Phillies Expand Prospect Search

The Phillies are no stranger to scouting in Australia, but the Czech Republic is another story. Both of those areas are sending prospects to the Phillies organization thanks to ever increasing scouting efforts by the Phillies.

Jakub Sladek has a downright sweet swing. So, why haven't you heard of him? Well, he's only played in Germany and the Czech Republic, but luckily for the Phillies, they're there to scout players and Sladek stood out.

The 17 year old will stay overseas to finish his schooling before likely heading to the states in 2009 for his first shot at professional baseball. If all goes as the Phillies expect, he's going to need some time to develop and the Phillies will have some work to do with him, so he'll likely start off slowly as he gets his feet wet. After an initial adjustment period though, the Phillies believe that he'll be able to move at a decent rate; again, if all goes well.

Sladek is a big, powerful (6'6", 220 pound) infield prospect, who is a left-handed hitter. Phillies minor league director Steve Noworyta likes the upside to Sladek. "Everything that I hear on him is positive. He's very athletic and has all the instincts in the world."

Meanwhile, in more familiar territory, the Phillies signed an Australian pitcher who will definitely spend the next year in Australia. The right-hander was uncovered by scout Kevin Hooker, who thinks Todd Van Steensel will succeed. "We liked his composure on the mound and his size and strength and his mid-80s fastball at 17 suggests more to come," explained Hooker.

Van Steensel signed with the Phillies primarily because of what he's seen from players like Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins, but he's also found a couple of lesser known heroes in the organization. "There are Australians there, like Chris Snelling and Travis Blackley, the chance of meeting them is a great opportunity," admitted Van Steensel, who neglected to mention other countrymen like Brad Harman and Drew Naylor.

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