Minor League Report - May 4, 2004

Word is out that the Phillies might add to their bullpen staff in the coming days. If that's true, who would they turn to? There are a few candidates at AAA Scranton. Meanwhile, at AA Reading, Ryan Howard moves into the league's top spot in homeruns. At Clearwater, a good outing falls apart when the bullpen takes over. And the BlueClaws snapped a losing skid only to start another.

AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre Red Barons

With speculation about the Phillies looking to add another arm to their bullpen, a huge spotlight is shining on the Red Barons. Monday night, Geoff Geary allowed three hits and walked three in two innings against Ottawa. Geary might be first in line to the phone when the call comes in from Philly. Geary is now 1-1, 4.15 with four saves.

Dan Giese may have claim to that first in line position. In seven games, Giese has pitched 12 2/3 innings, allowed just seven hits and three walks, leading to a 1-0, 1.42 record. Giese has only struck out two on the season, but the fact that he's getting hitters out is the main thing; it doesn't matter how he's getting them out. Giese is also a guy that can go more than one inning in an outing, which could be attractive.

The Phillies could pluck one of the starters from Scranton and move them to the big league bullpen. Brian Powell (3-1, 1.95), Josh Hancock (3-2, 2.70), Clay Condrey (2-1, 1.23) and Ed Yarnall (0-1, 2.76) have all done a nice job. Powell has pitched in 41 major league games, going 6-15, 6.00 in those opportunities. Hancock has pitched in five major league games, including two last season with the Phillies, and is 0-1, 3.60 as a major leaguer. Condrey spent parts of two seasons with the Padres and is 2-4, 5.55 in 18 games in the majors. Yarnall – the only lefty among the starters - has pitched in seven major league games with the Yankees and is 1-0, 5.40 as a big leaguer.

If the Phils want a lefty, there is Jim Crowell, who is 1-0, 0.75 with two saves at Scranton. Greg Kubes is 1-0, 2.19 for the Red Barons.

Among the Scranton relievers, Geary pitched six innings for the Phillies last season, going 0-0, 4.50 in his major league audition. Crowell pitched 6 1/3 innings for Cincinnati back in '97 and has a 9.95 major league ERA with an 0-1 record. None of the other relievers have major league experience.

Another consideration is the 40 man roster. Geary and Hancock are currently on the Phillies 40 man roster, but there would be room to add a pitcher if the Phillies decide to go a different route. Bottom line is that Geary and Hancock seem to have the inside track with a slight edge going to Hancock.

AA Reading Phillies

It's not likely that the Phillies would reach down to AA to find bullpen help. Keep in mind though that Spike Lundberg has pitched 117 innings at the AAA level for other organizations. He is also 1-1, 2.89 for Reading this season and could be considered as a long-shot candidate. No, Gavin Floyd, who is 2-0 with 17 innings of shutout ball at Reading, won't get the call.

Ryan Howard hit his eighth homerun of the season Sunday to move himself into the Eastern League's top spot among homerun hitters. Howard is coming off a triple crown season at Clearwater and he's getting closer to the top spots in the EL. Howard's 19 RBI has him just two behind the league leaders, but his .259 average has him well off the pace for the batting title. New Britain's Jason Kubel leads the league with an unbelievable .417 average.

Speaking of league leaders and Gavin Floyd, you won't find Floyd's 0.00 ERA among the league leaders because he doesn't have enough innings pitched. Right now, Floyd is five innings shy of qualifying.

A Clearwater Threshers

If you look at the Florida State League leaders, you won't find many Threshers among the batting leaders in the major categories. The best they do is fall in the middle of the pack, where Ryan Barthelemy and his .300 average and John Castellano and his three homeruns fall.

Among pitchers, Layne Dawson is sixth in the league among the ERA leaders with a 2.17 ERA.

Castellano went 3-4 Monday night, but the Threshers fell to Palm Beach 8-4. Cary Hiles (1-2, 4.91) gave up four earned runs in one inning of work and suffered the loss. Starter Elizardo Ramirez (2-1, 2.84) threw seven strong innings, allowing six hits, no walks and three earned runs while striking out five.

Chris Roberson is hitting .174 (4-23) in his last seven games and has struck out eight times during the streak, while drawing just two walks.

A Lakewood BlueClaws

After snapping a seven game losing skid over the weekend with two wins over Kannapolis, the BlueClaws were swept in a double-header by Charleston, WV. The Alley Cats didn't exactly dominate, outscoring Lakewood 5-2 in the two games. Lakewood made three errors in the two games, giving them 38 errors in 24 games. Carlos Rodriguez made his seventh miscue of the year in Game One, while Tim Moss made number six in the nightcap.

Bryan Hansen went 3-6 in the double-header to snap an 0-12 slump. Tim Moss went 2-6, nudging his average to .213 on the season.

Lakewood has surprisingly gone three games without stealing a base and they're unsuccessful in their last three attempts. Michael Bourn is tied for the league lead with 18 steals, Javon Moran is tied for second with 11 steals and Carlos Rodriguez in ninth in the league with 8 stolen bases.

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