When you're built to win, your prospects sometimes suffer. The Phillies have leveraged their farm system to help bring more talent to the parent club in recent seasons, but they'll still go into Spring Training with an impressive arsenal of arms that could pay dividends down the road.
Joe Jordan, the team's new director of player development, is looking forward to sorting out his options during the exhibition season, but he knows he has some talented pitchers in Trevor May and Brody Colvin that should get their first test against upper-level hitters this summer.
"Nobody's going to benefit more than me from six weeks of Spring Training and getting to see the players," Jordan said of his new job. "I think it will be a good test for them. That's the level you try to get all your best guys to, and that's the level where prospects separate themselves."
Jordan, formerly employed as the scouting director in Baltimore, said he knows many of Philadelphia's farmhands from their days as amateurs. Jesse Biddle, likely to start the season with Class A Advanced Clearwater, is another arm that Jordan will be watching closely.
And while those players are a couple seasons away from the big leagues, the Phils have two relievers -- Justin De Fratus and Phillippe Aumont -- that could help immediately. De Fratus zoomed through the upper levels and made his big league debut last season, while Aumont, a former starting pitcher, seemed to make great progress in his first season out of the bullpen.
"I think they're both guys we're counting on to contribute very soon, and if it doesn't happen right away, at some point in the 2012 season," Jordan said. "The most important thing is that they come into camp healthy and ready to contribute. This is obviously a very good Major League team, and while there's going to be some opportunity in Spring Training, there aren't a whole lot of open jobs."
Top 20 Prospects
The Phillies have prospects and projects on the pitching side of the equation, but they'll also have some hitters to monitor next season. Philadelphia took outfielder Larry Greene with the 39th overall selection in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, but he signed too late to make his pro debut.
Catcher Sebastian Valle is another interesting prospect, and shortstop Freddy Galvis will provide depth for Jimmy Rollins. Philadelphia has been active in scouting Latin America, and Lisalberto Bonilla and Leandro Castro both came from the team's efforts in the Dominican Republic.
Jonathan Pettibone, a former third-round draftee, took a big step forward for Clearwater last season, but the Phils are still looking for production from former first-rounder Anthony Hewitt. Hewitt has yet to hit better than .240 at the lower levels and struck out 149 times in 119 games last year.
phillies' top prospects
Under the radar
Sometimes, guys like this crater. And sometimes they turn into Matt Stairs.
Matt Rizzotti has overcome modest Draft position and advanced age at every stop of the Minors to establish himself as a potential sleeper. Rizzotti batted .361 in a half-season for Double-A Reading in 2010, and he returned last year to hit .295 with 24 home runs and a .392 on-base percentage. If Rizzotti can do something similar at Triple-A, he may earn a big league audition.
And if De Fratus or Aumont don't work out, the Phillies may turn again to Michael Schwimer. The right-hander went 9-1 with a 1.85 ERA and 86 strikeouts in 68 innings for Triple-A Lehigh Valley last season, and he's managed a 3-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio during his Minor League career.
Hitter of the Year
Valle has proved that he can hit for average and extra bases, but he's yet to really do both in the same season. The 21-year-old is still growing into his game, though, and could be poised for a breakout at Reading, where his responsibilities may include catching May and Colvin.
"He's a very good prospect off what I've seen," Jordan said. "He's a good looking kid, and he's got all the ingredients to be a pretty good offensive catcher if he keeps progressing at the higher levels."
Pitcher of the Year
May has always been able to strike out batters in high volume, but prior to last season, he was also guilty of handing out more than his fair share of walks. That changed in his second year at Clearwater, where he struck out 208 batters and walked just 67 in 151 1/3 innings.
Now the 6-foot-5 right-hander needs to prove he can do that at the upper levels. May allowed just eight home runs at Clearwater last season, and he held opposing hitters to a .221 average.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.