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Inside the Phillies: Down on the farm, gems take shape

A list of the Phillies' top prospects heading into 2011 season.

Jonathan Singleton, suddenly one of the Phillies' hottest prospects, will be moved to the outfield. (Elizabeth Robertson / Staff Photographer)
Jonathan Singleton, suddenly one of the Phillies' hottest prospects, will be moved to the outfield. (Elizabeth Robertson / Staff Photographer)Read more

Baseball America, one of the finest industry publications in existence, is scheduled to release its top-10 prospects for the National League East's five teams this week, which, of course, includes the Phillies.

A year ago, Baseball America's list for the Phils looked like this: 1. Domonic Brown, OF; 2. Kyle Drabek, RHP; 3. Michael Taylor, OF; 4. Travis d'Arnaud, C; 5. Trevor May, RHP; 6. Anthony Gose, OF; 7. Sebastian Valle, C; 8. Jarred Cosart, RHP; 9. Antonio Bastardo, LHP; and 10. Domingo Santana, OF.

This year's list has to be drastically different because four of those 10 players are now with other teams after being used in trades that brought the two Roys - Halladay and Oswalt - to Philadelphia.

Here's one man's opinion of what the Phillies' top-10 prospect list should look like this year:

1. Domonic Brown, OF

Not sure if the Baseball America people will consider Brown a prospect after he spent the final two months of the regular season on the Phillies' roster while also garnering a spot on the team's postseason roster. But given general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.'s recent assessment that Brown would be best served by starting 2011 at triple-A Lehigh Valley, he still has to be considered a work in progress.

The guess here is that Amaro wanted to light a fire under the 23-year-old Brown before he arrives at spring training in Clearwater, Fla., and fights for a starting job in right field. Amaro and manager Charlie Manuel both publicly defended Brown's disappointing 2-for-29 stay in the Dominican Winter League, but you know the Phillies would feel a lot more comfortable about their right-field situation if their top prospect had mixed in a few more hits.

2. Jonathan Singleton, OF

A year ago at this time, Singleton had just 100 minor-league at-bats with the Phillies' Gulf Coast League team and he was a first baseman. Following a sensational first season at single-A Lakewood in the South Atlantic League, the Phillies moved Singleton to left field during the Florida Instructional League and that's where he figures to play next season at single-A Clearwater.

Singleton batted .290 with 25 doubles and 14 home runs. His 77 RBIs ranked 10th in the league and his .872 OPS was third. What's so impressive is that Singleton was like a freshman among seniors in the South Atlantic League. He played the entire season at 18 years old. The nine guys in front of him on the SAL RBI list were all at least 21 and two of them were 24. Singleton was named the league's most exciting prospect and best defensive first baseman by Baseball America.

For comparison's sake, Jason Heyward of the Atlanta Braves also played in the SAL at 18 and he hit .323 with 27 doubles, 11 home runs, 52 RBIs, and an .871 OPS. Brown, at the age of 20, hit .291 with 23 doubles, nine home runs, 54 RBIs, and an .880 OPS at Lakewood.

3. Jarred Cosart, P

The coming season will be an important one for the 20-year-old righthander after he was limited to 14 starts at Lakewood last year because of a strained right elbow. He did pitch in the Florida Instructional League without incident.

4. Vance Worley, P

After going 7-12 with a 5.34 ERA in 2009, Worley was not on anybody's prospect list, but everything changed in 2010 for the 23-year-old righthander, who was selected in the third round of the 2008 draft. Worley went a combined 10-7 with a 3.36 ERA in 27 starts with double-A Reading and triple-A Lehigh Valley. Even more impressive were his big-league numbers. In five games, including two starts, he had a 1.38 ERA and struck out 12 batters in 13 innings. Opponents hit .178 against him. Kyle Kendrick has a real battle ahead of him to keep the fifth spot in the starting rotation.

5. Justin DeFratus, RHP

The Phillies' 11th-round pick in 2007 continues to climb in stature. The 23-year-old righthander followed a strong season at single-A Clearwater and double-A Reading by pitching seven scoreless innings for the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League. He allowed just three hits, struck out 11, and batters hit .125 against him. He'll be in Clearwater in February, his big-league camp.

6. Sebastian Valle, C

Like Singleton, Valle was one of the younger players in the league and he more than held his own, batting .255 with 16 home runs and 74 RBIs. Valle, 20, also made major defensive improvements during the season, according to his manager, Mark Parent.

7. Jesse Biddle, LHP

The Phillies' 2010 first-round pick out of Germantown Friends School had some command issues in his first professional season, walking 20 batters in 432/3 innings, but the 6-foot-6 lefthander also struck out 50 batters, and it will not be surprising if he starts next season in Lakewood.

8. Brody Colvin, RHP

Erase Colvin's first month at Lakewood and he may have been the best pitcher in the South Atlantic League last season. He finished 6-8 with a 3.39 ERA, but after going 1-3 with an 11.15 ERA in April, the 20-year-old righthander posted a 2.42 ERA in his final 23 starts and allowed just one earned run on six hits in 10 postseason innings.

9. Matt Rizzotti, 1B

Like Worley, he was nowhere on the radar a year ago, but he swung his way into being a prospect last season, hitting a combined .343 at Clearwater, Reading, and Lehigh Valley. The sweet-swinging lefty continued to hit in the Arizona Fall League, batting .333 in 19 games with Mesa. Rizzotti, 25, must prove he can play a decent first base if he is to remain with either the Phillies or in the National League.

10. Trevor May, RHP

He is the third Lakewood pitcher to make this list. Josh Zeid and Jonathan Pettibone also deserve consideration. May, 21, opened the season in Clearwater but was demoted after 16 games with a 5.01 ERA. He rebounded at Lakewood, going 7-3 with a 2.91 ERA while striking out 92 batters in 65 innings. He'll likely open next season back in Clearwater.