PHILADELPHIA -- Minor League director Steve Noworyta looked like a proud papa on Wednesday, gushing over the Phillies' farmhands set to begin the 2008 season. Pitching prospects J.A. Happ (Triple-A Lehigh Valley), Drew Carpenter (Double-A Reading), Joe Savery (Class A Clearwater) and Drew Naylor (Class A Lakewood) were scheduled to start the team's Minor League openers on Thursday. Savery, the Phils' first-round pick in 2007, will throw against Dunedin. The lefty starred for Rice University and started seven games at short-season Williamsport in 2007. Savery has designs on making his Major League debut in 2008, though the Phillies will move him more gradually.
Carpenter wowed the organization in a Grapefruit League outing near the end of the Spring Training with a four-inning stint against the Yankees. It included his getting into and out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam. He'll face Altoona on Thursday. Not invited to big league camp, Carpenter said he'll use that as motivation to be this year's Kyle Kendrick, assuming he's afforded such an opportunity. "It's going to make me work harder to get here next year and maybe see if we can get up to Philly this year," Carpenter said on March 26. Happ faces Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Thursday with the same plan as the others. He poked his head in the big leagues on June 30, allowing five runs in four innings. Knowing how close he is, Happ's mantra this year is to relax. "Last year, I put a lot of pressure on myself," Happ said last month. "I thought I had to put up great numbers, because I wanted to get [to the Major Leagues]. I was focused on a week ahead instead of what I needed to do that day. I had to concentrate on Triple-A instead of worrying about getting to the big leagues. That's still what I'm aiming for, but day-by-day is the biggest thing." Naylor is one of an influx of Australian players in the organization, including infield prospect Brad Harman. The 21-year-old Naylor posted a 3.28 ERA in 14 starts for Rookie League Williamsport and is emerging as a bright light. He'll face Lake County on Thursday.
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.