TRENTON - The calendar is about to turn to July, and that means it's baseball's trade season.
Who's a buyer? Who's a seller?
When it comes to the Phillies, naturally, they are looking to upgrade. Philadelphia has looked for pitching since the staff has been devastated by injuries.
However, getting a player means giving someone up.
Last year, when the Phillies got Joe Blanton from the Oakland Athletics, they gave up one of their top prospects in Adrian Cardenas. The second baseman was considered the second-best prospect in the organization, according to Baseball America, which ranks prospects across the league.
This year, the Phillies' minor-league system is loaded with pitching prospects, including several at double-A Reading (Pa.). Seven of Baseball America's top 30 Phillies prospects from before the season are in Reading, including five pitchers.
"The guys are going to do whatever it takes to get to the big club," Reading manager Steve Roadcap said. "The players understand it's out of their control. You just go out there and play the best you can."
But not all of Reading's trade bait is pitching. Michael Taylor is an imposing outfielder. The 23-year-old is 6-foot-6, 250 pounds and one of the best power hitters in the system with 14 homers in 72 games.
If the Phillies want to acquire a high-end pitcher, he's the exact type of guy they likely would dangle.
Over a four-game set against Trenton (the Yankees' double-A team), Taylor went 9-for-16, including a towering home run on Sunday that many were still talking about Monday afternoon.
"I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about (being traded) sometimes," said Taylor, 23, the sixth-ranked prospect in the organization by Baseball America. "The Phillies are looking (at) getting more pitching, so people keep asking me about it like my friends and family.
"It doesn't change anything. I still have to go out there and play. It's like everything else. You just have to play."
Scouts are at every game. They have been there all season.
"You can pick out the scouts sometimes (before games)," Roadcap said. "But when the game starts, I think there are more than the ones I saw."
Of the pitchers, righty Kyle Drabek and lefty Joe Savery are high on everyone's want list. Drabek, 21, has a 2.46 ERA between Reading and Clearwater this year. He has struck out 74 in 61 innings.
Savery, 23, became the Eastern League's first 10-game winner Monday. He gave up two hits and four walks in six innings against some of the Yankees' best minor-league talent. Taylor went 4-for-5 as the Phillies won 12-2.
Savery, Taylor, third baseman Neil Sellers and pitcher Vance Worley will represent Reading in the Eastern League All-Star Game oJuly 15 in Trenton.
Drabek said his father, former Cy Young Award winner Doug Drabek, has helped him deal with being possible trade bait.
"My dad told me not to worry about all the other stuff and to just pitch," Drabek said. "He helps a lot. I can call him and talk about my outings with him."
Drabek talked to his father about the outside parts of the game, as well - the things that can happen once a player isn't between the lines.
The advice was simple for Drabek, a cool, laid-back righty from Houston. So, he walks around the clubhouse with a smile and a joke at the ready, and pitches when he needs to.
"I can't imagine there being anything better than this," Drabek said. "This is the best thing in the world."
There's no telling how the Reading roster is going to change in a month.
Philadelphia could give up some of Reading's best players to get a front-end-of-the-rotation starter, a guy to complement Cole Hamels. Or, it could stand pat and, literally, not give up the farm in a trade.
For the next month, any of these guys could be on the move. They can only wait.
"I've seen some good guys go, but more guys just come," Taylor said. "Some guys get released and some guys move up. It comes with the territory."
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