Michael/Male/26-30. Lives in United States/Pennsylvania/Wexford/Christopher Wren, speaks English. Spends 20% of daytime online. Uses a Fast (128k-512k) connection. And likes baseball /politics.
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United States, Pennsylvania, Wexford, Christopher Wren, English, Michael, Male, 26-30, baseball , politics.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Minor Leaguers Week, Part IV: Adrian Cardenas 

Lots of stuff to talk about today … First a couple of thoughts on the MLB Draft coverage. I thought that ESPN did a nice job covering the draft. They definitely tried to make the process accessible to the viewers and attempt to convey the most information they could, in contrast to ESPN’s NFL Draft coverage, which focuses in on the players stories. With baseball being an information-laded sport, I like that and I thought that ESPN did a nice job. They are really trying to move the Draft from being an event for hardcore baseball junkies to making it accessible to the public. I’ll watch next year.

I guess that it figures that the Phillies were going to select a pitcher with their first-round draft pick. I like what I see about this Joe Savery kid. He seems to have good stuff and would fit in with the Phillies. It might be a little to hope that he’s the next Cole Hamels, but he certainly looks and sounds the part. His hopes of reaching the majors in the fall of 2008 is wildly optimistic, however. But I like that confidence.

The rest of the Phillies picks were all good – with their supplemental first-round pick the team took Travis D’Arnaud of Lakewood High School in California. D’Arnaud comes highly recommended by Baseball America for his skills as a defensive catcher. That’s good in a division where he might be seeing Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez for ¼ of the season.

Travis Mattair of Southridge High School in Washington was the Phillies second-round pick. He’ll be a good third baseman with some power at the plate. Right there, the Phillies addressed what I felt were their two major issues of focus – third base and catching.

In the third round the Phillies took Brandon Workman, a high school pitcher from Texas who has a good fastball and apparently stands six foot four. They also took Matthew Spencer, a slugging outfielder from Arizona State. In the fourth round, the Phillies selected Tyler Mach of Oklahoma State University, a slugging second baseman. Finally, in the fifth round the Phillies took Michael Taylor, an outfielder from Stanford who will likely develop himself into a power hitter.

Seems to be a definite flavor to the Phillies picks – Mattair, Spencer, Mach and Taylor all rate as power hitters. I noticed a trend towards speed and small-ball in the Phillies approach this season and worried a little about a philosophical shift in the team’s outlook, but I think we can safely say that the Phillies are committed to the long ball Thank goodness. Notice also that the Phillies three picks after they took Savery were high schoolers. Interesting.

Finally, I’d like to discuss the Phillies stunning three game sweep of the Mets last night, which moves them to within a game of the Braves and within five of the Mets. I think the series couldn’t have been more psychologically shattering to the Mets. Game two they were leading with two outs when Jimmy Rollins clocks the three-run home run to put the Phillies ahead to stay. Last night, with the Mets ahead 3-2, Pat Burrell quiets the naysayers with a huge solo shot off closer – and Phillies hater – Billy Wagner. If the Phillies can build on this success going into interleague play, which starts tonight against the Royals, that would be terrific, because you have to figure that the rest of the N.L. won’t fare well against their A.L. counterparts, so even if the Phillies struggle, they won’t lose too much ground.

Alright, let’s talk about Adrian Cardenas. Did you know that Adrian Cardenas will be a Phillie one day? One day … Opening Day 2010, Opening Day 2011 … You will see Adrian Cardenas standing at Citizens Bank Ballpark wearing the Red Pinstripes. This is as close to a fact, a scientific, discernable truth, as I can see. A player this good cannot be denied in his dream to become a big league ballplayer.

The Philadelphia Phillies took Adrian Cardenas in the first round of the 2006 MLB Draft with the thirty-seventh overall pick. The Monsignor High School graduate from Miami Lakes, Florida, was electrifying in his senior season of high school, becoming the Baseball America 2006 High School Player of the Year. He hit .647 (yes, that is a BATTING AVERAGE), with eighteen doubles and eighteen home runs to go with 65 RBIs. Cardenas was picked by the Phillies with their second first-round pick and sent to the team’s Rookie League affiliate in the Gulf Coast League (GCL).

Cardenas hit .318 (.384 OBP) in the GCL, stealing thirteen bases in sixteen tries and hitting four triples and two home runs. In the spacious parks of the GCL, Cardenas had a rare blend of speed with power at the plate. He was promoted in 2007 to Lakewood to play with the Blue Claws. Since Jason Donald is considered to be a superior shortstop prospect, Cardenas was moved to second base to make room for Donald.

Thus far in the South Atlantic League (SAL), Cardenas is hitting .268 (.317 OBP) with seven home runs, eight doubles and thirty-eight RBIs. Despite playing in a ballpark that is considered to be the worst for offense in the SAL, Cardenas has managed to put up good numbers for the Blue Claws.

The player that Cardenas reminds me of is Chase Utley. It is a little hard to compare Utley and Cardenas’ minor league stats because they haven’t played at similar junctions in their careers – Cardenas has played in Rookie League and Single-A ball, while Utley got started at Short-Season Single-A ball in Batavia in 2000, then advanced past Single-A to Advanced Single-A in Clearwater. Still, their slugging percentages and On-Base Percentages are nearly identical at both phases:

Cardenas (2006, GCL): .384
Utley (2000, Batavia): .383

You get the idea. Don’t be worried that the Phillies are going to deal Cardenas because they have a long-term deal set with Utley to play second base until the year 2013 or whatever it is. Cardenas is such a terrific athlete he could easily replace Jimmy Rollins at shortstop, or he could move into the outfield and play any position out there.

I hope, when the Phillies work out with Cardenas in Spring Training they get to know their young colleague quite well because he’ll be a big part of the team before they know it. Utley, Rollins, Howard … and Cardenas. This guy is a superstar in the making.

Have a nice weekend and I will talk to everyone on Monday.

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On draft success: Call me Billy Beane, but drafting an 18 year old kid in the first three rounds sounds counter productive. D'Arnaud's touting as a great defensive player strikes me as absurd, almost like Mel Kiper proclaiming him a "big motor" player. The importance of/difference between a good and average defensive catcher IS negligible. Moreover, your assertion that the Phillies addressed any "needs" at 3rd and C in the draft are ridiculous. If you see D'Arnaud or Mattair at all, it won't be until at least 2010. The holes exist now. They've only presumably put the patches on backorder. Finally, the Phillies dearth of relief pitching makes each of these picks vulnerable in the long run anyway. In other words, don't go falling in love, that mouth-breather Amaro will break your heart.
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