Top Prospect #18: Ryan Barthelemy

The Phillies weren't sure what was wrong with Ryan Barthelemy after his first two minor league seasons. His mechanics were good, but he just didn't seem to be seeing the ball. Turns out, that's exactly what it was. Barthelemy was trying to hit with far less than perfect vision. Now that they've corrected that, look for Ryan Barthelemy to build on his strong 2004 season.

No, it's not a broken record. This profile is about a big, strong left-handed hitting first base prospect in the Phillies' organization. Where have we heard that before?

Ryan Barthelemy may be in the right place at the right time though. With Ryan Howard potentially moving to the outfield or being used as trade bait - whichever story you believe - there may be room for another young first baseman to take on the responsibility of succeeding Jim Thome in Philadelphia. With his breakout season at Clearwater in 2004, Barthelemy's timing could be only a little ahead of the end of Thome's contract. It's possible that in the not too distant future, we'll be hearing about the Phillies trying to find a spot for Barthelemy for a couple seasons, much as they're doing now with Howard. Unlike Howard, Barthelemy has shown enough athleticism to play other positions and played some games at third base and in the outfield at Clearwater.

While at first glance, you may believe that playing for Clearwater manager Mike Schmidt may have helped Barthelemy to develop his homerun swing, there is more to the story. While Schmidt likely did have a few key pointers for him, it was simple eye surgery that helped Barthelemy burst onto the scene after two non-descript seasons. The Phillies always did expect more from Barthelemy than the combined three homeruns and .238 average that he put up in his first two minor league seasons. His 2004 numbers (14-77-.295) were what they expected all along.

2002 Batavia 2 32 .258 68 260 27 67 13 3 5 19 56 .308
2003 Lakewood 1 26 .221 90 312 23 69 14 1 4 21 88 .272
2004 Clearwater 14 77 .295 132 475 62 140 27 4 4 51 93 .368
Career 17 135 .264 290 1047 112 276 54 8 13 91 237 .325

Acquired: Drafted out of Florida State University in the tenth round of the 2002 Draft.

Batting and Power: Barthelemy showed definite power potential at FSU. He smashed 17 homeruns in his senior season, but didn't come close to that until 2004 when he hit 14. The Phillies expect that Barthelemy will provide both power and hit for a high average as a major leaguer.

Baserunning and Speed: This isn't going to be how Barthelemy makes a living. He has average speed and hasn't shown much ability to really use it to his advantage during his minor league career. He has just a 54% stolen base percentage in the minors and wasn't any better in college. He is pretty heads up on the bases and doesn't make many mistakes that hurt his club.

Defense: The Phillies had Barthelemy play 11 games at third base and 6 others in the outfield in 2004. He can play well at all of those positions, so he doesn't have to be locked in as a first baseman. In 135 games, he made just 13 errors at Clearwater. He's not exactly gold glove caliber, but much like his baserunning, he's smart defensively and doesn't hurt his club.

Projection: After his breakout season at Clearwater, Barthelemy will start 2005 at Reading. With his vision problems behind him, he should be one of those players that seemingly comes from nowhere to be a big time prospect. The truth is that he was probably always "undervalued" and could have been drafted higher according to many people around baseball. He certainly has the talents to reach the majors and succeed at that level.

ETA: Somebody saw something more than the numbers in Barthelemy and made smart moves with him. Many other players would have repeated levels had they put up the sort of numbers that Barthelemy did in his first two minor league seasons. Instead, the Phillies moved him along and have him on a fast track to the majors. He could be getting a September audition in 2006 and fight for a spot in 2007.

Comparison: Many believe that Barthelemy has the same potential that scouts saw in a young Pat Burrell, but with maybe a tad less power. Both were athletic type players with strong potential and are both smart players. Physically, it's been pointed out that Barthelemy has the same body type and many of the same skills as Andres Galarraga, only with more athleticism built in. The Phillies would be very happy if Barthelemy were to reach those kind of goals in the majors.

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