GCL Season Shows Ups and Downs For Phillies

Believe it or not, fall isn't too far off and minor leagues have begun to shut down for the season. In the Gulf Coast League, the regular season ended with the GCL Phillies finishing 23-33. There were some positives and some, well, let's just say, not so positives from this year's edition of the GCL. <I>PhillyBaseballNews.com</I> takes a look at who did what and where the future may lie for members of the 2003 GCL Phillies.

The Gulf Coast League is a starting point for a lot of young players, many who were just drafted this past June out of high schools around the country. There are a few other players who for one reason or another have been projects or have battled injuries in the early part of their careers, who wind up with the GCL Phillies, too.

Offensively, just like at the major league level, there was some struggling going on in the batters box. Four players – each with at least 50 at bats – hit under .200 for the season, but on the upside, three players hit over .300 for the "little" Phils.

Who knew about Kiel Fisher? This kid was a surprise pick when the Phillies took him with their third round pick in the 2002 Draft out of Riverside Poly High School in California. Fisher started the season in the GCL, but was quickly moved along to Batavia after hitting .323 in his first 96 at bats. Fisher is a third baseman and has holes defensively, but his bat is rock solid. The Phillies might consider moving him to the outfield, but they haven't given up on him as a third baseman just yet. Reports out of Batavia are that he is showing improvement and he's hitting .320 with Batavia.

There were two other surprise names that came out of the GCL lineup. Nicholas Italiano and Chris Klemm. Italiano is a left-hand hitting second baseman and he finished the season hitting .349 and swiped five bases in 37 games. The Phillies like Italiano defensively and obviously, his offense has been impressive in the early part of his career. Klemm is an outfielder with above average defensive skills and he finished the season hitting .336. The Phillies believe that the left-hand hitting Klemm will also develop power to go with his other attributes.

Jason Crosland was the Phillies ninth round pick this past June and showed nice power numbers, hitting a team high six homeruns in 152 at bats. Crosland finished the season hitting a respectable .263 and played 23 games in the outfield and six each at first and third base. Andy Jarvis would have likely led the team in homeruns – he finished with five – but was promoted all the way to Lakewood after 115 at bats in the GCL. Jarvis is another left-handed bat and he's also producing respectable numbers for the BlueClaws, hitting .267 after 13 games. Jarvis may be the next Brooks Kieschnick. He has played a total of 30 games at first base between the GCL and Lakewood and has pitched a combined five innings between the two stops, going 1-0, 1.80 for the two teams.

Cory Schultz started the season in the GCL, but after saving five games and posting a 1.04 ERA, the Phillies shipped him all the way to Clearwater. Not a geographically big leap, but a major jump on the minor league ladder. Schultz is too young to have a "closer of the future" stamp placed on him, but he's continuing to pitch well in relief at Clearwater, so stay tuned.

Probably the most impressive overall pitcher on the Phillies GCL team was lefty Joe Wilson. The Phillies took Wilson in the 13th round of this year's draft out of the University of Maryland and he showed a lot. Wilson started nine games and pitched in relief in two others, going 4-2, 2.06 with a team high 58 strikeouts in 52.1 innings of work. Don't be surprised if Wilson starts as high as Clearwater next season. Clemente Doble led the Phils in wins with five and had a 3.00 ERA with good command of his pitches. He's not as highly projectable as some of the other young pitchers, but Doble could become a true prospect in the not distant future.

Kyle Kendrick was a disappointment, but the Phillies haven't given up on the right-hander. After all, he is young and he turned down a scholarship to sign with the Phillies. The Phils drafted Kendrick in the seventh round of the 2003 Draft and still believe that he just needs a little time to grow. The Phillies are known for being patient and Kendrick will definitely benefit from that as long as he doesn't let his 0-4, 5.46 performance in the GCL haunt him over the winter.


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