Grading The Top Ten: Greg Golson

Greg Golson came into 2006 with a lot of promise. He was one of the young players that most scouts and fans expected big things from in his second season with Lakewood. In fact, the odds on him staying at Lakewood for an entire season weren't good, until he stumbled badly out of the box.

There is no denying that Greg Golson has talent. A lot of talent. Unfortunately, fans at Lakewood haven't seen much of what the Phillies believe that he can do offensively. Last season - his first season in a full-season league - he hit .264 for Lakewood and struck out 106 times. Of course, that was a huge season compared to what he's accomplished this season for the BlueClaws. Golson's current .192 average is right around his season high. Saturday's 0-for-4 knocked him down from his high of .195 to his current sub-Mendoza number.

The good news is that the numbers have been trending up, to use a business term. The up tick comes from a recent surge that has seen Golson string together separate four game and seven game hitting streaks. Over his last 13 games, he's had hits in 11 of those games and has hit .316 (18-for-57) with Lakewood. His 18 hits over those 13 games are nearly as many as he had during his first 38 games of the season when he collected just 23 hits and posted a .146 average. That tells you just how bad 2006 has been for Golson.

For their part, the Phillies are showing a lot of patience. There were rumors just a few weeks ago that Golson would head to Batavia once the short-season leagues got underway. Now, with his recent hot streak, Golson has likely saved himself the embarrassment of a demotion and can concentrate simply on returning his numbers as close to where he should be in his second season with Lakewood. Whether or not he can actually finish the season with numbers that would put the front office brass at ease is worth watching.

The major issue remains to be plate discipline. Golson is on a pace to strike out 158 times this season, which would far eclipse his disappointing strikeout number from last season. He's also on a pace to walk just 33 times, which would be just a mild improvement over his 26 walks in 2005. This is a kid who must develop better plate discipline or he simply won't make it anywhere near the projections that were attached to him when he was drafted with the Phillies first pick in the draft two years ago. Players with a .237 on-base percentage, like Golson has right now, simply aren't players that teams feel comfortable promoting through the system with any regularity and with Golson's speed being a huge part of his game, he can't afford to be letting pitchers put him back on the bench without giving him anything to hit. Golson has the potential to be pretty well above the 30 stolen base plateau, but his career OBP of .329 coming into the season just doesn't allow him the opportunity to get to those sort of numbers.

Early Grade - F: Even though he's starting to come around, overall, Golson has been a huge disappointment for the Phillies this season. If you're looking for any silver lining, you can look again to Golson's current streak over the last 13 games. During that span, he's whiffed a total of 14 times, which would be a pace of 151 strikeouts over the course of Lakewood's season. It's still way too high, but is at least a mild improvement over the pace of 161 strikeouts for the season that he was on prior to the streak. And that's the silver lining in all of this. And if you look at the last 13 games - Golson's "hot" period - he's walked just once and hasn't gotten a base on balls since May 21st, which was two weeks ago today.

Golson hasn't just slumped this season, he's looked downright lost at times for Lakewood and quite honestly, it's amazing that the Phillies have kept him at Lakewood and have kept him playing just about every day.

Breaking down Greg Golson's season

First 41 games 1 8 .146 38 157 23 23 3 2 6 12 47 .207
Last 13 games 2 8 .316 13 57 6 18 5 0 0 1 14 .328
Season Totals 3 16 .192 51 214 29 41 8 2 6 13 61 .238

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