It’s All About the Pitching

Today Cliff Lee hit the mound for the first time since his injury last season.

Cliff Lee hits the mound for the first time since his injury
Cliff Lee hits the mound for the first time since his injury

Lee looked mostly like his “Old Self” and didn’t show any signs of discomfort, though he did not pitch very long.

It got me to thinking about the machinations that a pitcher goes through just to throw a pitch. Just look at Kenny Giles’ body position in the picture below:

Kenny Giles
Kenny Giles

Now, while that may look painful to the “Average Joe”, it works for Giles. How many other guys can hit 100? They don’t call him “Hundred Miles Giles” for nothing.

As I was running an errand between MLB and MiLB workouts, I got to thinking about injuries to pitchers and the stresses that their bodies must go through because of the force needed to throw. So when I got back to the field, I decided to film two pitchers in slow motion just to get a better idea of what might be happening. (I plan on trying this the next time I see Giles.)

This is former Thresher Perci Garner. I also filmed Kyle Bogese.

Edited to add: If you have headphones, turn up the sound on the videos…the crack of the ball smacking the mitt is astounding.

Bogese is an interesting story himself. This Trinity University graduate was discovered in a walk on try out last summer and came to Clearwater late for the Gulf Coast League. He was only one of four players that were found that way. Trinity’s story on Bogese claims he can throw at 97 mph. I can’t verify that as there are no public speed guns at the Carpenter complex.

If you study the slow motion video, you can get a little better feel of the force placed on areas such as the elbow or wrist. I thought it was interesting.

Upcoming Event: On Friday I will be talking with Jay Floyd of Phoulballz.com on his podcast at 1 p.m. (est). You can find his podcast here.

 

 

Pitchers and Catchers Report, Day One of Phillies Spring Training 2015

This is NOT how you want to start “Spring” Training. It was only a high of 50 with 25mph winds blowing in from the North. It was sunny, but it really didn’t help very much. Sadly, tomorrow will likely be worse as there is a “hard freeze” warning here, meaning it will be under freezing for several hours. So it’s a little iffy if I will be there much tomorrow and if I am there, for how long.

The chilly weather didn’t deter the Phillies Phaithful who braved the elements to see their favorite players. Usually on the first day, the program starts with a talk to the pitchers and it traditionally was given at “Seven Mounds” or the pitching mounds behind the main complex building. Ross and I thought that they may get a late start and would have the meeting inside. We got to the complex at 11 to find that they were out at 10 and were already into the PFPs or Pitcher Fielding Practice.

Jake Diekman
Jake Diekman
Kenny Giles
Kenny Giles
Camels Looks Unamused
Hamels Looks Unamused
Cliff Lee
Cliff Lee

 

Jonathan Papelbon
Jonathan Papelbon 

The first day is always a blast for me. Baseball Ross and I have been going to Spring Training for so long that we have gotten to know a lot of the regulars and it’s almost like a family reunion. That first day is always full of handshakes, hugs and catching up.

I also got to see a few of my favorite minor leaguers, which to me is my favorite part. I’ve known a bunch of these guys for what has been their entire careers and it’s nice to be remembered for always being there.

After the MLBers were done around noon, Ross and I left to get warm and grab something to eat and on our way home we passed the complex to see some players out. We were treated by getting to watch some of our MiLBer friends pitching live batting practice.

Carlos Alonso
Carlos Alonso
Cord Sandberg
Cord Sandberg
Colin Kleven
Colin Kleven
Seth Rosin
Seth Rosin
Austin Wright
Austin Wright

It looks like our minor leaguers reported to camp healthy and in great shape. Carlos Alonso smacked two almost out of the park, one died half way up the fence BUT it had been hit INTO THOSE ROARING WINDS! One of the guys remarked to him, “Hey Los, how about saving some?”

Colin Kleven looked really sharp and had a really crisp breaking pitch. He left a big smile on pitching coach Steve Schrenk’s face.

That’s it from Day One.

 

 

Final Workout Group Posting

Here it is…

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There’s always something to see

One of the best things about living here is you never know what or who you might see. This morning, Baseball Ross and I walked downtown in Dunedin and on the way home walked right by Blue Jay R.A. Dickey.

Since we had some things that had to be done around the house we were a little late getting to the Carpenter Complex. When we got there, we found that the minor leaguers were given the afternoon off. We decided to go to the Phillies game. We were in luck, one of our favorite parking lot attendants was running errands in the golf cart and he offered us a ride up to Bright House! This was especially nice since we’re were running so late we had to park almost a mile away.

We walked around taking in the sights.

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The Phanatic was there as well

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We saw Ruben Amarro, Jr. In the crowd, though I had to move after taking this shot:

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While the game was kind of a bust, we did get to see some amazing pitching from Kenny Giles:

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What was really cool was that Baseball Ross caught a foul ball and not just any foul ball…Kenny Giles throws close to 100mph so when the Braves’ Constanza fouled one back it hit a seat and zoomed up at us! Baseball Ross reached up over his head and snagged it! He looked like a pro!

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If you look at the ball, you can see the black paint from the bat and the blue from the seat embedded on the ball:

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We then walked a little over a mile to the car and called it a day. By the time we walked downtown in Dunedin for dinner and walked the dogs, we had covered over five miles. Whew!

Rainy Days Always get me Down

It was a stormy day, thunder storm warnings and tornado warnings. Needless to say, Ross and I decided to stay home.

It gave me a chance to organize the autographs I’ve collected this spring:

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I can’t even begin to decipher all the names but I can tell you that the following players are on there, somewhere: Bobby Abreu, Domonic brown, Phillipe Aumont, Justin DeFratus, Cody Asche, Tony Gwynn Jr, Ruben Amaro Jr, Darin Ruf, Wil Nieves, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Maikel Franco, Kevin Frandsen, Kenny Giles,
Kelly Dugan, Aaron Altherr, Marlon Byrd, Ben Revere…I think.

I also got quite a few balls signed:

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I was also fortunate enough to be given a bat, my FIRST bat! It was Freddy Galvis’!

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I think this was my best season for autographs!

Phillies Intra-Squad Game

It was a long day for me. After two hours of sleep (so forgive any errors contained in this post) I drove to Tampa International Airport to pick up a long time Phillies fan, my friend B. We’ve been friends since high school and she’s been planning this for a long time. She left Harrisburg at 2 AM to drive to Philly to grab her 6:30 AM flight. So her day was even longer than mine.

We went straight from the airport to the Carpenter Complex. She was excited because after being there only five minutes, she got her first autograph, Maikel Franco. (Talk about beginners luck!)

From there, we got in line for the FREE intra-squad game. We were lucky enough to snag front row seats in the area most likely for autographs. To continue her beginners luck, who did she get next? CHASE UTLEY and RYNE SANDBERG! Heck it took me several years to get Utley the first time.

All in all, it was a good day for me too. I snagged nine, on a program Ross brought me. I managed to get:

Chase Utley
Ryne Sandberg
Phillipe Aumont
Kelly Dugan
Cody Asche
Darrin Ruf
Ray Berris
Kenny Giles
Kevin Munson

Shown here with labels

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I will also apologize here that I did not pay enough attention to give you details of the game. Being with a long-time friend will sometimes distract you like that, especially when they are happy when they get their favorite player’s autograph!

I did take some pictures:
Jesse Biddle was the starting pitcher

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Ryan Howard rounds third after a long-hit homer

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Kenny Giles brought the heat and struck out two in his second inning

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And I’ll throw in this picture of Chase Utley because he’s B’s favorite

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It was a really fun day. Sometimes going with someone who’s so very excited, someone who’s crossing an item off their bucket list really makes you remember why you loved the game in the first place. Seeing a kid next to you nearly cry getting THAT special autograph they’ve always wanted and the only trying that makes them happier is that mom was going to take them to the gift store to get a case for it. Or the teenage boy who flew across a section to get a foul only to give it to an older lady who wasn’t fast enough.

Ahh, my love of baseball is renewed.

Yeah, So the Pirates Are A No-Show

So today the Fall Instructional League Phillies were to play the Pirates today–originally at Pirate City in Bradenton, then yesterday, we were told the Bucs were coming here. Nope, no Bucs.

We arrived to find Phillies 1 vs Phillies 2–both wearing the same uniforms. This is so confusing.

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One thing I love, is the snap the ball makes when Kenny Giles throws some heat. (click HERE)

Wow! Luis Encarnacion just made a real sharp play, charging the ball and firing to first! Wow!

OF NOTE:
Zachary Green was awarded the New York Penn League Player of the Year!
AND he’s playing here today!

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Fall Instructional League Play is Underway

Ahh, fall is in the air! The air is cool, low to mid 80’s, mostly sunny, nice breezes such a changed from the mid-90’s and stifling air of the Gulf Coast League.

The Fall Instructional League got off to a late start as the first several days of play had to be postponed/cancelled due to severe rain.

Yesterday was the first game that we were able to attend. It’s been interesting to watch because several of the players who will be playing in the Arizona Fall League have made a stop here in Clearwater to get tuned up before heading West. They played my hometown Dunedin Blue Jays. During the game, I got to see Kelly Dugan bat. The game itself was rough to watch with the Phillies losing 8-6.

The Orioles, today’s opponent, had not played in SIX days. In this short league, approximately a month (depending on team) a loss of six days is detrimental to a team. Today’s game was a scheduled twelve innings to help the Orioles get in much needed work.

What I liked about today’s game was the fair number of Arizona Fall League players who played today. Those players are leaving today for Arizona so many of them got in one last practice before leaving on a jet plane.

Kenny Giles started. While I understand why some people may have some concerns about him, I still get a kick out of watching him pitch. When I’ve seen him play in Dunedin (one of the few stadiums with a radar gun) He’s thrown over 100mph. While today’s game at Bright House lacked a gun, I loved to hear the ball snap against the catcher’s glove. There’s a certain pop when a ball really has velocity and you can hear that with Giles’ pitching.

I also got to see Luis Encarnacion’s first game as a Philllie. If you want to see video of his first hit or an amazing bare-handed grab you can go to Baseball Ross’ Blog HERE.

Kelly Dugan played, Austin Wright and Kyle Simon pitched, so who needs to go to Arizona to see some of the best Arizona will have to offer?

The game itself was however disappointing in score, with a final of 9-1 in favor of the Orioles. The twelve innings went just over four and a half hours, not bad for free baseball. The weather was perfect. So I guess a “bad day” of baseball is better than the best day of almost anything else, I’m not complaining.

Tomorrow is an off day as they do not play on Sundays. I’ll be back on the beat Monday.

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 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.

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.

Welcome to the 2013 Clearwater Threshers

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Tonight, Baseball Ross and I had the pleasure of being introduced to the 2013 Clearwater Threshers at the party held for season ticket holders.

It was a great time and I feel fortunate to get reacquainted with a few returning players as well as meet a few new ones. I recorded a video of their introductions so that you could enjoy it.

Click HERE

I like these guys. They’re obviously talented but they also seem to have quite a bit of personality.