Top Prospect #4: Greg Golson

Where are the Phillies going to find room for all of the center field prospects in the organization? Greg Golson is the highest ranking prospect of all the Phillies potential center fielders of the future, but he's also likely to be the furthest from being ready for the majors. With all of his talent though, Golson will likely move very quickly through the system.

Whether it was just talk or whether they truly meant it, the Phillies insist that of all the players drafted in the first round of the 2004 Draft, Greg Golson was the one that they wanted. They have said that even if they had the first overall pick, Golson would have been their man, so getting him with the 21st overall pick was a pretty sweet way for things to play out for the Phillies.

All of the necessary tools are there and the Phillies are convinced that Golson will become an offensive force and a well above average defensive center fielder in the majors. The thing that really pushed their decision was personality. Not just his, but that of his Mom and Dad as well. The Phillies believed that any possible shortcomings in Golson's game would be correctable since he was raised in a way that made him very coachable. In fact, Golson seeks out coaches to get their help and to show him better ways of doing things. There are some minor holes in his swing, but the Phillies have already taken good steps toward eliminating those issues and improving Golson's approach at the plate.

In his first professional season, Golson put up strong numbers, hitting .295 and stealing 12 bases in the Gulf Coast League. One issue still to be resolved is his plate discipline. He walked just 10 times and struck out 54 times in 183 at bats. If Golson is to realize his potential, that is going to have to change. Again, it's something that the Phillies have been working with Golson on and he realizes the need to get better at that part of his game. You have to believe that with a kid like Golson, it's just a matter of time until that flaw is a thing of the past. His lack of plate discipline kept his OBP down a little (.345) and cut into his opportunity to use his speed on the basepaths.

2004 Gulf Coast 1 22 .295 47 183 34 54 8 5 12 10 54 .345
Career 1 22 .295 47 183 34 54 8 5 12 10 54 .345

Acquired: Drafted out of John Connally High School (Austin, TX) in the first round of the 2004 Draft. Was offered a scholarship to the University of Texas.

Batting and Power: In high school, Golson put up very impressive offensive numbers. He hit over .500 in each of his last two seasons of high school ball. His power wasn't legendary, but the Phillies believe that it will increase as he develops physically and changes his approach at the plate. Hitting .295 in his first season with a wood bat was a good sign. If and when Golson improves that walk/strikeout ratio, his offensive numbers should become more impressive. It's not out of the question that he'll develop enough power to hit third in a major league lineup.

Baserunning and Speed: Scouts will tell you that speed alone doesn't steal bases. It takes a certain skill to swipe bases at a good percentage. In his last two high school seasons, Golson was 33-for-33 in stolen bases and he went 12-for-14 in the Gulf Coast League. He knows how to steal bases and he also has a good knack for when and how to take advantage of fielders and grab an extra base. He has well above average speed and is very quick out of the box. With his base stealing abilities, singles are almost automatic doubles.

Defense: Anyone who has seen Golson play a good amount of baseball will talk first either about his speed or defense. Obviously, the speed helps him defensively, but he has strong natural instincts that seem to always put him in position to make a play. He also has an above average arm that would allow him to play any of the outfield positions. His defense looks almost effortless because of his instincts.

Projection: So, where should the Phillies put Golson in 2005? They're not ones to rush high school players and they do want to work on Golson's plate discipline, so the potential for them to hold him in extended spring training and then send him to Batavia is definitely there. One scenario that's been mentioned is to keep him in extended spring camp for a little while and if he shows progress, send him out to Lakewood, knowing that they can put him back down to Batavia if he struggles. One potential scenario is for the Phillies to shift Golson to right field because of the backlog of young center field prospects in the organization. Chris Roberson and Michael Bourn have a head start on Golson and one of them figures to be in center field by the time that Golson reaches the major league level.

ETA: By this time in 2009, Greg Golson will be filling his major league locker with plans on taking over the Phillies starting center field job.

Comparison: The name being thrown around prior to the draft was Vernon Wells of the Blue Jays. The Phillies would be very happy if Golson were to become that type of player and they have every reason to believe that he will.

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