Minor League Notebook - August 9, 2004

There's good news and bad news throughout the organization. There have also been a number of key player moves up and down the ladder - especially up. Scranton is still juggling outfielders to get them all in the lineup. Pitcher Kyle Parcus makes a big jump from Batavia to AA Reading and a couple members of Lakewood also get new Reading addresses. At Batavia, there are a number of "hard luck" pitching stories, while the Gulf Coast League has a few of their own.

Scranton Wilkes-Barre Red Barons: Admit it, we're all watching and waiting for Ryan Howard to hit his first AAA homerun. While the longball hasn't come just yet, Howard seems to be adjusting very well to the rigors of being one step away from the majors. Howard's 1-3 day on Sunday hiked his average to .292 and he has driven in six runs in seven games.

Clay Condrey (7-6, 5.52) who started hot and then cooled off considerably, seems to have found his way again. Condrey threw seven strong innings against Rochester on Sunday, allowing two earned runs.

Lou Collier's promotion to the majors helps to ease the outfield logjam at Scranton. Mark Budzinski, Mark Smith, Jim Rushford and Jorge Padilla were all looking for playing time. The situation is eased a little when the Red Barons play an affiliate from an American League team, because they get to use the DH, but manager Marc Bombard is just rotating players and trying to keep everybody in the lineup as much as possible. Howard's arrival took away Rushford's chances to play at first.

Reading Phillies: After seeing his 19 game hitting streak end, Kevin Barker went into a four-game skid where he couldn't buy a hit. Sunday, he got back on the right track with a homerun against Erie. Barker has been pretty consistent throughout the season, hitting .324 in both June and July and he is currently hitting .290 on the season. His 19 game hitting streak, which went from July 17 – August 5, saw him hit .397 (29-73).

The Phillies signed Felix Villegas as a minor league free agent about two months ago. So far, they're very pleased with what they've got. Villegas (3-1, 3.50) has pitched in 22 games and was the winning pitcher in Sunday's game against Erie. Villegas was in the Red Sox organization last season and started this season with the Atlantic City Surf of the independent Atlantic League. Over the last month, Villegas has a 1.62 ERA with Reading and has allowed 8 hits in 16 2/3 innings of work.

Left-hander Kyle Parcus made a big jump, going from Lakewood to AA Reading this past week. Parcus had three saves in his last three games for the BlueClaws and four saves on the season, while going 3-3, 3.44 at Lakewood. Parcus made it through his first AA outing without too much trouble, giving up one earned run in 2 1/3 innings. He walked two and struck out two. The 22 year old Texas A&M grad was drafted by the Phillies in the 12th round of the 2003 Draft.

Clearwater Threshers: It's been a long season for Mike Schmidt and the Threshers. Schmidt has said publicly that he doesn't know if he will be interested in coming back for a second season as manager. Instead, he may be contented to continue his work as a part-time coach in the Phillies organization. The fact that baseball in Class A ball isn't always about winning and losing, may be part of the problem. The competitive part of Schmidt wants to play games to win, but has to balance that with using players in the right way to help their development.

Newcomer Brad Correll is hitting .300 (3-10) in his first three games with Clearwater. He has also driven in three runs in those games.

Cory Schultz got a promotion from Lakewood to Clearwater and has pitched well in his first two games with the Threshers. Schultz hasn't allowed a run in 4 2/3 innings in Clearwater after going 3-1, 2.88 in 29 games with Lakewood.

Lakewood BlueClaws: Lakewood continues their drive toward a playoff spot. Lakewood is 23-20 in the second half, six games behind Hickory for the top spot in the division. The BlueClaws went 31-37 in the first half of the season. It could get especially good, since Lakewood wraps up their season with three games at Hickory September 4-6.

The friendly base stealing competition between Michael Bourn and Javon Moran continues. Bourn has 43 stolen bases, while Moran has 39. The big difference is that Bourn has been thrown out 5 times, while Moran has been caught 17 times this season. Carlos Rodriguez is third on the team with 18 stolen bases.

Editor's note: Watch for our special Lakewood Spotlight feature starting Tuesday (August 10) on PhillyBaseballNews.com. We'll feature interviews with Jake Blalock, Michael Bourn, Zac Cline, Tim Moss and Aaron Wilson of the BlueClaws.

Batavia MuckDogs: Don't be surprised if Joe Bisenius is the next pitcher promoted to Lakewood. In nine starts, Bisenius is 0-1, 1.39 and opponents are hitting just .226 off him. His control has been good (11 walks / 33 strikeouts) and he has allowed only four homeruns in 45 1/3 innings.

After going 2-0, 2.53 in eight relief appearances, Zac Cline became the first member of the Phillies 2004 Draft to reach Lakewood. He was followed closely by Aaron Wilson, who had pitched just six innings for Batavia, recording one save and not allowing an earned run. "I was surprised to be moved up so quickly, but I didn't argue with them, I just kept my mouth shut," admitted Wilson. The fact that Wilson was a fifth year senior out of the University of San Diego might have had something to do with the promotion, since he had a little more experience under his belt than a lot of draft picks.

Batavia has five left-handers on their staff. Kyle Allen (2-1, 1.29), James Happ (0-2, 3.06) and Kevin Shepard (0-1, 1.29) have gotten off to the best start for the MuckDogs. It's not unusual for Batavia pitchers with good ERAs to have sub-500 won/lost records. There are 11 current or former Batavia pitchers with .500 or below winning percentages and eight of them have ERAs under 3.90.

Gulf Coast League Phillies: The GCL Phillies aren't a bad team; when they get to play. Rain continues to make it tough to get games in, but the Phils are 22-19 on the season and have been playing well of late. Outfielder Richard Plumsky has been tearing it up in the GCL, hitting .328 with four homeruns and 17 RBI in 20 games.

Next to top pick Greg Golson, Australian pitcher Scott Mitchinson might be the biggest story in camp. Mitchinson has started seven games and is 5-0, 1.51 on the season. Andy Barb and Kelvin Pichardo might as well be at Batavia, because they're both pitching very well even though their records don't show it. Barb is 0-1, 3.22 and has pitched in 12 games (two starts) while Pichardo has started eight games, going 2-4, 3.55. Barb has shown pinpoint control, walking six and striking out 39 in 22 1/3 innings.

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