The Philadelphia Phillies are already the consensus pick to win the National League in 2012, as they return the best pitching staff in baseball and an improved bullpen. It doesn't hurt that sluggers Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols are playing in the mighty American League, either.
While Ruben Amaro Jr. made a huge splash in free agency at the Winter Meetings with the free-agent signing of Jonathan Papelbon, it seems clear at this point what the GM set out to do to improve this club.
Improve the bench with versatile players that can play a myriad of positions and have some pop in their bat. Charlie Manuel now has much more flexibility in the later innings with the acquisitions of Ty Wigginton, Laynce Nix and Jim Thome.
A prospect that can play more than one position has a better chance of playing in the big leagues. They can fill different needs that a team may have over a grueling 162-game season.
Here are the Philadelphia Phillies' most versatile prospects.
I want to start out by saying if you're a Phillies fan and have a Twitter, then Jiwan James (Jiwan23) is a must-follow. He is hilarious, and it's pretty cool to follow a guy's trek through the minor leagues.
Also, he often talks about his desire to be playing in front of the Philadelphia "Phaithful" some day as well.
James is now 21 and was selected in the 22nd round of the 2007 MLB draft. He has flown up prospect ranking lists and was the No. 9 prospect in the Phillies organization, according to Baseball America in 2011.
James is a freak athlete who received a ton of Division I interest while in high school for baseball, basketball and football. He was a legit prospect in all three sports with his lanky 6'4" frame.
He has since filled that frame out pretty nicely (even with the below-average amount food he eats on the road as a minor leaguer) and can play all the OF positions.
He is a switch-hitter and has a rocket for an arm (former pitching prospect). Baseball America considers James to be the Phillies prospect with the "Best Outfield Arm" and also the "Best Defensive Outfielder."
James seems to project as a .270 hitter with plus speed and a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder. His plate discipline continues to improve each season and he is now the Phillies' best OF prospect in their organization, as Domonic Brown is no longer eligible.
James, at the very least, will be a solid fourth OF for a major league club someday.
It seemed like Philadelphia Phillies MiLB Player of the Year Freddy Galvis' days were numbered with the organization when they re-signed Jimmy Rollins this past offseason. That may not be the case, however, as utility man Wilson Valdez (the goat-man) was traded and Michael Martinez is now left to sit in the dugout alone.
Enter the slick-fielding Freddy Galvis. Scouts already project his glove to be amongst the best in MLB, and he added more muscle to his frame in 2011.
He had his best year as a pro in 2011, splitting time with the Lehigh Valley Iron Prigs (AAA) where he hit .298/.315/.364, and the Reading Phillies (.273/.326/.400). He has the ability to swipe a bag when needed and could provide Charlie Manuel with a terrific glove in the later innings.
Guys like Wigginton and Thome are solid hitters, but don't expect them to enter a game late as a defensive replacement. Galvis can play every IF position and fill that role for the Phightins.
MLB.com's 33rd-ranked prospect is Philadelphia Phillies Phillippe Aumont. Aumont has been a starter, setup man and closer since being drafted in 2007, but it seems like reliever is where he will stay as he could crack the Phillies' 25-man roster this season.
Now that Aumont is pitching out of the bullpen, he is no longer concerned with conserving energy as he did when he was a starter. He was regularly hitting 97 on the radar gun with his fastball with Lehigh Valley, and he earned the honor of "Best Fastball" in the organization from Baseball America.
He also has a filthy curveball in his arsenal, which is ranks tops in the organization as well. The fifth-ranked prospect for the Phillies seems like he has gotten it all together, so don't be surprised to see him have a monster year for the MLB ballclub.
I still can't believe the Phillies traded Cliff Lee, but Aumont may make the deal worthwhile after all.
Cody Overbeck may never be an MLB player for the Philadelphia Phillies (or any team), but there is no denying that he has produced offensively at every level. Overbeck, now 25, may finally be coming into his own, as he hit 24 HR between AA-Reading and AAA-Lehigh Valley.
He may not be a freak athlete like some other players on this list, but he has played 3B, 1B and LF in the minors. Overbeck reminds me a bit of Ty Wigginton, as he can play both corner IF positions and also some OF if needed.
He has power in his bat and could be a playoff addition for the Phillies when they increase their roster to 40. It may be safe to say that Overbeck has entered the Matt Rizzotti perjury zone for the Phillies.
He is a solid player who has done well at every minor league level, but he's now an older prospect who may never crack the big leagues. The team is in a win-now mode and doesn't have full confidence in him, even at this point.
One year ago, you could not even mention the Philadelphia Phillies without the name Domonic Brown. The Philadelphia Phillies' five-tool prospect who wouldn't be included in deals for Halladay, Lee, Oswalt or Pence was given every opportunity to win the starting RF job for the major league team prior to 2011.
Things may have worked out for the best as it forced Ruben Amaro Jr. to acquire the power-hitting Hunter Pence at the trade deadline. Brown will again be given the chance to win a job in spring training, and he could join John Mayberry Jr., Laynce Nix and Hunter Pence as the team's starting OF in 2013.
Shane Victorino will be a free agent after this season and the team has bigger needs at this point with Cole Hamels' pending free agency. Brown has elite talent and the backing of an entire organization. He can play every OF position, even if it looked like he couldn't catch a fly ball when he was with the major league club.
He has been recognized as the Phillies' top prospect by seemingly every major scouting organization out there. He can hit for power and average, has plus speed and a cannon for an arm. Brown is a can't-miss prospect who has been missing a lot of pitches during the past year.
He will turn it around. Better yet, he has to turn it around.
He has been great at every level and will be a great MLB player some day as well. When that will happen?
Hopefully sooner rather than later.
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