Prospecting: State Of The Farm System

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Mon, June 15, 2009 12:00 PM | Comments: 15
Posts, Prospecting

This is Prospecting, a Monday column written by Ben Seal. Welcome Ben as he writes each week about the minor leagues. Get in touch with him via our contact form.

MinorleaguesThere was a time not long ago when the Phillies farm system was incomplete. Sure, the major league roster is full of home-grown talent, but as the big names got the call every year or so they left behind a shallow developmental pool. The Phillies were weak players in trade-deadline talks, not willing to part with their top guns such as Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels, and incapable of offering up much more than that. The most important aspect of a farm system is depth, the ability to watch a handful of players grow to meet their potential. The Phils were stuck watching one guy at a time – Howard, Hamels, Gavin Floyd – and hoping they would work out.

But over the past five years the combination of Scouting Director Marti Wolever and former Assistant General Manager Mike Arbuckle revamped the farm teams with a new approach. By taking high-ceiling high school players early and college players in the mid-to-late rounds, Wolever and Arbuckle (who moved on to Kansas City) filled out the system to give the Phillies an exciting pool of prospects playing at all levels.

The benefits of a strong system can be seen on the major league club right now, where rookie pitchers have compiled an 8-0 record this season. There may not be another Howard or Chase Utley developing in the minors, but the overall level of talent is right where it needs to be to support those players.

When the Phillies needed to grab another starter for the stretch run last year, they dipped into Clearwater and Reading to send second baseman Adrian Cardenas, pitcher Josh Outman and outfielder Matthew Spencer to the Athletics for Joe Blanton. They could afford to take the hit, with Jason Donald, Kyle Drabek and Michael Taylor rising through the ranks, and Blanton went 4-0 and helped the big club win the World Series.

It’s this depth that will allow the Phils to engage in serious talks for a frontline starter at the deadline this year. Or, if Antonio Bastardo and JA Happ continue to keep the offense within striking distance in games, they can keep the minor leagues intact and watch their young guns burst onto the scene over the next few years.

With great talent from Lakewood to Lehigh Valley, the Phillies farm system is right where it needs to be. Every week in this space you can find a profile of a specific minor leaguer making a name for himself, or an analysis of certain aspects of the system that are either strengths or weaknesses. By the time the July 31 trade deadline rolls around, you’ll know all the pawns involved in the Phils moves.

Assessments: Drabek, Taylor

Today, a quick look at two Reading Phillies who have the team drooling over their potential:

Kyle Drabek, RHP – The son of NL Cy Young winner Doug Drabek, Kyle made the jump from Clearwater to Reading last week. After posting a 2.48 ERA and 74/19 K-to-BB ratio in 61.2 innings with the Threshers, he threw seven shutout innings in his first start with the R-Phils. Tuesday he struggled a bit against the Trenton Thunder, but showed some good damage control. Though he allowed seven hits and five walks in five innings, he managed to limit the Thunder to two runs and picked up his second win at double-A. Drabek might soon surpass Carlos Carrasco as the most exciting pitching prospect in the system.

Michael Taylor, OF – Take one look at Taylor’s line at Reading this season and it’s clear that he is one of the cornerstones on the farm. As of Tuesday he sat with a .346 average, .590 slugging percentage and 1.000 OPS, slugging 23 extra-base hits and stealing nine bases in 53 games. His plate discipline is also good, as he has just 27 strikeouts against 19 walks. Here is a good look at Taylor’s path to Reading, including dealing with juvenile diabetes.

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About Tim Malcolm

Tim Malcolm has written 1947 articles on Phillies Nation.

  • Posts: 0 The Little Guy

    Taylor has juvenile diabetes? Damn. Ive had diabetes since about 7th grade, it’s not fun, regulating it for me isn’t much of an issue, but while playing football, baseball through grade school and high school, keeping my sugar from dropping in the middle of games is the most difficult part. Good Luck Michael.

  • Posts: 0 William of Schuylkill County

    I have had the pleasure of seeing both these guys in Reading…both would look good in a Phillies uniform someday! however, for now I like them right down the road so I can see them play…

    Drabek is looking really good right now in the 90′s and a nice off speed pitch.

    Taylor is exciting…plain and simple.

    One guy to watch for in Reading is Quintin Berry…called up a few weeks ago but he has serious speed and plays CF…not saying it will project to an everyday player but the guy flys and makes solid contact with the ball…infield hits, doubles in the gap. Led the Lakewood team(i believe) with 57 or so SB last year.

  • Posts: 0 OZ

    it does feel like our farm system is in a better place, but chickens……hatch.

    Baseball America doesn’t have any of our guys in the top ranks (last time i checked anyhow).

    cautiously optimistic.

  • Posts: 0 Marc H

    I just hope that the system doesn’t fall to pieces now that Arbuckle is gone

  • Posts: 0 William of Schuylkill County

    4 guys are in the top 100.

    according to the report Tim posted in Feb.


  • Posts: 0 Ben Seal

    The Phils don’t have any top-10 prospects that are going to change the face of the team the minute they get called up. There is no Matt Wieters or Evan Longoria type of player in the system. But what they do have, and what puts them in a good position right now, is a handful of highly talented athletes that will either fetch them top-level major leaguers in a trade or fill in as strong role players when needed. With a star-studded major league club that is really what they need right now. Guys like Drabek and Taylor, though, still have room to grow and become really big impact players once they’re playing in South Philly.

  • Posts: 0 Miles

    Ben is absolutely right. And quite honestly, the reason we don’t have any top ten guys is because they are all on the team already. I mean to pull Chase, Ryan, and Cole all up from the minors in a period of a couple years immediately gave this team elite status.

    A couple other positive notes to highlight:

    Joe Savery moved to 8-1 (8!) with a 6 inning, 1 HIT, performance yesterday. His ERA has been hovering around 3 – 3.5 and has continued to pitch well. With him and Drabek up in Reading, the tickets are well worth the price.

    Chacin also picked up a win for IronPigs and looks like a viable option if we need another spot starter. Carrasco, Kendrick, and Carpenter look like they are NOT at this point.

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    This team is mostly set. I mean, I cant see them letting Victorino get away without extending him for 1-3 more years. They still need a RH outfielder/utilityman who can come off the bench who is OK with that being his role.

    dipsy…what are the new odds now that peavy and oswalt are out of the picture definitively and ian snell has become available (not like hes any good, because he sucks)

    oswalt is definitely not available and peavy is hurt. dan haren is the future ace of the dbacks and brandon webb is in injury limbo. matt cain is too good for the giants to trade, instead theyll trade jonathan sanchez.

    All of a sudden the rockies are back in the race so trading cook and marquis is not on their mind right now with that 11 game win streak. brad penny (ugh) is still available. jason donald is injured and may not be a trading chip this season because of that. erik bedard is too left-handed and starts sucking once he reaches the 100 pitch mark.

  • Posts: 0 Scotty

    I’m just excited we got Kelly Leak. (Dugan)

  • Posts: 0 JeffS

    Saw Drabek pitch on Sunday in Reading. He looked human to me, a few runs, some hits, couple walks. Very good, but it didn’t look in person as good as the numbers were on his last two starts. He also looked visibly frustrated with himself at times. However, he was able to pull it together and get out of some jams. What scared me most is how often he fell behind hitters yesterday. I wonder if in the majors, hitters wouldn’t take better advantage of that situation. Maybe my expectations were too high, expecting him to instantly dominate at this level. I was impressed that his velocity was exactly the same, as was the difference between the fastball and offspeeders, in the sixth inning as in the first.

    Same game – Taylor made a fantastic through from deep OF to home place to throw out a runner. Quite an arm!

    Savery pitched this morning. Sounded on the radio (Senators announcer) like he did a great job getting out of a jam in the 2nd after giving up a hit and a walk.

  • Posts: 0 Horace

    Taylor is impressive in all aspects of the game. He is athletic, smart and consistant on the field. His game continues to expand and watching him brings about that feeling of what can and will he do next. A real reason to show up at the ballpark!
    There is a video clip of his throw at readingphillies.com. Click on the interview with Jeremy Slayden (R.TV)and it shows up near the end.

  • Posts: 0 Marc H

    The Phillies have done a good job of spending to buy out college scholarships. I hope this trend continues post Arbuckle.

  • Posts: 0 Ron

    One of the guys I can’t wait to see in the majors is Jason Knapp; 18 yrs old, throws hard, strikes out a hitter per inning, and his ceiling is immense. Of course he’s 3-4 years away, but I can can always imagine.

  • Posts: 0 ryan

    I think Taylor is one of the main guys most teams would want for a top of the line pitcher. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him involved in a package for a pitcher come next month

  • Posts: 0 Doc

    I think Taylor and Drabek have very bright futures. I went and saw them play last Tuesday against Trenton (I think it was Tuesday) and I think I jinxed them. Drabek was wild and threw too many pitches. It was only his second start out of Single A though. Taylor also had a tough day but he looked like he had all the tools

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