Sunday, June 28, 2015

Huge night for Pointer helps Reading lock down win

Pointer- Tug
Pointer congratulated on a HR this year, image- Tug Haines
In what was likely the top performance by a Phillies minor leaguer this season, outfielder Brian Pointer blasted three home runs in four at bats while driving in five runs and drawing a walk in Reading's 8-5 road win over the Portland Sea Dogs on Saturday.

The 23-year-old Pointer got his big night rolling in the top of the 2nd inning, when he launched a solo shot off of Portland starting pitcher Heri Quevedo. Later in the contest, he connected for a two-run line drive home run to center field off of reliever Mike McCarthy. In the 8th inning, the lefty batter slammed another center field blast off of Miguel Celestino.

Confidence and comfort were big factors in the game, helping Pointer connect for the power trifecta, according to the six-foot tall 190-pounder.

"It was a pretty awesome feeling out there. I was definitely seeing the ball well and had a nice rhythm going on. That really seemed to help me out and got some pretty nice results," Pointer said via text message on Sunday.

Pointer, the Phillies' 28th round draft pick in 2010, had been an occasional contributor as the team's fourth outfielder until recently when an injury to center fielder Roman Quinn and the promotion of Aaron Altherr to Triple-A Lehigh Valley left more at bats available for the Nevada native.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Cornelius debuts in GCL, Nola & Crawford to represent Phils in Futures Game

milb logoGreat news for the last three top draft picks by the Phillies. On Thursday, 2015 first round draft choice Cornelius Randolph made his professional debut in the Gulf Coast League, recording a triple in his initial plate appearance.

Facing Pirates left-handed pitching prospect Nestor Oronel, the lefty batting Randolph, who was in the lineup as the team's designated hitter, mashed a three-bagger to right field, notching his first professional hit.

By the third inning, Cornelius had gone 2-for-2, as he singled in his second chance at the plate, this time against right-hander Richard Mitchell.

Randolph, who was taken with the 10th overall selection, was touted as a power hitter with remarkable bat speed coming into this year's amateur draft. The Georgia native turned 18 years old this month.

Also, the MLB All-Star Futures Game is slated to be played in Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park on July 12th and the Phillies' most highly ranked prospects will be among the top young talent in baseball taking the field for that annual exhibition. Righty pitcher Aaron Nola and shortstop J.P. Crawford have been named to the United States team.

Nola, who made his second start with the Triple-A IronPigs on Wednesday, sports a 9-3 record with a 1.91 ERA in 14 combined starts at two levels this season. The 22-year-old was selected 7th overall in last year's draft.

Crawford, who was recently promoted to Double-A Reading, has reached base via hit or walk in all 24 games he has played at that level. Overall at two levels this year, the 20-year-old lefty batter sports a .339/.440/.432 slash line in 45 total games. Crawford, the Phillies' 1st round pick from 2013, played in the Futures Game last year as well.

Minor Moves: Canelo & Hoskins promoted, Kingery & Martin to debut

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Malquin Canelo, image- Jay Floyd
In news released by the Class A BlueClaws, a pair of Sally League All-Stars has been promoted from Lakewood to Class A Advanced Clearwater. Shortstop Malquin Canelo, who was honored with the South Atlantic League All-Star Game Top Star Award this week, and slugging first baseman Rhys Hoskins will join the Threshers on Thursday. Replacing the pair will be Phillies 2nd round draft selection Scott Kingery and 4th round draft pick Kyle Martin.

Canelo went 2-for-3 with a double and a walk in the SAL All-Star Game this week after sporting a .311 average with five homers and 23 RBI in the first half of the season. Canelo was previously profiled on PhilliesNation.com. Readers can find that article by clicking here.

Hoskins, last year's 5th round pick, posted a league-best .322 average with nine home runs and 51 RBI in the first half for the 'Claws. The 22-year-old was featured on this week's edition of Phillies Nation TV. Check out that video profile by clicking here.

Kingery, a University of Arizona product, won the Pac-12 batting title in each of the past two seasons. The 21-year-old was honored as conference player of the year this year in his junior season.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

PNTV: Aaron Nola and Rhys Hoskins Features


The latest episode of Phillies Nation featured a profile on top pitching prospect Aaron Nola put together by Rudy Mezzy and another segment on slugging Class A Lakewood All-Star Rhys Hoskins which was produced by yours truly, Jay Floyd.  Big shout out to the gang at 20/20 Visual Media for the editing and video work on each piece.  Check out the media players below for those features and look for new episodes premiering each Tuesday at 6PM on The Comcast Network.



OF Altherr promoted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley

Aaron Altherr
Aaron Altherr, image- Jay Floyd
On Tuesday, outfielder Aaron Altherr was promoted from Double-A Reading to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The news was initially broken on Twitter by Altherr's father Frank late Monday night.

In 60 games this year for the Fightins, the 24-year-old righty batter posted a .293/.371/.480 slash line with eight stolen bases.

Last season, the six-foot-five 215-pounder appeared in two games with the big league Phillies. Altherr, who was a 9th round draft selection in 2009, was ranked as the Phillies' 12th best prospect this year by PhilliesNation.

In May, Altherr spoke about his approach this year compared the last season, describing himself as feeling more comfortable with his swing.

To make room on the IronPigs roster, the Phillies released Jayson Nix.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Interview Excerpts: Morandini on position players pitching, Reading clubhouse

Morandini, image- Jay Floyd
During the Double-A Reading Fightins' road series at Trenton last week, former Phillies All-Star second baseman and current minor league coach Mickey Morandini sat down for the Phillies Nation TV cameras.  During the interview, he spoke on various topics including Reading's recent home stand in which they played three consecutive extra inning games and were forced to use position players to pitch.  Morandini, who was part of the famed 1993 Phillies, also spoke of what type of clubhouse the Fightins have this season.  Read ahead for those interview excerpts. 

-On his club tallying 45 innings over a three-game stretch including an 18-inning affair against Altoona on June 11th in which first baseman Brock Stassi played 15 innings on defense, collected four hits and threw three scoreless innings to earn the win...

It's tough.  We played a stretch there where we went 18, 13 and 15 (innings) and the 18 inning game was long enough where we had to bring somebody in.  Brock pitched and got the win.  He went three innings, so we just didn't have anybody left to pitch.  All the relievers had been used either the day before or that game and we're not doing the developing when we have to bring a position player in.  We, as coaches, are always talking about it and we'd like to see some cap put on it.  Maybe like a 12 inning cap in a minor league game just to keep the development going where you don't have to use position players to pitch or you don't have to throw a reliever three days in a row or whatever it may be.

-Speaking about how it's fun for the players, but sort of a head ache for the coaches to have position players pitching...

It is fun for the kids to get into game.  I know Brock pitched in college and he was pretty successful.  So, when he got on the mound, he had an idea of what to do.  But, I think in those three games, six or seven position players had to pitch on both teams and that's not something you want to do.  You don't want one of your position players go in and try to overdo it and come up with some sort of arm problems or something like that, so I think the minor league brass, who ever's responsible for the rules and things, needs to really take a hard look at that and possibly cap games and have a certain innings limit. 

-Expanding on if the appropriate decision makers have considered an innings limit on minor league games...

I honestly don't know the answer to that question.  I hope it's been thrown around a little bit.  I hope when they see that- "Oh my God!  This team played 45 innings in three days and had to use three position players to pitch," that at least it's being talked about.  I don't see a reason why there can't be a tie in the minor leagues.  They're really not going to affect anything really.  So, I hope it's being talked about a little bit.  I hope it doesn't come down to position players start getting hurt before they start making decisions and changing their minds and coming up with something to alleviate having to throw position players in a game.

-Sharing thoughts on what the Reading clubhouse is like and who stands out as having potential to be a leader at higher levels...

This clubhouse...I've been in the minor leagues, this is my fifth year, and this is the most tight clubhouse that I've been a part of.  I mean, they really get along real well.  They pull for each other.  (Cam) Perkins is great in the clubhouse.  Stassi is great in the clubhouse.  I think J.P. (Crawford) is learning to be good in the clubhouse.  But, obviously, he's young and has only been in the system for a (couple) years.  But those three stand out to be from the position player standpoint.  And they're all good.  They really are.  They pull for each other.  They're tight knit.  They don't point fingers and things like that.  So, it's been a real good and fun group to work with.  They come to work, they get their business done and they play hard every day. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Boy singing anthem not interested in singing anthem

Prior to Thursday's Double-A Reading Fightins game at Trenton, home of the Yankees' affiliate the Thunder, I noticed a youngster among a group of about a few dozen children from a local school singing the national anthem.  Among the crowd, there was one kid who wasn't quite interested in singing at all.  He caught my attention while he was glancing backward toward the stadium's video board and not participating with his classmates, who were positioned with him on the field.  After a few lines, I picked up my camera to capture video of the boy who seemed considerably impressed with his status in the moment.  Have a look at that fairly cute video clip below.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Morgan earns promotion to fill rotation void

The Phillies announced on Friday that lefty pitcher Adam Morgan will be promoted to the big league club and fill the void left by Jerome Williams in the starting rotation on Sunday.
Morgan, 25, was the Phillies' 3rd round draft selection in 2011 out of Alabama. The six-foot-one 195-pounder has a 0-6 record along with a 4.74 ERA and a .298 batting average against in 13 starts for the Triple-A IronPigs this season. He missed all of the 2014 regular season following shoulder surgery.

The right-handed Williams left his start on Tuesday with a left hamstring strain and was placed on the disabled list as a result. In 14 starts for the Phillies this season, the 33-year-old sports a 3-7 record along with a 6.43 ERA.

Earlier this season, Phillies Nation profiled Morgan on television. Check out the media player below for that segment.



This post was originally published on Phillies Nation.

PhoulBallz Interview: Reading pitching coach Dave Lundquist talks Eflin, Biddle, Nola, more

During the Double-A Reading Fightins' recent road series in Trenton, I sat down with the team's pitching coach Dave Lundquist to chat about his pitching staff. "Lundy", who pitched in the big leagues with the White Sox and the Padres, is in his eight season coaching in the Phillies' organization after spending three years in the Pirates' system.

Lundquist spoke about his group of well-touted starting pitchers including specific comments on Zach Eflin, Jesse Biddle and recently promoted righty Aaron Nola. He also shared some thoughts on his bullpen hurlers and how a player like Tyler Knigge, who gets moved up and down between levels could be impacted by the movement, among other things.

Read ahead for that full interview...

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Lively, image- Jay Floyd
-We talked back in April about the group of five starters you entered the season with that included Tom Windle, Jesse Biddle, Zach Eflin and Ben Lively. Almost halfway into the season, what can you share about that group?

I think what we talked about early still is true. They're a very talented group. They are a group of guys that have really good stuff and they're still learning situational pitching. You know, but as a group, they're all getting better. Command, breaking stuff, holding runners, every thing. All around I feel pretty good with what they're all doing.

-How about your bullpen? You've got a couple guys that can crank it up on the radar gun and things? Is there anyone among that group who has stood out?

Well, (Stephen) Shackleford has been very good closing games for us. (Tyler) Knigge was very good his last outing, very aggressive. More aggressive than I've seen him in a few years. Colton Murray's done a nice job attacking hitters with a pretty good secondary pitch to finish hitters. I don't want to miss anybody, but there's been a lot of good with the whole staff.

Phillies Nation Episode 12: Giles, Tocci and Palladino's

On the latest edition of Phillies Nation, Pat and Corey discuss the latest on Aaron Nola, Maikel Franco as well as Jonathan Papelbon and chat about the Phils' early round draft picks. Also on the program, Ryann talks with Phillies reliever Kenny Giles, Jay catches up with outfield prospect Carlos Tocci and Natalie enjoys some unique tailgating food at Palladino's in Philadelphia.

Check out this week's episode in the media player below and look for new episodes premiering each Tuesday at 6PM on The Comcast SportsNet.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Buchanan returns to the mound in Clearwater

In his first action facing hitters since he was sidelined with a severe right ankle sprain in an outing for the Triple-A IronPigs in mid-May, right-hander David Buchanan looked good on the mound in an exhibition with the Phillies' extended spring training team on Thursday.

According to Jim Peyton of PhuturePhillies.com, who was present for the outing, the 26-year-old hurler faced 14 batters, retiring 13 of them and looked good moving around on defense.

Screenshot_2015-06-18-18-20-41_1Buchanan, who tallied a 0-5 record with an 8.76 ERA in five starts with the big league team and went 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in three starts for Lehigh Valley this year, posted images (featured to the left) of his ankle in various stages of the injury this week on Instagram.

Seeing action in that same game was righty hurler Shane Watson, who is nearing a return to full-season club action following his second shoulder surgery last year.

Watson, who stands six-foot-four and is up to 240 pounds, threw five scoreless innings, notched one strike out, walked one and gave up three hits. He ranged 88-94 MPH with his fastball.

The Phils' top pick in 2012 (40th overall) expects to make one more start with the rookie level Gulf Coast League team next week prior to being activated for either Class A Lakewood or Class A Advanced Clearwater.

PhoulBallz Interview: RHP Prospect Zach Eflin

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Zach Eflin, image- Jay Floyd
Acquired last off-season from the Dodgers in the trade for Jimmy Rollins, righty pitcher Zach Eflin has made an impact this season for his new organization. As part of the highly touted Double-A Reading Fightins' rotation, Eflin has posted a 4-4 record along with a 2.99 ERA in 12 starts.

Following his start against Trenton on Wednesday, a 6-5 loss, Eflin spoke about his outing, his pitch repertoire, his reaction to the trade that brought him to the Phillies and more. Read ahead for that interview.

-You went six innings, allowed four runs, one earned, took the loss. Talk about your outing against the Thunder...

I was having trouble keeping the ball down, obviously. It felt like they weren't missing the ball and I gotta do a better job of keeping the ball down and mixing in my off-speeds for strikes. I was cutting them, I was pushing them a little bit and just, it was a day to throw as many strikes as I could and I felt like I did a somewhat of a good job of throwing strikes. I just needed to throw my pitches with more conviction.

-What pitch are you finding the most success with this year and what is the full repertoire?

This year I think I am having the most success with my two-seam. Being able to get ground balls when I need them. And I have a four-seam, change up and slider though. Definitely my fastball has been the best this year. I've been able to locate it pretty decently throughout the year. I just struggled a little bit with it tonight.

-After a great start to your season, in which you posted a 1.14 ERA through your first four starts, the results have cooled off a bit. Is there any level of frustration that can build for you, when the numbers take a dip?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Biddle cruises close to home as Reading downs Trenton

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Jesse Biddle, image- Jay Floyd
TRENTON, NJ- Jesse Biddle thrived in his home away from home to turn in a strong outing and help the Reading Fightins (34-29) lock down an 8-2 win in their series opener against the Trenton Thunder (35-29) on Tuesday night.

The left-hander threw 7 2/3 innings, allowed two runs, one of those earned, while striking out four and walking one to notch a win and help move his team within a half game of the second place Thunder and 1 1/2 games behind the division leading New Britain Rock Cats in the Double-A Eastern League Eastern division.

Biddle, the Phillies' first round draft choice from 2010, is from nearby Philadelphia and has a following of loved ones whenever he takes the mound at Trenton's Arm & Hammer Park.

"Every time I come here, the first thing I do is write names down on the pass list," Biddle said with a smile. "It's a lot of fun to have people come to the game and cheer me on, especially when we're on the road. That's definitely a good feeling. I can't thank the people in my life enough for everything they do for me."

The effort by Biddle took his season record to 6-1 and brought his ERA to a solid 3.90.

"This was the best outing of the year for Jesse. Command was there, breaking ball, slider, he was throwing everything for strikes," said interim team manager Mickey Morandini, who is filling in for vacationing skipper Dusty Wathan.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Catcher Knapp leads group of Threshers to FSL All-Star Game

Andrew Knapp
Andrew Knapp, image- Jay Floyd
Last week the Florida State League announced the rosters for its 54th annual All-Star Game with five Phillies prospects being honored. Leading the way among the group that will represent Clearwater is standout catcher Andrew Knapp.

The switch-hitting Knapp was the Phillies' second round draft selection in 2013 out of California. With the Class A Advanced Threshers this season, the 23-year-old has a .258 average with 10 doubles, three triples, two home runs and 28 RBI in 57 games.

He missed a portion of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Following a disappointing stretch in which he tallied a .157/.222/.205 slash line initially in 24 games at Clearwater, Knapp joined the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws and got things back on track. In 75 games with the 'Claws, Knapp posted a .290 average with five homers and 25 RBI.

The six-foot-one 190-pounder ranked 25th on the organization's prospect ranking prior to this season, according to Phillies Nation.

Knowing now that has made improvements with a bat in his hands, Knapp, who is considered a strong defender, is looking to take strides in the other half of his game as well.

"As far as my progress, (the coaches) just want me to keep playing and learning. I have been learning a lot as far as calling a game and controlling a pitching staff goes, as well as leading on an offensive level as well," Knapp said.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Top pitching prospect Nola promoted to Triple-A

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Aaron Nola, image- Jay Floyd
Following Sunday's loss in extra inning to the Pirates, the Phillies announced that top pitching prospect Aaron Nola has been promoted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Thus far this season with Double-A Reading, the right-hander posted a 7-3 record with a 1.88 ERA while striking out 59 batters and walking nine in 76 2/3 innings.

Just over a year ago, the 22-year-old was the Phillies' first round draft choice (7th overall) out of LSU where he tallied an 11-1 record along with a 1.47 ERA and a 10.37 K/9 mark in 16 starts in his junior season.

After signing his first pro deal, Nola made his professional debut as a member of the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers on June 23rd, taking a loss by allowing four earned runs in 2 1/3 innings. Over his following five starts, Nola let up seven earned runs in 24 innings (2.63 ERA) and earned a promotion to Double-A.

As a member of Reading's rotation late last season, Nola would post a 2-0 record and a 2.63 ERA in five games.

Nola entered the 2015 season ranked as the Phillies' number 2 prospect by Phillies Nation.  He is expected to make his IronPigs debut on Thursday in Allentown, when the team hosts Buffalo.

Check out the media player below for a PN video feature on Nola.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Quinn leaves game for Reading with leg injury

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Roman Quinn, image- Jay Floyd
Early in a game that turned into a disappointing extra-inning loss for the Double-A Reading Fightins, the team lost its lead-off man to an apparent upper leg injury.

Center fielder Roman Quinn was en route to first base, running out his second hit of the night in the bottom of the second inning in Friday's contest against Akron, when he began clutching his upper left leg. Quinn could not put weight on the leg and was assisted off the field, according to Reading Eagle reporter Mike Drago, who also updated that the team's manager Dusty Wathan did not provide any official word on the ailment following the game.

The 22-year-old, who was the Phillies' second round draft pick in 2011, sports a .306 batting average with four home runs, 15 RBI and 28 stolen bases in 57 games for the Fightins this season.

Quinn, a speedy Florida native, missed a portion of last season following off-season surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon on his right leg.

Phillies Nation ranked Quinn as the number 4 prospect in the Phils' organization this year.

Reading lost the contest by a score of 12-11 in 12 innings after blowing a five-run lead in the 9th inning.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Series Preview: Phillies at Pirates, June 12-14

phils logoDespite being known across baseball as "the lowly Phillies", the team heads across state to take on the Pirates in an effort to change their recent poor luck with tacking on digits in the win column.

With a record of 22-39 and losers of 13 of their last 16 games, the Phillies have a major league worst .361 winning percentage. Their seven road wins are fewest of any big league team by a considerable margin as well. Meanwhile, the Pirates (32-27) , who have been to the National League wild card play-in game in each of the past two seasons, are trying to make their way in a tough NL Central.

In game 1 of the three-game set, the Phils will send former Pirate Kevin Correia to the mound to make his debut with his new club. Correia last pitched in the majors with the Dodgers last August. He'll be opposed by Pirates lefty Jeff Locke, who is a terrific performer against the Phils in his career.

The two clubs split their four-games series in Philadelphia last month.

Friday, 7:05PM. Kevin Correia (0-1, 3.58 ERA in six starts for Triple-A Sacramento) vs. Jeff Locke (3-3, 5.37 ERA). The 34-year-old Correia exercised the opt-out clause in his contract with the Giants recently and was quickly signed by the Phils. In 30 career regular season starts at PNC Park, the right-handed Correia sports an 11-11 record along with a 5.09 ERA. Correia posted a 7.46 ERA in 13 big league outings after the All-Star break last season. His 17 losses in the big leagues last year were second only to A.J. Burnett's 18. In four career starts against the Phillies, Locke has tallied a 4-0 record along with a 1.35 ERA and a .163 batting average against. The left-handed Locke has a 3.52 ERA in six home starts this year. Ben Revere is 1-for-11 (.091 avg) in his career against Locke.