Phils: 13 Runs, 1 Inning. Minors: 13 Runs, 5 Games

While the Phillies were putting up thirteen runs in the fourth inning against Cincinnati on Sunday, thoughts turned to what was happening in the minors. Somewhat coincidentally, the minor league teams put up thirteen runs Sunday too, but that was over the five games played by the four teams in action so far this season.

In the early going, the Phillies minor league teams have put together a 15-22 record. Basically, the offense has been as cold as the weather that most of the teams have played in and you can only hope that it heats up. Of course, in the one warm minor league climate – Clearwater – the bats are in no danger of catching fire. Vince Vukovich is leading the team in hitting, so what does that tell you?

On our Top 40 Prospects List, only fourteen of the forty best are position players. Clearly, pitching is the name of the game in the Phillies system and they've got the prospects to show for it.

At Scranton, the Red Barons are 4-6 with some weak offensive numbers. They've hit just three homeruns in ten games and they've got just four hitters above the .300 mark and none of them – Dave Hollins, Wendell Magee and Jeremy Salazar - are true prospects. Magee has been crushing the ball, hitting .324, while Salazar is hitting .364 with just eleven at bats. Can Eric Valent fall any further. He's just 3-for-34 (.088) and has driven in just one run in the early going.

Reading (2-6) has just two homeruns and both are from Juan Richardson. The 24 year old thirdbaseman is hitting .222 and has struck out in one-third of his plate appearances, so the power numbers better be coming along. If Andy Machado were a movie, he'd be "Dude, Where's My Game?" Machado may still be brooding over not starting the season at AAA, but his .172 batting average isn't going to get him to Scranton anytime soon. In addition to his offensive woes, Machado has committed four errors in eight games. Jorge Padilla and Jay Sitzman are the only regulars hitting over .300 and both have been swinging the bat really well. Sitzman has a .393 OBP and the Phillies hope to develop his base stealing skills. Padilla has a .419 OBP and has swiped three bases while being caught once.

To paraphrase respected baseball guru Mr. T, "I pity the fool that has to pitch for Clearwater." Pitchers can't expect much run support. Consider Gavin Floyd, who has a 3.38 ERA is 0-3 on the season. Vince Vukovich is leading the team in hitting, so what does that tell you? "Mini-Vuk" is hitting .385 in the early going and has walked seven times to put up a .515 OBP. Ryan Howard is the true offensive threat in Clearwater, hitting an even .300 and is really starting to get noticed. A left-handed hitting firstbaseman with power, now where have I seen that before? Luckily for Clearwater they've got plenty of pitching or their 4-7 record would be much worse.

Our final stop is Lakewood. At 5-3, the BlueClaws have the only winning record in the Phillies system. Jeremy Isenhower has just sixteen at bats, but is still hitting .500 although he has struck out in five of those at bats. Power comes from Mark McRoberts (3 HR) and Bryan Hansen (2 HR). Chris Roberson has stolen three bases but needs to pump up his .222 average. His six walks put his OBP at .364, but if he can drop in a few more hits, he'll start to open some eyes. On the downside, Carlos Rodriguez is hitting just .071 and has made two errors. Terry Jones has been the real disappointment, hitting just .172 and making four errors in seven games at third.

Yes, pitching is the true strength of the Phillies minor league system. Along the way, there are some offensive bright spots, but there's not a lot to look at in terms of guys who may help the big league club in years to come. Thankfully, the Phillies have a young major league team and have time to develop offensive stars in the years to come.


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