Profiling The Phillies AFL Choices

The Phillies will have eight players on the Peoria Saguaros this fall. The squad, made up of players from the Phillies, Dodgers, Marlins, Padres and Tigers, will be managed by Ottawa skipper John Russell.

Five of the players headed for the desert are pitchers.

Joe Bisenius pitched in two games with the Phillies early in the season, throwing two shutout innings. After being sent back to Triple-A Ottawa, Bisenius struggled and has put up very disappointing numbers for the Lynx (2-4, 5.86). He's still definitely on the Phillies prospect radar, although there are some concerns after the season that he's had. Keep in mind though that many players at Ottawa had sub-par seasons, possibly because of the disinterest surrounding the team in their final season in the city.

J.A. Happ made an early season start for the Phillies and it didn't go well at all. He was shelled for five earned runs in four innings and was sent back to Ottawa. Like Bisenius, Happ hasn't especially enjoyed his time with the Lynx (4-5, 4.97), but is still well regarded within the organization and could be fighting for a Major League job next spring.

Scott Mathieson will likely see time in the Phillies' bullpen this September. Coming off Tommy John surgery, the Phillies are interested where seeing how Mathieson stands in his progress, and will look to get a gauge on just how much he can help them next season either in a starter's role or out of the bullpen. The AFL will give him a chance to put some confidence into his surgically repaired arm and should do a lot to help speed his comeback.

Josh Outman is a combined 11-7, 3.01 in stops at Clearwater and Reading this season. Most of his time was spent at Clearwater, where he was putting up impressive numbers (10-4, 2.45), but he's starting to settle in a little with the Double-A Reading Phillies. Outman, who turns 22 next month, threw eight shutout innings recently for Reading, but then returned in his next start to get hit for five earned runs in 5.1 innings of work.

Joe Savery is definitely on the fast track toward the majors. As the Phillies first pick in this past June's draft, Savery has pitched at Williamsport, where he's gone 1-2, 2.75 in five starts. The Phillies decided to leave him with the CrossCutters and then send him to Arizona rather than push him quickly through the ranks this season. With Savery setting a goal of being in the majors by the spring of 2009 at the latest, the Arizona Fall League could provide a pretty good gauge of just how close to that goal he may be.

Catcher Lou Marson has put up nice numbers for Clearwater this season. Marson has hit .284 with 6 home runs and the Phillies are excited about his progress. With nice depth behind the plate, the Phillies are looking for someone to anoint with the label of "catcher of the future" and Marson's nod for the AFL will give him a nice foot up on that ranking.

Mike Costanzo has shown power at Reading (25 HR) and has 81 RBI. The Phillies believe that he can improve on his offensive numbers by developing better plate discipline (he's struck out 150 times in 485 at bats), which in turn could improve on his .268 average. The Phillies believe he should hit in the high .270 range and will work to get him there. Costanzo, who has made 33 errors this summer, will also work on his defense. Actually, he's worked very hard to become a better defensive player and his footwork has improved greatly, but there's still work to be done.

Greg Golson is the lone outfielder among the Phillies contingent. After hitting .285 with 12 home runs at Clearwater, Golson earned a mid-summer promotion to Reading and is still adjusting to Double-A pitching, hitting just .233 on the season. Like Costanzo, Golson needs to work on plate discipline (167 K in 551 AB combined) to improve his on-base percentage, which is a key considering his speed. When he gets on, Golson has a skill for swiping bases, pilfering 30 bases in 38 attempts this season.

The Arizona Fall League begins its 16th season on October 9th.

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