Phils Organization Lacking In Offense

For some time now, pitching has been the dominant issue in the Phillies minor league system. With pitchers like Cole Hamels and Giovany Gonzalez coming along, most of the attention has been on the hurlers. Of course, the fact that the hitters haven't been tearing things up doesn't help to shift the spotlight away from the pitchers.

When you look down the list of the top hitters in the organization, only one true prospect jumps out among the top five hitters and that one - Chris Roberson - is now playing at the major league level with the Phillies. The rest are players who are projected as utility players at best and simply minor league fillers in general.

John Castellano, who is now at Reading, leads the organization in hitting with a .412 average and also leads the system with 7 homeruns. The problem is that Castellano is far from a prospect. He's generally not even considered to be a utility player at the major league level and was let go by the Phillies during the off-season, only to re-sign with them when he found himself out of work at the beginning of the season. Brennan King - hitting .273 at Scranton - could find a utility job in the majors, but isn't thought to have much more of a future than that. The same can be said for Reading's Carlos Leon, who is hitting .305 on the season. Joe Thurston - a Dodgers castoff - is hitting .271 for the Red Barons in his first season with the Phillies.

Mike Costanzo is showing some promise at Clearwater after skipping a level to start the year in High-A ball. Costanzo leads the organization in RBI with 26 and is hitting .243, which sadly puts him just out of the organization's top ten in hitting. The fact that Costanzo is skipping a level and that he's raised his average from a season low of .204 is encouraging. Costanzo should spend the rest of the season at Clearwater and look to either start next year at Reading or arrive there soon after the start of the season, depending on how the rest of his 2006 season unfolds.

Stolen bases are an interesting category. Michael Bourn saw his average slide all the way down to .179 at Reading, but he was swiping a lot of bases even though he was struggling at the plate. Now, he's raised his average to .262 and has stolen an organization high 15 bases, leading Roberson by three. After Bourn and Roberson though, there also isn't much speed. Clearwater's Matt Thayer has seven and Reading's Tim Moss has six. Of course, Moss would likely be higher on the list if not for his .183 average. The fact that Moss has never even reached the Mendoza Line this season certainly hurts his chances to steal bases.

With the draft approaching, it figures that the Phillies will be looking to add to the offensive side of the ledger. They've done an impressive job of building a lot of depth among their pitchers, but it has come at the expense of offense. Since most of the Phillies' starting lineup is young, the lack of offense isn't too much of an issue for now, but considering how long it can take for young players to develop, they'll need to look at rebuilding that part of the system and will need to start sooner rather than later.

Besides Moss, perhaps the most worrisome hitter in the system is Greg Golson. The former first round draft pick is hitting just .145 at Lakewood and simply looks lost. It's especially worrisome since this is Golson's second season at Lakewood and he should be flourishing by now. Instead, there are whispers that he could return to extended spring training or be reassigned to Batavia once the short-season New York / Penn League begins.

Phillies Top 10 Minor League Hitters
Based on 2.7 at bats per games played by their team.

John Castellano Reading 7 23 .412 27 114 17 47
Carlos Leon Reading 1 15 .305 35 128 21 39
Chris Roberson Scranton 0 8 .287 34 136 19 39
Brennan King Scranton 3 12 .273 31 110 8 30
Joe Thurston Scranton 5 16 .271 38 129 24 35
Michael Bourn Reading 0 10 .262 37 145 30 38
Jim Rushford Reading 1 15 .261 33 111 14 29
Peter Bergeron Scranton 2 14 .250 34 112 11 28
Angel Chavez Scranton 2 15 .250 33 124 13 31
Matt Thayer Clearwater 1 8 .250 29 104 16 26

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