Prospect Profile: Aaron Cheesman

It must seem like deja vu all over again for Aaron Cheesman. The young catcher spent two seasons blocked by a more talented catcher and now faces a ton of roadblocks as a member of the Phillies organization. If his quick start means anything, Cheesman may be able to move past at least some of those blocks.

When scouts look at catchers, they consider things like defense, arm strength and smarts. With Cheesman, it's the smarts part that definitely stands out. Cheesman - who turns 24 on Monday (9/25) - is probably one of the smartest players who was available in the draft this past June. He's got book smarts and baseball smarts that have helped him excel on the field. His intelligence also helped him to develop a leadership role on the Florida State Seminoles team as he took over control of the pitching staff during games.

Outside of his intangible skills, Cheesman was thought to have just average defensive abilities and similar offensive strengths. You wouldn't have known that he was anywhere near simply average in his first pro season. Cheesman spent the summer with the Gulf Coast League Phillies and hit .348 in 31 games, with a .443 on-base percentage. The key to Cheesman's success was his plate discipline that saw him walk 14 times while striking out in just nine at bats.

The tough part is going to be for Cheesman to carve his niche in the Phillies' organization. Louis Marson and Jason Jaramillo are seemingly battling for the catcher of the future distinction and Tuffy Gosewisch was taken in this year's draft in the 11th round. Plus, there's Reece Creswell and Joel Naughton, who were Cheesman's backups in the GCL and cut into his playing time there. With the numbers that Cheesman put up in 2005, it's possible that he'll be given a shot at Clearwater in 2006, serving primarily as a backup to Jaramillo. It would likely mean having to repeat Clearwater a year later to get the at bats that Cheesman would need, but it would at least give him a higher profile spot and a chance to further impress the Phillies' minor league staff. Marson and Gosewisch seem to have jobs at Lakewood locked up for 2006.

The biggest question with Cheesman is whether or not his offensive numbers were a mirage. In college, Cheesman was a career .308 hitter, but keep in mind that college is a different game, using aluminum bats and that it took a .347 average in his junior year for Cheesman to achieve the numbers that he did. Without that huge season, he would have been a career .284 hitter with the Seminoles.

Aaron Cheesman's career marks

2005 GCL 1 16 .348 31 89 17 31 9 1 3 14 9 .443

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