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The System Takes Shape

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As minor-league camp opens in Clearwater, Jim Salisbury comes through in today's Inquirer with a lot of good detail about the Phillies' minor-league system and season-opening assignments for key prospects. A quick rundown of who's likely to startt the 2009 season where: 

Lehigh Valley (AAA): C Lou Marson, INF Jason Donald, OF John Mayberry Jr, SP Carlos Carrasco

Reading (AA): OF MIchael Taylor, SP Joe Savery, SP Michael Stutes, SP Vance Worley

Clearwater (A+): OF Dominic Brown, SP Kyle Drabek, SP Julian Sampson

Lakewood (A): OF Zach Collier, SS Freddy Galvis, SS Troy Hansazawa

Among the top prospects not specifically mentioned are catcher Travis D'Arnaud, who presumably will start the season either back at Lakewood or with a promotion to Clearwater. 2008 top pick Anthony Hewitt wasn't given a likely destination, but the now-requisite comments about his rawness suggest a lengthier stay in Florida this spring and a short-season assignment come June. Other 2008 selections who were mentioned but not attached to an assignment were outfielder Anthony Gose and pitchers Jason Knapp, Jon Pettibone and Jared Cosart. 

One interesting theme in Salisbury's article is that the Phillies' system might be getting more love from outside observers than from organization personnel: 

Ask a handful of educated observers for an appraisal of the Phillies system and you'll get a variety of answers. There are folks who work for the club (they'd rather not go on record) who think it has a serious lack of depth and a serious lack of athletic, position-player prospects.

There are others, however, who like what's going on.

Baseball America annually ranks each organization's minor-league system. From 2004 to 2008, the publication rated the Phils from 20 to 22 each year.

This year, BA rates the Phils 12th out of 30.

"The upper levels are very thin - that's how you get 53-win teams at double and triple A," said John Manuel, BA's editor in chief who focuses on the Phillies system.

"But looking down below, I think they have a nice plan in place. They've got some very good arms. They have some catching, which a lot of teams don't have. They have some 'toolsy' outfielders."

As always, we commend the excellent PhuturePhillies site for year-round coverage and discussion of the Phils' minor-league system.