Grading The 'Claws

While school is just starting, for baseball players, it's report card time. Lakewood writer Matt Zagari grades the pupils who toiled this summer in Lakewood.

Starting Pitchers:

Carlos Monasterios

Tabbed the ace of the young BlueClaws staff at the beginning of the season, Monasterios lacked consistency throughout the 2007 season. He showed flashes of a quality starting pitcher, but couldn't put together back to back quality starts. He finished the season with 26 starts, most among BlueClaw starters, with an 11-11 record and a 4.62 ERA, 114 Ks in 156 innings. Monasterios, who only began playing baseball at age 17 did an above average job in his first full season in professional baseball. Grade: B-

Darren Byrd

Byrd struggled early in the season, but looked dominant in his final 10 starts of the 2007 season. The 6-5 right-hander finished the season 9-11 with a 4.04 ERA, 112 Ks in 156 innings. Byrd improved steadily as the season went on and appears to be in line for a promotion. Grade: B

Edgar Garcia

Garcia was named the 4th best prospect by the Philly Baseball News at the start of the 2007 season, but was a bit of a disappointment. Mired by minor injuries throughout the year, Garcia finished the season 4-9 at Lakewood with a 4.12 ERA in only 113 innings. Garcia, like Monasterios lacked consistency in consecutive starts, but did show signs of becoming a solid starting pitcher. Grade: C +

Antonio Bastardo

Clearly the BlueClaws best starter, Bastardo joined the team June 10th and took the South Atlantic League by storm. The left-hander was 9-0 as a BlueClaw with a 1.87 ERA, 98 Ks in 91.2 innings. Opposing hitters batted just .189 against him, earning him a late season call up to Clearwater where he won his first start, and where he'll most likely start the 2008 season in Clearwater. Grade: A+

Scott Mitchinson

The Australian hurler continued his comeback from labrum surgery, looking impressive in his final few games as a BlueClaw. Mitchinson started only 8 games in Lakewood and finished 3-3 with a 4.12 ERA, with 50 Ks in 43.2 innings. Mitchinson appears to be on the right track as his arm strength increased as the season went on. If all goes right, Mitchinson could be on his way to AA Reading to start the 2008 season. Grade: B+

Bullpen:

Garet Hill

Hill inherited the closers role late in the season, becoming the third closer of the season for the BlueClaws. Hill flourished in the closers role, but showed versatility by making a couple of spot starts including the seasons final game going four innings without allowing a run. Hill was 6-4 with 7 saves in 70.1 innings. Hill's status is a question mark going into the off-season, he could stay in Lakewood and develop as a starter or gain a promotion and work out of the bullpen. Grade: A

Justin Blaine, Paige Dumont, Matt German, Chris Rhoads, Brian Schlitter, Zach Sterner

The rest of the BlueClaw bullpen was solid throughout the season. Of the six remaining bullpen members, Justin Blaine did the most work with 43.2 innings. The five others were added to the bullpen later in the season. Blaine struggled with his control most of the year walking 50 in 43.2 innings. The sample for the five others was much smaller, but they did a commendable job down the stretch. Grade: B

Catchers:

Tuffy Gosewish

The 2007 SAL All-Star struggled at the plate for most of the year. Gosewisch was more valuable with his glove and his ability to handle the young pitching staff. He finished the year batting .224 with 5 HR and 45 RBI. Good defensive catchers that can handle young pitchers are of tremendous value in Minor League baseball, so Gosewisch should end up somewhere in the Phillies organization in 2008. Grade: B-

Joel Naughton

The light hitting catcher did little to boost his value during the 2007 season. He did a solid job as Gosewich's backup behind the plate but could very well be back in Lakewood in 2008. Grade: C

Infielders:

Adrian Cardenas

The 19 year old did exactly what the Phillies organization had hoped in his first full season in professional baseball. The second baseman was solid with his glove and at the plate in 2007. He hit .295 with 9 HR and 79 RBI and was named to the MLB Futures game. Cardenas showed above average power that included 30 doubles to go along with his 9 homers. The future is bright for Cardenas, but he is only 19 so he will most likely start the 2008 season in A ball. You can't ask for much more than Cardenas delivered in 2007. Grade: A

Fidel Hernandez

Hernandez did hit .276, but struggled defensively making 26 errors at shortstop. He added 20 stolen bases but hits with limited power. This was his second stint in Lakewood before starting the year in Clearwater and appears to be staying in A ball. Grade: C

Welinson Baez

Baez also ended up in Lakewood after starting the season in Clearwater. Baez is a powerful hitter and plays solid defense at third base, but failed to produce in his second year in Lakewood. He hit just .219 with 3 HR and 22 RBI as a BlueClaw. The future is unclear for Baez who hasn't seized his opportunity. Grade: C

Charlie Yarbrough

You would expect a 6'-6", 250lb first baseman to have more than 2 homers in 242 at bats in the SAL, but that is all Yarbrough could muster for Lakewood. He hit .211 last year in the New York - Penn League and continued his light hitting this year in Lakewood only hitting .215. Yarbrough will most likely be in Lakewood if he is still in the organization in 2008.

Outfielders:

Quintin Berry

The speedy centerfielder was the most impressive BlueClaw in 2007. Berry broke the single season hit record held by Jake Blalock (140), with 152 hits and ended the season amongst the all-time leaders in multiple categories. Berry finished the season batting .312 with 44 RBI and 55 stolen bases. He was named to the post-season All-Star team as a utility outfielder. The sky is the limit for Berry, but he is behind a couple of centerfielders in the system in Michael Bourn and Greg Golson. He has the potential to start 2008 in AA. Grade: A+

Julian Williams

The versatile outfielder put his name at the top of the all-time games played list as a BlueClaw with 212 in two seasons in Lakewood. Williams, who can play anywhere in the outfield, is a gritty player with great base stealing ability and a knack for getting on base. It appears the Phillies don't see Williams as much of a prospect and his career with the Phillies could come to an end. Grade: C+

Gus Milner

The 6'-5" 240lb rightfielder was a pleasant surprise for the BlueClaws in 2007. Milner was a staple in the middle of the BlueClaw lineup all year. He hit .286 with 10 HR and 66 RBI along with 19 stolen bases. Milner played solid defense in rightfield and showed great athletic ability for a guy his size. Look for a promotion for Gus Milner in 2008. Grade: B+

Carl Henry, Jr.

Arguably the biggest disappointment of the 2007 season, Henry failed to do anything well this season. He started the year at third base, but was quickly moved to leftfield following his poor defense at the hot corner. Henry was drafted in the first round of the 2005 MLB draft by the Yankees as a shortstop, but never handled the position. Henry played a decent leftfield in Lakewood, but his bat was non-existent all year. Henry hit .184 in 242 plate appearances with 9 homers and 38 RBI. The most astounding offense number were his 139 ks. The future looks bleak in professional baseball for the athletically gifted former first round pick and he may pursue his first love, basketball, rather than continue with his professional baseball career. Grade: D


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