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Phillies prospects may aid Aussie team

Phillies prospects may aid Aussie team

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Forget about the blooming onions at Outback Steakhouse. The Philadelphia Phillies have a few blooming Australians of their own.

Right-hander Drew Naylor and catcher Joel Naughton have both made huge strides since signing with the Phillies. The young "Ozzies," former teammates for both Queensland back home and Class A Lakewood stateside were added to Philadelphia's 40-man roster this past offseason, and it looks like they may get to team up yet again -- this time for the Australian squad in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

Naylor, who could be one of the top starters for Australia, combined to go 8-10 with a 3.86 ERA and 156 strikeouts in 165 1/3 innings last summer between Lakewood and Class A Advanced Clearwater. He ranked 11th in the Minors in strikeouts and also had three complete games in his first full season.

Signed in 2004, he pitched in his home country's sanctioned league for two seasons before making his American debut in '06. He has combined for a 3.78 ERA in those three summers.

The 22-year-old throws a fastball that sits around 90 mph and is offset by a good curveball, which has become an out pitch, and a fast-developing changeup.

"Drew's very tall and lanky and when he first came to us his secondary pitches were just OK," recalled Steve Noworyta, the Phillies' Minor League director. "But the next year he came in and became a man. He just matured and got stronger, and his secondary pitches had him blossom to where he is today."

For Naylor, the key to making the next logical jump will simply be the two big "Cs" of pitching, command and consistency.

Naughton, meanwhile, is a left-handed hitting catcher whose .257 average over four pro seasons might make one wonder why he was added to the 40-man, but he has definitely been an up-and-comer.

He enjoyed his best season offensively in '08, when he hit .275 in 86 games at Lakewood, and his defense has been increasingly better since he signed at age 16.

"Pitchers like throwing to him. He calls a good game and he's very intelligent back there," Noworyta said. "The guys had said his hitting would come along in time and his defense came along quicker, but that's OK. With a catcher, you want that."

Other Phillies on Classic rosters

RHP Mike Bolsenbroek is on the Netherlands provisional roster. The 6-foot-8 Bolsenbroek actually attended college in the United States and was drafted twice by the Chicago White Sox ('06 and '07). He did not sign either time, opting instead to pitch in Europe. He was drafted a third time in '08, this time in the 42nd round by the Phillies and made his brief pro debut in the Gulf Coast League, where he posted a 1.42 ERA in 6 1/3 innings.

RHP Carlos Carrasco is on the Venezuelan provisional roster. The top pitching prospect in the Phillies organization, the 21-year-old has one of the most highly regarded young arms in the game, and the Phillies have been careful not to rush him. In '08, in his second go-round at Double-A Reading, he was 7-7 with a 4.32 ERA and moved up to make his Triple-A debut down the stretch, posting a 1.72 ERA in six starts at Lehigh Valley. Between the two stops he combined for 155 strikeouts in 151 1/3 innings. He has the best fastball in the organization as well as an excellent changeup and his curve and command are much improved.

OF Mike Spidale is on the Italian provisional roster. A 12th-round pick by the White Sox in 2000, the 26-year-old Spidale signed with the Phillies as a Minor League free agent in '06 and has hit .282 in nine Minor League seasons without a callup to the big leagues. At Reading in '08, he batted .282 with eight homers, 36 RBIs and 18 steals. He's stolen 20 or more bases in seven of his eight full-season campaigns.

Lisa Winston is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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