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Magnificant Seven? Phils Announce AFL Cohort

The Phillies today announced that they plan to send seven prospects to the 2006 Arizona Fall League: catcher Jason Jaramillo and pitchers Gavin Floyd, Gio Gonzalez, J.A. Happ, Zack Segovia, Kyle Kendrick and Joe Bisenius. This wasn't always the case in previous years, when at least one or two organizational soldiers always seemed to make the trip--but of this group, all seven look like legit prospects. Jaramillo, 23, struggled offensively through much of this season at Reading after being double-jumped from low-A Lakewood, but has come on strong in the last month and is up to .247 with 6 home runs and 20 doubles on the year.

Four of his R-Phils teammates will be joining Jaramillo in the desert, and presumably pitching to him. Gonzalez, 20, the prize lefty prospect acquired in the Jim Thome trade, has recently rebounded from a mid-season slump and continues to average better than a strikeout per inning. Happ, a 23 year-old lefty, doesn't throw hard but has been more effective, and as much of a strikeout threat, as his younger teammate: he has gone 6-2, 2.34 at Reading with 69 Ks in 61 innings. Segovia, whose 16 wins between Clearwater and Reading lead the minor leagues, seems finally recovered from the 2004 Tommy John surgery that had clouded his prospect status. And Bisenius, a 12th-round pick in 2004, has emerged this season at Clearwater and Reading on the strength of a mid-90s fastball and sharp control. In 16.1 innings at AA, he's recorded 25 strikeouts against just 4 walks. Kendrick, who will turn 22 this week, is another hard thrower whose secondary pitches have yet to develop. But his promotion earlier this year from Lakewood to Clearwater over over pitchers (Carrasco, Maloney) with better numbers bespeaks a confidence on the part of the Phillies' braintrust.

Floyd's inclusion might be the most surprising. The former top draft pick bombed out in his two-month stint as a Phillies starter this season, but he's still just 23 and has been solid for AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre, going 7-4 with a 4.00 ERA. In the hitter-friendly AFL, his numbers might look ugly--but then, so did Scott Mathieson's last fall, and he left Arizona as the league's top-rated pitching prospect. The Phils seem to believe that Floyd needs another challenge after flailing in his two major-league stints: facing the game's top hitting prospects in the dry air and bandbox parks of the AFL would seem to qualify.