1. Carlos Carrasco, RHP
2. Joe Savery, LHP
3. Adrian Cardenas, 2B
4. Josh Outman, LHP
5. Kyle Drabek, RHP
6. Travis D’Arnaud, C
7. Lou Marson, C
8. Jason Donald, SS
9. Dominic Brown, OF
10. Drew Carpenter, RHP
11. Travis Mattair, 3B
Just Missing: Freddy Galvis, ss; Greg Golson, of; Julian Sampson, rhp
Year In Review: The pitcher who broke out in 2006 continued to get outs at High-A, but scuffled following a mid-season promotion to the Double-A Eastern League.
The Good: Carrasco’s low-90s fastball can touch 94 at times and has excellent movement. He throws it for strikes, and when he gets ahead in the count he makes batters look foolish with a plus-plus changeup that drops off the table as it spins towards hitters. His curveball is solid, and he mixes his pitches well. He doesn’t turn 21 until March, and his frame still offers some projection, as do his fluid mechanics.
The Bad: Carrasco’s control went backwards significantly at Double-A, as he got too fine with his location. He needs to trust his stuff more and be comfortable depending on his defense, as he’s not going to be a big-time strikeout pitcher. Some scouts see him as a bit of a tweener–without the stuff to be a pure power pitcher, or the finesse to be a command/control specialist.
Fun Fact: During his 14 Double-A appearances, Carrasco had a 3.02 ERA at home, but a miserable 9.61 mark on the road.
Perfect World Projection: Opinions vary on Carrasco. Most believe he’ll at least be a good No. 3 starter, and some think he’ll be more than that.
Timetable: Youth is on Carrasco’s side, and he’ll begin 2008 with another shot at conquering Double-A.
Year In Review: Seen as a sure-fire top 10 pick prior to the season, Rice’s ace took longer than expected to recover from an off-season shoulder cleanup, and below-expectations performance dropped him to No. 19 overall in the draft.
The Good: Savery’s arm strength slowly returned throughout the spring, and by the end of the year he was back to his usual low 90s gas, with the ability to dial it up to 93-95 mph at times. Like Carrasco, he has a highly-advanced changeup, and his power curveball is at least average. He’s an outstanding athlete who was a two-way star in college, and team officials think his stuff could take a step forward across the board now that he’s dedicated full-time to pitching.
The Bad: Savery’s command comes and goes, and he had significant trouble throwing strikes during a brief Arizona Fall League stint. As a pitcher from Rice who has already had one surgery, his long-term health is a concern.
Fun Fact: Right-handed hitters facing Savery in the Arizona Fall League went 1-for-32, but drew eight walks.
Perfect World Projection: Savery’s ceiling is at least the same, if not a little higher than Carrasco’s, but he’s also further from it.
Timetable: Providing that Savery is healthy and throwing strikes, he could skip a level and begin his 2008 season in the High-A Florida State League rotation.
Year In Review: A high school star with questionable tools, Cardenas had a very good full-season debut in South Atlantic League.
The Good: Cardenas has good bat speed and outstanding hand-eye coordination, using his strong wrists to whip the bat through the hitting zone, leading to consistent hard contact with gap power to all fields. He has a good approach and solid pitch recognition, and gets high grades for his makeup. He shows decent speed once he gets underway.
The Bad: Drafted as a shortstop with the knowledge that he’d have to move, Cardenas continued to struggle with the glove on the right side of the infield in 2007, and need to improve his reads off the bat and his work around the bag. He’s a little on the smallish side, and doesn’t project for more than average power.
Fun Fact: Cardenas hit five of his nine home runs last year in the month of May, in which he also hit just .255, his lowest single-month average. The following month, he hit .360 without going deep once.
Perfect World Projection: Ray Durham minus the speed?
Timetable: Cardenas was good in 2007, but not good enough to earn any kind of accelerated timetable. He’ll spend 2008 in the Florida State League.
4. Josh Outman, LHP
Drafted: 10th round, 2005, Central Missouri State
2007 Stats: 2.45 ERA at High-A (117.1-104-54-117); 4.50 ERA at Double-A (42-38-23-34)
Year In Review: This fast-rising left-hander shadowed Carlos Carrasco in 2007, being one of the most consistent starters in the Florida State League, but then also struggling after a promotion to Double-A.
The Good: Outman has excellent velocity for a southpaw, sitting at 91-93 mph with his fastball, and touching 95. His secondary stuff is solid, as he gets decent two-plane break on his slurvy breaking ball and has a deceptive changeup. His unique delivery makes his pitches difficult to pick up out of his hand, and scouts like his competitive fire.
The Bad: Outman’s mechanics come with good and bad. While the combination of his arm angle and release point make it difficult to throw anything straight, he also has problems throwing strikes with any consistency. He tends to work high in the strike zone, and Double-A hitters made him pay the price.
Fun Fact: Thirty-two players have been drafted out of Central Missouri State. None have reached the big leagues.
Perfect World Projection: A solid mid-rotation starer.
Timetable: Like Carrasco, Outman needs another shot at Double-A, and he’ll join the team’s top prospect in the Reading rotation.
Year In Review: First-round pick from 2006 lasted just over 50 inconsistent innings before snapping his elbow and requiring Tommy John surgery in the summer.
The Good: Drabek’s stuff has yet to match what he showed in high school, when his fastball was in the mid-90s. Last year, he was more in the 89-93 range. His curveball, which some felt was the best in the 2006 draft, has declined to a merely an above-average offering, but that’s still a good thing. He showed good feel for a changeup as a teenager, and he’s a fantastic athlete who also had legitimate first-round potential as an infielder.
The Bad: In June, Drabek will be two years removed from his high school glory days, with little to show for it. If his stuff doesn’t return to form quickly, he may get tagged as a reliever because of his smallish frame and a fastball that tends to be straight. He entered pro ball with a myriad of makeup issues, but he’s had zero problems since signing.
Fun Fact: Despite the struggles in his full-season debut, batters facing Drabek last year with runners in scoring position and two outs went 4-for-25 with ten strikeouts.
Perfect World Projection: When he was drafted, he looked like he could be a No. 2 starter, but he’s further from that now than he was 18 months ago.
Timetable: Drabek’s recovery has gone as planned, and the Phillies hope he’ll be ready to return to action during the second half of the season.
Year In Review: The second high school catcher selected in the draft showed impressive all-around skills in his pro debut.
The Good: D’Arnaud is a big, athletic catcher with plenty of upside. He takes a powerful swing and projects for above-average power down the road. He’s a very good athlete for a catcher with excellent receiving skills, a plus arm, and the attitude of a field general.
The Bad: D’Arnaud needs to tighten his approach at the plate. His swing has a bit of a loop in it, and while he’ll likely always have high strikeout totals, he complicates matters by lunging at breaking balls and chasing nearly any pitch on the outer half. His throws are strong, but could use improved accuracy.
Fun Fact: Half of D’Arnaud’s four home runs and 35 percent of his 20 RBIs came in one game, when he homered twice, including a grand slam, and drove in seven against the GCL Braves on August 15.
Perfect World Projection: An everyday big league catcher with plus defensive value and enough bat to hit sixth in a good lineup.
Timetable: D’Arnaud showed enough to be ready for a full-season league, so he’ll be the everyday catcher at Low-A Lakewood in 2008.
Year In Review: A previously under-performing fourth-round pick from ’04, Marson enjoyed a surprising explosion with the bat in 2007 while still providing his always-solid defensive skills.
The Good: Marson has outstanding on-base skills for a catcher, as his approach is among the best in the system, and his smooth, level swing has led to a high contact rate. He’s a solid catcher with a plus arm, and he brings a former high school football player’s toughness to the game.
The Bad: Marson’s swing is on a single, level plane, and he doesn’t have much power potential. Right-handers have found some success by continually busting him inside, and he’ll need to address this issue as he moves up. He runs like a catcher.
Fun Fact: Coronado High was the filming location for Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, as well as the classic 1980s teenage sex-romp, Just One of The Guys.
Perfect World Projection: An average big-league catcher.
Timetable: Marson will play at Double-A in 2008, and he’s in an interesting situation, as the Phillies have some depth at catcher, with Jason Jaramillo ahead of him, and D’Arnaud coming up from behind.
Year In Review: Donald bounced back from a difficult college career to put up big numbers in his full-season debut.
The Good: Donald’s patient approach and surprising pop gives him nice offensive potential for a middle infielder. He works the count well, and when he gets his pitch he drives balls into the gap with occasional over-the-fence power. He’s a max-effort player and a baseball rat with outstanding fundamentals and excellent instincts who gets the most from his tools.
The Bad: Few, if any, think Donald can stay at shortstop as he moves up, because he lacks the overall speed and first-step quickness to play the position in the big leagues. He has a significant platoon split, absolutely crushing lefties while being merely good against right-handers.
Fun Fact: An all-around athlete at Buchanan High School in California, Donald was an all-city football player who played quarterback, wide receiver, safety, punter, and place kicker in his career.
Perfect World Projection: An everyday second baseman, and even if that doesn’t work out, Donald should have value as a platoon/utility player.
Timetable: Donald has nothing left to prove at the lower levels of the system, and will probably begin the 2008 season at Double-A.
Year In Review: Although a twentieth-round pick from two years ago, Brown got $200,000 to sign, and looked to be worth even more than that in his second year at a short-season league.
The Good: For many, Brown has replaced Greg Golson as the top high-ceiling player in the system, and he’s one who offers plenty to dream on. His long, athletic frame gives him plus power potential, as well as the speed for 20+ stolen bases annually. He’s a good center fielder with a plus arm, and the Phillies believe that his surprisingly advanced approach will lead to bigger numbers as he advances through the system.
The Bad: Brown focused more on football in high school, and his lack of experience shows in games. He needs to improve his reads in the outfield, and at the plate he still can be fooled by good breaking balls. His swing currently has more of a slashing style to it, and it needs to be retooled a bit in order to allow Brown to turn on balls and generate backspin.
Fun Fact: When batting in the ninth inning for Williamsport last year, Brown went 7-for-17 with two of his three home runs.
Perfect World Projection: Brown’s ceiling is through the roof, but the gap between what he is and what he can be rivals that of any prospect in the system.
Timetable: Brown will get his first taste of full-season ball in 2008, beginning the year at Low-A Lakewood.
Year In Review: A highly polished right-hander, Carpenter was one of the most consistent starters in the minors, going five-plus innings in all but three of his starts.
The Good: Carpenter pounds the strike zone with an average-velocity fastball that he can locate with pinpoint precision. He’s consistently ahead in the count, and once ahead, he tries to get hitters to chase his average curveball in the dirt, or lunge at his slider outside the zone; he has a decent changeup. He’s a big-bodied right-hander with excellent stamina who maintains his stuff and location throughout the game.
The Bad: Carpenter very much is what he is, and has little projection. He doesn’t have a go-to offering to miss bats with, and he’ll always need a good defense behind him.
Fun Fact: In the past ten years, only two players drafted 65th overall have reached the big leagues–Ben Broussard and Dustin Pedroia. Carpenter has a long way to go to become the best pitcher drafted at that slot, as the Yankees nabbed Ron Guidry there in 1971.
Perfect World Projection: A back-of-the-rotation innings-eater.
Timetable: Carpenter might not have much of a ceiling, but he could be ready soon, as he’ll begin 2008 in a crowded rotation at Double-A Reading.
Year In Review: Mattair’s a quick-rising third baseman who went from marginal prospect to one of the better high school players in the Northwest, so the Phillies selected him in the second round.
The Good: Mattair’s combination of a big frame and surprising athleticism brought comparisons to Scott Rolen and Troy Glaus as an amateur. Muscular and broad-shouldered, he shows plus-plus power potential in batting practice and is capable of moon shots when he gets his arms fully extended. He has soft hands in the field and a solid arm, and earned early praise for his work ethic.
The Bad: Mattair was more focused on basketball in high school, and he’s incredibly raw. He constantly flailed at breaking balls during his pro debut, leading to 58 strikeouts in 200 at-bats, and he needs to dramatically improve his footwork at the hot corner, as well as his baserunning.
Fun Fact: When batting third in the GCL Phillies lineup, Mattair hit just .153. Otherwise, his batting average was .281.
Perfect World Projection: Like Brown, Mattair brings a ton of potential to the table, but right now he’s eons away from being ready.
Timetable: Unless Mattair makes a dramatic step forward in spring training, he could be held back in extended spring training in preparation for an assignment to the New York-Penn League.
The Sleeper: While scouts have never been enamored with his tools, second baseman Tyler Mach always put up big numbers in college, and hit .287/.362/.441 in the New York-Penn League after being selected in the fourth round as an economic senior sign.
The Big Picture: Rankings Combined With Non-Rookies Under 25 (As Of Opening Day 2008)
1. Cole Hamels, LHP
2. Carlos Carrasco, RHP
3. Joe Savery, LHP
4. Adrian Cardenas, 2B
5. Josh Outman, LHP
6. Kyle Drabek, RHP
7. Kyle Kendrick, RHP
8. Travis D’Arnaud, C
9. Lou Marson, C
10. Jason Donald, SS
Hamels is a true ace in the making who will always have his durability questioned until he proves he can deliver 30+ starts and 200+ innings consistently. Kendrick shocked pretty much everyone by going 10-4 in 20 big league starts last year with a 3.87 ERA, but with a strikeout rate of 3.6 per nine, that kind of success is simply unsustainable, and he projects as no more than a back-of-the-rotation piece.
The Phillies system is not an especially strong one, but although the organization has never had a reputation for being especially strong in its scouting and player development, the roster currently has a home-grown ace in Hamels and three self-supplied MVP candidates in the lineup in Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, and Chase Utley. That combination is one that few organizations can come anywhere close to claiming.
Next: The Pittsburgh Pirates.
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