I arrived at the Carpenter Complex as the teams took the field. I was drawn to Ashburn Field, traditionally the AAA field, when I thought I saw Carlos Alonso at shortstop, not a normal position for Carlos. Turns out it was free agent signee Tyler Greene. But since Ethan Martin was on the mound, I chose to stay. I recognized Aaron Brown, Cameron Perkins, and Roman Quinn in the outfield and was satisfied with my game selection.
Ethan Martin started and retired 3 of 4 batters fairly easily. The only base runner reached on a softly hit flare to shallow left field. There were no scouts around the cage, so I don’t have any velocity on his fast ball.
Quinn led off for the Phillies and battled through a lengthy at bat. He fouled off several pitches with a 1-2 count before grounding a single back through the middle. Two outs later, he stole second base on a pitchout. Quinn got a tremendous jump. A lot of times, when a base runner gets such a good jump, we say he stole the base on the pitcher. Even then, a good throw could still get the runner, but this throw was about chest high. In this case, they knew he was stealing, pitched out, and he BEAT the throw.
At this point, a friend saw me and let me know that Aaron Nola was pitching on the AA field. And hey, there were all the scouts. Unfortunately, on Schmidt Field you can’t get up behind the scouts to consistently read their guns. But, Nola appeared to be comfortably in the low 90s. He struck out 3, walked 1, and recorded the last out of his second inning on a weak come backer to the mound. The only other base runner reached on an error. One runner was erased by Andrew Knapp on a stealing attempt.
Tom Windle followed with 2 scoreless innings in the low 90s. Elniery Garcia was at 92 during his one scoreless inning.
Percy Garner, Ethan Stewart, and Lee Ridenhour followed with effective scoreless innings. Kevin Walter finished up and gave up a few solidly hit balls that resulted in a run.
The AA offense was quiet most of the early innings. I think they had one hit until Cord Sandberg lashed a double into the LCF gap. He moved to third on a ground out and scored on a sac fly. (Sounds like small ball.) The AA Phillies “bunched” together another couple hits to score a run when Andrew Knapp drove a double into left field. He scored on a Darin Ruf single. (Oh yeah, Darin Ruf got 4 at bats with the AAA team and a couple more with the AA squad.) In his next at bat, Sandberg reached on a 2-out single. He scored easily when Mitch Walding crushed a ball that one-hopped the RCF fence for a triple.
The AA team included Knapp and Jose Mayorga catching, Harold Martinez at first, Jessie Valentin and Angelo Mora at second, Crawford at short, Zach Green and Walding at third, and Pullin, Tocci, and Sandberg in the outfield. (I asked Valentin how to pronounce Jesmuel (2 syllables, Yes-Mwel). He does also go by Jessie, and has no preference.)
Back in the AAA game, Martin finished a scoreless second inning. He was followed by Anthony Vasquez (for two innings, I think), Stephen Shackleford, Nick Hill, Tyler Knigge, Ryan O’Sullivan, and Colton Murray each pitched one inning. I think that the Jays only got a single run off O’Sullivan.
The AAA team included Gabriel Lino and Logan Moore catching, Ruf and Brock Stassi at first, Casey (formerly K.C.) Serna at second, Greene at short, Gustavo Pierre (Pee-you-ray) at third, and Perkins, Quinn, and Brown in the outfield. I think Aaron Altherr was the DH. Edgar Duran and Brian Pointer were used as subs during the game.
Players from the AA group who did not make an appearance may have been over with any A group guys who did not make the trip to Dunedin. There was a game on Roberts Field against a team called Superstars. I saw Christian Palacios score on a ground ball. AA group players included Herlis Rodriguez and Drew Stankiewicz.
I went back to last year’s reports to see how I reported when two games were played. Seems I focused on one game instead of trying to cover both. I’ll try that tomorrow when the A teams will be at the Complex against the Pirates, the AAA and AA teams will travel to Bradenton.
I had a nice conversation with a parent of one of our newer players. I didn’t tell her/him I was a reporter until deep into our conversation, so I don’t feel right disclosing what we talked about or who’s parent she/he is. But it was interesting to hear about the baseball life from a parents’ perspective. I may have gained a couple new readers for the site, so let’s continue to be mindful of our audience when making comments. Thank you.