Grading The Top Ten: Jason Jaramillo

Jason Jaramillo skipped over High-A ball, in part because the Phillies wanted him to catch their top prospects at AA Reading. He made the jump easily and looks like he's ready for anything that's thrown at him.

Jason Jaramillo was settling in to his surroundings at AA Reading until he suffered a right hand contusion and wound up on the DL. The injury has turned out to be much worse than originally thought, but the R-Phils are hoping that Jaramillo could return to action before too long. He suffered the injury on May 6th and hasn't started a game behind the plate since then. The original MRI showed no structural damage, but the Phillies are continuing to monitor Jaramillo and brought him to Philly for another MRI this week, but haven't released the results. The fear is that there is a fracture in either his hand or wrist that will certainly slow his season, which would be very unfortunate for both Jaramillo and the Phillies.

Before the injury, Jaramillo was doing the kind of stuff that the Phillies wanted to see. While his .228 average isn't what they're looking for, they're sure that the offense will be there before too long. What they were really looking for was to see how he could work with the top pitching prospects in the organization and the answer to that has been that he's been all that was expected and more. Jaramillo has shown an ability to work well defensively behind the plate and has the leadership to know how to handle pitchers, especially when they work themselves into jams.

Offensively, you have to remember that Jaramillo is skipping a level and making a very tough jump to AA Reading. Even for players coming from High-A, the move to AA is considered the toughest to make and generally separates the men from the boys. Since Jaramillo didn't have the advantage of a season at Clearwater, his average isn't much of a concern. This is a kid who hit .304 at Lakewood a season ago and has all of the skills to continue to hit as he moves up the ladder. Actually, Jaramillo started the season swinging a pretty good bat and was hitting .364 through the first week of the season. At that point, he went into a 6-for-41 (.146) slide that lowered his average to .222 on the season. His stroke was slowly returning and then he suffered the hand injury and wound up on the DL.

Early Grade - B: Like we said, Jaramillo wasn't at Reading for his offense. The Phillies believe that he is their future behind the plate and they wanted him to work with the cream of the crop of the young pitching prospects and the majority of them were ticketed for Reading. Otherwise, the Phillies might have started Jaramillo at Clearwater for at least a short stint before shipping him to Reading to see what he could do at that level. He's handled the pitching staff well and his offense will come around. The fact that the Phillies wanted him to catch the likes of Giovany Gonzalez, Daniel Haigwood and Scott Mathieson says a lot and there is no reason to believe that by the end of the season Jaramillo won't have accomplished much and if not, all, of what the Phillies had in mind for his 2006 season.

The key is for Jaramillo to get healthy and return to action as soon as possible. Since he skipped a level, the Phillies don't want him to miss too much time and he's missed almost a month of regular at bats already.

Jason Jaramillo's career stats

'04 GCL Phillies 0 1 .667 1 3 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 .667
'04 Batavia 1 14 .223 31 112 11 25 5 0 0 12 27 .299
'05 Lakewood 8 63 .304 119 448 46 136 28 4 2 44 72 .368
'06 Reading 0 7 .228 24 79 6 18 8 1 0 10 16 .304
TOTALS 9 85 .282 175 642 64 181 41 5 2 66 115 .349

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