Before the season, most people wouldn’t have included left-hander Mike Zagurski on a list of the 30 best prospects in the Phillies farm system. After beginning the year in Clearwater, he was pitching for the Phils by June.
This is an old news item that slipped through the cracks during playoff fever, but I wanted to make sure to give Zagurski his due, especially since there’s been a great deal of misguided commentary about the Paul Owens selections.
If I had to pick just one player in the entire chain who made the greatest strides last season, it would be Zagurski in a one-horse race. That's what the award is all about. It's not a best in show.
Most are wondering why the pitching hardware didn’t go to Carlos Carrasco, Andrew Carpenter or Josh Outman. Outman scuffled a little in Double-A, but otherwise had a great season. Carpenter looks like a fine prospect, but he’s pitching about as well as I’d expect a second-round pick from Long Beach State to pitch. Lastly, I’m not sure Carrasco took any steps forward once he reached Double-A. Carrasco won the award last season for making the kinds of strides Zagurski made this season.
Let Baseball America keep tooting the horn for talents like Carrasco, or blue-chip prospects like Carpenter. Once that magazine wraps its head around someone, it’s hard for them to stop. The Phillies got it right for recognizing an unheralded, rising player. All Zagurski did was smoke three levels of the farm system before injury cut his season short. As for his failings in the Bigs, so what? It was a total stretch asking him to become the Phillies' late-inning lefty, a reach brought on by a bullpen emergency they created.
Toolsy Low-A outfielder Quintin Berry won the award for position players, which is tough to debate since this was his first full professional season. All I can say is I wish there were less position players attached to the "toolsy" label, since it generally signals at least one gaping hole in their game. My official position on Berry is "If they say so."
On the subject of old news, the Phillies outrighted right-hand reliever Yoel Hernandez and he has elected free agency. There was a time Hernandez was viewed as a rising bullpen prospect until his career was ruined with arm problems. He debuted with the club this season, part of the revolving door of relievers from Ottawa. He wasn't horrendous, but wasn't fit for the Majors, either. Fastball-slider. Nothing great. At 27, his baseball dream will live on elsewhere.
World Series chat tonight!
After a brief hiatus, the bar reopens tonight for Game 1 between the Rockies and Red Sox. Game time is 8:15-ish. Time to belly up to the bar of baseball discourse.