Phillies Prospect #25: Jeremy Slayden

Jeremy Slayden might have been a first round pick if not for a pile of injuries in college. The Phillies grabbed him in the eighth round and it's looking like it will turn out to be a steal.

Acquired: Drafted by the Phillies in the 8th round of the 2005 Draft.
Bats: L   Throws: R
Height: 6' 0"   Weight: 185 pounds
Birth Date: July 28, 1982
2008 Team(s): Reading
Positions/Games: RF (124 G), DH (6 G)
School: Georgia Tech
2008 Ranking: 36

Why Slayden jumped to 25: Jeremy Slayden had his best all-around season, by far, in 2008. The right-fielder hit a tidy .298 with a career-high 17 home runs for Double-A Reading last season and truly started to make his mark as a prospect. Slayden has moved at a nice, consistent, level-per-season pace and has shown good improvement in each of his pro seasons. Slayden was hurt a lot in college, which hurt his chances when the draft rolled around, even though he had been drafted twice before (2004, Oakland - 18th round and 2001, San Diego - 20th round) but went unsigned.

Category Jeremy Slayden Eastern League Averages
AB/2B 14.64 18.9
AB/3B 241.50 150.0
AB/HR 28.41 41.36
AB/RBI 5.96 7.74
AB/R 6.71 7.23
AB/BB 8.94 9.54
AB/KO 4.60 4.92
AVG .298 .264
OBP .377 .338
SLG .480 .403
Categories with numbers in white show areas where Slayden outperferformed the average player in the Eastern League during the 2008 season. Categories with numbers in black show areas where he was below the league average.

Batting and Power: Had Slayden not suffered all of the injuries that he did in college, he would have definitely been drafted higher - possibly as high as the first round - based primarily on his offensive prowess. Power is his best natural attribute, but he will be able to combine that power with the ability to hit for a decent average as well, making him more of a well-rounded offensive threat. He hit 37 career home runs in high school, putting him in second for the most hit by a Tennessee high school player (Todd Helton hit 38). He made an immediate impact at Georgia Tech with 18 home runs, a freshman record. He finished his college career with 40 home runs and a .329 average.

Baserunning and Speed: Speed has never been a big part of Slayden's game, but back and foot injuries have been especially hard on him. He's one of those guys that you're best suited to put an anchor on when he's on at first base and don't look for him to take too many extra bases; not because he's not aggressive, but he simply doesn't have the speed to do too much on the bases.

Defense: In college, Slayden played primarily in right field, but injuries initially had the Phillies moving him over to left. The past two seasons, he's played the vast majority of his games in right field and it looks like that's where he'll stay. One reason he was in left was because of a shoulder injury in college, but he appears to have overcome that problem and is capable of making strong enough throws from right field that he can stay there. His arm isn't overpowering, but it's good enough that runners can't just assume they can take the extra base off of him. He's a solid fielder and won't make too many spectacular plays - although fans in Clearwater remember a splattering that he took against the outfield fence to make a highlight quality catch - but on balls hit near him, he's sure-handed enough to make plays consistently.

Projection: It was initially hoped that Slayden could become one of the steals of the 2005 Draft when the Phillies took him in the eighth round. He's getting very close to making that a reality and could give the Phillies another left-handed power hitter to keep an eye on in the not too distant future. Since he can technically play at both corner outfield spots, he isn't locked in to just one position. Slayden has enough tools that he ranks as more than just a fourth outfielder type and could be a solid, everyday player in the majors.

ETA: Give Slayden at least one more full season in the majors and see what happens. The Phillies left him exposed in the Rule 5 Draft this past December and he made it through, but if he puts up a good season in 2009, that likely won't happen again. This time next season, he could be in line to take over the role of Geoff Jenkins or Matt Stairs on the Phillies roster and continue to push for a starting job with the club.

Comparison: Scouts who followed both Slayden and Helton saw a lot of similarities in him. He's a competitive player with a nice, compact stroke and raw power. He also has the potential to hit for average much like Helton did in his career, although matching Helton's current .328 career average is a definite stretch. Posting consistent .285 to .300 averages aren't. With all of his college injuries, most thought of Slayden as a Jason Michaels type of player, but he's risen above that evaluation.

career stats

2005 Batavia 9 36 .268 54 194 35 52 11 0 1 28 45 .373 .464
2006 Lakewood 10 81 .310 107 400 65 124 44 3 5 41 89 .381 .510
2007 Clearwater 14 73 .287 118 432 71 124 24 4 7 60 96 .376 .458
2008 Reading 17 81 .298 131 483 72 144 33 2 2 54 105 .377 .480
TOTALS 50 271 .294 410 1509 243 444 112 9 15 183 335 .377 .480

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