Tuesday, September 30, 2014
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Joseph, Martin and Simon improved Phillies farm system

As they do every year around this time, the Phillies brought in a pack of minor-league prospects for a four-day orientation program that they hope will serve them well if and when they make the climb to the big leagues.

Joseph, Martin and Simon improved Phillies farm system

"With the expensive pitching staff in Philadelphia, I better be ready for this assignment," Tommy Joseph said. (Reading Phillies)
"With the expensive pitching staff in Philadelphia, I better be ready for this assignment," Tommy Joseph said. (Reading Phillies)

A couple hours after the Eagles introduce Chip Kelly as their 21st head coach Thursday, the Phillies will hold a media event of their own at Citizens Bank Park.

As they do every year around this time, the Phillies brought in a pack of minor-league prospects for a four-day orientation program that they hope will serve them well if and when they make the climb to the big leagues.

The final day of the program includes media interviews and there is something really interesting about this year's cast. Three of the seven players in town were not even with the organization a year ago at this time.

That trio consists of catcher Tommy Joseph and pitchers Ethan Martin and Kyle Simon. The other four players taking part in the program are projected third baseman of the future Cody Asche, outfielder Zach Collier, left-handed pitcher Adam Morgan and catcher Cameron Rupp.

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Joseph, Martin and Simon came to the Phillies in three separate trades and performed well enough that the Phillies feel as if they significantly improved their farm system with the additions.

Here are some short bios on the three newcomers to the organization:

Tommy Joseph: He was acquired along with outfielder Nate Schierholtz and minor-league pitcher Seth Rosin in the July 31 trade that sent right fielder Hunter Pence to San Francisco. With Schierholtz released in December and Rosin considered more of a fringe prospect, Joseph will be the player that determines the outcome of the Pence trade.

That deal, of course, has already worked out well for Pence, who will have a World Series ring from the Giants to show his friends for the rest of his life. It could work out for the Phillies, too, if Joseph follows Carlos Ruiz as the team's next catcher.

Joseph, 21, batted a combined .257 with 24 doubles, 11 home runs and 48 RBIs last season at double-A Richmond and double-A Reading, the two Eastern League affiliates for the Giants and Phillies. His defensive tools and leadership qualities have pushed him ahead of Sebastian Valle as the team's top catching prospect. With Joseph, Valle and Rupp all targeted for double-A and above in 2013, it should be interesting to see how the Phillies handle the minor-league assignments at the end of spring training.

Ethan Martin: He was acquired along with pitcher Josh Lindblom and infielder Stefan Jarrin in the July 31 trade that sent Shane Victorino to the San Francisco Giants. Like Joseph in the Pence deal, Martin will likely determine the success or failure of the Victorino deal.

Martin, 23, was the 15th overall pick in the 2008 draft by the Dodgers, but his development with the team had been slow. He appeared to make strides forward last season, going a combined 13-6 with a 3.48 ERA in 27 double-A starts, including seven with the Phillies' Reading affiliate. He figures to be a part of manager Dave Brundage's starting rotation at triple-A Lehigh Valley this season.

Kyle Simon: When the Phillies traded Jim Thome to the Chicago White Sox after the 2005 season, they did well to get Aaron Rowand and Gio Gonzalez in the deal. Rowand only spent two seasons here, but was a very productive player and Gonzalez was later dealt back to the White Sox for Freddy Garcia in a trade former general manager Pat Gillick would rather forget.

It seemed much less likely that the Phillies would get a quality player for Thome when they traded him to Baltimore last summer, but Simon was outstanding in the combined 20 relief appearances he made at single-A Clearwater and double-A Reading after joining the organization.

The 22-year-old righthander was 3-0 with one save and a 1.26 ERA at Clearwater. He struck out 14 batters and walked only one in 14 1/3 innings.

In 13 ppearances at Reading, he was 1-0 with two saves and 1.42 ERA. He allowed just 12 hits, struck out 21 and walked five batters in 25 1/3 innings.

The Phillies sent Simon to the Arizona Fall League, but he did not fare as well in five starts with the Peoria Javelinas, posting a 2-2 record and 9.00 ERA.

Gabriel Lino, a 19-year-old catcher from Venezuela, was also part of the Thome trade and he played in 37 games at Lakewood last season, hitting .227 with three home runs and 14 RBIs. The Phillies also liked what they saw from Lino.



Bob Brookover Inquirer Columnist
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