The Untouchables: Pitchers

It wasn't that long ago since the Phillies had a bunch of pitching prospects that they were very high on. Now, with the exit of Kyle Drabek, Carlos Carrasco and Jason Knapp, those numbers are shrinking, but the cupboard isn't bare.

Any team looking to grab some young pitching from the Phillies - and pretty much every team will want pitching - will start by asking for Jarred Cosart. The 19 year-old right-hander generally gets scouts excited when they talk about his potential and the word "special" is usually how Cosart's talents are described. This is a kid who missed an entire season due to injury and is still young enough and good enough that he can be thought of as one of the better pitching prospects in baseball and has the potential to generate much more excitement than he has already. You can almost tell when Cosart is pitching just by the sound of the ball popping into the catcher's mitt, not just because Cosart throws hard, but because his pitches have that special distinction of being heavy; the type that hitters absolutely hate to hit.

"Everything is there in this kid," said Lakewood manager Mark Parent. "He's got the arm, so it's just a matter of getting him the experience and teaching him more of the ins and outs of working hitters."

Earlier this season, Parent said that Cosart has had a couple of outings that were worthy of being a major league effort. While there is still some rawness to Cosart, it's likely that he'll pick up those things quickly and could start to blaze a faster trail through the Phillies minor league system.

After Cosart, the options aren't as good. Drew Carpenter certainly has shown that he's got the stuff to pitch in the majors and if a club were to take him to the majors right now, there would be some mild growing pains, but Carpenter is about as ready as he's going to be to pitch at the major league level. With a 3.36 ERA with Lehigh Valley this season, Carpenter will be likely to draw interest from clubs seeking starting pitching. For their part, the Phillies won't consider Carpenter to be untouchable, but teams will have to realize how highly the Phillies value Carpenter if they're going to get him away from the club. It's hard to imagine that teams wouldn't insist on someone like Carpenter being part of a deal if the Phillies say 'no' on Cosart.

One of the better stories in the system is that of Jesus Sanchez, who the Phillies acquired as a young catching prospect in the Bobby Abreu deal with the Yankees almost four years ago. The wrap on Sanchez was that he would have trouble hitting enough to stick and those reports wound up to be true, but that didn't mean that his days as a prospect were over. The Phillies knew that he had a good arm and decided to give him a shot at pitching and his prospect status immediately took off.

Sanchez is still just 22 and is pitching at High-A Clearwater in just his second full season as a pitcher. Last season, Sanchez was at Lakewood and went 10-6 with a 3.44 ERA in 26 starts for the BlueClaws team that won the South Atlantic League title. The fact that Sanchez was able to start at Lakewood and move up to Clearwater is a great sign and it will be interesting to see if the Phillies look to challenge him even more with a quick promotion to Reading at some point during the season. If not, he will certainly be at Reading to start the 2011 season if things continue to progress the way that they have. And since Sanchez just passed the 200 inning mark for his career, there isn't a lot of mileage on that impressive right arm of his.

Cosart, Carpenter and Sanchez would constitute the closest thing that the Phillies have to untouchable pitching prospects. After those two, the talent level among young pitchers in the Phillies organization drops off pretty sharply, but there might still be some pitchers that clubs could take as somewhat of a throw-in part of a deal who could wind up helping their respective club.

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