Moss, Bourn & Moran; The Big Three MuckDogs

The first three players selected by a team in a draft are obviously key players for the organization. That's definitely the case with Tim Moss, Michael Bourn and Jovan Moran, who all find themselves at Batavia and are having mixed results as they adjust to the rigors of professional baseball. The three are looked at to be the speed merchants of the Phillies organization and their speed is obvious.

Certain players just look fast. Every step, even as they walk, looks graceful and easy. The muscles ripple and it just looks as though their legs are ready to kick into high gear at any time, but the brain is holding them back. They're thoroughbreds that are built for speed and know that they can out run anyone or anything they encounter. Tim Moss, Michael Bourn and Jovan Moran all have that look. You just think that at any moment, their zero-to-sixty type afterburners could kick in and leave everything in their dust.

Javon Moran was the last of the three speedsters drafted, but the first to sign. He reported to Batavia and has fit right in with the players around him. Early on, his stolen base percentage wasn't the greatest, but he quickly picked up on minor flaws in his approach and started swiping bases with ease. In 39 games, he's stolen 21 bases, having been thrown out 7 times. His OBP has grown to .339 and his average is at a nice, solid .294. Scouts believe that as he becomes even more comfortable, he'll cut down on strikeouts (he's struck out 25 times) and increase the walks (he's walked 11 times). That means a higher OBP and more trouble for catchers around the league who are given the job of throwing out Moran on the basepaths.

Tim Moss signed not too long after Moran and as the highest player drafted by the Phillies this season was the big man in Batavia. Unfortunately, the big man is off to a slow start and is hitting just .139 so far. Plate discipline has been a major problem for Moss, who has struck out 25 times in 79 at bats, while drawing just four walks. When Moss has gotten on base, he hasn't shown base stealing ability and has been thrown out on four-of-six attempts to swipe a base. The Phillies aren't too concerned and just believe that Moss will need a little more time than they may have thought he would to adjust.

Michael Bourn has played in just 14 games for Batavia and is hitting .217 this season. While both Moran and Moss haven't shown a lot of discipline at the plate, Bourn has walked 11 times and struck out 11 times, to push his OBP to .368 and he has been able to use his speed on the bases. Bourn also has the best stolen base percentage of the three, stealing seven bases in nine attempts for Batavia. Even though his numbers aren't huge, scouts have been impressed with Bourn's natural abilities.

The three speedsters give the Phils a nice mix. There's one right-handed hitter (Moran), one left-handed hitter (Bourn) and a switch-hitter (Moss). They've all got natural abilities and the Phillies think that once they settle in, they will all be able to progress pretty quickly. Combined, the three have one homerun, 16 RBI and are hitting .239 with 30 stolen bases in 36 attempts (83%). Again, the numbers aren't there, but the speed numbers are obvious and the potential is limitless.

Batavia is somewhat of a natural first-stop for high picks in the draft. Joe Brunink, Jose Cortez, Justin Foust, Justin Riley, Joe Diefenderfer, Justin Libey, Caleb McConnell, Brad Overton, William Parcus and Chris Woodrow were all drafted this past June and all call Batavia home. Dan Hodges and Mark Tugwell also made their first stops at Batavia, but have already been promoted to Lakewood. Moran is off to the best start of any player at Batavia, with the possible exception of Jake Blalock, who leads the team with five homeruns, but is hitting just .236 on the season.

The best news has come from the young pitchers that the Phillies took in the draft. McConnell has notched two saves, while Libey and Overton have each recorded one save in the early going. Libey has struck out 40 in 40 innings and has a solid 2.25 ERA. Overton is 2-0, 3.82 in 35.1 innings and has struggled with his control at times, walking 18 and striking out 23.

Overall, Chris Woodrow has been the most impressive overall this season. The young right-hander has gone back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen, going 2-2, 3.76 in 12 games (5 starts). The impressive part of Woodrow has been his control. He has walked just two and has struck out 28 hitters. The Phillies aren't quite sure where Woodrow will wind up – bullpen or rotation – but they believe he has some definite potential, perhaps, even more than they thought when they drafted him. Some scouts believe Woodrow might have the potential to be a closer if he develops a little more velocity.

Overall, the new faces have helped Batavia, but the offense has been dismal. Of course, as is true with the Phillies organization, the pitching has been the dominant part of the game and has carried the BlueClaws (22-30) through the season.

Batavia Team Leaders

Average(minimum 140 at bats): Javon Moran (.294)
Homeruns: Jake Blalock (5)
RBI: Bryan Hansen (24)
Hits: Javon Moran (47)
Stolen Bases: Javon Moran (21)
Innings Pitched: Julio De la Cruz (45.2)
ERA (minimum 30 IP): Justin Libey (2.25)
Wins: Vinny DeChristofaro, Joe Diefenderfer (4)
Losses: Joe Diefenderfer (6)
Strikeouts: Julio De la Cruz, Justin Libey (40)
Saves: Chris Rupert (3)


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