The 2011 MLB Draft is fast approaching (and we'll, of course, have more on that in the coming weeks), but it's not the only way that the club can add talent to the organization. Baseball America pointed out that the Phillies signed Australian catcher Liam Bedford in late April, the latest in a series of signings that the club has made on the world's smallest continent. It sounds like Bedford will join the Gulf Coast League Phillies for the 2012 season, so we'll try to keep tabs on him then.
In the meantime, let's check in on some of the other Aussies in the organization, along with fresh-off-the-DL Brody Colvin, a trio of Lakewood outfielders, and some others. Hopefully it won't take you as long to read this Prospect Roundup as it took the Threshers to play last night's game...
Drew Naylor, RHP, Lehigh Valley: The Brisbane-born Naylor looked like a really good prospect at one point, fanning 97 with a 4.6:1 K:BB in Lakewood back in 2008 and showcasing a solid curve ball, but his lack of velocity has caught up to him as he's climbed the ladder, with his K/9 dwindling to just 6.1 at Reading last year. He's on the 40-man roster but has been on the DL since the beginning of the season, and I haven't seen any updates to his status recently. He's a Quad-A arm at this point, but as someone who still throws strikes (career BB/9 of 2.5) and has decent secondary stuff, there's always a chance he makes it as a middle reliever for a few years.
Joel Naughton, C-L, Clearwater: Once upon a time, the 24-year old Australian receiver was on the 40-man roster, as a 2008 campaign at Lakewood that featured a .275/.336/.349 line with good defensive reports and a 38% caught stealing rate, all at age 21, made him look like a potential future big leaguer. A rough 2009 in Clearwater saw him designated for assignment, but a .308/.354/.429 campaign in a repeat of the level in 2010 at least left open some intriguing possibilities. It seems he's gotten pushed out of the organizational catching picture at this point, however, as he's played just four games as the third stringer for Lehigh Valley, and now sits behind Sebastian Valle and Kyle Lafrenz on the Clearwater depth chart.
Tim Kennelly, C/OF-R, Reading: Originally signed by the organization as a third baseman back in 2005, Kennelly has played every position but second and short during his pro career -- that's right, he pitched a third of an inning this year -- but he's spent the most time at catcher, and he's currently serving as Tuffy Gosewisch's backup this year. Of the Aussies, Kennelly has shown the most natural hitting ability, highlighted by a .303/.382/.450 showing in Clearwater in 2009, and he's got a career 9.1% BB and 17.7% K across 7 seasons. But unless he has a resurgence with the lumber (he's hit just .227/.308/.358 at the Double-A level), it looks like he's destined to be a minor league jack of all trades.
Alan Schoenberger, IF-S, Clearwater: The final Aussie we'll touch on today, the 22-year old Schoenberger hasn't played above High-A and hasn't hit higher than .253 in any one season. He does offer some defensive versatility, with the ability to play second, third and short, though he's been best at the keystone across his 5 pro seasons. Taken together, Schoenberger and his fellow Aussies don't represent a particularly exciting bunch of minor leaguers, but at the prices these guys are signing for -- none of the bonuses have been enough to crack any of the databases -- they're certainly worthwhile gambles. With names like Grant Balfour and Peter Moylan kicking around the majors, it's not as if there isn't talent coming out of the country.
Brody Colvin, RHP, Clearwater: Making the roundup a Tuesday edition gave me something to write about with regard to Colvin, who had his first really good start of the 2011 in his fourth time out on Monday, surrendering just 1 run and scattering 4 hits across 6 innings of 3 strikeout ball. His velocity isn't quite back to 2010 levels yet, but more than anything, it's just good to see Colvin back healthy and logging innings after a back injury DL'd him for the better part of a month.
Jonathan Singleton, OF-L, Clearwater: It's just 141 plate appearances, but Singleton has gotten off to a slow start in 2011, with just a .267/.369/.325 line through 35 games. While it was reasonable to expect the Florida State League to limit Singleton's power, just 4 extra base hits and a
0.58 .058* ISO is still surprising. Nevertheless, it takes upwards of 500 plate appearances for ISO to become statistically significant, and Singleton did smack his second homer of the year as part of a 3-for-5 day on Saturday, so maybe that will get him going.
*Note: as schmenkman helpfully points out below, it would be a bit tough to complain about a Bautista-esque .580 ISO.
Eric Pettis, RHP, Clearwater: For some reason, the club started the 22-year old UC-Irvine product -- and destroyer of the 2010 New York-Penn League -- in Lakewood, but quickly promoted him to the more age appropriate Florida State League less than a month into the season. Pettis has been great in Clearwater, allowing just 6 hits, 0 walks and 0 runs in 11 innings while whiffing 11, and while it's tough to get excited about a college arm succeeding in the low minors, all Pettis can do is retire the hitters he's facing until he forces another promotion, and he's doing it well enough thus far.
Zach Collier, OF-L, Lakewood: As philsandthrills pointed out in yesterday's links thread, the Lakewood offense has been busy busting out of its season long slump over the past two weeks, and Collier is one of many who have gotten in on the fun. Since returning from a DL stint on April 26, he's hitting a solid .274/.330/.429 with a 9.4% BB and 25.0% K. He's also swiped 10 bags on the year (and been caught thrice). It's far from the breakout I thought possible at the start of the year, but it's certainly an improvement over his 2009 struggles and 2010 injury.
Domingo Santana, OF-R, Lakewood: Santana's another Lakewood outfielder who's been much better lately, going 14 for his last 40 with 7 extra base hits, including 3 homers. His season line is up to .270/.313/.460, not at all shabby for an 18-year old in full season ball, but at the risk of repeating myself, the lack of patience is getting a bit worrisome, as a 5.4% BB (to go along with a 38.1% K) is by far a career worst for the young Dominican right fielder, and represents an approach that is sure to get exploited at higher levels.
Anthony Hewitt, OF-R, Lakewood: Speaking of unsustainable approaches... no, let's not start off on a bad note here, as Hewitt has been absolutely en fuego of late, and deserves props for his performance. He's homered in back-to-back games and sports the following line in May: .291/.325/.570 with 6 long balls and 12 stolen bases (and he hasn't been caught). Now for the bad news: the 3.9% BB and 37.6% K represents an approach that... well, it makes this sort of success unsustainable. Still, if you'd have asked me before the season if I'd be happy if Anthony Hewitt had a .221 ISO, I'd certainly have said, "Hells yes." Baby steps, right?