Analyzing the Top 50: Where Are The Holes?

J.A. Happ: a rare college guy in the top 10.

Upon completing our list of the Top 50 Phillies Prospects, <i>PhillyBaseballNews.com</i> takes a look at who the Phillies have coming along in the organization. We also take a look at the Phillies' draft strategy and where they like to look for talent.

Examining the list of the Phillies Top 50 Prospects is an interesting study. Keep in mind that this is a farm system that has come a long way over the years and has also traded away some pretty good young players over the past season or two.

Our Top 50 Prospects list actually covered 51 players, since we combined the Biola Boys - Carl Galloway and Sam Orr - into one ranking. Of the 51 players, 24 of them are position players and 27 of them are pitchers. Those numbers would have been more skewed toward pitchers without the trades that sent many good, young arms elsewhere. Of course, there were position players like Anderson Machado and Javon Moran who were also part of those deals, but the Phillies have played free and loose with sending pitching to other clubs.

Of the pitchers on the list, 14 of them were college players taken by the Phillies in the draft. Of the remaining 13, seven were amateur free agents that signed with the Phillies, five came from high school programs and one - Dan Giese - came to the Phillies organization in a trade. Of the high schoolers selected though, most of them call the top portion of the rankings home. The top five is home to Gavin Floyd (1), Cole Hamels (3) and Scott Mathieson (5), who all came from high school programs. Keith Bucktrot (10) gives the Phillies four pitchers drafted out of high school in the top ten prospects in the organization. J.A. Happ (9) is the only college draft pick among the pitchers ranked in the top ten and Scott Mitchinson (8) is the other top ten pitcher and he came to the Phillies as an amateur free agent. Mitchinson was signed as part of the Phillies foray into Australia.

Actually, Happ is one of just two college players to crack the top ten ranking. Ryan Howard (2) came to the Phillies from Southwest Missouri State. The other two position players in the top ten - Greg Golson (4) and Jake Blalock (6) - were both drafted out of high school. In fact, Blalock was a high school teammate of Cole Hamels, giving the Phillies 20% of their top ten from Rancho Bernardo High School in San Diego and both came in the same draft.

While high school players dominate the top ten, they don't dominate the overall number of position players in the rankings. Of the position players on the list, 17 of them came from college programs and two were signed as amateur free agents. That means that just five of the 24 position players were high school players when they were drafted by the Phillies.

Since two of the five high school position players that the Phillies drafted are in the top ten and overall, six of the ten high school players on the list are top ten prospects, you can see an interesting trend. The Phillies - and most teams - are willing to draft high school players, but only if they have truly shown that they are ready to start their professional careers. Of course, many of the college picks are late rounders who are out of eligibility and don't have much choice but to sign with a club. They might not have the greatest level of talent, but they are prospects who can fill out rosters and in some cases, become very good major league players.

When you look at the position players, you can see where the Phillies are strongest.

Of the 24 position players, nine of them are outfielders, five are catchers, four are first basemen, three second basemen, two third basemen and one shortstop. Center field is particularly strong with the likes of Chris Roberson, Michael Bourn and Greg Golson who will all be fighting over the starting job in Philadelphia - or shipped elsewhere in a trade - in the near future. Golson and Bourn were both in the top ten. Blalock - a third baseman converted to the outfield - also made the top ten. Another player converted to the outfield - Ryan Howard - was second on the list of top prospects, but since his conversion isn't complete or even official, he was listed as a first baseman.

Catching was a priority for the Phillies in the 2004 Draft. Jason Jaramillo (24) is the highest ranking catcher on the list, but Carlos Ruiz, who will be at AAA Scranton this season, is the closest to the majors. Howard was the highest ranking first baseman on the list and is also closest to the majors. Ryan Barthelemy (18) made the top 20 and is the second ranked first baseman on the list.

With the continuing injury problems for David Bell, third base becomes an interesting position. Placido Polanco can fill in there this season, but what about beyond that? Juan Richardson ranked 16th and has opened some eyes this spring. It's likely that Richardson will need more than just one season to make it to the majors, but it's not out of the question that he could battle for the spot next spring if he stays healthy. Terry Jones ranked 25th and also needs to prove that he's healthy and ready to climb the ladder.

Shortstop could be a target of the 2005 Draft. Sam Orr (33) is the only real shortstop on the list, since the Phillies moved John Hardy (23) to second base. With Jimmy Rollins and the Phillies not working out a long-term contract, the Phillies may have to consider life after Rollins. That means that by spring of 2007, the Phillies will need to have someone ready. It's unlikely that Orr - or Hardy - will be ready by then. That means that the Phillies may need to consider either a trade, free agency or finding a hot shot shortstop prospect in this year's draft to fill the potential hole.

Hardy is the highest ranked second baseman and is joined on the list by Tim Moss. In his first two seasons, Moss hasn't truly established himself, but he did start to look much better late last season. If he's healthy, he could take a big jump on next year's list. Buzz Hannahan (50) can also play second base, but he's viewed more as a utility type player by the organization, if they ever decide to give him a long enough look.

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