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Phillies Prospect Roundup: ...and we're off!

The 2010 minor league season is officially underway, and with a week and a half in the books, we get the chance to step back and make an early assessment of where we're at.  As you well know, the system underwent a major shakeup in the Halladay/Lee deal, with the focus shifting more to lower level, higher risk guys.  10 or so games is certainly not a large enough sample size from which to draw any conclusions, but it doesn't hurt to check in and get a feel for what's going on thus far.

With this being the first roundup of the year, we'll check on the system's top ten prospects (and add in a couple of bonus guys for good measure), before switching to more of a rotating format based on "who's hot" beginning next week.  Without further ado, then, check below the jump for 2010's inaugural look at some Phillies prospects.

Domonic Brown, OF-L, Reading: Brown is hitting .323/.364/.452 through 33 plate appearances thus far, and while the 2 walks and 7 strikeouts over that short sample size may be a slight cause for concern, the real worry here is whether he's okay after colliding with Tyson Gillies Ozzie Chavez on Friday and sitting out Saturday and Sunday's games. There's been no word yet, and while it's not like Brown is needed at the major league level or anything yet, if the plan is really to let him earn the 2011 starting right fielder's job, as many Double-A and above at bats as he can get will be beneficial toward that end.

Tyson Gillies, OF-L, Reading: It's very early still, but if there's one legitimate area for concern about the top ten, it's probably in Gillies' whiff rate thus far.  After posting a 23.4% K mark in 2008, the speedster cut that rate to 16.3% K last year -- and for a guy without a ton of power (career .126 ISO coming into this year), that was an important development.  While his BABIP (.222) isn't doing his overall line (.146/.205/.195) any favors thus far, the 12 strikeouts in 41 at bats -- a 29.3% K rate -- are an issue that Gillies will need to deal with if he's to have the sort of breakout year that many have predicted for him.

J.C. Ramirez, RHP, Clearwater: After a subpar 2009 -- and this should hopefully be the last time I reference it -- the Phillies wisely held the Prince of Paramus back from Double-A, sending him instead to Clearwater to build his confidence.  He's been solid if unspectacular thus far, with a pair of 6+ inning outings and a 9-to-4 cumulative strikeout-to-walk ratio.  Lefties are still giving him trouble in the early going (.368 BAA), and he doesn't seem to be pitching down in the zone as much as he should (just 31.0% GB), so both of those areas bear monitoring going forward.

Trevor May, RHP, Clearwater: May displayed the inconsistency we might expect from a 20-year old, following up a dominating 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 10 K performance in the season's first week with a 1.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 4 K clunker this past Wednesday.  I noted that command is May's primary area for improvement at this juncture, so nights like last Wednesdays are likely to be part of the growing pains.  The most important thing, though, is what Phuture Phillies noted the other day: that pitcher injuries are often the result of fatigue, so the organization was smart to yank May after just 5 outs.  "If he didn't have it, he didn't have it, get him out and go gettem again in five days."

Phillippe Aumont, RHP, Reading: The organization is right to shift him back to the rotation, at least for the time being; even if he's ultimately ticketed for the bullpen, the development of his secondary offerings will benefit from longer outings.  Between the role change and the alterations he's making to his mechanics, we shouldn't read too much into his 5-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 10.2 innings thus far, or his 5.91 ERA.  If the numbers don't improve in the next two months, then there will be some cause for concern, but until then, let's give Aumont some time to work out the kinks.

Anthony Gose, OF-L, Clearwater: See Gillies, Tyson.  No, seriously.  Gose struggled to control the strike zone in last season's first couple of months (5.2% BB and 26.1% K in April and May) before making some minor adjustments thereafter (6.4% BB and 19.8% K through the rest of the season).  That pattern may be repeating itself, as Gose has walked just 1 time while striking out 14 times so far in 2010, and while he's notched 5 extra base hits, he's not really flashing the raw power necessary to justify such high strikeout totals.  It's obviously very early, and the 19-year old Gose is very raw, but he's showing precisely why he's a one-level-at-a-time guy.

Domingo Santana, OF-R, Lakewood: Despite the aggressive assignment, Santana hasn't really looked overmatched at all thus far.  He's still got quite a bit of swing-and-miss in his game (27.0% K), but he's ISOing .185 and has walked in a respectable 10.0% of his plate appearances thus far.  Santana is still just 17 years old, so we need to take it slow here, but the early returns are pretty promising at this point.

Sebastian Valle, C-R, Lakewood: Valle struggled to a .223/.313/.331 line in Lakewood last year, but some adjustments and successful stints in both Williamsport and the Mexican winter league have him more prepared for Round 2.  He's still a bit overaggressive at the plate, compiling 13 strikeouts in just 41 at bats thus far -- but he's also shown flashes of the power that have people excited about his bat, with a home run and a pair of doubles in 10 games.

Antonio Bastardo, LHP, Philadelphia: In limited exposure out of the big league pen, Bastardo has been so-so thus far.  He's struggled to throw strikes at times, but when he comes out pounding the strike zone and snapping off decent sliders, he's a pain for both lefties and righties. With 6 baserunners allowed in 3.2 innings, Bastardo didn't exactly make himself indispensable, especially considering he's the likely odd man out when J.C. Romero is due to be activated.  But some time in Lehigh Valley won't derail him from reaching his ceiling as a lefty setup man.

Jarred Cosart, RHP, Lakewood: Two starts, two wins, a 14-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 11.0 innings, and a truckload of ground balls (55.2%) -- I'd say the widely predicted breakout campaign for Cosart is off to a solid start.  Let's check back in with a larger sample size and see if it continues.

Anthony Hewitt, OF-R, Lakewood: The strikeouts have picked up since Hewitt garnered a mention in Kevin Goldstein's Minor League Update -- Hewitt has now whiffed a full 13 times in 39 at bats -- but if we're being honest here, there's always going to be a good amount of swing-and-miss in the 2008 1st round pick's game.  The encouraging thing is that he's flashing the raw power that spurred the Phillies to draft him in the first place, with a .231 ISO and 5 extra base hits in 10 games leading to an impressive .359/.419/.590 line early on.

Austin Hyatt, RHP, Clearwater: Small sample size warnings and all, but I'm beginning to look foolish for including Hyatt on this list instead of this one.  Hyatt carried a perfect game through 5.1 innings in the Threshers' season opener, then followed that up with a solid 5.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 5 K performance this past Tuesday.  He's sporting a 12-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio and 54.8% GB rate in 11.2 innings, and if the velocity increase that Hyatt showed last year has carried over to 2010 (no word yet), he'll shoot up Phillies prospect lists quickly.

Nick Hernandez, LHP, Lakewood: A 12th round pick by the Phillies out of Tennessee last year, Hernandez was projected to go much higher before a disappointing junior season damaged his draft stock. Turns out the Phillies may have done a great job of buying low, as Hernandez has now struck out 20 (and walked only 1) across 21 innings of 3 earned run ball.  It's only 3 starts, and it's a polished college pitcher ripping up the SAL, but Hernandez is making us take notice of what he's up to.

Vance Worley, RHP, Reading: I went out on a limb tabbing Worley as my 15th best prospect, and it may have been a bit overaggressive.  Worley has started 2010 much like he finished 2009: with middling results.  He did manage to notch his first win of the season yesterday, but an 8-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio isn't a good sign for a guy without definitive ground ball tendencies or real swing-and-miss stuff.  Those who have seen Worley this year have described him as "tentative" out on the mound, while there may be time for him to turn it around, my theory that he was going to be the hot hand right off the bat in 2010 looks to have been mistaken.

Darin Ruf, 1B-R, Lakewood: I probably like Ruf more than I should, considering he's a 23-year old college kid playing in Low A and is limited to first base defensively.  But he's hit at every level thus far and Lakewood is no exception, where he's got a .344/.500/.594 through 10 games.  His trademark has been a discerning eye -- witness the 51:23 K:BB his junior year at Creighton -- so the 7 walks and 5 strikeouts this year shouldn't come as any surprise.  So while he's certainly a long shot, he's definitely a guy worth keeping an eye on.