So, I've been busy lately and I haven't been able to write about the issues that matter - mostly the Phillies fascinating pursuit of relief help. First, it was the rumored interest in Paul Shuey (offering him a minor league deal before he signed with the Orioles), then it was the last minute effort to retain Rick White (too late, he is an Astro now), then it was the rumored done deal with Rick Helling (I thought for sure this was set to be announced, but Helling changed his mind at the last minute and retired), and finally it's come down to the Dustin Hermanson sweepstakes (crazy that such a thing as a "Dustin Hermanson sweepstakes" exists, but here we are). Now that we are caught up to speed on the great reliever scramble of '07, on to the fake post - a rehash of my prospects post from a few days back, but this time with Baseball America's rankings in parenthesis next to my ranking (I just got the book today, so I'm excited...yes, I'm a dork). Oh, and I added my own comments at the bottom...so there is some new content after all. Lucky reader.
1. RHSP Carlos Carrasco (top notch A-ball numbers, I'd love to see the Phillies challenge him with a double jump to AA...though skipping levels hasn't worked too well with Carrasco in the past)
Carrasco's 2005 was a disaster as he reportedly tried to overthrow every fastball and, as a result of that, lost all command on it whatsoever. It wasn't as though his walk rate was abnormally high, but his hit rate jumped because hitters knew they could wait on his breaking stuff since that fastball wouldn't be close (an example of the semantical difference of poor command rather than poor control).
In 2006, Carrasco excelled. What changed? Carlos himself has been quoted as saying he learned to slow things down on the mound and realize the importance of fastball location over velocity. That's all well and good, but perhaps more important was the development of another strong secondary pitch - his curveball. In '05, all he threw was a fastball-change combo...easy pickings for professional hitters. By 2006, he was throwing a fastball that sits in the low 90s (92-94 typically, but it can be a bit flat at times), a plus change, and a developing (slowly but surely) power curve.
As of now, Carrasco is a damn fine pitching prospect but now quite among the elite. If he can add just a tick more velocity on his fastball, he could really bust out in A+/AA in 2007. His 6-3, 180 pound frame combined with his youth (he'll be 20 in March) could allow for the heater to be cranked up to mid-90s consistently and if so...watch out.
A name that I haven't often heard him compared to, but I'll throw it out there anyway is Ryan Madson. Their minor league numbers are very similar, they have similar builds, and similar repertoires (low 90s fastball, plus change, curve needs work). People may be down on Madson these days, but I still think he'll be a quality big leaguer for a long time. Carrasco has a bit more long-term upside (his fastball has gone up a tick in velocity every year since he signed), but I think it's a decent comp for the time being.
2. RHSP Scott Mathieson (TJ surgery shelves him for all of '07...still a young guy with plus stuff, profiles as either a future starter or relief ace) (5)
3. RHSP Kyle Drabek (as high a ceiling as any other prospect in the system...Rookie ball numbers and lack of maturity are red flags, but his talent is undeniable...Cole Hamels only dropped to the Phillies because of injury/immaturity, Phillies hope lighting strikes twice with Drabek) (2)
4. LHSP J.A. Happ (big jump up in '06, could work his way into Phillies rotation once the inevitable Adam Eaton injury occurs...you can't really blame Eaton though, those DVDs can be damn tough to open) (8)
5. OF Michael Bourn (old-school prototype leadoff man, would have been an ideal fit playing center field next to Burrell and Abreu...oh well, at least we now have C.J. Henry!...another year in AAA could serve him well as he'll indirectly compete with Shane Victorino to see who will be the Phils CF come 2008) (7)
6. RHSP Edgar Garcia (4)
7. LHSP Josh Outman (6)
8. 3B Michael Costanzo (12)
9. IF Adrian Cardenas (3)
10. OF D'Arby Myers (11)
(LHRP Fabio Castro) (NR)
11. RHRP Zack Segovia (14)
12. OF Greg Golson (10)
(C Carlos Ruiz) (13)
13. RHSP Justin Germano (NR)
14. LHSP Matt Maloney (9)
(LHRP Matt Smith) (30)
15. C Jason Jaramillo (24)
16. RHRP Joe Bisenius (16)
17. LHSP Daniel Brauer (22)
18. RHSP Kyle Kendrick (15)
19. OF Jeremy Slayden (26)
20. RHSP Jarrod Freeman (NR)
21. RHSP Drew Carpenter (17)
22. SS C.J. Henry (20)
23. C Lou Marson (19)
24. C Jesus Sanchez (NR)
25. 3B Welinson Baez (21)
26. OF T.J. Warren (NR)
27. RHRP Pat Overholt (23)
28. INF Jason Donald (27)
29. INF Brad Harman (18)
30. RHRP Brett Harker (NR)
Jim Ed Warden (25) and Heitor Correa (28) were both oversights on my part, they absolutely deserve spots on this list. Alfredo Simon was ranked 29th by BA; his inclusion on the list is also probably legitimate.
One Ranking I Liked: Jason Jaramillo (24) - I had him at 15, but would have been more than okay with dropping him down my list; BA went for it and had him way down in the lower third of the top 30. I just don't see it with Jararmillo - his floor is relatively stable (backup catcher), but his ceiling isn't really all the different in my mind (I just don't see him as a starting caliber catcher - below average hitting + average/overrated defense = nondescript prospect).
One Ranking I Did Not Like: Matt Smith (30) - Smith is already a quality major league relief pitcher and that should count for something; there are not 29 players currently in the Phillies minor league system that will have better careers than he will have. Guaranteed.
Looking back at my list I'd probably make the following edits (I originally compiled it in December and lots has changed since then in my mind): Drabek at 2 over Mathieson, Cardenas would move up a few spots, and Harman would leapfrog fellow middle infield prospects C.J. Henry and Jason Donald (I've long been a fan of Harman and I refuse to give up on him).