Minor League Notebook

This week in the Phillies minor league system showed some good numbers for some players who were previously slumping, providing some hope for the future.

Lehigh Valley IronPigs (4-27, 18 GB)

Lehigh Valley's long national nightmare continues with their winning percentage at just .129 through their first 31 games. If they continued at that pace, they would win 19 games the entire season and finish with the worst winning percentage in the 125 year history of the International League. The 'Pigs winning percentage is the worst in minor league baseball right now by 3.5 games.

Pitching: J.A. Happ is turning his season around. In his last three starts, Happ is 0-1 with a 0.45 ERA over 20 innings of work, during which he's struck out 18 hitters. Happ had a streak of 14 scoreless innings snapped Sunday when he threw six innings giving up five hits and two walks, but wound up with another loss, dropping his record to 0-4 on the season. He also dropped his season ERA to 2.97 through seven starts... While Happ can't buy a win, Brian Mazone has three of the four IronPigs wins and is 3-3 with a 3.32 ERA on the season, but is also hot through his last four starts. Mazone has gone 3-1 in those starts with a 1.80 ERA in those starts... John Ennis has started a scoreless streak of his own, throwing 3.1 innings of shutout ball over his last two appearances and has retired 11 of the 12 hitters he has faced in those games.

Hitting: New Piggies Oscar Robles and Jon Knott have reached base safely in each of the three games that they've played since coming to Lehigh Valley. Unfortunately, Robles is hitting just .182 (2-for-11), but Knott is hitting .333 (4-for-12) during their stint with the IronPigs... Andy Tracy has reached base safely in each of his last 13 games and has hits in 11 of his last 12 games and has homered four times in his last 11 games... Mike Cervenak has hit safely in 17 of his last 19 games and has five multi-hit games, giving him a team-high seven on the season... Lehigh Valley's offense may be bad, but at least it's consistent. A week ago they were hitting .214 as a team and went 42-for-193 over the past week for an average of .217 during the week.

Reading Phillies (14-15, 5 GB)

Just when it looked like Reading might have Carlos Carrasco, Josh Outman and Antonio Bastardo in the starting rotation, the Phillies shipped Outman to the bullpen with the arrival of Bastardo from Clearwater. It's possible that the Phillies are grooming Outman for a bullpen spot with the Major League club sometime this season, since they've been looking to add a lefty to the bullpen and aren't having much success finding one outside the organization.

Pitching: Outman didn't fare too well in his first relief outing, giving up four hits, two walks and two earned runs over 3.1 innings of work. Outman had been pitching well as a starter, posting a 3.41 ERA in five starts with Reading... Bastardo had a decent outing in his introduction to Double-A ball, throwing 5.2 innings and giving up one earned run. He had some control problems, walking four, but also picked up five strikeouts while giving up five hits... Fabio Castro also went to the bullpen for Reading and led the Eastern League in issuing walks over the past week, walking seven hitters in 4.2 innings of work. Castro has a season ERA of 3.45 and a 3-0 record despite having control issues, thanks in part to his 29 strikeouts in 28.2 innings of work.

Hitting: Lou Marson continues to show just how good of a prospect he is and hit .476 (10-for-21) over the past week and has continued to show above average defensive skills, not committing an error over the past three weeks. Earlier in the season, Marson struggled through a stretch where he committed three errors in four games with Reading, but it turned out to be just a temporary slump in his defense.

Clearwater Thrashers (10-20, 8 GB)

With the promotion of Antonio Bastardo to Reading, who is going to be the next pitcher to make their blip on the prospect radar a little larger? Joe Savery figures to see Reading before the end of the season, but Edgar Garcia is also going to battle for some time in the spotlight. Garcia had a big win, going 2-0 and allowing three earned runs over 13.1 innings of work for a weekly ERA of 2.03 for Clearwater. Garcia has won each of his last four starts.

Pitching: Clearwater relievers blew six save opportunities in the first month of the season, making them just 5-for-11 in saves for the month of April. Dan Brauer, Andy Cruse, Brian Schlitter and Sam Walls have each blown one save, while Nate Johnson has blown two saves opportunities... Speaking of Nate Johnson, he made three appearances and gave up home runs in two of them... Tyson Brummett (3-0, 1.95 at Lakewood) joined the Clearwater Threshers roster on Saturday and Ron "Bear" Hill (1-1, 6.94 at Reading) joined the Threshers on Sunday.

Hitting: Gus Milner (8-for-18, .444) had a big week for Clearwater. Besides his high average, Milner also posted a .524 on-base percentage for the Threshers. Milner starts the week with an even .300 average and leads Clearwater with 17 RBI on the season... After slumping through much of the first month, Welinson Baez had nine RBI over the past week and hit .391 (9-for-23) for Clearwater. The stretch took his season average 30 points to .229 and he's hit safely in eight of the last ten games. On April 23, Baez snapped an 0-for-13 slide that saw his average dip to a season-low .134, so he's pulled it up considerably in just under two weeks. Defensively though he's made two errors in his last five games.

Lakewood BlueClaws (14-16, 4 GB)

Pitching: Drew Naylor led the South Atlantic League with 17 strikeouts last week and leads the SAL with 50 strikeouts on the season in 44 innings of work. Sunday against Lexington, Naylor (2-2, 2.25) threw one of the best games of his career, going eight innings and allowing just one earned run on five hits and a walk while striking out 11 hitters. Naylor is in his first season of full-season ball and you have to wonder if the Phillies will throw caution to the wind and move him along to Clearwater anytime soon.

Hitting: Derrick Mitchell came alive this past week. The second base prospect, who came into the week hitting just .145 put up a nifty little .360 (9-for-25) average this past week and notched his first two home runs of the season. He also more than doubled his RBI total from 6 to 13 and lifted his average from .145 to .202 on the season.

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