Position Prospects: Corner Infielders

It used to be that being a third base prospect in the Phillies organization was a death sentence and you would never be heard from again because of the presence of Mike Schmidt. Now, the death sentence could be across the diamond at first base. Funny thing though, that the Phillies have some prospects at first base who likely <I>will</I> be heard from again, even if they're not in a Phillies uniform.

First Base

With Jim Thome locked up long-term, the Phillies aren't too worried about their first base position right now. There are a couple of young players coming along who deserve a look though, even though an 800 pound gorilla is standing in Philadelphia.

Nate Espy was at one time, a pretty big prospect in the Phillies organization. That time is not now. After starting strong in the Phillies organization, Espy is struggling through the worst season of him professional career. Hitting just .218 with three homeruns, the Phillies are losing some confidence in Espy. Nagging injuries have slowed Espy this season, so there is at least some explanation for the drop. Somehow, Espy doesn't seem to be the same guy who hit .312 with 21 homeruns in A ball three seasons ago. Don't count Espy out though, since he definitely has the talent to bounce back and proved in 2002 that he can hit AA pitching.

The big name at first base is Clearwater's Ryan Howard. The big left-hand hitting Howard is a machine. He pounds the ball and has 14 homeruns and a .289 average at Clearwater. The 6' 4" Howard hit 16 homeruns at Lakewood last season and has 39 minor league long balls, while playing in just his third pro season.

The rest of the first basemen are projects. Bryan Hansen started the season at Lakewood, but was dropped to Batavia when their season started so he could get more playing time. The Phillies felt that platooning Hansen and Barthelemy at Lakewood was hurting both players. Batavia also has Joe Brunink, a 2003 draft pick is also at Batavia and figures to see a lot of time at first and some time in the outfield. The Phillies also like Andy Jarvis and Wellington Alvarado, who are both on the Gulf Coast League roster. Jason Crosland, another 2003 pick, is also at GCL, but will primarily play in the outfield instead of at first base. Actually, Crosland was drafted as a third baseman, but Kiel Fisher will get the overwhelming amount of time there.

PhillyBaseballNews.com Top 10 First Base Prospects
For this list, Jason Crosland was not included since the plans are for him to primarily play in the outfield.

  1. Ryan Howard
  2. Nate Espy
  3. Joe Brunink
  4. Andy Jarvis
  5. Bryan Hansen
  6. Ryan Barthelemy
  7. Wellington Alvarado
  8. Aaron McNeal
  9. Damon Minor
  10. J.P. Roberge

Third Base

The Phillies have a couple good prospects at the hot corner. None of them are Mike Schmidt, but then again, who is?

The Phillies thought they had lost Travis Chapman in the Rule Five Draft last December. When he didn't stick with Detroit – how did that happen? – the Phillies gratefully took him back without having to think twice. Chapman is putting up good numbers at Scranton, but also has David Bell ahead of him in Philly. Bell may not be putting up great offensive numbers, but he is a clubhouse leader and has made all of the plays defensively. His job doesn't seem to be in jeopardy. Chapman's best bet would be to make the Phillies as a utility player next season if he doesn't wind up elsewhere. There are some teams that wouldn't mind having Chapman as part of a deal with the Phillies.

At Reading, Juan Richardson has himself in second place among Eastern League homerun hitters and is hitting a solid .270 this season. The 22 year old was signed as an undrafted free agent five years ago and is having the best season of his career. Richardson has averaged 20 homeruns per season over the last two years and has easily made the jump to AA.

This season's award for the best comeback from a miserable start has to go to Terry Jones. The Lakewood third baseman looked completely lost in the first six weeks of the season, but has turned things around. The Phillies even considered sending him back to Clearwater for extended spring training, but Jones picked it up and is back on track with 8 homeruns, 31 RBI and an .233 average. Again, remember that Jones was barely half-way to the Mendoza line a few weeks ago.

Clearwater's Jeff Phelps and Sean Walsh are projects, with Phelps being slightly ahead of Walsh. The Phillies have used Walsh at first base, third base and in the outfield at Clearwater. Kiel Fisher is another third baseman that the Phillies are proud to have in their organization. The 2002 draftee is playing in the Gulf Coast League and will need some time to show what he can do before the Phillies start to push him along.

At Batavia, both Zach Norman and Omar Bramasco are off to pitiful starts, getting some third base time for Jake Blalock. Jake's big brother Hank plays at third for Texas, but the younger of the Blalock boys will likely see most of his time in the outfield. It is possible though that the Phillies will take a longer look at him at third, since they drafted an abundance of outfielders in this year's draft, so we'll include him in our look at third basemen.

PhillyBaseballNews.com Top 10 Third Base Prospects
We have included Sean Walsh in our third base rankings although he splits time at third, first and in the outfield.

  1. Juan Richardson
  2. Travis Chapman
  3. Terry Jones
  4. Jake Blalock
  5. Kiel Fisher
  6. Jeff Phelps
  7. Jim Deschaine
  8. Sean Walsh
  9. Zach Norman
  10. Omar Bramasco

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