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Philadelphia Phillies Top 10 Prospects
Index of Top 10 Prospects for all 30 Major League Teams

By Josh Boyd

1. Marlon Byrd, of

Age: 24. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 220. B-T: R-R. Drafted: Georgia Perimeter JC, 1999 (10th round). Signed by: Steve Gillispie.

Phillies Top Prospects

1992 Tyler Green, rhp
1993 Tyler Green, rhp
1994 Tyler Green, rhp
1995 Scott Rolen, 3b
1996 Scott Rolen, 3b
1997 Scott Rolen, 3b
1998 Ryan Brannan, rhp
1999 Pat Burrell, 1b
2000 Pat Burrell, 1b/of
2001 Jimmy Rollins, ss

Background: Though most Phillies officials expected Byrd to spend the 2001 season at high Class A Clearwater, he fell two home runs shy of becoming the second player in Double-A Eastern League history to record a 30-30 season. A careless accident as a Georgia Tech freshman nearly cost him his athletic future. He karate-kicked a door in jest and sustained muscular damage to his right leg. He came down with an infection that cut off the circulation to the nerves in his leg and required three operations. Byrd ballooned to 315 pounds, a far cry from the days when he was a sought-after high school running back. After transferring to Georgia Perimeter Junior College, he rededicated himself and has been on a mission since. In case there were any doubts about Byrd’s breakthrough, he was among the top hitters in the Arizona Fall League.

Strengths: Byrd removed all of his limitations in 2001 and now offers average to above-average tools across the board. He resembles a young Kirby Puckett, but don’t be fooled by his stocky frame. Byrd is a fitness freak with a rock-solid physique. He has a quiet, compact stroke, and the ball jumps off his bat to all fields. He stays back on offspeed stuff and is an intelligent hitter with a decent idea of the strike zone. Like Puckett, Byrd uses his instincts well in center field and gets good jumps in all directions. The Phillies call him a manager’s dream because he never stops striving for improvement.

Weaknesses: A year ago, Byrd’s below-average speed and below-average arm relegated him to left field. He got himself on a long-toss program and improved his throwing. He also worked on his running, resulting in 30 steals. His power was in question, so he built up his upper-body strength and slugged a career-best .555. He doesn’t have as much baseball experience as the typical 24-year-old prospect because he lost two years to his leg injury, but he’s quickly making up for lost time.

The Future: Byrd has rapidly emerged as the Phillies’ center fielder of the future. He has already caught manager Larry Bowa’s attention with his work ethic. Adding him to an outfield with Pat Burrell and Bob Abreu would give Philadelphia two potential 30-30 men in the lineup.

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