Former Phillies Prospects: Where Are They Now (Part Four – 2011)

Posted: March 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

Image2011 will always be remembered as the year of unfinished business in Philadelphia. The Phillies, rife with an abundance of starting pitching, won 102 games, the most in baseball for the second consecutive season. Unfortunately, their superb regular season was for naught, as the Fightin’ Phils were bounced from the postseason in the NLDS by St. Louis. In the process of putting together a roster capable of such regular season dominance, Ruben Amaro continued to purge the system, making a couple of major (and a minor move here or there) decisions that still affects the team today.

– January 10th, 2011: Phillies trade LHP Sergio Escalona to Houston Astros for 2B Albert Cartwright

Houston Astros Photo DaySome may forget about this 28-year old lefthander. Sergio Escalona was signed by the Phillies in 2004, eventually making his way through the system and getting his first MLB experience with Philadelphia in 2009. That year, the southpaw appeared in 14 games, going 1-0, 4.61 in 13.2 IP. At the time, the Phillies has multiple left-handed options ahead of Escalona, including Scott Eyre, J.C. Romero, and Antonio Bastardo. After spending 2010 in Reading, the Phillies traded Escalona to the Houston Astros in exchange for minor league infielder Albert Cartwright. Escalona thrived in Houston during the 2011 season, appearing in 49 games as a lefty specialist, going 2-1, 2.93 in 27.2 IP. The then 26-year old flashed an inherent ability to fool southpaws, as lefties hit just .188 against him. Unfortunately for Escalona, his arm couldn’t take the heat, and he was lost for all of 2012 after undergoing Tommy John Surgery. He has already made 4 appearances this spring, and should get a chance at cracking Houston’s bullpen once again in 2013.

Cartwright, meanwhile, was injured during the 2011 spring, missing all of that season. He returned last year, playing 105 games for single-A Clearwater, hitting .257-5-40 in 105 G. The now 24-year old has tons of speed, and has proven in the past an ability to make a large impact at the lower levels of the minors (2010: .294-10-55, 31 SB, 54 XBH in 127 G between single and double-A). He will get a shot to make the leap to Reading this season.

– July 29th, 2011: Phillies trade RHP Jarred Cosart, 1B Jonathan Singleton, RHP Josh Zeid, and OF Domingo Santana to the Houston Astros for OF Hunter Pence

singAt the time, this move seemed worthwhile. The Phillies, near the top of the league, supplemented their declining offense with the best available offensive player in Hunter Pence. Enjoying a career year at the time, Pence only improved in his remaining half-a-season with the Phillies, hitting .324-11-35 in just 54 games in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, that success did not translate to the postseason, where the two-time All Star hit .211 against St. Louis with 0 XBH. Expected to be with the team long term, Pence was shipped to San Francisco last summer for far less than the Phillies gave up after a slow start to 2012 (.271-17-59). Pence was actually far worse with the Giants, struggling to the tune of .219-7-45 in 59 G. But, San Francisco did win the World Series. So, they will not be shedding any tears about the deal.

Meanwhile, the prospects that Philadelphia surrendered were, at the time, considered quite a haul by Houston. After the Roy Oswalt and Brad Lidge deals, it was about time that the Astros got the best of the Phillies. Cosart, a finesse righthander, has been ranked in the top 100 prospects for four consecutive years now. He has yet to pitch in the majors. But, his minor league performance has been strong (6-7, 3.30 in 21 G last year between double and triple-A). Cosart should see time in Houston this season.

Singleton was considered by most to be blocked by Ryan Howard in Philadelphia. The organization tried moving the now 21-year old to a corner-outfield spot. But, like Darin Ruf, his struggles in the field were evident. Singleton continued his sweet swinging last season with Corpus Christi (AA), raking .284-21-79 in 131 G. With no long term first baseman blocking him, Singleton could (and probably should) see time this season at the MLB level. Unfortunately, the phenom was dealt a blow when he tested positive and admitted to smoking marijuana in the offseason (a terrible, terrible act if I must say so myself). The league suspended Singleton 50 games for his minor transgression.

Josh Zeid is a big, 6-4 righthander from Tulane University. Drafted in the 10th round in 2009, Zeid was very impressive in the Phillies’ system, going 16-9, 2.94 in two seasons at the single-A level. Upon being dealt to Houston, Zeid was moved from a spot-starter role to a full-time reliever. His struggles have been evident, as Zeid has gone 4-4, 6.15 in 82 G since the deal. Once a promising prospect, Zeid will have to figure his issues out if he hopes to remain in Houston long term.

Finally, we have Domingo Santana. A player-to-be-named later at the time of the deal, Santana may end up being the Phillies greatest regret. At just 20-years old, Santana had been in affiliated minor league baseball with Philadelphia since he was 16. At 6-5, 220, Santana still needs to fill out his massive frame. But, the youngster has plenty of time for that. Since joining the Astros’ organization, the Dominican born outfielder has begun his ascent towards the majors. In his first full season at advanced single-A with Lancaster, Santana raked, finishing .302-23-97 in 119 G. Santana finished strong in 2012, winning the final California League Batter of the Week award for the season.

Clearly, the Phillies surrendered way too much to acquire a player of Pence’s ability. Granted, he plays every day. But, Pence was never relied upon to be “the man” in Houston. In 2012, it was far too obvious that he just was not up to the task. So, he was traded about a year after the team acquired him in the first place.

– September 23rd, 2011: Phillies trade LHP Mike Zagurski to Arizona Diamondbacks for RHP Adam Worthington

200px-Zagurski_croppedBig Mike Zagurski was a 2010 AAA All Star with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. This in the midst of earning call ups with Philadelphia in three separate seasons, 2007, 2010, and 2011. Unfortunately for Mike, those stints were shaky at best. His final line in the City of Brotherly Love: 1-0, 6.82 in 37 G. Zagurski was just too hittable and surrendered far too many home runs in the majors. The organization, clearly feeling for the man, dealt him to Arizona for more of an opportunity to pitch. The 29-year old got that chance in 2012, tossing a career high 37.1 IP whilst going 0-0, 5.54 for the Diamondbacks. He landed in Pittsburgh this offseason.

In return, the Phillies basically got nothing. Former 20th round pick Adam Worthington was acquired as a player-to-be-named later. The 25-year old was 14-14, 4.20 in three seasons with the Diamondbacks’ rookie and single-A affiliates. But, Worthington never got an opportunity to pitch for the Phillies’ organization, as the franchise released him prior to the start of the 2012 season. He landed with the River City Rascals (O’Fallon, MO) of the Frontier League, playing with the likes of nobody you have ever heard of, and finishing his season 0-1, 5.40 in just two games.

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