Thanks to a dear friend, I have a copy of the newly posted final rosters! I have not had time to go over them and see who was released.
So here you go:
* denotes a left-handed player
# denotes a switch hitter/pitcher
We are three weeks into the minor league season and the Phillies’ Pharm teams are shaping up. In some respects, it’s what one would expect, in others, a bit of a surprise.
The most pleasant surprise is the Reading Fightins. Reading is 10-7 and are in second place, only a game and a half behind the New Britain Rock Cats. The biggest disappointment has been the Lehigh Valley IronPigs who have the worst record in ALL of of the International League at 5-14. In-between, are the Clearwater Threshers who are a game and half out of first in the Florida State League Northern Division, trailing the Daytona Tortugas. Their 10-9 record is a great improvement over last year at this time where they were 3-16! The Lakewood BlueClaws are 8-10, two games under .500 in the Northern Division of the South Atlantic League.
As expected they have been lead by outstanding starting pitching. Lead by newcomer Zach Eflin, who has yet to give up an earned run in his first three starts. He is 2-0, in his first three starts. Also, going 2-0 is prospect Jesse Biddle. Biddle, who is coming off of a very challenging 2014 season, has an impressive 2.76 ERA and averages a strike out an inning. Ben Lively is equally impressive with a 1.42 ERA and 1-0 in his first three starts. Aaron Nola, last years’ number one draft pick from LSU, has gone 1-2 with a 3.06 ERA.
Hitting-wise Reading is lead by 1B Brock Stassi, with a .357 batting average, 3 home runs and 19 RBIs. Phenom Roman Quinn, is off to a strong start, hitting .348, 4 doubles, 2 triples, 2 home runs. He is currently 3rd in steals with 8 steals and leads the league with runs scored with 18.
The one disappointing event was the injury to former Golden Glove winner, 2B Carlos Alonso, who was injured by a Harrisburg Senator’s “take out slide” and is currently sidelined with a knee injury. He is currently on the 7-day disabled list.
Lehigh Valley IronPigs
Packed with veteran free agents that were released by other organizations, Lehigh Valley is off to a difficult start. The highpoint of the offense is the play of Maikel Franco, who is hitting .338 and leads the International league in doubles with 10 so far this season, while playing outstanding defense at third base.Conversely, rehabbing MLBer, Domonic Brown continuing to struggle, hitting only .139 in nine games for the IronPigs.
On the mound, the highlight is Severino Gonzalez, with a .357 ERA which earned him his first MLB start with the Phillies. The biggest surprise on the mound, however, is Phillippe Aumont. Aumont, who was dropped from the 40-man roster this spring, is 1-0 with 1.06 ERA in 17 innings. Even more surprising, he was moved from the bullpen to starter and is proving to be much more successful as a starter.
The Threshers are the team that never seems to say die. Last year, was one of the most difficult years I have ever witnessed in professional sport. It seemed like they always found a way to LOSE. Even if they managed to push a game into extra innings, they always seemed to come up short. This year, is very different. Four of their ten wins have been in extra innings, including an impressive win at home in SEVENTEEN innings.
Offensively, Dylan Cozens (RF) has driven in 13 runs to lead the team in RBIs. The fans in Clearwater have taken to calling him “Clutch” Cozens because he has gone 4-6 with 3 RBIs in extra innings. Leading the team in doubles are Willians Astudillo (3-6 with a walk off in extra innings) and Andrew Pullin with 5 each.
Threshers’ pitching is another great surprise with strong starting and relief pitchers. The tops starters are Brandon Leibrant (1-1, 1.80 ERA in 4 starts) and David Whitehead (1-2, 3.04 ERA in 4 starts). The bullpen has been exceptionally strong, led by Ulises Joaquin 1-0 with three saves, Edubray Ramos 1-1 with 1 save and Mark Leiter, Jr. who is 1-0 with one save and struck out TWENTY in 15 innings out of the pen. The top left handed reliever is Cody Forsythe, 1-0 and has struck out 13 in nine innings of work.
While the BlueClaws have been hanging around .500, there have been early flashes of brilliance. After completing what looks to be a successful weight training program in the off season, Carlos Tocci is hitting .338 and leads the team with 11 RBIs. Malquin Canelo is second hitting .333. First basemen Rhys Hoskins has supplied the power with 3 home runs, hitting .290.
Regarding pitchers, they are led by Tyler Viza, 3-0 with a 2.45 ERA in his first three starts, all of last season, Viza went 3-17. Ricardo Pinto, 1-0 with a 2.84 ERA, leads the team in strike outs with 18 in 19 innings of pitching. The bullpen is good as well, Matt Hockenberry has picked up three saves and has yet to give up a run in nine innings of work. Left handed reliever Austin Davis has yet to give up a run in ten innings of relief as the “set-up” man.
It was during the long, cold winter that Baseball Ross and I were sitting and dreaming of warmer days. Somehow we got on the topic of “epic trips” and started brainstorming…what if…
At some point one of us said, “what if we saw every single team in the Phillies farm system in a week?” Sure, it sounded so easy when we were sitting there in the living room all wrapped in blankets (It was during the polar vortex and even here in Florida, we had wind chills in the teens) but putting it into action was a whole other story.
We scoured the schedules of all the teams looking for a time when all of them would either be at home or at an away game that would not only be an easy drive from Harrisburg (we have family there to see) but also coordinated with the pitching schedules of our favorite pitchers. What made it even more difficult is that the rotation for the Williamsport Crosscutters would be the last released, the day before their season began.
We found one week, actually 9 days, where we could see the last game of Extended Spring Training, get on a plane and fly to Harrisburg, the next night we drove to Williamsport saw the Crosscutters, then back to Harrisburg, then drove to Lakewood to see the BlueClaws, then back to Harrisburg, then to State College to see the Cutters again so we could see Feliberto Sanchez pitch, then back to Harrisburg, then we drove to Lehigh Valley to see the IronPigs, then back to Harrisburg, then we drove to Reading to see the Fightin’ Phils, then back to Harrisburg, then we hopped on a plane flew back to Clearwater and the next day see the first game of the Gulf Coast League Phillies and a Threshers game. We flew a total of 2,000 miles and drove an amazing 1,200 more. It really was a trip of a lifetime, because I really don’t want to do that all again in a week!
It was opening night. It had rained and was threatening to rain again (this would become an ongoing theme of the trip). I did a blog on that night and you can read it HERE. The downside of all the driving (4 hours in the car for Williamsport) was that it did take a lot out of me so I only did this one blog while on the trip.
We were here to see our friend, Ranfy Casimiro pitch. He’s a great kid and people never stop staring when they see us together. I’m barely 5 feet tall, he’s 6′ 8″! We are totally “the long and the short of it”.
We were lucky enough to also catch Cody Asche make a rehab appearance here in Lakewood. (This would also be a reoccurring theme as we saw him in Clearwater before we left, then Lakewood…)
The best was seeing Casimiro pitch one of the best games of his career.
I also was lucky enough to meet Jay Floyd of Phoul Ballz. He had interviewed me last year on his podcast along with Mr. Tug. (You can listen to the podcast HERE)
While it didn’t rain, it was cold, 64 degrees!
State College to see Williamsport again
Our friend Feliberto Sanchez pitched in State College against the Spikes.
What trip to Happy Valley would be complete without a trip to the CREAMERY? If you ever go to Penn State a trip to the Creamery is a must.
State College’s stadium is right next to Beaver Stadium. It also lies in the shadow of Mount Nittany. As this was the first game, it seemed that the grounds crew groomed the mound to be a miniature Mount Nittany. It was high and seemed to have steep drop offs instead of gradual sloping sides like a “normal” mound.
The thing that sticks out in my mind is the lightning. It only rained for about five minutes that night but the lightning was all around the stadium. Long, bright bolts of lightning were striking all around the stadium. I was amazed that there wasn’t a delay. Ironically, the next night the new Lion LED sign that was added to Beaver Stadium just across the street was struck by lightning!
There were many things on this leg of the trip that were memorable.
Three words: Aw Shucks Corn
Seriously, it’s my favorite ballpark food of all time. I am ashamed to admit I ate two ears of it.
Four words: Bacon-scented Tee-shirts
Seriously! I love bacon, but this is taking it just a little far don’t you think?
I finally got to meet @cherylpursell and @Kram209! Cheryl takes amazing pictures and Kram well he’s the biggest Pigs fan there is. He was also gracious enough to present me with a CODY ASCHE BOBBLEHEAD! (*FAINTS*)
He was also kind enough to show me around Coca Cola Park.
The funny thing was, Cody Asche was making a rehab appearance there in Lehigh Valley so we got not only to see him play again, but got to see him next to his bobble head.
I also was witness to long time Pharm-hand Tyson Gillies second to last appearance as a Pig before his release.
I got to see Jesse Biddle pitch.
I also saw my friend Carlos Alonso
I also met @Mr.Tug who was with PhoulBallz and is now the photographer of the Reading Fightin Phils! Meeting people is fun so before the night was done, @mikeyesh dropped by to say, “Hi” to Ross and I.
The next day, we flew back to Clearwater. By Friday we were up at ant Englebert field to see the GCL Phillies.
All the Phillies Brass were there
Nola didn’t pitch that day…
And finally to complete the trip, the Threshers game at night to catch a rehabbing Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez.
The highlight was seeing JP Crawford in his first at bat with the Threshers.
In all that traveling we managed to see my brother, his girlfriend and my niece as well as the two girls who grew up next door next to me as a girl who are like sisters to me. We even stopped at Hershey’s Chocolate World on the way to the airport.
I don’t think our crazy trip could have worked out any better! That being said, I sure am glad to be home.
Extended Spring Training has ended and now it’s time for short-season New York-Penn League to start.
It’s been the best of times and the worst of times. We watched some good friends get promoted to Williamsport and others were either left for the Gulf Coast League, sent to the Dominican Summer League (DSL) or given their outright release.
Last summer was the first summer that Baseball Ross and I spent nearly every day sitting in the stifling noon-day heat watching these young guys play in the rookie league of GCL.
GCL is special for the simple fact that the fans that go are either related to the players or die-hards. What other kind of crazy people would sit out in the heat at noon? There usually are only 5 or 6 “non family” members there so the players get to know you and you really feel invested in their progress.
The short-season New York-Penn League starts on Friday and Ross and I will be on our way to Pennsylvania. We are hoping to see Williamsport, then AA Reading, AAA Lehigh Valley and A- Lakewood, though not necessarily in that order. Couple that with seeing the GCL Phillies and the A+ Threshers the day we return and we will have seen EVERY team in the Phillies’ minor League system! By the end of the week, I will wager that we will travel close to THREE THOUSAND MILES!
I think we are going to be tired!
I plan to blog as we go so be sure to check back!
I was rather shocked when I read the transactions list this evening to see that Threshers catcher Chad Carman was released.
He is a solid defensive catcher who wasn’t given a chance to play in a regular rotation, though he did catch for one of Cole Hamels’ rehab appearances in Clearwater. That’s him in the picture at the top of the page.
I got to know Chad or “Charmin Carman” by his Twitter handle, last summer when he was here on rehab from the Blue Claws after breaking his thumb. He’s a sweet guy who worked hard and always took time with fans young and old.
Because he was so friendly, or “Charmin” he quickly became a favorite of Threshers fans. I hope he knows we’ll miss him. I know I’ll remain a fan no matter where he ends up.
One would suspect that he was released to make room for Andrew Knapp who’s also a catcher, however he’s returning from an injury and so far, we have not seen him catch in extended spring training. He’s been the DH, but not catcher.
Another roster move was Threshers outfielder Justin Parr, who was sent to extended spring training. He’s had a tough time at the plate this year but I’ve respected his hustle and effort.
Threshers DH Willie Carmona was also
reactivated from the “temporarily inactive” list.