Opening Day of the New York-Penn League

Baseball Ross and I recently travelled over 1,100 miles from Clearwater to Williamsport to see the “kids” we’ve been watching since last March move into their first summer of “real” baseball.

The look on their faces when they saw that we made the trip made it all worth while!

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Your 2014 Williamsport Crosscutters

Alejandro Arteaga was the starting pitcher

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Cord Sandberg led off and fouls a ball off of his calf, ouch!

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Deivy Grullon looked good at the plate

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Ricky Bielski looked good, with no hits in his first two innings

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Rhashawn, the Director of Smiles and Williamsport Icon sang “Take me out to the ballgame

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It was a great time, even if our Cutters took the loss.

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Pitchers Delight

This is one of those days where you just can’t be everywhere at once. There were three games going on all at once making it difficult to get the coverage in pictures.

That aside, I did snap a few shots.

Antonio Bastardo started in the game between AAA and AA Phillies teams.

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At the same time on the other side of the complex, Ricky Bielski, a RHP who usually closes started the game and pitched two shutout innings.

And back on Schmidt Field, Ranfi Casimiro was on the mound. Casimiro, an intimidating 6’8″, started a little shaky, but steadily improved through three innings. I overheard two coaches discussing him and they seemed pleased, noting that he had “changed his angle (of his throwing arm) and was looking good.”

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Casimiro seemed pretty happy with his outing, leaving the field with a grin.

All in all, it was a great day for baseball.

And DOWN the Stretch They Come! And Only 1 Phillies’ Team is in FIRST Place!

It’s been a tough year to be a Phillies fan. I love the Phils, but between the injuries and other mishaps and conundrums, it’s been rough.

There’s been suspensions (Ruiz, Mojica, Abreu), injuries (it would almost be shorter to list who wasn’t injured at this point) and all the other difficulties that a team would usually face…this year was unbelievably tough. Add to that the problems we have with the salary cap and players with huge contracts that are not attractive to trade and you have a recipe for disaster.

The problems are almost system wide and no team in the Pharm system looks like they’ll even come close to making the post season…save one…

The Gulf Coast League (GCL) Phillies

This team has battled back from a 2 and 10 start to take the lead in their division in the Gulf Coast League. Granted, with today’s win, it was a half game, but it IS A LEAD!

With players like JP Crawford, Wilmer Oberto, Cord Sandberg, Jan Hernandez, Herlis Rodriguez, Feliberto Sanchez, Ranfi Casimiro and Ricky Bielski we have a team that has heart and never seems to give up. It took them a while to get started and the turn around has been dramatic. I’ve seen them come from six down in the 7th and come back to win.

They’re like the Goonies, they never say die and THAT is what makes them so much fun to watch. It’s not easy with the majority of their games held at NOON in the Florida heat and humidity and many, if not all, of the practice fields where they play lack shade. Most have little creature comforts like water fountains, soda machines and at a few, it’s hard to find a restroom. Yet, despite all that, there are a group of die hard fans of rookie ball that manage to tough it out and it IS worth it. I’ve enjoyed these games more than any others I’ve seen this summer.

Being at so many games, Baseball Ross and I have been lucky enough to meet a good many of the players and they seem to be some great kids. A friend of ours is a locker room attendant at the Carpenter Complex and has worked there for fourteen years and he has said that this is the nicest bunch of kids he’s worked with.

The next two days could very well decide the season, with a home and home series against the GCL Pirates who are 2nd in the division. Ross and I plan to travel down to Bradenton tomorrow to root on our friend Ranfi Casimiro.

On Thursday, the Pirates cross the Sunshine Skyway Bridge to the Carpenter Complex where a rehabbing Roy Haliday will start.

These two games are key in how the rest of the season will go and IF the GCL Phils can take these two games, they will be poised to head into the playoffs.

Cross your fingers!

Cord Sandberg
Cord Sanberg
Ricky Bielski
Ricky Bielski
Feliberto Sanchez
Feliberto Sanchez
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JP Crawford

 

 

The Gulf Coast Phillies Start the Season against the GCL Blue Jays

It’s summer here in Florida. Yesterday was supposed to be the beginning of the Gulf Coast League season with the GCL Phillies playing the GCL Blue Jays at the Carpenter Complex.

As it often happens here in Florida, we left our home just a few miles from the Complex and the sun was out and there were only big fluffy clouds. Three miles later, the sky had opened up and as we neared the Complex it was obvious that they had had a good amount of rain. The drainage culverts that were usually empty were more than half full and there was standing water in both the outfield and infield at the Complex. We were informed that the game was cancelled and that a double header would be held on Saturday at the Blue Jay’s Englebert Field. We went to a local eatery for lunch and they were without power–which may show how much worse the weather was in Clearwater as opposed to Dunedin.

Today started out beautiful, sunny and a light breeze and since we had rain last night, the temperature was good.

Cord Sandberg

Draft pick Cord Sandberg led off for the Phillies….unfortunately, he struck out. Sandberg is from nearby Bradenton and he had several fans there to see him in his first professional game. (Next week the GCL Phils will head to Bradenton to play the Pirates and I will bet that there will be a large contingent of fans to see their hometown boy. Ross and I will also hope to make the trip over the Sunshine Skyway to see Feliberto Sanchez pitch again.)

Jiwan James was up next in a rehab appearance and he singles. Followed by Tommy Joseph who was also making a rehab appearance.   There’s a pass ball and James goes to second.  Joseph walked and James to third.  Next was Nick Ferdinand…

Nick Ferdinand
Nick Ferdinand

Ferdinand hit one to center that SHOULD have been caught, but as it wasn’t  he goes to first, Joseph to second and James scores!

Next up was Robinson Torres who popped up. Next was Jose Pujols. The pitcher for the Jays throws another ball that gets by the catcher and Tommy Joseph runs home, but is tagged at the plate. (I thought he was safe, but what do I know?)

The opening day pitcher for the Phillies was Feliberto Sanchez. He’s a 19 year old out of the Dominican Republic.

Feliberto Sanchez
Feliberto Sanchez

Sanchez was impressive in his first start. By the end of his 3 innings, he gave up 2 hits, no runs, no walks, hit one batter and 2 strike outs. When he left the game the Phils were up 5-0.

Next to pitch for the Phils was Mark Leiter. His line 1 inning, no hits, no runs, no walks and 1 strike out.

In the fifth, Matt Soren came in to pitch and the wheels came off for the Phils. Soren looked great for the first two batters then fell apart. Soren’s final line was 2/3 of an inning, 3 hits, 3 runs, 1 walk and 1 strike out. Phils still up 5-3. Ronald Mendez came in to finish the inning and pitched the sixth and gave up a run, but it was unearned as it was the result of an error. Phils up 5-4.

In the seventh, Cody Forsythe, gave up 3 hits, one run and no walks or strikeouts. So what was supposed to be the last inning of the first game of a double header…wasn’t and not by long shot. The game ended up going FOURTEEN innings.

Ricky Bielski was the highlight of the next two innings.

Ricky Bielski
Ricky Bielski

Bielski went 2 innings 1 hit, no runs, no walks, 3 strike outs. He had good command and when he started the 2nd he got behind with a 3-0 count, he got the batter to ground out to second. What impressed me is that after that 3-0 count, he struck out the next two batters.  It was good to see that during this first game of the season. I was impressed.

In the fourteenth, the Jays managed to score and ended the game. It was a hot one, 92 degrees and sunny with little to no breeze. I called it a day. I was fried by the sun, very hot and downed almost 80 ounces of iced tea to cool off!

I left game two to more hardy folk, like Baseball Ross.

In the end, it was a day that supposed to be the second game of the season, then a day with two 7 inning games and by the time it was done, TWENTY innings of baseball were in the books…I’ll bet those guys will sleep well tonight. (Sadly, the GCL Phillies also dropped the second game 3-1)