Caveat: I'm by no means the minor league expert here, but between the spot-starts of links as well as some deeper recent dives into the prospect roundup, it's felt to me this season like the Phillies have some real thunder at the A and AA levels this year. I've been desperate to get up and see this Lakewood team in person, and having attended minor league games in over 20 settings, trust me, Reading is a crown jewel (Toledo - a must. South Bend - skippable). When Reading has a team worth watching (and they do, even without Domonic Brown, whom they miss), circle a game and get up there.
So it's worth taking another long huff at the Q&A with John Manuel of Baseball America about the Phillies' prospects, because he is an expert. Even if it's just a nice package in a bottle for 2010, the Lakewood BlueClaws are, well, dayum. Considering that many of these guys might be playing in Philadelphia by 2014-17 with this kind of energy (they won again last night in late-game walk-off fashion), I'm hoping that Amaro doesn't sell the farm. And this leaves out an entire group of players who are a half-level up at Clearwater.
Bottom line is that you need to scroll this through your mental marquee as you listen to WIP, blogarogadingdongs: It’s a system loaded with upside.
With that, onto this week's belatedly deserving candidates.
Dom. When PhillyFriar sent me this week's batch of names for exposition, that's all he wrote. I liked it. It seems appropriate with a can't miss prospect, as the connotations could range anywhere from here to here, or wind up somewhere in the middle, like here. But guys who get this kind of national attention (fresh off the Futures Game in Anaheim last week, where he showcased a bit, and got hurt a bit - no worries, he was having his typical multi-hit, RBI'd game last night) are admittedly rare. And his 2010? 80+ games at AA and AAA levels, .999 OPS. Yo. Not quite the 2009 rocket ride of this guy, but pretty damn close, wouldn't you say?
Vance Worley. Worley and Drew Naylor have made a nice tag-team of starters for the R-Phils over the last two weeks. Worley pitched a complete game, 3-hit shutout on July 11, then went to his second Eastern League All-Star game, where he pitched a clean inning. The Australian Naylor also went to the all-star game, but got lit up in the seventh. Mostly for issues of age (Worley is 22, Naylor is 24), Worley is the more intriguing prospect, although beyond the better W-L record this year are underlying peripherals that are pretty similar to last year. So, what's different is that he's gotten hot recently. Worley's next 50-75 innings (which is all he'll likely get this season) will be telling.
Harold Garcia. That's Harold Edulvis Bello Garcia to you (note to Garcia: go with Bello - you can just hear HK languishing over that one. Sigh). Aaanyways, last time, you remember, Garcia was busy setting the Florida State League hit streak record at 37 games, prior to the second baseman's promotion to Reading. In his first seven games/26ABs, he's been, um, adjusting, at a Bocockian .231/.333/.269. It's early.
Jonathan Singleton. Even when this kid slumps (last 10: .219/.409/.281), he gets on base 40 percent of the time. And for the season, he's still at a lusty .983 OPS. There's been some chatter that he's starting to feel the pressure that comes with being suggested as a premier slugger's long-term replacement, to say nothing of the ability, at age 19, to ignore the fact that the pudgy guys with the major-league team logo'd golf shirts and clipboards sitting behind home plate only seem to pay attention when you're at the plate.
Phillippe Aumont. Wild, French, and enigmatic, Aumont is the pitching equivalent of the unlabeled bottle of wine you and your little video game platoonmates uncover in the basement of that French farmhouse after flushing out some Nazis: could be great, could be vinegar. As PhillyFriar has noted, it wasn't his fault the Phillies goofed by sending him to the wrong level, though I don't fault them for giving it a shot. He's been better in Clearwater, but he's still all over the place, and has to cut down on the walks and stop hitting so many damn bats. We're at the point in the season where, but for an incredible stretch run, Aumont will wind up in exactly the same place where we found him at the Cliff Lee trade. Mais comme l'homme dit: il va mieux.
Michael Schwimer. So blogmaster Schwimer got the call to Lehigh Valley last week, and in three games, 3 innings, 0ER. a hold. Just before his promotion, Schwimer was the closer for Reading, and so it will be interesting to see how his role shakes out at Lehigh Valley, which already has Scott Mathieson biding time (and giving up walk-off HRs like the big boys, oh wells). That's not entirely fair to Mathieson, who was a AAA all-star and has had a great season, but until Dallas Green is dead, there will always be a pitched tent in the Phillies organization that thinks a 6'8" pitcher is better than a 6'3" one. Just 'cause.
Cody Overbeck. Overbeck's has been hot at Reading, batting .313 and SLG .656 over his last 10 games. 7
HRs RBIs too, and this nice, because the rest of his Reading campaign has been a big pot of feh at a position (3B) where the Phillies need to have options, and pronto. So keep crossing your fingers that he's turned a corner at AA and found his mojo from earlier this year at Clearwater (.934 OPS).
Matt Rizzotti. For as hot as Overbeck's been, Rizzotti's been likewise incredible. Through last night, the Reading first baseman has been hitting .360/.417/.631, a line that would put him at the top of Eastern League hitters, except he doesn't meet the minimum AB requirement (and he would nudge Dom out of first). Not to be all Nelson Muntz about this, RAJ, but way to sign that Howard deal right before two of your minor league 1B prospects blossom.
Jiwan James. James has picked up Bello Garcia's hit streak mojo, setting a BlueClaws record at 22 straight last night (so stop winning those SAL-themed bar bets with Ambiorix Reyes, you guys). It's worth noting that even with the streak, there's still the matter of the season-long .265/.317/.362 line, and if you want speed, he has 23 SBs, but 15 CS attempts, 12 of them against righthanders. (::scratches head::) So there's still things to learn. But you go, Jiwan!