Monthly Archives: November 2017

2017 Gulf Coast Phillies Recap

Following the 2017 season, I was asked to provide an introductory paragraph of about 1000 words recapping the GCL Phillies 2017 season for a book that a friend is writing about the Phillies’ minor league affiliates.  Twenty-five hundred words later I submitted my offering.  I was also asked by another Phillies’ site to answer a few questions about the two teams I cover – the Clearwater Threshers and the GCL Phillies.

I will provide all that I submitted to others here for you to read. (I had intended to publish this a couple weeks ago, but decided to hold it up until now .)

The book’s title is, “A Year of Transition: 2017 Phillies Minor Leagues Digest, A Fan’s View” by my friend Steve Potter.  Steve has provided some of the content I have published on Phuture Phillies.  The book also contains some of Mark Wylie’s photos.  I have used a lot of Mark’s work on Phuture Phillies.  The book has been turned over to the editor, and I told Steve he could edit my contribution as he saw fit.  Here’s what I submitted.

I spend a lot of time watching Phillies’ prospects as they pass through Clearwater.  One of the things I have learned, and it is something that I hope others will consider, is that the Gulf Coast League is a rookie league where the indoctrination of young men into their chosen profession of baseball and the development of their talents are more important that the results on a score board or in a box score.

Each June, high school and college players whom the Phillies signed after their selection during the annual amateur draft, report to the Phillies’ Paul Owens Training Facility at the Carpenter Complex in Clearwater.  They begin their careers physically more advanced than their Latin American counterparts, but slightly behind developmentally.  Most of the Latin players have spent a season on the roster of one of the Phillies’ summer teams in the Dominican Summer League.  A very few , who weren’t on one of the Dominican teams, would have spent months at the Phillies’ Dominican Academy that shares facilities with the DSL teams.

When the Phillies’ Gulf Coast League team gathers at the Complex, it brings together this diverse group of individuals.  The Phillies as an organization resist the urge to make major changes in a new player’s approach.  Their philosophy  is to allow the newest players, the drafted players, to continue doing the things in the ways they have grown comfortable. The Phillies wait until the fall instructional league to break down and rebuild their baseball mechanics.

In addition to these hurdles, the 2017 Gulf Coast League Phillies had a tough act to follow. The 2016 team, posted the best regular season record (43-15, .741) with the league’s youngest team, won a first-round playoff series against the Braves, and extended the Cardinals to the penultimate game in the three-game championship series.

The 2016 team’s hitters posted a league best .342 OBP, .390 SLG, .732 OPS, 294 runs, 514 hits, and 109 doubles.  They were led buy Lenin Rodriguez (.340), Mickey Moniak (.284, 28 RBI), Daniel Brito (.284, 25 RBI), Jhailyn Ortiz (.231, 8 HR, 27 RBI), Cole Stobbe (.270, 4 HR, 13 RBI), and Josh Stephen (.253, 26 RBI).

The 2016 team’s pitching staff posted the league’s best team ERA (2.51), allowed the fewest runs/earned runs (178/142), the lowest WHIP (1.117), and issued the second fewest walks (146).  They chalked up some impressive individual numbers: starters – Sixto Sanchez (5-0, 0.50, 54.0 IP, 8 BB, 44 K, 0.76 WHIP), Nick Fanti (7-0, 1.57, 51.2 IP, 65 K, 9 BB, 0.87 WHIP), and Mauricio Llovera (7-1, 1.87, 53.0 IP, 12 BB, 56 K, 0.96 WHIP); swing man – Luis Carrasco (7-2, 2.18, 41.1 IP, 14 BB, 50 K, 1.19 WHIP); Kyle Young (3-0, 2.67, 9 G, 27.0 IP, 2 BB, 19 K, 0.93 WHIP); closers – Tyler Frohwirth (1-1, 2.08,  10 saves) and Jose Nin (1-1, 1.02, 7 saves); and Andrew Brown (0-0, 2.75, 11 G, 19.2 IP, 5 BB, 20 K, 1.17 WHIP).

Clearly, the bar was set high for 2017 team.  All they did was meet expectations with a league-best regular season record (36-22, .621) and another trip to the post season where they lost to the eventual champion, Yankees East.  The hitters posted a league best .267 AVG, .378 SLG, .718 OPS, 310 runs, 517 hits, and struck out a league low 313 times.  The pitching staff posted the league’s second best team ERA (3.05), and allowed the fewest runs/earned runs (205/166).  Manuel Silva tied for the league lead in wins with 6 and Ben Pelletier was third in the league with a .333 batting average.

The 2017 GCL Phillies played well to start the season, but had an 11-10 record after extending to a four game losing streak after losing the first game of a double header on July 22nd. They bounced back in the second game and went on a seven game winning streak, outscoring their opponents 45-12.  They had made up half of the four games they had trailed the first-place Blue Jays.

The Phillies continued to win games and stalk the Blue Jays until a win on August 15th forged a tie for first place. They took over sole possession of first place the next day and remained there for the remainder of the season.  They did drop into a one-day tie on the 19th, but opened up their largest lead of 3.5 games on the 28th, and clinched the division title on the following day with 3 games remaining on the schedule.

These Phillies were clutch down the stretch.  They went 6-1 in head-to-head match ups with the Blue Jays in August/September, and were 8-2 against them for the season, outscoring them 57-23 and shutting them out twice (they had 8 shut outs during the season).  They were only shut out once themselves, albeit in their play off game.

That’s all well and good, but as I stated above, the Gulf Coast League is a rookie league where development is more important than winning.  When you can do both, great!

The 2017 Phillies did not have big name prospects like the 2016 group that included Mickey Moniak, Kevin Gowdy, Cole Stobbe, Daniel Brito, Jhailyn Ortiz, and Sixto Sanchez. What the 2017 group did have was a group of talented kids who played well together. Among them, some stood out.

Starting Pitchers

Jhordany Mezquita, the Phillies eighth round pick in the 2017 draft, is a pitcher to keep an eye on.  He signed an international free agent contract in March that the major league office voided due to his residency in Hazelton, Pennsylvania.  He signed for the same amount in June, saving the Phillies a little slot money as an added bonus.  The 19-year old LHP has a high 80s-mid 90s fastball and a couple of nice secondary pitches that could accelerate his trajectory through the lower levels of the organization.  But, since 2017 was his first season of professional ball, and since he only pitched 37.2 innings, he’ll likely be in short season again.

Francisco Morales has a great baseball body.  At 6’4, 185 lbs, he’s got the size and the frame to handle more weight/muscle.  The 18-year old RHP signed as an international free agent in 2016 and spent the summer at the Dominican Academy before coming stateside for Instructs that fall.  This season was his first professional season.  He already has a mid-90s fastball.  Though the youngster displays occasional control issues with a 4.4 BB/9, he tantalizes with a 9.6 K/9.  After just 41.1 GCL innings, he’ll likely be in short-season again next year.

Manuel Silva quietly put together a nice season.  The slightly built LHP throws in the low 90s.  He’s a skinny 18-year old and will likely be part of the Phillies weight program this fall, although he doesn’t look like he has the frame to hold the necessary weight/muscle..  He put together a 6-0 record with a 2.60 ERA in 45.0 innings. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if he repeats Rookie ball next season.  He spent Instructs on crutches

Ethan Lindow is a promising LHP, drafted by the Phillies in the fifth round of the 2017 First Year draft.  He had an upper 80s fastball as part of a three-pitch mix that includes a curve ball and change up.  He had an 11.1 K/9, highest among starters.  He tossed 27.2 innings.  I saw Lindow in an Instructs appearance where he struck out five in 2.0 innings.

Relief Pitchers

Jakob Hernandez was the Phillies 21st round selection in the 2017 Amateur Draft. He’s a big kid, built like a football lineman.  Several baseball sites agree that he is 6’4, but from there they differ.  The Phillies listed him as 275 lbs on draft day.  Baseball Reference and MiLB list him as 260, but the Phillies had him at 290 on their Instructional League roster. No matter, the kid can pitch.  The LHP was a starter for UT-Arlington.  He earned second-team All-Sun Belt Conference honors, went 6-1 with a 3.28 ERA in 13 starts, tossing one complete game, and hurled 79.2 innings, striking out a team-leading 89.  He went 5-0 with a 1.53 ERA in his five road starts, and defeated #20 Louisiana.  His only loss came against ranked Coastal Carolina (#29).  The Phillies used him in a relief role and limited him to 11 innings, I believe due to his heavy pitch counts in college (he often surpassed 100 pitches in a game). Hernandez possesses a “killer”, overhand curve.  He struck out 8 of the first 9 batters he faced, and didn’t allow a base runner until his fifth appearance.  He finished with a win, a save, a 1.64 ERA, 0.818 WHIP, 0 BB and 15 K (12.3/9 IP).  He was working on a change up in Instructs.  I would not be surprised if the Phillies used him as a starter next season.

Anton Kuznetsov was signed as an international free agent on September 8, 2016.  The LHP hails from Moscow, Russia.  He was assigned to one of the DSL teams and invited stateside for minor league spring training.  He impressed coaches so much that he was reassigned to the GCL Phillies prior to the Amateur Draft.  He has a mid-80s to upper-80s fastball and a couple of raw off speed pitches.  But he keeps the ball down and throws strikes.  He led the team with 5 saves, allowed just one earned run, posted a 0.36 ERA, walked 4 and struck out 24 in 25.1 innings.  When I first saw Kuznetsov pitch, I thought he looked a little stiff, like he was following a series of steps on the mound, sort of like learning to pitch from a book titled “Pitching for Dummies”.  By August, he looked smooth on the mound, and I stopped being surprised at how well he pitched.

Middle Infielders

Brayan Gonzalez was signed as an international free agent on July 2, 2016.  He was part of a middle infielder class that included Christian Valerio, Leandro Medina, Jose Tortolero, Edgar Made, Nicolas Torres, Luiggi Mujica, and Juan Herrera.  Gonzalez stood out during Instructs, and while the rest started their careers in the Dominican Republic, he started his at second base for the GCL Phillies.  Gonzalez handled himself well at the plate in spite of giving up 2.5 years to opposing pitchers.  And he made the transition from shortstop to second, committing just 5 errors in 38 games.

Jonathan Guzman was signed as an international free agent on August 17, 2015.  He debuted in the DSL in 2015 and hit .300 in 277 plate appearances.  He teamed with Gonzalez during 2016 Instructs and they played well as a middle infield pairing.  They continued to play together giving the Phillies a formidable middle infield.  Guzman started the season in Williamsport but returned after the June Amateur Draft in time for the start of the GCL season.  He also played a game for the Threshers in the Florida State League.

Dalton Guthrie was drafted by the Phillies in the sixth round of the 2017 First Year draft out of Florida.  He was a key part of the Gators’ run to their College World Series victory.  The shortstop is the son of former major league pitcher Mark Guthrie.  Dalton was limited to a handful of GCL games due to injury, but looks sharp on the field. His bat will dictate how quick he moves through the organization. I had a brief talk with Phillies’ scout Johnny Almarez who spoke effusively about his future.

Corner Infielders

Quincy Nieporte was drafted by the Phillies in the 26th round of the 2017 Amateur Draft out of Florida State.  He led the country with 82 RBI his senior year.  The first baseman represented the power in the GCL Phillies line up.  He led the team with 5 HR and 35 RBI. He had a .299 batting average with a team-leading .494 SLG and .848 OPS. He walked 12 times and struck out 17 times in 180 plate appearances.

Jake Holmes was drafted by the Phillies in the 11th round of the 2017 Amateur Draft out of high school.  He’s 6’3, 195 lbs. and looked out of place at shortstop.  But, he is a rangy fielder with a good arm.  Offensively, he showed an ability to lay off the pitcher’s pitch and flashed some power.  He hit both of his home runs in the same game, and both cleared the scoreboard on Robin Roberts Field easily.  I was not surprised when he was moved to third base at the beginning of Instructs.


Ben Pelletier was drafted by the Phillies in the 34th round of the 2015 Amateur Draft while he was still in the Canadian equivalent of high school.  He signed on July 15, 2015 and spent the next 6 weeks at the Complex until he returned to school at the end of the summer.  He was assigned to the GCL Phillies in June of 2016, and reported to the team after graduation.  His somewhat late arrival and a platoon that saw him in just 27 games delayed his development.  Pelletier came into his own this season, leading the team with his .333 batting average.  He was second on the team with 3 HR and 26 RBI.

Simon Muzziotti was signed as a free agent by the Phillies on July 5, 2016 after Major League Baseball invalidated his contract with the Boston Red Sox, a penalty for their violating international signing rules.  He switched DSL teams and saw his average drop about .080 points.  However, he impressed enough in 2017 spring training to earn an assignment to the GCL Phillies.  He played almost exclusively in center field and committed just one error.  Offensively, he led off and posted a .269 average.  He puts the ball in play.  in 141 plate appearances, he walked 7 times and struck out eight.  He has better than average speed and isn’t adverse to dropping a bunt when the situation presents itself.


Rafael Marchan is a promising young catcher who was signed as an international free agent on July 3, 2015.  He spent that summer at the Phillies’ Venezuelan Academy before being assigned to one of the Phillies’ DSL teams in June of 2016.  While at the academy, he was converted from shortstop to catcher.  In spite of his short time at the position, Marchan shows remarkable catching instincts.  He threw out 43% of attempted base stealers.  At the plate, he makes decent contact and puts the ball in play (only 4 BB and 8 K in 93 plate appearances), but his average plummeted from .333 to .238 with his move stateside this year.  Marchan lost the first two weeks of the season when he was spiked in a play at the plate in the season opener.

Others who caught my eye include Phillies first round pick Adam Haseley who hit .583 in 14 plate appearances before reporting to Williamsport, Yahir Gurrola who hit .333 and stole 12 bases in 126 plate appearances before being promoted to Williamsport, Keudy Bocio who hit .278 with 22 runs and 18 RBI and seemed to be involved in every rally down the stretch, Jesus Henriquez who played flawless defense in his portion of the second base platoon, Kevin Markham who played three outfield positions and drew 22 walks against 9 strike outs, Phillies 39th round pick D.J. Stewart who signed late out of high school and played sparingly, Ramon Rosso who struck out 13 in 9.0 innings on his way from the DSL to Williamsport, Ben Brown who is from the same portion of Long Island that produced Nick Fanti and Kyle Young, and fellow pitchers Denny Martinez,  Victor Sobil, Oscar Marcelino.

And in closing, one advantage the 2017 GCL Phillies may have had was the advice of a former major league pitcher who is certain future Hall of Famer.  I saw Roy Halladay at the Complex on numerous occasions.  A Phillies official whom I spoke with could not confirm that Halladay is working with their pitchers, but I have observed him speaking with and working with at least one pitcher at the Complex.  Most recently, he was present during Instructs.  Even if Halladay is providing instruction in an unofficial capacity, it has to be a huge boost to young pitchers.

The above treatise was written before Roy Halladay’s tragic accident.  I don’t know how the last paragraph will be handled.

Matt Winkelman of Crashburn Alley and Phillies Minor Thoughts, as well as a former contributor at Phuture Phillies, reached out and asked if I would take part in interviews of people who view the Phillies’ affiliates frequently.  Specifically, in my case, the two teams I cover during the season, the GCL Phillies and the Clearwater Threshers.  The GCL interview was posted on Minor Thoughts, the Threshers interview hasn’t posted yet.

Here is the Q and A on the GCL Phillies.  There is likely to be some overlap with the text above.

The GCL team lacked in star power this year, but still made the playoffs. What allowed this group to match last year’s star studded group?

The hitters a posted a league best .267 AVG, .378 SLG, .718 OPS, 310 runs, 517 hits, and struck out a league low 313 times.  The pitching staff posted the league’s second best team ERA (3.05), and allowed the fewest runs/earned runs (205/166).  Manuel Silva tied for the league lead in wins with 6 and Ben Pelletier was third in the league with a .333 batting average.  And a shout out for Yahir Gurrola who also hit .333 but didn’t have enough at bats to qualify (he was promoted to Williamsport mid-season).  

Man for man, I believe they were just better than the opposition.  The Phillies don’t really ride a hot hand.  They employ a platoon system, and stick to it.  Most position players know that if they play today, they are off tomorrow except for Jonathan Guzman and Brayan Gonzalez who got about 60% of the starts at SS and 2B.

There was no Sixto Sanchez, or maybe even Adonis Medina or Franklyn Kilome this year, but Franklin Morales, Manuel Silva, and Jhordany Mezquita impressed. What are your thoughts on them going forward?

Manuel Silva quietly put together a nice season.  The slightly built lefty throws in the low 90s.  He’s a skinny 18-year old and will likely be part of the Phillies weight program this fall, although he doesn’t look like he has the frame to hold the necessary weight/muscle.  He spent Instructs on crutches.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he repeats Rookie ball next season. Lakewood seems a reach.

Francisco Morales (nobody calls him Franklin, haha), on the other hand, has the body scouts long to see.  He’s got the size already, and the frame to handle more weight/muscle. He turns 18 later this month and already has a mid-90s fastball.  He had some control issues, walking 4.4/9 innings.  But he struck out 9.6/9.  He’ll move as quickly as he learns and improves his off speed pitches that will support his FB.  Short-season again next season.  No need to push the youngster yet, there are plenty of pitchers blocking him right now.

Jhordany Mezquita was the Phillies’ surprise 8th round pick in the 2017 draft.  He signed for the same $50K contract that he had signed and the league office had voided a few months earlier, saving the Phillies some slot money.  He’s a 19-year old with no baseball background who can really pitch.  He finished the season with a mid-90s FB.  The lefty has a good baseball body, but with no apparent history seems likely to repeat Rookie ball.  I don’t really expect him to go to full season ball in Lakewood after less than 40 innings in the GCL.  But, he looks capable of such a jump.

The GCL is the first big step stateside for many Latin players. This year was the much anticipated US debuts of Jonathan Guzman, Brayan Gonzalez, and Simon Muzziotti. What are you looking for from teenagers in their stateside debuts?

Most of these kids have already begun their indoctrination into professional baseball at the Phillies’ Dominican Academy whether or not they were on one of the Phillies’ DSL rosters.  So they are used to the daily grind of workouts, drills, and classes that are provided there.  But, they still have to adjust to a language barrier and a difference in diet. For instance, our diet contains way more beef and potatoes than theirs which contains a lot of chicken, pork, beans, and rice.

These kids arrive with little or no money.  Even those who sign large bonuses leave it behind in the hands of their buscones and families.  And what little money they earn here is sent back to their families.  They rely on the meals the Phillies provide from local restaurants for breakfast and lunch.  A local restaurant (the one that provides the breakfast)  that isn’t open for dinner provides the evening meal for those players who show up at their door.  I have driven past this restaurant and seen the large group of our players standing outside for the meal.

When they make their debuts in Instructs or XST, I look for kids who look like they can grow into athletic bodies.  I look for confidence.  Among position players, I watch to see who plays the position best, and observe who is moved to a different position.  Among hitters, I look to see a kid’s approach at the plate, see if he works the count, attacks the first strike, goes with the pitch, is willing to give himself up.  And among pitchers, while a high velocity fastball garners quick attention, I look for the ones who throw strikes and are down in the zone.  At their young ages, any semblance of an off speed pitch is a plus, but not expected.

Not everyone gets a long run in the GCL, who is one player you only got a brief glimpse of that you are looking forward to seeing more of?

Just one?

Carlos De La Cruz.  The 6’8, 210 lb, 17-year old outfielder showed up at the Complex during the GCL season.  At first I thought he was a pitcher from the DSL (we had a Jonas De La Cruz on DSL White).  Carlos was signed by our scout up in New York.  He found him in a summer league.  I watched him during Instructs, trying to implement the changes to his swing.  He looked awkward.  I saw him the next day, he looked more at ease with his new swing, and hit the only 2 balls over the LF fence in his group that day.

Among others –

Dalton Guthrie.  He was drafted out of Florida and was a key part of their CWS victory.  He was limited to a handful of games due to injury, but looks sharp on the field.  His bat will dictate how quick he moves through the organization.  I had a brief talk with Johnny Almarez where I told him I liked the kid.  Mr. Almarez spoke effusively about his future. Except for ST, I don’t expect to see Guthrie until he passes through Clearwater again with the Threshers.

Jakob Hernandez.  A 2017 draft pick who has a killer curve ball.  He was learning a change up during Instructs.  I am looking forward to following his career until he returns to Clearwater.

I’m also looking forward to seeing Ethan Lindow, Ben Brown, Jake Holmes, D.J. Stewart, Anton Kuznetsov, Luis Garcia, Leonel Aponte, Alfonzo Puello, and Victor Vargas.  Except for Kuznetsov, they are all first year professionals either drafted out of high school in 2017 or signed during the international free agent signing period.

Here is the Q and A on the Threshers.

The strength of the team all year was the starting pitching. Is there one thing that made them especially successful?

It sounds overly simple, but when the Thresher starters were “on” they attacked the strike zone, minimized walks, amassed strike outs.  That’s not to say that all their starters were successful at this, but many were.

The opening day rotation was Jose Taveras, Franklyn Kilome, Cole Irvin, Alberto Tirado, Blake Quinn, and Seranthony Dominguez.  (A rehabbing Zach Eflin actually pitched the opener.)

Cole Irvin and his 1.5 BB/9,  7.2 K/9, and 1.11 WHIP were promoted to Reading on June 21st after 11 starts.

A month later, Jose Taveras (2.0, 8.7, 1.05) was promoted on July 16th.

Just over a week later, Jake Waguespack (2.1, 9.2, 1.17) was promoted on July 26th.  He had joined the rotation when Blake Quinn was moved to the bullpen (I assume because of his high HR rate).

Franklyn Kilome (3.4, 7.7, 1.37) was promoted on  August 4th.

Alberto Tirado went to the bullpen, his 5.5 BB/9 ending his starter experiment.

Seranthony Dominguez was on track to a promotion when he suffered a shoulder injury in May.  He returned in July and struggled with his control.  His upper 90s velocity remained, but he wasn’t able to maintain consistency in the strike zone.  I think he returned too soon, that since his velocity was okay, he was permitted to work on his control in FSL games rather than GCL games.  If I’m right, I don’t have a problem with that.

The rest of the rotation at the end of the year was:

  • Ranger Suarez (2.6, 9.1, 1.43),
  • Edgar Garcia (3.2, 8.4, 1.36),
  • Harold Arauz (1.3, 8.7, 0.85),
  • Sixto Sanchez (2.9, 6.5, 1.30), and
  • JoJo Romero (2.6, 8.4, 1.11).

Garcia and Arauz moved to the rotation from the bullpen.  Suarez, Sanchez, and Romero earned promotions from Lakewood.

Ultimately the Threshers appear to have been doomed by a lack of offensive talent. What can you say about the one major hitting prospect they had in Cornelius Randolph?

I know that most fans are probably disappointed in Randolph‘s season.  I am not.  I saw Randolph in the GCL in 2015 before the Phillies began  rebuilding his swing in Instructs later that year.  Randolph arrived as an advanced hitter who would “go with the pitch”.  His approach reminded many observers of Tony Gwynn.

Randolph has (and had) a stocky build.  Most pitchers pitched him away, so he hit most of his balls to left center.  He displayed power to the gaps, but mostly doubles type power. Ironically, the only home run he hit that season was a dead pull to right.

His rebuild has included driving the ball to his pull-side more often.  It was evident in spring training this season.  What was also evident was that he was wearing glasses at the start of spring training. I asked him about it and learned that he had never worn glasses while playing ball before, but he had an eye infection that prevented him from wearing his contact lenses.

Randolph had become such a pull hitter that opponents actually employed a shift against him.  He hit a lot of hard outs to the right side, but he also hit a career high 13 home runs.

I can see the improvement.  He actually got better each month from April thru July before tailing off in August.  I understand the profile for a corner outfielder, but, boy do I miss his sweet, GCL swing.

You got a first hand look at a couple of trade acquisitions in J.D. Hammer, Seth McGarry, Jose Gomez, and McKenzie Mills. What impressed you about any of them in your brief look?

Let me preface this with this, my “look” was very brief, at best amounting to a SSS.

Gomez – I saw his two games with the GCL before the Phillies jumped him over Lakewood to Clearwater and was very impressed with his at bats.  It wasn’t that he hit .500 (which he did), but that he looked like he had a plan when he went to the plate and was able to execute.  He found that more difficult against the advanced pitchers he saw in the FSL, but still looked good.

Mills – Made just 3 starts with Clearwater, only one at home on August 16th.  He arrived with over 100 innings pitched and was shut down after this start, arguably his worst start of his season.  He had accumulated 120 IP after only 53 IP in 2016.  He’s a big, imposing pitcher.  But, he may have tired.  I’m not prepared to render an impression on one bad start.  He gave up almost half (20) of his 43 ER in his last 6 starts (of 21), 33.2 IP (innings 86.2. Thru 120.1).  He did not walk a batter in his 15.2 Clearwater innings.  So, even though tiring, he maintained control of his pitches.

McGarry – Arrived with a pristine 1.34 ERA and 14 saves in 15 opportunities for Bradenton in the FSL.  The North Division must be tougher.  He blew a save and took a loss in his first appearance and went on to a record of 0-4, a 5.14 ERA, and 5 saves in 7 save opportunities and 13 appearances..  His 3.9 BB/9 is a little large, but he had a 10.9 K/9.

Hammer – He came to Clearwater with impressive credentials, but was not used in a closer’s role.  He had 13 saves in 14 opportunities at two levels in the Rockies’ system.  But, he was used as a set up man by the Threshers.  He performed well, had a 0.57 ER, 1.1 BB/9, and 11.5 K/9.

Going off Phillies, who was the most impressive player you saw on another team this year?

I focus on our players during games.  I’m aware of the top guys on the other teams, but I look to see if/how we shut them down more than who does well against us.

That said, Tampa’s Jorge Mateo ran wild against us in 2016 (22-68, 3 HR, 7/11 SB).  This year, he went 9-21 with 2 HR but only stole one base.  He wasn’t the top of the order threat against our pitchers that he was in 2016.

On July 2nd, Tampa’s Dillon Tate pitched 7.0 shutout innings allowing 6 hits, 0 walks, and striking out 11.  He threw 87 pitches, 68 for strikes.  The Yankees got the 2015 first round pick from the Rangers in the Beltran trade.

I was impressed with the mania that followed Tim Tebow into Spectrum Field.  In a curious way.  Like when you drive past an accident and have to slow down and look.  Tebow went 1-16 with 3 walks and 6 strike outs.  The biggest cheer in the 4-game series came when he scored a run.  After a rough game in LF in the first game of the series (his 30th birthday), I believe he spent the next 3 games as DH.  I’ve softened my opinion of Tebow.  He seems a genuinely nice person.  The mania around him is brought on by his fans.  I bet he could run for political office in Florida and win.

I only mention the Tebow series, because it led to my paying attention to one of his teammates.  Before the series started, I spoke with our Dalton Guthrie who was rehabbing at the Carpenter Complex.  I asked if he was going to Tebow’s birthday party (the first game of the series) since there would be a lot of Gator supporters in attendance.  He said he hoped to get to a game, but not to see Tebow.  He wanted to see his Gator teammate Peter Alonso.  (BTW, the Threshers drew about 12,000 more people to the 4 games than they normally would, and their second, third, fourth, and sixth largest crowds of the season.)

Peter Alonso performed well in front of perhaps the biggest crowds he faced all season. He went 6-18 with 1 HR, 2 BB, and 6 K.  His HR was crushed to right center field.

The Dunedin Blue Jays sported a line up that contained the sons of 3 former major leaguers – Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, and Vlad Guerrero.  Biggio was a 2013, 29th round pick by the Phillies who put up pedestrian number in his second pro season. Bichette is hitting the cover off the ball.  The kid hits for average with some pop.  Our pitchers held him in check: 5-25, 3B, HR, BB, 9 K, 1 CS.  Vlad Guerrero is a beast, built in his father’s image.  Another guy hitting for average with pop.  I got to watch him in XST and Instructs prior to this season.  He’s an impressive prospect, even though we handled him pretty well:  6-23, HR, 5 BB , 5 K, 1-2 SB.


Open Discussion: Week of November 26th

The hot stove season continues.  There was a flurry of transactions as the Phillies set their 40-man roster before the November 20th deadline.

The Phillies added an assistant hitting coach to the major league staff.

Former Phillies RHP Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez was killed in a car accident in his native Cuba.

The commissioner levied penalties against the Atlanta Braves for international signing violations.

Continue reading Open Discussion: Week of November 26th

Open Discussion: Week of November 19th

A sad week for Phillies’ fans as a memorial service for Roy Halladay was held in Clearwater.

As the hot stove season continues, there was very little public movement by the Phillies at the GM meeting Orlando, FL.  It’s probable that the somber week was responsible for the relative lack of announcements by the Phillies.

Late Friday, the Phillies announced the hiring of another coach to Gabe Kapler’s staff.

There were no player transactions as the Phillies approach Monday’s deadline for adding players to the 40-man roster to avoid being eligible for the Rule 5 draft.

The deadline for the nine players who received qualifying offers has passed.

Fifteen of the 16 Phillies’ minor players who were eligible opted for free agency.

Continue reading Open Discussion: Week of November 19th

Open Discussion: Week of November 12th

The hot stove season continues.  The GMs meeting begins tomorrow in Orlando, FL.

I’ve been watching a lot of MLB Hot Stove this week.  They scroll each team’s KEY FA across the bottom of the screen during the show along with some other baseball information. The Phillies KEY FA are RHP Clay Buchholz, 3B Andres Blanco, LF Daniel Nava, and OF Hyun Soo Kim.  Every time I see this I can’t help but smile.  I think it’s the use of the word KEY. Continue reading Open Discussion: Week of November 12th

A Tribute to Roy Halladay, 1977-2017

Like Phillies’ fans and the baseball world, I am at a loss for words over the horrible incident that took the life of Roy Halladay.  Initially, I resisted the impulse to write something about this remarkable man.  I couldn’t find the words. Then I received this from my friend, Steve Potter. It was so wonderfully expressive, that I felt it needed to be shared.

Like Steve, I had seen Halladay at the Complex during the summer.  He worked with pitchers during extended spring training and returned later during the GCL season and into the Instructional League.  He arrived early, and worked behind the scenes. Sometimes, the only evidence that he was there was his vehicle in the parking lot.  When I finally asked a Phillies’ official about Halladay’s involvement with the team, I was told that he did come to the Complex but that he couldn’t comment further.  He hoped that something official could be reached and announced.

The last time I saw Halladay at the Complex, he came out of the clubhouse to watch an ongoing game.  Maybe because we spotted him, he retreated into the clubhouse and re-emerged on the second level.  The picture below shows him talking to Dickie Noles, the last picture I took of him.

Here is Steve Potter’s tribute.

11/7/17 : Halladay

When you’re a sports fan the players who represent your chosen team often times become bigger than life in your eyes. The games in which they participate, especially the ones where they excel become embedded in your memory. If they win a championship or get your team into the playoffs they become legendary, especially if your team doesn’t usually win all that many games.

As Phillies baseball fans we’ve suffered more than our fair share of losses and the accompanying heartache. We’re known collectively as demanding and critical but also as loyal and passionate. When a player wears our colors he becomes ingrained in our desire to succeed and we especially endear those who have great work ethic, passion and desire to win. These men become our heroes and are revered. We hold them in awe and high esteem.

Roy Halladay held such reverence in Philadelphia amongst us fans. He wanted to play here, he wanted to win more than anything and he worked harder than anyone to produce a championship. He was also a man of compassion and served the community via charitable action, mostly unpublicized, thru various off field endeavors.

I just saw him a few weeks ago in Clearwater at the Complex during Florida Instructional League play. He was up on the observation deck watching the game that day. I never had the pleasure of talking with him, never got to know him but as a fan felt like I did anyways.

This past year or so he was a regular at the Complex working with the minor league players in Spring Training, Extended Spring and also with those on rehab. I’ve read many of their testimonials to Roy the past couple hours on Twitter in how they were honored to be mentored by him on the skill of positive thought. That was primarily his role, he was a disciple of mental toughness and envisioning success to make it happen. He used it himself to reinvent his career after early failure.

Roy coached his sons and their teams in baseball as well, just recently he had posted on Twitter about a 12 and under tournament championship and how proud he was of the kids. He coached at a local high school and they also won a championship. He loved to fly and also posted Twitter items on that as well. Recently he had gotten a new plane, the first of its kind from what I gather and he was very proud of it and the experiences it gave him. He posted multiple pictures and even a video of how the views were breathtaking. From what I could gather he took the plane up at every chance he got, he even stated his wife didn’t want him to get the plane but he convinced her it was “all good” and that even she was enjoying the flight experiences. He seemed really excited and happy when flying from the posts he recorded.

Today we were at Spectrum Field watching the Men’s Senior Baseball League tournament play when I got a text from a friend quoting a local tv report that Halladay’s plane had crashed. We found out later he had died in the crash. Even though I never truly knew him my heart sank, no doubt every Phillies fan heart did the same. I wasn’t going to write anything about it as I really have no words to express my sincere grief for Roy’s family, especially his wife and two boys. I can’t imagine what they must be going thru right now. It’s so very sad.

As a sports fan the players become bigger than life in our eyes, when something like this happens it brings home the reality that they are mortals just like us. We grieve the reality of their loss, it’s disheartening and sudden and oh so sad. It’s part of the cycle of all our lives that’s inevitable but we are never truly ready for. Time will help heal our sadness, our memories help us cope. We fans feel the loss almost as if it’s our own family. In our minds and hearts it is.

To the Halladay Family my sincere and heart felt condolences, to our Phillies organization as well. To my fellow Phillies fans I too feel your sadness and loss, we are indeed all family and we’ve lost one of our best. Together we grieve. Thank you Roy for what you gave us, May you Rest In Peace, that ball team skipper in Heaven just brought home another ace.

Open Discussion: Week of November 5th

The hot stove season is starting to heat up.  Organizations and players are making decisions regarding qualifying offers, options, and free agency.  Four Phillies have already opted for free agency – RHP Clay Buchholz, 3B Andres Blanco, LF Daniel Nava, and OF Hyun Soo Kim.  Pedro Florimon, who just came off the 60-day DL is the only other potential free agent on the 40-man roster. Continue reading Open Discussion: Week of November 5th

Open Discussion: Mid-Week November 1st

Congratulations to the Houston Astros.  Now, let’s get the off season rolling.

This is a special mid-week edition of the weekly open discussion.  This week’s discussion auto-published before I could edit and manually post.  I had some things going on and which were compounded when the internet was unavailable Sunday night.  So, a couple things I wanted to include were left out.  So, here they are.   Continue reading Open Discussion: Mid-Week November 1st