The talent pool may be a little dry, but the top four levels of the Phillies farm system are headed toward winning seasons.
Phillies GM Pat Gillick believes winning is a part of development. If that’s the case, the players currently moving through the high levels of the Phillies farm system are getting a valuable taste of success.
The top four levels – Scranton Wilkes-Barre (AAA), Reading (AA), Clearwater (A) and Lakewood (A) – all have winning records, totaling 263 wins to 215 losses (.550).
Scranton (71-51, 1st place, North Division) defeated Syracuse 3-2 for their fourth straight win yesterday. Gavin Floyd (7-3, 4.15 ERA) earned the victory by pitching seven strong innings. Catcher Carlos Ruiz went 2-for-4 and hit his 12th home run of the season. Ruiz has been the Barons’ best hitter, bar none, and has not cooled off all this season. The Red Barons are now 2.5 games up on Rochester in the North Division.
After a dismal start, Reading (61-57, 3rd place) has somehow clawed back into the playoff picture. They’re getting the biggest push from veteran hitters like Gary Burnham, John Castellano and Matt Padgett, but also a huge lift from a red-hot bullpen, led by Talley Haines, Evan Fahrner and closer Joe Bisenius. This was a team that had high expectations, but virtually all the young bats fell flat, including second baseman Tim Moss and Jason Jaramillo. The unfortunate early effect is that the young arms – Gio Gonzalez, Zach Segovia, Scott Mathieson, and before his trade, Dan Haigwood – were sort of wilting away on the vine while the offense banged out two or three hits. Finally, the have something worth playing for. Castellano says it’s the best group he’s ever been around.
Clearwater (29-21, 2nd place, West Division, 60-59 overall) defeated St. Lucie yesterday to continue their second-half surge. At long last, position prospects Greg Golson (OF), Tim Moss (2B) and last season’s first pick Mike Costanzo (3B) are starting to hit a little. Kyle Kendrick is the club’s best pitcher at 7-5 and a 3.89 ERA.
Powered by a dynamite collection of arms, Lakewood (34-16, 1st place, Northern Division, 71-48 overall) is having the best season of any affiliate. They defeated Lexington 8-2 yesterday for their fifth straight win. Matt Maloney, Carlos Carrasco and Joshua Outman have been the team’s best pitchers, but they’ve gotten good results from just about everyone they've put on the hill. Yesterday, RHP Ben Pfinsgraff struck out eight in seven innings to earn the win in his BlueClaws debut. Just three nights ago, Carrasco combined on a no-hitter.
Short-season Batavia and the Gulf Coast rookie academy have fared a little worse. Batavia is 25-27, while the GCL Phillies have started 15-29.