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Phils honor Minor League players of '09

Phils honor Minor League players of '09

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PHILADELPHIA -- Ryan Howard answered the same question in 2003 and '04 that Kyle Drabek and Michael Taylor are answering in '09.

When will be you get here?

The Phillies honored Drabek and Taylor before Tuesday night's game against the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park, where they received the Paul Owens Award as the club's Minor League Pitcher and Player of the Year. Drabek, the team's first-round pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, made the jump from Class A Clearwater (4-1, 2.48 ERA) to Double-A Reading (8-2, 3.64 ERA). Taylor, the team's fifth-round pick in 2007, made the jump from Reading (.333, 15 home runs, 65 RBIs) to Triple-A Lehigh Valley (.282, 5, 19).

Drabek has never pitched at Triple-A, so he is expected to start 2010 in Lehigh Valley. Taylor is expected to join him because there is no room for him in Philadelphia, where the Phils have All-Star outfielders Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth under contract or under their control next season.

Taylor's situation is similar to the one Howard faced as a Paul Owens winner in '03 and '04. His path to the Majors appeared to be blocked with Jim Thome at first. But after Thome got hurt in '05 and Howard won National League Rookie of the Year honors, the Phillies traded Thome to the White Sox after the season.

"Some good advice I got is that when things happen, they happen really fast," said Taylor, who will play winter ball in Mexico. "I don't think I can concentrate on that because right now, there doesn't seem to be a clear path the next year or two. They have three starting All-Stars. It makes it really difficult to kind of break in when you're looking at it that way. But at the same time, anything can happen. You just have to continue to prepare yourself and hopefully the opportunity comes sooner rather than later."

Drabek said, "I'm just going to try to go into Spring Training in the best shape that I can and compete. Whatever happens, happens."

The Phillies shut down Drabek before the end of the season because he threw 158 innings, over 100 more frames than he had thrown in any previous season in his professional career. This was Drabek's first full season following Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery in July 2007.

"When they told me, I would have rather continued pitching," Drabek said. "But I certainly understand why they did shut me down. I'm sure I'm going to look back on it and think it was the best thing for me."

Todd Zolecki 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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