It’s the End of the World as I Know it, and I Feel Fine…

Ok, it’s not the end of the world, but it is the end of the “ticketed” baseball season for me, in all likelihood.

So these are all my tickets for the games we paid for this year (minus a couple that ended up in the laundry). What I have here is SIXTY-SEVEN tickets. This does NOT include all the free/unticketed Spring Training, Extended Spring Training, or Gulf Coast League games!

2013 Tickets (well most of them)
2013 Tickets (well most of them)

I think I can honestly guesstimate that Baseball Ross and I went to over 140 games this year. Ross even more than that, as there were a couple of games I missed for either illness, another commitment or when I was away on vacation.

With Fall Instructional League coming next week, I will add a couple more games to that list….

My project for next season is to buy a journal and log every game I go to. That way I will have an accurate accounting of how many games I’ve actually attended.

It’s been a memorable year. I got some of the autographs I’ve really coveted, Jimmy Rollins and Carlos Ruiz, I got to know some really great players and it’s all been one amazing year.

In the coming days I will be posting my end of the season articles….and with the year we’ve had, there’s a lot to cover….

Stay Tuned….




My End of Season Top 10 Prospects in the Phillies’ System

Baseball Ross and I have lived in Clearwater for the last two years. We moved here specifically for the baseball. From Spring Training, to Extended Spring Training, to Gulf Coast League, to the Fall Instructional League and the Florida State League Clearwater Threshers, there’s a lot of baseball to see.

For the ten prospects on the list, they are players I have watched and am excited to see progress.

1.  Cody Asche. Recently called up to the majors, he has always been a guy that we’ve had our eyes on. He’s a solid third baseman and has the numbers to back that claim. We watched him most of last season with the Threshers before he was moved up to Reading.

2. Maikel Franco. He started the season here in Clearwater before moving to Reading. He plays third and what we like about him is that he has soft hands. He will field the ball, taking time to catch it, then will fire it with laser-like precision. He can also hit the long ball.

3. Jesse Biddle. This much-touted southpaw certainly has what it takes. During a game in April that we watched on, he racked up sixteen strike outs in seven innings against Harrisburg. He also lead the Eastern League in strike outs at the all-star break.

4. Severino Gonzalez. He’s moved around a lot this season, Extended Spring Training, Lakewood and Clearwater. Gonzalez has been both a reliever and a starter this season and been successful no matter when he’s pitched.

5. Kelly Dugan. He started the season on the disabled list but has come back to amaze. He has a bat that most people notice, but what impressed me was his arm. I saw him catch a ball deep in right field and fire it to third with pinpoint accuracy. No bounce.

6. JP Crawford. A first round draft pick this year, he’s already shown why. He started in the Gulf Coast League and has already leap-frogged over Williamsport to Lakewood. This 18 year old short stop was hitting as high as .380 before being sent to Lakewood last week.
7. Cameron Rupp. Rupp played in Clearwater last season, started this year in Reading and has already moved up to Lehigh Valley. He’s a solid back stop. He hits and is a great defensive player. While he may not be the replacement for Ruiz next year, could he be a solid back up for the Big Team?

8. Roman Quinn. This shortstop had an on-base percentage of .669 and 32 stolen bases before being sidelined by a broken left wrist. He’s one of the fastest players we’ve even seen. While he’s been a little error-prone, his speed more than makes up for it.

Cameron Perkins
Cameron Perkins
9. Cameron Perkins. He is a solid outfielder with a very strong arm and bat. He was hit by a pitch during a game and suffered a broken wrist. He’s returned to the team though he is just getting his timing back and looks to finish the season strong.

10. Kenny Giles. This reliever is one to watch. Last season, we saw him hit 101 on the speed gun in Dunedin. While not quite as fast after his injury this year, he still has a fast ball that just can’t be hit.

Honorable Mention:

Hobby Milner-This Threshers pitcher is one to watch. He’s one pitcher we will go out of our way to see. After his first three starts of the season, he’s become one of the most consistent pitchers. With 11 wins and is tied for the most wins in the Florida State League.

Finally, our ‘Unsung Hero’ award would go to Carlos Alonso. Alonso is spending his second year in Clearwater. He’s one guy that we truly admire, we can’t think of another player who plays as hard, every single play. He’s a solid second baseman who has only had two errors all season. He also has a knack for getting on base, drawing walks and scoring runs.

Carlos Alonso posing with me after signing his jersey for me.
Carlos Alonso posing with me after signing his jersey for me.

Roy Halladay Rehabs With the GCL Phillies

It’s a beautiful day here in Clearwater. Sun is shining, the grass is green, the orange and palm trees away, I’ve never seen such a day…Wait that’s a song!

Roy Halladay is making his first rehab appearance with the GCL Phillies. They are playing the GCL Pirates with whom they are battling for first place in their division. It’s a key game and who better to have start than your ace?




Halladay pitched 6 innings: 6 hit, 3 runs, 3 walks, and 4 strike outs giving up one home run. The GCL Phillies were down 3-2 when Halladay left the game.

Will Morris pitched two great innings, shutting down the pirates. In the bottom of the 8th H Deivi Grullon smashed a long homer to right to score 2, giving the Phils a 4-3 lead.

Ricky Bielski came in in the ninth for a 1-2-3 shutdown inning, including a strike out to seal the win.

This game was important because the GCL Phillies and Pirates are neck and neck fighting for the lead in the Northwest division and the playoff spot that comes with it.

Today’s game is key is heading to the playoffs…it put the Phillies 1/2 game ahead of the Pirates.

Tomorrow, the GCL Phillies travel to Lakeland to take on the Tigers.


And DOWN the Stretch They Come! And Only 1 Phillies’ Team is in FIRST Place!

It’s been a tough year to be a Phillies fan. I love the Phils, but between the injuries and other mishaps and conundrums, it’s been rough.

There’s been suspensions (Ruiz, Mojica, Abreu), injuries (it would almost be shorter to list who wasn’t injured at this point) and all the other difficulties that a team would usually face…this year was unbelievably tough. Add to that the problems we have with the salary cap and players with huge contracts that are not attractive to trade and you have a recipe for disaster.

The problems are almost system wide and no team in the Pharm system looks like they’ll even come close to making the post season…save one…

The Gulf Coast League (GCL) Phillies

This team has battled back from a 2 and 10 start to take the lead in their division in the Gulf Coast League. Granted, with today’s win, it was a half game, but it IS A LEAD!

With players like JP Crawford, Wilmer Oberto, Cord Sandberg, Jan Hernandez, Herlis Rodriguez, Feliberto Sanchez, Ranfi Casimiro and Ricky Bielski we have a team that has heart and never seems to give up. It took them a while to get started and the turn around has been dramatic. I’ve seen them come from six down in the 7th and come back to win.

They’re like the Goonies, they never say die and THAT is what makes them so much fun to watch. It’s not easy with the majority of their games held at NOON in the Florida heat and humidity and many, if not all, of the practice fields where they play lack shade. Most have little creature comforts like water fountains, soda machines and at a few, it’s hard to find a restroom. Yet, despite all that, there are a group of die hard fans of rookie ball that manage to tough it out and it IS worth it. I’ve enjoyed these games more than any others I’ve seen this summer.

Being at so many games, Baseball Ross and I have been lucky enough to meet a good many of the players and they seem to be some great kids. A friend of ours is a locker room attendant at the Carpenter Complex and has worked there for fourteen years and he has said that this is the nicest bunch of kids he’s worked with.

The next two days could very well decide the season, with a home and home series against the GCL Pirates who are 2nd in the division. Ross and I plan to travel down to Bradenton tomorrow to root on our friend Ranfi Casimiro.

On Thursday, the Pirates cross the Sunshine Skyway Bridge to the Carpenter Complex where a rehabbing Roy Haliday will start.

These two games are key in how the rest of the season will go and IF the GCL Phils can take these two games, they will be poised to head into the playoffs.

Cross your fingers!

Cord Sandberg
Cord Sanberg
Ricky Bielski
Ricky Bielski
Feliberto Sanchez
Feliberto Sanchez
JP Crawford




Let’s Try this again…

After having the last FOUR GCL Phillies games postponed due to rain…

We MAY be able to get one in today. It’s only partly cloudy today, though we may get some rain later. So with any luck, may be the field will be in good enough condition to play.

We shall see…



Road Trip-Bradenton-Sanchez and Crawford



Baseball Ross and I like to take advantage of all the baseball that Florida has to offer. Over the last few weeks, GCL Phillies pitcher, Feliberto Sanchez has taken to Ross, making a point of telling Ross every time he is going to pitch. This week, Sanchez was the opening day pitcher in Dunedin and after we congratulated him on his 3 scoreless innings, he told us that he was going to pitch when the team went to Bradenton.

So after having many a day this week ruined by rain and storms we decided to head over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge to Bradenton. I had never been to Pirate City. It’s about an hour from the Carpenter complex. Pirate city is a nice facility with some history.

Pirate City Administration Offices

DSCN9227 DSCN9228 DSCN9231 DSCN9230 DSCN9229


The only downside to the facility was the lack of shade and the inoperable vending machines. It was 88 degrees with a “real feel” of 97. So shade and a cool drink would have been refreshing.

I was glad to be there, this game was the first appearance of touted draft pick, JP Crawford.DSCN9132



In his first game, Crawford was DH and managed a little blooper down toward third that got him his first professional hit-a single.

Then, Feliberto Sanchez was in to pitch.

Feliberto Sanchez
Feliberto Sanchez

Sanchez looked very sharp. One of the things I like about him is his attitude. He’s so happy. He is likely the most friendly and gregarious player I’ve ever met and that’s not one of the most common traits of a pitcher. Sanchez is so unflappable it amazes me.

He missed a pitch and with many young (19 year olds) pitchers, it sometimes can spook them and it may take them a few pitches or even batters until they regain their composure. Not Sanchez. Next pitch was right where it needed to be and he didn’t even seem bothered.

With this great mindset I think it will help him progress.

Sanchez went five scoreless innings. As is typical for this atypical pitcher, he was smiling from ear to ear when he was done.

But was our day done?


There was a double header at Brighthouse! So off we went. After a brief stop for lunch and a little shopping, we headed back across the Skyway to Clearwater for the Threshers double header.

They dropped the first game in an extra inning and when the second game went into an extra inning, I was so sure we were going to drop another one.

BUT who was up? Carlos Alonso. He managed to drill one that brought in the winning run.

Threshers celebrate a walk off win in extra innings
Threshers celebrate a walk off win in extra innings

The GCL Phillies won, the Threshers won one of two…I guess two outta three ain’t bad?



The Gulf Coast Phillies Start the Season against the GCL Blue Jays

It’s summer here in Florida. Yesterday was supposed to be the beginning of the Gulf Coast League season with the GCL Phillies playing the GCL Blue Jays at the Carpenter Complex.

As it often happens here in Florida, we left our home just a few miles from the Complex and the sun was out and there were only big fluffy clouds. Three miles later, the sky had opened up and as we neared the Complex it was obvious that they had had a good amount of rain. The drainage culverts that were usually empty were more than half full and there was standing water in both the outfield and infield at the Complex. We were informed that the game was cancelled and that a double header would be held on Saturday at the Blue Jay’s Englebert Field. We went to a local eatery for lunch and they were without power–which may show how much worse the weather was in Clearwater as opposed to Dunedin.

Today started out beautiful, sunny and a light breeze and since we had rain last night, the temperature was good.

Cord Sandberg

Draft pick Cord Sandberg led off for the Phillies….unfortunately, he struck out. Sandberg is from nearby Bradenton and he had several fans there to see him in his first professional game. (Next week the GCL Phils will head to Bradenton to play the Pirates and I will bet that there will be a large contingent of fans to see their hometown boy. Ross and I will also hope to make the trip over the Sunshine Skyway to see Feliberto Sanchez pitch again.)

Jiwan James was up next in a rehab appearance and he singles. Followed by Tommy Joseph who was also making a rehab appearance.   There’s a pass ball and James goes to second.  Joseph walked and James to third.  Next was Nick Ferdinand…

Nick Ferdinand
Nick Ferdinand

Ferdinand hit one to center that SHOULD have been caught, but as it wasn’t  he goes to first, Joseph to second and James scores!

Next up was Robinson Torres who popped up. Next was Jose Pujols. The pitcher for the Jays throws another ball that gets by the catcher and Tommy Joseph runs home, but is tagged at the plate. (I thought he was safe, but what do I know?)

The opening day pitcher for the Phillies was Feliberto Sanchez. He’s a 19 year old out of the Dominican Republic.

Feliberto Sanchez
Feliberto Sanchez

Sanchez was impressive in his first start. By the end of his 3 innings, he gave up 2 hits, no runs, no walks, hit one batter and 2 strike outs. When he left the game the Phils were up 5-0.

Next to pitch for the Phils was Mark Leiter. His line 1 inning, no hits, no runs, no walks and 1 strike out.

In the fifth, Matt Soren came in to pitch and the wheels came off for the Phils. Soren looked great for the first two batters then fell apart. Soren’s final line was 2/3 of an inning, 3 hits, 3 runs, 1 walk and 1 strike out. Phils still up 5-3. Ronald Mendez came in to finish the inning and pitched the sixth and gave up a run, but it was unearned as it was the result of an error. Phils up 5-4.

In the seventh, Cody Forsythe, gave up 3 hits, one run and no walks or strikeouts. So what was supposed to be the last inning of the first game of a double header…wasn’t and not by long shot. The game ended up going FOURTEEN innings.

Ricky Bielski was the highlight of the next two innings.

Ricky Bielski
Ricky Bielski

Bielski went 2 innings 1 hit, no runs, no walks, 3 strike outs. He had good command and when he started the 2nd he got behind with a 3-0 count, he got the batter to ground out to second. What impressed me is that after that 3-0 count, he struck out the next two batters.  It was good to see that during this first game of the season. I was impressed.

In the fourteenth, the Jays managed to score and ended the game. It was a hot one, 92 degrees and sunny with little to no breeze. I called it a day. I was fried by the sun, very hot and downed almost 80 ounces of iced tea to cool off!

I left game two to more hardy folk, like Baseball Ross.

In the end, it was a day that supposed to be the second game of the season, then a day with two 7 inning games and by the time it was done, TWENTY innings of baseball were in the books…I’ll bet those guys will sleep well tonight. (Sadly, the GCL Phillies also dropped the second game 3-1)