Sunday, October 4, 2015

LHP Prospect Biddle to have Tommy John surgery

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Jesse Biddle, image- Jay Floyd
The Phillies announced on Sunday that lefty pitching prospect Jesse Biddle will require Tommy John surgery after suffering damage to the ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing arm.

The 23-year-old has been plagued with injuries in recent seasons after missing considerable time with a concussion last year with Double-A Reading, he was shut down with elbow soreness during the off-season while playing in Puerto Rico and was shelved with what was said to be a shoulder strain this year while with Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

In split time with Reading and Lehigh Valley this season, Biddle tallied a 9-6 record with a 4.95 ERA and a 6.4 K/9 mark over 24 starts.

The Philadelphia native was the Phillies' top draft selection (27th overall) in 2010. He'll turn 24 years old later this month.

Another Phillies left-hander underwent UCL reconstruction this year. Reliever Mario Hollands is progressing well after going under the knife in April. Rehabbing in Clearwater, Hollands is currently on a throwing programs in which he plays catch every other day and has been doing so for a month thus far. Throwing off a pitching mound is something that is on the horizon for Hollands, although he's not sure how soon that change to his workload will pop up.

In 50 games as a big league rookie in 2014, Hollands posted a 2-2 record along with a 4.40 ERA.  Hollands was the Phils' 10th round draft choice in 2010.

Hollands, a close friend of Biddle, has offered guidance to the younger hurler.

"I've been talking to him since his first doctors visit about the process and what he should expect," Hollands said on Sunday.

The feedback is something that Hollands is pleased to share with Biddle, who is facing a troubling time.

"I'm happy to do it, but surgery and recovery aren't too fun to talk about," Hollands, who didn't have anyone to offer similar insight, stated.

The UC-Santa Barbara product, Hollands, expects to remain in Florida throughout the off-season in order to aggressively complete his rehab program and make a return early in 2016, barring any setbacks.

Phils clinch worst record in MLB, lock down top draft pick

phils logoGetting swept in a double header at home has likely never had such a positive spin as it did for the Phillies on Saturday as they lost a pair of contests against the division rival Marlins.

In the opening game of the twin bill, the Phils would lose for the first time this season when leading after eight innings as flame throwing closer Kenny Giles blew just his second save opportunity since taking over the duties at the back end of the bullpen after the trade of Jonathan Papelbon.

In the night cap, rookie hurler Alec Asher, acquired from Texas in the Cole Hamels deal, surrendered three earned runs in two innings of work to fall to 0-6 on the season in the big leagues. The Marlins were victors by scores of 7-6 and 5-2.

The Phillies solidified their worst record since 1969 with their 99th loss of the season. With one game remaining this season, the century mark isn't out of the question in the loss column. They've not lost 100 or more games since 1961 when the club dropped 107.

It wasn't all bad news for the home club at Citizens Bank Park, however, as the Phillies locked in the top spot in next year's MLB amateur draft.

In their history, the Phillies have had the first overall draft pick only once. They selected Miami third baseman Pat Burrell with the top selection in 1998.

The top name rumored to be drawing the most interest as the first overall pick come next June is local standout, Jason Groome, a lefty hurler out of Barnegat High School in New Jersey. Groome, a senior, was clocked at 96 MPH in a late-summer showcase game at Petco Park prior to his 17th birthday. He is said to throw heat effortlessly and features outstanding secondary pitches as well.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Two Phillies honored with minor league Gold Glove Awards

Aaron Altherr, image- Jay Floyd
On Monday, Minor League Baseball announced that right fielder Aaron Altherr and left fielder Cord Sandberg were honored as Rawlings Gold Glove Award winners.

Altherr spent time this season with Double-A Reading as well as Triple-A Lehigh Valley before he was promoted to the majors. He was perfect in 107 games in the field, recording 279 chances and eight assists without an error. The 24-year-old was a 9th round draft choice by the Phils in 2009.

The 20-year-old Sandberg, who was the Phils' 3rd round draft selection in 2013, recorded a .983 fielding percentage in 120 games for Class A Lakewood. Sandberg had 232 chances, recording 13 assists.

According to a release, players must have participated in one of the 10 domestic-based, full-season leagues, and shown outstanding defensive skills to be eligible to receive the Rawlings Gold Glove Award.

The award was re-introduced to Minor League Baseball in 2011 after an almost 50-year hiatus.

With just nine recipients nationwide, the Phillies were the only organization to have multiple winners this year.

The previous honoree from the Phillies organization was infielder Carlos Alonso, who was honored in 2013.

This post originally appeared on Phillies Nation.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Knapp and Pinto honored as Paul Owens Award winners

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Andrew Knapp, image- Jay Floyd
The Phillies announced the honorees for the annual Paul Owens Award this year, with catcher Andrew Knapp and pitcher Ricardo Pinto being named as the top performers in the organization's developmental ranks.

Knapp, began the 2015 campaign with Class A Advanced Clearwater where he posted a .262 batting average with two home runs and 28 RBI in 63 games en route to being named a Florida State League All-Star. Promoted to Double-A Reading in late June, Knapp would really turn things on offensively, collecting a .360 average along with 11 homers and 56 RBI in 55 games. Knapp was the Phils' 2nd round draft pick out of Cal in 2013.

Phillies Nation recently aired a feature on Knapp. That video can be viewed by clicking here.

Pinto, a 21-year-old righty, tallied a 15-4 record with a 2.97 ERA and a 6.5 K/9 mark in 24 combined starts with Class A Lakewood and Clearwater this season. For the Venezuelan, 2015 was just his second season pitching in North America.

Earlier in the season, it appeared as thought Reading outfielder Roman Quinn was well on his way toward winning the Paul Owens Award, as he sported a .306 average with four homers, 15 RBI and 29 steals through 58 games prior to being sidelined with a hip/quad injury in June. The 22-year-old is slated to play for Licey in the Dominican Republic this off-season to make up for lost time.

Instituted in 1986, the Paul Owens Award is named after the man who spent 48 years in the Phillies organization as a scout, farm director, general manager, manager and senior advisor.

In other news, Phillies minor league outfielder Aaron Brown will be playing in Australia this off-season. Brown tallied a .257/.324/.406 slash line in 110 games for Clearwater this season. The 23-year-old was the organization's 3rd round pick out of Pepperdine last year.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Reading comes up short in chase for championship

Falling one victory shy of winning their first Eastern League championship in 20 years, the Double-A Reading Fightin Phils dropped the fifth and deciding game in Bowie by a score of 7-2 on Saturday.

On the mound, right-hander Reinier Roibal allowed two earned runs in 4 1/3 innings to take the loss.

Fireballer Jimmy Cordero came into the game in the bottom of the 7th inning. The promising hurler acquired from Toronto in the Ben Reverse trade allowed three runs in 1 1/3 innings.

Outfielder Cam Perkins and catcher Rene Garcia each slugged a solo homer in the losing effort.

Looked at by many as the favorites to take it all, Reading couldn't wrap things up after taking a 2-1 lead in the series on Thursday night with a 9-3 victory.

No Reading players are expected to be added to the Phillies' expanded September roster now that their playoff run is complete.

Various members of the team took the Twitter following the loss to express their thoughts on a very successful 2015. See those embedded below.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Bowie downs Reading to force 5th game of ELCS

eastern leagueThe Reading Fightins could not overcome an early deficit and dropped game 4 of the Eastern League Championship Series to the Bowie Baysox by a score of 9-1.

Bowie scored three runs led by a Garabez Rosa two-run double off of Reading starting pitcher Ben Lively in the bottom of the opening frame to jump out to a 3-0 lead.

Reading scored their only run in the 4th inning, when outfielder Cam Perkins came home on a wild pitch.

The Baysox would clap back in the bottom of the 5th inning, with a run-scoring single by first baseman Trey Mancini.

Lively, was charged for three additional runs in the 7th inning without recording an out, as he left the game with the bases loaded and reliever Ryan O'Sullivan would allow all three inherited runners to cross the plate. The 23-year-old Lively, who was acquired from Cincinnati for Marlon Byrd last off-season, let up seven earned runs in six innings while giving up seven hits and four walks, notching four strike outs in the process.

Lefty Tom Windle was tagged for two earned runs in 1 1/3 innings of relief for Reading.

The Reading lineup mustered just four total hits and fanned 12 times in the defeat. Outfielder Dylan Cozens went 2-for-4 as the lone bright spot for the Fightin Phils.

The two teams will face off in a winner-take-all game 5 for the Double-A EL title at Prince George's Stadium in Bowie, MD at 6:05 PM Saturday.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Reading one win away from Eastern League title

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Jake Thompson, image- Jay Floyd
Jake Thompson starred once again for the Double-A Reading Fightins on Thursday, as he led his club to a 9-3 victory over the Bowie Baysox to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five Eastern League Championship Series.

The 21-year-old right-hander got the win, allowing one earned run on four hits over seven innings while striking out five and walking three.

The victory for Thompson put his record at 6-1 with a 1.48 ERA over nine starts for Reading since he was acquired from Texas in the Cole Hamels trade this summer.

Eight of the nine Fightin Phils batters collected at least one hit. Center fielder Nick Williams, another talented youngster the Phils brought over from Texas, notched two hits including a home run, his third of the postseason, and drove in a pair of runs.

Shortstop J.P. Crawford went 2-for-3 with a walk while driving in a run on a sacrifice fly. The organization's top prospect is 10-for-21 (.476 avg) in six postseason contests.

Third baseman Harold Martinez went 2-for-4 with a double, a walk and two RBI.

Reading will look to win the EL title for the first time since 1995 on Friday night in game 4 at Prince George's Stadium in Bowie.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Bowie evens ELCS with Reading

fightins logoTo tie the Eastern League Championship Series at one game apiece, the Reading Fightins lost against the Bowie Baysox by a score of 10-3. The series will now move to Bowie's Prince George's Stadium, where Reading will need to win two out of three games.

Righty hurler Ethan Martin had a poor start for Reading and took the loss, allowing five earned runs on four hits and five walks while striking out none in 2 1/3 innings.

Left-hander Joely Rodriguez would follow Martin out of the bullpen, letting up three runs (two earned) in 1 1/3 innings. Ryan O'Sullivan would be charged with two additional runs in his inning of work.

For a pair of bright spots among the Reading pitching staff, lefty Hoby Milber, working with a new arm angle of late, tossed 3 1/3 scoreless frames retiring all 10 batters he faced while Tom Windle threw a scoreless inning of his own.

Bowie starter Nick Additon, 27, went seven innings, allowing three runs (two earned) to notch the win. Infielder Garabez Rosa collected three hits and drove in two runs for the Baysox.

Designated hitter Andrew Knapp launched a solo home run and plated a run with a sacrifice fly to lead the Fightins' offense.

The series will continue Thursday night with Jake Thompson, who threw a complete game shutout in the opening round of the EL playoffs taking the bump for Reading against Bowie left-hander Chris Lee at 6.35PM. The live radio broadcast will be streamed at with the video broadcast available via MiLB TV.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Eflin leads Reading to Game 1 ELCS wins

Zach Eflin, image- Jay Floyd
Righty hurler Zach Eflin fired six shutout innings to lead the way as the Double-A Reading Fightins notched a win in the opener of the best-of-five Eastern League Championship Series on Tuesday night.

In his second win of the post-season, Eflin, who was acquired last off-season in the trade that sent Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers, struck out five Bowie Baysox batters while walking none on five hits. He left the game after surrendering a lead-off single that ricocheted off his leg in the 7th inning.

League MVP Brock Stassi got the scoring started in front of the home crowd, leading off the home half of the 4th inning with a home run to give Reading a 1-0 lead.

Reliever Edubray Ramos tossed a scoreless 7th inning, retiring the side in order with two strike outs.

Designated hitter Art Charles would slam his own solo homer in the 7th to pad the lead. Catcher Andrew Knapp would plate another run that inning on a sacrifice fly.

Righty pitcher Jimmy Cordero, clocking 101 MPH with his fastball would earn the save with two innings of work, allowing a run on a wild pitch in the 9th to spoil the shutout.  The Fightins won by a final of 3-1.

Reading will host Bowie once again on Wednesday night in Game 2 of the ELCS at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Williamsport ousted from NYPL playoffs

cuttersOn Sunday, the Phillies' Class A short-season affiliate Williamsport lost the deciding game of their best-of-three opening round series in the New York-Penn League playoffs, dropping a 4-0 decision to the West Virginia Black Bears (Pittsburgh affiliate).

With righty hurler Mitch Gueller on the mound, the Crosscutters dropped the contest in front of a home crowd following a rain out on Saturday. Gueller was tagged for the loss, alloweing one run (earned) in 5 1/3 innings of work while striking out five, walking four and surrendering two hits.

Gueller, 21, had become the team's ace in recent months, posting an 8-0 record along with a 1.74 ERA over his last nine starts. He also had an ERA of 1.17 at home entering the postseason. The Washington state native was the Phils' supplemental round (54th overall) draft selection in 2012.

The Cutters' offense only mustered three hits on the day, including a double from promising outfield prospect Jose Pujols, who went just 1-for-11 in the series. The team plated just four combined runs in the three-game set.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Reading advances to Eastern League Championship Series

JP Crawford, image- Tug Haines
The Double-A Reading Fightins are headed to the Eastern League Championship Series for the first time since 2001 folowing a sweep of the Binghamton Mets in the opening round of the playoffs.

Top prospect J.P. Crawford led the offense, slamming a solo home run and reaching base three times via a walk. Outfielder Nick Williams, acquired in July's Cole Hamels trade, slugged a two-run homer, his second of the series.

Infielder Angelo Morda plated the other Reading run with a sacrifice fly.

Right-hander Ben Lively notched the win, tossing five innings while allowing two earned runs on four hits, striking out six and walking one. The 23-year-old was acquired last off-season from Cincinnati in a trade for outfielder Marlon Byrd.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Reading wins playoff opener, Clearwater eliminated

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Brock Stassi, image- Jay Floyd
In the opening game of the Eastern League Division Series, the Double-A Reading Fightins dropped the Binghamton Mets by a score of 9-4.

League MVP Brock Stassi led an 18-hit barrage, collecting a double and a three-run home run while walking three times and driving in four total runs while outfielder Dylan Cozens launched a pair of doubles and drove in three runs.

Additionally, shortstop J.P. Crawford, catcher Andrew Knapp and third baseman Harold Martinez each notched three safeties.

Righty pitcher Zach Eflin notched the win with seven strong innings, allowing two earned runs on six hits, while striking out four and walking one.

Initially, the contest was delayed about an hour by rain. The teams will face each other again in Binghamton on Thursday in game 2 of the best-of-three series.

In the Florida State League, the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers were swept in a best-of-three series by Daytona.

Newly acquired righty John Richy allowed two runs (one earned) in 6 2/3 innings to take the loss.

The only Threshers run in the 2-1 defeat was scored on a Rhys Hoskins solo homer. FSL batting champion Willians Astudillo went 2-for-4 in the loss.

Clearwater headed into the series as the favorite, having won their division in the first and second halves of the regular season. Daytona is the North division wild card entrant.

The Class A short-season Williamsport Crosscutters were rained out on Wednesday in their playoff series against the West Virginia Black Bears.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Threshers drop Florida State League playoff opener

milb logoOn Tuesday night in the opener for the Florida State League playoff, the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers would lose to Daytona.

There were two outs in the 7th frame before the Threshers would collect their first hit, a single by first baseman Rhys Hoskins. They would wrap up the contest with just two singles, the other coming off the bat of third baseman Mitch Walding.

Right-hander Ricardo Pinto took the loss, allowing three runs in six innings of work while striking out six and walking three.

Lefty pitcher Amir Garrett notched the win for the Tortugas, as he fanned 12 Threshers batters without a walk over seven shutout innings.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Phillies Nation episode 21: Matt Breen, reviewing trade returns

On the latest edition of Phillies Nation, the Philadelphia Inquirer's Matt Breen joins the panel to discuss the big league debut of Alec Asher, the production of Jerad Eickhoff as well as Aaron Nola's efforts for the big club. Minor league insider Jay Floyd and Rudy Mezzy team up to review the Phils' acquisitions from recent trades including righty pitcher Nick Pivetta. Rachel and Corey also chat about what is to come for Ryan Howard, Cameron Rupp and others.

Watch this week's episode in the media player below and look for new episodes to premiere each Tuesday at 6PM on The Comcast Network (no new show Labor Day week).

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Crawford, Knapp among Phils prospects headed to AFL

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J.P. Crawford, image- Jay Floyd
On Tuesday Arizona Fall League rosters were announced. The list of talented youngsters that will represent the Phillies in the prominent off-season league is headlined by top prospect J.P. Crawford.

The 20-year-old shortstop was the Phils' first round draft selection in 2013. In just his second full pro season this year, he reached the Double-A Eastern League where he was honored as a mid-season All-Star. Through 101 games combined for Class A Advanced Clearwater and Reading, Crawford tallied a .294 average with six homers, 41 RBI and 12 stolen bases.

Joining Crawford will be his Reading teammate catcher Andrew Knapp.. The 23-year-old has been hot of late as he sported a .404 average with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 25 August games for the playoff bound Fightins.

Also headed to the AFL to take the field as part of the Glendale Desert Dogs will be lefty pitcher Tom Windle, right-handed hurlers Yacksel Rios, Nick Pivetta and Edubray Ramos as well as outfielder Dylan Cozens.

The AFL opens play on Tuesday, October 13th.

BlueClaws Quotables: Coaches talk Grullon, Kingery, Watson, more

This past week I spoke with Class A Lakewood manager Shawn Williams and the team's pitching coach Aaron Fultz. Below are interview excerpts from both men as we check in on a few familiar names like catching prospect Deivi Grullon, this year's second round draft choice Scott Kingery as well as 2012 first round pick Shane Watson, plus more.


Grullon, image- Jay Floyd
-Catcher Deivi Grullon has had some ups and downs at the plate this year. Has he made solid progress and are you pleased with his seeason?

I am pleased. I know the numbers aren’t there offensively, but he’s had some tough luck, he’s had some tough outs. But, for me, more importantly, he’s finishing the season strong. His RBI’s and power numbers have come here lately. He’s gotten better, he’s having better at bats, but more importantly for a catcher, that comes first. He’s done an outstanding job all year. He’s done an outstanding job. He’s learning a lot. For me, he’s grown up a lot. He’s getting better with the English language, things that are helping him. He’s got one of the most important characteristics as a catcher- he’s a leader. He’s one of those guys that everybody goes to, a like-able guy in the clubhouse and he’s been huge for our pitching staff.

-A pair of names that fans would be familiar with on this team are early round draft picks from this year Scott Kingery and Kyle Martin. What have you seen from those guys since they joined the team a couple months ago?

Both of them are very good ballplayers and they are baseball players.

Kingery- very impressive defensively at second, all around player. But he can really turn a double play, he can run, he looks very hitterish in the box, he puts together good at bats. For me, he’s had a very good year with us, for the first year in and playing every day. He shows up ready to play every day. He’s a gamer and he’s got the tools there too that are impressive.

And Martin, another guy that can swing the bat, good defensively, a very good base runner, very smart, he can steal a base, good instincts. Both of them are guys that have instincts, which are hard to teach. They have them and they’ve really helped our club here in the second half.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Rupp's lack of Phils knowledge excusable?

Cameron Rupp, image- Jay Floyd
Phillies backstop Cameron Rupp is having quite a month. The righty batting Texan sports a .327 average with seven home runs and 17 RBI in 16 August games.

Informed by reporters following Sunday's game that he is the first Phils rookie catcher to hit seven home runs in a calendar month since 1922, the 26-year-old responded in a noteworthy manner.

According to reports, Rupp replied, "Ah, that's pretty cool.  Is that when they were the A's?"

Say what now?

Clearly, the Phillies were never the Athletics.  That team, used to play in Philadelphia though, before relocating to Kansas City back in the 1950's.  The Phils have been around dating back to the 1880's.
Rupp, who is an avid Dallas Cowboys fan, can tend to rub some Philadelphia sports fans the wrong way when it comes to his alligience regarding football, but shouldn't he possess at least basic historical knowledge of the team he plays for?

Personally, I like Rupp.  He's been a pleasure to cover through the minors and into the big leagues.  But, what amount of fan reaction for a mistake like this is valid and does his hot production of late get him a pass?

Before you share your thoughts below in the comments section, consider one more thing related to Rupp's Cowboys fandom...on a December, 2013 episode of the PhoulBallz Podcast (football chat begins at 34:00, bet proposal at 43:00), he wagered with me and Reading Fightins photographer Tug Haines that if the Eagles won the NFC East division title that season that he'd wear an Eagles jersey and post a picture of it on his Twitter account.  The Eagles locked down that title and Rupp welched on the bet.  Additionally, he later declined to follow through on paying his debt on an episode of Phillies Nation TV in 2014, never donning the Eagles' midnight green whatsoever.

This wager is brought up in fun, as I've reminded Cameron about it multiple times.  However, from a guy that's already given the six-foot-two 258-pounder some slack and laughed off this player dismissing a bet, perhaps I'm less prone to giving Rupp a complete pass from some good old fashioned ball busting.

This post originally appeared on Phillies Nation.