2. Ryan Madson, P - While Floyd is a few years away, Madson is the next big name to watch for in Philadelphia. There is some talk both inside and outside of the organization of bringing him in now to replace a struggling Brandon Duckworth, but it's likely the Phillies will wait until at least September. It's likely that Madson will fit somewhere into the rotation for the 2004 season.
3. Chase Utley, 2B - How do the Phillies handle their second base situation? Placido Polanco is a free agent after this season, but he has been a nice addition to the Phillies lineup. Admittedly thought, Utley is ready for the majors and in the old Phillies way of thinking would probably be there, but this is a pennant race season and Utley will have to wait his turn. It's likely that turn comes in 2004.
4. Cole Hamels, P - The only reason that Hamels isn't higher is because the Phillies are letting him progress very slowly and still have him on a pitch count. Another very minor factor is the injury that he suffered in high school, which definitely seems to be behind him. The Phillies may finally be unleashing Hamels since he has a 0.84 ERA and didn't seem too challenged in the South Atlantic League. It's good to see the Phillies push Hamels along to Clearwater after his latest domination and 28 straight scoreless innings. Even having Hamels go slowly, it's likely be in Philadelphia as early as 2005.
5. Taylor Buchholz, P - Buchholz is another guy in the seemingly long line of pitching prospects coming out of the minors. Since he has a lot of talent, but is behind guys like Hamels, Floyd and Madson, Buchholz actually makes perfect trade bait. Several other teams have inquired about him and the number of scouts watching him is growing. Buchholz 3.28 ERA for Reading is very impressive. If he does stick with the Phillies organization, look for him to hit the big city in 2005 or 2006 if he hits any sort of little road block.
6. Elizardo Ramirez, P - "Lizard" is really becoming a pitcher instead of a thrower. How would you like to be a young hitter in the South Atlantic League and face Hamels and Ramirez on back-to-back nights? Ramirez ERA has gone over the four mark (10-8, 4.19), but don't be fooled. He is solid and is getting better and better. Ramirez likely Philadelphia arrival is 2006 or possibly even 2007, but the Phillies think that by then, he'll be as solid as some of the bigger names in the organization.
7. Seung Lee, P - Lee and Buchholz are the Hamels and Ramirez of Reading. Lee was scouted by a number of major league teams, but was a high profile signing by the Phillies. It took him a while to adjust to baseball in America, but he's now fully adjusted and ready to rock. Lee's ERA is high at 4.89, but the Phillies aren't worried. Like Buchholz, Lee is perfect trade bait, although the Phillies have a lot invested in him and won't give him up easily. If they don't send him elsewhere, Lee will likely be in Philly for the 2006 season.
8. Keith Bucktrot, P - It's hard to get noticed when seven of the Phillies top ten prospects are pitchers. Bucktrot is sailing under the radar, but don't let that fool you. Bucktrot is 7-7, 3.33 at Clearwater and some scouts believe that he isn't that far behind Gavin Floyd. It's likely that Floyd will be pushed along a little quicker, but Bucktrot won't fall too far behind. The question is where do all these pitchers fit in? If he's not offered in a deal, Bucktrot will find Citizens Bank Park sometime during the 2006 season.
9. Ryan Howard, 1B - Where else have we heard about a left-handed, power-hitting first baseman? Oh, yeah, in Philadelphia! There's another one in Clearwater in Ryan Howard. The big swinger hit his 18th the other night, but is struggling to have some discipline, striking out 119 in 371 at bats. That – and the presence of Thome – will slow Howard, but the Phillies are working with Howard and believe he'll improve enough to be a major leaguer. Again, he's got a big road block, but could be ready for the majors in 2006 or 2007.
10. Juan Richardson, 3B - With everybody focusing on the Phillies pitching prospects and then looking at Utley and Howard, Richardson hasn't gotten his share of attention either. Richardson leads Reading in Homeruns, but is a very distant third in RBI, running about 30 behind number two Aaron McNeal and about 40 behind team leader Jeff Inglin. Translated, that means a lot of solo homeruns. He's hitting .270, but needs to develop some presence in the clutch. Could be in Philly for 2007.