Why did the Phillies add Eude Brito to the roster? Since being brought up from AAA Scranton on August 6th, the 27 year old (he turns 28 on Friday) left-hander has yet to appear in a game. Brito was brought up to take the Phillies bullpen back to having seven relievers, which is where it's been for most of the season. Brito hasn't pitched since going four innings against Rochester on July 30th. Even with the added depth, manager Charlie Manuel has relied primarily on relievers Aaron Fultz, Ryan Madson, Ugueth Urbina and closer Billy Wagner. Geoff Geary and Rheal Cormier have seen slightly reduced roles of late as well.
The Phillies are quietly becoming one of the fastest teams in the majors, ranking third in the NL in stolen bases (79) and they have the second best percentage (77.5%) in the league. If Kenny Lofton and Chase Utley can each steal three more bases, the Phillies will have four players with 15 or more stolen bases, which they haven't done since 2001 when Jimmy Rollins (46), Bobby Abreu (36), Doug Glanville (28) and Scott Rolen (16) accomplished the feat. Prior to that, you have to go back to 1986 to find a Phillies team with four players totaling 15 or more swipes. In 1979, the Phillies had four players with 20 or more stolen bases when Gary Maddox stole 26, Bake McBride stole 25 and Larry Bowa and Pete Rose each stole 20.
Pat Burrell recently became the eighth youngest Phillies player to hit 150 homeruns. He reached the milestone at 28 years and 298 days of age, just one year and 27 days older than Mike Schmidt. The youngest Phillie to hit 150 career homers is Greg Luzinski, who reached the milestone when he was 26 years, 311 days old.
Scranton Wilkes-Barre Red Barons
Shane Victorino continued his hot hitting over the weekend, highlighted by a three-hit game against Syracuse. Victorino now has 18 homeruns and 15 stolen bases on the season and is practically guaranteed a September call-up. Even though he has hit well at AAA this season, there are some in the organization that doubt whether Victorino could handle an everyday starting assignment in the majors and put up the same type of numbers. Others believe that he could at least fill a gap until Michael Bourn or Chris Roberson are ready to take over on an everyday basis. After all, that could mean just a one season shot for Victorino.
Catcher Carlos Ruiz is another player who could get a September audition. After hitting .373 in July, Ruiz was named the International League Player of the Month. Ruiz drove in 17 runs and scored 16 in July and appears to be completely healed after a knee injury put him on the DL earlier in the season. Word is that Ruiz could at least be the backup catcher in Philly in 2006 and possibly even get the starting job if Mike Lieberthal could be traded. One scenario has the Phillies dealing Lieberthal - likely to San Diego or Los Angeles - over the off-season and having Ruiz take over behind the plate, with Todd Pratt returning as a mentor and backup to Ruiz.
Chris Rojas has had somewhat of a breakout season at AA, but now, there are injury concerns. Rojas has left his last two starts with tightness in his right forearm. For now, there is no major cause for concern and Rojas is still slated to make his next scheduled start, but a potential trip to the disabled list or at least skipping a start or two isn't out of the realm of possibilities just to be sure that Rojas is okay.
Baseball America named Michael Bourn the "most exciting player in the Eastern League" recently. Bourn, who skipped over Clearwater and jumped two levels this season is hitting .273 and has 35 stolen bases for Reading. He currently ranks second in the EL in stolen bases. Teammate Chris Roberson was judged to have the best outfield arm in the Eastern League in the same issue of BA.
Nick Evangelista collected honors as the Florida State League Player of the Month in July. Evangelista, pitching for a struggling Clearwater club, posted 3-0, 1.40 mark in 19 1/3 innings during the month. To make things even better, Evangelista walked just three hitters and struck out 19, while recording one save for Clearwater. On the season, Evangelista is 7-6, 3.03 in 37 games for Clearwater, which is impressive considering that the Threshers have struggled to win games all season long.
Threshers pitchers gave up six homeruns in Sunday's 14-10 loss to Sarasota. Starter Scott Mathieson (2-6) gave up four of the homeruns as he surrendered six earned runs in five innings of work. Meanwhile, Clearwater got just one homerun, that coming off the bat of Jake Blalock, who hit his 11th blast of the season.
In general, Lakewood has been pretty good defensively, with a couple of exceptions. Brad Harman leads the club in errors with 30 in 92 games and Sam Orr has made 29 miscues in 109 games. Harman has put up solid offensive numbers for Lakewood, hitting .309 with nine homeruns, but Orr has also struggled at the plate. The Biola University product is hitting .228, but is second on the team in homeruns with 12. Orr will need some work to improve his defense and cut down on his swing, which has produced 105 strikeouts on the season. Catcher Jason Jaramillo has made 15 errors, but nobody else has more than eight.
Derek Griffith and Nathan Johnson are an interesting study in statistics. Griffith is 7-10, while Johnson is 9-7 on the season. The interesting thing is that Johnson has posted a 5.65 ERA while Griffith has a strong 3.74 ERA.
There are some definite strong points to Mike Costanzo's season, but there are also some things to work on as well. Costanzo is going to need work to cut down on his strikeouts (69 in 200 at bats) and his defense (16 errors) has some holes as well. The Phillies do like how he's adjusted to wood bats, notching six homeruns to lead Batavia and believe that he can improve his plate discipline and swing, which will help to reduce the strikeouts and boost his .245 average. While the original idea was for Costanzo to start 2006 at Lakewood, he might not get there for opening day, but will definitely be there at some point during the season, unless disaster strikes.
Andy Barb hasn't been happy with his league assignments this season, but he's putting up strong numbers for the 'Dogs. In seven starts for Batavia, Barb is 1-2, 3.15 on the season with 37 strikeouts in 40 innings of work. Kyle Kendrick could have drawn better assignments as well, but he's posted a 4-2, 3.45 mark in 11 starts for Batavia this season and is far and away the team leader with 73 innings pitched. The second highest total on the team belongs to Scott Mitchinson, who has thrown 42 2/3 innings.
Gulf Coast League Phillies
The Gulf Coast League might not exist next season. There is a proposal being floated that would eliminate the GCL along with the Northwest League and the Appalachian League. The change would also make the existing short-season leagues into full-season leagues. Other changes would move the draft back to the end of June and give players who are drafted just one month to sign or they would have to wait until the following draft to go back into the mix and start the process all over again. Players who are drafted and signed could either get a few games in with one of the full-season teams or take part in a short mini-camp before going to the instructional leagues in September.
The Phillies insist that Jermaine Williams has just a strained left knee, but the injury could be worse. Williams was injured in a collision on August 10th and hasn't played since. The collision left him unable to move his knee very much and unable to completely straighten his leg. Shortly after the injury, Williams was only able to move his knee about 30 degrees and even that was with difficulty. Williams, who was the Phillies seventh round pick in this past June's draft, was hitting .250 at the time that he left the lineup.
Edgar Garcia is getting better and better. In nine starts for the GCL Phils, Garcia is 4-3, 3.55 with 36 strikeouts in 50 2/3 innings of work. Garcia won't even turn 18 for another month and is certainly turning heads. The Phillies have been very patient and cautious with Garcia and it will be interesting to see what they do with him next season. Of course, if the New York / Penn League becomes a full-season league, it would be a perfect fit for Garcia, who could pitch competitively all season long without having to make the jump to Lakewood. There are some in the organization who believe Garcia could handle Lakewood at anytime that the Phillies would be ready to move him there.