Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Phillies Minor League Hot List: Casimiro, Crawford, Eflin

Here's another dose of the Phillies minor league hot list as we rundown the organization's top performers of late from the various levels of the developmental system.

Class A Lakewood BlueClaws-

Ranfi Casimiro, image- Jay Floyd
In his last five starts, righty pitcher Ranfi Casimiro has a 2-1 record with a 1.00 ERA. Listed at six-foot-eight and 200 pounds, Casimiro has a 2-3 record with a 2.74 ERA, a .217 batting average against and a 0.94 WHIP in seven starts this year. The Dominican Republic native is 22 years old.

Outfielder Herlis Rodriguez has notched three straight muti-hit games and is batting .322 in 15 May games. The 20-year-old Venezuelan has posted a .257 average with two homers, 18 RBI and six steals in 32 overall games this season.

Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers-

Righty pitcher Mark Leiter Jr. is 2-0 with a 1.01 ERA in four outings since joining the Threshers' rotation. Overall in 10 games, the 24-year-old has a 3-0 record with a save and a 1.30 ERA. Leiter was the Phillies' 22nd round draft selection in 2013.

Prior to his 0-for-4 effort on Sunday, shortstop J.P. Crawford had gone 15-for-34 (.441 avg) in his previous eight games. In 17 games since he was activated from the disabled list (oblique strain), Crawford has a .375 average with a home run and eight RBI. The 20-year-old was the Phils' top draft choice in 2013.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Veteran Fox leaves affiliated ball to fulfill dream in Korea

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Fox with Reading in 2014, image- Tug Haines
Local minor league fans may have been surprised not to see former Phillies farm hand Jake Fox visiting with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats in Reading this week. The faithful Jake Fox Nation barely had enough time to catch on to which organization the veteran had jumped to this season, before Fox switched teams again, ditching the States for Korea.

The 32-year-old is the type of player that makes and keeps fans where ever he goes. A one-time 3rd round draft pick of the Cubs, Fox made it to the majors in Chicago and with Baltimore. He has also played in the Dominican Winter League as well as in Mexico, where he was nicknamed "El Sangre" (The Blood), and in the independent Atlantic League. All the while, he's made fans that root for him no matter what uniform he dons, as they travel to see him in different cities when they can.

During his second stint with the Phillies' organization last year, the Indiana native posted a .308/.373/.591 slash line in 78 games with Double-A Reading.

With numbers worthy of a promotion and failure by the Phils to deliver one, Fox saw a higher ceiling elsewhere and decided to sign with Toronto over the off-season despite the Phillies wanting him back.

Fox was always focused on climbing back to the majors, however, playing in Asia was something Fox wanted to do before his days on the diamond were over. He kept the lines of communication open, hoping to play in Korea or Japan for the past couple years. Lucky for Fox, a team in Korea, the Hanwha Eagles, was interested so much that they bought out his contract with the Blue Jays.

"We came to terms toward the end of last week," Fox explained over e-mail this week. "I was on a plane Saturday morning and arrived in Daejeon Sunday evening. I am very happy to be here and look forward to learning a new culture and style of baseball."

Fox, a cerebral slugger, is known to play games in the locker room like chess and spades, which force players to have a plan and think ahead.  He picks apart opposing pitchers' mental approach, steadily analyzing.  He has traveled internationally to experience different styles of the game.  The six-foot tall 220-pounder thrives on challenges and a challenge that has escaped him until recently was competing in Asia.

A challenge that has escaped him until recently was competing in Asia.

"The reason I have been trying to play here is...this is the only place I have not played in my career and I want to be able to say I have played everywhere this game has to offer when my career is done. I can truly say that I have played baseball at any and every level this game can offer," Fox said.

Often praised for being a teacher of the game, Fox, who regularly gets credit from his teammates as being like an extra coach, feels the experience playing overseas will assist with his anticipated career after his playing days are through.

"I hope to stay in the game in some capacity when I am done (playing) and I hope this experience will allow me to be well rounded in dealing with players. Not only will it give me a different perspective on how the game is played, it will allow me to identify and understand any player I may deal with in the future."

Fox, who debuted with the Eagles on Thursday after a short stint with their minor league team, going 2-for-4 with two RBI and a remarkable diving catch in his initial game for the Eagles, is already loving the new league.

"The baseball here is very good and the fans are extremely energetic," Fox explained. "I have never played in an atmosphere as electric as this. The games are a lot of fun and every day feels like game seven. I am having a great time so far and I look forward to seeing where this path may take me."
For this latest journey, Fox is regularly updating his Facebook page in order for the his legions of fans across the globe can keep tabs on him. Link here.

Friday, May 22, 2015

PhoulBallz Podcast Episode 77: Art Charles and Ben Holmes Interviews

Tug and Jay are back with the latest edition on the PhoulBallz Minor League Podcast. On the 77th edition of the show, the guys talk about Jake Fox's transition to Korea, Mark Leiter Jr.'s, Brandon Leibrandt's and J.P. Crawford's excellent efforts for Clearwater as well as Carlos Tocci posting terrific numbers in the Sally League. Reading slugger Art Charles joins the show for the segment Nine Silly-ass Questions, plus Marlins pitching prospect Ben Holmes (AKA Ben Wetzler) takes time to answer questions about the Phillies reporting him to the NCAA for having an agent represent him at the negotiation table in 2013.

Use the media player below to stream the full episode, or simply download it by clicking HERE. You can also check out previous episodes and subscribe on iTunes.

Thanks so much to the thousands of you that listen to each episode. We appreciate you.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Nola continues to dominate for AA Reading

Aaron Nola, image- Jay Floyd
Top Phillies pitching prospect Aaron Nola continued to mow down the competition in the Double-A Eastern League on Wednesday, throwing seven scoreless frames for the Reading Fightins.

With Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr and special advisor Pat Gillick in the house at FirstEnergy Stadium to view the outing, according to the Reading Eagle’s Mike Drago, the 21-year-old righty struck out seven, walked one and allowed four hits.

On the season, Nola, who was drafted 7th overall last year, sports a 1.54 ERA in eight starts for Reading in 2015.

Last year, after signing his first pro deal, the LSU product sported a 4-3 record with a 2.93 ERA and a .240 batting average against in 12 appearances (11 starts) at three levels.

Reading won Wednesday's contest by a score of 4-0 against New Hampshire. The victory took Nola's season record to 6-2.

This post was originally published on PhilliesNation.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Phillies Nation Epsiode 9: Adam Morgan, Steve Degler, Kevin Wilson

On the latest edition of Phillies Nation, Pat and Corey talk about the call up of 3B prospect Maikel Franco and what the team could expect from Domonic Brown. Looking toward what other players would help the big club, Rachel interviews IronPigs broadcaster Steve Degler, while Jay talks with lefty pitcher Adam Morgan. Hitting consultant Kevin Wilson also returns to the show, running down the mentality of hitting with two strikes. The gang also unveils some huge news about an upcoming addition to the PN family.

To view the full episode, check out the media player below. New episodes of Phillies Nation premiere each Tuesday at 6PM on The Comcast Network.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Watson progressing in rehab with Extended Spring team

Shane Watson, image- Jay Floyd
Phillies righty pitching prospect Shane Watson was back on the mound on Monday, throwing four innings worth of action for the team’s extended spring training club in Clearwater, FL.

Against the Yankees XST team, the 21-year-old tossed 12 outs, pitching three innings, but staying on the mound for an additional three outs, to reach his predetermined pitch count of 45.

Watson, who mixed in his change up for the first time, after throwing strictly fastballs in his previous two outings, walked one, struck out one and reached 92 MPH, sitting mainly at 90 MPH.

The six-foot-four 200-pounder expressed that his secondary pitch felt good, but needs a lot of work.

Watson, who underwent his second shoulder surgery last year, is slated to make three more starts in the coming weeks, in an effort to stretch him out and return his arm to full strength, before he’s eligible to be activated from a 50-game suspension for a positive banned substance test. His next start will come this Saturday in extended spring training.

Prior to being sidelined with his initial shoulder injury as a member of the Class A Lakewood rotation in July 2013, the California native posted a 4-7 record with a 4.44 ERA and a .227 batting average against in 21 professional outings.

Watson is expected to join the Lakewood staff next month.

This post was originally published on PhilliesNation.com.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Underrated Canelo strong as lead-off man for Lakewood

Malquin Caneko, image- Jay Floyd
With plenty of attention going to other players in the team's lineup, Malquin Canelo has been an underrated contributor to the Class A Lakewood offense thus far this season.

Listed at five-foot-ten and 156 pounds, Canelo easily lays low, unnoticed next to over-sized teammate first baseman Rhys Hoskins, who stands six-foot-four and weighs 225 pounds while sporting a .301 average and hitting for power. Long raved about outfield prospect Carlos Tocci and his league best .366 batting average are also overshadowing Canelo's steady production.

Through 31 games to start the season, the 20-year-old shortstop has tallied a .315 average with a home run, five RBI and six steals for the BlueClaws.

In the top spot of Lakewood's batting order, Canelo has been a catalyst. Through action on Saturday, the Domincan native was batting .333 in 54 at bats when leading off an inning and posted an identical .333 average in 27 at bats in the first inning.

The determined Canelo prides himself on his simple outlook in helping his team's offense.

"I've been trying to put the ball in play and not do too much," Canelo said with the assistance of translator and team hitting coach Nelson Prada. "When I get two strikes, I try to give the best effort that I can. That's pretty much what my approach is. Just be more focused and put the ball in play and try not to swing and miss."

Friday, May 15, 2015

Welcome Back, Maikel Franco

The Phillies announced on Friday that 3B prospect Maikel Franco has been recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The promotion will see the 22-year-old go from the team with the worst record in the International League to the team with the second worst record (tie) in the National League.

Last September with the Phillies, the righty-batting slugger batted .179 with two doubles and five RBI in 16 games.

Prior to this season, six-foot-one 215-pounder has been somewhat of a notoriously slow starter during the regular season. However, this year with the IronPigs, a more mature Franco seems to have a far better idea at the plate, is guessing less and has been putting forth great output.

In his last nine games for Lehigh Valley, Franco has gone 18-for-37 (.486 average) with three home runs and 13 RBI.  The Dominican native, has tallied a .355/384/.539 slash line in 33 overall games.

To see a feature on Franco from an episode of Phillies Nation, check out the media player below.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Phils trade for minor league catcher Forsythe, release RHP Nesseth

The Phillies have acquired minor league backstop Blake Forsythe from the Athletics in a trade announced on Wednesday. Oakland received cash considerations in the deal.

Forsythe, 25, was originally a 3rd round draft selection of the Mets in 2010. The righty batting Tennessee product was batting .267 through five games with Triple-A Nashville this season.

In 391 career games, Forsythe, who has played five games at first base and five in the outfield as a pro, sports a .226/.314/.377 slash line. He'll reportedly be assigned to Double-A Reading.

The deal was necessary following an injury to Lehigh Valley catcher Tommy Joseph this week.

In a corresponding move, the Phillies announced the release of righty reliever Mike Nesseth. The 27-year-old had a 0-2 record with a 5.02 ERA in eight appearances with Reading this season. Nesseth was a 17th round draft selection in 2010.

This piece originally appeared on PhilliesNation.com.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Catching prospect Tommy Joseph out with concussion again

Lehigh Valley IronPigs backstop Tommy Joseph was placed on the 7-day disabled list on Tuesday, diagnosed with a concussion.
Joseph was removed from Monday's game after being hit in the mask with a foul tip. In 20 games this season, he was batting .123 with four doubles and six RBI.

The 23-year-old was acquired in 2012 from San Francisco in the deal for Hunter Pence and had played in 63 total games the past two seasons, missing time with multiple concussions and a wrist injury.

This instance marks the sixth stint on the disabled list for the six-foot-one 250-pounder since joining the Phillies organization in July 2012.

In an interview with Phillies Nation for a planned television segment last month, Joseph cited growing displeasure with spending so much time on the shelf.

"I signed up to play everyday and I haven't been able to do that, so it definitely wears on you over time," Joseph stated, adding, "I think it would make everybody a little mad if you were only allowed to play, I think I've played like 50 or 60 games over the last two years and that's not what I want. That's not what anybody wants. I think there is a lot of frustration."

Joseph also shared thoughts about the type of ultimate impact that concussions could have on his career.

"Anytime you have a concussion or any head injury, it's definitely career threatening no matter what the career is. And, yeah, it definitely crossed my mind and crossed the staff's minds as well," Joseph said.

In other injury news, righty pitcher Shane Watson made his second appearance with the Phillies' extended spring training team on Tuesday. The 21-year-old tossed two innings, walking one and striking out one while throwing strictly fastballs for the second straight appearance. He'll begin mixing in his change up during his next outing.

Watson, who underwent his second shoulder surgery last year, is slated to make four more starts in the coming weeks, stretching him out and getting him to 100-percent, before he's eligible to be activated from a 50-game suspension for a positive banned substance test.

The six-foot-four 200-pounder, who was the Phils' top draft pick in 2012, is expected to join the Class A Lakewood staff next month.

This post originally appeared on PhilliesNation.com.

Minor League hot and cold list: Franco, Nola, Crawford, Leibrandt, Tocci

It's your weekly rundown of top performers from the Phillies' developmental ranks with some not-so-good performers mixed in as well.

Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs (9-23 record, last in International League North Division- worst record in the league)...


Hot:

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Maikel Franco, image- Jay Floyd
3B Maikel Franco has continued to shine on offense, as the 22-year-old has gone 12-for-25 (.480 avg) with three homers and eight RBI in his last six games. Overall, the Dominican native has notched a .341 average with four home runs and 18 RBI in 30 games this season.

RHP Phillippe Aumont sports a 1-1 record and a 1.93 ERA in three starts since joining the Pigs' rotation. In seven appearances this year, the 26-year-old has a 1.73 ERA and a .188 batting average against.

Cold:

Catcher Tommy Joseph is 2-for-32 (.063 avg) in his last 10 games. Overall, in 20 games this season, the 23-year-old sports a .123 average with four doubles and six RBI.

Double-A Reading Fightins (16-13, 3rd place in Eastern League Eastern Division)...

Hot:

1B Art Charles was named Eastern League Player of the Week on Monday and has gone 14-for-23 (.609 avg) over a six game stretch. In 20 games this season, the 24-year-old is batting .378 with five home runs and 18 RBI. Read my recent feature on Charles by clicking here.

RHP Aaron Nola is 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA in his last three starts. Overall, in six games this season, the 21-year-old is 4-2 with a 2.04 ERA and a .210 batting average against.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Reading's Charles standing out as team's offensive force

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Art Charles, image- Jay Floyd
Across all levels of organized baseball, it would likely be impossible to find a hotter player than Reading first baseman Art Charles right now.

The lefty hitting slugger wrapped up a six-game stretch on Sunday during which he went 14-for-23 (.609 avg) with five doubles, five home runs and nine RBI.

Currently, the 24-yeear-old Charles leads the Double-A Eastern League in average (.400) and slugging percentage (.800), while also ranking second (tie) in on-base percentage (.442).

Charles has gained more at bats lately with his recent success, as he had been splitting time in the lineup with teammate Brock Stassi, who has a league-leading 23 RBI. Time on the bench wasn't discouraging, though, as it made the California native value the chances he was getting more.

"It's been a little tough, but I get my playing time," Charles said last week at Reading's FirstEnergy Stadium. "I enjoy the time I get. I've been doing well. I've been putting the ball in play and I've been productive. It's all about taking advantage of your opportunities when you get them, so I mean I've been going out there every day with a positive mindset and ready get my chance and when I play, I'm taking advantage of it."

Saturday, May 9, 2015

PhoulBallz Interview: BlueClaws OF Cord Sandberg

Cord Sandberg, image- Jay Floyd
Lakewood outfielder Cord Sandberg is off to a quiet start this season in the Class A Sally League. The 20-year-old, through 24 games, is batting .235 with three doubles, eight RBI with a stolen base.

Praised by coaches for his toolsy skill set, his leadership qualities and his professionalism, the Phillies have high hopes for the 2013 third round draft selection.

Recently, I spoke with Cord about his game, his manager, his roommate and more. Read ahead for that full interview with the lefty batting Florida native, who is not related to Phils manager Ryne Sandberg.


-I've heard some great feedback on you with the coaches citing you as a leader for the team. When you've the coaches really believing in you and maybe teammates looking to you, even at 20 years old, as a leader, what does that mean to you?

That definitely means a lot. As far as other players looking up to me, I mean playing quarterback in high school, there are leadership qualities that kind of comes with playing that position. You know, baseball..I'm in the outfield, I just try to- I'm not really a vocal guy. I'm not really a big pump-up guy. I try to play the game the right way and I try to lead by example and hopefully, that shows with my effort on the field.

-If you were going to scout your own game, what would you tell me?

I'm an outfield guy and I think my arm is strong enough to make the throws I have to. It's not unbelievable by any means, but I feel it's good enough to get the job done out there. From a hitting standpoint, I'm not- in little league I was a power guy, but you know as I've developed, I've kind of grown to being a gap-to-gap guy and I can be a power guy, but I'm not really focused on home runs and things like that. I'm just trying to hit the ball hard and go gap-to-gap.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Fightins Quotables: Altherr, Quinn, Martinez speak

This week I spoke with several members of the Double-A Reading Fightins roster. Outfielder Aaron Altherr, who spent a handful of days with the big league club last year, rising prospect Roman Quinn and 2011 second round pick Harold Martinez all took time to share their thoughts on various subjects. Read ahead for those exclusive quotes.

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Aaron Altherr, image- Jay Floyd
Aaron Altherr:

-The 24-year-old spoke about what drives him in the game...

I gotta get back up there this season and hopefully I can stay up there. It drives each and every one of us. That's the ultimate goal is to get up to the big leagues and produce up there.

-Commenting on which players with the big club stood out as leaving an impression on him...

I always looked at Utley, the way he goes about his business. And even a younger guy like Domonic Brown, you know, he'd always come up to me and talk to me and show me the ropes. Guys like that really help you get comfortable up there and know that you can do it and it's not that much different. You just relax and play the game.

-Sharing thoughts on how he feels this year compared to last season, when he posted a .236 average with 14 homers and 57 RBI in 120 games at the same level...

I'm a lot more comfortable this year 'cause I know what my swing's doing this year. Last year, I was trying to find my swing the whole year and I couldn't find it. Just did a lot of work in the off-season and I feel like I've gotten it back and feel a lot more comfortable up there.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Quinn showing signs of being Phils lead-off man of the future

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Roman Quinn, image- Jay Floyd
If you haven't yet given much attention to speedy Reading center fielder Roman Quinn, it's time that you started. The Phillies' second round draft pick in 2011 is making a name for himself as the catalyst for the Double-A Fightin Phils.

Described as a prototypical lead-off guy, Quinn has begun drawing comparisons to the likes of Rickey Henderson, a player that the 21-year-old isn't quite old enough to recall seeing in action.

"I have seen Kenny Lofton and Juan Pierre and Dee Gordon right now. So, I'll watch their swings and how they put down bunts and it's game changing for me. An inspiration," Quinn said with a smile while sitting in the home dugout at Reading's FirstEnergy Stadium this week.

With a long road ahead to reach the stature of those players, though, Quinn is doing all the right things to develop his game and help his team the way those speedsters have been known to.

"He just changes the whole game," Reading manager Dusty Wathan stated. "Whether it's the opportunity to steal a base or just to get more fastballs for the guys behind him, the defense totally changes when he's on base and when he's at the plate. They have to change the way they defend because he's a threat to bunt and steal."

Sporting a slash line of .310/.349/.520 with a league-best 11 stolen bases through 25 games in his first season above A ball, Quinn feels that time he spent last off-season in the prestigious Arizona Fall League prepared him for action this year in the Eastern League.

"It definitely got me ready for Double-A because the pitching out there was outstanding. All those guys were either first rounders or had been in Double-A or higher last year. So, the pitching was good and I got to see how the umpires call everything and I got a feel for everything," Quinn stated.

Previously, Quinn struggled as a pro, as he was tasked with much to learn after signing with the Phillies.

The organization wanted the youngster they drafted out of Port St. Joe High School in Florida to become a switch hitter and requested the outfielder move to shortstop. With years of swinging from the left side under his belt along with a shift back to the outfield, the generously listed five-foot-1o 170-pounder is more comfortable and feels confident in his game.

"It's definitely coming along, my comfort level, my confidence. All of it. It's definitely coming along. I'll say it has a lot to do with me getting more reps, seeing more pitches," Quinn said, adding, "Baseball is a mental sport and I feel like confidence is the key to everything."

Currently, Quinn is batting .290 from the left side. That's a nice jump from his mark from the same side last year in Class A Advanced Clearwater, when his sported a .222 mark, and well above his .230 average with Lakewood in 2013, when his season was cut short with a left wrist fracture.

Coaches aren't surprised in the least at the way that Quinn, who missed time early last season after having reconstructive surgery on his right Achilles tendon, has adapted to new aspects of the game and how he has overcome hurdles to return to full strength on the base paths.

"It's his personality," Wathan asserted. "He's a guy that's pretty level headed. He's able to adapt. He's taken to switch-hitting, he's taken to bunting, he's taken to the outfield and he's getting more and more comfortable. I don't think it's shocking because he's a tremendous athlete."

Quinn's presence at the top of the Figthins' batting order is sure to be worth the price of admission all summer long in Reading. Here's hoping that tickets to see the young spark plug will be available at higher levels and for larger dollar amounts in the coming seasons.

PN Interview: Lakewood manager Shawn Williams talks Hoskins, Tocci, Tromp, more

Prior to the start of the opener Class A Lakewood's home stand on Wednesday, I sat down with BlueClaws manager Shawn Williams to chat about his club that currently has a 13-13 record and sits in fourth place in the South Atlantic League's Northern Division.

Williams remarked on reigning Sally League player of the week, Rhys Hoskins, exciting outfield prospect Carlos Tocci, outfielder Jiandido Tromp's lackluster production and plenty more. Read ahead for that interview.

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Rhys Hoskins, image- Jay Floyd
-First baseman Rhys Hoskins is really posting some excellent numbers of late, 22-for-51 (.431 avg), 4 HR, 12 RBI over last 13 games heading into action on Wednesday. What can you tell me about Rhys and how he's helping the team?

He's been swinging the bat, obviously, really well. For me, it seems like every at bat he has, he's having a quality at bat and that's all you're really looking for and can ask for. For me, that's a huge thing for anybody, especially him. And he had a great road trip. He's been swinging the bat really well all year. He had some tough luck in the early going and now, obviously with this road trip, he had some balls fall in and he had an excellent road trip and it went extremely well.

-Carlos Tocci is a guy that plenty of people expected to cool off at some point and that's just not happening. What are your thoughts on the high level of consistency for him?

You said it. The big word for me is consistency. That's a tribute to him, day in and day out. He's got his routine that he sticks to and his preparation is outstanding. Offensively and defensively, he brings it everyday. He doesn't give any at bats away. He always gives you a great at bat. Sometimes it's almost like with two strikes, that's when his at bat starts and he's in there battling and having great at bats and getting his hits, running the bases, getting his bags. He's off to a great start.

-I've noticed Tocci taking considerable time after games, working out with the trainer before he's available to talk with the media. Is there anyone putting in as much work before and after games as Carlos is?

For me, it's everybody. They're all like that, wanting to do more. Sometimes you gotta kind of calm them down a little bit, 'cause you don't want to wear them out. They have their goals, they want to keep moving up the ladder and get to their ultimate goal of playing in the big leagues. That goes for Tocci, that goes for everybody. They're all like that. They all want to get better and it's a compliment to all of them.

-Lefty pitcher Josh Taylor has looked good for you guys and tosses some heat. What can you tell me about his season thus far?

He's been great, even getting to see him last year in the instructional league. He has a great arm. He has some good secondary stuff. He's gotten off to a great start and his last game was outstanding. Very good fastball, he threw some very good curve balls and it's just about applying consistency every time out and wanting to be as good as the time before and just improving on it. And he's done that.

-You get to have a lot of involvement in these guys' early development. Is there a type of guy that you have more fun coaching? Maybe the types of guys like Taylor who aren't drafted and may not be expected to make a huge impact?

Not for me. For me, they're all the same. I just try to give them guidelines of probably the daily routine and how to go about your day, so you're prepared for the game, so that you're ready and can have a good year and keep moving up. The biggest thing I love to see is seeing guys that you've had in the past and watching them, over the course of time, getting a lot better, or seeing guys get to the big leagues. It doesn't matter who it is, as long as they get there it's pretty cool seeing that.

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Jiandido Tromp, image- Jay Floyd
-Outfielder Jiandido Tromp is a guy that seems to drive excitement among prospect followers when he performs well at short-season Williamsport and then doesn't show the same output here with Lakewood. He's not posting very good numbers right now. Is there any level of concern with Tromp?

Not at all for me. He had a very good road trip to get him back, at bats wise, to get him back on track to where, maybe- just like anybody, he had a tough stretch. For him it was early on. He had some at bats on the road trip that I think are going to carry over, and they did the last couple games, where he drove in two big runs for us. For me, he looks a lot like how he did last year where he's getting back to having good at bats and putting good swings on it and sooner or later he's going to drive the ball into the gaps and have some home runs. He's a very dangerous player because he can steal bases. He's got kind of those five tools you're looking for, so I am looking forward to him getting going here.

-It seems like each year here there's someone that opens the season on the bench and performs well enough to work his way into the lineup. Last year it was Willians Astudillo, who ended up chasing the batting title into the season's final weekend. Is there anyone on this roster that's forcing your hand to gain more at bats?

The thing I love is that all these guys are playing, even the guys that aren't playing every day. You've got Tim Zier, you've got Damek Tomscha, you've got Herlis Rodriguez, who I think is third on our team in RBI and he's probably got half the at bats. It's a tribute to them and how their preparation is. The three of those guys aren't necessarily playing every day, but they're playing a lot, they're always ready and all three of them have gotten off to a good start and are helping us a lot.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

PhoulBallz Interview: Reading manager Dusty Wathan talks Perkins, Stassi, rotation, more

D Wathan
Dusty Wathan, image- Jay Floyd
This week I spent some time chatting with Double-A Reading Fightins skipper Dusty Wathan. The club is well touted this year with a collection of excellent pitching prospects along with some solid producers on offense. In the interview excerpts below, Wathan shares some thoughts on Cam Perkin's dip in production this year, if the Fightin Five rotation makes his job easier and if the offense coming from his bench presents any difficulty in his role.

Read ahead for this exclusive interview from the farm.

-Off the top, I've got a two part question. Do you feel in any way that the solid production from some of your guys that haven't played every day, like Art Charles and Harold Martinez, makes your job more difficult? On the other side, does the starting rotation, which includes last year's top draft pick Aaron Nola along with Jesse Biddle, Zach Eflin, Tom Windle and Eastern League Pitcher of the Week Ben Lively, make your spot more comfortable?

I think as far as the guys on the bench, I mean, we've had a lot of National League (affiliate opponents) and we actually have, I think, 18 more National League games because the Rockies are in this league now. So, that makes it a little easier to get guys in games. It, obviously, takes away the DH, but for me there's been games this year where we've used every position player, which is exciting and gives more opportunity for guys. That might not be five at bats in a game, but, you know, after the fifth or sixth inning, they could pinch hit. That makes it more realistic and lets us see how guys are going to react to pinch hitting. A lot of times, coming through A ball, you don't pinch hit. (At that level) you kind of just go with the nine guys and you might pinch run here and there. It gives us an opportunity as an organization also to see if those guys have what it takes to pinch hit. It's a difficult thing and we like to be able to see that from guys. You know, honestly, most guys aren't going to get to the big leagues and hear, "Here's your position. Go get 'em!" They may break in as a bench player or get in a game here and there and earn his right to be the everyday guy. So, it's a fun thing to have with guys playing well and forcing to get them into a game.