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Can Phils turn young pitchers into stars?


Can Phils turn young pitchers into stars?
Quiz times, boys and girls, and we'll make it multiple choice.

Here's this week's question: How many home-grown pitchers have gone on to win 15 or more games in a season for the Phillies since the start of the draft in 1965?

a): 1-to-4. b): 5-to-10. c): 11-to-15. d): 16-to-20.

If you guessed c or d, you haven't been paying attention.

The correct answer is b.

Only five pitchers selected by the Phillies in the draft's first 44 years eventually won 15 games in a season for the organization: Larry Christensen (19-6 in 1977), Dick Ruthven (17-5 in 1980), Kevin Gross (15-13 in 1985), Randy Wolf (16-10 in 2003) and Cole Hamels (15-5 in 2007).

And each of them did it only once, although obviously the book is still open on Hamels.

Want more?

Since major league teams began to develop their own farm systems (for these purposes we'll say since World War II) there are only seven additional pitchers who originally signed with the team and accomplished that feat: Hall of Famer Robin Roberts, Egypt's Curt Simmons, Bubba Church, Jack Sanford, Art Mahaffey, Chris Short and Rick Wise.

That's 12 home-grown pitchers in 64 years who have won 15 games in a season for the Phillies .

(One more tidbit: Although 20-game winners have become an endangered species these days, the Phillies haven't had a home-grown one of those since Short went 20-10 in 1966.)

Bring these facts up to the Phillies and their response is that you can't really judge their ability to develop pitching until you compare with other organizations.

Personally, I say we don't need any comparisons.

For whatever reasons, the Phillies historically have had trouble developing pitchers, especially starting pitchers. They naturally reject that premise and can get a bit testy when the subject comes up. They point to Wolf, Brett Myers and Gavin Floyd as recent examples of successful starters who have come from the system.

None of the three became the top-of-the-rotation aces they were touted as, however, although Wolf, the club's second-round pick in 1997, was developing nicely before injuries derailed his career. But Myers, who was the 12th overall pick in the 1999 draft, has yet to join the above list in six seasons. And does anybody really think Floyd had any chance to do here what he's done so far with the White Sox?

And lest we forget, Adam Eaton was the Phillies top pick in 1996, the 11th overall. I forgot ? how did that work out again?

Currently, the Phillies are sitting on a group of young arms that one team exec said is as good as or better than they've ever had, led by the IronPigs' Carlos Carrasco and Lakewood's Kyle Drabek. Of the organization's top 30 prospects as ranked by Baseball America, 18 are pitchers, including seven selections from last year's draft.

Two of those seven, Vance Worley (third round) and Mike Stutes (11th)), began their first full pro season at Double-A Reading, the first pitchers to do that since Wolf in 1998.

quot;At one time last year, we have five starters of our own [at Reading], and anytime you get a chance to see that you know the organization is working the way it's supposed to,quot; farm director Steve Noworyta said.

Perhaps. But for the organization to really work the way it's supposed to, those young pitchers must ultimately be in a position to produce on the major league level -- and perhaps quickly. Myers is a free agent after this season, Joe Blanton can become one after the 2010 season, Jamie Moyer is approaching mandatory retirement and Chan Ho Park is a journeyman at the back end of the rotation. And as impressive as Hamels can be, he is still surrounded by durability concerns.

So one can only hope the team is as good as developing these arms as they are at talking about them.

jeff.schuler@mcall.com

610-820-6781

Phillies MINOR LEAGUE TEAM STANDINGS

Team Cl Leag. Wk. OR Plc GB

Lehigh Valley AAA Int'l 3-3 6-8 4th 7.5

Reading AA Eastern 5-1 9-4 2nd 2.0

Clearwater A Fla. St. 3-3 8-6 2nd 1.0

Lakewood A S. Atl. 4-3 10-6 T1st --

Note: Standings through Friday's games

BATTING

Average: Michael Aubrey, Columbus .439; Lou Montanez, Norfolk .42 9; Nolan Reimold, Norfolk .423; Oscar Salazar, Norfolk .421; Adam Rosales, Louisville .407.

Runs: John Rodriguez, Scranton/WB 18; Shelly Duncan, Scranton/WB 17; Matt Laporta, Columbus 16; Todd Linden Scranton/WB 16; Andrew McCutchen Indianapolis 16.

Hits: Salazar, Norfolk 24; Rosales, Louisville 22; Reimold, Norfolk 22; Barbaro Canizares 22.

Doubles: Fernando Martinez, Buffalo 8; Garrett Jones, Indianapolis 7; John Weber, Durham 7; John Mayberry, Lehigh Valley 6.

Triples: McCutchen, Indianapolis 5; Will Rhymes, Toledo 3; Brian Bixler, Indianapolis 2.

Homers: Duncan, Scranton/WB 5; Ryan Rayburn, Toledo 5; seven players tied with 4.

RBI: Duncan, Scranton/WB 20; Todd Linden Scranton/WB 18; Miranda, Scranton/WB 18; Reimold, Norfolk 17. Stolen bases: Wilkin Ramirez, Toledo 6; nine players tied with 4.

PITCHING

Wins: Jason Childers, Durham 4; Phil Hughes, Scranton/WB 3; Justin Lehr, Lehigh Valley 3; 16 pitchers tied with 2.

ERA (minimum 10 innings pitched): Ross Wolf, Norfolk 0.00; Michael Bowden, Pawtucket 0.64; Mariano Gomez, Gwinnett 0.71.

Strikeouts: Tommy Hanson, Gwinnett 29; David Hernandez, Norfolk 23; Ian Kennedy, Scranton/WB 21; Daniel McCutchen, Indianapolis 20.

Saves: Daniel Bard, Pawtucket 3; Jim Miller, Norfolk 3; Bob McCrory, Norf. 3.

Note: Statistics through Friday's games.

FAST FACT

Entering Saturday night, the IronPigs bullpen had a 1.09 ERA over the last nine games, or since it was hammered by Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for 28 earned runs in 18 innings in the first four games. Over those nine games, IronPigs relievers have allowed four earned runs and 23 hits in 352/3 innings.

EIGHT-DAY SCHEDULE

TODAY: Pawtucket, 1:35 p.m.

MONDAY: Pawtucket, 7:05 p.m.

TUESDAY: at Scranton/W-B, 7:05 p.m.

WEDNESDAY: at Scranton/W-B, 7:05 p.m .

THURSDAY: Toledo, 7:05 p.m.

FRIDAY: Toledo, 7:05 p.m .

SATURDAY: Toledo, 7:05 p.m .

SUNDAY: Toledo, 1:35 p.m .

INSIDE TODAY

'PIGS AUTOGRAPH CARD

Turn to Sunday's Morning Call for the first in our annual IronPigs Collectors Series of full-color autograph cards. Andy Tracy and Mike Cervenak are featured this Sunday.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 28, 2009

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