This time of year, the Phillies are used to sending players out of their minor league system to acquire pieces for the major league club. That's not likely to happen this year, but it's not because they don't have any pieces to trade. Even though a lot of people believe that the prospect cupboard is bare, the Phillies actually do have pieces that they could use to get a veteran major league player. The system has some good players coming along and they've actually added some good pieces to the system.
Steve Noworyta, the Phillies assistant director of player development, has weathered all of the trades and has still kept the system relatively strong. "We're competitive throughout, which if you take a look at the trades that have been made over the years and you look at where we stand as an organization at each level, it seems like we're getting the most out of our guys," said Noworyta.
The June Draft was considered a success for the Phillies, who were able to sign 17 of their first 18 picks. Four of those picks have already moved up to Low-A Lakewood this season. The Phillies were also able to put together a pretty balanced draft, adding some arms that will give them even more pitching depth than what they already have. Although it's tough to gauge just how young players will develop, the consensus is that the Phillies also added some power to their organization, which is something sorely lacking throughout the ranks. "I think with the earlier signing date, we've been able to get these guys in here and we've done a pretty good job of getting guys in and getting them going," said Noworyta, who credited Phillies assistant GM Marti Wolever with putting together a solid group of picks and getting them signed. "Marti did a good job of adding some young pitchers again and getting some young power-hitting guys and it's going to be interesting to see where they go. We already had some good pitching, but we needed some power production and we're getting some help in that area, too."
Ironically, it was a trade not long ago that brought a couple young players to the organization that Noworyta is high on for the future. Ruben Amaro Jr. sent fan-favorite Jim Thome to the Baltimore Orioles for pitcher Kyle Simon and 19-year old catcher Gerald Lino. Simon is 2-0-1, 1.86 in five relief appearances with Clearwater since coming over from the Orioles, while Lino is at Lakewood and hitting .167 in ten games with the BlueClaws. Simon is more of a known quantity, while Lino will be more of a project, but he's got a lot of tools for the Phillies to work with. "He's a young catcher that needs some work defensively. He's got to work to get a little stronger with the bat, but he calls a pretty good game and he's got an above-average arm. There's a lot to work with on a young catcher like this," explained Noworyta.
One of the nicest surprises in the Phillies system this season has been first base prospect Chris Duffy, who is at Lakewood. Duffy was at Clearwater earlier in the year, but struggled and hit just .205 during his month with the Threshers. He was dropped down to Lakewood and has suddenly found his stroke, hitting .385 in 50 games with the BlueClaws. "Defensively, he has to get a little smoother around the bag with his picks and stuff like that," explained Noworyta. "That's something that he can work on though and improve on during the offseason."
Duffy has put in a lot of work to get better and didn't let the demotion from Clearwater ruin his season. Instead, he worked harder to improve and could find himself back at Clearwater before too long, considering how he's hitting the ball now at Lakewood. "It's nice to see, because he's a guy that had some questions about him, but when you're a Golden Spikes winner, there's something to be said. You don't just get that handed to you. He really worked hard this season," said Noworyta.
In one way, it's probably good that Duffy is at Lakewood, because it gave him the opportunity to get a little first-hand instruction from one of his idols; Ryan Howard. When Howard rehabbed at Lakewood, Duffy took the opportunity to learn from the Phillies first baseman. "To be with Howard kind of gave him that feeling like 'hey, I can be like Ryan Howard', so I think he's going to be a pleasant surprise for us," said Noworyta.