Pitching Prospects: Starters

Pitching is the strongest part of the Phillies minor league organization. Of course, starters get most of the attention, but there are some good looking relievers coming along too. The starters though are the cream of the crop. Of course, some of them may be used as trade bait to get some help at the major league level, but that would still leave the Phillies organization with an impressive array of young arms that are due to hit Philadelphia in the very near future.

While some of the young starters are a couple years away from the majors, there are a few that could be in Philadelphia very soon. Some scouts believe that some of the young pitchers at the higher levels could be in the majors now and have success. It's likely though that with the Phillies in the playoff hunt, they'll stay where they are until September. Of course, don't forget how young pitchers like Marty Bystrom came to the majors and made an immediate impact in the heat of a pennant race.

Scranton of course, has Amaury Telemaco, who has been great this season. Telemaco is healthy and has shown that he can get AAA hitters out. The Phillies haven't needed to give him a look at the major league level, but if they needed to, they believe he could get the job done. Eric Junge has been back and forth between Philadelphia and Scranton, pitching out of the bullpen at the big league level, but used primarily as a starter at AAA. Josh Hancock has been battling an injury, but he too, could get a look if he's healthy in September.

The real prize at Scranton is Ryan Madson. The 22 year old right-hander got off to somewhat of a slow start this season, but is the pitcher everybody thought he would be. Madson is one of the guys that a lot of other teams have asked about acquiring, but rest assured that the Phillies won't make a deal involving Madson unless they absolutely have to.

Taylor Buchholz and Seung Lee are the top pitchers at Reading. Like Madson, both have been asked about by other teams, especially Lee. Some scouts think Lee could be in the majors to start next season and be effective. That's not likely to happen if he stays in the Phillies organization, though. Buchholz has had a solid season at AA and will likely need a season at Scranton before the Phillies really think about giving him a look. With Buchholz and Lee, Martire Franco probably doesn't get the attention that he deserves. Franco is more than solid and since he just turned 22, has some time to grow.

The Clearwater Phillies have one of the more impressive starting rotations in minor league baseball. Ezequiel Astacio, Keith Bucktrot, Gavin Floyd and Elizardo Ramirez are dominating type pitchers. Floyd has gotten a lot of publicity, but the others are all right there in talent. Again, a number of teams have asked about pitchers on the Clearwater staff when they talk trade with the Phillies. Again, they've been told that the Phillies will be slow to deal any of them, although, with four solid pitchers all at the same level, the Phillies may part with one of them in the right package.

Since Lakewood has little to no offense, it's lucky for them that they have pitching. Nick Bourgeois, Francisco Butto, Zach Segovia and Matt Sweeney were a formidable tandem. Then, Cole Hamels arrived and the staff became all that much better. Hamels has looked like a man among boys in the South Atlantic League. Even so, the Phillies are being cautious and not moving Hamels along quickly, especially since they've already got a pitching log jam at Clearwater. Even with all of that caution, it wouldn't be out of the question to see Hamels get at least a start or two at Clearwater before the end of the season.

It's hard to judge pitchers at Batavia and the Gulf Coast League, since the season is so young. Batavia boasts starters Jean Machi, Darin Naatjes and Chris Woodrow, who all seem to have potential. The Gulf Coast League has Lee Gwaltney, who pitched at Lakewood earlier in the season with some success – 3.96 ERA – in 10 starts. The Phillies are considering making him into a closer, but want to work with him more at their home base in the GCL. Scott Mathieson and Joe Wilson also look to be impressive.

PhillyBaseballNews.com Top 20 Starting Pitching Prospects

  1. Gavin Floyd
  2. Ryan Madson
  3. Cole Hamels
  4. Taylor Buchholz
  5. Elizardo Ramirez
  6. Seung Lee
  7. Keith Bucktrot
  8. Zach Segovia
  9. Martire Franco
  10. Josh Hancock
  11. Jean Machi
  12. Nick Bourgeois
  13. Eric Junge
  14. Matt Sweeney
  15. Lee Gwaltney
  16. Rob Tejeda
  17. Layne Dawson
  18. Ezequiel Astacio
  19. Joe Wilson
  20. Francisco Butto

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