Barthelemy Finds Success By Being Himself

The movie "Brian's Song" was based on a book called "I Am Third". That title could apply to Ryan Barthelemy, who despite his breakout season in 2004, has Jim Thome and Ryan Howard sitting ahead of him at first base in the Phillies organization. For now though, Barthelemy's focus is on winning and just being himself.

Looking back at the dugout, first baseman Ryan Barthelemy laughingly states "This team's a bunch of characters." Barthelemy, twenty five years old and very athletic in appearance, has just arrived in AA and is already feeling comfortable at Reading and with his teammates. "It's a fun atmosphere to be around." Barthelemy may have played on a team that did not fare well last season (The Clearwater Threshers finished 55-81), but he was named to the Florida State League All Star team and put up his best career numbers. He finished the year with a .295 average, 77 RBI and led his team in doubles (27), home runs (14), RBI (77), runs (62), walks (51) and games (132). He was also second in OBP at .368, just behind Chris Roberson, who is again his teammate in Reading.

Barthelemy was a 10th round draft pick by the Phillies out of Florida State University (where he played first base and the outfield) before playing his first pro season at Batavia in 2002. And although he put up good numbers at Batavia and Lakewood in 2003, he knows AA is, well, a different ballgame as the pitching gets tougher. "Hopefully I'll learn the ropes [at this level] quick, and make my adjustments." He pondered for a moment, what he did differently in 2004 that made him so successful, and then said, "I think I made more adjustments. I played toward my strengths, instead of trying to be someone I'm not."

What he has proved to be is a run producer with the ability to do the little things, while sometimes providing power at the plate. He is big and sturdy, resembling the build of Jim Thome. Unfortunately for him first base for the Phillies is all booked up, with Thome there until at least 2008, and Ryan Howard waiting in the wings. By the time Barthelemy has a chance, he'd be pushing 28.

In the off-season, Barthelemy actually did lifting of a different kind. He drove a forklift, foregoing his usual weight lifting regimen, but says he won't do that again. "It was pretty tiring, a lot of physical stuff and it really took a toll on my body." In the end, he says he learned, "It really doesn't prepare you for the baseball season. I feel strong....but I need a couple of days to rejuvenate." He looked good in practice, was patient with the pitches; that patience is something people have long noticed about him, and probably has a lot to do with the prevailing attitude that he has good leadership qualities.

It is no secret how difficult the season was for the Threshers in 2004, and manager Mike Schmidt decided after one season he no longer wanted to manage. It was a year filled with disappointments, but while Barthelemy says "With any manager you don't know what to expect", he went on to say he is already enjoying being around the Reading Phillies Manager, Steve Swisher. "When you have a guy like him, who's very positive and high energy it keeps you going." And though the odds aren't great he'll play for the Phillies, he considered what it might be like if he has a chance to play for the Phillies and what kind of fans they have, saying "They're [the fans] very passionate. But you know what? I'd rather have a knowledgeable fan base that knows how the game is played, then just have a bunch of fans that think everything is great...because sometimes we're not great."

It had been only days since the suspension of 38 players in the minor leagues was announced, and it was on the mind of the players that day. "Even though I haven't seen it, it does happen. I don't think it's being blown out of proportion," because he says, "it puts a negative light on baseball. It's something we have to overcome."

But what Barthelemy's mind is really on, is his individual goals and continuing the kind of team-leading play he exhibited last year. "I think the type of player I'm developing into, is the kind of guy who does the same thing consistently everyday...a guy who can do a little of everything."

Philly Baseball Insider Top Stories