Minor League Report - August 2, 2004

There's a new look in both the Scranton and Reading lineups, thanks to promotions of two top prospects and trades that sent young players elsewhere. At Clearwater, Alfredo Simon exits, but Bud Smith is looking pretty sharp in his return from injury. Lakewood's Tim Moss is the hottest player in the organization - finally. Meanwhile, young players at Batavia and in the Gulf Coast League are looking to make their mark.

Scranton Wilkes-Barre Red Barons:
It didn't take Ryan Howard too long to settle in with Scranton. After an 0-3 night in his first game Saturday night, Howard went 2-5 with two doubles, a run scored and three RBI. After his first weekend of games, Howard is hitting .250 for the Red Barons. Gavin Floyd, also promoted to the Red Barons on Friday, is slated to make his first start for Scranton this week.

Just when it looked like Clay Condrey and Ed Yarnall were turning into batting practice pitchers, they both turned in impressive outings. Saturday night, Condrey threw 7 1/3 innings, giving up four hits, one walk and striking out three. The only run that he allowed was unearned. Sunday, Yarnall turned things around for himself with 6 2/3 shutout innings, giving up just two hits, four walks and striking out five. Both pitchers had been struggling of late.

With Anderson Machado dealt to Cincinnati, Buzz Hannahan slid comfortably into the shortstop job for Scranton. Hannahan went 2-7 over the weekend, with an RBI. The emergence of Hannahan, who had been finding playing time wherever the Red Barons needed him, was one reason that the Phillies felt secure in dealing Machado. Hannahan is hitting .296 with a .365 OBP.

Reading Phillies:
If things were tough for Reading before, they got much tougher with the loss of Howard and Floyd. Of course, you wouldn't know it by their weekend series. Reading has gone 2-0 without Howard and Floyd.

Kevin Barker will get most of Howard's playing time at first base. The hole in the rotation was filled with the promotion of Lee Gwaltney from Clearwater.

Gwaltney is an interesting case. You don't often see guys with a 2-10 record get promoted too often. When you look closer though, you have to realize that the Phillies have a decent prospect in Gwaltney. His ERA at Clearwater was 4.05 on the season and he has good stuff. He also likes to pitch inside to hitters and keeps them off pace. In Gwaltney's first AA start, he looked like he has found new life, getting away from the frustrations of Clearwater. Gwaltney went six innings, giving up five hits and no walks while striking out five against Akron Sunday. He was touched for just two earned runs.

Elizardo Ramirez at least showed some signs of breaking out of his funk in an outing Saturday night. Ramirez threw five innings, allowing one earned run, walking one and striking out three. He did allow ten hits, but part of the problem is that he had no defense behind him. Technically, there was just one error, that led to four unearned runs, but there were other plays that probably should have been made and weren't. Ramirez big problem has been his control and that seemed to be much better.

Clearwater Threshers:
The Threshers are dreading what happened at the trading deadline. Alfredo Simon, who had thrown three consecutive complete games for Clearwater was dealt to San Francisco. Simon had really turned the corner of late and was in line for a promotion to AA Reading when he wound up as the property of the Giants.

Bud Smith has made five starts for Clearwater and all seems well. Smith is 0-1, 3.95 with the Threshers. Rest assured that the Phillies will be cautious with Smith, who has been hampered by injuries ever since he joined the Phillies two years ago. In 13 2/3 innings, Smith has given up 13 hits and has struck out 12 while walking five.

Clearwater is having a great season attendance wise. The Threshers have already broken their franchise record for attendance. The old record was 97,687 and the new one stands at 98,300 and climbing. The Threshers are averaging 2,048 per game, the best in the Florida State League. They are on a pace to hit 139,260 for the season. The new stadium and great fan support helped in Clearwater getting the 2005 FSL All-Star Game at new Bright House Networks Field.

Lakewood BlueClaws:
When the Phillies finally convinced other clubs that they wouldn't deal Gavin Floyd, Cole Hamels, Ryan Madson or Chase Utley, GMs turned to Jake Blalock. That didn't work either. While Blalock was never officially put on the untouchable list, the Phillies would have had to be bowled over with an offer to give up the outfield prospect. Blalock leads Lakewood with 15 homeruns and is fourth in the South Atlantic League with 75 RBI.

Tim Moss seems to have finally gotten the hang of things. Immediately after the all-star break, Moss went 0-8 in two games. Since then, he has hit in fifteen out of sixteen games, hitting .414 (24-58) in that span. He currently has a 13 game hitting streak and is hitting .467 (21-45) in the streak. The run has upped his average from a low of .193 to its current .256 mark. Moss is healthy after a couple stints on the DL and seems to have adjusted to the rigors of professional baseball. Moss hasn't shown the base stealing prowess that a lot of people in the organization expected, having swiped just seven bases while being thrown out seven times, but the Phillies believe he'll come around quickly in that area now that his offense seems to be clicking.

Pitchers Zac Cline and Aaron Wilson have already made if from the 2004 Draft up to the South Atlantic League. Cline, the Phillies 15th round pick, has made one start, going 1-0 and giving up three earned runs in five innings. Wilson was taken in the 24th round and has thrown eight innings in relief, with a 4.50 ERA. Both are moving quickly, but the Phillies also believe that both are capable of playing at Lakewood.

Batavia MuckDogs:
Ryan Frith has jumped out to take the team lead in homeruns (6) and RBI (27). The 17th round pick in this year's draft, Frith is second in the league in homeruns and fourth in RBI.

Left-hander Kyle Allen picked up the first save of his professional career Sunday. Allen was a 16th round pick and has pitched well for Batavia, going 2-1, 1.00 in eight relief appearances. In 18 innings, Allen has struck out 23, while walking five (one of which was intentional).

The MuckDogs have gotten strong performances from Joe Bisenius and Kevin Shephard in the starting rotation. Bisenius, who was drafted in the 12th round out of Oklahoma City University, has made seven starts and is 0-1, 1.31 for Batavia. Shepard, the Phillies 30th round pick, is a relative newcomer to Batavia and has gone 0-1, 1.29 in two starts.

Gulf Coast League Phillies:
There is just one left-hander on the GCL roster and he has struggled badly. Jose Rosario has pitched in six games and has a 14.29 ERA. Wildness has played a big part in Rosario's struggle, walking eight and striking out nine in 5 2/3 innings. The Phillies like Rosario and believe that he will progress slowly, but is worth the wait.

Meanwhile, Michael Mihalik and Scott Mitchinson have been impressive. Mitchinson is 5-0, 1.54 in six starts and has walked just one hitter in 35 innings while striking out 31. Mihalik has been working out of the bullpen and saved four games with a 1.20 ERA. Like Mitchinson, Mihalik has shown great control, walking three and striking out 15 in 15 innings of work.

James Adkins has rebuffed the Phillies in their efforts to sign him. The Phillies drafted Adkins in the 13th round of this year's draft out of Wilson Central High School in Tennessee. The Phillies and Adkins have both seemingly walked away from negotiations and it's now likely that Adkins will enroll in junior college rather than sign with the Phillies.

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