Before we dive into another week of prospect numbers, I want to take a second to make a point that I think most people know implicitly, but I've never spelled it out anywhere, not even in the TGP prospect primer. The point regards the records of the various Phillies minor league clubs, and the gist of it is this: I don't really care all that much. All things being equal, it'd be great to see the minor league clubs do what the Lakewood club did last year in taking home some hardware, but by far the most important objective of an organization's farm system is to develop prospects.
I'll be honest: I didn't even realize Clearwater had the best record in the FSL until I looked it up; the fact that Reading dropped six in a row the other week was off my radar; etc. I check the box scores, see how the legitimate prospects are doing, and if the team winds up winning, all the better. But I'd rather see this -- a gem from Brody Colvin in a losing effort -- than something like this -- a Nate Bump win in which John Mayberry doesn't even see the field.
With that said, check below the fold for info on an Aussie, a Canadian, an Alaskan (southpaw) assassin... and, of course, Dom Brown makes the update again, because he just won't stop hitting.
Domonic Brown, OF-L, Reading: It was more of the same (9-for-23, 2 HR, 2B, 2 BB, 5 K, 2 SB) for Brown this week, so let's use this space to talk about his probable timeline. If Brown keeps at anything near this .349/.404/.663 pace, he'll likely get pushed to Lehigh Valley by midseason (or maybe even sooner), giving him a chance to get 250 or so Triple-A at bats. The ultimate point here is that, short of some pretty creative maneuvering by the front office, it's looking increasingly likely that Brown will be the Phillies' starting right fielder on Opening Day of
2010 2011, and the organization should proceed under that assumption and move Brown along accordingly.
Trevor May, RHP, Clearwater: May was dominant in his start on Thursday, allowing just 6 hits, 1 walk, and 1 unearned run while fanning 10 in 6 innings. His control still needs work (4.5 BB/9), and it's pretty clear at this point that he's a fly ball pitcher (39.2% GB), but 39 strikeouts in 24 innings -- from a 20-year old in High A -- mean that there's plenty of reason to be excited about this kid.
Sebastian Valle, C-R, Lakewood: Valle's struggles to begin 2010 have stretched longer than a month at this point, as the Mexican backstop sunk to .222/.262/.293 on the heels of a 3-for-22 week. Ben Badler says it's a product of Valle getting too pull happy instead of using his natural quick wrists to drive the ball to all fields (which Valle did to great effect in the Mexican Winter League, posting a .275 ISO against older and more advanced competition than the SAL). He doesn't turn 20 until July, so there's time to turn it around, but the current plate approach -- 5.6% BB, 24.2% K -- isn't going to cut it.
Brody Colvin, RHP, Lakewood: The organization's big overslot signing (for $900K) as a 7th round pick last June, Colvin has been slow to get going this year, but on the heels of a 6.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R (O ER) 4 BB, 5 K last Thursday, it looks like he may be turning the corner. The overall peripherals still aren't fantastic -- 6.7 K/9, 4.5 BB/9, 0.95 HR/9, 36.8% GB -- but he's at least done a better job of inducing grounders his last few outings, and he's doing all this while not having great command of his secondary stuff. Command is the key here, as Colvin's raw stuff is certainly good enough to dream on.
Cody Overbeck, 3B-R, Clearwater: Overbeck celebrated being named Phillies Minor League Player of the Month for April with a 10-for-22 week that included a homer, four doubles, and a 5:5 walk-to-strikeout ratio. At .362/.417/.714 on the young season, Overbeck's really only doing what a third year pro about to turn 24 next month should be doing in High A, but given the dearth of infield prospects in the system, the surge certainly bears monitoring. The improved plate discipline (8.7% BB, 21.0% K) is a good sign, as is the improved surehandedness over at the hot corner (.977 fielding percentage, up from .915 last year), but we won't really know what we've got with Overbeck until we see him in Reading.
Scott Mathieson, RHP, Lehigh Valley: The Lazarus impression performed by Brad Lidge, the sick nasty stuff that Jose Contreras has flashed, and even the impressive if unexpected outing of Chad Durbin yesterday have assuaged fears regarding the Phillies relief corps for the time being. Still, the Canadian Mathieson could prove to be an asset to the big league pen later on in the season, and he's settling in at Triple-A, picking up 2 saves in 3 outings this week, allowing just a pair of singles in the process while whiffing 5 across 3 innings. A 16-to-4 K:BB in 14.2 IP is a sign that not only is the stuff there, but the command is too.
Drew Naylor, RHP, Reading: The organization thought enough of Naylor to put him on the 40-man roster last offseason -- a move that seemed curious to me at the time, as the 23-year old Australian hadn't had sustained success since pitching in the SAL during the first half of 2008. Even after a 7.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 K gem last Wednesday, Naylor still sports a 4.62 FIP on the year, and he's not making up for it with overpowering stuff (just 6.7 K/9) or extreme ground ball tendencies (44.6% GB). I still wonder if Naylor's stuff would play up out of the pen, because I'm not sure I can see him as a major league starter.
Anthony Hewitt, OF-R, Lakewood: Hewitt was 5-for-25 last week with a homer, and the red flags that have been part of the package throughout his pro career are once again plain to see. After doing a passable job controlling the strike zone in the season's first few weeks, it seems SAL hurlers have adjusted to Hewitt, as he now boasts a 3.3% BB and a 32.5% K. His 4 HR do lead the BlueClaws, but the raw power won't do him much good if pitchers don't have to throw him strikes to get him out.
Justin De Fratus, RHP, Clearwater: It looks like the bullpen is the way forward for De Fratus, but he's embracing the role, striking out 4 (and walking 1, while surrendering no hits) across 3 innings this past week. He's rocking a 1.66 FIP right now, complete with excellent peripherals (10.4 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 58.8% GB), and Kevin Goldstein has noted that "his stuff plays way up" out of the pen. As a pure reliever, he's a tick behind Mathieson and Mike Schwimer as a prospect, but he has a chance to move quickly now that his role is no longer in doubt.
Matthew Way, LHP, Lakewood: Way is Exhibit #4,599 for why standard pitching statistics can be so misleading. Some may have looked at the native Alaskan's 0-3 record and 6.84 ERA heading into last Thursday and decided that he simply sucked to start the year, but the peripherals indicated that better days were ahead. A 7.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 10 K performance showed that the culprit was simply an out-of-whack BABIP (still at .426 on the season, even after that start), as a 10.5 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 0.28 HR/9, 54.5% GB stat line adds up to a stellar 1.91 FIP. At 23 years old, Way is too old for the SAL, but more performances like Thursday's should get him to the upper levels more quickly, so we can find out exactly what we have here.