Top 40 Prospects: Names You Need To Know!

Gavin Floyd is at the top of our inaugural list of the Top 40 Prospects in the Phillies organization. With Mike Arbuckle in charge, the Phillies have become a minor league force to be reckoned with and Floyd is just one example of the solid players - especially pitchers - that are coming through the Phillies farm system.

Here it is; the PhillyBaseballNews.com 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. The Phillies are being cautious with Madson and starting him at Clearwater to take advantage of warmer weather. Look for him to move up the ladder quickly once things warm up.

6. Andy Machado SS 22 years old - The Phillies biggest concern with Machado is his attitude. Mainly because of that, Machado is repeating AA in 2003 instead of being challenged with a step to Scranton. The Phillies hope Machado will become more selective at the plate and learn to use his speed to his advantage, which they are also stressing to starting shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Machado may be the fastest player in the system and has great defensive skills. It's just a matter of putting it all together.

7. Elizardo Ramirez RHP 20 years old - After debating over whether to start Ramirez at Clearwater or Lakewood in 2003, the Phillies decided on Clearwater and with good reason. Ramirez was dominant in the GCL in 2002 going 7-1, 1.10 in his professional debut. If Ramirez handles the Florida State League well, he could shoot even further up the prospects list in quick order.

8. Zach Segovia RHP 19 years old - Probably the most impressive thing about Segovia is his knowledge of how to pitch. The mechanics are still coming together a little, but the Phillies think Segovia will pick that up quickly. The only other potential concern is that Segovia allows his physical conditioning to fluctuate, but again, the Phillies figure that will change with maturity. The Phillie 2nd round pick in 2002, Segovia is starting 2003 at Lakewood.

9. Seung Lee RHP 23 years old - In 2001, the Phillies couldn't get a good feel for Lee because of injury problems. In 2002, they think that they saw the real Seung Lee, who pitched at three different levels, climbing as high as AA Reading, where he started one game, throwing 6 shutout innings. Lee may find his eventual niche as a reliever.

10. Keith Bucktrot RHP 22 years old - For the second season in a row, Bucktrot will start the season at Clearwater. The Phillies didn't feel it was in anyone's best interest to push Bucktrot ahead, at least not now. With some seasoning at Clearwater, Bucktrot figures to at least get a taste of AA before the end of the season.

11. Juan Richardson 3B 24 years old - Reading will be the recipient of the Phillies top 3B prospect in the system. Richardson hit 18 homeruns and the Phillies feel he may be capable of putting up slightly better power numbers. For now though, they would be happy if the power held steady and Richardson improved on his .257 average at Clearwater in 2002.

12. Carlos Cabrera RHP 20 years old - At Batavia, Cabrera allowed 79 hits in 90.1 innings and showed signs of becoming even more dominant. Cabrera is starting 2002 at Lakewood and the Phillies figure to progress him slowly unless he consistently shows the ability to control hitters. There is also some speculation that Cabrera could be converted to a closer.

13. Ryan Howard 1B 23 years old - There is no doubt that Howard has potential. He has the ability to combine power and still hit for average. Scouts are impressed with Howard's ability to hit in the clutch and drive in runs, but he's a little behind where he should probably be at his age, since he's starting 2003 at Clearwater.

14. Erick Arteaga RHP 22 years old - If Arteaga can pick up the pace a little, he would climb a little up the list of prospects. The Phillies are starting Arteaga at Lakewood this season, partially because of the strong pitching at Clearwater. If that logjam clears a little, Arteaga could move up to Clearwater and with a strong season, it's not really out of the question that he could get a start or two at Reading.

15. Carlos Rodriguez SS 19 years old - "C-Rod" is a young and highly touted shortstop prospect who many figure will pass the likes of Andy Machado on the prospect list before too long. Rodriguez hit .290 at Batavia in 2002 with 21 stolen bases. Scouts figure the stolen base total could go up as C-Rod starts to learn the art of swiping bases.

16. Jorge Padilla OF 23 years old - If Padilla is going to keep his ranking on prospect lists, he needs to step it up this season. Padilla was on the borderline of going to either AAA or AA this season and the Phillies opted to keep him at AA Reading along with Machado. With Padilla's speed (32 SB) he needs to find a way to get on base more to really become a prospect that scouts will drool over.

17. Josh Hancock RHP 24 years old - You can find arguments on both sides of whether the Phillies sending Jeremy Giambi to Boston for Hancock was a good or bad deal. You will also find scouts that love Hancock and others that think he'll be a bottom of the rotation starter at best. The Phillies believe he can be a middle of the rotation guy.

18. Jake Blalock OF/3B 19 years old - Playing in the shadows of his older brother Hank Blalock of the Rangers, Jake seemingly goes unnoticed. The Phillies are keeping him in extended spring training this season after taking him with their 5th round pick in the 2002 draft. Blalock's debut in the Gulf Coast League was somewhat uneventful, but the Phillies believe he has a huge potential.

19. Travis Chapman 3B 24 years old - The Phillies didn't have to think about it when the Tigers decided not to keep Chapman on their roster and offered him back to the Phillies. The Phillies tried to sneak Chapman through the Rule 5 draft and Cleveland grabbed him and then traded him to Detroit. He's starting the season at AAA and the Phillies are glad to have him. Don't be surprised if Chapman starts to work out at other positions, making him more valuable as a utility player in the not too distant future.

20. Eric Valent OF/1B 25 years old - Valent and Pat Burrell were thought to be part of a strong future outfield in Philadelphia. Burrell has produced, but Valent hasn't come close to what the Phillies thought he would bring to the organization. On the upside, he can play all three outfield spots and 1B, making him valuable as at least a utility guy.

21. Nick Punto SS/2B 25 years old - The Phillies have kept Punto around as a spare middle-infielder on the 25 man roster this season. He brings them speed off the bench and they think he may eventually be able to take over the role that Tomas Perez has played the past couple seasons.

22. Eric Junge RHP 26 years old - If nothing else, Junge is at least insurance to help out of the bullpen or possibly out of the starting rotation, although there are a lot of pitchers ahead of him for a starter's job. Junge's attitude is perfect for the role that the Phillies project him in because he's one of those guys who will do whatever he's asked to do to help the cause.

23. Greg Kubes LHP 26 years old - He's 26 and hasn't even had a taste of the majors. In the old days, Kubes would have been pushed to the forefront, but with guys like Myers, Madson and Floyd coming along, Kubes has sunk down the list. His best opportunity may come with another organization.

24. Bud Smith LHP 23 years old - Lucky for Smith, he's young enough that an injury suffered in 2002 won't set him back too far. There's a lot of pressure on Smith since he was part of the deal that sent Scott Rolen to St. Louis. He's a left-hander and seems to be recovering well, so he could bounce back pretty quickly. The Phillies are taking a somewhat cautious approach with him, but insist that physically, they're not worried.

25. Frank Perez RHP 24 years old - Perez has bounced back and forth between the bullpen and the rotation. Truth is, the Phillies don't quite know where they want him. If he stays in one spot long enough, Perez could become a handy guy to have around. His future probably lies in the bullpen and some scouts believe he may even be closer material.

26. Jean Machi RHP 20 years old - Allowed just 11 hits in 27 innings in the Gulf Coast League in 2002. Machi may be the real deal and may be in position for a big jump up the list with a big year. The Phillies aren't pushing him and like Perez, they're not quite sure what role they want him to play, but they're leaning toward making him a closer.

27. Robinson Tejeda RHP 21 years old - Tejeda had a 3.97 ERA at Clearwater in 2002 and is starting this season on the DL in extended spring training. The Phillies hope that Tejeda will be able to hold his own at AA Reading this season, but won't push him too quickly.

28. Yoel Hernandez RHP 20 years old - The Phillies hope that Hernandez confidence wasn't permanently damaged by his 16 losses at Clearwater in 2002. He had a solid 3.54 ERA and the Phillies think the young right-hander has a lot more potential than what he's been able to show so far. His assignment to AA Reading this season should go well and Hernandez will start to climb up the list of prospects in the pitching rich system.

29. Jeremy Wedel RHP 26 years old - The Phillies don't quite think Wedel has the personality of a closer, although he did save 8 games at Scranton in 2002. They picture him as more of a Terry Adams set-up guy. Don't be surprised if there are struggles in the Phillies bullpen if Wedel gets a look. Certainly, he should be in the majors for a September call-up.

30. Esteban De los Santos SS 20 years old - Why is it that the Phillies keep finding young shortstops that love to hit homeruns. This is a kid that needs to just get on base and try to make things happen. He does have some natural power, but has been trying too hard to bring out the homerun swing, resulting in just a .205 average in the GCL in 2002. The real strength here is defense.

31. Lee Gwaltney RHP 22 years old - The Phillies didn't flinch when Gwaltney was still available in the 6th round of the 2002 draft. They grabbed him and sent him to Batavia where he had a 3.60 ERA in 7 starts. He's starting 2003 at Lakewood and could move pretty quickly.

32. Beau Richardson LHP 23 years old - Richardson and Nick Bourgeois are left-handers that the Phillies feel will be able to make the majors. Richardson wasn't overpowering at Batavia, but they believe he just needs to learn a little more about the art of pitching.

33. Martire Franco RHP 25 years old - Franco struggled through 2002 and is starting 2003 in extended spring training. He's still got a shot, but 2003 is going to be an important season for him if he is going to come along the way the Phillies had originally hoped that he would.

34. Taft Cable RHP 22 years old - The tools are there and the Phillies believe that they'll be able to make Cable into a solid pitcher.

35. Nick Bourgeois LHP 22 years old - Bourgeois struggled at Batavia in 2002, but the Phillies believe he will respond well to being challenged and have moved him along to Lakewood this season.

36. Kiel Fisher 3B/OF 19 years old - Fisher didn't put up big numbers in the Gulf Coast League in 2002, but the Phillies love his approach to the game. He's a left-handed hitter, which helps and the Phillies are willing to be patient.

37. Chad Oliva OF/C 22 years old - The Phillies are letting Oliva play leftfield for Lakewood this season. They challenged him by moving him to Lakewood last season and he showed some progress. Oliva has seemingly had trouble adjusting to wood bats as most guys taken in the middle rounds of the June draft do. With any luck, Oliva will adjust and develop a power stroke.

38. Robby Read RHP 21 years old - A 7th round pick in 2002, Read pitched well at Batavia and is starting the 2003 season at Lakewood.

39. Jeremy Isenhower 2B 22 years old - One of the pleasant surprises out of the 2002 draft may be Jeremy Isenhower. Taken in the 31st round, Isenhower hit .308 in the GCL and moved to Batavia for a taste of the NY-Penn League and responded well. This season, Isenhower takes another step and goes to Lakewood where a good season will really open eyes around the organization.

40. Matt Sweeney RHP 20 years old - The Phillies swiped Sweeney in the 11th round of the 2001 draft. He was successful (4-5, 2.69) in the Gulf Coast League last season and starts 2003 at Lakewood.

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