penn League in hits allowed. He'll begin this year in the low Class A rotation.
Brito's fastball jumped from the low 90s to consistently hitting 95 and 96 mph out of the bullpen in 2004. It allowed the organization to project a much brighter future for him. Brito made a few spot starts in 2004, but was much more effective out of the bullpen. He posted a 61-28 strikeout-walk ratio in 69 relief innings, working predominantly off his fastball and slurvy slider. Lefties hit .276 in 105 at-bats against Brito, but the Phillies don't necessarily see lefty specialist as his long-term role anyway. The sinking, tailing action on his fastball should give righthanders fits as well, and he can show a changeup when needed. Once he hones his command--no reliever should walk a batter every other inning--Brito could be used as a two- or three-inning arm out of the bullpen. He could work out of the Triple-A rotation to get more innings in 2005, but he could also have a shot at making the Phillies bullpen out of spring training if he shows improved command.
Victorino knows the major league Rule 5 draft well, with the Padres selecting him in the 2002 edition and the Phillies plucking him this offseason. He hit .151 in 73 at-bats for San Diego before being returned in 2003, but could stick in Philadelphia as a fifth outfielder and pinch-runner. If he doesn't, he'll have to clear waivers and then be offered back to Los Angeles for half the $50,000 draft price before he can be sent to the minors. Victorino signed out of high school as a second baseman but moved to center field, where his plus-plus speed and plus arm make him an above-average defender. His offensive game is built around making consistent contact and using his speed, but Victorino has shown a shift in his approach over the last year. He reached double-figures in home runs for the first time during 2004, then continued to show improved power in Venezuela over the winter. The extra pop also comes with a decline in plate discipline, however, with Victorino's strikeout-walk ratio changing for the worse. He continued to hit lefties (.366) noticeably better than righties (.258).
Richardson, who had two years added to his age after the visa crackdowns in 2002, was leading the Eastern League in home runs in 2003 when he slipped on the stairs at his home, spraining his ankle and ending his season. He tore the labrum in his throwing shoulder that offseason and didn't get on the field in 2004 until the end of June, when he was sent down to high Class A to regain his stroke as a DH. Richardson returned to form once he returned to Double-A in August. He started cranking home runs with his ferociously aggressive approach--one that also helps him pile up strikeouts. The Phillies hoped Richardson might correct that flaw, but now are willing to accept his high strikeout totals because of his 30 home run power potential. He spent the winter in the Dominican Republic trying to get his arm strength back. When healthy, it's average, just like his overall defensive play. Richardson will move to Triple-A in 2005 and could see Philadelphia before the end of the year.
The Phillies see a lot of 17-year major league veteran Oscar Gamble in his son Sean. The Blue Jays did as well in 2001, drafting him in the 11th round out of high school. He played in the same outfield with Phillies 2003 fifth-round pick Javon Moran at Auburn. Gamble's success with a wood bat in the Cape Cod League in 2003--his .319 average ranked sixth in the league--offset a college career when he hit .300 as a sophomore, but never better. Gamble was more successful with wood again after he signed, finishing eighth in the short-season New York-Penn League batting race in his pro debut. Phillies officials cite Gamble's feel for hitting--he trusts his hands and uses them well--as the reason. His power rates below-average, partly because his short stroke is designed more for making contact than for driving the ball, but there's hope because his father also developed power late. Despite above-average speed, Gamble will be relegated to left field because his arm also is below-average. He could play center in a pinch, and for that reason profiles best as a fourth outfielder with doubles power. He'll likely begin 2005 in low Class A.
Baez is still working on translating the immense raw tools that earned him a $250,000 bonus into consistent performance in games. He is an impressive physical specimen with the size and strength to hit for plus power. His athleticism and soft hands should make him a superior defender. He can make backhanded plays at third base that some in the organization call amazing. His plus-plus arm strength moved some in the organization to think about putting Baez on the mound. He would benefit greatly from maturity, as a person and a player. Baez must learn to recognize breaking balls better, though he stopped fishing for the bad ones as much as the season progressed. Making consistent contact is still more of a goal than reality. He puzzled some in the organization by hitting well in extended spring training and instructional league, but not producing during the regular season. That could be because he lacked game experience after being signed out of a tryout camp. Baez remains the type who could be an explosive player if everything clicks, though that process could take a while. The Phillies hope it happens at Batavia following another stint in extended spring training.
Fisher was a somewhat surprising third-round pick in 2002, and passed on a scholarship to Cal Poly to sign with the Phillies. He displays a great approach to the game and loves to play, though a stress fracture in a vertabrae in his back kept him out of action for all of 2004. It's the same injury David Bell went through in 2003. Fisher was healthy enough to get on the field in instructional league, where he showed up stronger after bulking up to 200 pounds. His bat speed and natural loft indicate he'll develop power, while his patience at the plate means he could emerge as a solid middle-of-the-order hitter. Fisher's feet and hands make him a solid third baseman with average range, and his arm strength rates average as well. He'll try to make up for lost time in low Class A this year.
Rodriguez' immaturity and lack of focus forced the Phillies to send him home to the Dominican Republic for a month in 2003. He repeated low Class A in 2004, showing an improved attitude under manager P.J. Forbes, whom the Phillies credit with providing good leadership for Rodriguez. Still, being ready to play every day and every pitch remains a challenge for him, as Rodriguez delivers flashes of greatness followed by subpar play. It led the player with the organization's best defensive tools at shortstop to top the South Atlantic League in errors. His range, hands, arm strength and agility all rate better than average. Rodriguez shows above-average bat speed and hit .307 against lefties versus .257 when facing righthanders. He'll open 2005 in high Class A, and a strong start could mean a push to Double-A by midseason. If he stays focused and produces, Rodriguez is still young enough to end up as an everyday player at the major league level and help the Phillies get something for the $700,000 bonus they paid him to sign after the 2000 Area Code Games.
Tejeda's 2003 season got sidetracked after a typographical error on his visa application raised a red flag with immigration officials, delaying his return to the United States until May. The lost time meant he had to drop down to low Class A to begin the year. Tejeda kept his place in the Phillies prospect list last year by pitching with more maturity and a better work ethic, two areas where he impressed again in 2004. He struggled to 14 losses and an ugly ERA, but still produced a strong strikeout rate thanks to improved command of his fastball, which frequently touched 94-95 mph. His curveball command varied game to game, and the pitch was flat at times. Command and keeping his average changeup lower in the strike zone remain the keys to his future. Tejeda, who has often been compared to former Phillies righy Carlos Silva in build and repertoire, moves up to Triple-A this season after getting added to the 40-man roster over the winter. If he's to follow Silva's move from relief to the rotation, Tejeda must improve his offspeed pitches.
De la Cruz shows a power repertoire with the ability to understand pitching at a young age. He ranked third in the Gulf Coast League in ERA in 2004, flashing a plus fastball and curveball. His fastball works in the 90-91 mph range, topping out at 93-94 with good movement. His skinny build and loose arm allow scouts to project more velocity. De la Cruz has drawn physical comparisons to Pascual Perez and former Phillies farmhand Ezequiel Astacio. His breaking ball could become a power pitch because of its bite. It has improved markedly since the Phillies signed him, but it still lacks consistency. De la Cruz needs to improve his changeup while enhancing his command across the board. He has some effort in his delivery, and he needs to mature, both from a physical and mental perspective. He'll go to Batavia for 2005, with more experience his key to progressing at this point.
Marson rated as a top high school quarterback recruit until he broke his collarbone three games into his senior season. He was healthy enough to play baseball in the spring, and he boosted his stock by homering five times, including once off potential 2005 first-rounder Ike Davis of Chaparral High, a team that included fellow Phillies prospect Curt Miaso. Marson's impressive pro debut and subsequent instructional league play led the Phillies to call him the surprise of their draft. His athleticism, strength, makeup and tools give him the ability to develop into a frontline catcher. Marson shows a plus arm with good hands and feet. His blocking and game-calling should improve with experience. His plus power potential offers the chance for 20-plus home runs if he can learn to use his lower half better, and his approach could lead to a solid average in the .270 area. He's ticketed for Batavia in 2005.
Jones, NFL quarterback Rodney Peete's second cousin, drew Chipper Jones comparisons in high school, and the Phillies liked the athleticism enough to pay $500,000 to keep him from a scholarship to California. Like Juan Richardson, Jones' professional career has been held back by injury. A stress fracture in his foot sidelined him until July of last season, and he showed plenty of rust when he returned. His bat was slow--he hit just .164 in July--as were his defensive actions. Jones rated as the best defensive third baseman in the system entering the season because of his athleticism and average to above-average arm. He finally caught up in instructional league before stopping early due to plantar fascitis. Jones did show improvement during his brief season, trimming his strikeout rate from earlier in his career. He didn't drive balls as well as he had previously, however. Jones will need to trim down his lower half before taking another crack at high Class A in 2005. The Phillies want to see if he can stay healthy long enough to emerge as the .280 hitter with 20-25 home run power they predicted a year ago.
Kendrick and Scott Mathieson produced similar 2003 seasons in the Gulf Coast League, but they went in different directions in their full-season debuts. The Phillies aggressively moved both to low Class A to start 2004, but Kendrick struggled with his command and ended up at Batavia, where he led the New York-Penn League in losses. Still, his body type, stuff and command issues remind the Phillies of a young Jason Schmidt, right down to Kendrick's also hailing from Washington, where he was a three-sport high school athlete. Kendrick's 11-strikeout, no-walk, one-hit perfromance against Oneonta provided a strong reason to keep the faith, something Kendrick needs to do himself. He often panicked at the first sign of trouble, working backward and letting bad pitches and at-bats snowball. His fastball shows good movement in the low-90s, his curveball is a potential hammer and his changeup is developing. All the ingredients for a power pitcher are there, but Kendrick must sharpen his command while regaining his confidence. His situation reminds some in the organization of Keith Bucktrot. Kendrick will start this year back in low Class A.
Miaso tied Paul Konerko's career runs record at Chaparral High, thanks to hitting in a lineup that featured a pair of intriguing prospects for the 2005 draft in Ike Davis and Austin Yount, the nephew of Robin Yount. He projected as an eighth- to 10th-round pick in the 2004 draft based on talent, but a strong commitment to Arizona State caused him to slide all the way to the 42nd round. He decided to sign just before fall classes began, and debuted in instructional league. Once there, Miaso impressed the Phillies staff with his confidence and aggressiveness at the plate. He shows interesting power potential--even drawing comparisons to Konerko--but also swings and misses frequently. He runs well and possesses a strong right-field arm. Miaso's limited experience could land him in the Gulf Coast League for his debut, with Batavia a longshot.