In the last year, the Phillies have traded away seven of their top 10 prospects, as rated by Baseball America before the 2009 season. That, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said, is a cause for concern.
While acquiring a former Cy Young Award winner, the Phillies dealt another in Cliff Lee to Seattle for three prospects in an attempt to replenish the farm system. In return, the Phillies received pitchers Phillippe Aumont and J.C. Ramirez, and outfielder Tyson Gillies from the Mariners.
Amaro characterized the Lee deal as a necessity for the future of the organization.
"We could not leave the cupboard bare," Amaro said. "If we had just acquired Roy and not moved Lee, we would have been in a position to lose seven of our best 10 prospects. That is not the way to do business in baseball."
Gone are Carlos Carrasco, Lou Marson, Jason Donald, Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor, Travis d'Arnaud, and Jason Knapp.
In Aumont and Ramirez, the Phillies acquired two pitchers who were ranked by Baseball America among Seattle's top 10 prospects. The most promising is the 6-foot-7 righty Aumont, who was ranked third.
Phillies assistant general manager Benny Looper, who worked in Seattle's front office through the 2008 season, is familiar with all of the prospects. He said the Phillies scouted the players heavily during last season, too.
All three players should start next season in double-A Reading, Looper said.
When Looper was still with Seattle, Aumont, 20, was a starting pitcher. He was turned into a reliever last season because, Looper said, the Mariners believed it was the fastest way to get the pitcher to the majors. Pitching out of the bullpen in high single A and double A last season, Aumont had a 3.88 ERA and struck out more than one batter per inning.
Whether Aumont remains a reliever is to be determined.
"I think that's something we're going to have to talk about," Looper said.
Ramirez, 21, started 27 games at high single A and had a 5.12 ERA, allowing 153 hits in 1421/3 innings. Tyson Gillies, who was rated as the fastest baserunner and with the best outfield arm in the Seattle system, hit .341 in 124 games at single A.
Gillies, 21, is hearing-impaired and must wear hearing aids, Looper said.
"He doesn't hear much," Looper said. "He's a high-energy guy. He's fun to watch."
Here are Baseball America's rankings for the Phillies' minor-league prospects before and after the trades yesterday. The Phillies obtained Roy Halladay from Toronto and three minor-leaguers from Seattle: pitchers Phillippe Aumont and Juan Ramirez, and outfielder Tyson Gillies.
To get Halladay, the Phillies sent three of their top four prospects to Toronto: pitcher Kyle Drabek, outfielder Michael Taylor and catcher Travis d'Arnaud.
1. Domonic Brown, of 1. Domonic Brown, of
2. Kyle Drabek, rhp* 2. Trevor May, rhp
3. Michael Taylor, of* 3. Anthony Gose, of
4. Travis D'Arnaud, c* 4. Sebastian Valle, c
5. Trevor May, rhp 5. Phillippe Aumont, rhp**
6. Anthony Gose, of 6. Jarred Cosart, rhp
7. Sebastian Valle, c 7. Antonio Bastardo, lhp
8. Jarred Cosart, rhp 8. Tyson Gillies, of**
9. Antonio Bastardo, lhp 9. Domingo Santana, of
10. Domingo Santana, of 10. Scott Mathieson, rhp
*Traded to Toronto. Taylor was then traded to Seattle for third baseman Brett Wallace.
**Received in trade from Seattle for Cliff Lee.