Taylor and others may get major league jobs

The Phillies have included some pretty good talent in deals that they've made over the past 18 months. Now, some of those players could be playing important roles for their new teams in the 2010 season.

One of the main topics for the Phillies front office this winter has been the state of their farm system. Last July's deal for Cliff Lee dealt a blow to the amount of prospects in the organization, especially at the higher levels. Then, looking to deal for Roy Halladay proved to not only be too expensive in terms of cash, but also in the fact that it would deliver another blow - potentially a knockout blow - to the Phillies farm system, which is a source of pride for the organization.

So, with that in mind, the Phillies pulled the trigger on the Halladay deal, only after agreeing to send Lee to Seattle for three of the Mariners' top prospects, in an effort to lessen the blow on the amount of prospects in the minors, while still providing what they believe is an upgrade for the rotation.

It shouldn't come as any surprise that among the prospects that the Phillies gave up, there are some potential 2010 major league roster additions among the bunch.

First, from last July's deal for Cliff Lee, Chuck Murr of IndiansInk.com thinks that Lou Marson, Jason Donald and Carlos Carrasco will all get a long look this spring:

All three players acquired by the Indians in the blockbuster trade that sent Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco to the Phillies -- and eventually on to the 2009 World Series -- will be given opportunities to win regular jobs in Cleveland this year.
 
After trading Cy Young winners CC Sabathia and Lee in consecutive years, the Indians' rotation is wide open. That's good news for right-hander Carlos Carrasco, the former Phillies prospect who went to the Indians organization with catcher Lou Marson and infielder Jason Donald in July.
 
The Indians believe what they saw immediately after the trade is what Carrasco is made of and that he is ready to step up and claim a starting job.
 
"He's got a good fastball/changeup mix and improving breaking ball," said Ross Atkins, the Indians' director of player development. "Everybody in the organization has been impressed with his ability."
 
Carrasco went 5-1 with a 3.19 ERA in six starts at Triple-A Columbus and was promoted to Cleveland. With the Indians, however, he appeared nervous in five starts, going 0-4 with an 8.87 ERA. He did show slight improvement with each outing after getting shelled for six runs and nine hits including three home runs in only three innings in his major-league debut at Detroit on Sept. 1. 
 
Like the Phillies, the Tribe loves Carrasco's stuff, but is leery of his mental toughness. One of new pitching coach Tim Belcher's first tasks will be to try and instill complete confidence in the Venezuelan. New manager Manny Acta began the process by visiting the 22-year-old during winter ball.
 
"I have been training in Venezuela, which is good for me and I want to be ready for spring training," Carrasco said. "I'm trying hard to work and be ready for spring training so I can do the best I can. The rest is out of my control."
 
Carrasco, in Cleveland in mid-January for the team's Winter Development Program, which annually brings the organization's top prospects in for two weeks of drills and meetings, says he is learning to relax -- without forfeiting focus and drive.
 
"In the beginning I felt the pressure," Carrasco said of adjusting to the trade. "Even being in Columbus was much different than anything with the Phillies. Right now, I am at a good point. I got experience when I came to the big leagues."
 
Carrasco is in the mix with probably a dozen pitchers for the Indians' starting five. None are a lock.
 
Marson likely will be in Cleveland on Opening Day, sharing a job with veteran Mike Redmond and looking over his shoulder for top prospect Carlos Santana. Redmond, 38, was signed as a free agent from Minnesota this month.
 
A lot of folks are scratching their heads as to why the Indians took Marson in the deal when Santana, a switch-hitter with power and .300 potential, is clearly the club's catcher of the future. Since last year's tandem of Victor Martinez and Kelly Shoppach were both dealt away, the Tribe needs two catchers right now. It appears Redmond will help Marson adjust to big-league duty and both eventually will give way to Santana -- with Marson assuming the backup role.
 
At the moment, Donald doesn't seem to have a great chance at that -- unless general manager Mark Shapiro is working on a trade that includes some of the club's many infielders.
 
Young Asdrubal Cabrera is established at shortstop, which is Donald's best position. Former shortstop Jhonny Peralta is at third base and young Luis Valbuena claimed the second-base job in 2009. That leaves a utility role left vacant by veteran Jamey Carroll's free-agent departure to the Dodgers. Donald and several others are in the mix -- including former NL all-star Mark Grudzielanek, ex-Padre Luis Rodriguez and former Pirates farmhand Brian Bixler. Or, the utility spot could go to a corner infielder such as Andy Marte or Brian Buscher, signed from the Twins.
 
Shortly after last summer's trade, Shapiro said he believed Donald, always a willing worker, would push for a starting job this spring. That means Valbuena, not quite entrenched after a decent but unspectacular rookie season, could have a battle on his hands.
 
A year ago, Donald's star shone brightly. After playing for Team USA in the Olympics and hitting .307 with 14 homers at Double-A Reading in 2008, he was considered one of the top infield prospects in the game. He hurt his knee and his back and never got untracked in 2009, hitting only .235 with one homer in 50 games at Triple-A Lehigh Valley before the trade and seeing action in only 10 games (.257, 1 homer, 1 RBI) at Columbus.

Going back further, the A's have dealt former Phillies prospect Matt Spencer, who they acquired from the Phillies in the Joe Blanton deal in 2008, to the Cubs as part of a deal that brought Aaron Miles and Jake Fox to Oakland. Spencer was ranked 24th among the A's prospects by OaklandClubhouse.com last Fall. The 23 year-old Spencer figures to start the year at Triple-A for the Cubs after hitting a combined 19-91-.289 at High-A Stockton and Double-A Midland in the A's organization last season.

Outfield prospect Michael Taylor vaulted quickly to the top of the Oakland list of prospects when he was acquired from the Phillies after being sent to Toronto in the Halladay trade. Taylor, who Oakland gave up Brett Wallace to acquire, may have lost his chance to start the year in Oakland when they acquired Coco Crisp, but he will certainly be close at hand if the A's need any help during the season.

Oakland is also home to Adrian Cardenas, ranked fourth by OaklandClubhouse.com, Josh Outman and Dan Giese, who were both hurt for chunks of the 2009 season and also Gio Gonzalez. Oakland has become a soft landing spot for former Phillies prospects, even if they didn't wind up there in a direct route from the Phillies.

In Toronto, Kyle Drabek found himself at number 16 among MLB.com's Top 50 Prospects. The Blue Jays believe that Drabek won't necessarily start the season in the majors, but could well find himself there at some point during the season. A quick note to fans in Reading. If Drabek starts the year back at Double-A, his New Hampshire Fisher Cats will be coming to town April 12-14. If he is at Triple-A, fans in the Lehigh Valley won't see him during the season since the Blue Jays affiliate - Las Vegas - is in the Pacific Coast League, but they might see him at the Triple-A All-Star Game that will be played at Coca-Cola Park in July.

Travis D'Arnaud was the last of the true catching prospects in the Phillies organization and he also wound up in Toronto thanks to the Roy Halladay deal. It's likely that D'Arnaud will start the year at Dunedin (High-A) in the Blue Jays organization as he continues to work his way toward the top of their system.

Meanwhile, the Phillies will likely piece Phillipe Aumont, J.C. Ramirez and Tyson Gillies into their Double-A roster at Reading to start the season. The addition of those three allow the Phillies to maintain more prospects at the Double-A level and close enough to Philadelphia that they can help by the time the current crop of home-grown regulars is starting to move on.



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