Phillies Minor League Report

From the Bad News Pigs to the Lakewood BlueClaws, there's plenty to know about what's happening in the Phillies minor league system. For instance. Did you know that Reading could soon have a dream team type starting rotation and that Ryan Howard's replacement could already be in the system?

Lehigh Valley IronPigs (3-22, 14 GB)

What can you say about a team with a .140 winning percentage? At this rate, they would win just 20 games all season and finish an amazing 78 games out of first place. Of course, it's not likely that Scranton will continue at their winning percentage of .680 and it's not likely that Lehigh Valley will finish as futile as they are, but who knows.

Mike Cervenak is the lone offensive spark for the 'Pigs. He now has his average up to .280 on the season with a .344 OBP. The 31 year old has played first, third and right for Lehigh Valley. He's in his first season in the Phillies organization and has a career .295 average over nine minor league seasons (can anyone say 'Chris Coste'?). The truth is that he's one of those guys that you root for to at least get a few at bats at the Major League level.

Andy Tracy leads the team with four home runs and 12 RBI, but hasn't done much else offensively and is hitting just .208 on the year. Val Pascucci, who was counted on to be the big power bat on the club has just 1 home run and 7 RBI, but he's drawing a lot of walks (18), which has pushed his OBP up to .370.

On the mound, Matt Childers has saved two of the three 'Pigs wins and hasn't given up a run over 9 innings of work. J.A. Happ may be turning the corner after throwing seven strong innings last Wednesday, but he had struggled until that outing. It will be interesting to see how he does his next time out, but it would be nice for him to get a win and improve on his 0-3 record. His latest outing dropped his ERA to 4.44 and he's struck out 32 in 26.1 innings of work, to lead the International League. By the way, four of the top five strikeout leaders in the IL are left-handers.

Reading Phillies (12-11, 2 GB)

Jason Donald missed ten days with an injured finger, but his swing is better than ever. In his first three games back, he's hitting .571 (8-for-14) and has driven in four runs. He's also upped his season OBP to .434 with his latest surge. So, why did Javon Moran get the call to go to Triple-A instead of Greg Golson? Nothing against Moran, but he was only hitting .179 when he was sent to the 'Pigs while Golson was hitting .338 at Reading. The official reason is that the Phillies just thought that Moran was a little more prepared to make the jump than Golson was and the Phillies don't want to throw too much at Golson too soon. Sounds a little weak, but what are you going to do? In the five games since being overlooked, Golson is hitting .227 (5-for-22) and has seen his average fall from .338 to his current .312 level.

Zack Segovia has had a tough time since his promotion from extended camp to Double-A Reading. In 1.1 innings of work, he's been hit for three earned runs and he's allowed four hits. The good news is that Segovia has reported that his surgically repaired shoulder feels great and he really just needs some time to get back to the strength and velocity levels that he was at before his latest injury. The Phillies might have been a little better off starting him at Clearwater and letting him pitch in warmer weather to get his strength back and then moving him up the chain.

One scout recently remarked that if Josh Outman can find better control and consistency, they would take him over top prospect Carlos Carrasco. The two are both in the Reading rotation and are both putting up nice numbers. You can see their comparisons below.

Josh Outman vs. Carlos Carrasco

Carrasco 1 2 3.91 4 4 0 23.0 23 10 10 5 9 27 1.39 .274
Outman 1 2 3.16 5 5 0 25.2 29 10 9 0 15 32 1.71 .279

It's interesting to note that while some of Outman's numbers look better, he's throwing just over five innings per start, while Carrasco is closer to six per start. One of the reasons is that Outman is burning more pitches because of his lack of control.

Clearwater Threshers (8-16, 6 GB)

You have to wonder if - or when - Clearwater's starting rotation is going to suffer a couple of losses because of promotions. Joe Savery (1-1, 2.25) and Antonio Bastardo (2-0, 1.17) both appear to be ready for a promotion. Could you imagine a rotation with Outman, Carrasco, Savery and Bastardo? It's likely though that the Phillies won't do that and will instead leave at least one of their Clearwater wunderkinds in the Florida sunshine for at least a little while and that's likely to be Savery.

With Adrian Cardenas on the DL, P.J. Antoniato has taken over at second base and is making the most of the opportunity. Antoniato, who had just 15 at bats prior to Cardenas going out of the lineup on the 15th of April, has gone 20-for-58 (.344) in the past two weeks of consistent playing time. His defense has also been strong and he hasn't made an error all season. When Cardenas returns to the lineup, you have to wonder if Antoniato might steal some playing time from third baseman Welinson Baez. The once highly touted prospect continues to struggle and is hitting just .183 and has made a team-high five errors.

Lakewood BlueClaws (11-13, 4.5 GB)

Michael Durant is starting to show some of the offensive potential that the Phillies always thought was there. He's already hit six home runs in 79 at bats, which is a much better pace than his 11 career home runs in 335 at bats coming into the season. Even if he can just keep his average at his current .266 level, that would also be the highest he's hit in any season in the minors. Durant just turned 21 in January and could well turn into a legitimate power prospect at first base. If you want a future scenario to think about, ponder this. If Durant jumped a level per season, he would hit the majors in 2012. Ryan Howard is eligible for free agency following the 2011 season. Interesting. You might also want to think about this; Ryan Howard was 23 when he played at Lakewood and hit one home run every 26 at bats, with a .280 average. Durant is hitting one home run every 13 at bats and is hitting .266. Interesting.

Chance Chapman (1-2, 1.67) pitched eight innings, giving up just three hits, no walks and one unearned run on Sunday and lost. How's that for hard luck? Lakewood's defense has hurt Chapman this season, allowing five unearned runs. When you consider the added pitches that he's had to throw and the added runs that Lakewood's offense has to score to make up for those runs, Chapman is definitely pitching with hard luck. It likely doesn't help that he's a groundball pitcher, with 52% of the balls hit off of him resulting in ground balls.

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