Phils Injuries Trickled Down to Scranton

If injuries hurt the Phillies, those very same injuries also threw a monkey wrench into the season for the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Red Barons. Losing key players who wound up in Philly filling holes for the big league club made things tough in Scranton. The end result was a 69-73 record and no invitation to the International League post-season.

While Brian Powell and Geoff Geary haven't added too much to the Phillies major league club, they were key components of the AAA Scranton club. Powell started eight games and was 3-1, 1.62 for Scranton before coming to the Phillies to help out their beleaguered bullpen. In addition to those solid numbers, Powell had thrown two complete games for Scranton and opponents were hitting just .172 off him. Geary was a strong part of Scranton's bullpen, posting a 1-2, 2.31 record with ten saves in 21 appearances. Geary had struck out 23 in 23 1/3 innings and opponents were hitting just .227 off of him. Josh Hancock also helped at AAA, with a 8-7, 4.01 record in 18 starts before coming to the Phillies and then being dealt to the Cincinnati Reds.

Jim Crowell (7-3, 2.40) saved a team high 16 games for Scranton, but the left-hander didn't get a call to the majors to help out with the big league club. Crowell is looked at as a veteran who can help at the AAA level but isn't really considered major league caliber. The 30 year old Crowell has been a big help at Scranton since signing with the Phillies during the 2003 season, leaving the Atlantic City Surf of the independent Atlantic League for affiliated ball.

Ed Yarnall and Robert Ellis both pitched pretty well in Scranton's starting rotation after coming over to the Phillies. Yarnall went 5-5, 3.97 in 24 games with Scranton, while Ellis went 5-8, 4.23 in 16 starts as a Red Baron.

The Scranton bullpen was deeper than just Geary and Crowell. Greg Kubes finished with a 5-3, 3.84 mark and was second on the staff with 49 appearances. Kubes is now 11-6, 4.08 in two seasons at Scranton. Dan Giese led the Phillies minor league pitchers in wins, going 12-5 at Scranton with a 2.81 ERA and three saves in 54 appearances. Giese spent a chunk of the 2003 season at Scranton and is now 14-5, 2.95 in his time with the Red Barons and appears to have been somewhat of a steal from the Padres organization. If there is to be a Ryan Madson type pitcher in 2005 for the Phillies, Giese just might be that man and he should be with the club now to get his feet wet.

The Red Barons' offense was never really a juggernaut and it took a hit when Lou Collier was moved to Philly and Chase Utley finally found a full-time home in the majors. Collier finished as Scranton's leader in homeruns with 14 and in hitting with a .326 average. Utley played in 33 games at Scranton and hit .285 for the Red Barons. Of course, Scranton did get some late season help from Ryan Howard who managed to hit nine homeruns in 29 AAA games.

Pablo Ozuna had a very good season in his inaugural year in the Phillies organization. Ozuna led the Red Barons in RBI with with 76, just edging Jim Rushford, who ended the year with 75. Ozuna hit six homeruns and hit .307 with 31 stolen bases. With Tomas Perez eligible for free agency, the Phillies could look at Ozuna as a potential utility player if Perez decides to go elsewhere in a quest for more playing time. Ozuna played second, short and outfield and could also play at third in a pinch, if needed.

Rushford, who at 30 years of age isn't thought of as a major league caliber prospect continued to put up good AAA numbers, hitting 10-75-.275 at Scranton. Other career minor leaguers like Mark Budzinski 95-52-.283), J.P. Roberge (1-16-.256) and Mark Smith (11-62-.281) all contributed.

Another player to watch for in a potential utility role is Buzz Hannahan. The 28 year old played his first season at AAA and responded well, hitting (0-20-.281) and playing every position but first base and catcher. Even though he was moved all over the diamond, Hannahan made just eight errors and has definite value as a major league role player.

There are truly some potential major league players in waiting with Scranton. A couple of them should, and likely will, get shots at sticking with the club next spring. Another member of the Red Barons who could get major league consideration is manager Marc Bombard. The veteran minor league skipper may get at least a courtesy interview if Larry Bowa is fired and in any situation, will get consideration to help out as a major league coach next year. It's also possible that Bombard will get some calls from other organizations that will be looking to plug holes in their coaching or managerial ranks.

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