Phillies Prospect #26: Sergio Escalona

Sergio Escalona had an impressive season in 2008, jumping from Lakewood to Reading without a stop in Clearwater. The left-hander looks to continue a fast climb this season.

Acquired: Signed as an amateur free agent in May, 2004.
Bats: L   Throws: L
Height: 6' 0"   Weight: 178 pounds
Birth Date: August 3, 1984
2008 Team(s): Lakewood (28 G), Reading (15 G)
Games/Games Started: 43 G / 0 GS
2008 Ranking: unranked

Repertoire: Right now, Sergio Escalona relies a lot on a fastball and curve to get hitters out, but has a quickly developing change-up that he'll be able to use, primarily against right-handed hitters. The fastball is in the low-90s range, but hitters often have trouble gauging it's speed and movement. Once his change-up is fully developed, his fastball will look even tougher to hitters. His curve is an above average pitch and he can throw it with consistency to keep hitters off-balance. Escalona gets a lot of strikeouts and that's contributed mainly to knowing how to pitch and how to work hitters rather than just having great stuff.

Pitching Style: Escalona is a strikeout pitcher (151 Ks in 139.1 IP in his minor league career) and he knows how to set hitters up by mixing his pitches and location. On occasions, when Escalona is off with his curve, hitters will lay off the pitch and make him rely more on the fastball, but he's generally right around the plate and hitters don't often have the luxury of ignoring his curve. Again, the developing change-up will make him more dangerous. The Phillies initially thought of Escalona as a starter, but moved him to the bullpen, primarily because he didn't have enough pitches to pitch deep into games. He's well suited for working in relief and has excelled in that spot since the Phillies moved him there last season.

Projection: It would be a very long shot, but the Phillies might consider Escalona for a temporary spot in their bullpen. At this point, he's looking like a left-handed specialist and since the Phillies could use a left-hander to cover the loss of J.C. Romero, they'll be on the lookout for any lefties that can get hitters out. Escalona is on the 40 man roster and the Phillies thought enough of him to send him to the Arizona Fall League, so it makes sense that he won't be ignored in camp. Making the club would be a definite long shot, but the Phillies will sometimes give a guy the opportunity to make a big jump if they feel he can handle the move and have some success.

ETA: Escalona likely needs at least one more season in the minors before he could truly be considered for a spot on the major league roster. Word is that Scott Eyre is going to retire after this season and even if he doesn't, he's a free agent. That could cause an opening for a left-handed specialist in the bullpen and Escalona's timing could be pretty good to challenge for that spot if he continues to progress this season. It's likely that he'll start the year at Double-A Reading and could certainly move to the Triple-A level before the end of the season.

Sergio Escalona's career stats

Year/Team W L ERA SV G GS IP H R ER HR BB KO WHIP OPP AVG
2004 - 2006 VSL 4 6 2.46 4 33 20 117.0 95 47 32 2 58 112 1.31 .227
2007 Williamsport 2 2 7.57 0 7 7 27.1 32 26 23 2 19 26 1.87 .302
2007 Lakewood 1 4 4.15 0 7 7 39.0 51 25 18 4 11 32 1.59 .321
2007 Clearwater 0 0 2.25 0 1 1 4.0 8 1 1 0 2 4 2.50 .444
2008 Lakewood 5 1 3.43 2 28 0 44.2 36 18 17 1 18 60 1.21 .224
2008 Reading 0 1 2.22 1 15 0 24.1 27 12 6 3 14 29 1.68 .281
TOTALS 12 14 3.41 7 91 35 256.1 249 129 97 12 122 263 1.45 .260



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