Roster Analysis: SWB Red Barons

Scranton Wilkes-Barre isn't exactly filled with top prospects from the Phillies organization. There are a few, led by Ryan Howard at first base, but generally, Scranton is home to veteran minor league players looking for a return to the majors - or in some cases, their first taste.

There's no denying it. Ryan Howard is the reason to watch the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Red Barons. Just the mere thought that at any moment, Big Ryan will launch a mammoth shot into the rocks beyond the outfield wall at Lackawanna County Stadium is worth the admission.

Howard anchors an infield that will feature Chris Coste across the diamond at third base and Buzz Hannahan, Anthony Medrano and Danny Sandoval all splitting time in the middle of the diamond.

The player to watch in the outfield is Marlon Byrd. It will be interesting to see what kind of start Byrd gets off to as he tries to shake off his latest demotion even after a near spectacular spring with the big league club. Shane Victorino is trying to play himself into prospect status with the Red Barons. From there, it's more of those veteran minor leaguers; Mark Budzinski, John Castellano and Jim Rushford all have pretty much minor league experience - 24 years of minor league ball between them.

A.J. Hinch and Carlos Ruiz will split time behind the plate, with the emphasis being on Ruiz. There are a number of players to watch in the Phillies minor league system, but Ruiz is one of the more interesting. He had a breakout year last year and is in a position to at least backup Mike Lieberthal next season and could challenge for a starting job in the majors. Keep an eye on his numbers and expect to see him in the majors in September at least.

The pitching features primarily journeyman, but Rob Tejeda will be a highlight. He was impressive in spring training and could be on his way to the majors before long. Until Gavin Floyd returns to Scranton - if he returns - Tejeda will be the pitcher of note on the Red Barons roster. He is deserving of all the attention.

Franklin Perez appears completely recovered from Tommy John surgery and could impress this season at AAA. Eude Brito and Martire Franco are interesting pitchers on their way up. Brian Sanches has some potential for a major league bullpen, but the rest are generally those veteran types.

Clay Condrey pitched better in camp than many scouts have seen him throw since his early success with the Padres at the major league level. If he returns to the form that he showed in his major league debut, he can help a lot in the case of an injury or major slump at the major league level.

If Keith Bucktrot recovers from his sore shoulder and puts up strong AA numbers, you can figure on seeing him in Scranton before too long. Having Bucktrot, Floyd and Tejeda in the rotation would be impressive.

The Red Barons will be piloted by former major league manager Gene Lamont, who takes over for the popular Marc Bombard. Lamont generally relates well to players and they enjoy playing for him.

Scranton has had some behind the scenes issues to deal with thanks to politics. There are rumblings that they could be in the final years of their agreement with the Phillies if things don't improve, but for now, they're on board. They've got a fairly strong team and with Lamont's leadership, could have a decent season, unless they're ravaged by call-ups for major league reinforcements.

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