Minor League Report - September 1, 2004

Lots of player movement at AAA and AA as players get some late season recognition. In Clearwater, Mike Schmidt leaves the door open - just a little - to continuing his managerial career, while his star outfielder continues to mend. And, in Lakewood and Batavia, young pitchers are making their mark.

Scranton Wilkes-Barre Red Barons: The Red Barons battle for a wild card spot in the International League post-season will have to go on without Ryan Howard, Shawn Wooten, A.J. Hinch and Gavin Floyd… at least. All four either have been added to the expanded major league roster, or in the case of Floyd, will be added in time for his major league debut on Friday.

The Red Barons did get a little bit of help from AA Reading in the person of Brian Sanches. In 41 games at Reading, Sanches was 4-1, 2.71 with three saves and opponents were hitting just .217 off of him. The Phillies acquired Sanches last March from San Diego and he could be a name to watch for down the road.

The Phillies also promoted outfielder John Castellano to Scranton. Castellano was in a battle to win the Eastern League batting title with Binghamton's Jeff Keppinger, who is now on the Mets major league roster. Keppinger hit .341 in the Eastern League this season, while Castellano finishes at .340 for Reading. Infielder Brian Hitchcox also received a promotion to Scranton after hitting .257 in 45 games with Reading.

Pablo Ozuna's 27 game hitting streak that ended last week certainly got him some recognition, but it likely won't get him added to the major league roster. Ozuna isn't on the 40 man roster and it's unlikely that the Phillies will make a spot for him, although they are interested in having him back next spring as a non-roster invitee to camp. Ozuna might be able to battle for a utility spot on next year's roster or serve as insurance at AAA.

Reading Phillies: Brandon Culp was named the Phillies minor league pitcher of the week after his AA debut. Culp signed with the Phillies as a minor league free agent this past May after pitching in the Reds' organization. In his Reading debut August 22nd, Culp struck out nine in six innings of work. In his second start this past Sunday, Culp worked 6 2/3 innings and struck out five, while giving up four earned runs. In his two starts with Reading, Culp is 0-1, 4.97 and he went 1-3, 2.64 at Clearwater. One difference is that 23 of his 26 appearances at Clearwater were out of the bullpen.

Clearwater Threshers: Clearwater finished August with a 16-12 record. The Threshers have shown a huge improvement from the team that started the year 7-16 in April. It still looks like manager Mike Schmidt will make his managerial career a one-year thing, he seems to have at least left the door open a crack with some recent comments. Schmidt has been talking about his love of the game and how much he is enjoying working with young players. It will be interesting to see where Schmidt's future leads.

While Chris Roberson's minor league season ended early because of a broken bone in his leg, reports are that he should be healed in time to take his spot with the Phillies Arizona Fall League contingent. Roberson had a strong season and the Phillies are interested in watching his progress with some of baseball's premier prospects in the AFL.

Lakewood BlueClaws: While Nate Cabrera has only posted a 5-4 record this season, he has an impressive 3.02 ERA with Lakewood. The 21 year old right-hander is in just his second professional season after being drafted by the Phillies in the 16th round of the 2003 Draft. In 122 innings, Cabrera has walked just 37 and struck out 108 hitters this season. Cabrera pitched in the GCL in 2003 and wasn't overly impressive, going 0-1, 5.56 in five games, three of them starts. The Phillies worked with Cabrera in the Florida Instructional League last fall and he seems to have learned a lot. His 2005 season will be very interesting.

Batavia MuckDogs: The Phillies are very high on starters Joe Bisenius and James Happ. Both have been impressive with Batavia and both will likely be in full-season leagues next year. Bisenius is 0-1, 1.43 in 11 starts for Batavia and opponents are hitting just .219 off of him. Happ, a left-hander, is 1-2, 2.35 in 10 starts, and opponents are hitting just .202 off of him. Happ is more of a strikeout pitcher, but has walked 16 in 30 2/3 innings. The Phillies believe that will improve as he progresses. Bisenius has slightly better control, walking 14 in 50 1/3 innings. Both are products of the 2004 Draft and have shown some impressive command on the mound this season.

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