For Clearwater, the day started off chilly, it was 56 when Baseball Ross and I got up and it was only 59 and windy when we got to the Carpenter Complex.
Even though it was “freezing” by this Florida Girl’s definition, we stayed all day and I was rewarded. I took two of the best photos I’ve ever taken. I’ve never had any training, so when it all comes together, it’s the best feeling in the world.
I took these two pictures of pitcher Jeff Singer. If you’re familiar with the Carpenter complex, you’ll know that the bullpen between Schmidt and Ashburn fields has a mesh screen over the fencing that is impossible to shoot through. Today I noticed that the fasteners holding the bottom of the screen were missing, so that if I timed the shot and the pitch just right, I could take the shot right behind the catcher as the screen would be blown up in the air by the wind. The shots, as I said before, are two of the best I’ve ever taken.
Earlier in the day, the major league players who did not make the trip to Tampa took batting practice:
Here are some shots from the rest of the day:
Here is the line up for the game VS Villanova. I did not stay for the game as some of my friends were playing in the other games and I promised to get pictures for them.
Today was the first day that the entire major league team was due to report. Things are quite different under the Kapler regime are very different. Whereas they had previously started at 9 and went to about noon, now it starts “around” 11 and goes after 2.
Today, my friend Jose Taveras pitched live batting practice for the major league time since making the 40 man roster.
I was able to catch most of the big names as well:
This has been a tough spring. My foot injury kept me from going to any Phillies games until today, the last game. On the plus side, the ticket was FREE, so there’s that.
I have to be honest, I really didn’t feel like I was missing much, I love the minor league teams. Those guys are playing every game as it could be their last. Especially after the last round of cuts, it’s obvious that it COULD be their last. They play every game, every play. For many it’s not a job, it’s a passion. There’s something beautiful in that, something simple.
I did enjoy seeing the Phanatic:
I got to see Roman Quinn and Angelo Mora get the end of spring training awards:
Jeremy Hellickson pitched:
Peter Bourjos led off:
Then, in order:
As it was 0-0 when we needed to leave. I was feeling like it was ok, that I wasn’t going to miss anything, I mean nothing happened the first time through the line up.
Baseball Ross and I wanted to stop by Carpenter to see some of the minor leaguers, there’s still a few I need to get pictures of…so we started walking. (Well he walked and I hobbled.) By the time we got over there, the Phillies were losing to the Astros 3-0. We sighed and settled in to watching the young ones….
Next thing I knew my phone started going nuts and the Phillies came back to win, 8-4. I guess this is a lesson…I leave, the Phillies win. You’re welcome Phillies fans!
Today it was almost like Ryan Howard was putting on a showcase. He looks good slimmer and more ready for the season than I’ve ever seen him.
He looks sharp and has obviously worked out in the off season.
Newcomer Taylor Featherston didn’t want to be outdone and he flew through the air.
Maikel Franco looked focused.
At the end the day, they did something I never saw, they donned “slide pants” and practiced sliding on special tarps. It looked like a lot of fun.
After the Major Leaguers were done, the minor leaguers that have reported early took their turn.
I was pleased to see Art Charles:
John Richy who was part of the Chase Utley deal with the Dodgers pitched today.
And finally Tommy Joseph looked good and fully recovered from last year’s injuries.
It may have been a cold, breezy day, but it was a good day for baseball.
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 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:
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:
I was also fortunate enough to be given a bat, my FIRST bat! It was Freddy Galvis’!
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:
Shown here with labels
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
Ryan Howard rounds third after a long-hit homer
Kenny Giles brought the heat and struck out two in his second inning
And I’ll throw in this picture of Chase Utley because he’s B’s favorite
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.