Thursday, January 18, 2007

Phils Top 10 Prospects

scouting reports for the phils top 10 prospects from
Though the system has churned out Howard, Utley and Hamels in recent years, it has lacked depth. As a result, general manager Pat Gillick had assistant GM Mike Arbuckle got more involved in the draft. The club's scouting director from 1993-2001, Arbuckle oversaw drafts that included Scott Rolen, Adam Eaton, Rollins, Randy Wolf, Burrell, Ryan Madson, Myers, Utley and Howard.

In 2006 the Phillies kicked off their draft with a pair of intriguing picks who rank second and third on this prospect list. They gambled the 18th choice on mercurial righthander Kyle Drabek, who had one of the best arms but also one of the most questionable makeups available. In the supplemental first round they grabbed sweet-swinging shortstop Adrian Cardenas, Baseball America's High School Player of the Year.

Philadelphia's minor league affiliates combined for a .526 winning percentage, eighth-best in baseball, highlighted by low Class A Lakewood. The BlueClaws went 84-55 during the regular season and won the South Atlantic League playoffs behind a rotation led by the organization's top prospect, righthander Carlos Carrasco, and lefties Josh Outman and Matt Maloney.

For a team planning to contend, the Phillies surprisingly added three players in the major league Rule 5 draft at the Winter Meetings. Live-armed righthanders Jim Ed Warden and Alfredo Simon could claim spots in the bullpen, though defensive-minded catcher Ryan Budde seems a stretch to make the club.

1. Carlos Carrasco, rhp Born: March 3, 1987 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-3 • Wt: 190

Background: 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 in 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.

Strengths: 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.

Weaknesses: 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 Future: 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 midseason, putting him on pace to arrive in Philadelphia at some point in 2009.

2. Kyle Drabek, rhp Born: Dec. 8, 1987 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-1 • Wt: 180

Background: 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.

Strengths: 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.

Weaknesses: 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.

The Future: 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.

3. Adrian Cardenas, ss/2b Born: Oct. 10, 1987 • B-T: L-R • Ht: 5-11 • Wt: 185

Background: 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 all-star team.

Strengths: 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. His intellect is on par with his athleticism, as he graduated in the top 10 percent in his class.

Weaknesses: The Phillies recognize that Cardenas best fits at second base, where he played exclusively during instructional league. He lacks first-step quickness and the range to play short, and his speed and arm strength are fringy.

The Future: Cardenas probably will play second base alongside 2006 third-round pick Jason Donald in low Class A in 2007. More advanced than most high school players, he could develop along the lines of Chase Utley.

4. Edgar Garcia, rhp Born: Sept. 20, 1987 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 190

Background: 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.

Strengths: 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. The Phillies love his makeup and ability to make adjustments during a game.

Weaknesses: 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 Future: 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.

5. Scott Mathieson, rhp Born: Feb. 27, 1984 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-4 • Wt: 195

Background: 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.

Strengths: 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.

Weaknesses: 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.

The Future: If all goes well, Mathieson will return to the mound during the summer at the Phillies' new short-season Williamsport affiliate. He has the work ethic to bounce back strongly and quickly. While he has the stuff to start, it gives him the potential to close games as well.

6. Josh Outman, lhp Born: Sept. 14, 1984 • B-T: L-L • Ht: 6-1 • Wt: 190

Background: 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.

Strengths: 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.

Weaknesses: 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.

The Future: Ticketed for high Class A, Outman could reach Double-A by the summer. He's on course to be a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter in the majors.

7. Michael Bourn, of Born: Dec. 27, 1982 • B-T: L-R • Ht: 5-11 • Wt: 180

Background: 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.

Strengths: 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.

Weaknesses: 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.

The Future: 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.

8. J.A. Happ, lhp Born: Oct. 19, 1982 • B-T: L-L • Ht: 6-5 • Wt: 205

Background: The first Northwestern player ever to make the all-Big Ten Conference three times, Happ has had no trouble adjusting to pro ball. He has posted a 2.49 ERA and reached Triple-A in just 2½ seasons.

Strengths: 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.

Weaknesses: 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.

The Future: 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.

9. Matt Maloney, lhp Born: Jan. 16, 1984 • B-T: L-L • Ht: 6-4 • Wt: 220

Background: 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.

Strengths: 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.

Weaknesses: 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. He tends to pitch up in the zone and sometimes tries to nibble at the corners too much.

The Future: 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.

10. Greg Golson, of Born: Sept. 17, 1985 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-0 • Wt: 190

Background: 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.

Strengths: 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.

Weaknesses: 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.

The Future: Golson will need to keep his ego in check because he's set to return to Clearwater in 2007. His upside is the highest among the system's position players, but he needs to start performing on a consistent basis in what will be his fourth pro season.

for reference, here is last year's top 10:
1. Cole Hamels, lhp in majors
2. Greg Golson, of dropped to 10
3. Michael Bourn, of dropped to 7
4. Scott Mathieson, rhp dropped to 5 (out for year)
5. Welinson Baez, ss/3b still number 5
6. Mike Costanzo, 3b dropped out of top 10
7. Brad Harman, ss/2b still number 7
8. Tim Moss, 2b dropped out of top 10
9. Jason Jaramillo, c dropped out of top 10
10. Edgar Garcia, rhp up to number 4



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