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Signed for $300,000 out of Venezuela in 2003, Carrasco had a successful debut the following year in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. The Phillies take full blame for rushing him in 2005, pushing him to low Class A Lakewood at age 18 in a move that backfired when he posted a 7.04 ERA. He turned a corner in instructional league after the season, setting the stage for a return to Lakewood in 2006, when he blossomed into a legitimate frontline starter prospect. He ranked third in the system in wins and ERA and represented the organization in the Futures Game. He was a major part of Lakewood's South Atlantic League title run, though the Phillies were disappointed with the way Carrasco handled himself when he struggled. Since making strides in grasping English this season, Carrasco has taken to instruction more easily. Carrasco has two plus pitches in his arsenal, starting with a consistent 90-92 mph fastball. His fastball has outstanding late life and finish, and he commands it to all four quadrants of the strike zone. He can dial it up to 93-94 when he needs to, and he could add more velocity as he matures physically. He complements his heater with one of the best changeups in the system. His changeup features excellent late fade and depth, and he'll throw it in any count. The biggest improvement Carrasco made in 2006 was with his curveball. He commanded his 71-77 mph curve better than he ever had, showing good tilt and late bite. He repeats his delivery and fields his position well. Though he didn't have an at-bat with the BlueClaws, Philadelphia raves about the pride Carrasco takes in the offensive side of the game. He's a good bunter and shows aptitude in understanding game situations from a hitter's perspective. Carrasco has a simple, compact delivery, but he can rush it at times, leading to erratic command. He arguably commands his changeup better than any of his pitches, but slows down his arm action slightly when he throws it, tipping off hitters. While his curveball is his third-best pitch, he falls in love with it at times. He needs to improve its consistency and also throw it for strikes more often, because better hitters will be less likely to chase it off the plate. Carrasco needs to have a better overall rhythm on the mound. He'll speed up when things are going his way, and slow down to a snail's pace when he's scuffling. The Phillies already tried to jump Carrasco once, and they won't make the same mistake again. Though he's shown much more maturity, there's really no reason to rush him. While other arms from Lakewood's championship staff might leap past him, Carrasco will start 2007 in high Class A Clearwater and won't see Double-A Reading before mid-season, putting him on pace to arrive in Philadelphia at some point in 2009.
Many clubs thought Drabek had the best pure stuff in the 2006 draft, but huge makeup concerns scared teams away from the son of former Cy Young Award winner Doug Drabek. Kyle fell to the 18th pick, and the Phillies signed him for $1.55 million. He led The Woodlands (Texas) High to the national title during the spring, going 10-0, 1.18 on the mound and batting .479 with six homers as a shortstop. Drabek has better stuff than his father, starting with a 78-82 mph spike curveball with devastating late action. Scouts describe it as unhittable, and hitters also have to be wary of Drabek's mid-90s fastball that tops out at 97 mph. He made strides with his changeup's location during instructional league after he tinkered with his grip. Drabek generates lightning-fast arm speed through a compact, easily repeatable delivery. He's one of the best athletes in the system. Philadelphia wouldn't have had a chance to draft Drabek if not for a public-intoxication charge against him (later dropped) and a single-car accident in which he struck a tree. Clubs also were turned off by his temper, and he repeatedly lost his cool when things didn't go his way in pro ball. Also, Drabek doesn't get quite the extension from the windup as he does from the stretch. He tends to lean back on his heel too much, which costs him overall balance and command. His mid-80s slider and his changeup show promise, but they lag behind his curve and his fastball. Despite issues in Drabek's past, the Phillies couldn't pass him up a potential No. 1 starter in the draft. They believe he'll tone down his emotions as he grows up, and if he shows better maturity in spring training, he could open 2007 in low Class A.
Cardenas entered last spring as the second-best player on his team--behind eventual Nationals first-rounder Chris Marrero--and as a projected fifth-round pick. By the end of the spring, he had led Miami's Monsignor Pace to a state title, set a school record with a .647 average and a Dade County mark with 18 homers and won Baseball America's High School Player of the Year award. After signing for $925,000 as the 37th overall pick, he made the Gulf Coast League allstar team. Cardenas has good strength and a short, compact swing from the left side. He has a knack for squaring up balls, making consistent hard contact and driving the ball to all fields. He profiles to hit 15-20 homers annually in the majors. He's presently a solid-average defender at shortstop, though most scouts believe he'll have to change positions down the road. He lacks first-step quickness and the range to play short, and his speed and arm strength are fringy. Cardenas probably will play second base alongside 2006 third-round pick Jason Donald in low Class A in 2007.
The Phillies followed Garcia as a 15-year-old in the Dominican in 2004 and signed him for $500,000 just before he planned to attend the Perfect Game/Baseball America World Wood Bat Championship. Garcia spent the bulk of his first full season in the United States in extended spring training, where he refined his delivery and worked on his secondary pitches. After rushing Carlos Carrasco, Philadelphia sent Garcia to short-season Batavia at age 18, and he had a successful summer. Garcia has excellent life on a 91-92 mph fastball that tops out at 95. He should find more velocity as he grows into an already sturdy frame. He throws two variations of a curveball, a harder 81-83 mph version that more resembles a slider and a softer pitch with true 12-to-6 break. After working on the arm speed and command of his changeup, Garcia used it more in 2006 and showed flashes of making it a plus pitch. While Garcia's secondary pitches are improved, they still lack consistency. He tends to get around on his breaking pitches, resulting in erratic command. While his delivery is simple and repeatable, the arm speed on his changeup has to be practically flawless because he doesn't create a lot of deception. The Phillies compare Garcia to Carrasco for both his repertoire and his advanced feel for pitching. They'll continue to bring Garcia along slowly and can't wait to see what he does in his first taste of full-season ball at Lakewood.
Mathieson has pitched all over the map in the last two years. He worked at the Futures Game, the World Cup and the Arizona Fall League in 2005, then pitched in the World Baseball Classic and jumped from Double-A to the majors in 2006. He was shut down in September with elbow problems that required Tommy John surgery. Mathieson lives off his low-90s fastball, which can climb as high as 97 mph. After working with a curveball for most of his first five seasons, he switched to a slider late in 2005 and worked on it exclusively in the AFL that fall. It quickly has become a plus pitch with good tilt and devastating late break. He maintains his arm speed on his changeup, which has good life down in the zone. Though the track record for Tommy John survivors is strong, Mathieson will miss most or all of the 2007 season. Just as quickly as his slider came on during the first half of 2006, he completely lost the feel for it when he was promoted to Philadelphia in mid- July. He started to regain command of the pitch after being reassigned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. If all goes well, Mathieson will return to the mound during the summer at the Phillies' new short-season Williamsport affiliate. While he has the stuff to start, it gives him the potential to close games as well.
While at St. Louis Community College-Forest Park, Outman used a delivery developed by his father Fritz that scouts described as one of the strangest they'd ever seen. He extended his arm straight up, bent it down to nearly touch his opposite shoulder and then took a walking step rather than using a leg kick. After transferring to Central Missouri State, he reworked his mechanics while also starring as an outfielder/DH. Outman contributed to a South Atlantic League championship by winning 13 of his last 15 regular-season decisions in 2006. After making changes to his delivery, Outman has seen his fastball jump from 86-88 mph to 90-94. Lakewood pitching coach Steve Schrenk had him ditch his curveball in favor of a sharp slider that quickly became a plus pitch with excellent tilt and late life. His changeup grades as average. Outman has a good feel for his changeup, but wasn't consistent locating it in 2006. His arm speed slows down at times, which he can remedy by using the pitch more often. He puts away hitters easily when he gets ahead in the count but needs to do a better job of throwing strikes. Ticketed for high Class A, Outman could reach Double-A by the summer.
Though the Phillies have seen many of their prospects struggle after skipping a level, Bourn succeeded after skipping high Class A in 2005. He repeated Double-A in 2006, played half the year in Triple-A and finished it in Philadelphia. He has led the system in steals in each of his three full seasons. Bourn is the organization's best leadoff hitter and offers a package of line drives, plate discipline and speed. He bunts well and has game-changing quickness on the bases. Bourn is a plus defender in center field with outstanding range and a strong arm. He'll never hit for much power, though Bourn has worked on taking pitches to the opposite field. As a leadoff hitter he still needs to cut down on his strikeouts, be more patient and prove he can work deep counts consistently. If the Phillies trade Aaron Rowand, Bourn would be the best in-house candidate to replace him. Otherwise, he'll open 2007 at the club's new Triple-A Ottawa affiliate. He could become Philadelphia's version of Juan Pierre, with better plate discipline and a stronger arm.
The first Northwestern player ever to make the all-Big 10 Conference team three times, Happ has had no trouble adjusting to pro ball. He has posted a 2.49 ERA and reached Triple-A in just two and a half seasons. The Phillies worked with Happ to get him more upright in his delivery, which created more deception and velocity (up to 93 mph in the Arizona Fall League) on his fastball. He has always demonstrated an ability to locate the pitch wherever he wants. Even with the boost to his fastball, Happ's changeup remains his best pitch, featuring excellent depth and fade. After missing time with quadriceps and oblique injuries in 2005, Happ proved durable and tossed a career-high 175 innings (including the AFL) in 2006. He's one of the better athletes in the system. Happ's slider is too soft at times, turning into a loopy slurve. He made strides with its consistency in 2006, but it will improve more as he uses it more. Though he locates his fastball exceptionally well, he can rely on to it too much. Happ is the next starter in line for a promotion to Philadelphia and projects as a No. 3 or 4 starter. The offseason acquisitions of Adam Eaton and Freddy Garcia will buy him a full year of development time at Triple-A.
Maloney was worn out from pitching Mississippi to the NCAA super regionals when he turned pro in 2005, so the Phillies didn't see him at his best until 2006. His best was very good, as he was named South Atlantic League pitcher of the year after leading the circuit in wins, innings and strikeouts while finishing second in ERA. Maloney attacks hitters by throwing four pitches for strikes. His stuff is average across the board but his advanced feel makes it play up, and he creates good deception with his easily repeatable delivery. His 86-88 mph sinker is his best pitch because of its late movement. His changeup isn't far behind and he'll throw it in any count. He also has an 11-to-5 curveball and a slider. Maloney's lack of velocity leaves him with little margin for error, and his secondary pitches need work to translate at the upper levels. His curveball has good downward spiral but can flatten out at times, and his slider needs to be tighter and harder if it's going to remain in his arsenal. On the high end, Maloney could be a No. 4 starter. Without better breaking stuff, he could be a middle reliever. Considering his savvy and that he'll be 23 in 2007, he could skip a level and head straight to Double-A.
The Phillies have been patient with Golson since signing him for $1.475 million as the 21st overall pick in 2004, and it may finally be starting to pay off. Though he repeated low Class A at the start of 2006 and hit just .220, he surged following a promotion to high Class A in late July. The best athlete in the 2004 draft, Golson possesses the best speed, center-field skills and outfield arm in the system. He consistently gets from the right side of the plate to first base in 4.0 seconds. He has above-average raw power to go along with those wheels. Area scouts who saw Golson as an amateur thought he'd have to make a lot of adjustments at the plate in pro ball, and he has struggled to do so. His pitch recognition and plate discipline are still very raw, and he's too pull-conscious. He has the speed to become an electrifying basestealer, but that hasn't happened. He was disappointed at returning to Lakewood, and his play reflected that. His upside is the highest among the system's position players, but he needs to start performing in what will be his fourth pro season.
Many clubs showed interest in Myers prior to the 2006 draft, and some teams originally had him slated as a second- or third-round pick, but his commitment to Southern California made it hard to get a read on his signability. The Phillies had the right info and popped him in the fourth round, signing him for $250,000. A plus runner, Myers also showed he could hit for average and power in his debut in the Gulf Coast League and carried that over into instructional league. Myers has a compact stroke that produces line drives to all fields, though he needs to recognize pitches better and work deeper counts. His route-running is suspect at times, but he has great closing speed. If he's going to remain a center fielder, he'll need to continue to work on getting better reads off the bat. Myers has all five tools, and some officials in the organization say his ceiling is higher than Golson's. He'll compete for a job in low Class A this spring.
When he was born, Constanzo was brought home from the hospital in a Phillies jacket. After helping lead Coastal Carolina to prominence as a pitcher (8-1, 14 saves as a junior) and hitter in three seasons, he hasn't quite performed up to expectations with his hometown organization. Still, he ranked fifth in the high Class A Florida State League in RBIs in his first full season after playing in the New York-Penn League in his debut. His swing can get long, and at times he struggles mightily with offspeed pitches. Several scouts said he appeared to take at-bats off last summer. He worked hard on laying off pitches over the inner half--where he'd automatically go into pull mode-- but he still has a ways to go. Virtually all of his power is to right and right-center and he rarely works to the opposite field. Defensively, Costanzo is arguably the best third baseman in the system. He has soft hands, a strong, accurate arm and good range, though he needs to work on his footwork to the right. Costanzo will get plenty of opportunities as the highest-drafted player in the system in 2005 and one of the top power prospects in the organization, but he needs to tighten up his approach and use the whole field more consistently. He'll likely play all of 2007 in Double-A.
It's been a slow, steady development road for Ruiz since international scouting director Sal Agostinelli signed him for the bargain basement price of $8,000 in 1998. Ruiz impressed scouts with his defense in the Arizona Fall League in 2004, but it's been his development as a hitter that has the Phillies envisioning Ruiz carrying the bulk of the catching load in the big leagues this season. Ruiz, who played for his native Panama in the World Baseball Classic, has a line-drive stroke that produces natural loft and surprising power. Defensively he remains adequate, with an above-average arm, solid mechanics in his transfer, good blocking ability and a strong lower half. He threw out 35 percent of basestealers in Triple-A but just 21 percent in his big league stint. Barring a move on the free agent market, Ruiz is the frontrunner to be the everyday catcher in Philadelphia in 2007, sharing duty with another minor league veteran, Chris Coste.
A classic late bloomer, Segovia is one of the best development stories in the system. After signing for $712,500 as a second-round pick out of high school, Segovia made his debut in the Gulf Coast League and had Tommy John surgery the following season. It took him nearly two years to fully recover, and he easily put up his best numbers last season--finishing it in the Arizona Fall League after winning two games for Team USA in the Olympic Qualifying tournament in Cuba. Segovia's velocity hasn't returned to its pre-surgery form, as his fastball now sits at 88-92 mph, topping out at 93. Without the velocity, Segovia compensated by becoming a more complete pitcher. He can now sink his heater much better, and he'll cut it or run it in to either side of the plate when he needs to. His slider and changeup are at least average offerings. Segovia's best asset is his fastball command, and his secondary stuff needs to improve. He gets around on his slider, which leaves the pitch hanging in the upper quadrant of the zone. While durability is no longer a concern, Segovia must maintain a strict training regimen to keep his weight in check. The Phillies will give Segovia a long look for a rotation spot in 2007, but he likely opens the year in the Triple-A rotation.
One of the better athletes in the system, Kendrick was lured away from a football scholarship at Washington State when the Phillies signed him for $135,000 in 2003. After two years of scuffling through the system, Kendrick emerged in 2006 and finished among the organization leaders in ERA and led all farmhands with 176 innings. The biggest difference has been his 82-84 mph slider, which served as his primary out pitch after being promoted to high Class A. Kendrick commands his fastball well, sitting at 91- 94 mph with good movement, and his changeup also improved last season to become at least an average pitch. Though his slider became his go-to pitch, he can still get around on it at times when he rushes his delivery. Kendrick is one of the most durable pitchers in the system and he should begin the season in the Double-A rotation.
Bisenius played a major role on Oklahoma City College's NAIA record 70-win season in 2004, and despite having the highest ERA on the team (3.19), he went 12-0 for the Stars. Bisenius came into his own in 2006 after struggling at low Class A the previous year, jumping up to Double-A where he held opposing hitters to a .182 average. Bisenius pounds the zone with his 91-94 fastball, attacking both sides of the plate. Scouts differ on what to call his breaking ball--Bisenius calls it a slider, but scouts refer to it as a hard curveball. Regardless, it emerged as a plus pitch in 2006, with good depth and devastating late movement. He can sometimes get around on his breaking ball, leaving it up in the zone. After competing in Venezuela's winter league for Magallanes, Bisenius will get a long look in big league camp this spring, and should battle for a bullpen spot in Philly. He has better pure stuff than Rule 5 selection Jim Ed Warden, but the difference in arm angle might be enough to prompt the Phillies to keep both.
Carpenter was slated to go to Oklahoma when he transferred from Sacramento City College, but a coaching change with the Sooners (and the staff's willingness to let him out of his national letter of intent) prompted him to choose Long Beach State instead. His talent and the work of pitching coach Troy Buckley--who mentored four first- or second-round picks between 2004-2005--helped push Carpenter into the second round in 2006. Carpenter features a low-90s fastball with good movement and commands it to all parts of the zone. He rounds out his repertoire with an average-to-plus slider and changeup. While Carpenter repeats his delivery well, his arm can drag behind slightly with his offspeed pitches, and tends to leave them up in the zone as a result. That is especially true of his changeup, which now grades out as below average but should be an average pitch down the road. He'll begin the season in high Class A.
The Phillies have a strong presence in Australia, and Harman is arguably the best player they've signed out of the lower Pacific Rim. Signed for $50,000, Harman started 2006 on a high note, playing in the World Baseball Classic, but it became his toughest season after his mother passed away. Things snowballed on him and he never got on track. But Harman still shows good tools. He has slightly above-average speed and some loft power with the aptitude and work ethic to improve. The Phillies believe he can stay at shortstop because of his soft hands, slightly above-average range and arm strength. His arm doesn't jump out, but it's strong and his throws are always on the money. He still needs to improve his first-step quickness at times to maximize his effectiveness defensively, and he needs to bounce back from a disappointing season at the plate. Because of what he went through personally at his age in 2006, the organization is being patient with Harman. If he has a good spring, Harman could jump into an everyday role in Double-A.
A two-sport star in high school, Marson broke his collarbone just three games into his senior year and saw his dream of playing quarterback in college diminish significantly. With football behind him and despite three unexceptional years in the organization offensively, the Phillies feel Marson is headed in the right direction as one of the best catchers in the system. Marson handled the best pitching staff in the organization by far at Lakewood, and his receiving skills, game-calling and blocking abilities all blossomed in 2006. Marson hasn't concentrated on his approach as a hitter nearly as much as he's tried to become better defensively, and he'll need to balance out his game as he moves forward. His swing can become very long at times, and breaking balls give him fits. Marson is slated to move to high Class A, but Double-A isn't being ruled out simply because of how much he's grown defensively.
Henry ranked No. 4 on the Yankees list last year before the club packaged him with lefthander Matt Smith, catcher Jesus Sanchez and righthander Carlos Monasterios in exchange for Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle. New York swayed Henry away from a future in basketball--which his parents both played at Kansas--with $1.75 million as the 17th overall pick in 2005, but the offensive results haven't shown up. Henry's best tools are his strength, bat speed and athleticism. He has well-above-average power, but his swing can get long and mechanical at times and he strikes out in bunches as a result. Some scouts think he's better suited for third base or a corner outfield spot down the road, as his arm rates as fringe-average and his body continues to fill out. There is still a lot of projection left with Henry, but the track record isn't there, particularly in translating his above-average raw power. Henry worked out at third base during instructional league and likely faces the position change when he returns to high Class A this year.
Baez has incredible physical ability, but other than 170 at-bats in short-season ball two years ago, the Phillies haven't seen much out of their $250,000 investment out of the Dominican in 2002. Phillies officials rave about how Baez plays during instructional league and spring training, but the production hasn't been there when it counts. Baez drips tools, with his power and arm strength rating as his best assets. Baez has a 70 arm on the 20-80 scouting scale, and the potential for huge raw pop. He has good hands for third base and has shown above-average range. Baez went through his toughest year in 2006--his first full season--as he failed to recognize breaking balls and his plate discipline was abysmal. The Phillies want to see more aggressiveness out of Baez, who often fell behind in counts in low Class A and struggled against quality breaking pitches, leading to him topping the South Atlantic League in strikeouts. Baez should return to low Class A to build on the confidence he once again built up during instructional league.
After tying for the Cape Cod League in wins and ranking second in strikeouts in 2004, Brauer was set to be an early-round pick in 2005. But he started having shoulder problems at the end of that summer and needed surgery to repair a torn labrum. It didn't take long for Brauer to make a strong recovery, however, as he was the Big Ten Conference pitcher of the year and he threw a no-hitter against Michigan State. Brauer might be the poster child for successful labrum surgery survivors, as his velocity jumped from 86-90 mph as an amateur to 92-93 mph in his pro debut after he signed as a sixthrounder for $150,000. He commands his curveball well, and the pitch grades out as solid average. He creates excellent deception from the left side, and can locate all his pitches to either side of the plate. Brauer will need to further develop his changeup if he is going to stay in the rotation. The Phillies will move Brauer quickly and he will start 2007 in high Class A.
Overholt always had arm strength, serving as the starting shortstop for three seasons in high school. One of the best athletes in the system, Overholt was also a standout basketball player and golfer at Brighton High in Salt Lake City. However, after a standout freshman season at Santa Clara, where he saved 10 games, he struggled and went just 2-7, 5.09 while trying to become a starter. Primarily used as a reliever after signing as a 22nd-round pick, Overholt blossomed in 2006. He commands his 90-96 mph fastball to both sides of the plate, and his 84-85 mph slider emerged as his out pitch. His slider is a plus pitch, featuring good tilt and deadly late break. Overholt also started implementing a changeup into his repertoire last season, but it's still a work in progress. The Phillies tried to extend Overholt's outings in 2006, pitching him in two- or three-inning stints, and if his changeup shows development, they haven't ruled out a rotation spot in the future. He's a flyball pitcher and homer-prone, giving up one longball every eight innings, but has power reliever stuff. Overholt will return to high Class A to start 2007, but could move quickly once his role is defined.
The Phillies have been on Jaramillo since 2001, when they selected him in the 42nd round out of high school. Three years later, they signed him in the second round for $585,000 out of Oklahoma State. Jaramillo broke a bone in his right hand in Double-A last May, costing him three weeks. He never really got on track after that, but finished with a strong showing offensively in the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .379 with a pair of homers in 66 at-bats. Jaramillo started switch-hitting in high school, and he's equally adept from either side of the plate. He has a line-drive stroke that produces gap power, and he'll probably never hit for much pop in the majors. While Jaramillo was rated the best defensive catcher in the South Atlantic League in 2005, scouts were less impressed during his AFL stint, criticizing his game-calling ability as well as his receiving skills. Jaramillo has the best arm in the system behind the plate, and should play in Triple-A this year.
Warden was the first NCAA Division I scholarship athlete out of Middle Tennessee Christian School, a disctinction he earned after he walked on at Tennessee Tech. While he had some success there and showed power stuff, he also set the single-season record of 16 wild pitches for the Golden Eagles. Things didn't go well during much of Warden's pro career either until the Indians switched his arm slot to a low three-quarters angle in 2005. The Phillies took a chance on Warden in the Rule 5 draft, selecting him in the second round of the major league phase. With the new release point, he took off, hitting 90-93 mph consistently with his fastball that tops out at 95. His slider has become a plus pitch, but his changeup was the biggest reason for his success last season in Double-A. Warden is new to the two big changes in his career, both in his arm angle and the bullpen role, and his confidence needs to be stoked. He also needs to be more consistent with his release point, as he'll still come over the top from time to time. He'll need better command if he's going to stick on the Phillies' 25-man roster all season.
Slayden was considered a first-round talent in 2004, but injuries plagued him over his last two years at Georgia Tech--most notably a torn rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder. A 20th-round pick of the Padres out of high school and an 18th-round pick by the Athletics in 2004, Slayden ultimately signed for $95,000 as an eighth-rounder with the Phillies a year later. Slayden hit 40 homers during his college career, and he's continued to show power and a solid approach to hitting as a pro. He shortened his stroke in 2006 to make better contact, and used the whole field much better than he ever had. He also commanded the zone and his pitch recognition improved significantly as a result. Because of the shoulder surgery, Slayden is limited to left field defensively, and his arm strength will never be anything more than average. He's never been overly athletic and is a below-average runner. Slayden needs to remain consistent and keep his strikeout totals down. Already 24, he'll jump to Double-A in 2007.
Donald turned down big money out of high school to attend Arizona. Donald helped the Wildcats to the College World Series in 2004, then hit .272 in the Cape Cod League in 2005 before eventually signing for $400,000 as a third-round pick last June. Scouts love his gamer mentality and overall makeup, but Donald has one true above-average tool--his plus throwing arm. Donald has a compact, line-drive stroke that produces gap power. The Phillies grade him as a 55 runner on the 20-80 scouting scale, and though he lacks range defensively, his instincts and hands allow him to make up for it. For as compact as Donald's swing is, he goes through mechanical breakdowns at times, and it tends to become long and slow as a result. His arm strength grades higher than Brad Harman's at shortstop, though Harman is the better overall defender. Donald will start his first full season in low Class A.
One of four players the Phillies signed out of Brazil for a total of $200,000 in 2006, Correa has the highest ceiling of the group. Some club officials already compare his stuff to Carlos Carrasco's, and they rave about Correa's maturity level and aptitude. He throws three pitches for strikes, working with a 90-94 mph fastball, a curveball with above-average potential and a changeup that shows flashes of being a plus offering. Though he has promising secondary pitches, Correa is reluctant to use them and is content to change speeds with his fastball and vary his location. He's very raw and still learning how to attack hitters in different situations, but his upside is exceptional. He'll battle for a job in the low Class A rotation, but with his age and experience level, Williamsport is a more likely destination.
The Phillies got Simon back in the system after pulling off a Rule 5 draft day trade with the Orioles, dealing the 19th pick in the draft (catcher Adam Donachie from the Royals) and cash for the righthander. Philadelphia was developing Simon nicely for nearly five seasons before dealing him to San Francisco in July 2004 for Felix Rodriguez. As a Giant, Simon struggled in the rotation and moved to the bullpen in 2005. The Rangers signed Simon as a six-year minor league free agent prior to the Rule 5 draft, but he never pitched for them. Simon has a big body and power stuff. He touched 97 several times for in the Dominican Winter League, and several scouts compared him to Freddy Garcia. The problem is that Simon doesn't have Garcia-like secondary pitches. His slider, curveball and changeup are all fringe-average and he doesn't command the zone well with any of them. Simon struggled terribly in the bullpen at Triple-A Fresno last season, and there were reports he had elbow tenderness in the Dominican. The Phillies would like to try him back in the rotation, but they won't if they have to keep him on their 25-man roster all season.
No stranger to the big game atmosphere, Smith was Oklahoma State's No. 1 starter as a sophomore on the school's last team to go to Omaha. He also pitched in the same rotation as Mark Prior for Team USA in 1999, but injuries plagued him throughout his pro career and he never panned out as a starter. The Yankees moved Smith to the bullpen in 2002, where he steadily climbed through the system working with a fastball/ slider mix. Smith gets good late life on his 90-93 mph fastball, and his sweeping slider with 1-to-7 break can be a plus pitch at times. The slider is Smith's best pitch, and gives him a chance to start the year in the Philadelphia bullpen. A middle or situational reliever who could help the big league club immediately, Smith's ceiling is limited to a solid-average lefty setup man with not much upside beyond that.
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