I chuckled to myself yesterday after reading a bit of Phillies news. Phillies’ news doesn’t usually have that effect on me. When Jimmy Rollins called Philly fans “front runners” I didn’t chuckle, and when the Phillies signed Jim Thome last year I definitely didn’t chuckle. That time I shook my head and cried.
CBS Sports baseball insider Jon Heyman reported that outfielder Domonic Brown was involved in trade talks with the Houston Astros this offseason. According to Heyman, “the Phillies weren’t ‘eager’ to deal an outfielder.”
Isn’t that funny?
The Phillies weren’t “eager” to deal an outfielder who, in 433 major league at-bats over three seasons, has managed a .236 batting average, saw his on-base percentage dip to .316 last season, and has made fielding routine fly balls seem anything but routine. His one saving grace: his arm. Last season, he was second on the team in outfield assists with seven (three in left, four in right) to Hunter Pence’s nine.
Aside from his arm, Phillies’ fans would agree that Domonic Brown has not lived up to the hype. You could blame that on the Phils’ minor league scouts and coaches, a front office that wants to believe in its organization’s scouts, and the media for perpetuating the hype. But that’s an argument for another time.
So just for fun, I wanted to see if the Houston Astros minor league system was any good. Baseball America‘s Organizational Talent Rankings list doesn’t come out for another month. SB Nation, another reputable sports blog, already has a list. The Astros are the 10th best minor league system, up from 25th last year while the Phils are in the 20th spot, up from 24th last year.
I could pontificate about how the ‘Stros did this and that to shoot up 14 spots in SB Nation’s rankings, and how great it would be if the Phillies’ general manager could rebuild the minor league system into respectability.
But this is my blog so, if I may, let me indulge myself.
According to SB Nation, the Astros have a number of impact bats in the minor leagues, but the organization is missing arms that they could potentially develop into starting pitchers. Conversely, the Phillies’ system’s strength is its pitching but lacks quality hitters.
In December, the Phillies traded young pitchers Vance Worley and Trevor May to the Minnesota Twins for outfielder Ben Revere. What if, before that trade was made with Minnesota, the Phillies proposed a trade with Houston?
P Vance Worley
P Trevor May
OF Domonic Brown
OF George Springer
In addition to Houston getting two young pitchers, the Astros’ move to the American League West could allow Domonic Brown to focus solely on improving his hitting in spring training, in preparation to be the team’s designated hitter. The Phillies would get the Astros’ third-ranked prospect, according to MLB.com, who has a combination of power and speed and is an above-average defensive centerfielder. He’s supposed to be ready for the big leagues in 2014 so, theoretically, he could spend the 2013 season between the Phils’ double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley affiliates.
Here’s how this trade could have shaken out for the Phils this year: Darin Ruf in left field; John Mayberry Jr. in center field; and a platoon of Laynce Nix and right-handed spring training invitee in right field until Delmon Young is ready. Then as long as it’s not a total disaster, in 2014, you have Ruf, Springer in center field, and sign Corey Hart who will be a free agent after the 2013 season.
“But Jared,” you say, “didn’t you learn anything from the Domonic Brown situation, and what happens to overhyped prospects that underperform?”
Yes. The Phils only procure Major League players from the Houston Astros, they don’t give them up. Doug Jones, Billy Wagner, Brad Lidge, Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence were all Astros-turned-Phillies. Maybe I need to wait for Springer to get the call from the big club. Only then would he have a chance to become a Phillie. If a guy like Springer became a Phillie, I would feel such an overwhelming sense of confidence and pride in the Phillies’ front office. I would have to laugh out loud.
What do you think? Will Domonic Brown break out this year and prove all the haters wrong? Leave a comment below.