The Washington Times - September 3, 2008, 09:18AM

By JAY LeBLANC
September 7, 2008

Back in June, National Pastime profiled Philadelphia Phillies prospect Greg Golson, a 22-year-old outfielder with the double-A Reading Phillies in the midst of his best professional season to date. The 2004 first-round pick went on to hit .282 with 13 home runs, 60 RBI and 23 stolen bases in the minors this season. He was summoned to the big leagues on Monday, and made his major league debut this afternoon. Golson entered today’s game against the New York Mets at Shea Stadium in the sixth inning as pinch hitter for catcher Carlos Ruiz and fanned against Scott Schoeneweis. He remained in the game, playing center field, and flew out to center in the eighth inning against Nelson Figueroa. The Phillies ended up winning 6-2 to pull within one game of the Mets in the National League East. While his debut was relatively uneventful, Golson is surely thrilled to have achieved his lifelong goal of playing in the bigs. He also earned the distinction of becoming the first National Pastime Prospect Q&A subject to reach the bigs (Washington Nationals lefty Ross Detwiler pitched one inning last September, but that was before his interview).

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Often times, teams summon players from the minors in September to provide them with an audition of sorts, but that’s certainly not why the Phillies added Golson to their roster. With his team engaged in a back-and-forth battle with the New York Mets in the N.L. East, mananger Charlie Manuel won’t be going out of his way to get Golson in the lineup just for the sake of getting him experience. Instead, he’ll likely take advantage of the rookie’s speed and athleticism by using him as a pinch-runner and late-inning defensive replacement.

Golson is sure to embrace that role, as he told National Pastime that defense is his favorite aspect of the game. “You can really impact a game, where people will remember stuff,” he said. “If you hit a double, someone might remember it for a couple days, but if you make a great catch that saves the game, people remember that for a long time.” He also knows what it takes to be an effective base stealer, as evidenced by his 120 steals in 154 attempts as a pro. “You’ve got to be real observant of what the pitcher is doing, if they fall into patterns, what the catcher is doing, the counts, the game situation - stuff like that,” he said. “But speed is the big thing.”

While Golson has finally reached the bigs after four-plus years in pro ball, he likely hasn’t seen the last of the minors. In order to stick as a table-setter in the majors, Golson - who fanned 130 times in 426 minor league at bats this season while drawing just 34 walks - will need to cut down on his strikeouts and learn to be more patient at the plate. With Shane Victorino playing a solid center field and under the Phillies’ control for the the next few years, the team can afford to be patient with Golson and let him iron out the final wrinkles in his game in hopes that he’ll be a fixture in their outfield for years to come.

You can read the full National Pastime Prospect Q&A with Greg Golson by clicking here.

Jay LeBlanc is an assistant news editor at The Washington Times and Mayor of the National Pastime web community. His Prospect Q&A column runs every Monday and Thursday throughout the season. He can be reached at jleblanc@washingtontimes.com.

Photo by Amanda Rice