Baseball Ross and I were given a copy of the 2017 schedule for every team in the Phillies organization, including extended spring training.
I was able to get a copy of the massive schedule that the team hands out at the Carpenter Complex. This schedule has every team in the organization: Phillies, IronPigs, Fightin’ Phils, Threshers, BlueClaws, Crosscutters, Extended Spring Training and Gulf Coast League Phillies.
Please remember that especially with the Extended Spring and Gulf Coast League games, time and location does change, especially when bad weather happens or is expected.
I haven’t had a chance to write much lately, but I wanted to write about one of the most amazing things that has ever happened to me.
It was the last day of the Gulf Coast League and I had a baseball card that I wanted to get signed. Nick Ferdinand had been playing with the Clearwater Threshers when they had their cardset made but now Nick was coaching the GCL Phillies. I had talked to him and he said he’d be glad to sign it.
So there I was after the last game waiting where the players and coaches walk to the locker room so I could meet Nick. That was when the amazing thing happened.
After sitting out in the miserable heat for nearly every home game all summer, I was on a head nod, “how are you”/”como estas”, handshake familiarity level with the majority of the players, but what happened next just amazed me. As I stood there waiting for Nick, almost every player came over to me and either: shook my hand, hugged me or even kissed me on the cheek! It was amazing!
It was so wonderful to know that these guys appreciated that I had been there watching all summer. Ok, most of the cheek kisses came from recipients of my somewhat famous chocolate chip cookies, but I digress.
It was almost like the ending to one of those 80’s teen movies where the hero accomplishes their goal and the others do the famous “slow clap of appreciation”. They probably didn’t realize how much it meant to me, but it meant a lot.
I miss those kids.
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 MiLB.tv, 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.
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.
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.