Steve Schrenk, the pitching coach at single-A Lakewood, watches David Buchanan at work and sees a young Kyle Kendrick.
"I had Kyle here," Schrenk said last week. "He was a high school kid when he was here, but he had the same kind of sink and the same kind of makeup and they are built the same."
Buchanan, in his first full professional season after being drafted in the seventh round last year, said he has heard the same comparison from Gorman Heimueller, the Phillies' minor-league pitching coordinator. He takes it as a compliment.
"Any time you're being compared to a big-league pitcher that's an honor," he said. "You want to be compared to a pitcher that has already made it because that means they see potential in you to be in that same position."
Although only 26 years old, Kendrick has a 39-28 record in the big leagues, including a 4-4 record and 3.12 ERA this season. He is also making $2.45 million this season, so Buchanan has plenty of reasons to smile when he hears such a comparison.
Truth be told, it took Kendrick three different stints at Lakewood to pitch the way Buchanan, a righthander, has in his first year on the border of the Jersey Shore.
Buchanan, 22, earned a spot in Tuesday's South Atlantic League All-Star Game by going 8-3 with a 2.85 ERA in his first 13 starts for the BlueClaws. His record slipped to 8-4 and his ERA rose to 3.21 in a Friday loss to West Virginia, but he is still expected to start the game for the North Division All-Stars down in Salisbury, Md.
Lakewood pitchers Garrett Claypool and Lisalberto Bonilla also made the all-star team, as did outfielder Anthony Hewitt and first baseman Jim Murphy.
"I'm ecstatic," Buchanan said. "Obviously it's an honor and a privilege and I'm going to take it for everything it is worth. I'm excited to go down there and meet the other players I've been playing against and see how they play. I want to talk to some of the hitters I face to see if they can tell me anything about how I've pitched them. I want to get thoughts from other players because you can always learn in this game."
Schrenk said Buchanan's fastball typically averages 90 to 91 m.p.h.
"He has a lot of movement on his ball and he has good sink," the pitching coach said. "He has really been aggressive pitching early in the count to contact. He's a ground ball pitcher. His change-up and slider have improved, but it's his fastball command along with pitching ahead in the count that has been the biggest reason for his success."
While Buchanan happily accepts the comparison to Kendrick, the pitcher he grew up admiring most was Atlanta's Tim Hudson. It makes perfect sense since he lived 10 minutes from Atlanta in Peachtree City, Ga.
The Inquirer has learned that every place in Georgia has to be called Peachtree. Buchanan played his college ball at Georgia State, which sits in the heart of downtown Atlanta and he admitted to being a diehard Braves fan.
"Absolutely," he said. "Born and raised. My family joked about it when I was drafted by the Braves' biggest rival, but at the same time I feel like I'm playing for the best organization in baseball. I'm very happy I'm here."
Buchanan said most of the family has converted their allegiance to the Phillies. His sister Sara is the only exception.
"I'm a big Hudson fan, so whenever he's pitching, I still like to see him do well," Buchanan said. "But the Phillies are my team now. My sister is still a diehard Braves fan, but she said when I get to the big leagues she'll pull for me."
(AAA, 41-26, first place, International League North Division)
With his league-leading 18 home runs and 46 RBIs, Cody Overbeck earned his promotion from double-A Reading to the IronPigs last week. The promotion will also allow the Phillies to take an extended look at Overbeck against triple-A competition before they decide whether or not to add him to the 40-man roster after the season.
Overbeck, 25, will play primarily at first base for Lehigh Valley, but he could also see time at third base and left field.
"We're trying to increase what he can do for a major-league club," assistant general manager Chuck LaMar said. "He's an offensive player and he has work to do at all defensive positions."
Pitchers Phillippe Aumont, Justin DeFratus, and Ryan Edell were also promoted from Reading to Lehigh Valley last week.
(AA, 35-31, fourth place, Eastern League Eastern Division)
Since starting the season 4-0 with a 1.03 ERA, righthander J.C. Ramirez has gone 1-6 with a 6.576 ERA in his last eight starts.
"We don't know what's going on," LaMar said. "That first five or six weeks of the season he showed marked improvement. Mechanically he was better and everything was headed in the right direction. The wheels have come off. He's mechanically out of whack and has had very little command. A guy with as much talent as him who throws as hard as him should have better results, and we're scratching our heads a little bit as to why not."
(High A, 39-28, second place, Florida State League North Division)
When Jared Cosart was added to the Florida State League's North Division all-star roster last week, it meant that four-fifths of the Threshers' starting rotation was on the team. Cosart, 6-3 with a 2.83 ERA and considered the best prospect of the bunch, joined Jonathan Pettibone (6-4, 2.47), Trevor May (4-4, 3.55), and Julio Rodriguez (8-4, 2.99).
Catcher Sebastian Valle, out recently with a minor injury, was also expected to play in Saturday's FSL All-Star Game at Clearwater.
Outfielder Tyson Gillies, meanwhile, has been sidelined by a left foot injury after just three games with Clearwater.
"No fracture, just a sprain," LaMar said. "His hamstrings are great."
That's significant because a hamstring injury has cost Gillies most of the last two seasons.
(Low A, 33-34, seventh place, South Atlantic League Northern Division)
Outfielder Aaron Altherr was sent to Williamsport of the New York-Penn League after hitting .211 for the BlueClaws.
"He needs to play every day," LaMar said. "He needs to absolutely get his confidence going and hopefully he'll be back at Lakewood before the end of the summer."
Altherr, 20, hit .287 at Williamsport last year. A year ago, Lakewood outfielder Domingo Santana was sent down to Williamsport around this same time and he has responded in his return to Lakewood this season by hitting .266 with 14 doubles and six home runs. Those are highly impressive numbers for an 18-year-old in the South Atlantic League.
(Rookie league, 1-0 in New York-Penn League Pinckney Division)
In addition to Altherr, who went 3 for 4 in the Crosscutters' season-opening 7-0 win, manager Mickey Morandini will have outfielder Kelly Dugan, a second-round pick in 2009, and outfielder Kyrell Hudson, a third-round pick that year. Third baseman Harold Martinez, a second-rounder this year, will also start his pro career with the Crosscutters. - Bob Brookover