Barthelemy: The Other Ryan at First Base

First base prospects are easy to find in the Phillies organization. Ryan Barthelemy hasn't been the most noticed of the group, but he is turning what looked like a disappointing season into another season worth taking note of. The problem is all of the other competition ahead of him.

Ryan Barthelemy wasn't making much noise at AA Reading until lately. Playing somewhat in the shadow of the power-hitting Randy Ruiz and top prospects Chris Roberson and Michael Bourn, there wasn't a lot of news about Barthelemy coming out of what they call BaseballTown. Through the first three months of the season, Barthelemy was hanging around with just three homeruns and was hitting a paltry .227 on the season. Slowly, things started to turn around and now, Barthelemy is the one making noise in Reading.

After starting the month in a 5-for-25 (.200) funk, Barthelemy turned things around. Over the last 11 games that Barthelemy has played, dating back to July 9th, he has turned up the heat, hitting .417 (15-for-36) with five homeruns and 11 RBI. The hot streak has perked his average up to .252 and has given him a respectable eight homeruns on the season. Those numbers would put his homerun totals at least close, and possibly ahead, of his total of 14 homeruns from last season. It's unlikely that he'll equal the .295 average, but he can certainly make his numbers more respectable over the final two months of the season.

"I think there was a bit of an adjustment period," admits Barthelemy. "Plus, I may have been trying to do a little too much at times." Now, with Ruiz serving a suspension for violating the MLB substance abuse policy, Barthelemy is being looked to as a bigger source of power for the R-Phils. He has come through and is making the most of every opportunity. "I don't think Randy's situation has impacted me at all. I know what I have to do and I know what I'm capable of and I just have to focus on that. Hopefully, I can stay hot and Randy and I can be pretty formidable when he comes back," said Barthelemy.

Barthelemy has been part of a resurgent Reading club that went on an 9-2 streak before heading into their current four game losing skid. In case you're doing the math, Reading's hot streak started right around the time that Barthelemy got hot. You certainly can't blame Reading's four game skid on Barthelemy, since he's hitting .455 (5-for-11) over those four games.

Looking at the future for Barthelemy is a little like deja vu. Where else have we heard of a left-handed power hitting first baseman in the Phillies organization? That's the 'other' Ryan. Ryan Howard has been perhaps the highest profile player in the organization based on the 48 homeruns that he hit playing at three different levels for the Phillies last season. If Howard has Jim Thome ahead of him to worry about, Barthelemy has Thome, Howard and perhaps even Ruiz ahead of him on the organizational depth chart. Now that's formidable. "It's pretty crowded," laughs Barthelemy. "You know what though, you can't worry about that. Something will happen somewhere along the line and things will clear up. I'm proud of being in this organization, but I know things can change and perhaps they'll have to change for me to get a shot, but that will all play itself out."

As part of the logjam, Barthelemy may be the best defensive first baseman of the bunch. He has made just one error this season, which is notable even though he does spend some time serving as Reading's designated hitter. Barthelemy brings a quieter approach than the other first base prospects and has flown somewhat under the radar, but could find himself being the object of affection from other clubs if the Phillies decide that he's expendable. "Maybe I'll be one of those throw-in players that you hear about in a trade," said Barthelemy.

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