Phillies Prospect Roundup: Scorching start for Singleton

Before diving into this week's update, I'd like to point out that the MLB Rule 4 Draft is just over three weeks away. We won't inundate you here at TGP with draft coverage because I know it isn't everyone's cup of tea, but it's important to at least acknowledge the vital role the draft plays in determining the long-term future of the franchise.  I'm arranging for a Q&A regarding the Phillies specifically, and I'm certainly planning to write up some sort of draft preview.  If anyone has any questions, or wants any specific topics addressed, please let me know.  In the meantime, if you want a Phillies draft fix, check out the latest weekly notes column over at Phuture Phillies, where James highlights some possible 1st round targets.

Now, onto the ol' roundup.  Check below the jump for info on the organization's best third base prospect (hint: it's a converted second baseman), its best first base prospect (hint: check the title of this post), and its best prospect (hint: it rhymes with Schmomonic Brown).

Domonic Brown, OF-L, Reading: Ho hum, another 5-for-18 week for Brown, complete with 2 HR, 4 BB, and 2 SB. His line is up to an obscene .337/.402/.653, but there's reason to leave him in Double-A until the All-Star break -- namely, Brown's plate discipline. A 24.8% K is substantially higher than Brown's career norm, and while it's certainly mitigated by an 11.4% BB and a .316 ISO, it's at least an area to monitor going forward.

Jonathan Singleton, 1B-L, Lakewood: Singleton was held back in extended spring training to work on his defense, but made up for lost time when assigned to Lakewood this week, clubbing a pair of home runs in just 17 at bats after his Lakewood debut on Thursday. It's too early to rush to judgment, but after highlighting Singleton as a breakout candidate for this year, the hot start has me bullish on that prediction.  Still just 18, he'll need to have sustained success as pitchers start to adjust to him, but the early returns are a huge step in the right direction.

Jesus Sanchez, RHP, Clearwater: The Venezuelan hurler tossed a gem on Thursday, going all 9 innings and scattering 5 hits and 1 walk while whiffing 8 and surrendering just 1 run. The outing lowers Sanchez's FIP to 2.81 on the season, and while the strikeout rate and ground ball rates are solid if unspectacular (6.8 K/9, 42.0% GB), the walk and home run rates are impressive (2.5 BB/9, 0.20 HR/9), as is the fact that Sanchez isn't showing a pronounced platoon split. Still waiting to get a report on his stuff to really figure out what we've got here.

Jarred Cosart, RHP, Lakewood: The Texas flamethrower had two middling outings after returning from the DL with a blister injury a few weeks ago, but flashed dominant again on Saturday, with a 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 10 K performance. The 33.1 inning sample we've got so far, while small, is nonetheless cause for excitement: 11.6 K/9, 1.6 BB/9, 48.2% GB, 1.94 FIP.  More of the same, and young Jarred will be shooting up prospect lists before you can say, "Jason Knapp who?"

J.C. Ramirez, RHP, Clearwater: While Clifton Phifer continues to toss gems, the guys garnered in return continue to puzzle. Ramirez turned in a 5.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 K performance on Friday, and while his numbers are solid enough on the year, they're not really all that different from Sanchez's (7.0 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 38.2% GB, 2.80 FIP in 42.2 IP). That's great for a former catcher, but it's less than you'd expect from one of the key cogs in a blockbuster trade.  Ideally, High-A should have been a brief stop for Ramirez, a confidence booster to propel him to handle the Double-A challenge; instead, it's looking like a long-term assignment for the 21-year old.

Adam Buschini, 3B-R, Lakewood: Buschini had just a 5-for-19 week, but it's time to acknowledge him as the current best third base prospect in the organization. Drafted as a 4th year junior out of Cal State Poly last June, the 23-year old Buschini is hitting a solid .284/.364/.448 for the BlueClaws, though the .897 fielding percentage means there's work to be done in the field.  Like most college guys in Low-A, he's too old for the league, but in a system hurting for infield talent, it's worth keeping an eye on Buschini to see what he can do.

Nick Hernandez, LHP, Lakewood: Speaking of guys who don't belong in Low-A anymore, Hernandez tossed 15 innings across two starts last week, surrendering just 4 hits, 1 run, and 2 walks while whiffing 12.  His 2.70 FIP in 56.0 innings on the year means he's simply overmatching SAL hitters, and could use a new challenge.  The solution, at least to me, is simple: with Reading handing spot starts to Chance Chapman right now, I'd promote Austin Hyatt from Clearwater and let Hernandez take Hyatt's place on the Threshers.

Matt Rizzotti, 1B-L, Reading: The 24-year old Rizzotti finally made it to Double-A this week, and celebrated the occasion by 3 for his first 10 with a double and a pair of walks.  The 2007 6th round pick out of small school Manhattan College has managed a .277/.373/.436 line over parts of four minor league campaigns, and while that's solid, it's not the eye-popping numbers that a hulking first baseman needs.  Still, this was a guy who walked more than he struck out in his college career, and the Phillies drafted him hoping they'd be able to unlock his substantial raw power, so who knows -- maybe he'll rise to the occasion in Double-A?

Jonathan Villar, SS-S, Lakewood: I'll admit it -- I can't quite figure out Villar. On one hand, the high strikeout rate (30.4% K) combined with subpar power (.074 ISO) makes me think he'll get exposed at upper levels. On the other, he'll go out and have a week like this one, where he goes 11-for-25 with a pair of doubles to raise his season averages to .304/.361/.378, and I wonder if I'm selling short a kid who just turned 19.  I guess only time will tell if Jekyll or Hyde wins out here.

Michael Zagurski, LHP, Lehigh Valley: The 1-2-3 save last night notwithstanding, I remain a bit leery of J.C. Romero's long-term viability in the Phillies' 2010 bullpen. While the recently promoted Antonio Bastardo will get first crack at being the pen's "other" lefty, we shouldn't forget the former Kansas Jayhawk who first shot to the majors on the heels of a meteoric rise through the farm system in 2007.  Healthy again, Zagurski's been quietly solid in Lehigh Valley, posting a 25-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 14.2 innings, with a bloated .485 BABIP dampening his standard stats.  Who knows if he can get major league hitters out, but he's at least worked his way into position to merit the opportunity should more injuries befall the big league pen.

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