CLEARWATER, Fla. -- As Brad Lidge toiled in a Minor League game at the Carpenter Complex, Phillies Minor League director Steve Noworyta wandered over to the media that had gathered in the stands. "The guy to watch is [really] Julian Sampson," Noworyta said, referring to the right-hander who was opposing Lidge in this contest. "We're really excited about him." Sampson, a 19-year-old from Sammamish, Wash., was selected in the 12th round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. A year ago, he was pitching for Skyline High School and also tossed two perfect innings for the Gulf Coast League Phillies. Participating in his first professional Spring Training, Sampson will start the season at Class A Lakewood.
Though his dream of reaching the Major Leagues isn't likely to be realized for at least three years, Sampson is one of the names likely to be mentioned often as a potential future rotation fixture. Add him to a list that includes pitching prospects Joe Savery, Carlos Carrasco, Scott Mathieson, Josh Outman, Drew Carpenter and Kyle Drabek, who are varying degrees away from the big leagues. Savery, Carrasco and Outman had the thrill of experiencing their first big league Spring Training this past month. All have since been dispatched to the Minor League complex. "It was a really good experience," said Outman, who surrendered 12 hits and six walks in 8 2/3 innings. "It was a real confidence boost that I faced big league hitters, and I didn't feel overmatched by anyone. At the same time, it was aggravating because it didn't go as well. But it was incredible to be around that atmosphere." Outman, Carrasco and Carpenter could be part of the Double-A rotation, while Savery is expected to start at Class A Clearwater. Mathieson and Drabek are both recovering from Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery. Mathieson has resumed throwing, while Drabek is expected to be ready by June. The Phillies will be patient with their young arms as they work their way up the organizational ladder, having already developed home-grown arms like Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, Ryan Madson and Kyle Kendrick.
While it's tough to tell who will be next, it's fair to say there are plenty of candidates.On the pine: The Phillies had a clean Spring Training from a Minor League standpoint. Names in the game: Dusty Wathan retired as a player after the 2007 season and will serve as the manager of the Class A Williamsport Crosscutters. Wathan, the son of former catcher John Wathan, received five at-bats for the Royals in 2002 and recorded three hits. He's appeared in more than 1,000 Minor League games. Class of '07: Outfielder Matthew Spencer, selected in the third round, batted .263 for rookie league Williamsport in 51 games. The former Arizona State University alum should be at Class A Lakewood in 2008. Quotable: "That's what I'm here to do -- make sure we win and make sure guys like throwing to me. I feel like I can swing. I'm confident knowing I can do that, but I'm going to stay in the Major Leagues for however long because guys like throwing to me." -- Jason Jaramillo, who is regarded as the team's catcher of the future. He'll start the season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.