Sunday marked the beginning of the Phillies minor league spring training camp. Schmidt and Ashburn Fields were reserved for the major league camp, so Groups 3 and 4 hiked over to DiMaggio Field for their morning work out. Groups 1 and 2 took up residency on Roberts and Carlton Fields,
Today is the beginning of my favorite time during spring. Tons of activity and lots of players at the Complex. And sparse crowds. Especially when the Phillies are playing next door.
It’s a shame that the two groups were relegated to DiMaggio. The Phillies only came out to stretch and long toss before returning to the Spectrum Field club house. But, their inconvenience allowed me to concentrate on the two groups remaining at the Complex. After stretching and long-tossing, pitchers scheduled to throw went to the Seven Mounds. The rest shagged BP. During BP, ground balls were hit to the infielders.
I was drawn to Group Two. This was the first time I’ve seen Fitch and and second time I’ve seen Lartigue. Both skipped the GCL and began their careers in Williamsport. I was impressed with their offensive skills. I’ve seen Rivero before. and have always liked him both offensively and defensively.
Brito has more power than I would expect for a guy as slightly built as he is. Gamboa looks bigger than I remember before he spent a season in Lakewood. He has filled out well, not skinny and short like so many of our LA middle infielders. That said, I expected a better offensive showing during BP. Let’s hope it’s just timing this early.
Hall was Hall, cutting through a breeze to deposit a couiple balls on the other side of the RF fence. He hit several towering shots that the wind held up to bounce off the fence or land on the warning track. Physically, he’s every bit as imposing as Dylan Cozens. Listi showed surprising power. He’s another player who I saw very little of before he was assigned to Williamsport.
Rivas also caught my eye with some well struck balls. I was distracted for a while, but caught most of Moniak’s at bats. His altered swing is allowing more power. The ball is jumping off his bat. He even got one through the wind for a HR. But, it’s just BP off a coach for all these guys, so I won’t get too carried away.
Before I go on, let me point out some physical changes I’ve noticed –
- I almost didn’t recognize Wilson Garcia, he looks a little trimmer than I remember. I’ve heard that he is catcher-only this season. We’ll see. That seems to go counter to the “flexibility” theme of this season’s ST.
- Kyle Martin looks bigger, but I can’t be sure. I haven’t seen him since last year’s ST. Still he looks more muscular.
- Cornelius Randolph looks both bigger and taller. I’ve talked to him a lot since he was drafted. Either I didn’t realize how tall he is or I got shorter. Either way, he looks like he spent some time in a weight room.
- I already touched on Gamboa’s fuller physique.
- Luke Williams looks bigger than I remember. Almost didn’t recognize him.
- Mickey Moniak is noticeably bigger, across the shoulders and in his arms. I asked and he admitted to hitting the weight room during the off season. And, was gratified that I noticed.
- Dalton Guthrie is noticeably bigger, to me. He was also happy somebody noticed.
- Simon Muzziotti looks to have grown into his body a little. He was a skinny kid last year. He looks mature now.
- Quincy Nieporte looks like he transferred weight into muscle. He looks trimmer around the waist, but his arms look huge and his shoulders seem more broad.
- Jhailyn Ortiz looks the same. So, any worries that he would get bigger were unfounded.
- Jake Holmes looks to have filled out his 19-year old. 6’3 frame.
- Ben Pelletier looks bigger.
- As does Josh Stephen.
- It’s tougher with pitchers. I talk to a lot of them, but they are usually sitting down. When I passed Ethan Lindow, for instance, I was shocked at how much he towered over me. Bailey Falter is no longer the skinny kid I remember before he went to Williamsport two years ago, and Nick Fanti looks bigger than he did when he departed for Lakewood last season. But, Jakob Hernandez looked thinner. When I asked, he confirmed that he lost weight over the off-season and reached the target weight the organization selected for him. He’s still a big looking kid, but that’s because he is broad shouldered. I can’t wait to see these and all the guys pitch.
- And, finally, Kyle Young says he is just 7′ tall. I got the impression that the Phillies won’t ever say he is taller than that. I wouldn’t be surprised if they cling to the 6’10 that is on his MiLB page.
After BP, the groups returned from DiMaggio and everybody broke into smaller groups for more drills. There were 6 groups and maybe as many as seven. Morning groups assignments didn’t seem to be as important for this. After 15-20 minutes at each station, an air horn sounded to signal movement to the next station. Another signaled the start of the drill at that station. Here’s what went on at each.
- The outdoor batting cages along the drive way – BP off a pitching machine. Charlie Hayes was at this station and started a conversation with me while waiting for the first horn. I offered him a bottle of water, he accepted.
- Ashburn – bunting off a pitching machine with Shawn Williams.
- Carlton – flyballs off a pop up machine for outfielders, PFPs for pitchers. PFPs consisted of ground balls between the mound and first base. The pitcher, first baseman, and second baseman were all in motion on each play.
- Roberts – pickoff moves, leading/getting a jump off first base, throws to the plate. The pitcher would simulate a throw home or to first. The runners (yes, runners) would react. There might be as many as 6-7 base runners stacked one behind the other. The front man reacted to the pitch/pick off. The runners behind all broke toward second. Interesting drill. Working on many inter-related things in the same drill. A pitching machine was set up a shortstop to simulate throws in the dirt to the catcher at home plate.
- Schmidt – “The Fire Drill”. Four coaches hitting balls to each position on the field. Players would lob the balls back to the coach. The drill changed to allow throws to a first baseman from one of the positions while balls were still hit to the other positions as well as a second first baseman. They also had the middle infielders take throws at second, while continuing to his balls to all positions. This is my favorite drill to watch. It’s as hard for me to follow as it is for me to describe. I can’t believe that no one gets hit by a ball during this drill.
- Seven Mounds – pitchers soft-tossing to each other.
- The indoor batting cages – I didn’t see this but speculated that they might be using this space, too. My suspicion was confirmed, but I don’t know what they did in there.
They broke for lunch, I hope, and went inside. They were scheduled to take outdoor BP again, but it was after 2:00 PM and I wasn’t sure they would keep to the schedule. Pitchers were beginning to leave while I waited. So, I called it a day, too.
Each main group is run by the coaching staff of one of the affiliates.
Most of the players who will make up Group One are still in the major league camp. So don’t get excited by some of the early assignments. Look at it his way, the first four groups are really groups two thru five and some of the players will be promoted when Group One is finally established. Essentially, Group Four will become Group Five in a week or so. Three will become Four, …
Players I was unsure of yesterday are in their assumed group as I witnessed during today’s workouts. They are in bold and Italics.
- Group 1 – (with the Reading staff)
Catchers – W. Garcia, Gabriel Lino, Bossart, Grullon
Infielders – Cumana, Jose Gomez, Martin, Joey Meneses, Stankiewicz , Tomscha, Canelo, Green, Emmanuel Marrero
Outfield – Haseley, Jan Hernandez, Sandberg, Tromp, Randolph, Coppola
Pitchers – Arauz, Bergjans, Tim Berry, Casimiro, Cleavinger, Davis, DeNato , Parker Frazier, Elniery Garcia, Gilbert, Leftwich, McGarry, Rivero, Romero, Singer, Tirado, Viza, Watson, Windle, Waguespack
- Group 2 – (with the Clearwater staff)
Catchers – Rivero, Fitch, Lartigue
Infielders – Antequera, Brito, Gamboa, Hall, Listi, Rivas, Scheiner, Williams
Outfielders – Alastre, Martinelli, Pujols, Matos, Moniak
Pitchers – Alcantara, Aaron Brown, Casey Brown, Cabrera, Ryan Etsell, Falter, Fanti, Edgar Garcia, Hallead, Hibbs, Kelzer, Llovera, Medina, Mills, Paulino, Blake Quinn, Requena, Russ, Sixto Sanchez, Hennigan, Bettencourt
- Group 3 – (with the Lakewood staff)
Catchers – Duran, Marchan, Nerluis Martinez
Infielders – Azuaje, Buhner, Guthrie, Maton, Mims, Nieporte, Austin O’Brien, Pickett, Stobbe, Zoellner
Outfielders – Gurrola, Markham, Mayer, Muzziotti, Jhailyn Ortiz,
Pitchers – Armas, Brogdon, Andrew Brown, Carrasco, Dohy, Julian Garcia, Hernandez, Howard, Jones, Marcelino, Melendez, Nunez, Parkinson, Ramirez, Rosario, Rosso, Seabold, Sobil, Stewart, Warren,Young,
- Group 4 – (with the Williamsport and GCL staffs)
Catchers – Aparicio, Gutierrez, Lenin Rodriguez
Infielders – Encarnacion, Luis Garcia, Gonzalez, Guzman, Henriquez, Holmes, Rodriguez, Rojas, Stewart, Torres
Outfielders – Bocio, De La Cruz, Pelletier, Stephen
Pitchers – Leonel Aponte, Carlos Bettencourt, Ben Brown, Carvajal, Conopoima, Cummings, Cummings, Juan Escorcia, Alex Garcia, Jimenez, Kuznetsov, Lindow, Denny Martinez, Robinson Martinez, Mezquita, Miller, Morales, Alfonzo Puello, Santa Cruz, Juan Santos, Silva, Vargas
They haven’t issued official groups, but I have eyes and have seen the above in the corresponding groups. These four guys are on rehab – Mario Sanchez, Dyer, McLoughlin, Gowdy. And, I haven’t spotted these guys yet – Mark Laird, Josh Tols, Adron Chambers.
ALL players wore uniform pants and a gray tee shirt with their name on the back. This is the normal uniform in spring training. I state this because a red shirt with no name on it is usually the sign of a player on rehab or on the DL (there is no DL yet). The four guys on rehab above are in red shirts with no name on the back. I only state this because I noticed the following – Waguespack and Fanti are in red shirts/no name. Fanti assured me that he is okay, I assured him I know the meaning of the red shirt. And, I assure that I will continue to monitor this situation. (FWIW, I was right about Herrera having an arm/shoulder problem when I kept questioning his level of non-participation in early ST drills.)