Day five was rained out on Saturday. I’m sure a lot of work was accomplished indoors, but a steady and sometimes heavy rain made going to the Complex unappealing. Today’s early morning overcast burned off and the sun came out. The return to warmth overcame me and I decided to attend the Phillies’ game against the University of Tampa. The pitchers scheduled to make appearances further swayed my decision as well as a first look at Odubel Herrera in a game setting. Continue reading Full Squad, Day Six; the University of Tampa Game
The number of people attending spring training is much lower this year than in any of the three previous years that I’ve been here. In the past, the bleachers were full, people were two, three deep around the fences, and the pathways around the complex were crowded. This year, I can walk unimpeded from one field to another, get a prime spot along the fences surrounding the fields, and rarely have to worry about blocking the view of fans seated on the bleachers. Continue reading Full Squad, Day Four
I didn’t go to the Carpenter Complex this morning for the Phillies spring training session. Instead, I waited for the afternoon minor league session. So, here’s some pictures and a video from the first two days that I haven’t posted yet.
Video of two Cliff Lee pitches – a soft line drive to short and a single up the middle.
A little before 1:30PM, the 50-plus minor leaguers who are in Clearwater exited the clubhouse and filed over to take positions along the left field line on Robin Roberts Field. They waited patiently for the coaches to start them through their pre-practice exercises. After agility drills they formed a circle and went through a series of stretching exercises and other drills to loosen their muscles. Here they are doing what we called windmills in high school. The blue and khaki jackets on the left are Ruben Amaro and Pat Gillick.
While waiting, I noticed that the grounds crew added a twist to the horizontal string they installed at home plate on the warm up mounds between the fields last season. They have added vertical string to better define the plate. The string is loosely knotted so that it can be moved to further minimize the target zone to one side of the plate or the other.
I’m starting to recognize some of the players in their nameless red tee shirt uniforms. Names and numbers will come when practice starts officially next week. There were a few more players in camp today. Cord Sandberg was here today and acquisition P.J. Walter arrived .
I think I watched Adam Loewen and Victor Arano pitch live batting practice. I asked catchers Corey Bass and Joel Fisher who they caught and a couple coaches who was on the mound. All 4 did not know. I may be able to identify more players than anyone here. Loewen throws a heavy ball that is effective when he can keep it down. Arano really pops the glove. Can’t wait to see a gun on him. I was standing near a Phillies exec for a part of the live BP, and I overheard him say that he had yet to see a good curve ball. I think he meant all week.
Roman Quinn drove a ball around the right field foul pole and followed it up with a smash to the gap in right-center while facing a live pitcher. Left-handed, of course.
Day two started the same as day one – meeting at the mound, pitchers and catchers stretching in one outfield, position players stretching in another. Once loose, the position players split up between Schmidt and Ashburn infields and began base running drills. When completed, they completed long toss to warm up their arms. The groups then came together on the two infields to practice pickoffs and rundowns.
Shortly before 10:00AM this morning, 58 roster and non-roster players as well as 30 coaches, instructors and guest instructors gathered around Ryne Sandberg at the mound on Mike Schmidt Field. After addressing the team, he dispersed them to their stations on the various fields and Spring Training 2015 was on.
The pitchers and catchers gathered in right field on Schmidt Field to do their stretching exercises. The position players did their own stretches in left field on Ashburn Field. While his team mates went through their exercises, Kelly Dugan limped between the fields in his walking boot, stooped over to retrieve his glove, and continued alone into the Bright House Field clubhouse. Continue reading Full Squad, First Practice
So, as Spring Training approaches, I am getting the itch to write a bit, so I am going to do just that as time permits. With the Phillies roster in transitional flux, Lehigh Valley looks to have an interesting mixture of youthful pitching combined with some AAAA talented hitting. Lets take a look at the roster possibilities and probabilities.
Catcher: With Cameron Rupp likely to back up Chooch in Philly, The IronPigs should roster two of the Tommy Joseph, Koyie Hill, Rene Garcia and John Hester quartet. Joseph remains on the 40 man roster but has yet to prove his long term health. My thought is Hill and Hester end up on the Lehigh Valley opening day roster.
Infield: I think it is unlikely Maikel Franco makes the Phils out of Spring Training for a variety of reasons, with service time implications at the top of the list. He will be manning the hot corner out of the gate for the ‘Pigs. At 1B will likely be Russ Canzler, a local product and AAA veteran who did a nice job for Lehigh Valley after being picked up in June last year. Likely veterans up the middle as well, with Andres Blanco back in the fold at SS to go along with Chase D’Arnaud who was picked up as a free agent out of the Pirates system in the off-season. Look for Chris Nelson, a high 1st round pick in 2004 to see time all around the infield as a utility player.
Outfield: Look for Aaron Altherr to man one of the OF spots for the ‘Pigs as the 24 year old is on the 40 man roster and spent all of last season in Reading. The Phillies claimed Jordan Danks off of waivers in the off season from the WHite Sox and the likelihood is that he ends up in Lehigh Valley because of the necessity of keeping promising Rule 5 pick Odubel Herrera on the major league roster all season. Danks has an option left and look for the Phils to use it. Oft injured Kelly Dugan is likely to see substantial time in the Lehigh Valley outfield this season. As a member of the 40 man roster and a fairly consistent hitter in the minors, Dugan could play himself into a 4th outfielder contender for the Phillies come 2016. Look for the other two outfield roster openings to be filled by 2 of the following: Cameron Perkins, Jeff Francoeur, Brian Bogusevic, Darin Mastroianni and Xavier Paul.
Starting Pitching: This is an area that looks to be very interesting with significant talent coming into the organization through trades and additional talent coming back from injury. Sean O’Sullivan and Kevin Slowey look to be the veteran presence on the mound for Lehigh Valley, Both have major league experience and have experienced success at AAA. Look for both to eat significant innings for the ‘Pigs. Both Adam Morgan and Jonathan Pettibone return from significant injuries and will be watched closely in the Spring with the hope that they rejoin the Lehigh Valley rotation in the short term. My expectation is that Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez will be in the Lehigh Valley rotation at the beginning of the year. The Phils have hoped to move him back into the rotation and assuming he has command, he is at the AAA level. Look for Joely Rodriguez, acquired in the Antonio Bastardo deal from the Pirates to open the season in the Lehigh Valley rotation as well.
Bullpen: Cesar Jiminez is back with the organization and all but guaranteed a bullpen spot after a successful 2014 with both Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia. Ethan Martin is likely to be in the IronPig ‘pen after a disappointing 201 during which he was often injured and pitched poorly. Hector Neris is a dark horse for the Phillies bullpen but more likely ends up in Lehigh Valley. The Phils brass have been extremely impressed with Neris during winter ball and at the end of 2014. The other four spots are likely to be filled by some combination of Elvis Arajuo, Nefi Ogando, Tyler Knigge, Jeanmar Gomez, Ryan O’Sullivan and Colton Murray.
Before canvassing for everyone’s “Sleepers and Breakers”, I thought I would go back and see last year’s predictions. I’ll publish the 2015 Sleepers article to gather everyone’s predictions over the weekend. So, without a whole lot of fanfare, here are the 2014 picks and outcomes.
Last year’s sleeper projections: Continue reading 2014 Sleeper and Breakout Prospects
Since the Reader Top 30 is now wrapping up, I figured I should start to write a bit more. As I mentioned when announcing I was coming back, one thing I’d like to do is write a weekly post, maybe on a Sunday, with various thoughts and notes. This week’s piece will cover Cuban phenom Yoan Moncada, initial comments on the draft, and thoughts on Keith Law’s prospect list.
Earlier this evening, the Phillies came to terms with free agent RHP Chad Billingley. The sides agreed to a 1 year, $1.5M contract with performance bonuses, reported to be around $6.5M (by Jon Heyman)
The 30-year old Billingsley has pitched just 19 innings over the past two seasons (major/minor) because of elbow injuries. He is attempting to comeback from TJ surgery and a repaired torn flexor tendon. He passed his physical and the Phillies hope he an be in Philadelphia by the end of April or early May. (Of note, Wandy Rodriguez recently failed a Phillies’ physical and went on to sign with the Atlanta Braves.) Continue reading Phillies Sign Billingsley to MLB Contract
Starting Pitcher Edition
I wrote this up early in the week as a lead into this week’s open discussion. Sure enough, another site posted a similar story. Oh well, here’s the list of the starting pitchers in the organization and the highest level attained in the minors during the 2014 season (except for Garcia and Pinto, whose games at Williamsport and Lakewood respectively are too small a sample). There are certainly more pitchers than there are starting spots. But that’s a good thing. They are listed with my best guess for opening day. What’s yours? Have at it. Continue reading Open Discussion: Week of January 26th