Monday saw the minor league camp go into full swing. The players scattered over the four fields at the Carpenter Complex and a fifth group crossed over to DiMaggio Field. While we waited for practice drills to start, the Spring Training 2017 Work groups were delivered and distributed.
Notice that the groups aren’t numbered. The left-hand group is not the AAA group. The coaches with the group are the AA coaches. Most of the players in these groups will move one column to the right when the AAA coaches and players come down from the Phillies camp. I think of these groups as Reading, Clearwater, Lakewood, and short-season with a handful or two of IronPigs in the Reading group. Spring games for these groups begin next Tuesday. FWIW, the groups of position players I reported the other day were 99% accurate. Derek Campbell, who I didn’t see, is listed in the second group, Juan Luis,who I did see, is in the third. Zach Green isn’t listed at all.
In addition to Juan Aparicio, Rafael Marchan, Keudy Bocio, Jonathan Guzman, and Simon Muzziotti, LA players from the DSL or unassigned include pitchers Francisco Morales, Gustavo Armas, Rafael Carvajal, Jesus De Los Santos, Oscar Marcelino, Denny Martinez, Orestes Melendez, Sandro Rosario, Manuel Silva, Victor Sobil.
Position players take BP soon after warm up exercises. I tried to mix in some different guys today.
After BP, the players returned from DiMaggio and drills were set up on each field, more than one on most fields. One group of about 8 position players hits in the outdoor batting cages on along Carlton Field. On Carlton, one group’s outfielders fields balls in the outfield hit by a coach from the right field line. Half of the pitchers take PFPs with infielders taking the throws. The rest of the group’s pitchers meet in a group in foul territory down the RF line.
Over on Ashburn a different set of drills are being run. A group of 8 players takes bunting practice with Coach Williams. On Schmidt, infielders take ground balls. On Roberts, pitchers practice pickoff moves. Position players provide the base runners for the drill. After a set amount of time, an air horn signals the players to move to their next station. The well choreographed movement of players is accompanied by the clatter of their spikes on the concrete as the jog to their next drills with the coaches acting like drill sergeants yelling, “Hustle! Hustle!”.
While this is going on, some catchers have been catching pitchers who have are scheduled to throw from the Seven Mounds. Their rotation includes a visit to the bullpen mound between Carlton and Schmidt where they are instructed on proper set up behind the plate and take pitches from a machine.
The most interesting drills were run by Coach Pat Borders for catchers in left field of Roberts Field. The Marquis de Sade would have been proud. He started by using a pitching machine to launch a pop up into the air for the catchers to field from a standard catcher’s squat. Not too bad even in today’s strong wind. However, as you can see in the following videos, he took it to a different level.
At times he would –
- launch two balls at 2-3 second intervals to a catcher in a squat,
- launch three balls at 2-3 second intervals to a catcher in a squat,
- with all 3-4 catchers in a squat, launch an equal number of balls at 2-3 second intervals,
- launch one or more balls with a single catcher starting from a prone position,
- launch a ball or two after the catcher did a barrel roll.
I swear, we thought he was making it up as he went along. Before we could get our cameras focused, all three catchers in one group ran into each other. Later one tripped over another laying on the ground. Reminded me of the Keystone Kops or the Stooges.
Back to the work groups. There are 150 players in camp – 82 pitchers, 14 catchers, 29 infielders, and 24 outfielders. Zach Green makes 150. With 62 players in the Phillies camp, that’s 212 ball players in Clearwater (less the few who are attending the WBC).