One of the big issues bandied about after the Phillies closed the disappointing 2012 season was the future. Did the Phillies have anyone on the farm that could make an impact on the big-league level?
Well, there's a glimmer of hope in the high minors. Tommy Joseph and Cody Asche were each sent packing but not after turning a few heads. If Joseph pans out, then the Hunter Pence deal may have been well worth it.
Joseph, 21, who was traded by the Giants to the Phillies, wowed Charlie Manuel and company. The catcher led the Phillies with a .462 average in Grapefruit League play and hit one long home run. Joseph has the potential to replace Carlos Ruiz, a player in the final year of his contract with plenty of miles on his odometer.
Joseph, who hit the ball hard and received praise from the pitching staff, could be two years away from the majors.
"I just came here to camp hoping to learn as much as possible," Joseph said. "I have a great instructor in Chooch [Ruiz]."
But Joseph had a pretty good teacher when he was with the Giants.
"I learned a lot from Buster Posey," Joseph said. "He's just an incredible player."
Joseph hopes to have as well rounded a game as Posey. If he could only approximate what the MVP does for the Giants, the Phillies have a gem on their hands.
"That's what I would love to do," Joseph said.
Meanwhile, Asche hit .357 and played a solid third base.
"It's a great experience to be around these players," Asche said. "It certainly helps any young player to be in such an environment."
Asche, 22, could be just a year away from replacing Michael Young.
"I just want to prove that I belong," Asche said. "I know I'm going there [to Lehigh Valley]. I'm going to do my best there. I hope to one day get to Philadelphia."
The Phillies are crossing their fingers that Asche and Joseph will inject the team with an infusion of youth.
"When I look around at the younger players here, I think the Phillies are doing a good job developing," Joseph said. "It's encouraging."
Some other Phillies who were cultivated down on the farm include: Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Cole Hamels and Carlos Ruiz.
"That's really impressive," a NL scout said. "You have two MVPs, Utley, who was on his way to an MVP until he got hurt in 2007, an ace and a terrific catcher. That development led to a World Series and a pennant. That's not an easy job to follow-up."