Up until 2004, Ryan Barthelemy didn't come close to putting up the type of numbers that the Phillies had hoped for. Then, it happened. At Clearwater, Barthelemy started to show some of the power and the ability to hit for average that he was known for in college. Just as quickly though, he shriveled from sight last season when he was second fiddle to Randy Ruiz for the first base job at Reading. Instead of playing everyday at one position, Barthelemy was trying to figure out when and where he would play. He played 84 games at first base - mainly when Ruiz was serving suspensions - and played two others at third and still two more in the outfield. Actually, he did play more games at third and in the outfield while at Clearwater, but he knew that generally, he would be starting and it would usually be at first base.
Whether it was his situation or the step up to AA that threw him, Barthelemy didn't really get into a solid groove in 2005. He finished with one homerun every 30 at bats, which was slightly better than his 2004 mark of one every 34 at bats, but his average shrank nearly 60 points to .237 at Reading. One key will be to watch how much Barthelemy gets to play in 2006 and where the Phillies have him playing both on the organizational ladder and defensively.
|YEAR / TEAM||HR||RBI||AVG||G||AB||R||H||2B||3B||SB||BB||KO||OBP|
Acquired: Drafted by the Phillies in the 10th round of the 2002 Draft out of Florida State University.
Batting and Power: In 2004, the Phillies finally saw some of the power that they were expecting from Barthelemy. They also saw a substantial jump in his average and on-base percentage. A huge part of the problem was Barthelemy's eyesight, which he had corrected with minor surgery prior to the 2004 season. While his 2004 average of .295 was what the Phillies figured on, they still believe that he can hit 20-25 homeruns per season and continue that on to the major leagues.
Baserunning and Speed: Forget it. Barthelemy's a big guy and doesn't have much speed. He doesn't tend to make mistakes on the basepaths, but he's not going to help you much either. At least Barthelemy knows that he's slow and doesn't try to do things on the basepaths that he can't realistically do.
Defense: At first, it was figured that Barthelemy would basically be just a first baseman, but he showed at Batavia that he could play at third base as well. In 2004, the Phillies started experimenting with him in the outfield and the experiment went well enough that while he shouldn't really be figured on to play there everyday, he can at least go out there if needed. His defense at first base is pretty good, but he's below average defensively at both third base and in the outfield.
Projection: It figures that Barthelemy will likely start 2006 back at AA Reading. His numbers weren't really good enough to move him along to AAA and it looks like he'll need more time with the R-Phils before he's really ready for a jump in levels. He certainly can - and should - reach AAA by the end of the season without much difficulty. The fact that he's playing a couple different positions will be a good thing for Barthelemy in the long run because it will make him more valuable to a big league club, but for right now, the adjustments seem to be a little tough for him. When all is said and done, Barthelemy may be best suited for the American League where he can settle in at first base and move occasionally to designated hitter.
ETA: If the Phillies need a left-handed bat off the bench next spring, there's an outside shot that Barthelemy would be able to fill that spot. Odds are though that he'll be ticketed for more time at AAA and a possible move to the majors with a call-up in September of 2007. From there, it's all up to Barthelemy to show what he can do.
Comparison: Perhaps it was unfair, but Barthelemy was compared physically and skills-wise to Andres Galarraga when he was in college. That's a pretty lofty label to put on a young hitter. The Phillies hope that Barthelemy could turn into the type of hitter that Chase Utley is, but their downgraded expectations of power put him somewhere under Utley in power numbers.