EVERY WEEKDAY FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR FutureBacks.com will bring you a profile of a top Diamondbacks prospect. That's more than 35 profiles coming to you in just over a month and a half. It all leads up to the FutureBacks.com Top 50, a ranking of the 50 best prospects on the Diamondback's horizon. Today Managing Editor James Renwick goes behind the dish to dish on Lancaster JetHawks catcher Phil Avlas.

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Top 50 Prospect Profile: Phil Avlas

<i>Avlas found his swing in '04</i>

<p><b><span style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #0099ff">EVERY WEEKDAY FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR</span></b> FutureBacks.com will bring you a profile of a top Diamondbacks prospect. That's more than 35 profiles coming to you in just over a month and a half. It all leads up to the FutureBacks.com Top 50, a ranking of the 50 best prospects on the Diamondback's horizon. Today Managing Editor James Renwick goes behind the dish to dish on Lancaster JetHawks catcher Phil Avlas.</p>

Vital Statistics:

Name Phil Avlas
Position Catcher
Age 21
Height 5'11"
Weight 175
Bats Right
Throws Right
'04 Club Lancaster JetHawks (Hi A California League)

A converted shortstop Phil Avlas had always been known as a good 'catch and throw' guy, useful for defense, but unlikely to have the bat to get to the majors.  2004 turned that around in a big way.  He hit .315 with 13 homers in 2004, and was named to the 2004 California League All Star team.  Often overshadowed at Lancaster, first by the 'Three Amigos' of Carlos Quentin, Conor Jackson, and Jaime D'Antona, then Jon Zeringue and Reggie Abercrombie, Avlas played steady and sure, and emerged as one of the best options at catcher for a team that has no less than five catchers that will be in their first or second year at the Major League level if they make the big league team.

'04 Lancaster (Hi A) Average Home Runs RBI SLG %
Phil Avlas .315 13 68 .516

Batting and Power:  Avlas found his bat in '04.  Though he will never be a Piazza-like 30 homer guy, there really are only two or three at the major league level who are.  What Avlas has become is a gap power hitter who sprays the ball.  His 54 strikeouts in 384 at bats are a little worrisome, but considering this was the first year Avlas hit at all the Diamondbacks are confident another year of work will provide more contact, and a higher average.

Base running and Speed:  Avlas has slightly better than catcher's speed, but is aggressive on the base paths, challenging outfielders and taking the extra base more often than not.  He won't be asked to run often, but gets surprisingly good jumps when he does.

Defense:  Avlas still has a shortstop's footwork, and a plus plus arm.  He's drawn raves from the likes of Jason Bulger and Justin Wechsler for the way he calls a game.  It makes him an intriguing option for the Diamondbacks, because his defense is already superior to all the catchers ahead of him save Koyie Hill, who's rehabbing a broken ankle.  Coaches consistently marvel at his endurance behind the plate, claiming he never makes a 'lazy' play.

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