Monday, August 29, 2011

Reading Eagle's Annual Prospect Survey

This month Mike Drago of The Reading Eagle conducted a survey of a dozen experts, made up of writers and other media members, designed to rank the top prospects in the Philadelphia developmental system.

The participating individuals, who are all close to the Phillies minor league system, were asked to rank their personal top 15, which were tabulated to determine the paper's published list of top ten prospects. Those that offered their insight for the ratings included Bob Brookover, Joe Berkery, Tony Graham, Jeff Schuler, Brian Seltzer, Mike Drago himself and yours truly, Jay Floyd.
Link
Last year's survey landed two keys to the trade that brought Hunter Pence to the Phillies at the top of the rankings. Jonathan Singleton and Jarred Cosart were numbers 1 and 2, respectively, based on voting done last year. Additionally, this year's top Phillies rookie, Vance Worley, landed at number 3. The two players that followed those youngsters on the 2010 list now find themselves at the top of the latest edition of the Phils prospect hierarchy.

Two of the stars of the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers club, righty hurler Trevor May and catcher Sebastian Valle now take up the highest spots on the Eagle's annual digest.

Last season's top draft pick, left-handed pitcher Jesse Biddle, shot up the list this year with an extremely impressive campaign at Class A Lakewood. The Philadelphia native ranks third.

Another big mover this season was shortstop Freddy Galvis, who worked extremely hard last off-season to add some strength and to improve his offensive game. The Venezuela native has found himself rated as the fourth best prospect in the Phils' organization.

Here's a review of the full top 20 rankings:

1- Trevor May. The 4th round draft pick from 2008 has won a championship in each of his three seasons in the Phillies minor league system and he plans to add to his collection of rings, as he moves upward. May, a Washington state native, has posted a 10-7 record with a 3.54 ERA while striking out 203 batters in 147 1/3 innings over 26 starts.

2- Sebastian Valle. A representative in this year's MLB Futures Game, Valle was signed as an amateur free agent, out of his native Mexico, at the age of 16. Valle, who took big strides last season by working on his ability to hit to all fields, has seen his focus this year go toward his work behind the plate. In the process, the 21-year-old helped 4/5 of the Threshers' pitching rotation gain recognition as Florida State League All-stars. On the offensive side, Valle has seen a bit of a dip in power, after missing time with a pair of injuries, but his batting average has seen a considerable improvement over last season.

3- Jesse Biddle. The 19-year-old has ridden a strong second half to cruise upward on prospect rankings everywhere. Biddle has posted a 1.75 ERA in 11 outings since the South Atlantic League All-star break in June. Though his overall win-loss record (7-8) is not impressive, Biddle, who is 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 235 pounds, has shown serious progress in his pitches this year, while working closely with Lakewood pitching coach Steve Schrenk.

4- Freddy Galvis. The 5-foot-10-inch 175-pound infielder, who developed a reputation for being strong on defense and weak with his offense, has really turned things around this season. Following a winter in which he stuck to a strict workout plan to add a bit of muscle to his frame and improve his bat speed, the 21-year-old has tallied career high power numbers (8 HR, .722 OPS) and earned a promotion to Triple A Lehigh Valley earlier this month, perhaps causing folks to wonder if re-signing Jimmy Rollins, who will be a free agent after the 2011 season, is a necessary move. In 25 games with the IronPigs, the switch-hitting Galvis has rocked a .315 average.

5- Phillippe Aumont. The intimidating reliever joined the Phillies organization as part of the trio of players the team acquired from Seattle for Cliff Lee in 2009. After a year in which he struggled when the Phillies made him a starter, the Quebec native has shined this year out of the bullpen for Double A Reading and Triple A Lehigh Valley. In 41 combined games at two levels, Aumont, who sports a fastball that regularly reaches 97 MPH, has a 1-5 record, a 2.81 ERA, a .222 batting average against and 73 strike outs in 51 1/3 innings pitched. Aumont, who stands 6 feet 7 inches tall and weighs 255 pounds stands a shot at being a strong contributor out the Phillies' bullpen next season.

6- Brody Colvin. After pulling past Cosart in some publications' rankings as the Phillies' top pitching prospect, Colvin has dealt with a back injury and a groin problem that have resulted in difficulty with achieving much success this season. In 21 outings this year, Colvin, the only member of the Clearwater starting rotation that didn't make the FSL All-star team, sports a 2-8 record and a 4.99 ERA. His 8.31 ERA in 5 August starts hasn't effected his status among prospect heads, who feel the 7th round draft pick from 2008 and his live arm (he reached 96 MPH toward the end of the 2010 season) will get back on track once he has a stretch of great health.

7- Justin De Fratus. After a 2010 when he straight dominated competition with Clearwater and Reading, then went on to be untouchable for Team USA in the Pan-Am qualifiers and looked crisp in the Arizona Fall League, the 23-year-old right-hander has been solid out of the bullpen for Reading and Lehigh Valley this year. In 49 combined games at two levels, De Fratus, an 11th round pick from the 2007 amateur draft, has posted a 6-3 record with 14 saves and a 2.99 ERA. The California native, already on the Phils' 40-man roster, stands out as another likely candidate to fill out a big league bullpen with several vacancies following the 2011 season.

8- Julio Rodriguez. The Puerto Rico native began 2010 in extended spring training, but split time with the short season Williamsport Crosscutters and Lakewood BlueClaws throughout the season, while forcing the Phillies to take notice, with his versatility. A finesse pitcher, the righty tosses a fastball in the low-90's and sports a deceiving curve ball and an improving change up. The 21-year-old's 16 wins lead the minors. Through 24 starts, Rodriguez possesses a 2.84 ERA, a .191 batting average against and has struck out 150 batters in 145 2/3 innings. Rodriguez is a lock to be at Reading next season.

9- Michael Schwimer. Although guys with considerable Major League experience and those who were on the big league roster weren't up for nomination, Schwimer was not yet a big league Phillie when balloting began for this survey. Prior to earning his promotion to the big show, Schwimer was tremendous for Lehigh Valley this season, posting a 9-1 record with 10 saves and a 1.88 ERA. Additionally, the 6-foot-8-inch 240-pound righty held right-handed batters to a .135 batting average. Say buckets for the 14th round pick in the 2008 draft!

10- Jiwan James. The converted pitcher turned outfielder fell one spot from last year. James, a 22-year-old outfielder, has put up consistent offensive numbers (.268 avg, 74 runs scored, 4 HR, 37 RBI) at the top of the batting order for Clearwater this season. With a 65% success rate with stolen base attempts (28-for-43) this year, James, a 22nd round draft pick from 2007, has quite a way to go in that department if he wishes to use his speed to help himself climb the developmental ladder, but look for the 6-foot-4-inch 180-pound switch-hitter to take on the next level in 2012.

11- Jonathan Pettibone, RHP, Clearwater
12- Austin Hyatt, RHP, Reading
13- Aaron Altherr, OF, Williamsport
14- Joe Savery, LHP, Lehigh Valley
15- Harold Garcia, 2B, Reading (DL)
16- David Buchanan, RHP, Clearwater
17- Carlos Rivero, 3B, Reading
18- Cesar Hernandez, 2B, Clearwater
19- Lisalberto Bonilla, RHP, Lakewood
20- Zach Collier, OF, Lakewood

Read the full piece from The Reading Eagle by clicking here.

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