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Brown had committed to play football (as a wide receiver) and baseball for Miami coming out of Redan (Ga.) High--the alma mater of Brandon Phillips, among others--and his camp threw out some lofty bonus figures during the spring of 2006. That was enough for many scouts to keep their distance, but Phillies area scout Chip Lawrence followed him all spring. When Brown didn't get a qualifying standardized test score to play for the Hurricanes, Philadelphia was able to sign him for $200,000 as a 20th-round pick. Brown has moved slowly, only reaching low Class A Lakewood in his third pro year, and has benefited from the patient approach. He got off to a hot start and had a consistent season while splitting time between center and right field in 2008. He took his game up a notch by winning the batting title in Hawaii Winter Baseball, hitting .389 while drawing more walks (15) than strikeouts (14). Being tall, wiry strong and black while playing right field earns plenty of Darryl Strawberry comparisons for Brown. He also emulates Strawberry with his swing, a buggy-whip stroke that features a high back elbow and high finish. Like a young Strawberry, Brown shows athleticism, power and speed, yet he's quite different in that his hitting tool is ahead of his power at the early stages of his career. He has good hand-eye coordination and excellent timing, helping him make consistent hard contact. Brown's swing has plenty of leverage, giving him above-average raw power, and he leaves the bat head in the hitting zone a long time. He has above-average pitch recognition and identifies breaking balls out of the pitcher's hand, helping him lay off pitches he wouldn't be able to do much with. An excellent athlete, Brown is a plus runner presently who should become a premium defender in right field. His arm grades as a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale. How much power Brown develops will determine his big league value. He still needs to gain strength, and once he does the Phillies believe his hitting ability will result in more homers. His stroke has some length to it, and at his size, he's always going to have some holes in his swing. Some scouts question his long stride at the plate and believe he'll have timing issues as he moves up the ladder. Brown is content for now to simply make contact against lefthanders, batting .268 with just three extra-base hits against them in 2008. He made progress as a basestealer last season, with more improvements necessary in terms of getting better jumps and maximizing his speed. While club officials try to temper the enthusiasm for him, scouts in other organizations rue missing out on Brown in the draft and consider him the Phillies' top talent. He has yet to break out with a big season and seems poised to do so in 2009 at high Class A Clearwater. It may be too much to expect him to hit 335 career homers like Strawberry. But projecting him to hit 20-25 homers annually while posting above-average on-base percentages and playing stellar right-field defense is reasonable, and would make him an all-star down the line.
Ever since signing for $300,000 in 2003, Carrasco has ranked among the Phillies' Top 10 Prospects, and he topped this list the previous two years. He repeated Double-A Reading in 2008 and showed better command to earn a late-season promotion to Triple- A Lehigh Valley, where he finished strong. Scouts rave about Carrasco's pure stuff. He'll touch 96 mph with his fastball and sits at 91-94 with late life. His changeup has similar depth and fade, and when he locates it and his fastball, he can cruise through a lineup. His curveball, once a liability, now grades out as average consistently and sometimes gives him a third plus pitch. For all his stuff, he lacks consistency and a killer instinct. Opposing managers and scouts use words such as "fold up" or "soft" to describe Carrasco, who's prone to the big inning. He tends to quicken his delivery, causing his fastball to elevate, and falls in love with his changeup. Inconsistent command and wavering focus land him in tight spots and make it hard for him to work out of trouble. Unsure if he could handle pennant-race pressure, Philadelphia didn't call Carrasco up for September. At the same time, they still consider him a co-No. 1 prospect with Dominic Brown, with a ceiling of a No. 2 starter. He should challenge J.A. Happ and Kyle Kendrick for the last big league rotation spot in spring training. More likely, he'll head back to Triple-A for more seasoning.
Marson had a breakthrough 2008 season in Double-A and was scheduled to report to the Arizona Fall League, but instead he got a September callup. He made his major league debut in Game 162 by homering off Marco Estrada and throwing out a basestealer. He stuck around Philadelphia as an extra bullpen catcher and possible emergency roster replacement during the playoffs instead of going to the AFL. Marson is the Phillies' most polished minor league hitter, with the system's best plate discipline and a professional approach. He doesn't project to hit for plus power but is learning which balls he can pull with authority. He has used his athletic ability to improve quickly defensively, becoming a solid-average receiver and good leader for a pitching staff. Most big league catchers have better arms than Marson, whose grades out as fringe average. He compensates with accuracy and quick transfers, and he threw out 37 percent of basesteales last season, but he can't afford to lose any arm strength. He needs work calling games and setting up hitters. Phillies starter Carlos Ruiz is a capable defender, but so is Marson, who brings much more to the table offensively. Once he's ready in terms of game-calling and other nuances of catching, Marson will become the regular in Philadelphia, perhaps as soon as the second half of 2009.
Considered an underachiever in college, Donald has overachieved as a pro. He continued hitting for good power in his first trip to Double-A last year, then was one of Team USA's top players in the Olympics, helping lead the Americans to a bronze medal. He finished up by crushing his way through the Arizona Fall League, ranking second in the league in batting (.407) and extra-base hits (19). Donald is an offensive player with a feel for hitting. He's patient but aggressive, pouncing in hitter's counts and pounding mistakes. He has excellent hands and strong forearms that produce average power to all fields, and he's developing more pop to his pull side. He's a solid, smart runner with an average arm. He prepares well and has excellent work habits. A mechanical fielder, Donald grades out as a below-average shortstop and likely won't be a regular at the position in the majors. He should be average at second base and has enough arm for third, though he needs more work there. At times he can be too hard on himself, taking bad at-bats into the field and vice versa. Both Chase Utley (hip) and Pedro Feliz (back) had offseason surgeries, and Donald played both of their positions in the AFL. He's the Phillies' top in-house option to fill in for Utley at second and to replace Feliz long-term at third. Donald doesn't fit the classic third-base profile and may fit better as a super utility player.
The son of former Cy Young Award winner Doug Drabek turned a corner in 2008, making the most progress of his pro career while returning from Tommy John surgery. The Phillies used his rehabilitation to tweak his mechanics, removing a hip turn from his delivery, and his stuff returned to pre-injury levels with a strong effort in Hawaii Winter Baseball. The 18th overall pick in the 2006 draft, he signed for $1.55 million. Drabek is on his way to having three average-to-plus pitches. His fastball has reached 95 mph during his comeback and sits in the low 90s, though he hasn't had to carry it deep into games yet. His hard curveball is rounding into above-average shape more consistently. The work he did in instructional league improved both his mechanics and his changeup. Knocked for his immaturity prior to the 2006 draft, Drabek still is no choirboy. One scout said he has baseball makeup, with great competitiveness, but not "take home your daughter" makeup. He needs better arm speed on his changeup after not throwing one in high school, when he used a knuckleball instead. A healthy Drabek could move very quickly. He'll likely start 2009 at high Class A thanks to the warm weather in the Florida State League, but the Phillies expect him to force his way to Double-A sometime during the season.
A highly regarded prospect as a prep player in Florida, Taylor didn't hit enough as a high school senior to overcome a Stanford commitment and juvenile diabetes and get drafted high. He spent two nondescript years with the Cardinal before making huge strides late in his junior season, and he hasn't stopped hitting since. He was named to the low Class A South Atlantic League's midseason all-star game in 2008, then hit for even more power after a promotion. A physical specimen, Taylor has strength, athleticism and explosive power potential. He started using his lower half in his swing, getting the bat head out and producing better bat speed. He has average speed that improves to a tick above average once he gets going, and a plus outfield arm. He uses his intelligence on and off the field, studying the game and learning how to prepare like a pro. Taylor still isn't a natural hitter and likely will struggle to maintain his batting average against better pitching, as he can lose command of the strike zone at times. His swing can get long and he has some holes, especially inside. His route-running in the outfield could stand some improvement. Taylor profiles as the kind of righthanded-hitting corner outfielder the Phillies need and will be a step closer in 2009 at Double-A. If he maintains his 2008 hitting performance, he could reach Philadelphia in 2010.
D'Arnaud's older brother Chase was a fourth-round pick of the Pirates this year as a shortstop. They would have played together in the short-season New York-Penn League all-star game this year before the Phillies promoted their d'Arnaud for Lakewood's stretch run. His defense got d'Arnaud drafted 37th overall in 2007. He's athletic with premium catch-and-throw tools, such as soft hands, quick feet and plenty of arm strength. He has made adjustments to get his body more involved in his throws, improving their accuracy. As a bonus, some club officials now believe his offense will be as good as or better than his defense. He has a line-drive swing and gap power with a willingness to use the opposite field. D'Arnaud's swing lacks natural loft, so he's not expected to hit for a lot of power. He threw out just 19 percent of basestealers and committed 16 passed balls in 2008, numbers that don't square with the scouting reports. Phillies officials believe he just needs to gain experience with the speed of the game at the pro level. He runs like a catcher. Lou Marson looks like Philadelphia's catcher of the future, but if he falters, d'Arnaud should be ready soon thereafter. He's on the fast track already and could become trade fodder if he continues his offensive development.
Collier jumped into first-round consideration after homering off his summer-ball teammate, Twins first-rounder Aaron Hicks, on a 93 mph fastball during an April high school tournament. A surgical procedure on his heart, performed in 2006 to improve blood flow, may have scared some clubs away. The Phillies pounced on Collier with the 34th pick in June and signed him for $1.02 million. With a frame and swing that evoke Garret Anderson, Collier brings a combination of offensive polish and athleticism to the table. He has a projectable frame and present hitting ability thanks to a smooth, strong swing. Some scouts see him developing plus power once he develops physically and learns which pitches he can drive, while others see him as more of a .300 hitter with average pop. He's a plus runner with an average arm. Collier probably will slow down and play either left or right field down the line. He'll have to hit for power or be a steady producer like Anderson to be a regular on a corner. Collier's hitting skills should help him hit the ground running in low Class A in 2009. He's much more polished than fellow 2008 draftees Anthony Hewitt and Anthony Gose, and should be the first hitter from the Phillies' draft class to reach the major leagues.
Happ benefited as much as any Phillies farmhand when the organization relocated its Triple-A affiliate from Ottawa to more hospitable Lehigh Valley. He stayed healthy after missing part of 2007 with an elbow strain, led the International League by averaging 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings and made four crucial starts for Philadelphia. He netted his first big league victory with six shutout innings at Atlanta on Sept. 17. Happ's fastball sits at 88-91 mph and gets on top of hitters quickly. He has deception in his delivery and average movement on his heater, and he spotted it better than ever in 2008. His improved changeup is his second-best pitch, and he varies his slider from a true breaking ball to a little cutter that helps him get in on righthanders. Happ lacks a standout pitch and doesn't figure to get all those strikeouts on fastballs as easily in the majors as he did in Triple-A. He's generally a flyball pitcher, a liability in cozy Citizens Bank Park. Happ will compete for Philadelphia's No. 5 starter job in spring training, with the chance to earn a long-relief gig as a fallback. He projects as a fourth starter in the long term.
Knapp jumped up some teams' draft boards with a boost in velocity during an inconsistent spring. He threw a one-hitter in the New Jersey state playoffs, hitting 97 mph, and had an excellent workout for the Phillies, who took him with their fourth selection in June, 71st overall. He signed for $590,000 and threw well in his debut before a tender elbow kept him out of the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League playoffs. The Phillies are among those who see Knapp potentially throwing 100 mph in short bursts in the future. He has a high-octane delivery that allows him to pump his fastball into the mid-90s when he's right. He has shown the ability to spin a breaking ball, a power slider with some depth. His changeup also has flashes of plus potential. Knapp loses his delivery regularly, dropping his elbow and getting around on his breaking ball frequently. He also loses his arm slot on his fastball, costing him command. He has a lot of work to do and will require patience. It's hard to find pitchers with Knapp's physicality and arm strength, but also difficult to harness that power for a starting pitcher. The Phillies will keep him in the rotation for now, most likely close to his home at Lakewood in 2009, but scouts already are talking about him as a future power bullpen arm, potentially a closer.
Bastardo hadn't pitched full-season ball until 2007, then nearly reached the majors in 2008. When he got off to a fast start and big leaguers Adam Eaton and Kyle Kendrick struggled into early June, Bastardo had a start cut short and his next start moved up, putting him on the same throwing schedule as Eaton. Primed for a possible promotion, Bastardo instead came down with a tired shoulder and was never the same after coming back about two months later. In fact, he didn't get a win after May 18 until pitching over the winter in the Dominican League. Bastardo has made such rapid progress due to the deception and command he had of his average repertoire. His fastball sits at 87-91 mph and tops out at 93. It gets on top of hitters quickly and has some cut action. He pitches inside, but he's not overly physical or a power pitcher. His changeup is his best pitch but was less consistent than in 2007, while his short slider improved slightly. It still rates as below-average. Bastardo is a flyball pitcher, usually a poor mix for Citizens Bank Park. Yet changeup lefties Cole Hamels and Jamie Moyer thrive for the Phils, and J.A. Happ, far from overpowering, has had some success. Bastardo might have a bit more upside than Happ but isn't as durable, healthy or polished. After making up for some lost time in the Dominican, he's ticketed for his first trip to Triple-A in 2009.
The Phillies play in such a small big league park, they value groundball pitchers in development, and Sampson probably has the best sinker in the system among potential starting pitchers. It's a hard sinker that he uses to consistently get ground balls. Club officials don't worry that opponents hit .285 against him, focusing instead on the fact he gave up just five homers in low Class A. They're also focused on how he kept getting better, posting a 3.83 ERA in his last 14 starts and winning his final five decisions. Sampson also throws a solid slider with plus potential down the line due to its depth. His fastball had average velocity in 2008, getting to 92-93 mph consistently, and he maintained velocity on both pitches throughout the season. Sampson, who signed for a $390,000 bonus, didn't throw much of a changeup in high school, and the pitch made major progress with Lakewood, supplanting his soft curveball as his third pitch. He's shelved the curve in favor of his slider. If it all comes together, Sampson will be throwing 90-94 mph sinkers with a plus slider and average changeup with a big, durable body and clean arm action. He's a potential No. 2 starter ticketed for high Class A this season.
The Phillies have made several forays into Australia of late, with Brad Harman reaching the majors last season. Catcher Joel Naughton and Naylor--teammates back in Queensland in Australia--joined Harman on the 40- man roster this fall. Naylor has asserted himself as the top Aussie prospect, thanks to his combination of size, stuff and accomplishment. Naylor has a big body and ranked 11th in the minors in strikeouts with 156, and projects as a mid-rotation starter. His fastball sits average at 88-92 mph, and he works up in the strike zone with it to set up his true 12-to-6 curveball. Those kind of pitchers tend to be homer prone. He's fairly athletic, though, and does a good job of commanding both pitches as well as his much-improved changeup. He was tougher on lefthanders because he keeps his change down in the zone more effectively than his fastball. Naylor was a bit shellshocked when he first got to high Class A but made adjustments, giving up only one homer in his last six starts. He has a good chance to earn a spot on Australia's World Baseball Classic team in the spring before likely making his Double-A debut.
The Phillies had extra draft picks in 2008, with supplemental first- and third-rounders and an extra second- rounder. That allowed Philadelphia to gamble a bit on upside, and no player represents that more than Hewitt, whom it selected 24th overall. A Brooklyn native, Hewitt's academic and athletic pursuits led him to the Salisbury School in Connecticut, where coach Mark Leavitt is a former scout. Scouting directors generally considered Hewitt the 2008 draft class' top athlete thanks to his strength, speed and explosiveness. He wasn't a consensus first-rounder because of his raw status, especially his bat. Undeterred by his lack of experience and Vanderbilt commitment, the Phillies signed Hewitt for $1.38 million. Hewitt has work ethic, charisma, athleticism and intelligence, but right now he has no clue at the plate. He finished the year in a 2-for-38 funk, striking out at least once in 25 of his last 27 games in the Gulf Coast League. Pitch recognition hampered Hewitt, who the Phillies hope was just trying to catch up to tougher competition. He also was shifting from shortstop to third base, though his stiff hands and lack of pure infield actions could force a shift to the outfield. The Phillies consider raw power to be Hewitt's calling card down the line as he gains experience. Scouting director Marti Wolever said Hewitt could hit .250 with 30 home runs in a realistic scenario. He's a long way from that after striking out in more than half his pro at-bats. Hewitt may repeat the GCL or get a promotion to short-season Williamsport in 2009, and could need 2,000 at-bats to unlock his potential.
Many scouts in Southern California thought of Gose as a pitcher first, seeing some Scott Kazmir or Billy Wagner possibilities with his smallish frame and big fastball. He ran it up to 97 mph early in prep games, but shoulder issues that required an MRI in mid-April ended his pitching opportunities. Limited to DH, Gose had a strong spring with the bat and the Phillies took him in the second round as a hitter, giving him a $772,000 bonus. He profiles extremely well as a center fielder. He's one of the organization's best runners and athletes, covering 60 yards in 6.5 seconds and showing plus-plus arm strength when healthy. Wolever and his staff believe in Gose's bat, saying that his hands work, he uses his hips in his swing and has some strength in his hands, with room to grow. The Phillies think Gose will hit for average power, and some in the organization are even more optimistic. They also acknowledge that if Gose's bat doesn't pan out, he can always go back to the mound as a power-armed reliever. Gose will have a chance to earn a spot on the Lakewood roster for 2009 but could join Anthony Hewitt in extended spring and later at Williamsport.
Worley was a 20th-round pick in 2005 out of Sacramento's McClatchy High--alma mater of big leaguers such as Larry Bowa, Dion James and Nick Johnson--but turned down the Phillies to attend Long Beach State. He struggled as a freshman but was the Dirtbags' workhorse as a junior and projects as such in pro ball. Philadelphia redrafted him in 2008 and signed him for $355,000 as a third-round pick. He has a clean arm action and easy delivery. While he has hit 94 mph in the past with his four-seamer, Worley generally works at 91-92 mph, mixing in an upper-80s two-seamer. His fastball is his best pitch, and his best attribute is his ability to pitch off it and work to both halves of the plate. His short slider gained a bit of depth after signing and grades out as average, as does his changeup. Neither is a put-away pitch, however, so Worley doesn't figure to rack up big strikeout numbers and needs to learn to get early-count outs. He runs into trouble when he racks up a succession of deep counts. Worley is at his best when he's getting some ground balls and profiles as a third or fourth starter. He'll front the Clearwater rotation in 2009.
Stutes transferred from Santa Clara to Oregon State just in time to play a key role for the 2006 and 2007 College World Series champions. He won eight games for the '06 team as a fourth starter/swing man, then was the ace of the '07 champs, going 12-4, 4.07. The Cardinals drafted him in the ninth round, but he didn't sign and returned for what proved to be a disastrous senior season. Stutes never got into a rhythm and threw too many breaking balls, plummeting to 4-7, 5.32. The Phillies snagged Stutes in the 11th round, signed him for $5,000 and got him to work more off his fastball. The results were staggering. Stutes dominated, averaging 10.85 strikeouts per nine innings while pushing his way to Lakewood. His fastball consistently reached 94 mph and sat around 91-92. His slider can be a plus pitch, and he throws a curveball and changeup. They all played up when he threw his fastball more, and one club official described a late Lakewood outing as "electric," saying Stutes has the highest ceiling of any of the club's 2008 pitching draftees. Stutes has an average feel for pitching and he needs polish on his defense and holding runners. His power, fastball-first approach got him out of his senior-year doldrums, and with him throwing four pitches for strikes, the Phillies see him as a potential mid-rotation starter. He'll join Vance Worley in the high Class A rotation.
The Phillies aren't known for their Latin American program, with Carlos Silva their best recent big leaguer and Carlos Carrasco their top prospect from the region. Like those pitchers, Galvis is from Venezuela, and the comparison often thrown around with him is for another Venezuelan, Omar Vizquel. Though Galvis has a chance to be a premium defender, comparing him to a 20-year veteran with more than 2,500 hits is too much. Many big league shortstops put up big error totals in the low minors, trying to make every play. Galvis makes plenty of plays and still led the Sally League with a .968 fielding percentage, making just 21 errors while pacing the league in total chances. Galvis' soft hands, range and arm strength get 70 grades on the 20-80 scouting scale, allowing him to have what one club official called "natural mustard." He makes flashy plays because that's how the play has to be made, not to show off. Galvis' bat will determine whether he's an everyday regular or a 4-A player. His advocates point to his ability to make contact, bunt and handle the bat, saying the body control that makes him a plus defender also helps him avoid strikeouts. He lacks strength and bat speed to hit for power. He's just an average runner. With college draftee Troy Hanzawa, another premium defender, added to the system, Galvis probably will repeat low Class A to give his bat time to develop.
Garcia signed the same year as Carrasco and is the top Dominican Republic product in the system, but again took two steps back after taking a step forward in 2008. Garcia began the season with his first trip to high Class A and performed well, winning eight of 10 decisions and throwing strikes with a fastball that at times hit 96 mph. However, Garcia had just two quality starts out of 11 in Double-A, and one club official termed his stay there as "batting practice." Garcia's fastball has good life but he doesn't command it well, as he tends to overthrow. When he gets in trouble, he tries to throw harder, and he threw plenty of 90 mph heaters over the fat part of the plate with Reading. He did make progress with his changeup and has settled on a breaking ball, a hard slurve that should be an average pitch. Garcia will return to Double-A in 2009 as a 21-year-old, and has plenty of time to establish himself, but the influx of pitching talent added in the last two drafts will push Garcia to get better or get out of the way.
Savery ranked third on this list a year ago, coming off a stellar college career at Rice that included the 2005 Freshman of the Year award and two trips to the College World Series. A two-way player for the Owls, Savery was expected to actually improve a bit as a pitcher once he ditched hitting duties. Instead, the 19th overall pick in the 2007 draft and recipient of a $1,372,500 bonus labored through his first full pro season. On the plus side, Savery led the Florida State League with 150 innings, and his arm works well. He has a big, durable body, and scouts saw flashes of his first-round talent, especially with the sink on his fastball. That said, they were just flashes, and on some outings, Savery wouldn't have been turned in as a prospect if not for his firstround pedigree. His fastball sat at 85-88 mph, and often dropped as low as 82. He got 1.81 groundouts for every airout, and his 76-82 mph slider showed average potential. His breaking ball and changeup both backed up as he lost some arm speed. Savery's critics point to a heavier lower half as the culprit for his decreased arm speed and the resulting loss in velocity. Savery was attacking his conditioning in the offseason. He'll be watched closely in spring training to see what kind of shape he's in. His spring performance will determine whether he earns a move to Double-A.
Mattair was the Phillies' second-round pick in 2007, signing for $395,000. His athleticism and power potential motivated the Phils to lure him away from Oregon State, and he has the leverage in his swing to project above-average power. His inexperience has shown since signing, however. He played basketball in addition to baseball in high school, attracting Division II scholarship offers. His lack of wood-bat experience has led to a long swing and a resulting long adjustment period, but he made progress after a slow start at Lakewood in 2008. He's finding his swing and his athleticism helped him shorten up a bit. He has the bat speed to overcome some holes in his swing caused by his long levers. Defensively, Mattair should be an average third baseman at least, with arm strength and solid range, and could be a plus defender with work. While Mattair made progress as the year went on, he needs to get stronger and add some polish. The Phillies expect him to repeat low Class A in 2009 and turn some of his flashes of power into more consistent production.
Carpenter made it the majors in 2008 after starting the season on a strong note. Carpenter got his first exposure to big league camp and did well in the spotlight, dominating the Yankees in four innings and commanding his plus changeup to all quadrants of the zone. At his best, the former Long Beach workhorse commands his 86- 90 mph fastball, gets a good downhill angle and sets up his best pitch--a short, sharp slider that was better prior to 2008. Carpenter made significant progress with his changeup, throws a get-it-over curveball and will sneak in a split-finger fastball. His conditioning will dictate his future role. Carpenter was just too heavy in 2008, costing him command and stamina. He missed time last year with what was officially turf toe, though the Phillies really wanted him to focus on losing weight during his time on the disabled list. He made some adjustments in the Arizona Fall League and should be ready to be reunited with pitching coach Steve Schrenk, who gets through to him more than most. They'll both be at Reading, at least to start the year.
The Phillies gave Cosart more money than any of their pitchers in the 2008 draft other than Knapp, their second-rounder who got $40,000 more than Cosart's $550,000 bonus. Cosart helped make this one of the organization's deepest draft classes in years, as they spent $6.7 million on the group. While he's somewhat slightly built, he has projection in his frame and one of the quickest arms in the organization. He topped out at 92 mph in the spring and was more noted in Texas' high school ranks as a hitter, as he broke Jay Buhner's Clear Creek High record for batting. A two-way Missouri signee, Cosart had Phillies scouts following him the last two summers. They saw him hit 96 last fall, then saw it again this summer as Cosart played American Legion ball. He was at 95-96 with his fastball the day before the signing deadline, and the Phillies liked his arm and live body enough to pay such a lofty bonus. Cosart's delivery includes a pause that the Phillies will work to smooth over, and his breaking ball and changeup are in their early stages, though he has shown the ability to spin a curve at times. His athletic ability and arm strength make him an intriguing project. The Phillies drafted enough depth to take it slow with Cosart, who may not pitch full-season ball until 2010.
Mayberry came to the Phillies in a November trade of first-round picks who haven't worked out. Philadelphia sent toolsy center fielder Greg Golson to the Rangers for Mayberry, and Golson would have ranked higher on this list than Mayberry because he's a superior defensive player. The Phillies, though, were looking for corner bats with power, and Mayberry in some ways is similar to Michael Taylor, his former teammate at Stanford. Taylor runs better, is a bit more athletic and has started incorporating his lower half into his swing better than Mayberry--who continues to get tied up by hard stuff inside. Mayberry has the pedigree to be a big leaguer--his father John was an all-star first baseman with the Royals in the 1970s, and he himself was a first-round pick twice, in 2002 (Mariners), when he didn't sign, and in 2005 out of Stanford. Mayberry has a plus throwing arm in right field and power for the position, with solid athletic ability and running speed. He crushes lefthanders (1.093 OPS in Triple-A) but fails to make adjustments against righties, as he gets worked inside hard, and away with soft stuff. After hitting 30 homers in 2007 and making progress in the Arizona Fall League, Mayberry plummeted to 20 homers in 2008. The Phillies hope a change of scenery unlocks his potential, and he'll anchor the outfield at Lehigh Valley in 2009.
The Phillies used to have a lot of speedsters (Tim Moss, Michael Bourn) in the organization. Through attrition and trades, Berry is the fastest man left standing, with sub-4.0 second times to first base on drag bunts making him a 70 runner. His 51 stolen bases led the Florida State League and the organization. Berry impressed FSL observers with the improvements he made during the course of the season, from running routes to his overall defensive game in center field. He's a slightly above-average center fielder who adds an average arm and excellent range. Berry's offensive ceiling is limited by his lack of power, as his short swing lacks a load and he lacks the strength to drive the ball. He beats out his share of infield hits, puts pressure on defenses with his speed and uses the whole field. He's also not afraid of working deep counts, trying to get walks, and ranked second in the FSL in that category. His combination of speed, aptitude and plate discipline should one day make Berry a seconddivision regular (after a trade) or key late-inning pinch-runner/defensive replacement.
Overholt was primarily a reliever in college at Santa Clara, where he missed the 2004 season due to Tommy John surgery. The Phillies used him as a starter for most of his pro career as he grew into his body, adding three inches in height since early in his college career. While he lost the closer role during an ugly second half in the Reading bullpen, he made enough progress in 2008 to position himself as a future big league bullpen option. Overholt has a big arm and flashes two plus pitches. His fastball usually sits at 92-93 mph, and his slider is the best in the organization, at times coming in at 85-86 mph with late bite. In the second half, he lost his arm slot, lowering his angle. As a result, he elevated his fastball and got around on his slider, causing it to flatten out. He has never had enough command but has the stuff to get away with merely control to be a middle reliever. He's working on refining a changeup to combat lefthanders, who slugged .504 off him in Double-A. Overholt has spent the last two years in the Arizona Fall League, and the Phils clearly value him as a prospect. However, he wasn't added to the 40-man roster and passed through the Rule 5 draft unpicked. The raw talent is there, and Overholt has to start consistently locating his fastball down in the zone to set up his slider if he wants to avoid another second-half swoon. He's expected to return to Reading but could earn a Triple-A assignment with a strong spring training.
Escalona fancied himself an outfielder as an amateur in Venezuela but didn't get anywhere with the bat. He converted to pitching and signed with the Phillies when he was nearly 20 years old. He was a starter in the low minors and a non-factor until 2008, when a move to the bullpen helped him surge through the system. He pitched in both the Arizona Fall League and winter ball in his native Venezuela and earned a spot on the Phillies' 40-man roster. Escalona needs just two pitches, yet has shown three--a fastball with sink at 88-92 mph, a changeup that got better in the AFL, and an inconsistent, raw curveball that he can spin for strikes when he's on. He's shown the hand speed for it to become an average pitch. Club officials use the word "green" to describe Escalona, but he's lefthanded, has shown the ability to get strikeouts and had more than two groundouts for every airout in 2008. It's a good combination of skills for a lefty reliever, and Escalona goes to camp with an outside shot at a big league bullpen spot.
The Phillies are excited about their pitching class in the 2008 draft, both on the college and high school sides. May ranks ahead of righthander Jon Pettibone, who was taken 26 spots ahead of him, because he's a bit more physical and has a better breaking ball. May follows Julian Sampson in giving the Phillies arguably the top prep pitchers out of Washington the last two years. Other than being righthanded and from the Apple State, though, May has little in common with Sampson. He's a power pitcher with a feel for a good curveball, which plays average but should become a plus pitch as he adds power down the line. May also has shown above-average velocity at times on his fastball, flashing 92-94 mph heat at times but more regularly sitting at 87-90. His arm works well, so he should be able to consistently add velocity. His solid athleticism should allow him to clean up his high-maintenance delivery and develop average control. He will need to work on a changeup as he moves up the ladder, and he made some progress in instructional league. May has a chance to earn a spot in the Lakewood rotation in 2009. His power curve and fastball marks him as a future mid-rotation starter.
Cisco's middle name is Galen, hinting at his big league roots. His grandfather Galen pitched parts of seven seasons in the big leagues and was the Phillies' pitching coach from 1997-2000. Mike went 19-10, 4.16 in three seasons at South Carolina, earning a reputation as a soft-tossing strike-thrower. His fastball sat at 84-88 mph, when he threw it. Surprisingly, he signed for $10,000 as a 36th-round pick in June, and then even more surprisingly showed more velocity on his fastball than ever before. South Carolina coach Ray Tanner called Cisco a poor man's Greg Maddux for his ability to command his fastball to all four quadrants, and Cisco did that as a pro. Instead of parking in the mid-80s, however, Cisco's fastball gained velocity as he used it more, peaking at 93-94 mph and usually running from 89-92. He has a feel for pitching and throws strikes with his curveball, changeup and short slider. Cisco's pro debut was a revelation, from his increased stuff to his 30-0 strikeout-walk ratio at Lakewood. He repeats his compact delivery, giving him the best command in the organization. He's likely headed to Clearwater's rotation this year with fellow 2008 draftees Vance Worley and Mike Stutes. He profiles as a middle reliever but could be a fourth or fifth starter if he can maintain his average fastball velocity over a full season.
Shreve has yet to even make it through a full season in junior college, playing in a wood-bat league. He also had Tommy John surgery prior to the 2008 draft. Yet the Phillies took him in the sixth round and paid him an above-slot $400,000 bonus. Shreve has good size, arm strength and fair athleticism. He was a Nevada-Las Vegas recruit, primarily as a third baseman, out of high school but was disappointed when he wasn't drafted and decided to go to junior college instead. He shot up draft boards as a freshman at CC of Southern Nevada, hitting 94-95 mph early in the season, then tumbled as a dead-arm period sapped his velocity. The Braves took him in the eighth round in 2007 but failed to sign him. After entering last season as the nation's top-ranked juco player, he went 5-2, 2.30 and allowed just 23 hits in 47 innings. Yet he broke down in early May and had reconstructive surgery on his elbow. Shreve showed a solid-average slider and life on his fastball prior to his injury. He should be back throwing by midseason and should make his pro debut in the Gulf Coast League, with a chance to jump back on the fast track in 2010.
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