PBN Tool Box: Offense

If you're going to have an impact, you have to show the tools to go with it. Philly Baseball News breaks down the best tools in the Phillies farm system.

Best plate discipline: Hands down, this has got to be Quintin Berry. Playing under Tony Gwynn at San Diego State, Berry found out quickly that his best chance of making a definite impact was to simply get on base. From there, he can use his speed to steal bases and keep opposing pitchers from getting too comfortable on the mound. What Gwynn found out was that Berry had a natural instinct for the strike zone. When he came to the Phillies, Berry wasn't 100% healthy and had to battle through a debut season posting just a .314 OBP. When he was finally healthy in 2007, he showed the type of plate skills that the Phillies had figured on and bumped his OBP up to .395 for the season, which allowed him to swipe 55 bases. The 23 year old can actually still get better with his discipline and is likely to cut down on his strikeout ratio which saw him whiff once every 5.7 at bats last season at Lakewood.

Javon Moran returned to the organization in 2007 and showed that he can wait on pitchers to throw him something that he can do something with. The outfield prospect walked 34 times and struck out 38 in 255 at bats at Double-A Reading. For some reason, Moran became more of a free swinger at Triple-A Ottawa and it hurt both his average and on-base percentage. The fact is though that Moran has the ability to make pitchers work, but he sometimes falls into bad habits at the plate, leading to the bad numbers.

Jeremy Slayden swings through his share of pitches, but generally it's not because he is too anxious. It's usually because of bad mechanics and trying to do too much with a pitch. Slayden drew 60 walks - and struck out 96 times - in 432 at bats with the Clearwater Threshers last season and can improve on those numbers if he just accepts that fact that his power isn't going to compare with the big time home run hitters. At 25, Slayden needs to learn that lesson well and quickly if he's going to be able to get to the majors and put up good numbers at the highest level.

Best Speed on the bases: This is where it gets a little tougher. The Phillies have made a concerted effort over the past few drafts to find some legitimate speed guys, who also know how to get on base and take advantage of that speed. Gone are the days of drafting pure speed that they hope will develop into enough talent offensively to make the speed matter; Where is Tim Moss, anyway?

For pure speed, Greg Golson may have the edge, with players like Quintin Berry and Javon Moran close behind, that is if you're looking primarily at the prospects that we all know and love. Speed freaks, keep the name Arlon Quiroz in your memory banks. The kid stole 20 bases in 53 games with the Gulf Coast League Phillies and was thrown out just five times. As he learns the craft even more and doesn't rely simply on speed, but combines the knowledge of just how to steal a base with his great speed, the kid is going to be fun to watch. Plus, he has the on-base knowledge (.378 OBP) to put the speed to use. Quiroz is a product of the Phillies Venezuelan Summer League team and 2007 was his first in the states.

Best Hitter for Average: To judge this category, don't just look at their average from 2007 and go with that. We're talking about having the potential to hit for the highest average at the Major League among the Phillies prospects. It's a tough call, but we're going to give the runner-up prize to Jason Donald. Part of the reason Donald will hit for a high average is because of the preparation that he does. He is voracious when it comes to getting to know pitchers and how they'll work him. This is a kid that is truly a student of hitting and will take input from anyone who is willing to hold a conversation with him, but is smart enough to weed out the bad advice and put the good to use.

Giving a slight edge to pure talent over just hard work, the guy deemed to be the best hitter for average in the system is Adrian Cardenas. As a 19 year old in the South Atlantic League, Cardenas hit .295 last season, but knows he can do much more. He's hit a combined .300 in his first two seasons, falling from his debut season when he hit .318 in the Gulf Coast League. Last season, Cardenas was also learning to play second base, to which he made a smooth transition, and was dealing with his first full-season challenge as a pro. Aside from hitting for average, Cardenas has slightly above average power, good plate discipline and enough speed to swipe 20 bases last season and could possibly improve on that number down the road.

Best Hitter for Power: With the trade of Mike Costanzo, the Phillies are lacking in the pure power department. The honor would likely have to go to 2007 Draftee Travis Mattair, who combines good size with good power and a sweet swing to generate the power with. It's likely that Mattair will emerge as the long-term solution to the third base question that the Phillies truly opened up to debate when Costanzo departed. Mattair just turned 19 and hit just three home runs in the Gulf Coast League this past season, but as he gets more comfortable with wood in his hands, his power numbers will rise pretty quickly.

Greg Golson and Adrian Cardenas have solid power, but not the kind that is going to put a huge scare into opponents. It's likely that the Phillies will look for some pure power production in the 2008 version of the June Draft.

Want to know which pitchers have the best tools? PBN Tool Box: Pitchers.

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