The Fab 5: A Look At The Top 5 Phillies Prospects

The Phillies farm system is no longer the laughing stock of the majors. Now, under the watchful eye of Mike Arbuckle, the Phillies have assembled a list of impressive prospects that have other organizations jealous and Phillies fans looking toward a bright future. With that in mind, here's a freebie glimpse at our Top 5 Phillies Prospects. Premium members get the full list of the Top 40 Prospects. Perfect for the die-hard Phillies fan.

Here it is; the ranking of the Top 40 prospects in the Phillies system. We dropped Marlon Byrd and Brett Myers from the list since their major league careers have apparently begun. The age listed for players is their age at the beginning of the season (April 1, 2003).

1. Gavin Floyd (RHP) 20 years old - This guy is the real deal. The Phillies grabbed Floyd quickly with their first pick in the 2001 draft giving him a $4.2 million signing bonus. That's the most that the Phillies have ever showered on a draft pick. The Phillies have been careful with Floyd and kept him on a strict pitch count early in the 2002 season, but have since lifted the count and turned Floyd loose. Floyd is starting the season at Clearwater, but it's not out of the question that he could see Reading before the fall.

2. Taylor Buchholz (RHP) 21 years old - Buchholz is one of those guys who needs time to adjust to new levels. He struggled early in the year at Clearwater and in his first few starts at Reading late in the 2002 season. He finished strong at AA though and will start the 2003 season with the Reading Phillies. If all goes well, Buchholz could see a little time at AAA although the Phillies seem content to have him pitch a full season at Reading.

3. Chase Utley (2B) 24 years old - One of the dilemmas facing the Phillies is how quickly they want to push Utley to the majors. For now, Placido Polanco is the Phillies secondbaseman and Utley will play the majority of the season at Scranton, although they did let him start the year temporarily at the major league level. With the Phillies hoping to contend, they figured one rookie – Marlon Byrd – in the lineup was enough. If Byrd falls short, the Phillies could look to trade Polanco and bring Utley up for good.

4. Cole Hamels (LHP) 19 years old - It's likely that Hamels wouldn't have been around for the Phillies to pick with the 17th overall pick in the 2003 draft had it not been for a broken arm that Hamels suffered as a high school junior. The injury didn't seem to bother him in his senior year and the Phillies were elated that he slipped to them. Hamels is starting 2003 in extended spring training until the Phillies decide how quickly to advance him.

5. Ryan Madson (RHP) 22 years old - The Phillies love Madson's changeup and the fact that he has excellent control. Madson has size (6' 6") and uses it to his advantage, but the Phillies have some concerns over his health after shoulder problems surfaced in 2001. Madson's a little old to be starting at Clearwater, but the Phillies are being at least a little cautious with the young right-hander.

There you have it. The Fab 5! Remember to talk about this list and any other Phillies news on the Message Board.

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