Phillies Prospect #2: Adrian Cardenas

With a bunch of players battling for recognition at middle infield spots, Adrian Cardenas is the best of the bunch. The question though, is whether he'll reach the majors with the Phillies, who already have Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins.

Acquired: Selected by the Phillies in the supplemental 1st round of the 2006 Draft.

B:T: R  / Height: 6' 1" / Weight: 185 lbs.

Birth Date: October 10, 1987

2007 Team: Lakewood (127 G)

Positions Played in 2007: 2B (124 g)

School: Monsignor Pace High School (Florida)

Last Year's Ranking: 3

Why he moved from #3 to #2: Simple; moved up a level and put up more solid numbers in his first shot in a full-season league. Adrian Cardenas is the real deal and has all the tools to be an all-star caliber player in the majors before too long. He's mature for his age and is a workaholic when it comes to doing what needs to be done to get better at the game.

Batting and Power:  Cardenas had a chance to show more of his offensive skills last season at Lakewood and hit 9 home runs for the BlueClaws, translating to one home run every 55 at bats, which isn't a great number but will get better as Cardenas - who just turned 20 last October - continues to develop. At times, it was obvious that he was trying to do too much with the bat and he got himself into some tough spots, but with maturity, those issues will disappear. The potential is there for him to hit 20 home runs per season and he should be able to keep his average in the .290 range without much trouble. As he faces better pitching, he'll have to get a little better at recognizing pitches faster, but again, he's got the ability to do that.

Baserunning and Speed: Last season, Cardenas swiped 20 bases and was caught 7 times for a 74% success rate. His speed is above average and he can keep his success rate at least around that level because he's smart enough to look for holes in a pitcher's delivery and exploit them. His natural instincts on the bases are very good and he's aggressive, without being stupid. This is one of those players who knows what they can and can't do and Cardenas doesn't run himself into many outs. If you get a little worried because he hit into 17 double plays last season, a big part of the reason is because he generally hits the ball very hard. His first step out of the box is a little slow, but nothing to worry about.

Defense: Where oh, where will Cardenas play? It seems like the Phillies are keeping him at second base, which is probably the best spot for him. The backlog of middle infielders is keeping players on the move, but for now, Cardenas stays at second and Jason Donald, who was taken in the same draft as Cardenas, will stay at shortstop. There was consideration given to teaching Cardenas to play at third, because he's got a strong enough arm, but the jury is out on whether he has the side-to-side quickness that he would need to play the hot corner. Technically, he's got not only Chase Utley, but Brad Harman ahead of him since Harman is a level above Cardenas and starting at second for Double-A Reading this season, but Cardenas is the better prospect and accommodations will be made to fit him where he needs to be. Perhaps, it will be Harman shifting to third base for the Phillies. Cardenas lack of great range helped in the decision to have Donald at short and move Cardenas to second, although if he had to play short, Cardenas would do an admirable job there, but doesn't have the range of Donald.

Projection: Cardenas will move at least a level per season through the ranks and possibly pick up the pace a little, but for now, he figures to spend the entire season at Clearwater, partially because of the road block ahead of him. The Major League infield appears set for the next few seasons, making for Cardenas name to come up as trade fodder since he has all the makings of an everyday Major League infielder.

ETA: He's on a pace for a late season call-up in 2010 unless the track quickens and he's there a little before. In case you're wondering, the Phillies have an option year on Jimmy Rollins for 2011 before his contract is up and Chase Utley has a deal that runs through the 2013 season.

Comparison: When he was in high school, scouts drew a comparison to another Florida high school star named Alex Rodriguez. In fact, Cardenas and Rodriguez are the only two Florida players to win the Gatorade High School Player of the Year Award. It's hard to say that he'll have those sort of numbers when all is said and done, but the best case scenario is that he winds up being another Chase Utley and the worst case scenario brings comparisons to Jose Vidro. Not a bad situation to be in.

Adrian Cardenas' career stats

2006 GCL Phillies 2 21 .318 41 154 22 49 5 4 13 17 28 .384 .442
2007 Lakewood 9 79 .295 127 499 70 147 30 2 20 47 80 .354 .417
TOTALS 11 100 .300 168 653 92 196 35 6 33 64 108 .361 .423

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