Speed is the calling card for the 6-foot-4, 180-pound switch-hitter. Last season he stole 31 bases after swiping 33 the previous year at Lakewood.
James was drafted in the 22d round in 2007 as a righthanded pitcher and he went 0-4 with a 7.71 ERA for the Phillies' Gulf Coast League team that summer.
He said he gave up pitching because of a recurring arm injury and missed the 2008 season with a right biceps injury.
"He needs at-bats to see what he can do," said Reading manager Dusty Wathan, who was James' manager last year at Clearwater. "His swing has come a long way."
Wathan said that James did well during the spring in playing the corner outfield positions.
"Putting him on the corners will help him tremendously because we know he can play center field," Wathan said. "Now if he can play right and left, it will only help him."
Top 10 update
Here are where the top 10 prospects in the Inquirer/Daily News preseason rankings are starting out this spring. Listed is the team, the player and his ranking, and position.
Phillies - Freddy Galvis (7), 2B.
Justin De Fratus (8), RHP, was placed on the major- league disabled list with a right elbow sprain retroactive to March 26.
Lehigh Valley - Phillippe Aumont (6), RHP.
Reading - Trevor May (1), RHP; Sebastian Valle (3), C; Jonathan Pettibone (5), RHP; Julio Rodriguez (9), RHP.
Clearwater - Jesse Biddle (2), LHP; Brody Colvin (4), RHP.
Lakewood - Maikel Franco (10), 3B.
Adam Morgan, a 22-year-old lefthander and third-round pick in 2011 out of the University of Alabama, has jumped a level, going from short-season Williamsport to high-A Clearwater. Last season he was 3-3 with a 2.01 ERA at Williamsport.
In his Clearwater debut, Morgan allowed three runs in 42/3 innings of relief during Thursday's opening 6-3 loss to Dunedin. He allowed seven hits, but struck out six and didn't walk a batter.
"He's a player we felt was able to skip a level," said Joe Jordan, the Phillies' director of player development.
What a debut
Tyler Cloyd, a 24-year-old righthander, made his Lehigh Valley debut a memorable one. An 18th-round pick in the 2008 draft, Cloyd started the game and threw six perfect innings in Thursday's 3-0 victory over Scranton/Wilkes Barre. The 6-foot-3 Cloyd struck out eight and combined with three other pitchers to limit the Yankees' triple-A affiliate to one hit.
What's interesting is that Cloyd was supposed to start for Reading, but Lehigh Valley righthander David Bush received a five-game suspension from Major League Baseball on Thursday for his role in a bench-clearing incident in spring training against the triple-A Indianapolis Pirates. Bush is slated to make his first start Tuesday in Pawtucket.
Contact Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @sjnard.