As we near the Major League Baseball trading deadline, it is obvious that only teams with top minor league prospects will be able to sit at the negotiations table to discuss trades for top of the line players. For years, the Phillies have been at the kid’s table.
Finally, the Phillies have some elite players in their farm system, but is it worth unloading your best prospects to make one run at October glory at the expense of reverting back to the days of a depleted minor league system?
That’s the $64,000 question facing Pat Gillick in his final season as Phillies’ General Manager. Here’s a look at how some of the top Phillies minor leaguers are doing this season:
A – Clearwater Threshers
Adrian Cardenas (2B): .311, 4 HR, 21 RBI, 12 SB (Ranked #76 in Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects)
This left handed second baseman, baring a position change, doesn’t have a future playing his position at Citizens Bank Park with Chase Utley ahead of him. He hits right handed and left handed pitching equally well. Last year in Lakewood (Low A-ball) he hit .295, 9 HR, 79 RBI, 20 SB. With Utley penciled in at second base for the next decade in Philadelphia, Cardenas might be one of the best players for the Phillies to deal.
Joe Savery (SP): 3-8, 4.82 ERA, 72 K (Ranked #90 in Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects)
Savery, last year’s first round pick, has struggled in his first full season in the minors. In the New York Penn league last year, Savery went 2-3 with a 2.73 ERA. Savery shouldn’t be traded because he should develop into a major league pitcher with more time to develop in the system.
AA – Reading Phillies
Greg Golson (OF): .299, 7 HR, 36 RBI, 17 SB
Golson is one of the top 5-tool prospects in the system. After getting off to an amazing start in April and May, he has struggled in June. Golson, the team’s first round pick in 2004 had trouble transitioning from A to AA ball last season, yet he should be in AAA by the end of this year. The Phillies should not trade Golson because they could be very thin in the outfield next year. Pat Burrell is a free agent and So Taguchi, less a major turnaround, will be gone. Golson could be the Shane Victorino or Michael Bourn of years past where he serves as a pinch hitter or runner and makes spot starts.
Carlos Carrasco (SP): 5-7, 4.18 ERA, 89 K, 1 CG (Ranked #54 in Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects)
Carrasco has long been touted as the top prospect in the Phillies’ system. He has been suggested, by fans, to take Brett Myers’ place in the rotation until Myers figures out how to pitch again. However, Carrasco is not ready. He has a career 3.86 ERA in the minors and hasn’t pitched in AAA yet. He should be untouchable in deadline deals unless the team can land a top of the line starter that is signed past this season.
Antonio Bastardo (SP): 2-3, 3.11 ERA, 39 K
Bastardo began the season in Clearwater where he dominated. His 2008 stats in A-ball were: 2-0, 1.17 ERA, 47 K. Bastardo may be the best pitching prospect in the system, which is why the Phillies should hang on to him even at the expense of Carrasco who hasn’t dominated in the same fashion as Bastardo.
Josh Outman (SP/RP): 3-4, 3.67 ERA, 59 K
Outman dominated Clearwater as a Thresher last year has been moved to the bullpen in Reading this year. Outman may be a good chip to use in a trade deadline deal.
AAA – Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs
J.A. Happ (SP): 5-6, 3.73 ERA, 99 K
Happ has made tremendous improvement since a disappointing 2007 season with Ottawa (former AAA home of the Phillies). Last year, in 24 starts, Happ was 4-6 with a 5.02 ERA. In his lone start for the Phillies, Happ went 4.0 innings giving up 5 earned runs. Happ is the most major league ready starter for the Phillies and could be a good replacement for Jamie Moyer in the rotation next season. The Phillies need to keep Happ.