Harman Joins Phils, But Is He Ready?

Brad Harman wasn't expecting any exciting news Saturday, but got a very big call from the Phillies. The call came with a plane ticket for Philadelphia and the chance to join the Phillies 25 man roster. So, now that he's in Philly, is Brad Harman ready to be there?

Brad Harman comes to the Phillies with very good credentials. He's done everything that they've asked of him in the minors - played third, short and second - and has succeeded at every task. Last season at Clearwater, he hit .281 with 13 home runs in 122 games with the Threshers and made the move to Double-A Reading this season.

Harman had some preparation for the call this spring when he was in camp with the big league club before being sent out to the minor league camp early in spring training. "I wasn't stressing too much. I think this was the first spring training that I've kind of matured in a sense," said Harman about his experience in Phillies camp. While he wasn't there very long, he made an impression on manager Charlie Manuel. "He looks like he's got a chance to be a pretty good player," said Manuel, who said that he wouldn't hesitate to play Harman now that he's with the big league club.

The truth is that Harman likely wouldn't have even gotten the call if not for an injury to Reading teammate Jason Donald. Of the two, Donald is slightly ahead of Harman in development, but he's also battling a sore finger that's kept him out of Reading's lineup for almost a week now. So, Harman and his .222 average got the call. It didn't hurt that he was already on the 25 man roster, but the Phillies also could have added veteran Chris Woodward, who is playing at Triple-A Lehigh Valley to the roster and brought a veteran player to the big league club rather than adding Harman.

Harman really isn't ready to play in the majors, but that's in no way a knock on him. He's got tons of talent, but just needs time to exercise that talent and develop at a slower pace. It's also true though that he's a better choice than Woodward, who appears to have lost a step or two.

Defensively, Harman can be put at second, short or third and will hold his own. "Basically, if you catch the ball and throw it to first, you're going to get it done," said Harman about the different positions that he's played in the Phillies organization. He's got a slow first step and lacks some range, but any ball that he can get to, odds are that Harman's going to get it done. He projects best at second base, where he's been playing this season at Double-A Reading. Where Harman will struggle is at the plate. He admitted just before the season started that he was going to have a bit of a learning curve going against pitchers who work differently and have better pitches than those at the lower levels of the minors. The early results are that he is still on that curve, hitting just .222 this season, but he's been picking up as of late. It was just a week ago when Harman was hitting .171 and he went on a 6-for-19 (.316) streak, hitting in four of his last five games with Reading.

It will be interesting to see if and how Manuel does insert Harman into the lineup. Odds are that he may have to wait for a blow-out type game to get any playing time, but with Manuel, you never quite know. After all, Eric Bruntlett is hitting just .186 as Rollins' fill-in, so maybe Harman's debut won't be as far away as it may seem.



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