Minor League Notebook

From Scranton to the Gulf Coast League, prospects are starting to fall into their respective places in the organization. At Scranton, it's hit and miss for some young players. In Reading, tough luck for two young pitchers. Clearwater has an infielder trying to shake the injury bug, while Lakewood has a potential homerun hitter trying to get noticed. In the short-season leagues, players are still adjusting, but showing signs of life.

Scranton Wilkes-Barre Red Barons
The Red Barons' roster is filled with a number of veteran minor league players. There are some younger prospects though that are looking for recognition. Leading the class is Buzz Hannahan, hitting .325 for Scranton. Hannahan has played every position except catcher and first base and has been able to find his way into the lineup because of his flexibility. Hannahan has bumped his OBP up to .399 and could be a surprise call-up when the rosters expand in September. The Phillies view Hannahan as a Rex Hudler type of player who can spark some rallies and play wherever needed.

Jorge Padilla (6-36-.277) is starting to catch on to AAA hitting. Padilla, whose star had fallen slightly, is starting to generate some talk again. Besides pulling his offensive numbers up, Padilla has played well in the outfield. Padilla, who turns 25 in August, was a third round pick in the plentiful 1998 Draft.

Anderson Machado is hitting just .221 with 17 errors at short. The Phillies looked to Machado to put up numbers that would return him to a potential shortstop of the future type player, but he's failed to show that he figures to have much of a major league future other than a potential utility role. The frustrating part is that at times, Machado sizzles defensively, but seems to lose focus.

Robert Ellis (4-2, 2.38) has seemingly found new life since coming over to the Phillies organization. The 33 year old Ellis has had limited minor league success throughout his career, but one scout said that he has never seen Ellis throw as well as he has since joining Scranton. Perhaps, Paul Abbott should be watching.

Does anyone remember Seung Lee? The much publicized Korean right-hander seems to have been forgotten in the Phillies organization. After starting for most of his professional career, Lee (4-1, 4.18) has been working primarily out of the bullpen. Lee's numbers aren't too bad, but he seems to have fallen by the wayside in terms of Phillies' prospects.

Reading Phillies
Gavin Floyd (4-6, 2.79) and Eude Brito (4-4, 4.43) couldn't have done much more for Reading in Monday night's double-header with Bowie. Floyd gave the R-Phils 5 1/3 innings, allowing five hits, three walks and striking out eight, but suffered a 2-0 loss. Things were even worse for Brito in the nightcap. The 25 year old lefty threw six innings, allowing two hits and a walk while striking out six. One of the hits that he allowed was a solo homerun to Lance Burkhart and that was enough as Bowie beat Reading 1-0. Reading outhit Bowie 11-6, but were outscored 3-0.

Rob Tejeda and Gavin Floyd actually show some similarities. Tejeda is just three strikeouts behind Floyd and has pitched one inning less. Tejeda has walked one less hitter than Floyd and has gone 6-9, while Floyd has gone 4-6. Opponents are hitting .220 off Floyd and .240 off Tejeda. So, why is Tejeda's ERA 4.75 and Floyd's 2.79? Homeruns. Tejeda has given up 19 homeruns while Floyd has allowed just five.

With the single-season Reading homerun record conquered, Ryan Howard can now focus on the Eastern League single-season record. Howard, who has 35 homeruns is six short of the league record. It's likely that the Phillies will leave him at AA for the foreseeable future, although Howard's name has come up in trade conversations. Pittsburgh is one possible suitor and if Howard did wind up there, he might still have a shot at the league record, since Pittsburgh's AA team plays in Altoona and is an Eastern League team. If Howard wound up in Altoona, the Curve come in to play Reading for three games in mid-August. You have to believe that would be a huge visit for Howard. The two teams also play three games later in the month in Altoona.

Clearwater Threshers
After playing three full seasons in AA with Portland and Trenton, Carlos Leon figured to play at AAA this season. Instead, he's been down at Class A Clearwater for the entire season. Primarily a second baseman, Leon has also played at short and third for the Threshers and is hitting .276 in 41 games. The 24 year old Leon is still trying to come back from a fractured tibia that he suffered early last season. Injuries have derailed Leon, who missed most of the 2001 season with an injury as well.

Layne Dawson struggled at AA Reading earlier this season, but has been solid for Clearwater. Dawson (1-3, 3.16), also struggled last season when he was promoted to AA Reading. The Phillies are beginning to believe that Dawson might not have what it takes to pitch at the higher levels. Pitching at AA, Dawson has gone 4-11, 7.20 in parts of two seasons. Below AA, he is 17-13, 2.82.

Lakewood BlueClaws
With the season that Ryan Howard is having at Reading, Jake Blalock's season at Lakewood has gone somewhat unnoticed. Blalock, who turns 21 next month, is hitting .288 with 15 homeruns and 69 RBI. Blalock had six homeruns combined in his first two professional seasons and hit .246 combined in the GCL and at Batavia. Playing for his first full-season professional team, Blalock has solidified himself as a true prospect in the organization.

Maximo Reyes continues to pitch well for Lakewood. Reyes is tied for the team lead in saves with Dan Hodges at five. Reyes, a right-hander and Hodges, a lefty, give the BlueClaws a solid combination out of the bullpen. Reyes though has been the one that has garnered most of the attention with his 2.57 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 42 innings. Reyes started the season by giving Lakewood 21 scoreless innings of work and has held opponents to a .211 batting average this season.

Batavia MuckDogs
While most of the Batavia offense struggles, John Hardy has been the exception. Hardy – whose played four games at second and 12 at short – is hitting a lusty .368 for the MuckDogs. The Phillies drafted Hardy out of the University of Arizona in the seventh round of this year's draft and are well pleased with his early numbers. Meanwhile, Jason Crosland has shown power – 5 homeruns in 91 at bats – but is hitting just .220 for Batavia. Crosland – a ninth round pick in the 2003 Draft – hit just six homeruns in 152 at bats in the Gulf Coast League last season, but hit .263. With the added power has come an increase in strikeouts as well, with Crosland whiffing 38 times, compared to 43 times last season.

The MuckDogs will get some needed offensive help when catcher Jason Jaramillo arrives. Jaramillo signed over the weekend and will join Batavia. Derek Brant, Grant Karlsen and Zach Norman have been handling the catching duties for Batavia and have combined to hit .250.

Pitching has been sporadic for Batavia. Jacob Barrack (1-1, 1.57) has pitched very well, mainly out of the bullpen. Barrack was a 19th round pick out of Pepperdine and was used primarily as a starter in his final college season.

Gulf Coast League Phillies
First round pick Greg Golson is showing all of the tools that the Phillies had figured he would. His strikeouts (17 in 62 at bats) are higher than they would like, but that should fall in line. Golson is hitting .258 with four stolen bases in the early going and the Phillies believe he'll improve on those numbers before too long. His professional career started slowly at the plate, but Golson has been picking it up of late in the GCL.

The big offensive news has been Michael Lombardi. Hitting .286, Lombardi leads the team with 12 RBI in the early going. Lombardi was a late addition to the GCL club and has played in just ten games so far, but the Phillies like what they're seeing from the Georgetown University product. Richard Plumsky leads the team in hitting at .293 and has played stellar defense in the outfield through his first 12 games.

Michael Mihalik (0-0, 0.82) has three saves and has been dominating GCL hitters. In 11 innings, Mihalik has struck out 13 while walking just two and giving up six hits with opposing hitters batting just .154 off the young right-hander. Scott Mitchinson (3-0, 1.17) has made four strong starts. Mitchinson is tied for the team lead in strikeouts with 22 and hasn't walked a batter in 23 innings. Opposing hitters are batting just .170 (14-82) off of him. Kelvin Pichardo (0-4, 4.88) is tied with Mitchinson with 22 strikeouts, but hasn't had the same success. Pichardo has been victimized by the long ball, giving up four homeruns in five starts.

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