The first month of the baseball season is behind us, and it's time to take a detailed look at the Phillies' minor-league system through April.
What better place to start than with double-A Reading outfielder Domonic Brown, the most publicized prospect in a system that has been thinned by the recent trades that brought the team stud pitchers Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay.
Brown, despite a concussion that forced him to miss five games, is off to a solid start at Reading, which is where he finished the 2009 season. Through Thursday, he led the R-Phillies in hitting (.327), on-base percentage (.382) and extra-base hits (eight), but the most encouraging thing about the 22-year-old rightfielder might be his attitude.
Asked last week how he felt he had performed during the first month, Brown changed the subject.
"I'm not worried about that," he said. "I just want to win. The numbers and stuff, that's going to come. I don't really worry about the numbers. As long as we're winning ball games, I'm fine."
For the record, Reading lost that night and slipped to 8-12.
"I think we'll bounce back strong, but right now things are a little tough around here," Brown said.
Brown had a difficult stretch in mid-April after suffering a concussion when he collided with second baseman Ozzie Chavez during an April 16 game at Richmond. Brown was accidentally kneed in the head by Chavez as both players converged on a fly ball.
"It wasn't that bad, actually," Brown said. "I was a little woozy getting up, but I was fine 30 minutes to an hour after that. I had to get a CAT scan back in Philly. It just took a couple of days, and I ended up sitting out five or six days. It was a little bit longer than I wanted."
The main thing the Phillies wanted Brown to improve upon this season was his defense and assistant general manager Chuck LaMar is pleased with the rightfielder's progress.
"He definitely has improved his defense from what we saw last year," LaMar said. "He has always had a good work ethic, and he has really played a good right field so far. The other thing we've seen so far this year is that he's putting the bat on the ball against righthanders and lefthanders."
Brown, 22, knows a trip to the big leagues is unlikely this season, but he said patience isn't a problem because he knows how long it took guys like Jayson Werth and Ryan Howard to reach the big leagues.
"When I watch Jayson and Ryan and those guys come through the minor leagues, it took them a while, so why should I worry about it?" Brown said. "As long as I'm playing baseball, I'm fine."
Here's a look at some of the Phillies' other prospects through the first month of the season (statistics are through Thursday's games) with some comments by LaMar:
OF John Mayberry.
Hit .301 with seven doubles, a triple, two home runs, and 13 RBIs through 19 games.
"We think he's really improved," LaMar said. "He just needs a break and an opportunity. I know he struggled last year, but you can pick an all-star team of guys who struggled their first time in the big leagues. There were times he went two weeks without a plate appearance and he still hit four home runs."
P Scott Mathieson. Was 1-0 with three saves and a 0.84 ERA in first eight appearances. "After two Tommy John surgeries, he was healthy all last year, and he's off to a good start this year," LaMar said.
OF Tyson Gillies.
Hit .185 with three RBIs and no stolen bases through 16 games. Walked just twice and struck out 17 times. LaMar attributes Gillies' poor start to the jump from single-A High Desert in the Seattle Mariners' system to the double-A Eastern League, where he's facing the likes of Washington Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg.
SS Freddy Galvis. Hit .237 with two doubles and two RBIs through 20 games. "The offense is a work in progress," LaMar said. "We're not expecting him to be an outstanding offensive player, but he could play shortstop in the major leagues right now. We really don't know what to expect from him average-wise."
P Phillippe Aumont. Was 1-1 with a 3.32 ERA after pitching six no-hit innings against Richmond on Sunday. Had walked nine and struck out 14 in 212/3 innings. "This is a young man who only had eight professional starts before this year, and he's starting and pitching at the double-A level," LaMar said. "He's competing and gaining confidence and working on the things we asked him to work on. Whether he's a starter or reliever down the road, he's only going to get better by getting innings."
P Michael Schwimer. In eight appearances, he had two saves and a 0.93 ERA and struck out 13 in 92/3 innings. A 14th-round pick in 2008 from the University of Virginia, the righthander has impressed the Phillies in the early going.
OF Anthony Gose.
Hit .233 with eight extra-base hits, seven RBIs, and six stolen bases through 20 games. Struck out 23 times in 86 at-bats. "Last year, he had an outstanding offensive year [at Lakewood], but this year he has struggled offensively, and that surprised us a little bit," LaMar said. "His strikeouts are up. You have to make an adjustment from level to level. He's still playing outstanding defense."
P Trevor May. Was 1-1 with a 1.42 ERA and struck out 23 batters in 122/3 innings. "He's been a little inconsistent, but he's a legitimate prospect," LaMar said.
P J.C. Ramirez. Was 2-1 with a 5.32 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 232/3 innings. "He had a bad outing last time out, but up until then he was doing very well," LaMar said. "He's working on a change-up, and that may hurt his results, but it will help his development."
P Austin Hyatt. Was 3-1 with a 1.99 ERA and allowed just 11 hits and struck out 27 in 222/3 innings. "He has a good fastball and a good change-up," LaMar said. "The development of his breaking ball will determine how high he goes."
OF Anthony Hewitt.
The Phils' 2008 first-round pick was hitting .256 with three home runs and 17 RBIs through 20 games. "He might be one of the most improved players in the organization," LaMar said. "Even though he's still striking out, he's making more contact than in the previous two years. We're encouraged. He's having some fun for the first time since we signed him."
OF Domingo Santana. The power-hitting rightfielder has a .207 batting average but a .397 on-base percentage. "He's a true 17-year-old playing in the South Atlantic League. He should be a junior in high school. He has as much natural ability as anybody on that team. We think he'll get better as the summer goes along."
P Nicholas Fernandez. A 12th-round pick from the University of Tennessee last year, Hernandez followed his 8-1 2009 season at Williamsport with a 2-0 start and 2.12 ERA in five outings for the Blue Claws. He has struck out 31 and walked just four in 34 innings. "He's one of the most improved players in the organization because of the development of his breaking ball last year in the [Florida] instructional league."
P Jarred Cosart. Was 3-1 with a 3.26 ERA through four starts and has struck out 26 batters in 191/3 innings. "He's an outstanding major-league prospect, and he has grown up as far as his work ethic and attitude."