OBSERVATIONS, insinuations, ruminations and downright opinions . . .
Midway through the previous Sunstrokes, it occurred to me I had seen a majority of the Phillies' top prospects playing in exhibition games and working out for nearly 2 months.
Top 10 lists of anything are totally subjective, and a majority of baseball prospect lists are compiled by individuals or organizations who rely on that most subjective of all baseball evaluations: The Scouting Report.
Paul Hagen recently compiled and wrote a typically well-researched evaluation of the Class A Clearwater Threshers' starting rotation, all five righthanders. During major and minor league spring training and the first month of the Threshers season, I saw Jarred Cosart, Brody Colvin, Trevor May, Jonathan Pettibone and Julio Rodriguez multiple times. I saw Colvin, who was on a rehab assignment with a back problem, pitch twice in extended-spring-training games. Frankly, he was awful in the first one, unable to throw strikes against a collection of young Yankees, and obviously unable to repeat his delivery. I saw Cosart in a winning game where he was wild in the strike zone and gave up a half-dozen hits on fastballs that caught too much of the plate. Dom Brown hit a tape-measure homer that punched his ticket to Lehigh Valley. But Cosart was not exceptional. Two starts later, however, he flirted with a no-hitter. Dallas Green was in attendance and saluted the kid's ability to paint both corners with his plus fastball in a no-walk, eight-strikeout effort.
Me, I'm a little bit more impressed by a prospect's now than by a hereafter that could be years down the road. That's why I'm partial to May, a 6-5 lad who has significant downward tilt on electric stuff that flashes from a deceptive delivery. Control is his current hangup. But his numbers jump off the page. Take a deep breath. In the equivalent of 2 1/2 full seasons, Trevor is 20-12. But that's his mundane stat. In 272 IP, he has piled up 349 Ks and allowed just 214 hits. They are staggering here-and-now numbers, not crystal-ball projections. But 154 walks are too many, the flies May must pick out of the ointment.
I left May out of my initial Top 10 because this is the second straight season he has opened in Clearwater. Ditto outfielder Anthony Hewitt, who is finally showing signs that his lack of results despite formidable physical skills are not yet a waste of his seven-figure bonus. The young man with the organization's best body is hitting for power, stealing bases and showing off his big arm. But he is also a 4-year player repeating low-Class A Lakewood. Time to toss Anthony into the deep end at Clearwater. Fleet Lakewood outfielder Zach Collier, a first-round sandwich pick behind Hewitt, is also starting to hit but lost 2010 to wrist surgery.
My next High Ceiling Top 10 will include an On Deck listing to cover prospects who have been left back or are rehabbing.
Thursday-morning Last Call hero Wilson Valdez says he could have gone four innings, but no way Charlie Manuel would have gone that precarious route. There was only one logical "reliever" had the epic grinder lumbered - no pun intended - into the 20s. A number of scouts rated Dom Brown as a better pitching than outfield prospect at Georgia's Redan H.S. when the 2006 draft rolled around. Dom featured an explosive fastball that sat in the low- to mid-90s as Radan's ace pitcher. But the Phillies drafted him as a five-tool outfielder. Had Charlie gone that way, Valdez could have gone to center (where he played some in spring training) with John Mayberry sliding over to right.
Meanwhile, Babe Ruth is spinning in his grave.
Speaking of heroics by a pitcher. Anybody else think of Mitch Williams stroking the improbable Milkman's Matinee single that ended a historic, July 2-3, 1993, doubleheader against the Padres at 4:40 a.m. after 19 innings of baseball and more than 5 hours of rain delays?
Just before Pete Incaviglia scored the winning run, I was firing up my computer in the International Press Room at Wimbledon. It was just after 9:30 a.m. there. In a few hours, Steffi Graf would defeat Jana Novotna in the Ladies Singles final. Plenty of time to check the ball scores. Say what? According to AOL, the Phillies' second game was still in progress.
I called the Daily News. Yep, it was the bottom of the 10th across the pond and Mitch was on deck, then batting, then racing madly toward third, thinking he had a triple, and Harry Kalas building a famous call around Mitcheeeeeeeeee Pooooooooo.
There was one player the Giants could not afford to lose. Buster Posey, the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year, is the closest the Everyman Giants had to a star. Catcher. Power hitter. Handler of a fabulous pitching staff. Kaboom.
Blown up at home plate Wednesday night. Out at least 6 to 8 weeks. It will be hard for the resilient defending World Series champions to overcome losing Buster Posey.
Houston Astros switch-hitting catchers Mark Bailey and Alan Ashby were the answer I was looking for last time. They were on the 25-man roster together for several years . . . I'll tee this one up for you. Rich Ashburn committed an error in the final-game, 120th loss of the New York Mets' inaugural season in 1962. It was also the final game of His Whiteness' career. What position did he play?
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