The Phillies decided on Allentown because it is closer to Philadelphia and because a state-of-the-art, 10,000-seat stadium is in the works, minor-league director Steve Noworyta said.
"It's a great fit," he said.
When a Phillie is coming off an injury and needs a minor-league rehab stint this season, he probably will be sent to double-A Reading or single-A Lakewood, Noworyta said.
Evaluating the Phils' triple-A players won't be much different in Ottawa - except it will take a one-hour-plus flight to Ontario rather than about a two-hour drive to Scranton.
Phillies triple-A players also can be evaluated as the visiting team in Scranton, which now has a New York Yankees affiliation. Last year, the Yankees ended their relationship with the triple-A Columbus Clippers.
Thirteen of the players on the Phillies' 25-man opening-day roster, including five starters in Monday's opener against the Atlanta Braves, came through the team's farm system.
The Ottawa Lynx have several players who could be promoted to the Phillies during the season, including lefthanders Eude Brito and Fabio Castro and outfielder Chris Roberson.
J.A. Happ, a promising 6-foot-6 lefthander with a nasty change-up, also will start the year with Ottawa. Happ, 24, whom Baseball America rated as the eighth-best prospect in the Phillies' farm system, had impressive totals last year: 162 strikeouts and just 48 walks in 160 2/3 innings combined at single-A Clearwater, Reading and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Catcher Jason Jaramillo, a second-round pick in the 2004 draft, and righthander Yoel Hernandez will be among the other top prospects at Ottawa, which starts its season Friday.
Fans wanting to take a leisurely drive to watch other Phils prospects can head to Reading or Lakewood.
Reading will feature Mike Costanzo, the lefthanded-hitting third baseman from Archbishop Carroll and Coastal Carolina University who was the club's second-round pick in 2005 (the Phils didn't have a first-round selection that year). Outfielder Javon Moran, acquired in the deal that sent Jeff Conine to Cincinnati in December, and pitchers Matt Maloney and Kyle Kendrick are also highly regarded Reading players. The Phillies drafted Moran in the fourth round in 2003, then traded him to the Reds in 2004.
Lakewood will be led by two prize prospects: righthander Kyle Drabek and second baseman Adrian Cardenas. Drabek was chosen in the first round (18th overall) of last year's draft, and Cardenas was the selected with a supplemental pick between the first and second rounds.
Righthanders Edgar Garcia and Carlos Monasterios, who was one of the players acquired in the deal that sent Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle to the Yankees in July, are other intriguing prospects at Lakewood.
Noworyta is optimistic about the ability of the Phils' top four minor-league teams. "We feel comfortable that pitching is going to be our strength," he said.
Allentown has sold 1,600 season tickets since they went on sale Thursday, and its double-deck stadium is scheduled to open in 2008. It is about 65 miles from Philadelphia and 45 miles from Reading.
"Reading and Allentown are roughly an hour from each other and an hour from Philly, so it's a nice triangle for player development and the fan base," said Chuck Domino, president of the Reading and Lehigh Valley teams.
Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi
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