Spring Training 2019 (March 7th)

Today the Phillies played a split squad schedule – home against the Yankees ans on the road against the Tigers.  That meant that there were 22 less players in minor league camp for most of the day. 

The Phillies have been generous inviting their young prospects to sit in the dugout or bullpen this spring.  Many have gotten a chance to play in the games.  I’m sure their excitement surpasses mine when I see who is called up.  The generosity also comes in a monetary form as they qualify for major league meal money on these days ($150.00 I’ve heard) .  Since they don’t get paid for their services during spring training, I’m sure this extra money comes in handy.

Today’s twenty-two call ups included –

  • Road game: Pitchers (10) – Adam Cox, Grant Dyer, Jeff Singer, Tyler Fallwell; Catchers – Henri Lartigue, Rafael Marchan; Infielders – Damek Tomscha, Jake Scheiner, Jose Gomez; and Outfielder Matt Vierling.
  • Home game (12): Pitchers – Alexis Rivero, Connor Brogdon, Jonathan Hennigman, Luis Ramirez; Catchers – Austin Bossart, Edgar Cabral; Infielders – Darick Hall, Drew Stankiewicz, Jose Antequera; and Outfielders – Ben Aklinski, Luke Williams.

The 12 guys who were activated for the home game against the Yankees took part in morning workouts.

Non-throwing pitchers from the four groups walked over to the two DiMaggio fields for their exercises and PFPs.  Pitchers scheduled to throw remained at the Complex and followed a different work out regimen which included throwing on the Seven Mounds and live BP.  More on that later.

The position players went through their drills on three fields.  It looked like players were moved around within groups a little to accommodate the smaller number of bodies available.  For the most part, it looked like groups one and two worked together.  Some of the drills included –

  • On Roberts, a new one for corner infielders.  A coach rolled a ball to a gloveless first or third baseman who must get the correct foot behind the “glove” hand.
  • This was followed with a soft toss to the bare glove hand.
  • Then a hard one-hop to the left and right of the fielder.
  • Finished with a straight one-hop to the fielder.  Drew Stankiewicz seemed particularly adept at these drills.  He even blocked some of the balls with his foot in a way that the ball popped up so that he could easily grab it with his bare hand.
  • Outfielders ran fly ball drills while I was watching the infielders.
  • On Carlton, catchers were fielding pop ups from a pitching machine.
  • Others were taking hard pitches from a machine set up down the right field line.
  • And on Schmidt, players worked on proper base running.  Particularly, length, balance, a secondary lead, and the jump or returning to the bag.  They line up three deep on the infield dirt at each base.  They receive instruction particular to the base and constant reminders about balancing on the balls of their feet (I think) and footwork.

If the Phillies came out to stretch on Ashburn, I missed them.  The pitchers who stayed at the Complex worked on PFPs with infielders manning the bases and outfielders acting as runners.  I saw pitchers working in the following groups –

  • Group one – sorry, I didn’t get there in time, but I’m sure that Bailey Falter is in this group.
  • Group two – Dohy, Armas, Aaron Brown, Taveras, T, Bettencourt, Hammer, Warren, Russ, Requena
  • Group three – F. Morales, Young, White, McArthur, Santa Cruz, Mezquita, Potter, M. Gomez
  • Group four – Santos, C. Betencourt, Gowdy, McKay, Miller, Cotto, Tejada, C. Francisco, Antonac

I spend a lot of time watching the young guys, especially Luis Garcia since my evaluation is a little less glowing than others.  I neglected to report on him yesterday because it was his first day, it was cold as heck, and he tried to field his position wearing a hoodie.  I didn’t want to report how average he looked.  Today, he shed the hoodie and looked much better at shortstop.  He actually out performed Jonathan Guzman during the fielding drills I watched.  At the plate, he has a nice, easy swing.  He looks like a mirror image of himself batting left and right.  What power he has seems to be from the right side, the side from which he makes slightly better contact.  It’s too early to really comment, so I’ll wait a while to further critique his hitting.

Others I enjoy watching include Jake Holmes and Logan O’Hoppe.  Holmes hit in Garcia’s group and made a lot of solid contact, clearing the fence a couple times.  He also impressed me with his glove.  The converted shortstop seems to have made further strides at third base.  He appears very comfortable at the position and shows good instincts moving left and right.

O’Hoppe was on another field.  Before he began his earlier workouts, I told him he looked taller than last season.  The 6’2 catcher admitted to adding a little height over the winter.  He has an athletic build that reminds me of a young Pat Burrell.  His pre-draft scouting reports said he was a defense-first catcher.  Well, he sure puts a charge into the ball when he swings.  There are several of us in my little group whose opinions don’t matter who think Lakewood isn’t too far of a stretch for this kid.  That would be quite a feat considering the wealth of catching depth in the lower levels of the organization.

The day ended with pitchers throwing live BP.  All attention was focused on Roberts Field where Bryce Harper took swings for about 40 minutes.  He, Deivi Grullon, and Jan Hernandez faced Gustavo Armas, Alejandro Requena, Jose Taveras, Addison Russ, and Trevor Bettencourt.  Kyle Dohy was warmed up but Harper packed up before he took to the mound.

Harper hit a HR during one at bat.  He may have had another couple extra base hits depending on fielder placement.  I sure looked to me that Russ struck him out twice, the first time on a 2-2 off-speed pitch.  looked like he surprised Harper who went out to talk to Russ after the at bat.  He talked to him again after the next K.  I think he was complimenting Russ on his stuff.  Grullon looked particularly good during BP, hitting a HR and a couple more balls off the fences.  He also struck out v Russ between Harper’s two Ks.  I should note that live BP did NOT include an umpire.

During Harper’s at bats, other pitchers pitched live BP on the other three fields.  Those not similarly engaged were watching the action on Roberts.  There were cameras all over the place and the beat writers skipped the start of the Phillies game to watch Harper.

One thing I noticed was that Taveras had more fastball than I recall when he was with the Threshers.  When Harper was finished, I walked around and caught a couple at bats against Spencer Howard.  He froze successive batters with a 2-strike curve that really dove.  Wish I had seen more of his session.

Yesterday, I posted the position player work groups as I saw them on the various fields.  I’ll repeat them here with new additions in bold text.  I’ll continue until the Phillies provide official work groups.  Just remember that this in no way indicates where a player will be assigned.

Group 1 – Bossart, Cabral, Lartigue, Fitch, Tomscha, Randolph, Markham, J. Hernandez, Alastre, K. Martin (red shirt), Marrero, Hall, L. Williams, Cumana, Gomez,

Group 2 – G. Rivero, Conley, N. Martinez, Duran, Henriquez, Mims, Muzziotti, Lancaster, Stokes, Bohm, Nieporte, Guthrie, Brito, Aklinski, Ortiz, Maton, Scheiner, Vierling, Pelletier, Stankiewicz, 

Group 3 – Matera, L. Rodriguez, Marchan, Gutierrez, Mayer, J. Francisco, J. Smith, Stobbe, B. Gonzalez, Guzman, Kroon, L. Miller, Stephen, L. Rojas, O’Brien, L. Garcia, M. Matos, Holmes

Group 4 – O’Hoppe, Wang, Edwards, Aparicio, Mendez, Bowles, E. Rodriguez, Bocio, C. Williams, Wingrove, Tortolero, Stewart, Mead, Azuaje, De La Cruz, Torres, Simmons, Litton, 

Guys I still haven’t been able to identify with a group –  Wilkening, Oropeza,  Rivas, Pujols, Antequera, A. Castillo, Alfonso, De La Rosa, J. Herrera, Weeks, Dipre, E. Made, Mercado, JC Smith, J. Rivera, De Freitas, Valerio, L. Matos

Still some kids in hoodies.

Well, that’s all until tomorrow.


57 thoughts on “Spring Training 2019 (March 7th)

  1. Do you know when the Phillies will make their minor league assignments? Is Klentak directly involved in that? Lehigh seems to be loaded with pitchers who just an inch away from the Major leagues. Out of Suarez, Anderson, and De Los Santos, who is the most likely to take a step up? Can Eshelman make a comeback? Has the clock run out on Randolph?

    1. The assignments are done late in training camp and often start with who will be kept at AAA. Then the prospects are placed and then everyone else. Yes Klentak is involved but the minor league director is also. After watching Anderson on tv yesterday, I’m very bullish on him. He’s added a slider which is really helping him. Their LHV rotation will be filled with talent with Eickhoff, DeLos Santos, Anderson, Suarez, Romero, and Irvin. Eshelman looks to be on the outside looking in but it’s a long year and things happen.

      1. @Murray – it’s a high-80s Cutter that you are probably referring to. Anderson is mostly a FB-CB-CU before the Cutter and he rarely throw a SL.

        I watched the game in my DVR last night. It’s a good game in the surface, but Anderson still need to locate his FB and tighten up the CB. The Cutter looks good and Anderson seems to have a good handle of this new pitch.

        Also, Anderson thew only 44 pitches against 10 batters with 6Ks — that’s the best take away next to the new Cutter.

        1. What’s the difference between a cutter and a slider? I know they both move with FB speed but their action must be different. I don’t know how hitters hit this pitch when thrown well and thrown after a straight FB.

          1. Cutter is similar to a 2S FB, it moves left to right (and vice versa) while SL slides down when it breaks. On the average, Cutter is thrown with about 2-3mph compared to a SL so Cutter is more high-80s while SL is more mid-80s.

  2. Jim these reports put me right there, thanks. You’ll have an influx of players from big league camp joining you next week I think as the games get going.
    Russ has legit stuff, he just needs control to make it big. Grullon will be the starting catcher at LHV so he’s got a chance to get called up this year, although I can also see them keeping a veteran backup at LHV just for that possibility. 40 spots becomes an issue then.

    1. Regarding Grullon. I’ve seen the comments regarding his size. And yes, he is big. But I honestly believe he was bigger last spring.

      I noticed that the first time I saw him down here that he looked less big. I waited to confirm with other people who were familiar with his size last year.

      It appears that he like everyone else worked to arrive at ST in the best shape they were able to reach. Most appear to have shed excess weight. Some like Kingery and Trent Bowles look like they spent extra time in the weight room.

      In Grullon’s case, he really looks a little fitter. In any case, his size doesn’t appear to affect his ability to hit or play his position. He’s kinda like Willians Astudillo. I guess.

      1. Willians Astudillo….who would have thought he would be getting all this notoriety three years ago.
        He see to be just a fun loving, portly, slow-footed, never strike out contact -hitter, with no position, and no power of a prospect…and now a MLB player as a Twin!

        1. Let’s hear it for the DH. Need to assess prospects differently when NL has it too.

          1. I don’t know.
            Unless a team goes on the cheap into a tanking mode….most teams will alway look for the DH in the form of a skilled veteran hitter….Encarnacion, Nelson Cruz types….guys well into their early to mis 30s…with power.

            1. That is very true. But I think some “prospects” can last longer in minors without a position if they can hit.

          2. Did you see Hoskins drop that routine pop up? I think we know that he’s a future DH.

            1. Come on Murray….Florida wind and sun probably had some bearing in that.
              Look at the infield fly that Kingery had the heads up to go to third….the wind and sun effected the Yankees infielders on the right side.
              I will grant you, Hoskins is not close to a GG candidate….but he is far from Dr Strangeglove over there.

            2. In 2003 we attended Phillies’ ST, wife and 2 youngest boys. Rookie second baseman camped under a high pop up in foul territory, had it all the way, then clank. We were sitting a couple rows back of dugout and my wife says “that guy will never make it”. “That guy” was Chase Utley.

              This is a reminder we give her everytime someone drops a popup.

            3. Denny…now that is funny about Utley dropping that pop-up.
              Remember he dropped two in one game near the end as a Phillie also…I think he was so embarrassed.

        2. there actually was a featured article on him, with a big picture, in the wall street journal of all places yesterday. said he was going to save baseball because he almost never strikes out!

          1. A 3% K rate is unbelievable…..also a 2% BB rate is also unbelievable.
            The ‘Turtle’ will be a good trivia answer someday.

      2. Astudillo is an insane outlier. A guy with a 65 hit tool who never strikes out and never walks and is now pushing the needle as a major league player because he is developing just enough power. It’s hard to compare anyone with him.

          1. Denny – FYI – I was at that Utley game too. As people complained about him, I spoke up to those around me defending him and his recent move from 3b and his ability to hit. No one could have known that he’d become what he became. The Man!

          2. Yeah, good comp – but think how rare that skill is and how far back you had to go to find one.

  3. Can’t wait to see players like Sean Rodriguez, Shane Robinson and similar others assigned elsewhere. They are very marginal at best AAAA players.

  4. I might be dating myself here, but Grullon kind of reminds me of Bo Diaz, because of his build and especially his arm

  5. By the way, Drew Anderson’s work is very encouraging. He’s developed a cutter that is looking not just like an out pitch but a swing and miss pitch and it sets up his other stuff very well. He should go down to AAA and pitch as a starter for at least a few months, but keep a close eye on him – he may have the type of stuff now to turn into a mid-rotation big league starter, which is a huge development. Very surprising and very encouraging. Pitchers have the most odd trajectories.

    1. Or just maybe Matt K can recoup that 2nd rounder lost in the Harper signing by trading him to one of the following for a CBA pick in the 2019 draft…along with the equvalent slot money that goes along with that pick.

      35-Miami Marlins….36-Tampa Bay Rays
      37-NY Yankees (Recd from Reds via trade)
      38-Pitt Pirates( comp for unsigned ’18 supplemental first-rounder Gunnar Hoglund)
      39.-Tampa Bay Rays (recd from A’s)
      40. Tex Rangers…(recd from brewers in a trade)
      41. Twins

      Round B is after the 2nd round and has less slotted value:
      70…Royals….71- Os….72-Pirates….73-Padres….74-DBacks
      75-Tockies…..76- Matriners and 77-DBacks again thru a trade.

      1. Romus…isn’t there a formula or ‘value chart’ for each slot? If so, can we equate one of our prospects with said slot? What is Drew Anderson worth v. the prospect picked at slot number x? I suspect you’d have to factor in various contingencies like probability to make majors, projected impact, timing/proximity, investment to date, etc.

        I’d LOVE to recoup our pick and int’l money. So, I’m trying to understand how the front office goes about identifying candidates to trade for a pick.

  6. Our 3 young SPs, VV, Eflin and Pivetta all came via trade. So did next in line Eickhoff. With Sixto traded, Medina is next. Who is the highest ceiling SP prospect we have after Medina that we drafted? Spencer Howard? Cole Irvin? I think JoJo and Ranger are MLB prospects, but their ranking, I believe, is based on proximity to the Majors and the fact that they will pitch in the Majors, not necessarily on their ceilings.

    1. these are potential ceilings IMO (SPs in A+ and above):

      1) Medina – #1/#2

      2) Howard – #1/#2 – Howard has higher ceiling than Medina if he get his command and pitch efficiency in check

      3) JoJo – #3/high leverage RP – I believe he can stick in SP but more of a solid #4 guy

      I can see Klentak holding on to these trio since no other arms in A+ and above that project as high powered arms. Gowdy, Pipkin, Morales, Silva, Santos and Castillo are the other group of power arms but they are still far away and completely high risk.

      And to continue…

      4) Enyel delos Santos – #4/high leverage RP – most likely to be traded before transitioning to the pen.

      5) Anderson – #4//high leverage RP – most likely to transition to the pen where he can be a Ryan Madson type set up guy.

      6) Irvin – #4/#5 – most likely to play in MLB for a while but ceiling is really low.

      7) Ranger – #4/#5 or LOOGY – he looks over matched to me. CU looks good but FB is average-ish and he need to have a reliable 3rd pitch, otherwise, he’ll become a LOOGY like Hoby Milner.

      8) Parkinson – Cole Irvin lite

      I expect Bailey Falter to pitch in REA and he is my Drew Anderson like dark horse. Falter’s stuff is more of a #4/#5 but he knows how to pitch and mix his arsenal.

    2. I understand that the conservative nature of front offices like the Phillies tend to move pitchers from starter to reliever rather deliberately. They did it with Seranthony before he reached the Show. Why they haven’t done the same with Velasquez is puzzling. His current profile screams for a bullpen trial.

      I think Eflin has promise as a #5 in the long run once the book on his is set. I think his handle on how to pitch currently exceeds VV’s (by a lot) and Pivetta’s.

      Pivetta has the best pure stuff and highest ceiling among the three.

      My hope is that the landscape is clearer by the trade deadline and the Phillies will acquire a bona fide major league #2. They have the depth of talent at the major and minor league levels.

      1. Pivetta certainly needs to be more aggressive. He always looks like he is pitching in his MLB debut.

      2. @8mark – I think the lack of solid internal options is a reason why Klentak stuck with Vinny. From Bidde, Jake Thompson, Ben Lively, Mark Appel, El Garcia, Franklyn Kilome, Matt Imhoff — none of these SP prospects really worked out to be part of the rotation.

        Zac Eflin was kept, but he has consistency issues. If Eflin make another step in his development, and Eickhoff recovered from his injury – 2019 might be the year that Vinny will transition to the pen if not traded,

      3. They stick with VV as a starter because he has the pitch combination to be a starter and also has shown the ability to maintain velocity and he has had flashes of quality starts. Never want to give up on a starter before you have to.

        There’s a reason why top starting pitchers are making $25 million per season while elite closers are making $15m..

        1. It just he cannot maintain consistency thru the lineup for the third time….30 starts with only 7 gmes getting into the th inning.
          His last 8 starts of 2018…total of 33 innings pitched, nothing past the 5th inning….giving up 45 hits, but to his credit, only 16 BBs and 32 Ks.
          Perhaps he tired after a long season ….147 innings pitched total.

          1. Yes, that is obviously the biggest problem with his game right now. He does not do a good job of controlling his pitch counts so by the 5th inning he’s pushing 90-100 pitches.

            But he has shown the ability to get hitters out, just needs to become more effective is not trying to strike out everyone to get that done. Don’t know if he will learn that or not but it’s too early to make the decision that he won’t/can’t…

            He was bad at the end of the season last year, but so was much of the rest of the team. It was a long season for a number of younger players..

            1. VV’s problem, at base is simple, when he’s not throwing 96, or 97, with his current stuff, he can’t put batters away quickly. So he throws a lot of pitches and gets knocked out by the 5th or 6th inning.

        1. Great question. Identifying a #2 when we Nola is tricky. I’d say the following guys kinda fit the profile: MadBum, Kluber, Ray, other?

          Fit with what we have as potential trade chips makes any list short. Let me try a package for MadBum. He’s a one year rental. SFG needs younger, cost controlled players. I think there is room for OF improvement (same for Cleveland).

          I’m terrible at trade packages but perhaps something like Williams, VV, and Irvin/Eshelman/Seabold. I’m proposing a starting OF, major league rotation replacement and a young ‘second tier’ pitching prospect.

          1. I don’t think that you will get a true #2 starter for a 4th OF and a very erratic, injury prone 4th starter and a prospect that projects as a 5th starter. Come trade deadline the price will be high for the few difference making pitchers. At the least, Medina is in the package. Even for a rental.

        2. That is a very good question. The biggest determinant will be which team makes a viable trade partner, which considers themselves out of contention in July, and needs young outfielder(s) and/or young pitcher(s).

          I would think Nick Williams and Zach Eflin would be included in a bigger package for a Robby Ray type, perhaps a Marcus Stroman type. Someone like Matt Strahm may emerge with that profile once the first half of the season plays out. Or an older guy like Mike Minor may come into his own this season. Hard to predict 4 months ahead.

          1. …but at the end of the day, an arm more effective than anyone on the Phillies staff after Nola.

          2. I was sold on Strahm…but also would not mind LHP Joey Lucchesi if the Padres are willing to move him.
            Lucchesi has a better track record when starting…though Strahm has excellent stuff when he is relieving…of his 179 gams in the minors and majors he has only started 40 games, and i think the Royals realized he was not able to sustain

          3. I don’t think Nick + Eflin is anywhere near enough to get those pitchers. Unless you also include Medina + Haseley. There are very few difference making pitchers available at any trade deadline.

  7. @JimP – thanks for the reporting and shout out to Falter, Holmes and O’Hoppe – 3 prospects that I mentioned that can be worthy tracking their development.

    Bailey Falter is not a fireballer and possibly will never get any attention. But Falter is always been solid in all the levels he pitch and he is just turning 22 yo!! REA will be a challenge for him, Falter is good in not issuing walk but he gets hit more than I like.

    Holmes is another player that starting to get my attention because of the combination of tools – power, speed and arm. The ability to hit is always been the concern. But if can improve the hit tool, Bohm should watch out.

    O’Hoppe – I already said a lot about him.

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