The Red Barons are 9-10 in the early going. Offensively, Wendell Magee Jr continues to be the big story and has upped his average to .377 by hitting .429 (15-35) over the last nine games. Magee's OBP has been upped to .436, far and away, a team high. The early season slump for Eric Valent appears to be over. After hitting .088 through the first ten games, Valent has hit .333 (9-27) in the last nine games to pull his average to .197 on the season. Still nothing to write home about, but at least he's coming around. Travis Chapman found a bit of his power stroke, hitting his second and third homeruns of the season, while moving his average to .291 for the Red Barons. Chase Utley has been called back to Philly to take over for an injured Placido Polanco. Utley was hot before the recall, hitting .361 (13-36) over the last nine games. On the down side, Utley has moved out in front for the team lead in strikeouts with 14 in 16 games.
On the mound, Ryan Madson has had mixed results in his first two starts. He was impressive in his debut, but got into some of the same problems that he did in his rehab starts with Clearwater earlier this spring. Madson's ERA is 6.30 with ten innings pitched, in which he's struck out eight hitters. Cary Hiles stock continues to move up the charts. Hiles has allowed just one earned run in twelve innings. His control hasn't exactly been perfect, walking six and striking out seven, but he has found a way to get the job done. Greg Kubes has started three of the five games he's pitched and has a 1.40 ERA. Kubes is sometimes overlooked, but he seems to be pushing himself to the forefront. Meanwhile, you've got to figure that sooner or later, somebody's going to notice Amaury Telemaco. It looks like Telemaco is healthy and he's pitched to a 1.80 ERA, going 1-2 in five games (four starts).
There isn't a whole lot of offense at AA Reading. Jorge Padilla has been strong, hitting .305 in the early going and stealing seven bases. Andy Machado has battled some nagging injuries and a bit of suspect attitude to hit .241 and swipe four bases without being caught. Jeff Inglin is getting some respect. The right-hand hitting outfielder has a team leading four homeruns and is hitting .271 for Reading. Juan Richardson's average has been dropping ever closer to the Mendoza Line, while Nate Espy would love to be that high. Espy's average has dropped under the .100 mark after going 1-for-17 over the last nine games.
Seung Lee and Mike Wilson have been the anchors in the starting rotation. Lee is 2-0, 2.35 after four starts, while Wilson is 0-2, 2.84 through his four starts. Wilson would love to see some run support. Brent Billingsley, Taylor Buchholz and Ryan Carter have all struggled in the rotation and all have ERAs over 4.50 as starters. The Reading staff has just one save and that came from Eric Weaver. Somehow, Weaver fit in a save even though his ERA is 8.59 and he has walked almost a hitter per inning (seven walks in seven and one-third innings).
The Reading Phillies are 6-11 in the Eastern League.
The offense has shown some improvement. Vince Vukovich is still leading all the regulars with a .283 average, but Ryan Howard is right there at .282. Howard has clubbed a team high four homeruns, but the team leader in RBI is Juan Camilo, who has 15 RBI and is hitting .259 through the first twenty-one games.
Bud Smith is working his way back to the upper levels and is 1-0, 1.47 at Clearwater. Smith has pitched in four games, starting two of them for Clearwater. As the weather at the upper levels warms, the Phillies will look at moving Smith along, but have decided to be very cautious with the former St.Louis Cardinal. The Scott Rolen deal looks much better if Smith can become a true prospect again. Bobby Korecky has saved two games for Clearwater. Keith Bucktrot (2.70), Taft Cable (3.12), Layne Dawson (2.38) and William Glen (1.29) have all looked good in the Florida sunshine, helping Clearwater to a 9-12 record in the Florida State League.
The Phillies think there is still some potential for Mark McRoberts. There is no doubt that the right-hand hitting outfielder/catcher has power potential, hitting four homeruns in thirteen games. The problem is simply putting the bat on the ball. McRoberts has whiffed twenty-one times in forty-one at bats. He has collected just seven hits (.171) and remember, that four of those have been homeruns, while the rest have been singles. Bryan Hansen is having a nice season, hitting a comfortable .280 with two homeruns and six RBI. Defensively though, Hansen leads the team in errors with six, not good for a Firstbaseman. Speaking of errors, Terry Jones has cut down on his. After making four errors in the first seven games he played, Jones has made just one in his last nine games. Unfortunately, for Jones, his average has fallen from .172 to .155 on the season. Jeremy Isenhower's hot start is officially over. Isenhower has hit .115 (11-42) in his last nine games, dropping his average to .262 after hitting .500 through his first eight games this season.
Don't look now, but Emilio Sanchez is unscored on in seven innings of work, picking up one save along the way. Francisco Butto has allowed just one earned run in fifteen innings (0.60) and is 1-1 in three games with one start. Lee Gwaltney has been steady, going 2-1, 2.79 in four starts and Nick Bourgeois has been even better, with a 2.08 ERA and no record in three starts. Gwaltney and Bourgeois share the team lead with seventeen strikeouts. Zach Minor's ERA is approaching the 9.00 mark and Robby Read has eclipsed that mark with a 9.90 ERA.
Lakewood is 7-10 on the season, going 2—7 in their last nine games.