Category Archives: Spring Training 2012

Joe Savery has made the 25 man roster

That’s the word on the street, at least.

This site has been around for a little more than 5 years, and Savery’s story is probably the coolest thing I’ve seen since I started closely following the minor leagues like 10 years ago. He was close to calling it a career and retiring, he switched from pitcher to hitter, then switched back to pitcher, recovered 3-4 mph on his fastball, and is now on the opening day roster of the big league club.

No matter how good he ends up becoming or what role he carves out at the major league level, his story is a great inspiration for future players, and a good lesson that anything can happen in baseball, and even when you think you have a good idea of what is going to happen, you can still be completely surprised.

Congrats to Joe, and continued success.

Some quick thoughts on J-Rod and Lisalberto Bonilla

I watched bits and pieces of last night’s Phillies game and got to see Julio Rodriguez and Lisalbert Bonilla both take their shot against the Yankees reserves and backups. Neither guy had a night they will cherish, but both flashed some positive things, and I think both are definitely interesting guys to watch in 2012. Here are some very brief thoughts on both guys

Rodriguez:

* His fastball was mostly 87-90, consistently hitting 89 from what I saw. It did have a little bit of late life with movement in to righthanded hitters
* The deception people talk about is very real. Though he’s not the wiry skinny kid he was when he was drafted, he still creates a lot of funk with his arms and legs in his delivery, and some of the hitters took late, defensive swings because they weren’t able to really see the ball.
* His location wasn’t great, and he did miss up a few times, which we’ve heard about before.
* His slow curveball was in the low 70s and it did not look like a swing and miss offering. Definitely the big thing he’ll need to work on this year.
* He threw one or two solid changeups, a weapon he’ll need against lefties.

Nothing in his performance really changed my opinion of him. Because of the deception he creates, I think he will be able to generate swings and misses at the next level. I do think his future is likely in the bullpen. Tyler Clippard has proven you don’t need to throw 95 mph to be a successful short reliever, and he gets by with deception. Rodriguez is going to need to tighten up both his changeup and curveball significantly to get to that point, but I think he does have that potential.

Bonilla:

* What struck me about Bonilla is how calm the first part of his delivery is, as he stays compact until his arm crosses his body, but his follow through is really violent, and he ends up falling off the mound to the first base side almost every time. This is going to cause command problems.
* His fastball was generally 90-92 from what I saw, I think I saw one 94. He has average or better arm strength.
* Like Rodriguez, his command was pretty poor, probably a case of nerves. He gets a pass.
* He threw a couple of really wicked changeups with excellent tumble and fade away from the lefthanded hitters. I believe he also hung one that got belted.
* His breaking ball was fringy, but he threw mainly fastballs.

I should have tivo’ed the game so I could have tried to capture the video and post it here, but this is from memory. If anyone else watched them pitch, please share your thoughts.

Some minor league assignments

Courtesy of Matt Gelb.

AA Reading: May, Pettibone, Julio Rodriguez, Jiwan James, Tyson Gilles, Sebastian Valle
A+ Clearwater: Brody Colvin
A Lakewood: Altherr, Eldemire, Kyrell Hudson, Brian Pointer, Maikel Franco, and Tyler Greene
Extended ST: Larry Greene and Roman Quinn

Not many big surprises. It will be interesting to see JJ and Gillies in the same outfield, and I expect that if this happens Jiwan James will play RF. Also nice to see Pointer is headed to Lakewood. Not surprised to see LG and Quinn head to XST, and I expect one/both of them will make it to Lakewood in May, which we’ll call “The Jon Singleton Plan”

The case for Jake Diekman to make the opening day roster

As of this writing, the Phillies bullpen is still in flux, and Jake Diekman is still in major league camp. I had a chance to watch him close out yesterday’s game against the Red Sox, and I have to say, he certainly deserves a spot on the 25 man roster. He is currently on the 40 man roster, and thus a move would not have to be made in terms of clearing a spot for his contract to be purchased. I wrote this about him this winter when compiling my Top 30 prospects, where he just missed:

Jake Diekman, LHP – The Phillies protected him on the 40 man roster, and he’s a conversion project of sorts, as he’s begun to throw from a low-almost sidearm angle. You can see his delivery here in action against former Phillies farmhand Anthony Gose. That just looks toxic on lefties. And there is a good chance he carves out a JC Romero-esque career. But I’m not sure that merits a spot in the Top 30. Maybe it does. But maybe not.

He struggled a bit with his control last season at AA, walking 44 in 65 innings. He has swing and miss stuff, evident in the 83 strikeouts in those same 65 innings. And lefties can’t touch him. But I was impressed that he was able to generate some bad swings against the RHB he faced yesterday. The final out of the game did come on a mistake fastball he left up that was hit sharply to centerfield, but after watching him pitch, I think he has what it takes to stick in the big league pen right now. More importantly, Antonio Bastardo is still not 100% healthwise, working through a bit of a dead arm period. The Phillies leaned heavily on Bastardo last season, and he started to wear down a bit in the 2nd half of the season. With the Phillies current rotation being what it is, the bullpen figures to see less work than any other NL team again this year. Looking at the pitching staff, assuming the Phillies carry 12 pitches, these guys are locked in:

SP: Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Worley, Blanton
RP: Papelbon, Bastardo, Contreras, Stutes, Kendrick, Qualls

That is 11. That also assumes that Contreras is ready for Opening Day. If the Phillies do go with 12, they can slot Diekman right in to the final spot. If they go with 11 and Contreras is not ready, Diekman can take his spot. With Kendrick in the bullpen, there is no real urgency to carry another multi-inning reliever in Herndon. The only other competition for the final spot would come from Aumont (who was optioned) and Savery. While Savery has pitched well, Diekman’s ability to destroy LHP should give him an edge. Its a nice problem for the Phillies to have right now, but given what he has shown this spring, especially the fact that he’s issued only 1 walk in 5 innings, I think Diekman deserves the final spot. We should know more in the next week.

Minor League Workgroups (21March2012)

Thanks to reader “gkjdk” for taking a picture of the work groups yesterday and sending it my way. Remember, these groups aren’t hard and fast groupings of where prospects will start, but they do give us some idea how the org feels about particular guys and how advanced/ready they are. Click this link, the photo is too big to display.

Just a few things I find interesting:

* Jiwan James is working out with Group 1, and Tyson Gillies is in Group 2.
* Miguel Alvarez is in group 2, after struggling last year at Lakewood
* Kevin Walter is in group 5

Tell me what jumps out at you.

First Hand Report, 18 March 2012

Thanks to Murray for this quick first hand summary. Enjoy.

Good time at the minor league complex today. In the CWater game, Colvin pitched very well, allowing one run but threw a good fastball and a very good curve. He is definitely in much better shape than last year, having dropped some weight. Their lineup was Myers 8, Eldemire 9, Thome 3, Franco 5, Altherr 7, Rupp 2, Pointer dh (he was originally batting 3rd before Thome came), T Greene 6, Ford 4. Noteworthy: Eldemire said he feels great, swung the bat well, and is much faster than I thought. T Greene looked good but is young and very thin. Franco had two hits (batting 4th!) and looked very good at 3rd. Malcolm played 2nd for half the game and looked good to me. Morgado did fine. Pettis closed and looked very good. In the LWood game, Lino started and looked just ok with some control issues. Lineup was Quinn 6 (looks 16! he’s very fast but didn’t do much), Hudson 8 (looked ok), Walding 5 (batted 3rd and looked very good with a couple hits), L Greene dh (he’s huge – hit some balls hard and ran ok), Duffy 3 (in MUCH better shape than last year and hit the ball very well), Logan Moore 2, Numata dh (looked over matched), Amaro 7, Cardozzo 4. Musser pitched 2 good innings but gave up a long homer. Best was ok. Nick Hernandez told me he’s hoping to pitch in CWater by the all star break. As in previous years, the size of the pitchers is amazing.

9 players optioned/re-assigned to minor league camp

Per this quick post, the following players have been re-assigned:

Dave Bush
Austin Hyatt
Pat Misch
JC Ramirez
BJ Rosenberg
Sebastian Valle
Cesar Hernandez
Harold Garcia
Tyson Gillies

No real surprises here. A lot of these guys will benefit from regular ABs/innings in minor league ST games instead of sitting on the bench for the MLB spring games.