Minor League Report

The Phillies may have some decisions to make about their third baseman and shortstop of the future. There are some young players who are pushing their way toward the top. If you're a fan of minor league baseball, watch for our <i>Position Prospects</i> reports, a six-part series starting Tuesday on <i>PhillyBaseballNews.com</i>.

Scranton Wilkes-Barre Red Barons (41-41)

Lyle Mouton signed a minor league deal with the Phillies and joined the Red Barons. The veteran outfielder could be important because of the season ending injury to McKay Christenson and the fact the Wendell Magee Jr opted to leave the Phillies organization a couple of months back. Mouton is 3-for-14 (.214) since he joined Scranton, but overall, he's hitting .273 on the season with four homeruns. The Barons thought Josue Perez would help, but he's hitting just .213 on the season since his promotion to AAA. There's something to be said for having veteran players on a AAA team. J.P. Roberge is hitting .295 and Kevin Sefcik is hitting .279 and both are great clubhouse influences. As for the young guys, Juan Sosa returned to action and has gone 4-for-15 (.267).

The Phillies bullpen has picked up the pace, so the hot, young relievers at Scranton aren't getting as much of a look as prospective major league replacements right now. Fortunately for Scranton though, the kids don't seem to mind. It can't be easy for manager Marc Bombard to decide which arm he wants to use in a setup role. They just keep getting the job done. Geoff Geary has been near dominating (6-2, 2.29) in his relief role, while Dan Giese (2-0, 3.57), Cary Hiles (0-1, 3.71) and Jeremy Wedel (1-0, 3.86) have all been great. For left-handers, Bombard can choose from Jim Crowell (0-4, 3.68) and Greg Kubes (1-3, 3.29). Of course, when the game is on the line, it's time for Gomesie. Wayne Gomes has a 2.54 ERA with 12 saves in his closer's role.

Reading Phillies (37-41)

Jorge Padilla has returned from a wrist injury, but is hitting just .200 (4-20) since his return. It will be interesting to watch the third base spot in the minors. Scranton's Travis Chapman is having a solid season and so is Juan Richardson. Reading's Richardson is hitting .270 with 15 homeruns (second in the International League). Considering that Richardson is three years younger and that Chapman was left unprotected in last year's Rule Five Draft, it seems the Phillies are banking on Richardson. Outfielder Jeff Inglin is also an interesting case. He's 27 and has AAA experience in the White Sox organization, but the Phillies have kept him at AA this season after signing him as a minor league free agent. It's surprising that Inglin (12-55, .296) hasn't gotten a look in the Red Barons outfield.

Frank Brooks proved that he's human. Brooks gave up two runs in the bottom of the ninth against New Haven and suffered his third loss of the season. Brooks was going for his sixth save when it all fell apart. Still, Brooks has been impressive and has a 2.50 ERA for the R-Phils. There have been a few teams who have asked the Phillies about Reading pitcher Seung Lee. The Phillies have a lot of work (and money) invested in the Korean pitcher and don't want to deal him, but might give in if it would net the right major league player. Lee (7-3, 4.22) is really developing nicely and other teams have noticed.

Clearwater Phillies (42-34)

Shortstop Danny Gonzalez is getting some recognition, especially with Andy Machado struggling at Reading. The Phillies are still positive about Machado, but there is some growing fire around Gonzalez. The 21 year old Gonzalez is hitting .279 for Clearwater. The Phillies need Gonzalez to improve his defense – he's committed 13 errors – but they think he can improve enough to become a solid prospect.

Dave Coggin has made two starts for Clearwater on a rehab assignment. His first one was shaky, but he looked more comfortable in his second outing. Overall, Coggin has thrown three innings and allowed three hits, with two strikeouts and a 3.00 ERA. The Phillies aren't sure how long Coggin will need to work on his rehab assignment or exactly when he'll be ready for a return to the majors (if there's room for him). Rob Tejeda was promoted to Clearwater and was impressive in his first start. Tejeda pitched seven innings, allowing just one earned run to record the win.

Lakewood BlueClaws (26-52)

Lakewood finally snapped their road losing streak, but the struggle continues for the Jersey boys.

Jeremy Isenhower was picked for the South Atlantic League All-Star Game, but didn't play because of a sore hamstring. The injury hasn't kept him from playing for Lakewood and the time off helped Isenhower to recover. The Phillies are serious about teaching Carlos Rodriguez (C-Rod) a lesson. Rodriguez was sent home and told that the Phillies would call him if they needed him after he consistently broke team policy. The Phillies weren't too impressed with C-Rod on the field either, since he was hitting just .183 in 47 games. There are whispers that the Phillies may be finished with Rodriguez.

Lakewood has two pitchers with bad numbers, but the Phillies haven't given up on them. Nick Bourgeois (1-6, 5.03) has struggled – especially lately – and Robby Read (0-2, 7.56) has struggled all season. The Phillies still think the two pitchers have potential and are going to give them every chance to succeed.

Batavia Muck Dogs (6-7)

Jake Blalock has been playing both third base and outfield for the Dogs, but isn't quite completely comfortable yet. Blalock has made three errors, but is swinging the bat well with two homeruns in his first 50 at bats. Actually, the Phillies think his power will get better and better as he develops. Justin Foust leads Batavia in hitting (.364) and shortstop Esteban De Los Santos is hitting .333 in the early going. Meanwhile, Jack Headley has been playing at both second base and in the outfield. Headley may be the most impressive overall player so far, hitting .325 with five stolen bases. Headley has struck out just twice in 26 at bats and has a .420 OBP.

Batavia has three left-handers on their staff and they've been good, bad and ugly. Dan Hodges has been good, with a 1.80 ERA in five relief appearances. Joe Diefenderfer has been bad, with a 2-2 record and a 7.45 ERA in four games (one start). Vinny DeChristofaro has been downright ugly, going 1-0, 12.19 in four games (two starts). Jean Machi has pitched a total of nine innings in two starts and has yet to give up a run. In fact, he's allowed just one hit and two walks, while striking out six. Overall, Batavia's pitching has been pretty good through the first couple weeks of the season.

Gulf Coast League Phillies (2-4)

Finally, the GCL Phillies have gotten to play some baseball after weather wiped out a bunch of their games. They lost another game to rain this past week and it's been tough keeping everybody on track.

2003 draftee Jason Crosland has been on fire. Crosland, who was a third baseman in college, has been playing primarily in the outfield this season, with one game at first base. It doesn't matter to Crosland, who is hitting .417 and hit his first professional homerun this past week. Left-handed hitting Andy Jarvis also smacked his first professional homerun and is hitting .300 for the Phils.

The pitching numbers have been mixed. Scott Mathieson did not allow a run or even a hit in his first start of the season, going seven innings and punching out nine hitters.


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