In Reading, several prospects who appeared overmatched or out of sorts last summer have returned to form. Most impressive to date: Phillippe Aumont, Austin Hyatt, J.C. Ramirez and infielder Cody Overbeck. Beat writer and friend to Beerleaguer, Mike Drago, provides his take:
"Aumont was just not comfortable in his new role as a starter last season, and everything snowballed on him. He’s back in the bullpen and a completely different guy this season, much more confident and throwing the ball the way the Phillies envisioned he would when they traded for him. He again looks like a prospect who could fill a role in the bullpen within the next year.
"Hyatt was the Florida State League Pitcher of the Year last season but by the time he got to Reading he was gassed. He’s got more zip on his fastball now, and more command, and looks like a much more polished pitcher. At this early juncture I’m not sure how good he can eventually be, but he does have some value for the organization.
"Ramirez was pitching hurt most of his time in Reading during the second half last season. He didn’t know it at the time but he had a torn labrum in his right hip and it prevented him from delivery comfortably and at full velocity. He’s recovered nicely from offseason surgery and, like Aumont, looks like the top-level prospect they expected to receive in the Cliff Lee trade. Definitely should be able to help the big club sometime within the next 18 months.
"Overbeck struggled his first two months in Double-A last summer but began to turn it on in the final month, and showed plus power. Through the first two weeks of the season he’s been the best hitter in the Eastern League, and leads the league in homers, RBIs and slugging. However, the Phillies have moved him to first base, and it’s hard to say how much value he’ll have over there. The organization has few, if any, legit third base prospects, so his move across the diamond is telling.
"Matt Rizzotti has been tearing the cover off the ball, just as he did here last season. Again, his future within the organization appears to be limited. He can only play first base, and isn’t strong there with the glove. So, his value to the Phillies would seem to be as trade bait. His bat is lethal, however, and you’d have to think some American League club would have interest."
Mike Drago covers the Reading Phillies for the Reading Eagle newspaper and contributes his Double-A report for Beerleaguer from time to time.