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Hamels broke the humerus in his left arm as a high school sophomore, but despite a full recovery and rehabilitation work with noted pitching guru Tom House, his medical history scared off some clubs in the 2002 draft. He dropped to the Phillies with the 17th overall pick and signed for $2 million, and he hasn't shown any effects from that injury since. However, an assortment of other maladies has limited him to just 28 appearances over three seasons. After holding out in 2002, he showed up out of shape to instructional league and thus wasn't ready for a full-season assignment in 2003, which he began in extended spring training. He pulled a muscle behind his right shoulder at the end of 2003, knocking him off the U.S. Olympic qualifying team. He missed most of 2004 after pulling a right triceps muscle while throwing too hard too early during a stint in major league spring training, during which he struck out Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. The injury worsened when he failed to tell the organization about it in an effort to pitch through the pain. Hamels broke his left hand in a bar fight in January 2005 in Clearwater, Fla. He returned in June and made just six appearances before a stress fracture in his back ended his season and a chance at making up lost time in the Arizona Fall League. When healthy, Hamels has dominated, going 11-3, 1.54 with 208 strikeouts in 152 innings. Hamels is a lefthander with three above-average pitches and the command, feel and mound presence of a veteran. His changeup, which sinks and fades away from righthanders, is a plus-plus pitch that may be the best in the minors. His fastball hovers around 90 mph and tops out at 93-94 with good life, and he has shown a knack for being able to reach back for extra velocity when needed. His curveball has shown more consistency with its break and location. Hamels maintains an even keel on the mound, never letting his emotions tell the tale of his outing. He's also a very good athlete with clean mechanics and the ability to field his position and hold runners well. Durability is a major concern with Hamels. The good news is that all his injuries have been unrelated and that only his high school break involved his arm. The bad news is that he has lost so much development time. Had he stayed healthy, he'd be a strong candidate for the major league rotation rather than having pitched just 19 innings above high Class A. Hamels was working at Double-A Reading when his back forced him out, and he should start 2006 there. His 2004 spring-training success remains in the minds of the Phillies' decision makers, however, keeping him on a very fast track. A quick jump to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and eventually Philadelphia are both possible. Despite the setbacks, the Phillies still envision Hamels as a top-of-the-rotation starter.
A supplemental first-round pick out of a Miami high school in 2004, Gonzalez jumped into full-season ball within two months of signing. He finished his first full year in high Class A and could move even faster after coming to the Phillies in the Jim Thome trade with the White Sox. Gonzalez has clean, effortless mechanics and creates easy velocity into the low 90s, topping out at 93-94. His hard curveball is his go-to pitch and he mixes in a quality changeup. He has gained confidence in his changeup and throws all three pitches at any time in the count. Gonzalez has a lean upper body with the potential to gain some strength, but the question of durability is going to continue to follow him, especially after he encountered back and shoulder problems last year. He figures to make his Double-A debut at age 20, with a shot at reaching Philadelphia at 21 or 22.
The consensus best athlete in the 2004 draft, Golson signed for $1.475 million as the 21st overall pick. Injuries hampered him in 2005, as a high ankle sprain cost him six weeks at the beginning of the year and a sprained knee sidelined him for more than a week in July. Golson boasts five-tool potential, as well as solid baseball instincts and a willingness to learn. He has the bat speed to hit for average and the strength to hit 15-20 homers annually in the majors. His above-average speed makes him a threat on the bases, and that and his plus arm make him a plus defender. Golson still must refine his overall plate discipline and his pitch recognition in particular. He did most of his damage against lefthanders in 2005, hitting .346 compared to .241 against righties. He continues to work on his reads in the outfield. Because Golson lost 150 at-bats to injury, he could begin 2006 back at low Class A Lakewood. If he dominates the South Atlantic League, he'll move up quickly to high Class A Clearwater. There's substantial center-field depth in the system, so he won't be rushed even though he should become the best of the group.
After Bourn posted a .433 on-base percentage in low Class A in 2004, the Phillies skipped him a level to Double-A. His offensive numbers weren't as robust, but he handled the move well and made adjustments. Managers rated him the Eastern League's most exciting player and he led the system in steals. Bourn offers the quickness, aptitude and offensive approach required of a leadoff hitter. He's the system's best defensive outfielder and also has an above-average arm. The fastest player in the system, he outraced Greg Golson by a step in the 60-yard dash. Bourn's strikeout rate jumped in 2005, though the Phillies aren't as concerned because he faced a two-level jump and pitchers with more advanced command than he had previously seen. His tendency to hit deep in counts also contributed, and he should be able to adapt with more at-bats against better pitchers. Bourn likely will return to Double-A to gain confidence before moving to Triple-A sometime in 2006. He could take over everyday duties in Philadelphia in 2007, though Greg Golson should press him for the center-field job down the road.
Mathieson has pitched for several Canadian national teams, and he beat Sweden and lost to Cuba (after shutting them out for four innings) at the World Cup in September. He also served as Philadelphia's Futures Game representative in 2005. His grandfather Doug tried out for the Philadelphia Athletics during the Connie Mack era. A projection pick who threw 84 mph as a high school senior, Mathieson now reaches 95- 96 regularly and works in the low 90s. He switched from a curveball to a slider midway through 2005, and his new breaking ball has a chance to become his second plus pitch. His down-breaking changeup is solid, as are his mechanics. Though Mathieson showed solid progress in 2005, he must continue to improve his overall command. It's not a question of throwing strikes, but of throwing better strikes. With the makings of three average-or-better pitches, Mathieson could emerge as a No. 2 or 3 starter if all goes well. He also could become a power closer if the Phillies need him to. He'll pitch in Double-A in 2006.
Haigwood went 43-1 at Midland High in Arkansas and has continued his winning ways as a pro, going 32-11 in the White Sox system before joining the Phillies in the Jim Thome trade. Despite missing the entire 2003 season following surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, Haigwood reached Double-A last year as a 21-year-old. He primarily works with fringe-average velocity, but he gained a little extra zip in 2005, topping out in the low 90s with a two-seamer that dives to the bottom of the strike zone. His best pitch is his slider that some call a sharp curveball. His changeup has improved each year. Haigwood can be particularly tough on lefties, though righthanders didn't have any success against him in Double-A, batting .141. He works quickly and has developed a reputation for escaping the toughest of jams. Haigwood is at least a year away but has earned his first trip to big league camp.
Baez' immense physical gifts, including a power arm that led some scouts to project him as a pitcher, earned him a $250,000 signing bonus. In 2005, he finally shed a reputation for hitting well in extended spring training before fizzling in actual league play. He was short-season Batavia's most dangerous hitter while playing out of position at shortstop to accommodate second-round pick Mike Costanzo. Filling out physically and recognizing breaking balls better allowed Baez to show the first signs of unleashing his plus loft power. His 70 arm strength on the 20-80 scouting scale rates as the organization's best, and he makes accurate throws as well. He charges bunts well and shows soft hands. Baez remains raw and will have to continue to make adjustments. His size means he must work to stay low in his defensive positioning to gather more groundballs. Baez owns one of the highest ceilings in the organization. The Phillies will try to separate him and Costanzo in 2006 so both can play third base, and Baez likely will go to low Class A.
Costanzo grew up a Phillies fan in Springfield, Pa., and came home from the hospital when he was born in a tiny Phillies jacket. Before signing for $570,000 as Philadelphia's top draft pick, he was named Big South Conference athlete of the year. He led Division I in walks (68) while blasting 16 homers and earning 14 saves. The Phillies immediately changed Costanzo's stance when he got to Batavia, making him more upright and open. He started slowly, but his hitting skills and bat speed ultimately shined through as he drove balls to all fields with authority. Defensively, Costanzo offers good body control and agility along with an above-average, accurate arm. Costanzo split time between first and third base in college, so he's still getting used to everyday action at the hot corner. His hard work should help him improve his reads and routes. He batted just .170 with 25 strikeouts in 53 at-bats against lefthanders. Because he's older, Costanzo is more likely than Welinson Baez to open 2006 in high Class A. Costanzo's maturity and approach should allow him to handle skipping a level.
The Phillies have signed several players from Australia in the last three years, and Harman rates as the best. None have commanded bonuses of more than $50,000, a welcome change from the Latin American market the organization believes has become overpriced. Harman played for Australia in the 2005 World Cup, posting a .412 on-base percentage and playing eight errorless games. An instinctive player, Harman has improved quickly because of his work ethic and ability to learn. His bat speed has increased and he now shows some loft power after filling out a bit. Harman fields balls with sure hands and smooth actions and offers a strong, accurate arm. He's better defensively than Chase Utley. Harman's speed is average at best. This limits his range, so he's working to improve his first-step quickness and reads on grounders. Philadelphia thinks Harman can play shortstop with average range, and he also has worked at second and third base. He'll continue to play mostly shortstop in high Class A in 2006, and he's at least two years away from the majors.
The Phillies initially drafted Jaramillo in the 42nd round out of a Wisconsin high school in 2001. Three years later, they picked him 40 rounds earlier and were able to sign him for $585,000. Older brothers Frankie and Lee both played in the minors. Managers rated him the best defensive catcher in the South Atlantic League, though his 20 errors led all minor league catchers. His agility helps him block balls well, and his above-average arm helped him throw out 34 percent of basestealers. He made strides in game-calling and handling pitchers. He's a line-drive hitter who started switch-hitting in high school and is equally adept from either side. Jaramillo doesn't offer much power and may not hit more than 10-15 homers in a big league season. He projects as a bottom-of-the-order hitter on a contender, though his defense should make up for what he lacks offensively. He has below-average speed. Philadelphia's catcher of the future, Jaramillo will open 2006 in high Class A. He reminds some club officials of former Phillies farmhand Johnny Estrada.
The Phillies made Moss their top pick (third round) in 2003, a year after he helped Texas win the College World Series. Though he's an excellent athlete, he was raw for a player from a top college program. Some club officials were ready to write him off before he exploded in 2005. Moss isn't big but offers surprising power for his size because of his bat speed. His bat and foot speed actually increased in 2005, when he once again got down the first-base line in 4.1-4.15 seconds, as he had in college. He's unorthodox in the field, but his speed allows him to make plays and he's solid on the double-play pivot. One Phillies front-office member questions whether Moss really made any significant improvement in 2005 other than building confidence after a hot start. He still strikes out too much and needs to do a better job of getting on base. He struggles on routine defensive plays and has awkward throwing mechanics. It remains to be seen whether Moss' breakout was a fluke. He'll move to Double-A in 2006 and try to show that a smallish second baseman can keep punishing baseballs.
The Phillies tracked Garcia for more than a year and signed him right before he played in the Perfect Game/Baseball America World Wood Bat Championship in the fall of 2004. He worked out for the Phillies, who were in nearby Clearwater, Fla., for their organizational meetings, and they signed him for $500,000 before he could boost his stock at the showcase. He made significant progress in his first year in the system. Garcia features a lively 91-94 mph fastball along with smooth mechanics and a sturdy build that offer the promise of more velocity. Garcia's changeup should emerge as a plus pitch, as he sells it with fastball arm speed and will throw it in any count. His feel and poise are impressive. Garcia's 12-to-6 curveball is still inconsistent. Given time, he should be able to refine it into at least an average offering. The Phillies will move Garcia slowly, with Batavia his scheduled stop for 2006. They believe he may be two years before starting to put everything together, after which he could ascend rapidly and ultimately wind up as a No. 2 or 3 starter.
Roberson gets his tremendous athleticism from his father Will, a former NBA draft pick. After three mediocre pro seasons, Chris finally had a breakthrough in 2004 and proved it wasn't a fluke by repeating his success in 2005. He won the Eastern League's rookie-of-the-year award after leading the league in hits and runs. He also reached career bests in average and homers, because he has improved at identifying pitches he can handle and knowing when to make use of his power. His strikeout rate crept down for the third straight season. He's an above-average runner and got going on the bases again after swiping just 16 bags in 2004. Pushed out of center field by Michael Bourn, Roberson fit nicely in right field. Managers rated his arm the best among EL outfielders. He still must improve some minor things, such as knowing when it's a good time to steal a base and hitting cutoff men more regularly. He continues to flail at hard breaking balls. He's working on learning the different outfield angles after moving from center to right. Roberson is not as instinctive a player as either Greg Golson or Bourn, the outfielders ahead of him on this list. As a 26-year-old, Roberson also doesn't have as high a ceiling as they do. He'll move to Triple-A this year and could return to center field if Shane Victorino sticks in Philadelphia and Bourn remains in Reading. He'd stay in right if either of them are on the Scranton roster and profiles as a fourth outfielder in the long run.
Victorino twice has been plucked from the Dodgers in the Rule 5 draft. The "Flyin' Hawaiian" became the second Maui native to play in the majors, but the Padres returned him to Los Angeles after 73 at-bats in 2003. He failed to make the Phillies' 25-man roster in 2005, but the Dodgers declined to take him back and he spent the year in Triple-A. Long known for his above-average speed and defense, Victorino emerged as the International League's MVP. The performance surprised the Phillies, who had the same scouting report as everyone else, though Victorino had displayed increased power in 2004. His breakthrough came with the simple change of adjusting his approach to make more contact (to better utilize his fleet feet), and his naturally strong wrists delivered added power as a bonus. Victorino should stick with the Phillies as a low-cost extra outfielder in 2006, but has a chance to play a more prominent role.
When Brito was in high school, a teacher told him he was too skinny and short to become a major leaguer, and that he should focus on his other passion, singing. Brito became the first major leaguer from Sabana de la Mar in the Dominican Republic. Entering 2005, he was tagged as a situational reliever who would get extra work in the rotation at Triple-A. Yet he wound up filling in as an emergency starter for the Phillies down the stretch and beat the Braves with six shutout innings on Sept. 12. Nevertheless, his inconsistent command caught up with him in his final two starts for Philadelphia and means his future remains in the bullpen. Brito's fastball and power slider have shown flashes of being plus pitches. His fastball gets up to 95-96 mph out of the bullpen, but sits around 90 when he's forced to work longer stretches. It features sinking and tailing action. A jump in velocity during the 2004 season enhanced Brito's prospect status, but his command failed to improve. His changeup did, developing into an average pitch when Brito worked out of the rotation. He's most likely to open 2006 as a middle man in the Phillies bullpen.
Carrasco signed for $300,000 out of a Venezuelan tryout camp and a strong U.S. debut rocketed him to No. 8 on this list a year ago. It also encouraged Philadelphia enough that it sent him to full-season ball before he was ready. Older hitters punished Carrasco's mistakes, which crushed his confidence and eventually got him sent down to Batavia. The Phillies rarely rush callow prospects up the ladder, so they claim fault here, but were also disappointed with how he handled the situation. His good stuff remained intact despite the struggles, though he fell into the trap of thinking throwing harder was better every time he found trouble. A year older than Edgar Garcia, Carrasco owns a similar repertoire. His fastball, which sits in the low 90s, and changeup are his best offerings, and both are plus pitches. Carrasco's curveball should end up at least average, but it still lacks consistency. He's a good athlete who effectively repeats a smooth delivery. Carrasco will receive a second chance in low Class A this year, and he still owns a ceiling as a No. 2 or 3 starter.
Durant's size and immense power remind the Phillies of a righthanded-hitting Ryan Howard. He hit .450 with 13 home runs in 26 games as a high school senior. At the behest of fellow Oakland native Jimmy Rollins, Durant attended a predraft workout at Citizens Bank Park and jacked nine home runs, including one that went 20 rows deep into the left field stands and nearly reached the second deck. Durant's mother was 15 when he was born, so his grandmother raised him for five years until she died of cancer. Durant returned to his mother's care until the seventh grade, when the family of one of his junior-high friends adopted him. He lived in a cottage in their backyard from the eighth grade on. Durant passed on a scholarship to Fresno State to sign for a $247,500 bonus. His raw power rates a 70 on the 20-to-80 scale, but he remains a work in progress. Adjusting to breaking balls and making more contact top his to-do list. Durant, who played third base in high school, is surprisingly agile for his size with quick feet and soft hands. He also pitched in high school, so arm strength is not a question. He could emerge as an above-average defender at first base. Durant needs lots of game experience and will start 2006 in extended spring training before moving up to Batavia.
Ruiz' strong arm and limited agility drove international scouting director Sal Agostinelli to try him out at catcher. He liked what he saw and signed Ruiz for $8,000, a shrewd investment for a player with a good chance to make the Phillies' big league roster after his second straight strong offensive season in the minors. The Phillies saw Ruiz as little more than a backup catcher during his first five years in the organization. An injury to Russ Jacobson granted Ruiz more than a platoon role in 2004, and he slugged .484 with 17 home runs to greatly enhance his standing. A .458 slugging performance in 2005 reinforced his raw power. He continued to show the ability to make adjustments and control the strike zone while improving how he handled offspeed pitches. Ruiz' defense remains solid, as he has an above-average arm, good feet and a strong lower half. He threw out 31 percent of basestealers in Triple-A. Durability cropped up as a concern in 2005, as he missed time with a possible concussion and later a sore shoulder that pushed him to DH and likely prevented a September callup. Ruiz will contend for a backup role in Philadelphia.
The first Northwestern player to make the all-Big 10 Conference team three times, Happ is a classic lefthanded control pitcher. According to scouting director Marti Wolever, "Deception is his best pitch." That attribute makes Happ's upper-80s fastball play better than its raw grade of fringe average. Like Randy Wolf, he can elevate his fastball against righthanders and still get them to swing through it. Happ is a thinker with an excellent feel for pitching who knows when and where to throw his plus changeup. He must tighten his slider and throw it harder, as it devolves into a slurve too often. Throwing it more would help, but he prefers to go with his fastball because he always has had success with it. Pulled quadriceps and oblique muscles cost Happ innings in 2005. His polish and athleticism--he left St. Bede Academy (Peru, Ill.) as its all-time leading scorer in basketball--mean he should move quickly, as his dominant September start in Double-A foretold. He'll start 2006 in high Class A and eventually should become a back-of-the-rotation starter.
The younger brother of Rangers all-star third baseman Hank Blalock and a high school teammate of Phillies No. 1 prospect Cole Hamels, Blalock has spent his pro career trying to carve out his own niche. He has moved from third base to left field and earns plaudits from Phillies for his work ethic--which rates among the best in the organization--and his grind-it- out mentality. Though Blalock's slugging percentage hit a three-year low, officials attribute that to the spacious parks of the high Class A Florida State League and expect more homers out of him in 2006. He still projects to hit for above-average power to all fields after closing his stance during 2004. Blalock's strikeout rate declined for the second straight year, though he's still prone to chasing breaking balls despite better overall pitch selection. He works hard on his defense, though he's never likely to be much better than an average left fielder with an average arm. He'll try for a breakout year in Double-A in 2006.
Maloney spent his freshman year at Manatee (Fla.) Junior College before moving to Mississippi as a sophomore. After improving his strength, conditioning and slider he broke out as a junior last spring, when he started the season as the Rebels' closer before emerging as their best starter. His college innings rose from 48 in 2004 to 104 in 2005, so he arrived in pro ball with a dead arm after signing for $400,000 as a third-round pick. The Phillies limited his innings at Batavia and in instructional league, so they don't have a great read yet on what they've got. Physical maturity helped Maloney consistently pitch at 88-91 mph with his fastball. His height allows him to maintain a good downward plane, and his ability to locate the fastball makes up for its lack of life. His changeup is probably his best pitch, though it's no more than a solid-average offering. His slider and curveball can be as good at times, but he must show more consistency with all his secondary offerings. Location, however, isn't a problem and in fact rates as Maloney's greatest strength as a pitcher. He'll start 2006 in low Class A.
Outman was the fourth of five Central Missouri State pitchers selected in the first 11 rounds of the 2005 draft after the Mules placed third in the NCAA Division II World Series. Scouts had rarely seen a more unorthodox delivery than the one Outman used at St. Louis CC-Forest Park. It was developed by his father Fritz, who wrote a manual on pitching mechanics. Outman extended his arm straight up, bent it down to almost touch his opposite shoulder and then took a walking step--instead of a normal leg kick--before cutting loose. He threw an 86-88 mph fastball and tied for the Division II juco strikeout lead, but coaches at Central Missouri State reworked his mechanics after he transferred there. With a more conventional delivery, his velocity jumped to 90-94 mph. Outman continues to work on refining his mechanics, but he's athletic enough that he should eventually get it together. He posted a 1.059 OPS as an outfielder/DH for the Mules, a perennial Division II World Series participant, and some teams wanted to draft him as a hitter. The Phillies feel they got a steal by taking him in the 10th round and spending just $52,500 to sign him. Outman throws three pitches in addition to his plus fastball: a slider, curveball and changeup. Philadelphia wants him to dump one of the breaking balls because he often gets caught in between and winds up with an ineffective slurve. His slider seems most likely to emerge as a sharp put-away pitch. He's still learning to throw a changeup with regularity. It must become at least average to keep Outman in a rotation. Otherwise, he could become a power reliever capable of blowing away lefties. He'll move to low Class A this year.
A broken collarbone three games into his senior season crushed Marson's shot at playing quarterback in college, but the Phillies liked his package of size, strength and power enough to offer a $265,000 bonus. Despite his pedestrian production in his first two seasons in the system, he has impressed the player-development staff. An infielder and outfielder in high school, Marson has taken to catching quickly. Philadelphia believes he can become an intelligent, dependable receiver with an above-average arm and solid power. He must improve his patience and handling of breaking balls as a hitter. Marson started strong at Batavia, but slowed down over the second half, so he'll need to work on the conditioning needed from an everyday catcher this season in low Class A. His ceiling might be the highest of any catcher in the system, but he's not as sure a bet as Jason Jaramillo.
Harker's college career took off when he became the College of Charleston's closer as a sophomore in 2004. He set a school record with 13 saves that season and broke it in 2005, when he was named Southern Conference pitcher of the year and led the league with a 2.47 ERA and 15 saves. Harker signed for $165,000 as a fifth-round pick, after which the Phillies limited his innings because he had worked a lot at Charleston and also pulled a muscle in his hip. Harker's money pitch is his power curveball, which breaks late and straight down. His maximum-effort delivery makes it register in the low 80s and it's a knee-buckler that often catches batters looking. He used his fastball mostly to set up his curve in college, but Philadelphia wants him to work on throwing the heater more as a pro. Increased use of his fastball could build strength in an already quick arm, and bump up its peak velocity from its current 92 mph. With one plus pitch already, Harker could emerge as a late-inning option in the majors. He'll close in low Class A this year.
Slayden set a Georgia Tech freshman record with 18 home runs in 2002, and despite a sophomore slump, still ranked as a possible first-round pick entering 2004. Slayden lasted just nine games before a torn rotator cuff in his right (throwing) shoulder ended his season. He saw little time in the field as a redshirt junior in 2005, as the shoulder injury rendered his arm below average and a staph infection in his foot cost him three weeks. A 20th-round pick of the Padres out of high school and an 18th-round pick of the Athletics in 2004, Slayden finally signed for $95,000 as an eighth-rounder last June. He showed his power potential and solid approach in his pro debut, but his defensive limitations were also obvious and DHing in college added rust to the equation. Slayden could gain arm strength as he recovers from the shoulder surgery but it never will be better than average. He needs even more work at making better reads and taking better routes on flyballs. At best he'll be a playable outfielder, but his bat could make him worthwhile. He'll see time in left field and at DH in low Class A this year.
Kennelly is yet another product of the Phillies' increased reliance on the Australian talent market. He earned MVP honors at a Major League Baseball academy there in 2004 before emerging as one of the better players on Philadelphia's Gulf Coast League roster a year later. Like fellow Aussie Brad Harman, Kennelly shows a quick bat, compact swing and solid approach at the plate. He also has the potential to drive the ball and add power as he progresses. Defensively, Kennelly offers solid hands and at least an average arm at third base, but his range is lacking and his fielding can get mechanical. To that end, the Phillies tried him behind the plate in instructional league and feel he eventually could become a solid backstop. The presence of Welinson Baez and Mike Costanzo ahead of him at third base probably rules out a promotion to a full-season league. Kennelly likely will play third base at Batavia in 2006 and might see a little action at catcher.
Booker was a member of four different organizations in the last three months of 2005. He finished the year with the Reds before signing with the Nationals as a six-year free agent. The Tigers selected him with the fifth pick of the major league Rule 5 draft and immediately sent him to the Phillies for cash. Booker's mid-90s fastball always has made him an intriguing reliever, but command issues and the lack of a reliable secondary pitch have held him back. He might be best known for becoming the sixth player in minor league history to strike out five batters in an inning back in 2000. Last year, he added a splitter that's a plus pitch at times and enjoyed his best season, culminating with his major league debut on Sept. 5. He also throws a slider. He rarely surrendered homers as a minor leaguer, but allowed two bombs in two innings for the Reds. Booker figures to stick with the Phillies as a middle reliever.
Kendrick's skills as a quarterback and punter earned him a Washington State football scholarship, but he instead signed with Philadephia for $135,000 as a seventh-round pick in 2003. The Phillies envisioned him adding velocity to his fastball as he filled out his lanky but sturdy frame, and his heater now sits at 90-92 mph with good movement. Kendrick took longer than expected to come up with a suitable second pitch. His soft, loopy curveball never developed any bite and he failed to put away hitters when he got ahead in the count. So the Phillies moved him out of low Class A last April and switched him to a slider. Once he got a feel for it, the slider's tight break made Kendrick a different pitcher. He finally owned a strikeout pitch he could trust. Kendrick's changeup is close to average. With everything coming together for him, the Phillies are predicting a big year for him in 2006. Kendrick still needs to improve his overall command, and will start the season back in low Class A.
For $10,000, Mitchinson became the first of an ever-increasing number of Australian teenagers to sign with the Phillies. He led the Gulf Coast League in wins and ranked second in ERA during his U.S. debut in 2004, but his most stunning stat was allowing only one walk in 62 innings. Hampered by a tender arm in extended spring training last year, Mitchinson struggled to find his trademark command. Without it, batters savaged his repertoire of fringe-average pitches. His fastball, which jumped from 85 to 90 mph during his first two years in the organization, didn't pick up any velocity, while his curveball and changeup also plateaued. Mitchinson's command must improve if he's to progress, because it's his feel and ability to locate pitches that previously compensated for his lack of powerful stuff. The Phillies hope a return to health in low Class A will do the trick in 2006.
Not to be confused with the standout Cuban hurdler of the same name, Hernandez could find his way to Philadelphia in 2006. He succeeded in the lower levels with precise location of fringe-average stuff but became more hittable as he advanced through the system. Hernandez moved to the bullpen in 2003 and started paring down his repertoire. The short stints also allowed his fastball to reach 90-92 mph after previously sitting in the upper 80s. He was progressing nicely in 2004 before elbow and shoulder problems ended his season in early August. Hernandez didn't immediately regain his strength and velocity, so he started in high Class A in 2005. By the end of May he had worked his way to Triple-A, where he effectively mixed his fastball with a plus slider out of the bullpen. Hernandez' ceiling isn't high, but he should make his big league debut this year, though he might begin the season in Triple-A.