Minor League Report - April 28, 2004

The song in Scranton is "Rain, Rain Go Away" since the Red Barons have been able to play just once in the last three days. Reading and Clearwater could be looking at swapping catchers if things don't start to change. There's also news on Cole Hamels out of Clearwater. And, at Lakewood, a utility guy is starting to take some time away from others on the BlueClaws infield.

AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre Well, the Barons got to play one of two games scheduled for Tuesday. After rainouts on Sunday and Monday, the pitching staff is well rested to say the least. Scranton and Syracuse will again try to get a double-header in on Wednesday, with David Coggin (0-1) starting the first game for Scranton.

Coggin is back in the starting rotation even though he thought he could be more effective as a reliever. The concern is that his surgically repaired arm will work best on a set schedule of starting assignments than it would have on a hit-and-miss schedule coming out of the pen. Since Coggin isn't on the 40 man roster, his chances of a call-up should the Phillies need a pitcher have decreased and the plan now is for him to just stay at AAA and hopefully stay healthy all season. If all goes well, he could be up with the big league club in September.

AA Reading Phillies By the time the second game of Tuesday night's double-header ended, three hitters in the starting lineup saw their average under the .200 mark. Ryan Howard – who finished the night 0-4 with two walks – is now hitting .197 on the season. The impressive power is still there, but Howard is struggling overall out of the gate.

Kevin Barker went 2-3 in the opener to bring his average above .200, but his 0-2 in the nightcap sank him back to .196. Catcher Carlos Ruiz is well below the Mendoza Line, hitting .167 in the early going. Ruiz is in some serious trouble because of his average and his bad defensive play. In six games behind the plate, Ruiz has made three errors. Combining with everyday catcher Russ Jacobson, Reading catchers are hitting just .113 this year with no homeruns, two RBI and five errors.

Don't be surprised if a call goes out to Clearwater for help…

Clearwater Threshers Trent Pratt isn't tearing things up, but he's getting the job done behind the plate for Clearwater. Pratt went 2-3 in Clearwater's 5-4 win Tuesday night and is hitting .265 now. While Pratt has struck out 11 times in 49 at bats, he is also second on the team in walks with eight. Pratt has caught 14 games and made two errors. A move to Reading would be a marked improvement.

Speaking of strikeouts, Ryan Barthelemy has struck out six times in the last four games and has now fanned 22 times in 71 at bats. The theory is that Barthelemy, who seemingly lost his homerun stroke when he left college, is trying to hit homeruns and do nothing else. Over the last two weeks, Barthelemy's average has fallen from .444 to .314 to .282 during an 8-41 (.195) streak.

The Threshers hope to have Cole Hamels back in the near future. Hamels is back to light throwing and will be stepping up the process in the next couple days. His return to Clearwater could come within the next ten days to two weeks. The 20 year old has been out since late in spring training with a sore arm that he didn't originally tell the Phillies about until it became too painful to hide.

A Lakewood BlueClaws With a team hitting just .234, there has to be some way to find at bats for Omar Bramasco. The BlueClaws are trying to do just that, getting Bramasco into the lineup in four of the last six games. During that stretch, Bramasco has gone 8-14 (.571) and has played second, short and third. On the season, Bramasco is hitting .391 in 23 at bats. With the starters at those positions hitting a combined .210 – Just .168 if you exclude Marc Tugwell's .291 average – you have to figure that Bramasco could pick up some at bats. The problem is that the starting second baseman is Tim Moss (.189), who the Phillies took in the third round of last year's draft. The starting shortstop is Carlos Rodriguez (.148) who the Phillies figure is in a do-or-die situation with the organization. The likely odd man out could be Rodriguez, especially if his infamous attitude erupts again.

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