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Free Jiwan James

For all the talk about the need to “Free Dom Brown” from the shackles of AAA, the dungeon of LeHigh Valley, the torture chamber of minor league baseball, perhaps it’s time to start a new campaign.

Folks, I’m getting the “Free Jiwan James” T-shirts all printed up. They’re $5 a piece, and the line forms to the left.

OK, I’m getting way ahead of myself, I know. Dom Brown is much closer to the Majors than James is, for sure. And even though Brown isn’t off to a particularly hot start at the plate (.263/.311/.368 in 57 ABs with 0 home runs and 12 Ks), the Phillies should seriously consider promoting Brown to the Phillies if Mayberry hasn’t picked himself up off the mat by the start of May. And, if Brown has shown that he can do what most 12 year-olds can do… catch a fly ball.

But this Jiwan James kid sure is intriguing. He just turned 23 and is tearing it up at AA Reading. Through 15 games he’s hitting .319/.346/.596 for an OPS of .942, with 2 HRs and 9 RBIs. He strikes out a bit too much (16 Ks in 47 ABs) and is not a patient hitter (just 3 BBs). In fact, I asked Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus about James on Twitter this week, and Goldstein noted James’ lack of patience as his big drawback.

Still, the tools are real. Of course, James needs more than just 15 games at AA before anyone can really make a serious fuss. But if he continues to play well, he may be the guy who gets the call to take Dom Brown’s spot with the Iron Pigs when Brown inevitably gets called up sometime next month.

And hey, if you’d like to know a bit more about Jiwan James, he bared his soul in this Q&A with TopProspectAlert.com. His favorite player is Derek Jeter, by the way. We’re going to have to figure out a way to like this kid despite that.

But, even though life for James on the baseball diamond is about as good as it can get, life off the field can still present its little challenges.

First of all, I LOVE the fact this guy likes to watch MLB.TV. It’s encouraging that he likes baseball enough to watch it when he’s not playing it. That’s what the old time scouts that Billy Beane wanted to set on fire “a gamer.”

As for Jiwan’s microwave problem, it stinks that I live in northern Virginia and he’s all the way in Reading, PA. I’ve got a perfectly good microwave sitting in the garage that’s doing nothing but housing a small family of rats. I could have let him have it for a song.

Poor Jiwan did suffer a bit of culture shock this week during a recent road trip to the northern part of the country…

The people up north tend to do things the old fashioned way. They kill a bear with their own two hands, an axe, and an old-fashioned lantern their great grandpappy left them, and turn the animal hide into jerky.

As for the rest of the kids on the farm, James isn’t the only top prospect off to a good start in Reading. Catcher Sebastian Valle is hitting .304/.340/.413 so far. On the hill, Trevor May is undefeated on the young season (3-0) with a respectable ERA (3.18) and a good K/BB ratio (19/6) in 17 innings.

Down in Clearwater, two highly touted prospects continue to scuffle. Number two prospect Jesse Biddle is 0-2 in three starts with an ERA of 7.94. Walks have been a big problem so far (5 in 11.1 innings). And outfielder Anthony Hewitt is hitting a microscopic .050, with just one hit in 20 at bats thus far.

There was some good news from Clearwater this week, as Justin De Fratus completed a rehab assignment that appeared to go well from a physical standpoint…

And hey, if Justin is super-stoked, then I am super-stoked.

And finally, just to prove my point once again that the life of a highly-touted minor league prospect is not all limo rides and gold teeth, Trevor May reminds us of that fact one more time…

The scariest part is, Trevor seems genuinely excited about this. Seriously, call this kid up as soon as possible so I don’t have to realize that I have a more glamorous lifestyle than him!

Oh and FREE JIWAN JAMES while you’re at it!

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