Former Phils prospect wins ABL Triple Crown

The Phillies only had Adam Buschini in their organization for two seasons, but thought they had seen enough and released him. Now, after two seasons in independent ball, Buschini is healthy and looking to catch on with an affiliated minor league team.

Adam Buschini never was a household name, but to fans who follow the Phillies drafts and minor league players, Buschini's name should at least ring a bell. The Phillies drafted the Cal Poly Tech grad with their fourth round pick in the 2009 Draft. If you look up his numbers, you see that Buschini played two seasons in the Phillies organization and has been relegated to independent baseball ever since. That doesn't begin to tell the full story.

This winter, Buschini decided to play in the Australian Baseball League and signed with the Canberra Calvary. Buschini and the Calvary are glad he did. You could say that Buschini led the charge of the Calvary, who finished with the league's best record, thanks in part to Buschini's stats. Buschini put together a stat line of 15-50-.363, good enough to win the league's triple crown.

Buschini's story goes back to a gritty performance in his senior season with Cal Poly. He won the team's version of the triple crown in 2009, leading the Mustangs with 11 home runs, 61 RBI and a .422 average. For the first time in their history, Cal Poly advanced to the Tempe Regional. Buschini had been hit by a pitch and broke his hand, but refused to come out of the lineup, sensing that his team might go far in the post-season. The Mustangs didn't go very far, but Buschini had a good enough season that the Phillies drafted him in the fourth round of the 2009 Draft and had high hopes that he could become a solid infield prospect. If nothing else, Buschini looked like he would have the skills and versatility to become a super-sub type player, but that was only the bottom of his projection.

Rather than waste any time, Buschini signed quickly and was assigned to the Williamsport Crosscutters. The offense that he showed in college wasn't obvious from day one and he hit just 2-15-.228 that first season, but showed enough that the Phillies felt bringing him back for a second season at Williamsport wasn't necessary and they sent him along to Low-A Lakewood to start the 2010 season, which is where things started to go badly for Buschini.

The hand injury that he suffered in college had never been properly addressed and during the 2010 season, Buschini was having a lot of problems with the hand. The injury was limiting him, but he kept playing, just as he and the Phillies wanted him to do. Just like in college, Buschini's team was good and the BlueClaws had won the division in the first-half of the season, guaranteeing themselves a spot in the South Atlantic League playoffs. As it turned out, Lakewood would go on to win the SAL Championship, but a month into the second-half of the season, Buschini's season was over. It was also the last time Buschini would play as a member of the Phillies organization.

Phillies team physician Dr. Robert Culp examined Buschini's hand and announced that he needed surgery to replace cartilage that had been lost because of the hand injury in college. The fact that Buschini was even playing was a major accomplishment, but there wasn't any way he was going to continue his season. Buschini had surgery to correct the problem, but the Phillies felt they had seen enough of Buschini and released him.

Since then, Buschini has spent two season in independent ball, playing for Chino of the North American Baseball League in 2011 and then moving to Amarillo of the American Association in 2012. He was healthy in 2011, but not completely and his offensive numbers were again nothing to be amazed by. In 2012, however, Buschini had his breakout season, hitting .354 at Amarillo with 14 home runs and 70 RBI. His home runs were more than he had hit in his previous three minor league seasons combined. He also stole 34 bases and was caught just seven times.

Buschini made the decision to play in the Australian Baseball League and put together his Triple Crown season. There's a lot to like looking at his numbers. He actually hit better with runners on base than when the bags were empty (.407 to .312) and he hit even better (.417) when those runners were in scoring position. Buschini also never went more than two games without a hit and only did that twice. The last time he ended a two-game hitless streak, he went on a 15-game hitting streak, hitting .407 during the streak. The streak ended with an 0-for-3 and the next day, Buschini started a four-game hit streak that brought him to the end of the regular season. Over his last four games, Buschini locked up the batting title with a .364 performance. Most of the season, Buschini played second base, but he did play seven games in right field and two at first base and the reports are that he looked comfortable at all three spots. When Buschini played right field for Canberra, it was the first time in his professional career that he had played the position, but he has now played at every spot with the exception of catching and pitching.

Between Amarillo and Canberra, Buschini put up a line that is certainly impressive: 29-120-.357/.412/.600 in 138 games.

Buschini was once good enough to be a fourth round pick and he's gone on to prove that he's healthy and that his bat appears to have made the adjustment in some decent, but not overwhelming leagues. Add to that the fact that Buschini is still just 25 and you have to figure that some team, somewhere would be able to see if there is anything left for Buschini to do in affiliated ball. You can find a lot of minor league players who have been signed for 2013 that haven't put up anywhere near those stats. You can even find some former independent league players who have been signed by teams after putting up lesser stats than what Buschini has done over the past year.

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