OFFSEASON? Not for Joe Jordan. Spring training is approaching and he's had to do some cramming.
Jordan is the Phillies' new director of player development. He got the job in October after his predecessor, Chuck LaMar, abruptly resigned in September. Since then, offseason life has mostly been traveling and fact-finding.
"With a lot of the [players], I'm relying on what I've been told," the affable Jordan said recently. "But I was also familiar with many of them, because they were players that we also scouted."
He's referring to his days as director of amateur scouting with Baltimore, a post he'd held the previous seven seasons (2005-11). He's also been a minor league scout and executive with the Montreal Expos and Florida Marlins.
Minor league execs, of course, keep an eye on who's doing what in other organizations. So Jordan was able to offer an educated opinion when quizzed about several of the Phillies' farmhands.
So here goes:
Armed with a 95-ish fastball and hard curve, May struck out 208 in 151 1/3 innings at advanced Class A Clearwater last season. But the big righthander was given to occasional bouts of inconsistency.
"We think he's a good-looking young pitcher," Jordan said. "It's pretty simple with him. He has great stuff, and we think he has the stuff to be a good major league pitcher. We think it's just a matter of working on his command."
May (6-5, 215) is likely headed to Double A Reading this season after going 10-8 with a 3.63 ERA at Clearwater. The Phillies gave up righty Jarred Cosart and first baseman Jonathan Singleton, two highly touted prospects, to get Hunter Pence from Houston last summer. That means May figures to be the organization's top prospect in a trade-depleted crop.
The Phils' top catching prospect also is coming off a big season at Clearwater (.284, five homers, 40 RBI in 91 games).
"It's extremely rare to get an 'offensive' catcher, a catcher who can also hit," Jordan said. "He has a chance to be an effective player on both sides. He can handle a pitching staff and he can hit. He has all the ingredients to be a good, solid, everyday catcher. Physically, the ingredients are all there."
Valle (6-1, 170) is on the 40-man roster and likely headed to Reading. Worth noting: Valle played in Mexican Pacific League last fall and hit .175 in 80 at-bats. The 28 strikeouts are a little worrisome.
Jordan got a chance to see the shortstop play in Venezuela in the offseason. He liked what he saw - with the bat and the glove.
"Freddy couldn't have played better," he said. "We think he'll be a good major league player. Defensively, he's ready to play in the major leagues now. Offensively, sure, he has to continue to develop. Freddy's a strong kid, stronger than you might think. And he's very intelligent young player."
Galvis (5-10, 170) hit .298 in 33 games last season at Triple A Lehigh Valley after opening the season strong at Reading. Jimmy Rollins is back with the big club, so Galvis likely will start at Triple A this season.
The Phils took the powerful 6-1, 230-pound outfielder with the 39th overall pick last June, but he didn't sign until August. Greene worked out with the Gulf Coast League team late last season and spent time in the Florida Instructional League, but a tender groin limited his time on the field. So he remains a bit of an unknown. As a senior last year at Berrien High School in Nashville, Ga., he hit .562 in 30 games with 19 homers.
"He has the materials to have game-changing power from the left side of the plate," said Jordan, who scouted Greene with the Orioles. "He has power to all fields. I'll tell you, real power is hard to find. We think he has it. The challenge now is to make sure he's healthy, get him in shape, and we'll see what happens in spring training."
Meaning the Phils aren't sure where he'll start the season. Possibly Class A Lakewood.
The big lefthander from Germantown Friends had a strong second half at Lakewood last season. He finished the year 7-8 with a 2.98 ERA with 124 strikeouts and 66 walks in 133 innings. Biddle was hexed, it seemed, by one bad inning that would taint an otherwise decent start.
"I think it's a matter of building on the momentum he had with his strong finish last year," Jordan said of the Phillies' 2010 first-round pick. "He's a big kid who can pitch and he has a good arm. He has a breaking ball, a changeup, all the things you look for. Now it's a matter of him working on his mechanics."
Count on Biddle to start at Clearwater.
* Somehow, righthander Brody Colvin remains on several top-prospect lists. Baseball America recently listed him as the Phillies' No. 8 prospect. MLB.com has him third. Colvin was only 3-8 with a 4.71 ERA in 22 appearances at Clearwater last year.
"Oh, yeah, he's still on the radar," Jordan said, with a touch of emphasis. "With Brody, it's not so much his stuff. He has good stuff. At times [last season], he just lost his command, so he just needs to get his confidence back. He has a good arm; he's healthy.
"The key is to get him off to a good start. Again, we don't know where that will be yet."
Meaning he could start the season in Clearwater to get some confidence-building work.
* Outfielder Tyson Gillies was the prize in the deal that sent Cliff Lee to Seattle in 2009. Hamstring and foot injuries limited him to only 31 games at three levels in the last two seasons (only three at Clearwater last summer).
He played in the Arizona Fall League this offseason and the results: .178 in 90 at-bats, one homer and 24 strikeouts.
"He didn't have a lot of success," Jordan noted.
So the team paired him with minor league hitting coordinator Steve Henderson at a recent minicamp in Clearwater to work on his approach.
"What I saw with Tyson was encouraging," Jordan said. "He's a physical, strong, fast young man. An exciting player to watch. Another thing is that he's 100 percent healthy, and he's going into spring training healthy, so he's still on the radar."