The Phillies shook up the upper levels of their minor league system today, promoting four players from Double-A Reading to Triple-A Lehigh Valley: left-handed pitcher Ryan Edell, right-handers Phillippe Aumont and Justin De Fratus, and first baseman Cody Overbeck. No corresponding moves were immediately announced.
The promotions come in the midst of undeniably excellent seasons from the four players, the last three of whom could make significant contributions to Philadelphia down the line.
Edell is sort of the oddball prospect of the four, a minor-league veteran who’s bounced around three organizations in the past year. A changeup-oriented lefty with good command, the soon-to-be-28-year-old made it to Triple-A with the Indians in 2009 but got hammered for a 6.36 ERA, but he has a long track record of excellent K/BB ratios at the Double-A level. The 2011 season was no exception in that regard, as Edell walked just nine and struck out 50 in 72 innings with Reading. He certainly can’t afford to blow his second Triple-A gig, but if he continues to throw strikes there, he could have a future as a reliever or even a fifth starter (although he’s not likely to start for the Phillies barring a streak of injuries to their vaunted rotation).
Aumont was supposedly the biggest prize in the original Cliff Lee deal, but experiments with moving him to the rotation failed, and it looked like he was going to be a huge bust. But he’s righted his career as a power reliever, with a 41/11 K/BB in 31 Double-A innings. With his combination of a power sinker and big curveball, he should be a good reliever for many years, provided he stays healthy. Even with his struggles earlier in his career, Aumont’s just 22 and right on schedule.
De Fratus is another sinker-throwing reliever with good numbers, posting a 43/14 K/BB in 34 innings with Reading. He’s 15 months Aumont’s senior, and lacks the Canadian behemoth’s raw stuff, but De Fratus is nevertheless a guy who can hold down an important bullpen role as a hard thrower with velocity and movement on a two-pitch mix.
Overbeck, like Matt Rizzotti and Jonathan Singleton, is a first baseman in the wrong organization. He used to play third base, but his thick body and erratic arm didn’t work particularly well there, so he’s been mainly at first this year, with one game at third and a handful in left field. He first came on the scene with a .302/.380/.553 line in High-A last year, but a post-promotion slump erased most of that momentum. Surprisingly, though, the 24-year-old picked himself up and mashed the ball at a .275/.331/.532 clip to open the year, and he’s already hit 18 home runs in 62 games. Clearly, he’s got power, and unlike Rizzotti and Singleton, Overbeck at least hits right-handed, so perhaps he can have a future as a right-handed pinch-hitter/occasional corner defender against LHPs/interleague DH. It goes without saying that he’s in the wrong organization and wrong league, however.
Since all of these players have overcome some sort of adversity (Edell’s advanced age and release by the Indians last year, Aumont’s previous struggles, and De Fratus and Overbeck’s anonymity) to get this far, it’ll be interesting to see if they keep producing at the minors’ highest level.