While there are a number of players in the Phillies organization eligible to be taken in the Rule 5 Draft, we've identified a few that could top the list of possibilities. So here, in no particular order, is a look at some names that other teams could grab from the Phillies organization:
Nate Johnson is a 25 year old right-hander who opened the 2007 season at Reading, but struggled and found himself spending most of the season at Clearwater, where he spent much of 2006. In his two seasons with the Threshers, Johnson has gone 11-5, 3.12, but some teams could be scared off by how he struggled at Double-A (6.08 in 11 appearances) and won't figure he's going to be able to find a way to get Major League hitters out on a consistent basis at the big league level. Had he pitched well at Reading, it may be much more likely that he would get a few looks, but now, he's simply just a guy who is old for his level - he turns 26 in January - and hasn't produced above High-A ball. Not the sort of pick that teams feel they can stash away in their bullpen for an entire season.
Zack Segovia may be the most attractive of the potential steals from the Phillies organization. Segovia made his Major League debut early last season for the Phillies and was touched for five earned runs over five innings against the Florida Marlins. From there, things went down hill fast for Segovia, who never got himself in sync at Triple-A Ottawa and was eventually bumped down to Double-A Reading and off the Phillies 40 man roster. His overall numbers for the three levels in 2007 were weak (6-13, 5.66), but there could be some reasons for his struggles. By all accounts, Segovia is healthy and doesn't show any ill-effects of his Tommy John surgery that forced him to miss the entire 2004 season and seemed to effect him after his return as well. Segovia - as many players found out - struggled playing in the tough Ottawa environment, where fans are scarce and the playing conditions are somewhere just above the high school and small college ranks. It's a mentally tough place to pitch and Segovia could have simply found himself trying too hard to break out of a slide, turning it into an all out downward spiral that lasted much of the season. If he is healthy and if he can get past the mental part of his failures in 2007, Segovia would be a nice pickup for a Major League club. He's not against pitching out of the bullpen and a change of scenery and job description could be just the thing for Segovia. Besides, he's still just 24 years old and has plenty of time to develop.
Javon Moran came back to the Phillies organization and put up some decent numbers for himself. Moran spent a couple of seasons in the Reds organization and is a career .299 hitter in the minors. He's played at the Triple-A level and hit .241 at Ottawa in 2007 and has plenty of speed - 117 stolen bases over five minor league seasons - which is exactly the type of player that teams could look to grab figuring that at least he can steal some bases when they need it. Moran is a decent defensive outfielder, with an average arm, but there could be a team out there that would look to use him much the way the Phillies used Michael Bourn last season. Moran turned 25 this past September.
Like Moran, Jake Blalock came back to the Phillies organization last season and hit .264 in 42 games at Clearwater. Blalock, like his brother Hank, has good power and is a smart player, but hasn't developed the way the Phillies or other teams have thought that he would. Blalock can play both in the outfield and at third base, but his defensive skills at third aren't what teams would want to see on their field. From the outfield though, Blalock is a pretty decent defensive player with an above average arm. He's also still just 24 years old and might be a guy that could be stashed away on a Major League roster for a season, but he's never played above Double-A ball.
Tim Gradoville is lost in a fairly deep group of catching prospects in the Phillies organization. Gradoville has spent the last three seasons shuttling back and forth between Double-A and Triple-A for the Phillies, but the majority of that time was spent at the Double-A level. Being an excellent defensive catcher, Gradoville could work for a Major League club that has room to carry three catchers and possibly even serve as a decent number two catcher at the big league level. He's got a plus arm and knows how to handle pitchers and teams will always be interested in a player like that. He's not a big offensive player, but that can be overlooked in a backup catcher.
Of all the minor league disappointments that have come through the organization, Welinson Baez would be one of the bigger disappointments. Baez was trumpeted as a potential third baseman of the future when he came into the organization, although he was very young and raw to put that moniker on at that point. Baez simply hasn't developed the type of offense that most scouts and fans expected and his defensive skills aren't much better and in fact, are worse than his offensive skills. Last year was Baez' fifth season in the minors and it took him that long to reach Clearwater. Because of the disappointing numbers that he's put up, Baez is unlikely to go in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft, but could get a new address somewhere in the Minor League phase if someone decides to take a shot on him.