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Baseball America: Hamels is Phils' top prospect

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The Baseball America list of the Phillies' top 10 prospects was released today. Here they are:

  1. Cole Hamels, lhp (AA)
  2. Greg Golson, of (low A)
  3. Michael Bourn, of (AA)
  4. Scott Mathieson, rhp (high A)
  5. Welinson Baez, ss/3b (short-season A)
  6. Mike Costanzo, 3b (short-season A)
  7. Brad Harman, ss/2b (low A)
  8. Tim Moss, 2b (high A)
  9. Jason Jaramillo, c (low A)
  10. Edgar Garcia, rhp (rookie)

The list surprises me in a couple respects, but perhaps shows the usual BA biases toward high-ceiling "tools" guys.

Notable absences include Gavin Floyd, named BA's top Phillies pick three years ago and a mainstay of this and other lists through most of his minor-league career; Carlos Ruiz, a plus defensive catcher who's hit for average and power in the high minors; Chris Roberson, who set the Reading Phillies' franchise record this past year for most hits in a season; and J.A. Happ, a 2004 draftee who probably was the best pitcher in the system this past season when healthy.  (Click here for a Phils prospect list from this past March by our SportsBlogs Nation sister site Minor League Ball; heading into the 2004 season, John Sickels had Floyd as the Phils' top prospect, with Happ 8th, Ruiz 16th and Roberson 20th.)

In his first full pro season, Golson showed as-advertised speed and better-than-expected patience for the low-A Lakewood Blue Claws, but it seems a stretch to rank him ahead of Bourn (who has starred in the Arizona Fall League with a .394 OBP after his solid year at Reading) or Shane Victorino, who didn't make the list despite his IL MVP season for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Maybe Golson's physical gifts--BA lists him as the Phils' "Best Athlete"--will eventually translate into on-field performance; maybe they won't. But a so-so season four levels below the majors at age 20 from a former first-round pick wouldn't seem to justify the hype.

Overall, this is a glass half-full/glass half-empty story: given the health and performance question marks surrounding virtually every Phils prospect of note, it probably wasn't easy to put this list together. And I maintain the four farm products most likely to help the 2006 Phillies--Floyd, Ruiz, Victorino and Roberson--aren't here at all. On the plus side, it's nice to see some regard for our infield prospects: Mike Costanzo's big second half for Batavia seemed to justify his draft selection this past June, Tim Moss was a rare bright spot for the dreadful Clearwater team, and Baez and Harmon could yet give Phillies decision-makers some options on the left side of the infield. But the system is terribly short on depth and, if Floyd doesn't rediscover his command and Hamels can't stay out of the trainer's office, pitchers who might be ready to contribute within the next couple years. Restocking the system must be among new GM Pat Gillick's top priorities, while hoping that Baseball America's long-term optimism is eventually justified between the white lines.