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December
15th
2005
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Post-2005 Prospect Review: Philadelphia
by Tim Polko

Today's Fantasy Rx

Prospects with Double-Digit Upside
Likely 2006 September Call-ups
Potential Reserve Help
Minor League Draft Picks
Organization Rankings
Philadelphia's Top 15 Fantasy Prospects


Prospects with Double-Digit Upside

Michael Bourn, 22, OF-L
146/544 for .268/.348/.364 with 6 HR, 44 RBI, 80 R, 38/50 SB%,
and a 63:123 BB:K for AA Reading(EL).

The fleet Bourn skipped high-A and appeared on the cusp of challenging for the Phillies' centerfield job until the club acquired Aaron Rowand. Now Bourn should receive a needed additional year of development time, preparing for a promotion to Philadelphia's leadoff slot in 2007 if the club deals Pat Burrell or Bobby Abreu to open a corner slot. With strong speed skills and excellent patience, Bourn could blossom into a $40 player in his fantasy prime, so he definitely warrants a fairly high pick in most leagues this spring.


Likely 2006 September Call-ups

Jake Blalock, 22, OF-R
140/502 for .279/.359/.388 with 11 HR, 65 RBI, 50 R, 10/11 SB%,
and a 60:100 BB:K for A+ Clearwater(FSL).

A relative power outage accompanied a contact rate jump from .76 to .80 following a promotion from the Sally League. However, he otherwise carried all his offensive skills to the higher level and now appears primed for move to the Eastern League. Blalock will merit plenty of attention if he continues to developing while nearing the majors, but with outfield prospects currently comprising the deepest crop of rookies in a fairly barren organization, his limited upside in Philadelphia currently renders him useless in any standard league.


Cole Hamels, 21, LH Starter
2-0 on a 19:12 K:BB in 19 IP over 3 GS
with 10 H, 2 HR, a .89 G-F, and a 2.37 ERA for AA Reading(EL).
2-0 on an 18:7 K:BB in 16 IP over 3 GS
with 7 H, 0 HR, a .81 G-F, and a 2.25 ERA for A+ Clearwater(FSL).

Few players rank as bigger injury risks than the 17th pick of the 2002 draft. With only a total of 152 professional innings in the four seasons since Philadelphia drafted him, further depressed by a 2005 that featured Hamels breaking his hand in a January bar fight and a stress fracture in his back, he at least doesn't appear at risk for long-term arm fatigue. However, he simply must remain healthy for a full year in 2006 to retain his theoretical top prospect status. You only should keep Hamels in leagues with relatively deep rookie crops given his results to date.


Yoel Hernandez, 25, RH Reliever
6-4 and 3 Saves on a 52:24 K:BB in 55.2 IP over 40 G
with 53 H, 5 HR, a 1.67 G-F, and a 3.40 ERA for AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre(IL).
2-0 on a 15:6 K:BB in 13.2 IP over 9 G
with 12 H, 0 HR, a 1.00 G-F, and a 1.32 ERA for AA Reading(EL).
1-1 on a 7:3 K:BB in 5.1 IP over 4 G
with 8 H, 1 HR, a 3.50 G-F, and an 11.81 ERA for A+ Clearwater(FSL).

Hernandez finally conquered the International League after two failed attempts, demonstrating respectable all-around skills and positioning himself near the top of the line as a likely injury replacement next summer. Although I expect he won't develop into a late-inning option, Hernandez soon could merit some fantasy consideration as no less than capable roster filler.


Scott Mathieson, 21, RH Starter
3-8 on a 118:34 K:BB in 121.1 IP over 23 GS
with 111 H, 17 HR, a .73 G-F, and a 4.14 ERA for A+ Clearwater(FSL).

A successful season in Clearwater led to fall berths on Team Canada and the AFL, ranking as the best pitching prospect in Arizona as scouts ignored his 6.92 ERA to focus on an impressive 36:11 K:BB in 26 IP with 34 H and HR allowed to a league loaded with top young hitters. While a lack of upper level depth could force the Phillies to push Mathieson up the organizational ladder, I currently expect him to enjoy most of 2006 in the Eastern League before competing for a big league job no sooner than mid-2007. He likely won't merit any fantasy attention ahead of that schedule if rushed due to the unforgiving environment of CB Park.


Tim Moss, 23, 2B-R
126/469 for .269/.348/.463 with 17 HR, 61 RBI, 87 R, 28/38 SB%,
and a 45:129 BB:K for A+ Clearwater(FSL).

The Phillies' third round pick in 2003, the 5'9" infielder shockingly boosted his slugging percentage over a hundred points despite progressing from the Sally League to Clearwater. Moss now will hit the Eastern League with plenty of confidence from this dominant performance in a pitchers' circuit. He won't move quickly with Chase Utley secured in Philadelphia, though a continuation of this relative offensive barrage at least will place Moss in line for a backup job sometime in 2007.


Carlos Ruiz, 26, C-R
104/347 for .300/.354/.458 with 4 HR, 40 RBI, 50 R, 4/9 SB%,
and a 30:48 BB:K for AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre(IL).

Apparently Phillies' management just doesn't trust Ruiz as the club signed Sal Fasano with the intention of playing him semi-regularly to lighten the load on Mike Lieberthal. Given Ruiz's impressive offensive development and capable defense, the added depth simply looks like a case of preferring a veteran presence over a promising homegrown product. I fully expect Ruiz to produce positive value regardless of his role if promoted to the majors, though until he receives that call, he doesn't belong on any fantasy roster.


Chris Roberson, 26, OF-R
172/553 for .311/.365/.465 with 15 HR, 70 RBI, 90 R, 34/48 SB%,
and a 40:112 BB:K for AA Reading(EL).

Although I realize Roberson remains old for his league, he still combined his offensive output from 2004 with much of his plate discipline from the previous year, registering his best overall season in his first AA campaign. He now appears on track to join the Phillies bench by next fall, and given his speed skills, Roberson could emerge as a roto force in almost any role that provides him even occasional playing time. Feel free to roster Roberson as soon as he appears on free agent lists.


Danny Sandoval, 26, SS-S
0/2 for .000/.000/.000 with 0 HR, 0 RBI, 1 R, 0/0 SB%,
and a 0:1 BB:K for Philadelphia.
129/390 for .331/.379/.436 with 7 HR, 48 RBI, 53 R, 11/22 SB%,
and a 31:49 BB:K for AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre(IL).

Sandoval thoroughly enjoyed his first full AAA campaign, compiling the best overall stats of his career and looking quite ready to break camp in the majors next year. While the Phillies wisely retained him on the 40-man roster, the Abraham O. Nunez signing leaves Sandoval competing with Matt Kata, Shane Victorino, Endy Chavez, Carlos Ruiz, and a twelfth pitcher for no more than two roster spots. Even if a great camp allows Sandoval to survive every round of cuts, he still doesn't belong on any fantasy roster until you see him begin echoing these numbers in the majors.


Potential Reserve Help

Eude Brito, 27, LH Swingman
1-2 on a 15:11 K:BB in 22 IP over 5 GS(6G)
with 20 H, 2 HR, a 1.15 G-F, and a 3.68 ERA for Philadelphia.
6-2 on a 76:39 K:BB in 98.1 IP over 15 GS(28G)
with 97 H, 13 HR, a 1.14 G-F, and a 4.85 ERA for AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre(IL).

Managing a decent ERA in a half-dozen appearances for the Phillies somehow earned Brito the occasional mention among the game's promising young pitchers. Ignore any hype here at all as you focus on his weak command and extremely limited upside as a starter. Brito might belong in Philadelphia's bullpen, but nothing here provides any indication of more than minimal immediate fantasy potential.


Mark Budzinski, 32, OF-L
126/467 for .270/.333/.392 with 5 HR, 42 RBI, 72 R, 9/13 SB%,
and a 42:108 BB:K for AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre(IL).

Suffering his lowest OBP since 2001 resulted in Budzunski spending another full season in the minors following his brief cup-of-coffee in 2003 with Cincinnati. Although I still believe he could contribute off a big league bench, he needs to boost his OPS back towards .800 before any team seems likely to provide him that opportunity.


Erick Burke, 28, LH Reliever
3-0 and 1 Save on a 33:22 K:BB in 33.1 IP over 32 G
with 29 H, 2 HR, a 2.14 G-F, and a 2.97 ERA for AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre(IL).
3-2 and 2 Saves on a 47:12 K:BB in 40 IP over 26 G
with 32 H, 1 HR, a 1.18 G-F, and a 3.15 ERA for AA Reading(EL).

The former Rangers' farmhand managed welcome skill improvement in the safer pitching environments offered by the Phillies' affiliates. Unfortunately, while Burke's AA numbers should keep him above that level indefinitely, he needs to cut his AAA walk rate before receiving a look as anything more than a short-term injury replacement.


Francisco Butto, 25, RH Reliever
2-5 and 3 Saves on a 55:21 K:BB in 56.2 IP over 1 GS(36G)
with 57 H, 9 HR, a .88 G-F, and a 3.65 ERA for AA Reading(EL).
1-2 and 3 Saves on a 33:7 K:BB in 28.1 IP over 17 G
with 28 H, 1 HR, a 1.22 G-F, and a 3.49 ERA for A+ Clearwater(FSL).

Returning to the bullpen provided the impetus for Butto's promotion to Reading in his seventh year in the system. With a strong strikeout rate and adequate all-around skills, he could push into a big league bullpen sometime during 2007.


Ryan Cameron, 28, RH Reliever
6-5 and 19 Saves on a 99:31 K:BB in 88.1 IP over 58 G
with 70 H, 11 HR, a 1.43 G-F, and a 2.55 ERA for AA Reading(EL).

Repeated control problems in his last couple AAA attempts left Cameron in the Eastern League all season, where he thankfully blossomed as a minor league closer. He certainly deserves a promotion and an extended look in the International League, which just might push him into a big league bullpen by next fall.


Carlos Chantres, 29, RH Starter
0-0 on a 3:3 K:BB in 6 IP over 1 GS
with 4 H, 1 HR, a .67 G-F, and a 3.00 ERA for AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre(IL).
5-12 on a 76:55 K:BB in 141.2 IP over 24 GS(26G)
with 160 H, 18 HR, a 1.32 G-F, and a 4.64 ERA for AA Reading(EL).

Continued command problems leave the minor league journeyman well short of reaching the majors. Despite consistently respectable performance in the upper minors, I just don't believe Chantres possess the skills necessary to earn that last promotion.


Chris Coste, 32, OF-R
148/506 for .292/.351/.466 with 20 HR, 89 RBI, 73 R, 3/7 SB%,
and a 40:85 BB:K for AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre(IL).

Coste stunningly approached his career total of twenty-five homers with affiliated teams in one season with the Red Barons. Of course, if he can't earn a cup-of-coffee at the conclusion of this career year, Coste likely never will receive his deserved shot as a 25th man.


Allen Davis, 30, LH Starter
1-1 on a 6:1 K:BB in 13.1 IP over 3 G
with 11 H, 0 HR, a .79 G-F, and a 2.03 ERA for AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre(IL).
13-9 on a 97:22 K:BB in 183 IP over 25 GS(27G)
with 208 H, 20 HR, a .81 G-F, and a 3.64 ERA for AA Reading(EL).

Returning from the independent Central League at the conclusion of 2004 provided the foundation necessary for Davis to resume his mastery of the Eastern League from earlier this decade. He clearly appears capable of eating AAA innings, though due to obviously limited dominance, Davis won't reach the majors unless he emerges as a viable bullpen option, likely leaving him with little immediate fantasy value.


Martire Franco, 27, RH Swingman
5-6 and 2 Saves on a 71:39 K:BB in 100 IP over 10 GS(44G)
with 122 H, 7 HR, a 1.90 G-F, and a 4.86 ERA for AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre(IL).

The injuries suffered by the Phillies' starters eventually resulted in Franco returning to the rotation, leading to lowered skill ratios following his fairly impressive conversion to relief in 2004. Franco's strong groundball rate and consistent control at least give him a chance to take advantage of the opportunity afforded by minor league free agency this fall.


Kevin Hodge, 29, RH Reliever
3-2 and 3 Saves on a 28:8 K:BB in 28.1 IP over 20 G
with 27 H, 5 HR, a .60 G-F, and a 5.40 ERA for AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre(IL).
0-0 on a 3:1 K:BB in 7.1 IP over 6 G
with 7 H, 1 HR, a .58 G-F, and a 3.68 ERA for AAA Round Rock(PCL).
1-4 and 2 Saves on a 25:8 K:GBB in 23 IP over 14 G
with 23 H, 3 HR, a .48 G-F, and a 5.48 ERA for AA Corpus Christi(TL).

Hodge appeared fully ready for a big league job after a 2004 season that featured him posting a 3.41 ERA on a 63:9 K:BB in 74 IP over 49 G for AAA Rochester(IL). Instead he foolishly returned home to Texas, pitching poorly for the Astros and earning an exile to Philadelphia to conclude the season. Now Hodge heads towards his thirtieth birthday next October without any reasonable shot at reaching the majors in 2006. Hopefully he at least will find a safer pitching environment to regain his seemingly departed confidence.


Seung Lee, 26, RH Starter
0-1 on a 1:3 K:BB in 2.2 IP over 1 G
with 5 H, 2 HR, a .17 G-F, and a 23.63 ERA for AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre(IL).
3-1 on a 50:24 K:BB in 64 IP over 11 GS(14G)
with 59 H, 2 HR, a .80 G-F, and a 1.97 ERA for AA Reading(EL).
0-1 on a 5:1 K:BB in 5 IP over 1 GS(2G)
with 5 H, 1 HR, a 1.00 G-F, and a 1.80 ERA for A+ Clearwater(FSL).

Continued injury problems again cut short Lee's season, however he excelled in his return to the Reading rotation when healthy and certainly still should reach the majors within the next couple of years. Of course, his future role remains extremely uncertain, so wait until Lee emerges as a decent big leaguer before rostering him anywhere.


Pedro Liriano, 25, RH Swingman
0-0 on a 6:6 K:BB in 8.2 IP over 5 G
with 10 H, 3 HR, a 10-9 G-F, and a 10.57 ERA for Philadelphia.
4-9 on a 79:48 K:BB in 99.1 IP over 17 GS(22G)
with 90 H, 11 HR, a 2.12 G-F, and a 3.90 ERA for AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre(IL).

Shockingly released at the beginning of the month after an impressive AAA campaign, Liriano's skills suggest he should blossom whenever he completes his move to the bullpen. A consistent groundball rate alone should secure his AAAA status, so especially if he lands in a pitchers' park or a club with plenty of defensive range, Liriano easily could develop into a useful big leaguer over next season.


Tim McClaskey, 29, RH Starter
0-2 on an 8:6 K:BB in 10.2 IP over 2 GS
with 14 H, 2 HR, a 1.30 G-F, and a 9.28 ERA for AAA Round Rock(PCL).
8-10 on a 105:21 K:BB in 159.2 IP over 26 GS(27G)
with 141 H, 16 H, a 1.19 G-F, and a 3.33 ERA for AA Corpus Christi(TL).

Signing with Philadelphia makes sense for McClaskey, who finally might reach the majors given the Phillies' limited pitching depth. Hopefully he'll also shift back to the bullpen since his weak dominance easily overpowers his otherwise outstanding control as a starting pitcher. You need to wait until he secures a regular big league job before rostering McClaskey anywhere.


Travis Minix, 28, RH Reliever
1-0 and 1 Save on a 13:3 K:BB in 17.2 IP over 14 G
with 9 H, 2 HR, a .74 G-F, and a 1.53 ERA for AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre(IL).
1-1 and 7 Saves on a 55:15 K:BB in 58.2 IP over 39 G
with 44 H, 3 HR, a .86 G-F, and a 1.84 ERA for AA Reading(EL).

Minix moved to the Phillies last winter yet bizarrely failed to reach the majors on the AAAA carousel despite this outstanding performance. He at least snagged an AFL slot, registering a respectable ERA in a strong hitters' circuit. Hopefully a strong camp will earn Minix the consideration he deserves for a job in the majors after seven seasons spent compiling an impressive statistical history.


Juan Richardson, 26, 3B-R
96/385 for .249/.315/.410 with 15 HR, 51 RBI, 51 R, 0/4 SB%,
and a 34:100 BB:K for AA Reading(EL).

The failed third base prospect finally appears headed out of the organization after clearly stagnating at AA Reading over the past three seasons. Richardson still might develop into a capable reserve, but he deserves little attention until he begins playing regularly at the highest level of the minors.


Chris Rojas, 28, RH Starter
0-1 on a 4:2 K:BB in 7 IP over 1 GS
with 6 H, 1 HR, a .89 G-F, and a 3.86 ERA for AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre(IL).
12-6 on a 107:36 K:BB in 131 IP over 22 GS
with 126 H, 17 HR, a 1.17 G-F, and a 3.92 ERA for AA Reading(EL).

A fourth consecutive AA season surprisingly saw Rojas post his best skills since departing A-ball. Although he remains likely to spend his career as no better than AAAA fodder, the minor league free agent just might emerge as a viable option if he can build on this success.


Randy Ruiz, 28, 1B-R
120/344 for .349/.405/.669 with 27 HR, 89 RBI, 59 R, 0/2 SB%,
and a 30:87 BB:K for AA Reading(EL).

Ruiz spent the summer simply punishing the ball in the Eastern League merely one year after he slipped back to the Sally League to severe contact problems. He absolutely deserves a AAA starting job in 2006, along with the chance to reach the majors on some club desperate for a capable bat on the bench.


Jim Rushford, 31, 1B-L
129/414 for .312/.374/.459 with 10 HR, 63 RBI, 61 R, 5/6 SB%,
and a 34:40 BB:K for AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre(IL).

At least Rushford took full advantage of his return to the Red Barons, posting averages right in line with his career marks as he reestablished his qualifications for a big league bench job. If given the necessary opportunity, he just might emerge as more than short-term roster filler due to consistently solid plate discipline.


Brian Sanches, 27, RH Reliever
5-3 and 1 Save on a 75:27 K:BB in 83 IP over 2 GS(51G)
with 81 H, 9 HR, a 1.07 G-F, and a 3.69 ERA for AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre(IL).

Finally departing AA after nearly four full seasons, Sanches unsurprisingly remained a very effective option in the International League. With a solid overall skill foundation and impressive pedigree as a second round pick back in 1999, he certainly still possesses the time necessary to emerge as a vital contributor in a big league bullpen, though like nearly every pitcher discussed today, Sanches doesn't belong on any target list until he secures that elusive job in the majors.


Mike Smith, 28, RH Starter
0-0 on a 2:3 K:BB in 3.2 IP over 1 GS
with 5 H, 1 HR, a 2.00 G-F, and a 9.82 ERA for AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre(IL).
5-14 on a 113:82 K:BB in 170.2 IP over 28 GS
with 162 H, 18 HR, a 1.15 G-F, and a 4.48 ERA for AA Reading(EL).

The former Blue Jays' prospect landed with Philadelphia in the spring, falling back to AA for the first time since 2001 and then merely managing mediocre skill ratios. I simply see no indication that Smith still resembles the pitcher who compiled a 162:47 K:BB four years ago, and until his qualitative stats and walk rate approach his former marks, he barely deserves extended consideration for a job in the upper minors.


Minor League Draft Picks

None.


Aside from players listed above, no other Philadelphia prospect deserves consideration in 2006 fantasy drafts. Shane Victorino no longer qualifies as a rookie due to exceeding the service time maximum.


Organization Rankings

With no rookie even looking likely to spend 2006 in the majors and less quality depth than any franchise in the game, the Phillies absolutely deserve a dead-last ranking that won't change given that the remaining five clubs at least each possess one rookie set for significant playing time next summer. I like Bourn's upside a lot and expect guys like Roberson and Ruiz to emerge as bench options, but with Ryan Howard and Gavin Floyd in the majors, a lack of recent high draft picks, and an abundance of injuries to former top arms, few players here even merit the discussion space I awarded them. No one should look to Philadelphia for quality fantasy prospects in 2006.

Current ranking of potentially helpful fantasy depth for teams discussed thus far in 2005, based on both the quality and quantity of players ready to contribute in the majors, as well as consideration of the trade value of minor league draft picks from the lower levels of each system:

1. Florida Marlins(Hermida, Jacobs, E.Reed, Willingham, J.Wilson, Petit, Olsen)
2. Arizona Diamondbacks(Co.Jackson, C.Quentin, S.Drew)
3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim(J.Mathis, B.Wood)
4. Colorado Rockies(Shealy, J.Salazar, Quintanilla, Stewart)
5. Los Angeles Dodgers(Billingsley, R.Martin, J.Guzman, Loney)
6. Texas Rangers(I.Kinsler, J.Botts)
7. Milwaukee Brewers(P.Fielder, C.Hart)
8. Seattle Mariners(S.Choo, J.Strong)
9. Minnesota Twins(F.Liriano, Kubel)
10. Boston Red Sox(Pedroia, C.Hansen, Papelbon)
11. Chicago White Sox(Br.Anderson, Ch.Young)
12. Atlanta Braves(Marte, Chuck James)
13. Tampa Bay Devil Rays(Del.Young)
14. Baltimore Orioles(Markakis, Maine, W.Young)
15. Oakland Athletics(D.Barton)
16. Cleveland Indians(Fr.Gutierrez, F.Carmona)
17. New York Mets(Milledge, And.Hernandez)
18. Cincinnati Reds(Denorfia)
19. Kansas City Royals(Huber)
20. Chicago Cubs(F.Pie)
21. Houston Astros(Hirsh)
22. Toronto Blue Jays(D.McGowan)
23. Detroit Tigers(Verlander)
24. New York Yankees(K.Thompson)
25. Philadelphia Phillies(M.Bourn)


Today's Fantasy Rx: Targeting lapsed Philadelphia rookies like Shane Victorino, Gavin Floyd, and Geoff Geary makes much more sense than heading after any of the current crop of Phillies' prospects. Floyd in particular could blossom if the rumored changes to CB Park result in an improved environment for pitchers, though due to his unimpressive 2005, he qualifies as an interesting sleeper in almost any circumstance other than a completely unlikely move to the Rockies.


Philadelphia's Top 15 Fantasy Prospects for 2006
1. Michael Bourn, OF
2. Chris Roberson, OF
3. Carlos Ruiz, C
4. Danny Sandoval, SS
5. Scott Mathieson, SP
6. Cole Hamels, SP
7. Tim Moss, 2B
8. Jake Blalock, OF
9. Eude Brito, SP
10. Seung Lee, SP
11. Yoel Hernandez, RP
12. Travis Minix, RP
13. Brian Sanches, RP
14. Allen Davis, SP
15. Ryan Cameron, RP


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