Checking in on Phillies' top minor league prospects at midseason

Posted: July 12, 2011

BEFORE THE season, the national pastime scholars at Baseball America reveal their top-10 prospect lists for each club. Let's peek at how well they guessed with the Phillies as baseball settles into the All-Star break.

We'll bypass Domonic Brown, BBA's No. 1 prospect, since he's a big-leaguer now. Here are Nos. 2 though 10 in order (statistics are updated):

* Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Clearwater (.275, 6 home runs, 37 RBI): He struggled mightily after a good start, but has rebounded in the last couple weeks. He's a lefthanded hitter who needs to beef up that .190 average against lefty pitchers. Plenty of upside for Singleton, since he doesn't turn 20 until September. Maybe not the No. 2 prospect, but looking three or four seasons down the line, he belongs in the top 10.

* Brody Colvin, RHP, Clearwater (2-3, 3.82 ERA, 52 K and 23 BB in 70 innings): Tough to accurately gauge Colvin's season, since he started the year on the disabled list with a back ailment and didn't make his first start until May 13. He went eight brilliant innings last night and he's gone at least six innings in his last for starts. Did BBA get this one right? Hmmm . . . If he continues to perform the way he has recently at age 20, yep. He's a top prospect.

* Jarred Cosart, RHP, Clearwater (7-6, 3.23 ERA, 68 K and 36 BB in 92 innings): Some early struggles make his numbers look a little pedestrian. Needs to improve that strikeout-to-walk ratio, but at 21, he just needs a few more minutes in the oven. Excellent prospect. BBA got this one right.

* Trevor May, RHP, Clearwater (6-5, 3.32 ERA, 123 K and 44 BB in 95 innings): Think of May as a building that's under construction. The frame is there, now to put the roof on and the windows in. Look at that K-to-BB ratio. Wow. The record and ERA don't reflect how impressive he has been. In Game 1 of a twinbill Saturday against Jupiter, May twirled a seven-inning one-hitter with nine strikeouts and two walks. BBA got this one right.

* Sebastian Valle, C, Clearwater (.324, 3 HR, 28 RBI): Phillies assistant general manager Chuck LaMar, who oversees the minors, said recently the organization originally viewed Valle as more of a "bat prospect" when he was signed in 2006. This season, the defense seems to be catching up with the bat. Obviously he can hit. He doesn't turn 21 until July 24, so, yes, he has played like a top prospect.

* Jiwan James, OF, Clearwater (.269, 3 HR, 15 RBI, 16 steals): Decent season so far for the speedy switch-hitter, whose body type has been compared to Domonic Brown. His numbers so far have been similar to the ones he posted in Lakewood last season, and he's been hot lately (10-for-32 in his last 10 games). The stats say he's a better hitter lefthanded than righthanded (.279 to .239). At 22, James is a prospect. Maybe not the No. 7 prospect.

* Jesse Biddle, LHP, Lakewood (4-6, 3.35 ERA, 86 K and 49 BB in 88 innings): No. 8 prospect, with those numbers? Yes. BBA got this one right, and here's why: Biddle was a mess early on and has improved steadily with each start. He is remarkably poised for such a young pitcher, and never seems to allow a bad outing - or even a bad inning - to carry over. The walks must improve. But in 10 appearances since May 18 (nine starts; he came in after Brad Lidge's one-inning rehab stint on July 4), he's 3-1 with a 2.08 ERA in 56 innings. At 19, he's a top prospect.

* Domingo Santana, OF, Lakewood (.263, 6 HR, 22 RBI): Another guy whose numbers don't tell everything. He's a big body (6-5, 200) who plays with the vigor of a sandlot star. Santana's a mere 18 years old and has not had a prolonged slump this season in the tough South Atlantic League. BBA probably got this one right.

* Aaron Altherr, OF, Williamsport: (.305, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 5 SB): Those numbers sure look like a No. 10 prospect, eh? Not so fast. The Phillies did Altherr a big, fat favor by shipping him to Williamsport after a brutal start at Lakewood, where he hit .211 with one homer, 15 RBI and 12 steals in 41 games. Swing and a miss for BBA on this one. On the bright side, Altherr is only 20, so he'll remain on the radar for a bit.

Running out of space, so next week we'll look at the guys who could make a top-prospect list.


* Chameleon in a baseball uniform Joe Savery is back in Triple A. He got promoted yesterday, either as a designated hitter or a lefty relief specialist. We'll keep you posted.

As a first baseman/DH, Savery was hitting well enough in Clearwater to merit a promotion to Reading on June 16. But, since the guy was a pitcher his first four pro seasons, he kind of kept that skill in his back pocket, just in case. Shortly after arriving in Reading, he started working his way into games out of the R-Phils' bullpen. In six appearances, he allowed one run and seven hits over nine innings, with 14 strikeouts. He earned the victory in two scoreless innings of relief Saturday in a 6-4 win over Trenton - his first Double A win since July 9, 2009, exactly 2 years to the day. And yesterday, he struck out the side in one inning against Trenton.

After the game, he was promoted to Lehigh Valley (it wasn't for his hitting; he was batting only .200 in 35 at-bats with Reading). Reminds us of "Full Metal Jacket" at the rifle range, when Gunnery Sgt. Hartman barks, "Outstanding, Private Pyle, I think we finally found something that you do well."

* Lehigh Valley was no-hit Wednesday for the first time in the franchise's 4-year history, a 7-0 loss at Rochester. But forgive Rochester's fans if they were a little underwhelmed. It took four Red Wings pitchers to complete the task. It was the first four-hurler no-hitter in International League history. Not exactly Carlos Ruiz jumping into Roy Halladay's arms.

* While the IronPigs were getting blanked, righthander Lisalberto Bonilla was working on a masterpiece in Lakewood all by himself - and wound up with nothing more to show for it than a mention in this week's column. Bonilla, a South Atlantic League all-star reliever who moved to the starting rotation on June 11, threw nine shutout innings Wednesday against Hagerstown, allowed five hits and whiffed a dozen. He walked none. Trouble was, the BlueClaws didn't score either. They finally won it in the 10th, 1-0. Bonilla, 21, is 0-2 overall (boy, is that misleading), with a 1.49 ERA. In five starts, he's 0-1 with a 1.86 ERA in 29 innings. He has 30 strikeouts and seven walks in his starts. We might be talking about him again next week.


Lehigh Valley (AAA)

Today: Off

Tomorrow: All-Star Game (at Salt Lake City), 9

Thursday: vs. Syracuse, 6

Friday: vs. Syracuse, 7

Saturday: at Syracuse, 7

Sunday: at Syracuse, 5

Monday: at Pawtucket, 7:05

Reading (AA)

Today: Off

Tomorrow: All-Star Game (at Manchester, N.H.), 7:05

Thursday: at Trenton, 7:05

Friday: at Trenton, 7:05

Saturday: at Trenton, 7:05

Sunday: at Trenton, 1:05

Monday: at New Hampshire, 7:05

Clearwater (A)

Today: Off

Tomorrow: at Charlotte, 6:30

Thursday: at Charlotte, 6:30

Friday: at Charlotte, 6:30

Saturday: at Charlotte, 6:30

Sunday: at St. Lucie, 4

Monday: at St. Lucie, 6:30

Lakewood (A)

Tonight: at Greenville, 7

Tomorrow: at Greenville, 7

Thursday: at Greenville, 7

Friday: at Greenville, 7

Saturday: at Kannapolis, 7:05

Sunday: at Kannapolis, 5:05

Monday: at Kannapolis, 11 a.m.

Williamsport (A)

Today: Off

Tomorrow: at Lowell, 7:05

Thursday: at Lowell, 7:05

Friday: at Lowell, 7:05

Saturday: vs. State College, 7:05

Sunday: at State College, 6:05

Monday: at State College, 7:05


* Reading reliever Jordan Ellis, a Radnor and Villanova product, was placed on the disabled list with an elbow strain. He had two rocky outings recently, allowing five runs in an inning on July 4 and four runs in 2 on June 26.

* Lakewood closer Juan Sosa (10 saves) was promoted to Clearwater.

* Matt Rizzotti, Michael Spidale and Austin Hyatt will represent Reading in the Eastern League All-Star Game tomorrow night in New Hampshire. Erik Kratz, Michael Schwimer and Mike Zagurski will represent Lehigh Valley in the Triple A All-Star Game tomorrow in Salt Lake City.

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