Dominic Brown: Untouchable. Jake Diekman: Off the radar.
As the Phillies try for a sixth consecutive NL Eastern Division crown, it's obvious this season will be more challenging than the previous divisional crowns. Injuries and age are starting to take their toll and the latest blow, a shoulder strain to ace Roy Halladay, might be too much to overcome.
The Phillies aren't the only team battling injuries this season. Most franchises dip into their minor league system for help. Seeing that some of the bigger surprises this season have been Freddy Galvis and Jake Diekman, it makes you wonder if the brass of the Phillies know what they are doing when evaluating talent.
A couple of outfielders were deemed untouchable midway through the 2009 season when the Phils went shopping for a pitcher. Those two outfielders were Dominic Brown and Michael Taylor.
Taylor, 6'5" 255 lbs, was a fifth-round draft pick in 2007. He was eventually included in the deal that brought Roy Halladay to the Phillies. The Blue Jays quickly flipped him to the Oakland A's, where he appears to have turned into a "quadruple-A" type player. He's flashed plenty of power and speed in the minors, but that hasn't translated well at the major league level and now he's just another 26-year old in AAA.
Brown was the real prize. It was thought that the Phillies wouldn't include Brown in any deal; Not for Halladay, not for Roy Oswalt, not for Hunter Pence. Brown has done nothing but regress since last season. He's actually living up to being a 20th-round selection of the 2006 draft and at 25, has the five-tool prospect to a one-dimensional
I'm confident the Phillies evaluators are completely on top of their game.
In 259 AAA at-bats since the start of the 2011 season, Brown has hit .259 with just three home runs. Yes, it appears injuries have derailed him, but even in his brief call-up in 2010 when he appeared to be on top of his game, Brown looked extremely raw, both at the plate and in right field.
How about Greg Golson, who was traded straight up for John Mayberry following the 2008 season. After the 2007 season, Golson was listed as the Phillies minor leaguer with the following attributes: best power, fastest baserunner, best athlete, best defensive outfielder and best outfield arm.
Check out the Baseball America 2012 Projected Lineup from an article in early 2009:
1b- Ryan Howard
2b- Chase Utley
SS- Jimmy Rollins
3b- Jason Donald (dealt to Cleveland in the Cliff Lee trade)
LF- Michael Taylor (dealt to Toronto in the Roy Halladay trade)
CF- Shane Victorino
RF- Domonic Brown
SP- Cole Hamels, Carlos Carrasco (Lee), Kyle Drabek (Halladay), Brett Myers, Joe Blanton
CL- Brad Lidge
Yes, these are rankings based from a publication, but they're basically from evaluators within the organization.
Freddy Galvis is arguably making a case for "Rookie of the Year" in the National League. His defense at second has been spectacular and he has held his own offensively. Why was there any hesitation this spring in making him the guy?
Lefty Jake Diekman was so far off the Phillies' radar he didn't even make the Phillies "Top 10 Prospect" list. That's after this 6'4" leftty struck out 83 hitters in AA last season in 65 innings of work while allowing just 47 hits. How is a tall lanky lefty who throws 95 MPH dismissed like that?
The answer is simple. The gang in charge of evaluating young talent within the Phillies' organization are struggling to evaluate their own, and others for that matter. The jury is still out on the three they received from Seattle in the Cliff Lee deal. JC Ramirez, Phillippe Aumont and Tyson Gillies have not done anything to set the world on fire, and that goes back to the evaluators as well.
Maybe I'm being a little harsh, but the Phillies are nearing a critical stage of the 2012 season. The timetables on Ryan Howard and Chase Utley's return are still way up in the air, while Halladay is gone until mid to late July. It's times like these when other parts of the organization need to show their value. Understanding exactly what they have in the minors can't be blindfolded "wins" like Diekman or blatant fails like Brown.