Spring Training 2019 (March 18th)

It’s been ten days since my last spring training post.  Sorry for the long absence, I was under the weather, and even though I’ve been back at the Complex the past couple days, those visits were of a shorter duration.  I managed to stay until the end of three minor league games today, so let me get started with that, then I’ll try to catch up on some earlier things.

First, I want to say thank you to all of you who took the time to say “Hi” and other nice comments while you were at the Complex.  Your kind words help me to weather through this as the season draws on during the summer.  Most are readers who don’t comment.  I am always surprised at how many people approach me to thank me for my efforts.  It is very humbling.

Harper, Realmuto, and Robertson were scheduled to bat and pitch in the Group One game (Coach Williams and AAA/AA players) on the back field (Robin Roberts).  I’ve seen them several times this spring and didn’t really want to be part of the crowd that Harper would draw.  Harper collected a couple hits.

The Group Two game (Coach Malloy and a team that could very well be the Clearwater Threshers) were on Ashburn Field.  Maikel Franco batted.  Ramon Rosso was starting.  I watched Russo last year when he was promoted to Clearwater.  I’m going to watch Clearwater all summer.  Pass.  They played to a 5-5 tie.

The other two groups were on the road in Bradenton.  But, a fifth team of young prospects, was assembled to play a traveling college team, Oakmont CC (IL).  Tyler Mckay drew the starting assignment.  I hadn’t seen him pitch this year, so that was to be my game.  The line up was also interesting with Logan O’Hoppe, Jake Holmes, Carlos De La Cruz, and Logan Simmons.  I was also happy to see that the relief pitchers included Taipei’s Hsin-Chieh Lin, bonus baby Starlyn Castillo, and 2018 HS draft picks Gabriel Cotto and Jaylen Smith.

Tyler McKay worked three innings, facing 4 batters in each inning.  He allowed 3 singles (one that died between the mound and third base), zero runs, walked none, hit a batter and struck out six.  McKay tossed 9.1 innings as a freshman at Kansas State in 2017.  He threw 7.1 innings in 2018 with Howard JC (TX). The 6’6 righty has a lean, lanky build.  He has a live arm (sorry no velo from Schmidt Field) and keeps the ball down in the zone.  He was drafted in the 16th round and signed for over slot, by quite a bit.

Hsin-Chieh Lin celebrated his 20th birthday with four strike outs in two innings.  He gave up one hit, one run (on a passed ball or wild pitch), and walked none.  He reminds me of a right-handed Jake Hernandez.  Similar build and a devastating over-the-top off-speed pitch.  He appears to have a little more velocity on his fastball.  But, like I said, no access to the radar guns.

Starlyn Castillo was impressive in his one inning.  He overpowered the first batter he faced with an easy strike out.  He got the second batter on a very routine 3-1 ground ball.  And he came bounding off the mound after striking out the next batter.  Wait!  He mis-heard the count and it was only strike two.  He sheepishly returned to the mound.  The count worked full and the batter reached when a routine ground ball went through the wickets of the second baseman.  Castillo responded by inducing another ground ball to first.

Gabriel Cotto tossed a strong inning.  He bounded off the mound to grab a soft ground ball in the no man’s land between the mound and first base and flipped a soft underhand from his glove from about 4 feet to get the first batter.  I was standing behind the coaches and remarked (loudly) “Just like in practice!”.  One responded, “That’s how we taught them!”.  The next batter grounded out to short, and Cotto punctuated the 1-2-3 inning with a strike out.

Kyle Arjona pitched next.  He fielded a soft liner for the first out and struck out the next two batters.  Arjona is a NDFA the Phillies signed in late July out of the University of New Orleans.  He threw 38.0 innings as a freshman for Jacksonville University n 2016 and 81.2 innings for Florida Southwestern in 2017.  He threw 65.1 innings for New Orleans including an early season victory over Virginia Tech and a complete game win in his last start over Houston Baptist.

Jaylen Smith tossed the final inning.  He got a ground out to third then the next batter ran into one of his fastballs and pulled it down the line for a ground rule double.  Smith bore down and struck out the next two batters.

The young Phillies batters took an early lead with 3 runs in the first inning.  Corbin Williams led off with a walk.  He read Keudy Bocio’s line drive single to center correctly and aggressively advanced to third base.  Logan O’Hoppe continued the party with another line drive single to center that scored Williams.  Bocio scored on Carlos De La Cruz’ ground single up the middle.  O’Hoppe later scored on a fielder’s choice.  Jake Holmes was hit by a pitch during the inning.

Oakmont’s pitcher settled down and retired 8 hitters in a row until Juan Mendez reached on an infield single with one out in the fourth.  The score was 3-1 at the time.  Jake Holmes unloaded on a pitch and drove a 2-run shot well over the fence in left center field.

Bocio lined a single in the fifth, stole second, and O’Hoppe drew a walk. The Phillies couldn’t take advantage with just one out.

In the sixth, Mendez lined a one-out single to RF and stole second.  Holmes followed with a line drive to the same spot in left center that didn’t quite have the same height as his earlier HR.  He settled for an RBI triple to the fence.  He scored on a ground ball when the throw pulled the first baseman off the bag.

Williams beat out an infield single to the shortstop and stole second in the seventh.  He reached third with one out but was stranded.

Curtis Mead was hit by a pitch in the eighth.  The coach signaled him to remain in the batters box, but the umpire was having none of that.  Mead was erased on an attempted steal attempt.  So, of course, Holmes lined a two-out double to left center.  The Phillies scored when Logan Simmons crushed a triple over the right fielder’s head.

Williams reached base again in the ninth on a single to right.  He advanced to second on a WP/PB that rolled no more than six inches from the catcher or on a heads up delayed steal.  Either way, he’s dynamic on the base paths.

I believe the final was 8-1.

The line up and defensive assignments were as follows –

  1. LF Corbin Williams
  2. CF Keudy Bocio
  3. C Logan O’Hoppe/Mitchell Edwards
  4. RF Carlos De La Cruz/Trent Bowles
  5. 2B Nicolas Torres/Curtis Mead
  6. DH Juan Mendez
  7. 1B Jake Holmes
  8. 3B Logan Simmons
  9. Jose Tortolero
  10. SS Jose Mercado/Luis Rojas

All substitutions entered after the home sixth.

Yes, that’s Jake Holmes at first base.  I wasn’t aware that was in wheel house.  I had’t seen him ever play there.  He was a late entry as the scheduled starter was blacked out. I’m sure that he would have batted higher in the order if this were planned.  By the way, he looked good at first base.  He made all the plays, even laid out to stop a ball from getting through to right field.  And he looked like a natural on all the 3-1, 1-3, and 3u plays in the game.

As I have seen and noted in the Villanova game, the coaches take advantage of every opportunity to coach up a player.  With 4-5 coaches on the team, it’s not unusual to see three of them talking to players between innings.  We even saw the third base coach instructing a runner on third base during the inning on the appropriate lead and secondary lead with the infield drawn in.

While watching this game, I missed seeing David Parkinson follow Russo on Ashburn.  I heard he pitched well, but I would have liked to have seen him.  But, I’m happy with the group that I did get to see.

I arrived in the morning at the end of fielding drills.  I watched some PFPs on Roberts with Coach Williams.  Workgroups are still not available.  It’s unlikely they will be.  And, it’s too difficult to guess who is where.  The pitchers on the field with Williams ranged from Gulf Coast to AAA.  Some teams (the Yankees for one) provide line ups with expected pitchers and bench players.  Some scouts say most teams provide this.  I never know before the start of the game who is starting until I see a pitcher begin warming up in the bullpen behind the team bench.

When BP started I was drawn from Roberts to Carlton to watch O’Hoppe, Edwards, Mendez, and Wang hit.  I was drawn back when Moniak’s group took their turn.  He had the best BP of the players I saw.  He squared up just about every pitch.  The sound off his bat sounded better.  He stroked countless line drives and fly balls into all fields.  O’Hoppe has a nice swing and is starting to drive the ball more consistently. Mendez has a viciously hard swing and puitc a charge into the balls with which he connects.

Sunday 3/17: Camp Day.  Intrasquad games.  One was scheduled for 7 inings, the other for 5 innings.  The kids were allowed to leave when both were finished.  There was a lot of caught stealing after hitters reached base.  Good pace of play if nothing else.

Saturday 3/16:  I was at the field only briefly on Saturday.  I watched about 3 innings of the Group One game.  Ranger Suarez seemed to struggle with what appeared to be a small strike zone.  He gave up 2 runs on 3 hard hit balls in the first inning.  In three innings, he gave up 2 runs on 4 hits, 3 walks, 2 K.  He benefited from a double play and a caught stealing.

The Phillies responded in the bottom of the first with 2 runs on an RBI single by Mickey Moniak and a throwing error on an Austin Listi ground ball.

Saturday 3/9:  This was the day I first became sick and didn’t feel like converting my notes into an article.  Figured I could do it the next morning.  Bad idea as I got progressively worse the next couple days.  Here’s what I noted.

Three groups at the Complex, One at DiMaggio.  Suspect this was to leave one field open for the major leaguers.  Position players at the Complex were running striders.  I would call them suicides.  They ran as teams for the longest time.  Then the “losing” team ran individual striders.

The Phillies came over for BP.  Quinn and Hernandez continued their practice of runing in the outfield.

The flu had taken down a few players.  We would see a few exit the Complex each day as they were sent home to protect their team mates.  I probably caught it from one of them.

PFPs.  Pitchers and catchers were required to field balls and throw to the base they were directed to.  Position players served as base runners.

Pitching machines were set up on the mounds between Ashburn and Schmidt.  They were calibrated to throw short, forcing the catchers to block/catch balls in the dirt.  Later, they were calibrated to be “wild” so that the catcher had to react and pop for his throw.

Infield drills included ground balls at normal positions.  Then they practiced ground balls with guys in a shift.  The first shift had the shortstop on the second base side of second and the third baseman (Alec Bohm in this case) at shortstop.  They practiced ground balls requiring the third baseman to field and flip to the second base bag AND take a flip at the bag.

Then they practiced the shift where the shortstop stayed at short and the third baseman moved on the other side of the second base bag.  They ran through the same drills, flip to the bag, accept a flip at the bag.

During both drills, they got ambitious and practiced turning double plays out of the shifts.

To be honest, I don’t recall as much attention to shift situations as I’ve seen this spring.  The minor leaguers should be fundamentally better because of it.

The Phillies provided a list of the 181 players in minor league camp.

2019 Phillies Minor League Spring Training Roster

Since then, they have optioned or reassigned 14 players out of major league camp and released five from minor league camp.  Today, they traded Lenin Rodriguez to Baltimore for international bonus money.  I’ve heard that may not be the last such deal.  There are 189 players in the minor league camp.

There are 109 pitchers in camp, 19 catchers, 40 infielders, and 21 outfielders.

Well, that’s all until tomorrow.

 

18 thoughts on “Spring Training 2019 (March 18th)

  1. Jim…welcome back and hope you are feeling a lot better.
    I suppose Lenin Rodriguez ‘s return was the minimal of $250K.
    Phillies do have a good corral of fine young catchers.
    It will be interesting to see others, catchers or other position players, who will be moved to teams wanting them.

    1. Lenin got caught (no pun intended) in the numbers game. Too many good young catchers coming along and they are all surpassing him. He has a good eye at the plate as evidenced by his 4 years in the organization. He has 53 BBs to 40 Ks in 444 PAs. Catchers take longer to progress and Rodriguez is definitely in that camp. For him to progress he needs more reps behind the plate and ABs but those other guys who need those reps and ABs are screaming for him to get out of their way. Phils get something for him so that’s great.

  2. Welcome back Jimmy glad you are feeling better and hopefully only good vibes are on tap for the rest of the spring and summer.

    Sorry to see Lenin go but hopefully he can blossom in another org. We are crazy deep right now in catching prospects with one of the best on the MLB team.

  3. Glad to have you back Jim. I enjoy reading you every morning, a wonderful way to start the day.

    Stay healthy.

  4. So glad you are back and feeling better. Can’t tell you how much I missed your detailed daily reports.

  5. I am glad you are feeling better. I have been thinking of you and hoping you were getting well. I missed reading about my number 1 baseball player and seeing if he was doing okay. It is cool to hear that he is enjoying playing 1B.

  6. Any insights on Juan Mendez? Assume he was hurt a year ago. Is he still catching and could he skip all the way to Williamsport because he is a bit older than the other new prospects from the complex leagues?

    1. I forgot about Mendez. His only year with stats was a very good one. In 2017, he played in the DSL. In 39 games, 151 PAs, he hit .379/.411/.517/.982. In 20 games as a catcher, he had 2 Es, 8 PBs and a 44% CS rate. It is the DSL so it’s hard to determine in the PBs are from a lot of being fooled by pitchers or what. The bat seemed solid as he had 4 dbls, 7 trpls and 3 HRs. He is 20 yo so I like AndyB’s idea of pushing him to Wmsprt.

    2. I’m not about to try and divine what the Phillies do with all their young catchers. Heck, Carlos Oropeza is nowhere to be seen. Mendez just turned 20 three weeks ago. He’s shorter with a husky build, kind of like Chooch when he was younger. He has shown decent contact skills during BP with some pop in his bat.

    1. Yeah….hope he can stick at third and can climb up the prospect board with a great season this year.
      Weird…….Phillies have drafted so many guys from Arizona…..especially around the Phoenix area. That must be a hot pocket for developing kids.
      Must be the Prickly Pear Cactus Jelly!

  7. Jim – Interesting that Logan Simmons has been moved to 3rd. That is good scoop. Scouts mentioned that was a possibility when he was drafted because he is big for Short Stop. Did he look like he added weight?

    1. He’s another HS kid with a great baseball build. His challenge is twofold. Adjust defensively to third base as well as Holmes has(Holmes may be the best defensive third baseman in the system now) and hit to the new profile, if you believe in that thing. The hitting might present the more significant challenge.

  8. Hi Jim, hope your health continues to improve! Wonderful to read your game summaries, as always.

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