Broken at the Break: Pitching Prospects in Trouble

In the second part of our <i>Broken at the Break</i> report, we take a look at young pitchers whose prospect status is in trouble. Many are still recovering from injuries, which cloud their future and still need to be given a chance to mend. For others, there are no injury problems, but things just aren't coming together the way we all hoped.

Clay Condrey
The Phillies at first thought that they had stolen a young pitcher from the Padres. Condrey started the season on a roll, but has fallen on some hard times. Now, at the mid-point of the season, Condrey's record has dropped to 6-5, 5.00 as his struggles continue. Condrey was considered as a potential call-up when the Phillies pitching staff ran into a rash of injuries. Now, he would be way down on the list of call-ups and likely won't even be added to the 40 man roster for a look in September.

One scout believes that Condrey is too predictable. "His problem is that he can be figured out too easily. He's tough on hitters the first couple times he faces them, but after that, the edge goes to the hitter."

Cary Hiles
While Hiles doesn't get the attention that a lot of other injured pitchers in the organization have gotten, his is also an unfortunate story. Hiles had some of the best pure stuff around until he ran into injury problems last season. At first, it was a sore shoulder that wasn't supposed to be anything major. Before long though, Hiles was having rotator cuff surgery and was lost for the season by the middle of July. His return has been slow and his numbers certainly aren't great. He's also had some continued discomfort in his shoulder that has slowed his progress.

The good news on Hiles is that he wasn't supposed to be as good as new - yet. His struggles aren't completely unexpected as he recovers. The problem is that he turns 29 in November and may need a full season of work in the minors next season before he would be ready for major league action.

Nick Bourgeois
The young left-hander has had a tough season at Clearwater. After a decent season at Lakewood in 2003, the Phillies moved Bourgeois into the starting rotation. The move hasn't worked well and the Phillies aren't sure where or how Bourgeois will fit in. As the fourth round pick in the 2002 Draft, the Phillies thought Bourgeois would progress a little quicker than he has. He pitched against some pretty good competition at Tulane and has definite talent and potential.

"Bourgeois is going to take a little time to develop," explained one scout. "He's worth hanging on to, but he's just one of those guys you have to be patient with."

Justin Libey
After a rough time (0-0, 6.52) in five relief appearances with Lakewood, Libey is back in the Phillies camp working with Phillies coaches. Libey was really strong at Batavia after being taken in the 33rd round of the 2003 Draft. Splitting his time between the starting rotation and the bullpen, Libey went 4-4, 2.78 for the Muck Dogs in 2003. Somewhere between then and now, he's lost his stuff and isn't the same pitcher. Libey is 23 and the Phillies are still hoping that he rebounds.

Victor Menocal
After pitching in just ten games in college, the Phillies thought Menocal could make it as a pitching prospect. The experiment started off well as Menocal progressed a little slowly, but put up good numbers at Batavia in 2002 and at both Batavia and Lakewood in 2003. Coming into this season, Menocal was 7-9, 3.81 as a professional pitcher. In 28 relief appearances with Lakewood this season, Menocal is 1-4, 5.96 on the season. The Phillies still think they made a good move in drafting Menocal and making him a pitcher. The problem now is just getting some semblence of consistency out of him.

Eric Junge
Injuries have been the issue with Junge. He's pitching in the Gulf Coast League and has struggled in two starts, going 0-1, 7.36 against GCL hitters. Like some of the other injured prospects, Junge's season is basically just one to get himself back in shape and back on the right road to the majors. Many believe that if he can get himself stronger and stay healthy, Junge can and will be back at the top of the Phillies rotation in no time at all. The sad part is that will likely be next season at the earliest.

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