Wednesday, December 19, 2018

PhoulBallz Interview: Off-season Check In with 1b Darick Hall

Darick Hall (left) & Tyler Fallwell, photo courtesy of Darick Hall
Darick Hall continued his ascent toward the big leagues in 2018, flashing plenty of power and achieving success at two levels in the process.  The 23-year-old lefty-handed batter tore through the Class A Advanced Florida State League before earning a promotion to the Double-A Reading Fightin Phils.

In 128 combined games this year, the Phillies 14th round draft selection from 2016 tallied a .244 batting average with 26 home runs and 87 RBI.  

Following the regular season, Hall participated in the prestigious Arizona Fall League.  In 18 games there with the Scorpions, the six-foot-four 234-pounder sported a .238 average with four home runs and 12 RBI.  

This week I talked with the slugging first baseman about his successful year, the time spent in the AFL, his workout routine and more.  Read ahead for that full interview.

-What did you take out of your 2018 campaign?  Any key lessons or things to focus on moving forward?

2018 was an amazing year. So many good memories and new experiences on the field! One of the key elements I took away from this year was how to have unwavering confidence in myself and (my) ability. Baseball is a hard game and is especially hard if you don't have full confidence in yourself at all times. I had a few rough patches this year that I was able to come out of. I learned a lot about myself through these times. Moving into the off-season development, I am working hard on being able to refine my approach at the plate. 

-What are some of your favorite memories from the 2018 season?

Some of my favorite memories from this year came early in the year. The High-A Clearwater was a great group of guys and the dynamic of that team was incredible! We always had fun. I believe we started the season 1-10 and I still remember Shawn Williams, our manager, just telling us to keep playing hard and have fun through it all. Not too long after, we started winning a lot of games and eventually worked to a winning record. The lesson I learned is that there's not always a problem when things aren't going your way as long as you keep going about it the right way and working hard it will even out. It absolutely did!

-How do you feel the Arizona Fall League benefited your progress and are there any big lessons your took from your time there?

The fall league was a wonderful experience. We had a great group and an awesome coaching staff! The talent in that league was surreal. I really enjoyed picking the brains or the staff and players from other organizations. Pete Alonzo was one of my favorite guys to talk to about hitting. He's got his swing well figured out and it's fun to watch.  I picked up on a swing key during my time in the fall league. It helped with my timing. It really has to do with the timing of my load in the the swing. I've been building on it during this off-season.

-What can you share about your workout routine right now? Or are you still enjoying some down time?

With the fall league cutting into the off-season I really had to hit the ground running. I took about two weeks off afterwards and then started back in. Right now my focus is on getting my body back into baseball shape.


Duce and Hall, photo- courtesy of Darick Hall
-What facility are you using/will you use to get your work in and are there any other pro players of former players that you are working with?

I've been working out with my best friend Matt Duce. He was drafted in the 9th round by the Cardinals this year. We played together at DBU, grew up playing little league and high school baseball together as well. On the days we work out we go back to my house hit in the cage and throw. Hunting season is in full swing right now as well so on our of days we mix in time to go look for deer. There is also a fishing tournament coming up that I am looking forward to! 

-Aside from baseball related work, how are you spending your time this off-season?

When I'm not working out or hitting I'm most likely on my bass boat or hunting! Those are my two favorite things to do when it's not baseball season. I fish bass tournaments throughout the off-season. My source of income really relies on how well I can do during those tournaments!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

PhoulBallz Interview: Off-season Check In with Jake Scheiner

Jake Scheiner, image- Jay Floyd
Jake Scheiner is a prospect that really made a name for himself last season.  The 23-year-old was a 4th round draft selection in 2017 and became an All-Star in his first full season in the minors.

In 122 games for the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws last year, the righty batting University of Houston product posted a .296 average with 13 home runs, 67 RBI and 10 stolen bases while manning several positions on defense. 

Scheiner played second base and third base fresh out of the draft in 2017, but added left field and first base to his repertoire during the regular season this year.

Last week I talked with Jake about his thoughts on his first complete professional campaign, giving the catcher position a whirl in the Florida Instructional League this off-season, how he's preparing for next year and plenty more.  Read ahead for my interview with him.

-In hindsight, what are your thoughts on your 2018 season?  What were the best parts for you?

Well, you know, coming up (to full-season A level) it was a lot of the same guys (I played with) in short-season (short-season Williamsport) from the 2017 draft and I thought we, overall, had a great year and we exceeded our expectations.  We played really well as a team and I thought we bonded a lot, which is good going forward in the minor leagues, going forward with the same group of guys.  But, yeah I was really impressed with what people accomplished individually and team wise.

Individually, I felt like I got my feet wet in there and I got my name out there.  I had a good season.  Trying out more positions defensively.  I had a good year at the plate and I'm looking to improve and elevate my game even more.

-Was there anything you would say was the biggest lesson from your 2018 season?

You know, it's a long season.  Definitely played over 150 games in one season, so taking (that) to the next season, I figured out a routine I do every day at the ballpark.  Whether it's getting my body right, or coming off a bus ride, you know just having a routine to get me ready for every day.  Offensively, defensively, or just my body.

-What are you up to during these down months?  Are you doing anything around the game, are you holding a job?  What are you doing to take up your time?

Right now I live with my girlfriend out in Houston, Texas.  We got to go on a vacation.  We went on a cruise together.  We had a good time.  It was good to relax and just spend some time with her and family, got back to California where I'm from and I'm going back there soon, but I've been working  out pretty much since the season ended.  Did stuff individually with a trainer.  Been training pretty hard, getting my body right and where I want to be.  Recently, I've been hitting and throwing and just starting to pick it up right now.  And worked on some things I need to work on getting ready to, hopefully, exceed some expectations.

-You mentioned working on some specific things there.  Are there points that you could share that have been focuses for you while you're working out?  Was it your body or something with your game?

Well, you could always work on your body.  I'm always going to be working to get stronger, get faster.  That's what I'm doing right now.  I'm doing a lot of speed stuff.  And I'm lifting weights.  You know, I'm doing good.  My body feels good.  And baseball wise I'd say there are a few things offensively at the plate I'd like to work on.  So, I'm going to work on that and getting comfortable playing all these positions in the field.  You know, I never played left (field) or first base and I've got to be ready to play second, or third, first, left, just taking reps everywhere and feel comfortable.

-How did the trial at the catching position go for you?

Right now, I would say my main focus is not catcher, but it is an option for the future and I am willing to play whatever position they see fitting.  I believe I did well and I learned a lot with (catching instructor) Ernie (Whitt), so we will see where that takes me.  

-How long do you put down the bat for between the end of the season and when you start to knock the rust off?

I swung a little bit in Instructs, which was October.  So, I took some of October off and most of November.  Then just lightly got back into it.  And before I got back in the cages I did a lot of research and looking at videos and hearing great hitters talks and getting some ideas that will help me.

-Was there anyone specific that you studied and what did you learn?

It wasn't specifically one player that I would study, but a lot of the great hitters in the big leagues today.  I like to hear about their approaches, whether it's cage work, game reps or mechanics.  I take bits and piece from numerous great hitters past and present to see what makes them great.

-That's excellent.  What facility do you work at and do you work with any other players?

Currently there are no other players.  But I work with a really good trainer, it's called Athletic Body Mechanics in Friendswood, Texas.  The guy's name is Allen.  He's been working a lot with me, trying to get me into a more baseball specific routine and he's had NFL players and he he's got some really good training.  I like what he's doing with my body and strength and speed.  

-There's been some news over the past week or so that Chris Truby gets promoted to the Phillies' minor league field coordinator, taking over the role previously held by Doug Mansolino.  I don't know how dialed in you are with staff news like that, but is that something you've heard, how do you hear about it and what are your thoughts there?

I actually saw it on Twitter.  But, I love Chris Truby.  He's a great guy, a great baseball guy.  Very knowledgeable in all aspects of the game.  I mean, he was our minor league infield coordinator, so he's just a really good baseball guy and I know he's gonna help us out a lot.  And a few guys I spoke to, we're all excited to have him in that position.

Friday, December 14, 2018

PhoulBallz Interview: Off-season check in with LHP Tyler Gilbert

Tyler Gilbert with Reading in 2018, image- Jay Floyd
Left-handed reliever Tyler Gilbert proved to be on of the biggest attention grabbers this year in the Phillies' system.  The 6th round pick from 2015 has steadily progress through the minor leagues and after reaching Triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2018, he's perched a step away from the top level of the sport.

Last season, the 24-year-old tallied a 7-2 record with five saves, a 3.25 ERA, a .211 batting average against and a 9.0 K/ mark in 48 combined games with Double-A Reading the Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

This off-season, Gilbert spent time pitching in the Dominican Republic, notching a 2.45 ERA and a .214 BAA in 13 appearances.  In 7 1/3 innings for Licey, the six-foot-three 190-pound USC product struck out nine batters and walked three.

On Thursday, I talked with Gilbert about his time pitching in the DR, the Rule 5 draft, his goals for next year and plenty more.  Read ahead for that full interview.


-Thanks for taking some time.  I know you pitched internationally this off-season.  What can you share about that experience?

Yeah, I played in the Dominican Republic for a team called Licey.  I was down there for a little over a month and I had a good time.  They really take care of their players down there.  We got put up at a nice hotel.  Very nice.  A good experience.  It was cool seeing where a lot of the guys that I played with come from and grew up.  You know, it was an interesting experience and something that I'll never forget and I had a good time. 

The level of baseball down there is incredibly good and so it was kind of cool to pitch against some old big leaguers, ex-big leaguers, current big leaguers and everything.  It was an all around good experience and I speak highly about guys now going down there and I had a good time, so I want to promote, for anyone that wants to go down there to do it, you know, 'cause it's a tough decision to go down there, but it's definitely worth it. 

-Were there any memorable opposing encounters that you had against some of those names down there?

No, nothing stood out, 'cause I was a lefty specialist and I would come in for one guy.  But what did stand out to me and what was a cool experience was having Hanley Ramirez be our four-hole hitter and getting to meet him.  And he's a really nice guy so it was cool rubbing elbows with him and being in the same clubhouse with him. 


-What do you think are some of the differences between the game there and the game here?

The thing that I noticed down there is that the whole stadium is so incredibly into the game, from the first pitch to the last pitch.  You notice when we play our rival down there, the Aguilas, whether it was a ground ball out or a fly ball out, when we were on defense, the whole stadium would erupt like it's game seven of the World Series.  And everybody was just so involved down there with baseball.  It was pretty cool to play in that kind of environment.  So, that was a bit different than the States.  It was a crazy amount of energy down there. 

-You talked about playing in an area where some of your teammates grew up, was there anyone on your team that kind of helped you adjust to the different culture or surroundings when you got down there?

Yeah, I had a bunch of good teammates, but the guy that was my locker neighbor, Emmanuel Burriss, he's got a ring with the San Francisco Giants, and he's a guy that I grew up watching him, so it was pretty cool to play on the same field with a guy that I grew up watching.

He gave me a lot of good tips.  He said have fun down there, it's an experience of a lifetime.  You'll see how into it all the fans are and how the whole island itself revolves around baseball.  He said try to take as much as you can in and don't get scared by the rice and beans down there.

-(Laughing) How was the food down there?  Did you enjoy it or was it hard to adjust to?

It was good, I guess it's notorious that every import, or "gringo" is what we're called, gets sick at some point down there.  I thought it was inevitable, I was eating rice and beans and all kinds of meat down there, but I went down for about a week with pretty bad food sickness, but other than that it was great but, I think after that I kind of have a stronger stomach, you know?  Every white guy on my team, every gringo, we all went down at some point. 

-What is it?  Do they cook with different meat?

I think the bacteria down there is different.  They cook their meats in different types of grease and I don't know exactly what it is, but it was something that my stomach was not used to, so yeah, I don't know but every guy got it, so it wasn't just me.  

-I guess the company provides some sort of comfort.  How's the off-season going for you know?  How long do you put down the baseball for before you'll pick it back up again?

Yeah, so obviously my off-season's a little shorter now than it usually is, but I'll start throwing in the beginning of January, so it's coming up here.  And then yeah, it's going good.  Just trying to stay in shape like any other off-season.

-Sounds good.  I know the Rule 5 draft takes place today and it doesn't sound like there's any news related to your name, but is that something that you give any thought to as it approaches at the Winter Meetings?

Yeah, absolutely I mean I definitely think about it, 'cause I didn't get put on the 40-man (roster) this year, so the Rule 5 Draft could potentially could mean good things if I get picked up and get thrown in the big leagues next year, so I mean I'm just trying to focus on what I can control and that's working out and staying in shape.

-Yeah, that's understandable.  What's the workout routine like for you right now?  Do you have a facility you're using?  Are you working with any other players at this stage?

I'm going back and forth between like L.A. and Santa Cruz.  I have a little gym up here that I work at up here in Santa Cruz and then down in L.A., I'll go work out with some of the USC guys that I used to play with.  I'm up and down, I'm just trying to enjoy as much as I can.

-Excellent.  Do you have any big takeaways from your regular season last year that could help you in the long run?

Yeah, I was really happy with how it went.  I had never been promoted during a season before.  I has gone level to level each year, so I never had the chance to go through getting promoted, so that was exciting.  I was really happy with how to season went with the addition of my couple new pitches that I learned and it's been helping me complete my arsenal, so yeah I'm really happy with how this year went and I'm really hoping to have big things happen next year.

-Speaking of that, any thoughts about getting a big league spring training invitation?

Yeah, I talked to some of the Triple-A guys and they say it usually happens around New Year's, in the beginning of January.  I mean, that's my main goal right now, even though I can't control it, but that's something that I think I deserve and I believe in myself that I can compete in big league camp next year, so I really want that to happen.

-How about the rest of the off-season, do you have anything big planned before you head back to the diamond?

I have a little Hawaii trip planned.

-To me that doesn't sound little.  That's big!  Talk about it.  Who's going?

I'm going with my girlfriend and her family.  She's got some family out there, so I look forward to it every off-season.  It's cool to go from 30 degree weather to 80 degree weather.  It's cool for sure. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Prospects added to 40 man roster ahead of Rule 5 draft

With the deadline for 40 man roster additions set for Tuesday, the Phillies made moves to add some promising names to their list of protected players.

The Phillies announced the additions of shortstop Arquimedes Gamboa along with right-handed pitchers Adonis Medina and Edgar Garcia are the players added to the Phillies roster.

Arquimedes Gamboa, image- Jay Floyd
Gamboa, a native of Venezuela, is a talented defender who played in the Arizona Fall League over the past month, sprinkling in some time at third base there, though his bat doesn't feature enough pop to think he will be an impact guy at that position.  Gamboa, a 21-year-old switch hitter, posted a .214/.304/.279 slash line with Class A Advanced Clearwater this year.

Medina, a 21-year-old Dominican, is one of the Phils' top prospects and is always a name that pops up when fans and media discuss big trade proposals.  With Clearwater this year, Medina tallied a 10-4 record, a 4.12 ERA and a 9.9 K/9 in 22 games (21 starts). 

Garcia, a Dominican Republic native, turned 22 years old this off-season.  He stood out as an All-Star reliever for Double-A Reading last year, sporting a 3.32 ERA and a 10.3 K/9 mark over 47 appearances there before earning a promotion to Triple-A.  Garcia features a fastball-slider combination that the Phillies like out of the bullpen.

Some players left unprotected that are among those that could draw interest from other teams...

OF Jose Pujols- Powerful slugger, strikes out a lot.  The 23-year-old righty batter had a great 2018 campaign, posting a .295 average with 22 homers and 76 RBI in 121 combined games at Class A Advanced Clearwater and Double-A Reading.

Catcher Deivi Grullon- Double-A Eastern League All-Star home run derby winner this year.  The 22-year-old went without a hit in eight games for the Aguilas in the Dominican Winter League and is no longer active there. 

RHP Luke Leftwich- The 24-year-old showed promise this year at Double-A, posting a 3.73 ERA and a 10.3 K/9 in 44 appearances.  Leftwich did not allow a run in eight appearances in the prestigious Arizona Fall League. 

Second baseman Daniel Brito- An outstanding defender,the 20-year-old split time at Class A Lakewood and Class A Advanced Clearwater this year.  He's likely too far from a finished product for the Phillies to feel he'll be taken by another team.

LHP Tyler Gilbert- The guy I thought was among those that would be protected.  Lefties are always a hot commodity, so I thought Gilbert, 24, stood a good shot at earning a spot and being protected.  Gilbert had a solid campaign this year, splitting time with Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley.  

Players are eligible for selection in the Rule 5 draft when they are not on their major league organization's 40 man roster and 1) were signed to a contract at age 19 or older and have been in that organization for four years, OR 2) were signed at age 18 or younger and have been in that organization for five years.

Once a player is chosen, that player is automatically assigned to his new organization's 40-man roster.

A Rule 5 player must remain on the selecting team's 25-man big league roster for the entire next season, or be offered back to his original team.

The Phils' 40-man roster sits at 38 players currently, so they'll have room to add some individuals in the coming weeks.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Phillies Off-season League Notes, 11/19/18

Throughout the off-season, I'll offer a roundup of how some Phillies prospects and players are performing around the world in fall/winter leagues.

Here are the latest noteworthy details.

Colombian League-

Jorge Alfaro, image- Jay Floyd
Catcher Jorge Alfaro is batting .271 with a pair of home runs in 13 games for the Toros.  Alfaro, 25, posted a .262 average with 10 home runs and 37 RBI in 108 games with the Phillies this year. 

Arizona Fall League-

With the AFL wrapping up play last week, the following stats are final for the month-long campaign with each of the players having competed for the Scottsdale Scorpions.

First baseman Darick Hall batted .238 with four homers and 12 RBI in 18 games.  Hall, 23, was the 14th round pick of the Phillies in 2016 out of Dallas Baptist.  Hall blasted 26 homers and drove in 87 runs in 128 combined games with Clearwater and Reading this year.

Outfielder/first baseman Austin Listi batted .250 and OPS'd .624 in 22 games.  The 24-year-old was a college teammate of Hall and was drafted in the 17th round last year.  Listi won the Phillies' Paul Owens Award this year, as he posted a .312/.412/.502 slash line in 123 combined games with Clearwater and Reading.

Third baseman/shortstop Arquimedes Gamboa batted .186 with two doubles, three RBI and two stolen bases in 20 games.   The 21-year-old sported a .214 average with two homers, 37 RBI and two steals in 114 games with Clearwater this year.  The switch-hitting Gamboa is a native of Venezuela.

Outfielder Luke Williams was 3-for-31 (.097 avg) in nine games for the Scorpions.  The 22-year-old was a 3rd round draft choice in 2015.  With Clearwater this year, Williams tallied a .245/.319/.353 slash line over 110 games.

Right-handed hurler Luke Leftwich posted gleaming numbers, with eight scoreless outings.  The 24-year-old struck out 12 and walked three in 10 1/3 total innings.  Leftwich tallied a 3.73 ERA in 44 appearances for Double-A Reading this year.  The Wofford College product was a 7th round draft choice of the Phils in 2015.

Lefty hurler Jonathan Hennigan had a 1-0 record with a save and a 1.29 ERA in eight appearances for Scottsdale. He notched a 2.39 ERA in 37 combined games for Class A Lakewood and Class A Advanced Clearwater this year. Hennigan was a 21st round draft choice by the Phillies in 2016. The Texas State product is 24 years old.

Tyler Viza started six games, posting a 1-1 record, a 3.47 ERA and a .264 batting average against.  Viza struck out 20 and walked seven in 23 1/3 innings.  The 24-year-old right-hander was a 32nd round pick of the Phils in 2013.  He spent time with both Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2018.

Right-handed pitcher Seth McGarry had a 1-1 record with a 2.25 ERA in seven games (one start). He struck out 15 and walked nine batters in 12 innings. The 24-year-old was an 8th round pick by Pittsburgh in 2015 and was traded to the Phillies last year for Joaquin Benoit.

Dominican League-

In 13 games with the Toros, shortstop Malquin Canelo sports a .229 average with a double, two RBI and four stolen bases.  The 24-year-old righty hitter posted a .251/.306/.366 line at Double-A Reading this year.

Through 20 games with the Leones catcher Austin Bossart is batting .135 with three doubles and two RBI.  The righty batting 25-year-old was a 14th round selection in the 2015 draft. Bossart, a U Penn product, tallied a .273 average with seven home runs and 29 RBI in 54 Double-A games this year.

Tyler Gilbert, image- Jay Floyd
Lefty reliever Tyler Gilbert has a 2.45 ERA and a .214 batting average against in 13 appearances for the Tigres.  The 24-year-old was a 6th round pick of the Phils in 2015.  Gilbert has struck out nine and walked three in 7 1/3 innings.  He tallied a 3.25 ERA over 48 combined appearances with Reading and Lehigh Valley this year.

Jeff Singer and Deivi Grullon both spent short stints playing in the Dominican Republic this off-season, but are no longer active.

Venezuelan League-

Lefty Aris Abdallah pitched 1/3 inning last week for the Tigres. The 22-year-old posted a 2-5 record with a 4.28 ERA and a .283 batting average against for the short-season Class A Williamsport Crosscutters this year.

For the Tiburones, right-hander Gustavo Armas has notched a 0-2 record with a 4.09 ERA in six outings (four starts).  He has struck out 11 and walked five in 22 innings.  The 22-year-old posted a 4-4 record, a 3.07 ERA and an 8.2 K/9 mark in 12 combined starts for Williamsport and Class A Lakewood this year.

In four appearances for the Navegantes, right-hander Luis Carrasco sports a 1.29 ERA.  In 30 appearances for the BlueClaws this year, the 24-year-old sported a 3.11 ERA and notched four saves.

Right-hander Luis Cedeno is 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA in 12 relief appearances for the Aguilas. The 24-year-old appeared in 16 games with Lakewood this year.

Righty Ranfi Casimiro has a 2.57 ERA and a .154 BAA in five contests for the Aguilas. Casimiro, 26, tallied a combined 3.67 ERA and a 7.8 K/9 mark in 34 games at three levels of the Phillies' system.

Righty Alejandro Requena, who turns 22 later this month, sports a 0-3 record with an 11.42 ERA in four appearances (three starts) with the Tigres.  Requena went 4-4 with a 3.60 ERA in 12 starts for Class A Advanced Clearwater this year.  Requena was acquired from Colorado in the Pat Neshek trade in the summer of 2017.

Standing out with the Tigres is reliever Josh Tols.  In 14 appearances, the 29-year-old has a 1-0 record and a 1.80 ERA. The Australian lefty notched a 2.74 ERA in 27 combined appearances with Clearwater and Reading this year.  

Alexis Rivero, a righty that pitched at three level of the Phils system this year, sports a 17.36 ERA in five appearances for the Cardenales.

Australian Baseball League (opened season last week)-

Lefty Nick Fanti made his first ABL start with the Blue Sox over the weekend, allowing an unearned run in 3 1/3 innings.  The 21-year-old struck out three and walked four while giving up three hits.  Fanti missed time this year with an injury.  In six starts for Clearwater the Long Island native posted a 3-3 record with a 7.22 ERA.

Righty reliever Tyler Fallwell has appeared in two games for the Aces.  In 3 1/3 innings the 23-year-old has struck out three while surrendering no runs.  Fallwell posted a 6.75 ERA in 12 regular season appearances for Lakewood this year.

Kyle Glogoski, a 19-year-old New Zealand native, tossed five scoreless and hitless frames in a start for the Tuatara.  Glogoski had a great campaign this year for the Phils' Gulf Coast League West team, sporting a 4-0 record, a 2.31 ERA and a 10.8 K/9 mark in 10 games (eight starts).

Rixon Taylor-Wingrove is 0-for-2 with the Blue Sox.  The 18-year-old first baseman sported a .241/.310/.342 slash line in 23 games with the GCL West team this year.

Catcher Mitchell Edwards is batting .250 with a double, a home run and two RBI in four games with the Bite.  The 19-year-old switch hitter slashed .250/.308/.417 in 16 games with the GCL East team this year.

Roberto Clemente League/Puerto Rico-

Lefty Bailey Falter tossed two scoreless frames for the Indios over the weekend, as the season in PR just got underway last weekend.  In 17 starts with Clearwater last year, the 21-year-old had an 8-4 record with a 2.69 ERA and a .247 batting average against.  Falter was a 5th round draft pick by the Phils in 2015.

Righty Trevor Bettencourt has struck out four and allowed a hit over 2 1/3 scoreless innings in two appearances for the Indios.  Despite missing time with a shoulder concern this year, he posted a combined 1.85 ERA over 21 appearances for Double-A Reading and Class A Advanced Clearwater.  The 24-year-old was the Phils' 25th round draft selection in 2016.

Corner infielder Damek Tomscha is 3-for-10 with three walks in four games with the Cangrejeros.  The 27-year-old righty hitter split his time this year with Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Jan Hernandez is 2-for-13 (.154 avg) in four games with the Cangrejeros.  The 23-year-old was a Double-A All-Star this year, posting a .263 average with 14 homers and 53 RBI in 104 games with Reading.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Listi named to AFL Fall Stars Roster

Austin Listi, image- Jay Floyd
As the big leagues' Fall Classic wrapped up on Sunday with another championship for Boston, the baseball community's attention can shift toward off-season leagues.  The lone domestic offering that fans can gravitate toward is the Arizona Fall League, which announced the rosters for its annual Fall Stars Game on Monday.

Outfielder Austin Listi will represent the Phillies, as he was named to the East division roster.  The righty batting outfielder was honored as the Phils' top offensive minor leaguer this year, when he was named as the recipient of the Paul Owens Award.

In the regular season Listi split time with Class A Advanced Clearwater and Double-A Reading.  In 123 games in 2018, the Dallas Baptist product tallied a .312 average with 18 home runs and 84 RBI.

The six-foot 218-pounder has displayed light hitting to date in the AFL, posting a .175 average with a double and three RBI in 12 contests with Scottsdale.

Much like at the top level of the sport with the All-Star Game, the AFL is promoting a "final vote", where fans can cast their ballot to add each roster's final player.  Phillies infield prospect Arquimedes Gamboa (12g, .235 avg, two double, three RBI, two stolen bases) is a candidate worthy of your consideration.  CLICK HERE to vote.

Also set to appear in the exhibition is baseball's top overall prospect Vladimir Guerrero of the Blue Jays organization.  

The game with air live on MLB Network this Saturday, November 3rd, at 8PM Eastern. 

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Phils find new farm director

As the organization continues to move toward a revitalization, the Phillies have named their new director of player development, plucking a rising leader from the one of the major leagues' newest forces, the Houston Astros.

Per TheAthletic.com and other outlets, former professional player and manager Josh Bonifay has locked down the position of the "general manager" of the Phils' farm system. 

Bonifay's father, Cam Bonifay, was general manager of the Pirates from 1993 to 2001.  While in charge of the Pittsburgh club, Cam drafted Josh twice (in 1996 out of high school, when Josh chose not to sign, and in 1999 as a junior out of UNC Wilmington).

The younger Bonifay played eight seasons in the minors, posting a .284 batting average and an .842 OPS, reaching as high as the Double-A level.  The year he signed, Bonifay played with the short-season Class A Williamsport Crosscutters, which has since changed from a Pittsburgh affiliate to a Phillies affiliate.  

In recent seasons, Bonifay was a coach in the lower levels of the minors for the Astros.  He also spent time as field coordinator for the Texas Rangers in 2017 and filled that same role for the Astros' minor league levels this year.

Bonifay replaces Joe Jordan, who resigned from his position toward the end of the 2018 minor league season.  Jordan had filled the role for roughly seven years.

There are reportedly still key vacancies to fill throughout the Phillies' developmental ranks including the role of field coordinator.  Doug Mansolino, who was considered, more-or-less, the "second in command" of the Phils' farm for the better part of a decade was relieved of his duties following the regular season.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Phillies Fall/Winter League Updates

I'll be posting rundowns throughout the off-season to shine a light on Phillies prospects making an impact in various leagues around the world.  This is the first of my regular updates throughout the colder months touching on action in the Arizona Fall League, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and other places.  Statistics are current through games on Saturday.

Arizona Fall League (all Phillies representatives here play for the Scottsdale Scorpions)-

Luke Leftwich, image- Jay Floyd
Righty pitcher Luke Leftwich has not allowed a run in 5 2/3 innings over four appearances.  He has notched eight strike outs and surrendered two walks.  Leftwich, 24, posted a 3.73 ERA in 44 appearances for Double-A Reading this year.  The Wofford College product was a 7th round draft choice of the Phils in 2015.

Lefty hurler Jonathan Hennigan has allowed two hits and an earned run in three innings of work.  He tallied a 2.39 ERA in 37 combined games for Class A Lakewood and Class A Advanced Clearwater this year.  Hennigan was a 21st round draft choice by the Phillies in 2016.  The Texas State product is 24 years old.

Right-handed reliever Seth McGarry has tossed 5 1/3 scoreless frames in the AFL.  He posted a 3.99 ERA in 45 contests at the Double-A level this year.  The 24-year-old was an 8th round pick by Pittsburgh in 2015 and was traded to the Phillies last year for Joaquin Benoit.

Tyler Viza has pitched seven scoreless innings over two starts.  The righty, who turned 24 years old on Sunday, was a 32nd round pick of the Phils in 2013.  He spent time with both Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2018.

Outfielder Luke Williams is 1-for-7 in two games for the Scorpions.  The 22-year-old was a 3rd round draft choice in 2015.  With Clearwater this year, Williams tallied a .245/.319/.353 slash line over 110 games.

First baseman Darick Hall is batting .292 with a pair of homers and seven RBI in six games.  Hall, 23, was the 14th round pick of the Phillies in 2016 out of Dallas Baptist.  Hall blasted 26 homers and drove in 87 runs in 128 combined games with Clearwater and Reading this year.

Outfielder/first baseman Austin Listi is batting .261 with an RBI in seven games in the AFL.  The 24-year-old was a college teammate of Hall and was drafted in the 17th round last year.  Listi won the Paul Owens Award this year, as he posted a .312/.412/.502 slash line in 123 combined games with Clearwater and Reading.

Third baseman/shortstop Arquimedes Gamboa is batting .208 with a home run and seven RBI in eight games with the Scorpions.  The 21-year-old sported a .214 average with two homers, 37 RBI and two steals in 114 games with Clearwater this year.  Gamboa, a native of Venezuela, is a switch-hitter.

Dominican League-

Austin Bossart, image- Jay Floyd
Catcher Austin Bossart is 2-for-6 with a double and an RBI in two games for the Leones.  The righty batting 25-year-old was a 14th round selection in the 2015 draft. Bossart, a U Penn product, tallied a .273 average with seven home runs and 29 RBI in 54 Double-A games this year.

Also with the Leones is 2018 IronPigs closed Pedro Beato.  The 31-year-old righty has allowed two earned runs in three innings over three games.  This year he notched 35 saves with Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Lefty reliever Tyler Gilbert has surrendered two runs (one earned) in 1 1/3 innings for the Tigres, though he has not allowed a hit while walking two.  The 24-year-old was a 6th round pick in 2015.  He tallied a 3.25 ERA over 48 combined appearances with Reading and Lehigh Valley this year.

Ranfi Casimiro allowed and earned run without recording an out in his loan appearance thus far with the Aguilas.  The 26-year-old right-hander split most of his time with Reading and Lehigh Valley this year.

Catcher Logan Moore is hitless in six at bats in two games with the Aguilas.  The 28-year-old lefty batter was a 9th round selection of the Phils in 2011.

In six games with the Aguilas, catcher Deivi Grullon is 0-for-15 with a walk.  Grullon, 22, was an Eastern League All-Star with Reading this year. 

In five games with the Toros, shortstop Malquin Canelo is batting .250 with a pair of RBI and three steals.  In 2018 the 24-year-old batted .251 with nine homers and 32 RBI and 24 steals in 128 games for Reading.

Venezuelan League-

Infielder Raul Rivas pinch ran and scored a run in his only appearance for the Bravos.  The switch-hitter, who turns 22-years-old next week, batted .242 with three homers in 104 games with Clearwater this year.

Gustavo Armas, a 22-year-old righty that appeared in 12 total games with Class A short-season Williamsport and Class A Lakewood this year, threw two scoreless innings in one game for the Tiburones.

Left-hander Josh Tols has pitched three scoreless frames in three appearances with the Tigres.  The 29-year-old Australian pitched with both Clearwater and Reading out of the bullpen this year.

Right-hander Luis Carrasco, a key member of this year's Lakewood bullpen, struck out four and walked one in 2 2/3 scoreless innings for the Navegantes.  In 30 appearances for the BlueClaws, the 24-year-old sported a 3.11 ERA and notched four saves.

Leonel Aponte is a right-hander that competed with the rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies (4.40 ERA in 12g) this year.  As a member of the Cardenales, the 19-year-old has tossed two scoreless innings in one appearance.

Luis Cedeno, a 24-year-old righty, has allowed an earned run in 3 2/3 innings for the Aguilas in one appearance.  Originally from the Yankees system, Cedeno was signed as a free agent this June by the Phillies and pitched with Lakewood.

Mexican League-

OF/1B Joey Meneses in four games with the Tomateros, is 5-for-12 with a home run and six RBI.  Meneses was the International League's Most Valuable Player as a member of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs this year.  

Sunday, September 30, 2018

2018 Exit Interview: First baseman Madison Stokes

Madison Stokes, image- Jay Floyd
Selected in the 10th round of this year's MLB amateur draft, corner infielder Madison Stokes was quick to make an impact in his pro career, helping the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws reach the postseason.

The 22-year-old righty hitter enjoyed a swift ascent, playing six games in the rookie level Gulf Coast League before earning a promotion to Class A short-season Williamsport.  As a member of the Crosscutters, Stokes sported a .338/.452/.506 slash line in 22 games.

Promoted again to Lakewood in early August, the South Carolina native would posted a .260 average with a homer and 11 RBI in 27 contests.

Prior to the end of the season, I chatted with Stokes, a University of South Carolina product, about his transition to the minor leagues, his draft experience and more.  Read ahead for that interview.


-What experiences did you have prior to the draft that prepared you most for playing pro ball?

I think playing in the ACC in that conference for sure has prepared me for the pitching and the pace of the game.  The coaches there they prepared us for this level of pro ball.  I give props to them.  But I think playing in the best conference in college baseball has for sure prepared me for it, as far as the pitchers, the hitters and the pace of the game.

-How big of an adjustment was it or what was the transition like from college to the minor leagues?

Yeah, it's not much different.  You're just meeting new guys, trying to learn names.  Especially with coordinators and managers.  So, trying to learn all the names, get acclimated moving up to different teams, and I started out in the GCL and the pace of that game compared to here is different.  So, just try to acclimate yourself to the level of pace of that game the level of competition, as it obviously gets better as you move up.  Just try to make in-game adjustments, as far as everyone out there competing and meeting new guys and learning how to play with them.

-What did you know about the Phillies organization before you signed with them?

Not a whole lot.  Not a whole lot, no.  I found out on Twitter that I got drafted by the Phillies and I was really excited.  I had a teammate a couple years back that got drafted by the Phillies, Kyle Martin.  So, I didn't know a whole lot about them.

-What's your relationship with Kyle?  He's a guy that's played in the system for a few years and he's been through here with the BlueClaws.

We were good buddies when we were in school.   I haven't talked to him lately.  I know he's over there in Clearwater.  I haven't had communication with him.  But he's one of my good buddies.

-Finding out about getting drafted on Twitter seems pretty unique.  I think most guys would gets a heads up ahead of time.  How did that go?

I was with my girlfriend on the couch, after we were cleaning her house, just waiting (for any news) and she saw my phone light up, found out on Twitter that my name got called.  She freaked out and ran outside.  I looked at my phone and it said I got drafted by the Phillies.  Then, my scout called me.  So, it was a really exciting time.  It was a humbling and cool moment.

-How did you celebrate?

We had a little leaving party before I left to get started with my pro career.  I guess it was kind of a celebration to have some family and friends and old coaches, people that have meant a lot to my life and people that have helped me get to where I am today.  So that was really neat to have them there for me that day.

-Was there a team or a player that you grew up as a fan of?

I didn't watch a lot of baseball growing up.  Just because we were out in the country in a small town and we didn't watch a lot of television.  I guess maybe a little bit of the Braves, if any team at all.  I liked Derek Jeter and I enjoyed watching a bunch of those guys.  I never really had a favorite team.  I guess Derek Jeter would be my favorite player.

-Was it that you were busy playing the game as opposed to watching others play it?

Well, now I watch as much baseball as I can.  Before, we were out in the country, we were always outside just doing whatever.  We weren't really allowed to stay inside and play video games and sit in front of  the TV screen.  But the more I got older, the more I played the game, the more I loved the game and the more I watched it.  Now, I watch as much as I can.

-Is there a guy that stands out more than others as a guy you would watch more and maybe want to emulate?

I really enjoy watching Mike Trout just because he has so much fun playing the game and he's the best player, I personally think.  But I'll pick out things from every single player that I can.  I watch every player that comes on hoping to see what could work out for me that I could pick out from them.  But I enjoy watching Mike play.  I enjoy watching Alex Bregman play, Carlos Correa.  They just play the game really hard and you tell they have a lot of passion for the game.

-Are you looking forward to instructs?

For sure!  It's exciting.  There'll be a bunch of coordinators there and I can continue to build relationships with them, get to know them, allow them to get to know me as a person and a player.  And I think it's great opportunity for me and a couple guys to go down there and go to instructs.

Monday, September 24, 2018

2018 Exit Interview: OF Matt Vierling

Matt Vierling, image- Jay Floyd
Outfielder Matt Vierling was a key mid-season addition to the Lakewood BlueClaws lineup that made it to the Class A South Atlantic League finals.  In 50 games, the 22-year-old posted a .293 batting average with 15 doubles, six homers and 25 RBI.

A 5th round draft selection this year by the Phillies out of Notre Dame, Vierling posted a .420/.453/.580 slash line in 12 games with short-season Class A Williamsport prior to joining the BlueClaws.

Earlier this month, I talked with Vierling, a Missouri native, about his transition from college ball to the minors, heading the the fall instructional league, experiencing New Jersey for the first time and plenty more.  Read ahead for that full interview. 


-What experiences did you have prior to the draft that prepared you for pro baseball?

Well, going through college at Notre Dame, there's a lot of things in college with the academics and everything and the baseball, playing in a tough conference in the ACC, and, you know, the school part taught me how to manage my time, but baseball wise I developed in college and learned a lot of valuable lessons there and met a lot of special people.  I continue to talk with a lot of people from Notre Dame, some people that I'm close with that have been in pro ball, about how they went about their first seasons and what was best for them, what worked for them and I've kind of done what they did, as far as mental game stuff and just go about every day and it has really helped me a lot this first season, so it's been going pretty well so far.

-The guys you're able to keep in touch with, are those guys closer to your class or are there guys that are long removed from Notre Dame that are still available to learn from? 

It does go back further.  Obviously, I still talk with some of my best friends in my class but there are some people there that have played pro ball before and they've been through it and those are the best people to talk to.  You can learn about what they would have done differently, or what lessons they learned and maybe I can use some of those and put it into my business here.  There are just certain things they did at the beginning of their pro careers that have helped me here.

-Well, what is on my mind when you mention the school name is a couple guys specifically.  Phillies fans would know one big Notre Dame name, Brad Lidge.  And BlueClaws fans might recall a guy that went to the postseason with this team eight or nine years ago named Jeremy Barnes that is now coaching in the minors with Houston.  Have you ever had a chance to talk with those guys?

I actually haven't touched base with any of those guys.  Trey Mancini's one of the guys.  He's with the Orioles right now.  I haven't talked to him that much, but we have a couple guys that were around the baseball team a lot there.  One of those guys is Steve Sollmann.  He was around the team a lot.  He helped me a lot with how he went about his business in his first pro year.  And the stuff he implemented has helped me a lot.

As far as Brad Lidge, I know his cousin Ryan Lidge.  He's with the Yankees.  He's a good friend of mine.  They're cousins.  Other than that, there's other guys that are in pro ball that have helped me out too.  It's good to have those connections there.

-Just speaking of the transition to turning professional and joining a new organization, how did the transition go for you?  Was it as you expected?

You know, traveling around a bunch, right after college, it wasn't overwhelming, but it was a lot.  But once I got comfortable, especially being here and I knew I was going to be here for a while just getting to know the guys-- it's just like going to play summer ball and you get to know the guys and they become your best friends for that period of time and it means even more now, going to the playoffs.  And being in this organization, being around them all the time, especially for the future as well.  It's definitely cool to make those relationships.  It was definitely a lot at first, but getting to know the guys-- they're all awesome dudes and it's fun to be a part of.

-Is there anybody in the Phillies system that you knew or competed against before coming and signing here?

So, competing...I played against Colby Fitch and Quincy Nieporte.  Quincy went to Florida State and Colby went to Louisville.  They're in our division of the ACC, so we play them every year.  So, I definitely competed against those guys, but I didn't know anybody coming here.  I didn't know anybody in the organization personally.

-You've posted some great numbers and have been an excellent contributor toward the team.  But you're still early in your career and many fans may not know you yet.  So, if you were going to educate people about your game, what are some of your strengths?  What would you say that you pride yourself on?

One thing I really try to do above all else is give all the effort I can possibly give every single at bat and play.  Just go as hard as I can, every single pitch.  But, you know, I love playing defense.  I love running around the outfield.  I love running around the bases.  And hitting wise- a contact hitter who can hit for some power here and there and just try to do everything really well, just try to do everything the best I can and do everything I can to help the team.

-I think barring a rare exception, guys in their draft year are always lined up to go to fall instructs following the season.  Is that something you're looking forward to?

Yeah, so I'm going to instructs and yeah, I'm excited about it.  Hearing from all the guys here and a lot of the guys have been through it once, some of them even twice.  They say that every coordinator and all the coaches will be there, which will be great to get around them and talk to them about what helped them and all their experiences. It's just going to be a good month of baseball where I can focus on developing and possibly trying to learn things that might help me.  Yeah, it'll be fun.  I'm looking forward it.

-What are your impressions or thoughts on New Jersey since coming here?

It's been awesome.  At Notre Dame, there were a couple guys on my team that live 15 or 20 minutes from the stadium, so I've been staying with them and they've been showing me around here in New Jersey and it's beautiful.  I mean the beaches are awesome and the weather as of late has been pretty nice, so I'm liking it a lot.

-Did you know much about New Jersey before coming here to play?

I really didn't.  I really didn't know much other than the show Jersey Shore.  I watched that, but I think for the most part I didn't know much more about New Jersey.

-Do you see a lot of those types, from the show, when you are out here?

Not many around here.  I guess that's a good thing.  But for the most part, yeah, I didn't really know much, but it's been cool.  There people are awesome around here.  The stadium is beautiful and the fans are great.

-How about the Phillies organization?  Did you have much knowledge about the team before they drafted you?

I didn't know much, but one definitely I knew about was Brad Lidge, because of Ryan.  But one big one was Ryan Howard.  He's from St. Louis where I'm from.  He went to high school out there and went to Missouri State, so I knew a lot about him.  He's a legend around here and has his number retired, out in center field.  I know they're an awesome organization and I'm pretty grateful to be drafted by them.  I'm happy I'm where I'm at.

Friday, September 21, 2018

2018 Exit Interview: RHP Seth McGarry

Seth McGarry, image- Jay Floyd
Righty reliever Seth McGarry joined the Phillies last year as part of a trade that sent pitcher Joaquin Beniot to the Pirates.  Since joining the Phillies organization, the 24-year-old has been a contributor on the field and behind the scenes.

McGarry, who was an 8th round draft selection in 2015 out of Florida Atlantic, had a solid 2018 campaign with the Double-A Reading Fightin Phils.  In 45 appearances the six-foot 180-pounder posted a 2-4 record with four saves, a 3.99 ERA, a .238 batting average against and an 8.6 K/9 mark.

Prior to the end of the regular season, I talked to McGarry about his pitch repertoire, his upcoming assignment to the prestigious Arizona Fall League, helping teammates in the Phils organization improve their offerings and plenty more.  Read ahead for my full interview with Seth.


-I hear good things about you.  That you're a helper and an educator and you share grips and pitches with other guys to help them improve their own repertoires.  These are gleaming reviews.  If you can, share some thoughts with me on helping out guys like Tyler Gilbert and Aaron Brown.

I mean, we learn a lot from our pitching coaches, but I feel like we learn the most, probably, from each other.  Everyone's different and you can kind of ask guys around for what they think about different pitches or different grips and kind of trying to understand different concepts for pitches.  So, with Tyler Gilbert, we had a guy on our team, Trevor Bettencourt, who threw cutters, but he throws his kind of different and we were just messing around, because I was trying to throw a cutter too and I was explaining to Gilbert the concepts of how I was trying to throw it and he just picked it up in about two days and it became one of his better pitches.  And then we kind of went over the concept of how it's more of a weak contact pitch and he freakin' just took off with it.

-How do you feel about being able to help another guy and contribute to his success?  Because I can ask a coach and they'll tell me everything, every step someone takes is rewarding and I don't know how much reward players can feel beyond their own successes, so is that rewarding for you to be able to see other guys taking strides with your help?

Oh, yeah!  Especially, when it's-- I'm new to the Phillies over the past year, but he was one of the first guys that I met and just seeing him start to soar and excel, especially with something I helped him with,  makes me feel good, but it's really cool to see him doing well.

-Arizona Fall League rosters came out recently and you're headed to pitch there.  Congratulations on that, it's always an honor to go play there.  What are your thoughts on that news?

Thanks.  It was pretty exciting to hear.  It's been kind of a bumpy season.  Had some ups and downs, but things have been clicking a little bit lately and when I got news that I was going there, it was pretty exciting 'cause I get a chance to continue what I've been building off lately.  

-Something that could be surprising to some is that going out there to play is a true assignment.  There's no, "Who's available in October and November?"  Is there a hint of disappointment that you might miss something you planned or does the honor of playing out there override all of that?

It's really exciting when it comes to baseball, but, for me, I had a couple things planned, but this overtakes that.  It's a great opportunity.  It's not something you want to pass up.

-Does it make it easier to be going with several guys from your organization?

Yeah, it definitely makes it a lot easier.  It's tough going somewhere new where you don't know anyone.  I've done that already, so it's nice to be going with some teammates and friends.

-Speak on that a little bit, because last year you switch organizations as part of a trade, coming over from the Pirates.  Is that also exciting to know this other organization scouted you and wants you to join their team?

Yeah, it was pretty cool.  It was a little different.  Kind of like getting drafted all over again.  New coaches, coordinators, new teammates, it was nice.  The Clearwater bullpen was kind of stacked, so I had already talked to a bunch of the bullpen guys previously in the season before I went over there, so I wasn't completely the new guy.  I already had some acquaintances and I've played against those guys for several years, so it was nice to actually meet the guys and become a Phillie.  

-I talked to guys on the Phillies side and I'll ask the questions about if there's a rivalry between the Phillies teams and the Yankees teams.  But I have had guys like Rhys Hoskins tell me that the rivalry is more with the Pirates.  Do you notice that from that side at all?  Is it 'cause the teams play each other at every level?


It's a little bit of that.  On the other side in the minor leagues with the Pirates, they're really big on pitching inside, so a lot of guys get hit, so a lot of teams don't like them.  You kind of feel the rivalry different places you go, some teams like each other and you kind of build rivalries with individual guys that you play against through years and years in the minors.

-Is that somebody that's getting the best of you and you feel like you need to triumph and get your turn?

Yeah, something like that.

-Is there somebody at this level that you have a rivalry with?

Not really right now, but it's been there before.

-What's the full pitch repertoire for you right now and what are your strengths?

Sinker, four seam, those are the two that I like to use together.  I throw a slider off the sinker and usually a 12-6 curve ball off the four seam, especially later in the count.

-Is there something that you see the most success with?

It had been the sinker with just the mentality of it of just trying to force contact and get the ball on the ground. 

-Before pro ball was there a moment in youth ball or amateur ball that was a standout moment for you of when you knew this was your path or that playing professionally could be a possibility for you?

I'd probably just say high school summer ball, after playing on a team where a bunch of guys got drafted, it gave me hope that it could work out for me.

-Player wise, was there anybody that, as a kid, you admired a lot or maybe wanted to emulate?

Not really any individual players.  

-Was there a team you grew up as a fan of?

Kind of the Rays, because it was the closest to home for me.

-Were you more interested in others sports?

I iked playing basketball, but more so I just like playing sports rather than watching them.  So, I kind of was more into a game or a practice and focused on those.

-Is there anybody else that you've played with that's achieving big things in the pro's?

Probably my best friend that I was in the Pirates organization with (Daniel Zamora) he was also traded this past year to the Mets and he got called up to the big leagues, so seeing him pitch on TV has been really cool.

-Is that somebody that you just played with in the pro's or something prior?

Just in the pro's, but we pretty much were attached at the hip.  Pretty much everything- throwing routine, stretch, lift, even just driving to the field together.

-So you're excited about him.  Is he still tuned in to what you're doing?

Oh, yeah!  He still keeps an eye on me.  He's a really good guy.  

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Lakewood falls as Lexington takes Sally League title

Spencer Howard, image- Jay Floyd
LAKEWOOD, NJ- Only one team can with the last game and unfortunately it wasn't the home club at FirstEnergy Park on Friday night as the Lexington Legends (Royals affiliate) nabbed a 2-1 victory and, in the process, their second Class A South Altantic League championship.

With the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th, the Lakewood BlueClaws failed to plate a run and fell in the best-of-five series, three games to one.

Lakewood's lone run came in the 6th inning on a Jhailyn Ortiz RBI single.  Manager Marty Malloy waved another runner home that was gunned down at the plate.

Lexington took the lead back in the top of the 9th on a sacrifice fly by shortstop Cristian Perez, who doubled in the Legend's first run in the 5th.  The sac fly brought home left fielder Brewer Hicklen, who beat a close play at the plate.

"We had two plays at the plate, one was our guy being out and the other was their guy being safe and that was the difference in the game," said Lakewood manager Marty Malloy.

Starting pitcher Spencer Howard, who threw a no-hitter on this same field one week prior, to clinch the BlueClaws' trip to the finals, lasted just five innings in the championship round.  According to Malloy, the talented right-hander tweaked his back and his removal from the game was a precautionary measure.  The 22-year-old is not expected to have any lasting symptoms.

Disappointment sat heavy with the team following the loss, but Malloy was already reflecting on all the positivity that was the 2018 BlueClaws season.

"I feel for that group 'cause I know what they've given every day.  They didn't just give it one day.  They gave for 145, so you know, nobody's every satisfied finishing in second place," Malloy said.  "A lot of people didn't think we'd have the opportunity to play for the championship, but that whole group out in the locker room, they believed in each other since day one.  I'm proud of them.  I'm proud of every one of them.  I'm proud of my staff.  What a good season.  It stinks that it had to come down to a loss, especially being here at this ballpark with these fans that supported us the way they have.  What a year."

Indeed.

Bonus notes: 

Malloy, who is wrapping up his second season with Lakewood, said he is contractually committed to returning to the Phillies organization next year.  Though, he does not know where that assignment will be yet.

Lakewood standout Jake Scheiner, who led the team in batting average with a .296 and played third base, first base and left field this season, will add another position to his repertoire.  The 23-year-old righty batting All-Star will head to the Phillies' fall instructional league and dabble behind the plate to see how it goes.  The enhanced versatility can only help the youngster.

James McArthur threw three scoreless frames in relief for Lakewood in game four.  His tally of consecutive scoreless innings dating back to his time with short-season Class A Williamsport is at 33 2/3.  The 21-year-old righty was this year's 12th round Phillies draft selection.