Sorry for the absence over the last 10 days or so. I had to have a procedure done on my “Frankenfoot” that required rest. On the plus side, I’m able to walk now, the best since I sprained it and broke a bone just 10 days before spring training began.
Yesterday was one of my favorite days of the year…the day that minor league pitchers and catchers report. Additionally, the majority of the position players are here already. I’ve known some of these guys for more than five years so it’s great to see some of my friends again.
Matt Hockenberry, who pitched for the Threshers last season, is now a pitching coach for one of the two Gulf Coast League teams the Phillies will be fielding this year. I love this picture as the pitchers are all former colleagues of Hockenberry’s and it’s good to see them all enjoying a laugh together before the work begins. Also in the picture from left to right: Tyler Viza, Alberto Tirado, Alexis Rivero, Garrett Clevenger, Luke Leftwich and Jacob Waguespack in the red shirt.
I took a lot of pictures all around camp yesterday as they are all during drills, there’s not much to say as the pictures speak for themselves:
Again this year, I was privileged to be asked by Reading Eagle Sports Writer Mike Drago to be part of the “Rank the Phillies Prospects” survey. He asked us to “rank the top players in the Phillies organization from No. 1 to No. 25, based on their present value to the organization and their major league ceiling/potential. (A weighted ballot will be used, with first-place votes earning 25 points, second place 24 points, etc.)”
This is one of my favorite things to take part in as it’s so cool to be included with so many other reporters and bloggers whose work I enjoy reading.
So I talked through my list with Baseball Ross and we realized that we have seen so many of the prospects as they have progressed, save for a few that were acquired via trades or the draft. So here’s “our” list:
1. Jake Thompson
2. Dylan Cozens
3. Rhys Hoskins
4. Jorge Alfaro
5. J P Crawford
6. Roman Quinn
7. Mickey Moniak
8. Franklyn Kilome
9. Elniery Garcia
10. Nick Williams
11. Jose Taveras
12. Scott Kingery
13. Ben Lively
14. Tyler Viza
15. Jose Pujols
16. Cornelius Randolph
17. Jhailyn Ortiz
18. Andrew Pullin
19. Andrew Knapp
20. Jiandido Tromp
21. Alberto Tirado
22. Jimmy Cordero
23. Sixto Sanchez
24. Nick Fanti
25. Adonis Medina
As you can see, I have been able to take pictures of all but two, and I have seen all 25 but sadly the two I missed were on days where I didn’t have my camera with me or the battery was dead by the end of the day during spring training. So Ross and I really put a lot of thought into our list.
The list from Drago as complied by all my fellow reporters and bloggers:
Reading Eagle Phillies minor league prospect ranks
(with position, current club)
1. J.P. Crawford, SS, Lehigh Valley
2. Jorge Alfaro, C, Reading
3. Nick Williams, OF, Lehigh Valley
4. Jake Thompson, P, Philadelphia
5. Mickey Moniak, OF, Gulf Coast
6. Dylan Cozens, OF, Reading
7. Roman Quinn, OF, Reading
8. Cornelius Randolph, OF, Lakewood
9. Franklyn Kilome, P, Lakewood
10. Rhys Hoskins, 1B, Reading
11. Scott Kingery, 2B, Reading
12. Andrew Knapp, C, Lehigh Valley
13. Adonis Medina, P, Williamsport
14. Nick Pivetta, P, Lehigh Valley
15. Jhailyn Ortiz, OF, Gulf Coast
16. Ricardo Pinto, P, Reading
17. Elniery Garcia, P, Clearwater
18. Ben Lively, P, Lehigh Valley
19. Kevin Gowdy, P, Gulf Coast
20. Carlos Tocci, OF, Clearwater
Others receiving multiple votes( in order of vote total):
Mark Appel, P, Lehigh Valley
Sixto Sanchez, P, Gulf Coast
Jimmy Cordeo, P, Reading
Cole Stobbe, SS, Gulf Coast
Jose Pujols, OF, Lakewood
Alberto Tirado, P, Lakewood
Alec Asher, P, Lehigh Valley
Thomas Eshelman, P, Reading
Drew Anderson, P, Clearwater
Andrew Pullin, OF, Reading
Cole Irvin, P, Williamsport
Arquimedes Gamboa, Williamsport
JoJo Romero, P, Williamsport
Malquin Canelo, SS, Clearwater
Tyler Viza, P, Reading
It’s enlightening to see where all they players fall per the weighted vote. Of the list, Ross and I could see almost any of them on the list though may be in a different position (as was evidenced by our differences on our list). I will find it interesting to see how this pans out in the future.
It was a beautiful evening here in Clearwater for the annual “Meet the Threshers” picnic for season ticket holders. It’s a fun time where we had a chance to have a nice meal and hob-knob with the players.
After everyone had a chance to eat, the voice of the Threshers, Kirsten Karbach introduced the team.
It was a busy day at the Carpenter Complex, not only were the AAA and AA Phillies teams playing the Yankees, there was another team (either independent or a college team, even the Phillies players didn’t know which.) playing what will likely become the Gulf Coast League team this summer.
While I’m still not up to 100%, I did my best with my knee scooter, zipping between fields, trying to guesstimate when the different players would be either pitching or hitting and just trying to capture a few good shots. The side effect is that it makes it really hard to have any clue what inning or even what the score was.
Either way, Baseball Ross and I had a good time watching baseball.
Interesting note: John Richy executed a nice bunt, almost out ran it to first and managed to advance the runner…just what a pitcher should do. It was good to see.
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.