359 days ago...

Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus published his list of the Phillies' top 11 prospects, as follows: 

  1. Carlos Carrasco RHP
  2. Michael Taylor OF
  3. Kyle Drabek RHP
  4. Travis D'Arnaud C
  5. Lou Marson C
  6. Jason Donald SS
  7. Dominic [sic] Brown OF
  8. J.A. Happ LHP
  9. Zach Collier OF
  10. Jason Knapp RHP
  11. Anthony Hewitt 3B

Of that list, the first six (and seven of the first ten) are gone through trades for Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay, one has graduated to the majors, and two have seen their prospect status take a bit hit. Even considering how quickly minor leaguers' stock can rise and fall, that's a hell of a lot of change. 

Yet it wouldn't be accurate to draw the conclusion that the Phillies have gutted their system. Goldstein had Domonic Brown (as we now know is his actual name) as a three-star prospect in December 2008; when he posts his new list in January or February, I'll be very surprised if Brown doesn't earn five stars and sit at the top of the list. And while Collier and Hewitt lost considerable luster in 2009, neither can drink legally yet; one or both easily could bounce back. Meanwhile, the Phils added exciting position-player talents in the last calendar year in teenagers Domingo Santana and Jon Singleton; outfielder Anthony Gose vaulted ahead of Collier and Hewitt (who was converted to the outfield during Florida Instructional League after posting a sub-.850 fielding percentage at third base); Sebastian Valle emerged as a legit hitting prospect behind the plate; pitchers Yohan Flande, Trevor May, Jared Cosart, Jesus Sanchez, and Brody Colvin all stepped forward; and the team will replenish some of what they're sending to the Blue Jays for Halladay with former Mariners farmhands Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies, and J.C. Ramirez, all of whom will rank in the top handful of Phillies prospects.

So what's the point? Just that, while it's a bit disconcerting to realize that in some sense the system has been decapitated over the last calendar year, in no respect is it headless. The franchise isn't gutted, the future hasn't been sold off; even as high-ceiling talent goes out the front door, more comes in through the side and the back. Player development has two important components: drafting and trading wisely, and guiding the growth and improvement of the raw talent acquired. The Phillies' recent organizational track record in both is pretty impressive, and that should lessen the sting of losing even top prospects like Drabek and Taylor.

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