Top Prospect #24: Jason Jaramillo

Jason Jaramillo has baseball in his blood. His father is a respected hitting coach and his two older brothers both played minor league ball. Plus, there are plenty of ironic Phillies connections in his past. Now, Jason Jaramillo looks to make another Phillies connection for the future.

The Phillies' decision to address the glaring hole they had in catching throughout the organization has been well documented. Three of the first ten picks that the Phillies made in 2004 were catchers and Jason Jaramillo was the highest of the picks when the Phillies grabbed him in the second round of the draft.

One thing that the Phillies knew for sure was that Jaramillo would be a top flight defensive catcher throughout his professional career. His development as a hitter is somewhat of a question mark, but the Phillies are optimistic that he'll eventually do well in that aspect of his game as well. The reason for concern is that in both of his summer ball seasons while he was in college, Jaramillo struggled offensively. The difference between his lackluster summer league numbers and his potent college numbers is that the summer leagues use wood bats. It's an adjustment that is often talked about and likely will be at length when it comes to Jaramillo. Unfortunately, his offensive struggles continued in his first professional season.

Jaramillo has a solid background in baseball. His father has been a well respected hitting coach both in the minors and the major leagues. That didn't help Jaramillo's two older brothers too much though. Both played minor league ball and both sputtered when they reached the AA level. There are also a couple of interesting Phillies connections. Jaramillo was originally drafted out of high school by the Phillies. They took him in the 39th round of the 2001 Draft. Instead of signing with the Phillies, he opted to play for Oklahoma State, where he was coached by Robbie Wine, the son of former Phillie player, coach and scout Bobby Wine. If you need more of a Phillies connection; Jaramillo played in the Cape Cod League for the league champion Orleans Cardinals. Also on that team were Phillie farmhands Anthony Buffone, who was drafted in the 22nd round of the 2004 draft, and Myron Leslie, who the Phillies drafted in the 11th round of the 2003 Draft.

2004 Gulf Coast 0 1 .667 1 3 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .667
2004 Batavia 1 14 .223 31 112 11 25 5 0 0 1 12 27 .299
Career 1 15 .235 32 115 12 27 5 0 0 1 12 27 .308

Acquired: Drafted by the Phillies out of Oklahoma State University in the 2nd round of the 2004 Draft.

Batting and Power: The difference in Jaramillo with an aluminum bat in his hands in college and a wood bat in summer leagues is remarkable. In college, Jaramillo hit 17-99-.366 over his final two seasons. Over two summer league seasons, Jaramillo hit 5-40-.215. That's a big difference. The Phillies are hoping that Jaramillo's numbers with a wood bat will at least inch higher and that he can become at least a respectable offensive player.

Baserunning and Speed: Jaramillo is average at best. He gives baserunning what he's got, but he simply doesn't have the speed to be much of a force or to take extra bases here and there.

Defense: Here is where Jaramillo excels. If defense alone got a player to the majors, you could pencil Jaramillo in for a starting job in the majors right now. The problem is that doesn't cut it and he'll have to continue to work on his offense. Besides the usual defensive skills, Jaramillo has good leadership qualities and knows how to work with pitchers. He also has a strong, accurate arm to keep runners at bay.

Projection: The Phillies and Jaramillo were smart to get a contract done and get Jaramillo a full season in the rookie leagues in '04. Because of that, he's likely headed to Lakewood this year. He should have a strong major league career ahead of him if all holds out and his development continues. He's got fourth round pick Louis Marson breathing down his neck on the depth chart, so Jaramillo doesn't have the luxury of developing slowly.

ETA: By sometime in the 2008 season, Jaramillo could start to get a major league audition. It's going to be interesting to see what happens when he reaches the AA level, since his two older brothers both had good skills, but neither made it past AA. That will be the real test.

Comparison: It's hard to compare Jaramillo because of the differences in his hitting in college and the summer leagues. One comparison has been made to Sandy Alomar, who the Phillies nearly signed as a back-up catcher this winter. Both are strong defensively, but Alomar was never an offensive power house and Jaramillo doesn't figure to be one either.

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