[Part III of a four-part series]
Movin' on up, we've got the middle group of my Top 30 for 2010. The group as a whole is a nice combination of medium-ceiling guys, a couple of high upside position players, and some hard-throwing arms from the younger levels. So kick back, grab a drink (only if you're of legal age), and check out the second installment below the jump...
20.) Colby Shreve, RHP, Williamsport
The only player on this list who has yet to accumulate a single pro inning, Shreve was the organization's 6th round pick back in 2008, but he's been recovering from Tommy John surgery for the better part of two years. Pre-injury, Shreve was on his way to being a 1st or 2nd round draft pick as a mid-90s flamethrower out of a Nevada junior college, so I'm comfortable slotting him in here provided he fully recovers. The Phillies will presumably work on smoothing his mechanics, and I get the sense they'll take it slow with him this year (hence the projection of Shreve beginning in Williamsport), but if he can fully regain the raw stuff that he had pre-TJ, he could shoot up this list.
19.) Leandro Castro, OF-R, Lakewood
Castro is a bit of a freeswinger, but he's a high energy outfielder with some pop that burst onto the scene after a demotion from Lakewood to Williamsport last year. In 277 NYPL plate appearances, Castro hit .316/.351/.512 with 7 HR and 18 SB (in 27 attempts), though he struggled to control the strike zone (4.7% BB, 19.1% K). Still, a good athlete who can play some center field, has some pop (.195 ISO), and manages a 149 wRC+ as a 20-year old in the NYPL is a nice guy to have in your system.
18.) Yohan Flande, LHP, Reading
Flande exploded onto the scene last year, tearing through the FSL en route to a call-up to Reading in late June -- and a spot in the Futures Game in early July. A 23-year old southpaw, Flande throws strikes (1.9 BB/9), gets grounders (52.1% GB), and keeps the ball in the yard (0.41 HR/9) -- a nice combination -- and he induces enough swing-and-miss (6.9 K/9) to make the whole thing work. He was solid if unspectacular in 13 Reading starts (3.94 FIP), and the Phillies could choose to be aggressive and push him to Lehigh Valley depending on the numbers game at the upper levels. If Flande can sustain the success at the upper levels, he's got a decent shot to be a back-end starter.
17.) John Mayberry Jr., OF-R, Lehigh Valley
Settling on where to rank Mayberry is the classic "floor vs. ceiling" conundrum. He'll never be more than a 4th outfielder, a rangy guy who can serve as a defensive replacement for the Raul Ibanezes of the world and can make spot starts against southpaws (against whom he has a .280/.354/.495 career minor league line). But at 26 years old, he's pretty much there already, and would certainly be on the big league roster at this point if not for the presence of Ben Francisco. His future may lie elsewhere, but Mayberry has definite value to offer a major league club, and I feel comfortable slotting a "designated lefty masher and defensive replacement" here in the rankings.
16.) Justin De Fratus, RHP, Clearwater
De Fratus probably had the best statistical season of any (current) Phillies prospect in full season ball last year, mowing down SAL hitters as both a reliever and a starter: 8.3 K/9, 1.3 BB/9, 0.25 HR/9, 54.7% GB, 2.43 FIP in 110 IP. He's got a fastball that touches 94 and a developing change up, so it's not like he's short on stuff -- so quite frankly, I can't figure out why the organization doesn't simply leave him as a starter until he proves he can't handle it. We'll have to see what role De Fratus will have as he tackles Clearwater this year, but at 22, he's had success at every stop thus far, so I certainly wouldn't bet against him.
15.) Vance Worley, RHP, Reading
I like Worley much more than the numbers tell me I should. Like Stutes, Worley was double-jumped to Reading for 2009, and it showed in the stat line: 5.9 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 1.00 HR/9, 41.2% GB, and a 4.39 FIP in 153.1 IP. The lack of strikeouts in particular is a red flag, but I think there are a couple of mitigating factors here. First, Worley was a young college draftee, and played all of 2009 at age 21. Second, I think fatigue played a large role as the season went on: he posted a 3.75 FIP, 3.38 K/BB, and a 50+% GB rate in April and May, compared to a 4.80 FIP, 1.73 K/BB, and a GB% in the 33% range from June onward. To me, that looks like a direct result of an innings increase from 54.1 in 2007 to 172.1 in 2008. Worley is likely to start 2010 back in Reading, and he'll be right on track age-wise at 22. I expect a much better go of it this time around, and with good control, solid ground ball rates, and an ability to retire both right- and left-handed hitters, I think Worley has a decent shot to be a nice #3/4 type starter.
14.) Jiwan James, OF-S, Lakewood
James has the kind of tools that the Phillies love. He's a switch-hitting center fielder with fantastic speed that many have called the best athlete in the system -- and that's a system that, mind you, includes Anthony Gose, Tyson Gillies, and Anthony Hewitt. A 22nd round pick back in 2007, James switched from the mound back to the outfield last year, and while the rawness showed in a .264/.336/.372 line over 134 plate appearances, there were some encouraging signs: he flashed good speed (7.0 speed score), that line was still good enough for a 109 wRC+ in the pitcher-dominated NYPL, and James did a pretty solid job of controlling the strike zone (8.2% BB, 18.2% K) after years away from hitting. He'll have to move slowly, but James has upside that rivals anyone in the system.
13.) Scott Mathieson, RHP, Lehigh Valley
Now here's a guy who's easy to root for. After two Tommy John surgeries, Mathieson has made a remarkable recovery and is now knocking on the door of the majors. A Top 10 prospect for the organization from 2004 through 2006 as a starter, Mathieson has re-invented himself as a fireballing reliever, and he cruised through three levels in 2009 (32.1 IP, 9.5 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 0.28 HR/9, and a 2.61 FIP between the GCL, Clearwater, and Reading) before turning heads at the Arizona Fall League by flashing closer-quality stuff while whiffing 15 in 12.2 innings. He's down here, and not in the Top 10, because some caution is necessary -- he's still an injury risk, and he's yet to show that he can pitch on back-to-back days. The Phillies would be wise to see how he responds to that in Lehigh Valley before tossing him into the major league pen, so a midseason call up would be the most prudent course of action.
12.) Jonathan Singleton, 1B-L, Lakewood
The only things keeping Singleton out of the Top 10 are the general caution we need to exercise with small sample sizes in rookie ball, and the fact that the offensive standard for first basemen is so high. His debut was highly impressive, as the 2009 8th round pick hit .290/.395/.440 (153 wRC+) in 119 GCL plate appearances, and showed fantastic control of the strike zone (15.1% BB, 13.0% K). He'll be just 18 for the entire 2010 season, so there's no need to rush him, but Lakewood looks like the best assignment for a kid whose plate discipline and inherent power potential make him a big-time sleeper.
11.) Brody Colvin, RHP, Lakewood
The organization's 7th round pick in 2009, Colvin was rated as a supplemental round talent and immediately became the big catch of the 2009 draft haul when he signed for $900K on deadline day. At 6'4", 190 lbs., Colvin has exactly the type of projectable frame the Phillies covet, and he already hits 94 with his fastball. His curve ball is inconsistent but flashes plus, and like all young hurlers, his change up is a work in progress. With a big arm and good athleticism -- an underrated attribute in assessing young pitchers -- there's a lot to dream on here, and while Colvin got a brief taste of pro ball back in August (striking out 2 in a 2-inning GCL outing), he's got a chance to make a real splash in 2010 (though he hasn't exactly started the calendar year off on the right foot).
I'll be back on Friday to close out this series with the Top 10 -- and as I mentioned in last week's intro, while the Top 10 may be intact from my last prospect roundup, there's been a bit of shifting in the meantime, so be sure to check back.