Minor League Report - June 18, 2004

At Scranton, the Red Barons are glad to have Jim Crowell back. Of course, he technically never left, but there was that chance. The Reading Phillies can point to their share of injuries when talk turns to their disappointing season. In Clearwater, there are few bright spots, but they're there if you look hard enough. Meanwhile, how much longer will Jake Blalock be a part of the Phillies organization?

AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre Jim Crowell is officially back where he figured he would be. The Phillies had to designate Crowell for assignment to add Paul Abbott to the 40 man roster. That meant that Crowell was in limbo waiting to see if another team would claim him off waivers or if he would simply return to Scranton. It wasn't a major surprise when Crowell cleared waivers and returned to the Red Barons. Crowell (1-1, 2.39) is 30 years old and not the kind of guy that teams will generally waste a waiver claim on even though he has saved ten games for Scranton this season.

The Red Barons will have Vicente Padilla on the mound Sunday as Padilla begins a rehab assignment. If all goes well for Padilla, he will rejoin the Phillies and start against Boston next Friday.

AA Reading At ten games under .500, the season hasn't been a great one for Reading. Still, the R-Phils have been able to climb out of the Southern Division cellar and are just 1 1/2 games behind Akron for fourth place in the division. Injuries have been a major part of the problem for Reading. Jim Deschaine became the seventh Reading Phillie to find his way onto the DL this season. Deschaine is out with a broken right index finger. Injuries to other clubs have made moves necessary with players coming and going to Reading at a frantic pace.

Danny Gonzalez (1-19-.255) found a great spot for his first homerun of the season. With the score tied 5-5 Thursday night, Gonzalez nailed a two-run shot to help the R-Phils to a 7-5 win over Erie. Gonzalez finished the night 4-5 with three runs scored. The bullpen played a big part in Reading's win. Matt Squires (0-1, 3.38) threw 1 2/3 innings of shutout ball and Martire Franco (4-3, 3.83) threw two scoreless innings to record the win.

A Clearwater The Threshers have lost six straight, dropping them to 21 games under .500 (23-44), the worst record in the Florida State League. With Cole Hamels shut down indefinitely with elbow inflammation, there isn't a lot of good news in Clearwater.

Chris Roberson (8-30-.309) continues to lead the offensive attack. Roberson leads the team in homeruns and average and is second to Ryan Barthelemy in RBI. Barthelemy (4-38-.289) has slowed since his hot start to the season, but the Phillies are happy with his consistent performance. They're still trying to get him to cut down on his strikeouts, but Barthelemy is making slow but sure progress in his plate discipline.

On the mound, Maximo Reyes continues to pitch very well. Reyes (0-0, 1.93) has struck out seven in 9 1/3 innings and has recorded one save since his promotion from Lakewood. Francisco Butto (3-5, 3.51) has pitched well in his 23 appearances for Clearwater. Butto has struck out 43 in 41 innings. Brandon Culp (0-1, 3.45) has been a nice addition to Clearwater's staff. The 26 year old right-hander is a little old for the Florida State League, but has helped a struggling team. Culp was originally drafted by the Reds in the 26th round of the '99 Draft.

A Lakewood Jake Blalock (12-48-.291) will be Lakewood's representative in the South Atlantic League All-Star Game. Blalock is drawing more and more comparisons to Pat Burrell. While Blalock's defensive skills are lagging slightly, he has natural skills at the plate and a strong arm. Those are exactly the kind of things that scouts said about Burrell while he was in the minors. Like Burrell, Blalock is also adjusting to playing in the outfield. One thing is sure. Blalock is no secret. He has quickly become one of the more asked about players in the Phillies organization when they talk trade with other clubs. Would the Phillies deal him? Possibly, but with the lack of offense in the organization, they'll only do it in the right deal.

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