Minor League Report - April 22, 2004

Will someone on the Red Barons be getting a phone call from Philly soon? In Reading, there's a wake up call for the offense. The Threshers drop another one, but Nick Tempesta is opening some eyes. Meanwhile, Lakewood gets beat up, but there are signs of life from a recent draft pick.

AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre Red Barons: With whispers of David Bell again suffering from a sore shoulder, at least a small spotlight has to turn to Lou Collier and Chase Utley. The veteran Collier has major league experience, can play a number of positions and is hitting the cover off the ball at Scranton. Collier has never been known for their power, but he's hitting .356 this season with a .431 OBP. Collier would likely only get the call if the Phillies decided to play Shawn Wooten in place of Bell.

Utley would be the other logical choice if Bell were to wind up back on the DL. Utley started slowly, but has picked up the pace and leads Scranton with 3 homeruns. Utley was one of the last cuts this spring when the Phillies decided they would rather have him playing everyday at Scranton than getting part-time work in the majors. Utley's arrival would move Placido Polanco to third, which is how the Phillies infield was aligned for much of last season.

AA Reading Phillies: Did somebody wake up the R-Phils offense? Reading pounded out 11 hits in their 9-4 win over Erie Wednesday. Scott Youngbauer led the way, going 3-5 and banging out his second homerun of the season. Youngbauer has developed slowly, but is becoming a pretty decent player. So far this season, Youngbauer has anchored the second base job for Reading, playing every inning of every game at second. Actually, the real development of Youngbauer started last season when he was promoted to Reading and hit .310 in 16 games at AA.

Martire Franco has struggled in the early going, but has at least had his control and had issued only 1 walk in 7.1 innings. Wednesday brought good news and bad news for Franco. The good news was that he threw two shutout innings, didn't allow a hit, and lowered his ERA to 4.82. The bad news was that he walked three hitters. Actually, that may not be the worst thing, because one of the raps on Franco was that he was pitching too much in the middle of the plate. Now, if he can just put it all together, Franco will be on the right path.

A Clearwater Threshers:

The Phillies aren't really quite sure what to make of shortstop Nick Tempesta. At 25, Tempesta is a little old to be playing in the Florida State League. Tempesta was originally drafted by the Blue Jays in the '96 Draft. He hit .335 with 8 homeruns in his first professional season in rookie ball. He hasn't come close to either of those numbers since. After coming over to the Phillies from Toronto, Tempesta split 2003 between Lakewood and Clearwater and hit a combined .223 with one homerun. So far this season, Tempesta is hitting .324 for the Threshers and has played primarily at third base, with a couple quick stints at his normal position of shortstop. The Phillies have also decided to work Tempesta behind the plate and he's caught a couple games for the Threshers in the early going.

A Lakewood BlueClaws: It's still dim, but there is in fact a light at the end of the long, dark tunnel that Tim Moss has been wandering through. Moss went 1-3 with a walk in Wednesday's game. That gives him a mini two game hitting streak and three hits in his last seven at bats, which has doubled his season average from .067 to .135 in the span of a couple days. Moss was given a day off last Sunday and the BlueClaws were off on Monday and suddenly, Moss was hitting when Lakewood returned to action on Tuesday.

Moss now at least has some company in the basement of team batting averages. With an 0-4 Wednesday, Carlos Rodriguez average dropped to .135 on the season. Rodriguez has seemed to have a better attitude this season, but his offense has been slow to respond.

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