This week is among my favorite weeks of spring baseball. There are 150 players at the Carpenter Complex. Thirty-plus on each of four fields. More than enough action to satiate anyone’s thirst for baseball. Young baseball. Baseball played by players too young to know their chances are long at making a major league roster. The youngest players in camp are teenagers Lenin Rodriguez (17) and Jhailyn Ortiz. And, players trying to extend their dream for one more season. The oldest player in camp is Jake Fox at 33.
But trying to decide which field to watch, which players to follow, which prospects to report on becomes tedious. Running (ha, running, yeah) from field to field causes me to miss more from targeted players than I care to admit. Answering questions costs more time. (I don’t consider myself an expert. But I seem to know enough to answer the questions of the people who travel to Clearwater and remember me from past seasons.)
And, really, watching batting practice off coaches doesn’t excite me any more. And infield drills can get monotonous. Luckily, today’s workouts were brightened up with news that a group of GCL-level players and 4 pitchers from the Phillies’ camp were going to play a game against a Japanese college team.
So when the players broke for lunch, I did, too. And hurried back for the game.
Before lunch, I watched three batting groups on different fields. I always search out “C” Randolph. I enjoy watching him bat more than any other player in camp. I am so thankful that he has lived up to the hype for which I was responsible. My credibility remains intact. Still, you should question me when reports on Randolph sound too good to be true. I admit I am a fan. Keep me honest. Today he sprayed line drives around the field. Again. He is as flawless in the box as I first reported last summer. If he grows into some home run power, watch out. Jose Pujols was in his group. I am still waiting to see the batting practice home run power I read about in Williamsport last season. I am a doubter. I need to be convinced.
Andrew Pullin, Jesse Valentin, and Tommy Joseph made up a group on a back field. I went there to see Aaron Brown and Dylan Cozens, but they took their swings while I watching Randolph. Pullin and Valentin were interesting to watch. But, I can’t help but feel that Joseph is playing out his string. His future seems to be in the hands of others. Their springs may dictate what happens to him.
The third group I watched included Carlos Tocci, Cord Sandberg, and Herlis Rodriguez (H-Rod). Tocci makes some contact, but his “power alley” is the 18 inches on either side of the third base line. As his hits move further into the field, his power diminishes. Sandberg is an enigma to me. He looks like he should have extensive power. I rarely get to see it. I see a smart, in game player. I hope to see him everyday in Clearwater’s outfield this season. H-Rod is another of my favorite players, but I haven’t felt the need to get effusive about his skills. He moves the ball around and has pull-power to right.
I arrived at Bright House Field to discover that a GCL-level team meant a mostly LA line up from Groups 2, 3, and 4 with Mitch Walding, Brendon Hayden, and Edgar Cabral. The first four pitchers were David Buchanan, Edward Mujica, James Russell, and Luis Garcia. Matt Hockenberry rounded out the pitching staff. Cody Forsythe and another pitcher were in the bullpen if needed. They completed their daily pitching sessions in the ‘pen while Hockenberry closed out the game.
Defensively, the Phillies started:
Juan Luis Herlis Rodriguez Jose Pujols
Malquin Canelo Angelo Mora
Mitch Walding Luis Encarnacion
The batting order was (with work group):
- 8, Rodriguez (2)
- 4, Mora (1)
- 2, Grullon (2)
- 3, Encarnacion (4)
- 5, Walding (2)
- 9, Pujols (3)
- 7, Luis (4)
- 6, Canelo (2)
- DH, Carlos Duran (3)
The Phillies fell behind in the second. Buchanan was charged with 2 unearned runs on throwing errors by Canelo and Luis. Canelo threw poorly to first to allow a base runner who scored later on a single to left. Luis prevented runners from moving up with an on target throw to the cutoff man. On the next play, he air-mailed his throw to the cutoff reaching the backstop and allowing a run to score on a play where the Japanese weren’t going to test his arm.
Walding got one run back in the bottom of the inning with a towering blast to right. In the third, Grullon’s two-run blast to left scored H-Rod who had grounded a double down the left field line.
The Phillies made wholesale changes at the conclusion of the fifth inning:
- DH, Rodriguez (2)
- 4, Antequera (4)
- 2, Cabral (3)
- 3, Hayden (3)
- 5, Cuicas (3)
- 9, Ortiz (4)
- 7, Emmanuel Garcia (4)
- 6, Cumana (3)
- 8, Carlos Duran (3)
I guess the Phillies didn’t get the memo that Ortiz can’t play the outfield.
The Phillies tacked on a run in the sixth when a run scored on a throwing error on a double play attempt. Meanwhile, the pitchers kept the Japanese off the board and turned a 4-2 lead over to Hockenberry to start the ninth. He allowed a HR on his first pitch and later the tying run reached second on a passed ball. But the Phillies held on to win 4-3.
Stuff from the game:
- No stadium gun, today.
- Buchanan – 3.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
- Mujica – 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
- Russell – 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
- Garcia – 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
- Hockenberry – 1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
- All of the Japanese left-handed batters swing like Ichiro.
- One of the hits off Russell was lost in the sun by Rodriguez.
- The other was launched over a too shallow Ortiz in right.
- After the inning, the youngster was coached up by Coach Delima. He was deeper the remainder of the game. He made a nice play cutting off aball in the gap and holding the batter to a single later in the game. Note: all the Phillies outfielders were playing the Japanese shallow most of the game. They made situational adjustments sent in by the coaches after they built the two-run lead.
- Hockenberry’s fastball must have looked like a snail to the japanese after facing Garcia’s heat.
- The Phillies had 10 base runners on 6 hits, 3 BB, and a throwing error.
- Rodriguez went 1-4 with a 2B and R
- Mora went 1-3 with a line drive 1B to left and a SB
- Grullon was 1-3 with a 2-run HR
- Encarnacion was 1-2 with a BB and K
- Walding was 1-2 with a solo HR and K
- Pujols was 1-2 with a line drive 2B and K
- Luis 0-2 with a K
- Canelo 0-2 with a K
- Duran 0-2 with a BB
- Antequera, Cabral, and Hayden each went 0-1
- Cuicas went 1-2 with a K and SB
- Ortiz went 0-1 with a BB
- Ortiz fell quickly behind 0-2 and laid off some close pitches to come back and earn the walk. He has remarkable composure behind in the count for a young man.
- Garcia went 0-2
- Cumana went 0-1
- As a team the Philies went 6-31 with 2 2B, 2 HR, 3 BB, 4 R, 3 RBI, 2 SB
- The pitchers went 9.0 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 K