Friday, January 20, 2017

2017 Prospect Countdown: #23 RHP Drew Anderson

D. Anderson, image- MiLB.com
Righty hurler Drew Anderson hasn't gotten a lot of attention compared to other fast rising talents in the Phillies' system.  The 22-year-old underwent Tommy John surgery in April 2015 and returned to the mound last season in time to solidify his place as a formidable young prospect and proved himself as a name that fans should start becoming familiar with.

The Reno, NV native was selected in the 21st round of the 2012 draft out of high school.  Upon turning pro, Anderson posted a 1-1 record with a 4.76 ERA in eight appearances with the Rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies.

The following year, his first full season as a pro, Anderson tallied a 6-3 record with a 2.00 ERA, a .214 batting average against and a 6.4 K/9 mark in 15 starts as a member of the short-season Class A Williamsport Crosscutters.

In 2014, the six-feet-three 185-pounder posted a 4-4 record with a 4.68 ERA, a .266 batting average against and a 9.4 K/9 mark in eight starts for the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws.  He would miss time that year with an elbow strain and returned to action rehabbing with the GCL team in July but would miss the remainder of the season following a setback.

Rest and rehab didn't do the trick and when pain returned in his elbow the following spring, surgery took place in early April to repair his ulnar collateral ligament.

After missing the entire 2015 season, Anderson returned to action last year in late May after some rehab appearances in extended spring training. As a member of the BlueClaws, Anderson would sport a 1-3 record with a 3.38 ERA, a .220 batting average against as well as a 10 K/9 mark in seven starts.  He would earn a promotion to Class A Advanced Clearwater where he continued to stand out. 

Upon joining the Threshers, he was the starter in a game in which the team notched a combined no-hitter.  For the Threshers in eight starts, Anderson put together a 2-1 record with a 1.93 ERA, a .217 BAA and a 10.2 K/9 mark.

Anderson drew enough attention that the Phils added him to their 40-man roster this off-season in order to protect him from the annual MLB Rule 5 draft.  As a member of that roster, he'll be a part of big league spring training this year.

Prior to the surgery to repair his elbow, Anderson was known mainly as a control pitcher.  However, with conditioning work and improved strength in his lower half, he was able to add velocity following his return.  Reports had him touching 97 MPH with his fastball at multiple times last season, regularly clocking in the mid-90's.

Also in his repertoire are a very good curve ball and an improving change up that Anderson has targeted taking strides with.

Locating pitches and his command will continue to be a plus for Anderson, as his solid 2.9 BB/9 mark for his career will only improve as he refines the feel for pitches he's been working on in the lower levels of the minors.

The intangibles are what the organization likes about him the most.  Anderson is a focused and determined hurler.  He is tough, wants to compete and loves to learn about the sport that is his career.  He'll be a leader and a sponge for baseball knowledge as he moves upward in the developmental ranks.

The ceiling for Anderson could be a middle-of-the-rotation guy.  Look for him to be among the first wave of players sent to minor league camp from big league spring training in March and expect him to open the season with Clearwater again this year.  Being part of the Double-A Reading rotation before too long is probably quite likely for Anderson, who is looked at as a very promising prospect, as well.

You can follow along with this year’s Phillies prospects countdown by clicking this link.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

2017 Prospect Countdown: #24 Second Baseman Jesmuel Valentin

J. Valentin, image- Jay Floyd
Second baseman Jesmuel Valentin has become a solid contributor at each level he has played and could possess the ability to continue that success as he approaches the big leagues.

Selected as the 51st overall draft pick in 2012, Valentin was quickly a well-hyped prospect in the Los Angeles Dodgers system. Upon signing his initial professional contract fresh out of high school, the switch-hitter debuted in the rookie level Arizona League, posting a .211 average while launching two homers and driving in 18 runs in 43 games.

In 2013 the Puerto Rico native began the season in the rookie level Pioneer League, where he batted .284 with four homers and 24 RBI in 62 games. A promotion to the Class A Great Lakes team followed and, as a 19-year-old, he struggled a bit, batting .212 with six doubles, a triple and five RBI in 33 games.

The following year, Valentin repeated Class A and proved ready for the challenge. In 108 games for the Loons, he batted .280 with seven home runs and 47 RBI in 108 contests, making himself a desirable commodity to the Dodgers’ potential trade partners. After joining the Phillies’ organization in August as part of the Roberto Hernandez trade, Valentin was assigned to Class A Advanced Clearwater where he recorded a .205 average in 12 games.

Following the 2014 season, Valentin made headlines as he was suspended by the Phils organization following a domestic violence arrest. Charges were eventually dropped, according to Valentin, and he would return to action.

In 2015 as a member of the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers, Valentin would tally a .273 average with a homer and 14 RBI in 31 games.

Last year 89 games with Double-A Reading, Valentin posted a .276 batting average with five home runs and 38 RBI. In July he was promoted to Triple-A Lehigh where he sported a .248 average with four homers and 14 RBI in 36 games. 

This off-season in 38 regular season games in the Roberto Clemente League, the five-foot-nine 180-pounder batted .257 with a pair of home runs and 18 RBI while playing for the Indios, which his father, former big league infielder Jose Valentin, manages.

Growing up around the game, Jesmuel cited to me in an interview last year that he grew close to Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar in 2003 when he was teammates with Jose on the White Sox.  Jesmuel would watch the Puerto Rican legend closely to learn as much as possible and the two bonded.

Defensively, Valentin is strong with turning two in the middle.  His arm may be best suited for second base, where he plays primarily. With some versatility under his belt, Valentin has manned shortstop in 105 professional games while covering the hot corner at third base in 14 games and taking on the outfield in 15 games.

Speed is not a big factor for Valentin’s game, so he won’t be stealing many bases (49 steals in 75 pro attempts, a 65% success rate), but he is a smart and aggressive ball player who can take an extra base in the right situation and not make mental errors in key spots. 

Valentin displays patience at the plate and can draw walks, notching a .348 on-base percentage for his affiliated pro career to date.  He can be a nice table setter for his teammates.

Look for Valentin back with the IronPigs this season, but if there is a vacancy in the infield due to injury or any other reason, he could be among the first names called upon to take a spot.

You can follow along with this year’s Phillies prospects countdown by clicking this link.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Reading Fightins manager Greg Legg Interview

Prior to the Reading Fightins annual winter banquet on Tuesday, team broadcaster Mike Ventola spoke with new manager Greg Legg.  Topics of discussion include Legger's coaching style, the group he expects to manage this year, being a Pennsylvania resident and more.  Check out the video player below for the full interview.



Legg's history with the Phillies dates back to 1982 when the team drafted him as an infielder in the 22nd round. He would play for 13 pro seasons, including time spent in the majors with the Phils. Since 1994 he has served as a coach at various developmental levels of the Phillies organization. Legg previously managed Reading from 2002 through 2004.

Monday, January 16, 2017

2017 Phillies Prospect Countdown: #25 RHP Tom Eshelman

T. Eshelman, image- Jay Floyd
Righty hurler Tom Eshelman was acquired last off-season from Houston in the Kenny Giles trade along with former number one overall draft pick Mark Appel as well as pitcher Vince Velasquez and two other players.  If Eshelman progresses as the Phillies hope he will, the talented Californian could become the steal of that deal.

Scouts had Eshelman classified as one of the most polished pitchers in the 2015 draft.  After becoming Houston’s 2nd round draft choice (46th overall) and signing for a reported $1.1 million, Eshelman started four total games at two levels of the Astros’ system that year.

In 2015 as a member of the rookie level Gulf Coast League Astros, Eshelman allowed two earned runs while striking out three and walking two in four innings of work.  He was then promoted to Class A Quad Cities where he allowed three earned runs while striking out five and walking three in 6 1/3 innings.

After opening the 2016 season with the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers, Eshelman would become a Florida State League All-Star.  In 11 starts there, the six-foot-three 210-pounder tallied a 4-2 record with a 3.34 ERA, a .251 batting average against and a 9.7 K/9 mark.  He would be promoted to Double-A Reading by mid-season.

As a member of the post-season bound Fightins, Eshelman wasn't as sharp.  In 13 starts for Reading, Eshelman posted a 5-5 record, a 5.14 ERA, a .307 batting average against and an 8.1 K/9 mark.  Those numbers shouldn't be alarming, as it's important to remember that he was pitching at the Double-A level in just his second pro season.

Eshelman would miss the Eastern League playoffs after requiring an emergency appendectomy in early September.

Continued physical development could help Eshelman add some velocity.  That would benefit him a lot, as the young hurler was peaking in the low 90's when I saw him pitch in July for Reading. He also is equipped with a slider that helps him get some swings and misses as well as a curve ball and change up that both can work as average offerings.

Control is definitely the big factor in the 22-year-old's game, as he notched a collegiate career record 0.4 BB/9 mark in three years at Cal State Fullerton, where he was a multi-time All-American.  He possessed a 313-to-18 strike out-to-walk ratio in his college career.  On top of that, in his 2015 junior season, Eshelman sported a 1.58 ERA in 18 outings for the Titans.

His ability to locate pitches helps Eshelman greatly, as he is often praised considerably for his control.  He possesses an ability to throw any pitch in any count, so the concept of a “hitter’s count” doesn’t really apply with him.  Considering that command is something that typically comes along later with pitching prospects and that Eshelman already has it, he’s well ahead of the game in that regard.

A deceptive delivery also plays in his favor.  Some buzz has surrounded the difficulty that batters can have picking up his pitches.

It's likely that Eshelman opens the 2017 season back in Reading as a key member of their starting rotation.  Look for him to perform better in the Eastern League this year.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

2017 PhoulBallz Prospect Countdown Prelude

As a new year begins, so does my annual prospect ranking, which counts down the Phillies organization’s top 25 rising minor league talents. Over the next several weeks, with the organization in the midst of a rebuild, primed to give many young talents the opportunity to break into the major leagues and show what they can do, I’ll be serving up reviews for each of the top developmental talents that appear to have the brightest futures for the Phillies.

Taken into consideration when compiling the list is age, minor league performance relative to levels played, value to the organization as the player’s future potential and proximity to the big leagues.

These rankings will not include players over the age of 25 or individuals that have spent lengthy stretches in the big leagues.

For example, left-handed reliever Joely Rodriguez, who spent the final month of the regular season on the big league Phillies roster, will not appear on this countdown. Tyler Goeddel (12th on this list a year ago), who was a Rule 5 draft selection and was on the major league roster for the entirety of last season will not be on this list, despite the possibility of the young outfielder returning to the minors to continue his development this year. Also, righty hurlers Jake Thompson (#2 on this list last year) and Zach Eflin (8th here last year) started double-digit games with the big league club and will not be ranked here.

Players that garnered consideration for this list but missed ranking among the top 25 names include a trio of talented hurlers and a young infielder fresh out of the draft.

Victor Arano is a right-handed pitcher that posted a 5-2 record with eight saves, a 2.26 ERA and a .213 batting average against in 46 relief appearances at two levels last season. Splitting the season between Class A Advanced Clearwater and Double-A Reading, the Mexico native sported a 10.7 K/9 mark. This off-season the 21-year-old posted a 2.79 ERA in eight relief appearances in the prestigious Arizona Fall League. Arano is on the Phillies' 40-man roster and it's been said that the organization is rather high on him as a potential impact reliever at the top level.

Outfielder Jhailyn Ortiz was an extremely difficult name to exclude from the list as he does have a very high ceiling, but at just 18 years old and having not played in a full-season league to date, he is far enough away from the majors that placing him outside of the top 25 was justifiable to me. In his first official pro season last year, the powerful Dominican sported a .231 batting average with eight homers, 27 RBI and eight stolen bases in 47 contests in the rookie level Gulf Coast League. Here's hoping the right-handed batter, who signed at age 16 for a reported $4.2 million, sees action with full-season Class A Lakewood this year.

A. Pullin, image- Jay Floyd
Outfielder Andrew Pullin had a remarkable campaign in 2016 after leaving baseball to deal with some personal matters at the start of the regular season. The 23-year-old, who was a 5th round draft choice by the Phils in 2012, posted a .293/.320/.476 slash line in 36 games with Class A Advanced Clearwater once he returned to action last year. After being promoted to Double-A Reading, the lefty hitting Pullin looked even better, as he notched a .346/.393/.559 slash line in 46 games. Overall Pullin saw a .165-point jump from his career OPS entering last year to his 2016 season totals. His coaches praise his hitting ability as a standout part of his game, but I want to see Pullin perform at a high level for a second season before I am prepared to rank him on this list.

Cole Stobbe, a 19-year-old shortstop, was last year’s third round draft choice and quickly impressed many with a solid campaign with the rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies. In 44 games, the Nebraska native tallied a .270 average with eight doubles, four home runs and 13 RBI. The six-foot-one 200-pound righty batter was a very well-rounded high school hitter, stroking the ball to all fields while displaying power, prior to the draft, and looks suited to change positions (possibly to third base) at some point with shortstop in this organization blocked by talent and depth. Stobbe could become a fast mover on this list, and in the minors, in the coming years.

Additionally, some youngsters that made last year’s top 25 while remaining in the organization's developmental ranks have slipped from the list.

Backstop Deivi Grullon steadily stands out as a very good defensive performer and as an exceptional leader for his pitching staffs. Many baseball insiders love his skill set, but with back-to-back campaigns at full season Class A Lakewood with an OPS under .700 (.608 and .695 respectively in 2015 and 2016), I felt Grullon had slipped behind others as far as Phillies prospect rankings go. The 20-year-old righty batter was ranked 24th last on this list last year.

Shortstop Malquin Canelo seemed to be a defensive standout that hasn’t proven his offense can play well at the higher levels yet. The 22-year-old right-handed batter put together a .246/.294/.330 slash line in 124 games for Class A Advanced Clearwater last year. Occasionally displaying a good ability to drive the ball, the five-foot-ten 160-pounder will need to do so on a more regular basis and he’ll need to develop a better ability to hit lefty pitchers (.202 average last year) if he is to become a valuable player at a position that is occupied by the man widely considered the Phils’ top prospect, J.P. Crawford. Canelo was ranked number 20 on this list last year.

In the coming weeks, check back here on PhoulBallz.com often for the unveiling of this year’s top 25 ranked prospects within the Phillies organization.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Off-season Check In: 2b Jesmuel Valentin

Jesmuel Valentin, image- Jay Floyd
Second baseman Jesmuel Valentin reached the Triple-A level following a solid campaign with Double-A Reading in 2016. Overall in 125 games, the 22-year-old tallied a .269 average with nine home runs, 52 RBI and four stolen bases combined at the two levels.

Valentin, who is a talented defender, was originally a 1st round draft choice by the Dodgers in 2012 prior to being traded to the Phillies for Roberto Hernandez in 2014.  His father, Jose, played in the Major Leagues with the Mets, Brewers, Dodgers and White Sox.

The five-foot-nine 180-pound switch-hitter is slated to begin his 2017 in big league spring training with the Phils.

Recently, Jesmuel took time to answer some questions about his off-season efforts playing for Mayaguez in the Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League in Puerto Rico and spoke on his time with Lehigh Valley this year.  Read ahead for that full interview.


- How has playing in the PR/Roberto Clemente League been for you over the past month or two? 
 
Has been great so far, working a lot on important things to be prepare for my first big league camp, 'cause first impressions are important.  The goal is to make the team but, if not, I want to be the first guy they have in their mind.
 
- Is your dad around the Indios and, if so, what is his role?

Yes, my dad is the manager. He has been a big (help). He always has his fist on me so I can be the best player on the field.

- Is there anyone else there, coach or teammate, that you're learning a lot from or working with closely to improve?
 
Our team has a lot of big league time players like Yadier Rivera, Carlos Corporan, Kennys Vargas, Eddie Rosario, my uncle Javier Valentin is the hitting coach. Every game they give me tips to be better and to be prepared  for every situation or scenario.

- I saw that one of the teams in that league had not been paid in November and they ended up not playing and forfeited a game.  Is that right and have things improved for that team or those players?  
 
Yeah, those rumors where right.  All I know is that the team (is playing) now and everything is running good now.

- What are the crowds like for games there in Puerto Rico and how do the crowds compare to those here in the U.S.?

The crowds here are really low now our team has the best fans on the league. (From) now on the playoffs will be sold out. Compared to (affiliated ball) is that here (the fans) are louder and they live every moment of the game.

- Wrapping up the regular season this year with Lehigh Valley- was that important to you to make it to that level? 

It was.  That one more step was huge.  Why?  Because is a league closer to the big leagues and with a lot of big league players. So, already I had a taste of what is coming.
 
- What was your favorite thing about playing with the IronPigs?

I love the stadium, the fans were awesome, great crowds every day. Nice facilities, great atmosphere, short road trips, and better baseball.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Frosty Phillies Favorites: 2016 Player Christmas Survey

Everybody loves the holidays and, of course, baseball players are no exception. Every year at Christmas time, I survey a group of Phillies prospects about what they get excited for during the holiday season.

Players taking part in this year's seventh annual Christmas questionnaire include 2015 first round draft choice outfielder Cornelius Randolph, IronPigs infielder Jesmuel Valentin, first base prospect Rhys Hoskins, along with pitching prospects Luke Leftwich, Zach Morris and Jeff Singer.

Questions and answers listing each player’s holly jolly holiday favorites are ahead…


- What is your favorite Christmas movie or TV special?

Randolph- Polar Express!  I just like the Christmas kind of vibe that goes to it.  Like, I've been watching it since I was younger.  It was something that me and my mom used to watch.  It's pretty much like a tradition now.

Valentin- I like Bad Santa.

Hoskins- I'm gonna go Christmas Vacation or Elf.  I'd say both of them are absolutely hilarious.  I've probably seen Elf 30 or 40 times.  I just think it's hilarious.

Leftwich- I feel like I gotta go classic with A Christmas Story.  I used to watch that a lot when I was little and I still make a point to watch it every year.  I've probably seen it 50 to 100 times by now. 

Morris- I'm gonna have to go with either the original Grinch or the original Rudolph because every year it was something that I would look forward to.

Singer-  My favorite Christmas movie is Christmas Vacation.


- Do you have a favorite Christmas song?

Randolph- I actually don't have one.

Valentin- Jingle Bells.

Hoskins- I think the whole Mariah Carey Christmas CD is pretty good.  She's got a good voice.  I enjoy Christmas music and it's good every 12 months.

Leftwich- I've been listening to the Michael Buble Christmas album lately and there's this song on there called Cold December Night and I think it's going to be a classic at some point.  It's a great song.

Morris- I don't know.  Not really.  Once Christmas music's on, I'm in a good mood, so I like all of them, honestly.

Singer- My favorite Christmas song is Bruce Springsteen's version of Santa Claus is Coming to Town. 


- What is your favorite food or dish at the holidays and who makes it?

Randolph- My mom makes probably the best chocolate cake.  

Valentin- Arroz con gandulez and pasteles. By grandma Tata.

Hoskins- Every Christmas morning my family has a big breakfast and every year my dad makes this egg casserole.  I don't know what is in it, or how he makes it, but we've had it every year that I can remember since I was a little kid.  It's just something that I look forward to on Christmas morning.

Leftwich- Not necessarily anything special to the family of anything, but I'm a big fan of Honeybaked Hams and we always have one on Christmas, so I'd have to go with that.

Morris- Honestly, anything my grandmother makes.  That's where we go on Christmas and just her meals and I don't know what, but they've got something in it.  It might be just be grandmom's love.

Singer- My favorite Christmas meal is my grandparents honey ham.


- Is there any standout Christmas gift that you got from childhood?

Randolph- I think I was about 11 or 12 and my dad got me my first wooden bat.  The story behind that is I saw my brother swinging a wooden bat and I said, "Oh, dad.  I want one!"  And he was like, "What's reason of swinging a wooden bat?" And I could never figure that out.  And he said, "Before I get you that bat, I want you to tell me the reason."  And, so, I asked my brother and my brother would never tell me.  And I finally figured it out and it's to learn the sweet spot.  So, when I finally figured it out, for Christmas he got me my first wooden bat.  So, that was probably the most significant gift I ever  got.

Valentin- It was my first car, a BMW M3 when I was 16 years old.

Hoksins- I always remember getting the game systems.  I remember getting the N64 when I was a little kid.  I must have been six or seven.  And then the PS1 and the PS2 and those were always pretty cool.  Those were always pretty fun.

(I asked Rhys a follow up, inquiring if he had the MVP Baseball EA Sports games and if he would create himself as a player in those games.)

Oh, yeah!  Absolutely.  You'd always make yourself really big, try to make yourself the best player in the game.  Yeah.

Leftwich- I feel like this is really cliche of me to say this, but when I was in elementary school, my parent got me a bike and I'm pretty sure I didn't get off of that bike for the next three weeks straight.  I was riding around, thinking I was the coolest kid in town.  It was great.

Morris- Not that I can think of.  Maybe because I'm a big gamer, XBox.  I remember when I was 13 or somewhere around there, when I got the original XBox for Christmas, that took up 90% of my childhood.  I was glued to my TV in my room and I would never put that thing down.  That still affects me today.  I still get addicted to Call of Duty and other games now. 

Singer-  Best present I got was more of a family gift and it was our Golden Retriever named Holly.


- Do you remember finding out the truth about Santa Claus?

Randolph- Not really.  

Valentin- I did but I forgot when it was.  Probably I was around 11 and I knew 'cause I saw all the presents in my parents' bathroom.

Hoskins- Um, I still believe in Santa.  No, I don't remember finding out the truth.  I think one year I was snooping around and me and my sister didn't really know why the presents were there.  I don't think our parents ever told us explicitly.  I think we just figured it out.

Leftwich- One year me and my siblings got Razor scooters for Christmas from Santa and we were riding them and I had to go to I believe it was soccer practice that day and I went to go put my stuff in the trunk and I was all the boxes of the Razor scooters and I was like, "How did Santa give my parents these boxes?"  So, then, I asked my dad and I guess he knew I was old enough to tell me.  He told me, but he told me not to tell my siblings because they were a little bit younger.  So, I got to be in on the secret for a couple years.

Morris- Yes, I had a friend who had older siblings.  I want to say I was six years old.  I was young.  I don't know.  And he told us one day at school and I wanted to hit him in the face.  I wasn't a very mean kid, but he made me mean that day.  I went home and I just looked at my parents and I said, "Is Santa Claus real?"  I don't remember their reaction, but I remember that kid at school, Tyler.  He told everyone at the lunch table and it pissed everybody off and I was probably the maddest six year old in the state of Maryland.  And then my parents, I don't think they did a very good job of defending themselves.  I think I was very pissed off that Christmas.

Singer- The way I found out Santa wasn't real is that my friend was in church and the priest said that Santa wasn't real and my friend told me the next day, we were 10.  I asked my brother and sister first and they told me it's true.


- Do you and your family have Phillies ornaments on the Christmas tree?

Randolph- Yes, my mom has become a really big Phillies fan, so she put those on the Christmas.  

Hoskins- A Phillies ornament?  I don't know if we do.  That's a great question.  I guess we need to get some Phillies ornaments.  Get the Phanatic!

Leftwich- Yeah, my grandma definitely has one and my parents got one last year too.  So, I think in family houses, we're two for two on Phillies ornaments.


Also, check out previous editions of the holiday survey with the likes of Aaron Nola, Cody Asche, Cameron Rupp, Darin Ruf and others sharing all their Christmastime favorites by clicking the following links- 2015 survey, 2014 survey, 2013 edition, 2012 edition, 2011 edition and 2010 edition. Happy holidays to all of you.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Off-season Check In: 1B Rhys Hoskins


Rhys Hoskins, image- Jay Floyd
First baseman Rhys Hoskins proved to be one of the Phillies most promising prospects last season, when he dominated the Double-A Eastern League as a member of the Reading Fightins.  In 135 regular season games, the 23-year-old righty slugger posted a .281 average with 38 homers and 116 RBI. 

After helping to lead Reading into the postseason, Hoskins, who was the Phils' 5th round draft selection in 2014, spent time in the Dominican Republic playing with the Gigantes.  During his brief stint, the six-foot-four, 225-pounder tallied a .224 average with four home runs and 16 RBI in 21 games.

This week I spoke with Rhys about his experience in the DR, what he is up to this off-season and plenty more.  Read ahead for that full interview.

- So you spent some time playing in the Dominican Republic this off-season.  What can you share about the experience?

It was good.  It was short.  But, I think the time that I was there was definitely worthwhile. I learned a lot about the way the game is played down there and it's a lot different.  It's a lot slower and everything is more methodical and thought out, especially the pitching.  It was good to kind of see a different-- I was attacked, approached differently down there than how they pitch in the States, so it was good to see that side of it.

- What were the crowds like at those games?  Were they much different than the minors here?

Yeah, they were fun.  They were loud, a lot of energy.  We played in one of the smaller stadiums, so when there was a lot of people there, it was pretty loud.  Some of the bigger teams down there, the teams in the capital, like Licey and Escogido and then the Aguilas team, they have bigger stadiums, so they can hold a lot more people.  So, it was good to play in that kind of environment and kind of feel the pressure of 15,000 people while you play.

- Was there anyone, coach or teammates wise, that you took a lot from to help you develop?

Yeah, our manager, Bobby Dickerson, he is, I believe, the third base coach for the Orioles now.  He's a big infield guy, lives, breathes infield work, so I actually worked quite a bit with him, doing extra work, stuff during BP, just little things in the infield that kind of make me-- just routine stuff that I can use to make infield work more comfortable, which is always something that I'm striving to do.

I'm definitely going to take these things back into my everyday work and hopefully it pays dividends like it did while I was there.

- Did any of your Gigantes teammates help with transitioning to the change...like Alberto Tirado, or someone else?

Yeah, he was there.  Joely (Rodriguez) was there for a little bit right before I left.  It was cool to see him.  It is cool to be in those guys' hometown and see where they come from and understand the culture and all that.  But, there was a couple guys that I played against in the Eastern League that kind of took some of the American guys under their wing and some guys that I hadn't played with that whether it be because they speak a little better English or I don't know what it was but...Garabez Rosa was one of those guys.  I played against him.  He was an infielder with Bowie.  And then Felix Paulino was a really fantastic guy.  He took all of us American guys under his wing and told us little things that kind helped us get through our everyday lives, not necessarily on the baseball field, just being in a foreign country.  It was pretty helpful.

- That's great to hear.  Hopefully, you'll get the chance to take care of someone in a similar way  or return the favor in the future.

Yeah, it was cool.  Like, I said, seeing some familiar faces made it easier.  Going down there only knowing a couple guys that just made the experience better.


- To start that season, the first game or two you faced off with Dylan Cozens' team.  What was it like facing off against a guy that was your teammate all year and who you were co-winners of the Paul Owens Award with this year?

Yeah, a little different.  But it was fun and we were able to talk before the game and if he got on first, or if (Andrew Knapp) got on first we could talk about how the experience was going or just little stuff.  That kind of keeps it light on the field, which is always good when you're playing baseball.

- So after getting back to the U.S. prior to Thanksgiving Day, what are the biggest differences this off-season versus last year?

I'm a little bit more focused on being in the gym to kind of build a foundation that will last me through August and, hopefully, through September just with my body and I'm working on some flexibility stuff.  I'm always doing some agility, a bunch of stretching to kind of get my body so it feels healthy and strong, so I can hit the ground running in spring training.

- I've talked to guys that spend some time in the off-season going to NFL or NBA games.  Is that something you do during down time, or have you played so much as a pro athlete this year that you don't have interest or time for it?

I'm a sports fan.  Whether it's baseball or-- actually, we got the chance to go to the Indians-Blue Jays game, game 2 in Cleveland, which was an awesome experience.  It was electric.  I got to see a ballpark I had never been to.  I'm just a sports fan.  I think when the TV's on, I'm usually watching some sort of sports.  I'm a big Raider guy, so the NFL season's been pretty fun for me and yeah, any chance I can get, I will take it.  

- Did you just get tickets, or did you have some sort of fancy access?

I just took my girlfriend.  We had some decent seats, but we didn't have any sort of VIP access or anything like that.  We got there early and saw the ballpark.  

It was cool just to see the pregame stuff and the park fill up and the game was a good game.

- As far as I know, you're a west coast guy.  What got you to a playoff game in Cleveland?

My girlfriend works and lives in Cleveland right now, so that's where I am.  I came across the tickets and we decided to go to the game.  I'm spending the off-season in Cleveland.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Off-season Check In: RHP Luke Leftwich

Luke Leftwich, image- Jay Floyd
Right-handed hurler Luke Leftwich had a remarkable season in 2016, earning a nod as a Class A South Atlantic League All-Star with a 7-3 record with a 2.00 ERA through his first 12 starts of the season before being promoted to Class A Advanced Clearwater in June. Overall, in his first full year as a pro, Leftwich tallied a 10.1 K/9 mark along with a .255 batting average against and a 1.26 WHIP.

The 22-year-old was a 7th round draft selection by the Phillies in 2015.

Recently, I talked with Luke about his off-season which includes working to finish his college degree.  Read ahead for that interview.


- How are you spending your time since the season wrapped up in September?

I'm studying accounting right now.  I went to Wofford College, which is considered a pretty good school, for three years (before being drafted) and my mom's a principal and she was not about to let me go there for three years and not finish.  So, I'm taking this semester and then going back (to baseball) for the season and then I'll finish (with college) up next fall.  

-With all the studying is there any time for work or coaching this off-season?

Pretty much just school.  I've been helping out with the college baseball team whenever they need me or to help run a practice or something.  Or when I get home (from school), I know I'll help the local little league, so I guess I'll be doing that coming up here.

- How much to you look forward to working with those youth players?

It's really a special experience because I know when I was a kid, we had some of the Arizona State players come through and help us with practice and they were, like, idols to me back then and to see them go on and a lot of them played professional baseball, so I got to watch them move on and play farther when just prior to that they were helping me when I was just a little kid.  So, hopefully, I can be that to someone.

- The Phillies will mandate certain things they want their players to work on during the off-season.  Do you have access to good facilities to get your work in?  And once the throwing program starts, do you have a good place for that?

Yeah.  I'm lucky to be at school because the Carolina Panthers do their training camp at Wofford, so they paid for our entire weight room and we have a state-of-the-art NFL quality weight room, so I have access to pretty much anything I need.  I'm lucky there.  And then once I start throwing, I'll have baseball guys at school that I can have a catch with and then once I am home, I'll be able to have a catch with my dad and he's more than okay at playing catch.

- Is there much variance, besides school, with your off-season this year versus last year?

The main thing is just school.  Last year I went to instructs and then went home for the whole off-season.  This year I've been at school, so I've had a little bit different of a routine.  Basically, just trying to work around class and getting my school work done while still trying to get all the workouts that I need in.  And I think I've been crushing it so far this year.

- Do you have any expectations for spring training arrival time?  Will you head down early?

Last year I went about a week early and I thought that was kind of perfect.  It gave me time to get back into the swing of things, get over the time difference of going from Arizona to Florida and I just felt like that was perfect, so I am going to do that again.

- I talked to Zach Morris and he mentioned that you guys had kind of an off-season bro-date, going out to a football game.  How was that for you?

Yeah, I was telling-- my grandmom lives up in the D.C. area and I knew he lived up there too, so I texted him one of the days before and I told him we should catch up and hang out (while I was visiting), and he said he had an extra ticket to the Redskins game, so I was like, "Absolutely!" It was my first Redskins game and we had a really fun time tailgating.  We got to watch the game from a box suite because (Zach's) dad got those tickets.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Off-season Check In: LHP Zach Morris

Zach Morris, image- Jay Floyd
Last season, lefty reliever Zach Morris had an outstanding campaign with the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws.  In 43 appearances in his first full season as a pro, the 23-year-old posted an 8-3 record with five saves and a 2.57 ERA while sporting a 7.4 K/9 mark.

Morris was drafted in the 24th round out of Maryland by the Phillies last year.

I spoke with six-foot-five 245-pounder last week about his off-season routine, how he stays busy during the fall and winter months, plus more.  Read ahead for that full interview.
 

- How long do you take off from picking up a baseball once the season ends?

I haven't thrown since I've been home.  They usually give us a good two months for guys that aren't playing winter ball and stuff.  But I think it picks up toward the end of next week I think.  I gotta look at (my schedule).  

- You clearly have a time frame in mind, so is that the workout routine that is mandated by the Phillies?  Is that what you're going by?

Yeah.  100-percent, yeah! 

- I know there's something online that you can log into and access the plans and schedules and things the team wants you to work on.  What can you share about that?

It's awesome.  It's an app right on your phone.  Every day you're supposed to work out, you click on it and sign in and it's got what they want us doing every day, so when I go to the gym I just log in an run through that.  It's got us doing arm care and everything and getting whatever the day has- lower body, squatting, or upper body with TRX stuff.  It's a really convenient app.  It's real easy to use.

- And what would be included in the arm conditioning that you mentioned? 

It's all the same stuff we do during the season.  Whether it''s tubing or six pack stuff or activities that we do during the season to keep our arms in shape and conditioned for preventing injuries and stuff, so it's all the same.

- When you mention tubing and six pack stuff, what are those exactly?

Tubing is a routine they stress.  It's 12 different exercises with a tube.  And the six packs are when you're laying flat on your stomach on a table and you do-- there's different ways you position your arms and you hold it for, like, depending on what the set is, usually for about 10 seconds, you can do it with or without weights and it's a really good workout for your arms and shoulders.  I love it.  I've done it for about six years now.

- When throwing begins, you would need more space than a regular gym may offer.  What facilities will you use to do that work?  Will you be able to go back to your college, Maryland, at all?

Honestly, I've been doing it all over because there's a bunch of guys in the area that I've been throwing with.  I mean, I've got a good relationship with a lot of coaches around here.  I mean, everybody's calling and they want me to help work their camps, so I have access to just about anywhere that has enough room to throw around here.  So, definitely, there's some good relationships that I've built when I was young and it's a good relationship that I have now.  Whether it's a high school, I can obviously go to Maryland whenever I wanted.  My high school, all the indoor facilities around here.  It's good that I'm not just held down to one area.

- I want to touch on your season last year.  When we last spoke at length, you were in the midst of a great stretch of scoreless appearances and all that.  You didn't finish the season with that same output.  Was there anything that changed or were there just some less solid outings which happened because it's baseball?

No, I felt great.  There's nothing-- in my view it was the same as I was all year.  Maybe other than one or two outings, but I mean, at the end of the day it's baseball.  It happens.  You can't be perfect every time.  

If you don't fail you're never going to succeed because you don't know how to.  You just go out there-- there was maybe one outing where I was like, 'Damn.  That's not me.  I'm better than that.'  I mean, you just think about it that night, wake up the next day, flush it and go from there. 

- Is there anybody from the Phillies organization that you've stayed closely in touch with since the season ended?

We have a group chat, all the American guys from Lakewood.  The thing will go off every other day and it's cool keeping in touch with the guys.  And I Snapchat back and forth and actually Luke Leftwich, he's got family in northern Virginia.  He came to town (a few) weeks ago for the Sunday night Redskins game. 

So, he came up and I took him out in D.C. and he came to the football game and we had a good time there.  So, it was cool to see him.

- Do you hold down any job during the off-season, whether it's coaching, working clinics or otherwise?

Yeah, I've actually been doing electrical work with my girlfriend's father.  That's what I'm doing now.  It's definitely a cool skill to learn and just something to keep busy.  I like doing it.  Then, obviously, with baseball camps and clinics and stuff, I've been working a whole bunch of them around here.  And then, yeah, it's a good way to keep busy.

- For spring training, there are plenty of guys from northern states that may go down to Florida early to escape the cold weather.  Will you go down early at all?

Well, my college Maryland, they play at Brighthouse Field in a round robin tournament the second week of the season.  So, I'm probably going to drive down and keep my car down there for spring training and what not, because my parents will be going, because my brother is a junior at Maryland, so it'll be cool to go see them play at Brighthouse Field. 

- Your brother is on the team?  What's his name?

Yeah, Justin Morris.  He's a catcher!

- Sweet.  That's cool to have a battery combo in the family with him catching and you pitching.  Did you guys play together much?

Yeah, my senior year in high school was actually his freshman year and he was a starting catcher on varsity and he had a very good freshman year.  And then, I got to pitch to him a couple times at Maryland last year, which was my last year.  So, that was pretty damn cool to be there pitching in a game in college to your little brother.  It was definitely a cool moment.

Monday, December 12, 2016

PhoulBallz Interview: Joe Jordan talks off-season leagues and more


On Friday, Phillies director of player development Joe Jordan took time to chat about several promising youngsters that have taken part in off-season leagues. Read ahead for the full interview.


M Imhof, image- Jay Floyd
- During the season, Threshers pitcher Matt Imhof drew a lot of attention after he suffered a significant injury that resulted in the loss of one of his eyes.  Do you have any updates to share on Matt's progress toward recovery?

I really don't have a whole other than I've spoken with him, he's taking classes and it seems like he's adapting.  He seems to be doing well.  That's what he told me.  Right now, I think that's what matters.  You know, just taking some classes and trying to, you know, I would guess just trying to make the adaptations that he needs to make.  But I really don't have a lot more than that to offer. He seems to be doing well. 

- Is the goal for him to return to the game?

That will be something that if he gets to that point and that's something that he wants to do, then obviously we're going to be happy to give him that opportunity.  I mean, that's the thing, but he hasn't gotten to that point that we've had that conversation.  

- Have you ever seen a player suffer something so significant and fully come back?

As far as returning to play a professional sport?

- Yes, fully return to competing...

No.  No, I haven't.  

- Okay.  So, as far as players that have been active this off-season, there are some bigger prospect names that competed and didn't perform as well as they did during the regular season.  Guys like Dylan Cozens, Jorge Alfaro, others.  Can you comment on that?

I think you want all your players to go out and have success and put up numbers and this and that, but when you're talking to guys going to winter leagues in Latin America like Dylan for the first time or Rhys Hoskins or Andrew Knapp or on and on, for me the experience is really what we want them to get.  It's a different game.  It's slow, you know, they're four hour games.  They're playing against a lot of veteran guys and they get exposed to a lot of different approaches from a hitter's stand point and on how guys pitch.  So, again, I wish they would have all gone down and put up (good) numbers and that's part of what we want them to do it for, but the experience will be valuable.  It doesn't change anything on our side of it as far as how we view these guys.  Not at all.  I spoke with Rhys Hoskins this morning and he flat out told me, 'It was a great experience, just from a stand point of how different the game is down there.'  And I just think anything new, anything different- they're still young players, so it's a good experience.

- I know you're able to get to Arizona each year for the Arizona Fall League, but I imagine you can't get to every country where the Phillies have players in action.  Is the team able to monitor the international leagues closely?

Of course!  Of course!  Alfaro's playing for Jorgey Velandia.  Jorgey's the GM for the La Gauria club.  Ramon Hernandez a former major league catcher for many years is on that staff and I think it sounds like he's had some impact on a couple thing defensively with Alfaro.  But, I mean we keep track of it with personnel and scouts in all of these countries.  They see the players play.  I was in the Dominican Republic for a week, had a chance to see Hoskins and had a chance to see Alec Asher.  It's mainly the local staff and scouts and they're the ones that keep track and offer support.  So, yep, we just don't send them out.  We try to keep tabs on them and see how they're doing.

C Tocci, image- Jay Floyd
- Carlos Tocci has had a very solid campaign in the Venezuelan League and took strides with Clearwater this year.  Can you share some thoughts on what he's done this year?

Yeah, I mean I think it's great what Tocci is doing and he's a good baseball player.  You know, he's got a feel to hit and he's as good as anyone we have in center (field).  I think it's good.  It's really his second year to be able to play on that team down there, so the fact that he's having that much success and the fact that he's our guy and he has a chance to continue his development, it's exciting!  He's a good player.

- So, you mentioned that he's the Phillies' guy and that makes me think of the Rule 5 draft having just passed.  I know the team lost a couple of players, but is there relief for the club after not losing others or more than those who were taken?

Absolutely.  We had many of our guys' names out there and different people were asked about different guys that were eligible and I think it's, um-- we felt like the hit could have been a little deeper as far as the number of players taken.  But as far as that, we lost one player in the major league phase and one player in the minor league phase and for me, you know, that's good.  We like our players and we're glad to have them.

- Ricardo Pinto didn't see much action this off-season with La Guaira in Venezuela, only throwing 14 innings.  Was that by design or was there an issue?

He pitched out of the bullpen.  We had a limit on the innings.  It kind of gets back to the point I was making about the guys earlier...this is a big deal to be in that environment.  It's so different than the United States.  It's loud, it's energy, there's a huge emphasis on winning every night, so we had a certain number of innings we wanted him to get in a certain number of appearances and the fact that he got to do that for us was good experience and leading into 2017.  

- Brock Stassi's had a great off-season with that same team and he's a guy that's gotten some attention after revamping his swing two years ago, with an Eastern League MVP award under his belt.  What are your thoughts on him?

I think in talking to Jorgey, he had a terrific first half down there in Venezuela.  He's a good player.  I mean, it's good solid defense every night.  The last couple of years he's been a much more productive offensive player, so again I think he's a good player, he's a productive player and, you know, I'm looking forward to seeing him in spring training and seeing what he can do.

T Joseph, image- Jay Floyd
- There were reports that Tommy Joseph had his run in the Dominican Winter League cut short with a hand injury?  Do you know how significant that was?

I mean I just think there's nothing to it.  He's fine.  He's gonna be 100-percent by spring training.  I think he just had a little something in his wrist that-- it was gonna be a couple weeks (or) a few weeks till he could play and this was more a situation where he didn't necessarily elect to leave, but in that environment, when you're not able to play, the commitments don't run real deep, you know, he had to come home.  But he's going to be 100-percent healthy in spring training.

- Are there any other guys dealing with injuries or having clean ups or procedures done that are news worthy?

Not really.  We've had a pretty healthy off-season.  And the rehab programs for the guys that have been at the complex, with (Aaron) Nola, you know, some of our major league guys, everything's been positive, so there's really no news to report.  Yeah, if we can get to the middle of February with where we are right now, we're going to be fine.  

- Jesmuel Valentin is playing in Puerto Rico, played at Double-A and Triple-A this year and could be on the verge of becoming a name all Phillies fans should know.  Thoughts on him?

Well, I mean Jes is a good player.  I don't know really what to say other than he had a good year last year and I think that we were able to get him to Triple-A for an amount of time and we were able to get him that experience and that sets him up good for 2017.  He's versatile and he's very good at second base.  I think his bat continues to get better.  He takes his walks and so a lot of guys in our system can get a lot more notice, but he's a good player and he continues to get better.

- And let's not forget about the Arizona Fall League.  There were plenty of guys that saw action out there.  Was there anyone that made a really good impression while playing there?

I think our pitchers all did a very good job.  You know, (Victor) Arano is a good player that went out and did what he does.  I think maybe with the exception of one outing, maybe his first outing where he had some walks, I think he was very solid.  I heard good things.  I think that Miguel Nunez, I think I saw Miguel twice the week that I was out there and I was happy to see what he did.  

(Jeff) Singer was solid.  His year was kind of a whirlwind this year as far as waiting in extended (spring training) for a while.  Once we got him out, he had a super year and the fact that he went out there and did what he did in the Fall League, I think speaks to his ability more than anything.  He really enjoyed that. 

And then, for me, (Scott) Kingery-- that was the end of Kingery's first full season.  I think that was a heck of a demand that we put on him.  He ran out of gas in  August, pretty much, in Reading and I think the same thing happened again toward the end of the Fall League.  And I told him to his face, the reason that you're out here is I want you to push your way all the way to November.  It will help you this year and the year after.  I like everything about what Scott did this past year.


(Aaron) Brown missed some time with an injury (during the regular season), so he got to go play.  And then Mitch Walding had a hell of a year.  His best year as a pro and went out there and did some things in the Fall League and I think that should, from a confidence stand point, set him up to, you know, return to Reading and build off what he did in 2016.  Mitch is a good player and he took a big step forward last year.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Off-season Check In: OF Prospect Cornelius Randolph

C. Randolph, image- Jay Floyd
Despite missing time with a shoulder blade/back issue during the regular season, outfielder Cornelius Randolph had a solid campaign in his first full year in the professional ranks.  In 68 games, he posted a .264 average with two home runs and 27 RBI, mostly with the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws.

Randolph, known as "C" to friends, family and teammates, was selected in the 1st round of the 2015 draft by the Phillies.  The organization hopes that it won't be very long before the promising 19-year-old has reached the big leagues and is impacting MLB Betting odds

The lefty batting Georgia native took time this week to chat about his off-season routine and much more.  Read ahead for that full interview.

- I know that all the Phillies players have a mandated off-season regimen for staying in shape.  Is there anything aside from that you're doing to get better or keep the rust off?

Pretty much just working out.  Working out and maintaining my body.  Just trying to make sure I'm ready when the season comes.

- You guys had a great run in the second half of the season with Lakewood--

We did!

- Can you just offer some thoughts on that tremendous run that the BlueClaws had into the South Atlantic League postseason?

It was wonderful and it was inspiring.  It was a fun team to be a part of and pretty much we just started playing together.  Pitching and hitting, we'd put up a lot of runs pretty much every game, so I mean it's pretty hard to lose while you're doing that, but when we got to the championship series (against Rome, the Atlanta affiliate) we ran into some really good arms like Kolby Allard, Touki Toussaint, (Mike) Soroka...I mean we ran into some nice arms.  So I mean we didn't play badly, pitching still threw well, it was hard to get runs across, so...

- Okay, so you talk about those opposing arms from the Braves' team and those guys getting the best of you in the championship series.  Does that give you some extra drive, hoping that you see those guys again and get another chance against them as you climb through the minors?

Oh, 100-percent!  You always want to face good arms.  You always want to face those guys that you didn't do too well against the first time, so it would be fun to face those guys again.

- So, you live in Georgia and I imagine the weather isn't too great of an obstacle throughout the off-season, being down south.  Do you have access to fields or facilities during the winter months to do your work?

Yeah, I have access to different facilities near me.  The facility I work at mostly is Rapid Sports with Mike Berenger, so I mean that's where I'm working out pretty much every day.  And when it comes time to hit, we hit at Mike Cameron's Baseball Academy. 

- I heard you mentioned Mike Cameron, he's a former big leaguer, so we all know him.  Who is the other Mike that you mentioned?

Mike Berenger is basically my strength guy down here...

- How closely are you able to work with Mike Cameron?

He gets pretty hands-on sometimes.  That's a good guy to have to work with. 

- Obviously, in the Phils system you get to work with a lot of coaches that have loads of time in pro baseball, but what stands out to you with feedback from Cameron?

When I work with him we do a lot of first-step quickness in the outfield.  So, I'm trying to pretty much learn the outfield position.  I'm still new to it (having played infield in high school), so I have a lot of work to do there, so he helps a lot with my fielding.  Hitting wise, he pretty much stays off until he sees something that he needs to critique, or needs to kind of fix and he steps in and kind of fixes it.  I mean, he watches and just sees how me and his son (Astros prospect Dax Cameron) are progressing as baseball players.  We've been together and worked with him since we were younger, so he just watches how we progress.

- What other players are there at that academy with you this off-season?

We got Reggie Pruitt with the Blue Jays, Dax Cameron with the Astros, Charlie Blackmon works out there.  We have a couple big league guys with all the minor league guys.  So, I mean, it's good motivation.

- This off-season versus last off-season, is there a big difference for you between the two years?

More so just me knowing what to expect, knowing when to start hitting.  Last off-season I feel like I started to hit way too early.  It's just you don't want to wear yourself down before the season even starts, so that's the main thing- work hard, but work smart. 

- Is there anybody with the Phillies that you've remained closely in touch with in recent months?

Not really.  I mean, with the Phillies not so much.  I talk to the coordinators.  They check in on me to make sure I am healthy and everything is going good.  I mean I talk to them a lot, but player wise I talk to Mickey (Moniak) some, I talk to J.P. (Crawford) some.  They're still my teammates, they're still my friends, so I talk to them, check in on them, make sure everything is going great.

- When spring training gets rolling will you go down to Florida early or will you go down close to the report date?

They haven't really told me when my report date is yet, but last year I went down about a week early, so that would probably be my plan this year- go down about a week early. 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

LHP Milner selected by Indians in Rule 5 draft

Hoby Milner, image- Jay Floyd
As the annual Rule 5 draft approached to wrap up this year's MLB Winter Meetings, the usual anticipation of what possible gem the Phillies could select wasn't there.  Instead, the concern about which prospect the team that has been stock piling young talent in recent years could lose to another club was the prevalent feeling. 

As things turned out, the Phils lost just a single player in the big league portion of the Rule 5 draft and one additional player in the minor league portion.

Cleveland selected lefty reliever Hoby Milner in the big league phase of the draft while Tampa Bay chose minor league hurler Jairo Munoz in the minor league portion.

Milner, 25, was a 7th round draft pick by the Phillies in the 2012 and has displayed exceptional numbers in recent season after switching from a starting role to the bullpen.  Combined with Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley last season, the Texas native sported a 5-4 record with a 2.49 ERA along with six saves while striking out 76 and walking just 15 in 65 innings of work over 49 appearances.

The Indians will need to keep Milner on their 25-man big league roster for the entirety of the 2017 season, or he must be offered back to the Phillies. 

Munoz, a 25-year-old righty, pitched in just seven games in 2016, missing time with an arm injury.  He sports a 3.26 ERA in 62 career games.  The Dominican Republic native was signed as a minor league free agent by the Phillies prior to the 2015 season.

The Phils selected Jorge Flores in the Triple-A portion of the draft.  The 25-year-old infielder was originally draft by Toronto in the 19th round of the 2012 draft.  In 114 combined games with Class A Advanced Dunedin and Double-A New Hampshire last season, Flores tallied a .211/.280./286 slash line. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Which Is Better Online Casino Or On-Land Casino

Everybody should play internet casino game titles in a land-based gambling establishment once in his life span. The bright lamps, the nonstop commotion, the clad waitresses scantily, the glamour and pleasure - everything results in a remarkable experience. But also for your regular casino gambling, there is a wide range of benefits to playing casino games within an online casino.

There are More Varieties in the web Casino

A land-based gambling establishment may offer two or, for the most part, three types of blackjack. But an online gambling house can provide greater than a dozen different blackjack game titles. In the event that you play blackjack, you have a ton of options from Old classic, Atlantic City, Vegas Remove, European, Pontoon or even Spanish Blackjack etc. No land-based gambling establishment can provide much variety in blackjack game titles. And there exists Triple 7s Blackjack, the initial online blackjack game with the best progressive jackpot. Triple 7s is not found at any land-based modern casino on the global.

The same will additionally apply to roulette and a great many other casino games. A land-based gambling establishment has one roulette steering wheel. Your only option is to have it or leave it. Within an online modern casino, you can try out American roulette, Western roulette, France roulette, or intensifying jackpot Roulette Royale. An internet casino has more slots, more poker game titles, and even more video Texas hold'em machines, than any land-based casino can offer. Participating in casino games online means better variety and better freedom of preference for you, the gamer.

You can find new games in the web Casino

Most online gambling sites add new titles on a monthly basis. Which means, there will be something waiting that you haven't tried before.

The only possible way a land-based casino may bring in a fresh game, is by eliminating one of their old games. In the end, you haven't really gained anything. The game they might get rid of may be one of your favorites.

The online gambling establishment does not have any space limits. Cyberspace is infinite. That is why they could consistently add new games without eradicating any old ones. SlotsMillion, for example, has more than 400 online slots, a lot more than even the largest land-based gambling establishment. So if you are seeking to add something new and exciting to your casino gambling repertoire, playing online casino games is the ideal solution.

Online casino games are always available

It often happens that someone switches into a land-based casino with the objective of participating in blackjack, but discovers that the seats at the blackjack tables are taken. Or he desires to play a particular slot machine game maybe, but sees that another person is participating in his machine. Then they must wait, or playing various other game that they doesn't actually want to play.

This may never happen within an online casino. There's always room for just one more at the online blackjack table, and every online slot machine is always available so that you can try your luck on it. Once you enter the online casino, you will be certain that your chosen casino game is obtainable, no matter just how many other folks are playing the same game.

You will be able to play online games at your own pace

Everyone has his own speed at which they prefer to play. A couple of those who prefer to play quickly, and discover it aggravating when they need to wait for the dealer to shuffle, and then hang on as the other players place their wagers and play their hands.

Then there will be the players who prefer to take their time, think about their strategy, and perhaps even look to a blackjack strategy or various other research source. At a land-based internet casino, they shall face the dealer and the other players pressuring them to move, making them feel uneasy and pressured.

In the event that you play online casino games, you won't suffer from any of this. You can always play online blackjack and the rest of the online casino games in your own rate, fast or gradual. You can always have a break for the toilet or even to raid the refrigerator, and the game will wait so that you can come back. That is why online casino games are the ultimate in comfort and convenience.

Friday, November 4, 2016

PhoulBallz Interview: Arizona Fall League All-Star Scott Kingery

Scott Kingery, image- Jay Floyd
Second baseman Scott Kingery is slated to represent the Phillies in the Arizona Fall League's All-Star Game on Saturday night.

The 22-year-old righty batting speedster was the Phils' 2nd round draft selection last year out of Arizona. In time split this year with Class A Advanced Clearwater and Double-A Reading, Kingery posted a .281 average with five homers, 46 RBI and 30 stolen bases.

Through 13 contests with the Scorpions in the AFL, Kingery has tallied a .245 average with a home, two RBI and two steals.

I spoke with Scott on Friday to gain some insight on the level of competition in the AFL and what the honor of playing in the prestigious league means to him. Kingery also spoke about working with personnel from other organizations, teammate Tim Tebow and plenty more. Read ahead for the full interview.

- Does it mean a lot to you to be able to represent the Phillies as an All-Star there in the Arizona Fall League?

I mean, of course. First being selected to play in the Fall League is an honor itself. Having a chance to be selected as one of the top guys in the league is just incredible and I'm just really excited to get to know just of the guys on the others team and play with them a little bit and just have some fun out there.

- When did you find out you were going to spend part of your off-season playing there, in such a highly regarded league?

I found out with about a month left in the season. For me it was perfect because I grew up watching some of those games and watching baseball in Arizona, I knew how great of a league it was and that the top players get sent there, so it was always a dream of mine to one day play in that league.

- Being a local guy, from Arizona, do you have a lot of loved ones coming out to see you play?

I have friends and family come to every game. It's the best situation I could have been put in. I live about 20 minutes from my stadium, so I have family and friends and people always asking me if I can get them tickets to the games and it's awesome just having them be there and able to watch since my whole (professional) career I've been on the east coast and I haven''t really had the chance to play in front of my family and friends since I started playing for the Phillies.

- How does the AFL compare to the Double-A Eastern League, where you wrapped up the regular season with Reading?

I'd compare it talent wise it's the same and better. We've got some Triple-A guys and some guys that have had big league time and so, you know, there's a lot of talent in this league and the thing about the Arizona Fall League is you don't get a chance to get in a groove or find a rhythm when you're hitting, 'cause they've got to get everyone in and you're playing one day, off the next day and you're facing a new pitcher every at bat, so it's different in that sense, but talent wise there's a ton of guys that are really good out here and they're just trying to show what they have as much as you are. So, it's definitely a tough league and there's a lot of talent here.

- You're there with several guys that you've played with in the Phils system, like Jeff Singer and Mitch Walding, but what is it like working with personnel from other organizations, both players and coaches?

I think that's awesome, just the chance to get some insight and learn from other people that you're not normally around. Especially playing with people from other organizations, seeing what their routines are and what they go through and how they play and that's really cool to get some different angles on how things go. And especially learning from the coaches, they'll have different views on things than the Phils do, so it's kind of cool to get those thoughts from a bunch of different people.


- Have you given any thought to how beneficial the time there could be to your path in the long run?

Just the experience is just what's going to be most beneficial for me and just some extra time to work on some things that I wanted to work on in the off-season and now I've had the chance to work on them in a real live game and a live situation. So, I think it's huge and I'm happy that I'm here and it's giving me a great opportunity to kind of get things going through the off-season.

- I feel like I'm missing an opportunity if I don't ask you about Tim Tebow, who is also on the Scottsdale team representing the Mets. What is he like as a teammate?

He's a great guy. I mean, he's here to learn and he's trying to get every piece of information out of situation, every play, every person that he can. And he's really been a great guy to have in the club house and on the field. Always trying to learn and asking about each situation and just it's fun to have him around. He's a good guy.

- I saw Tebow on Good Morning America recently talking about his book. Did each guy on the team get a free copy?

(Laughs) No. I've seen the book, but I haven't had a chance to get my hands on one.

- I saw (Phils outfield prospect) Aaron Brown with an interesting Instagram post this week. Was that Aaron himself dressed as Tebow for Halloween?

Oh, yes. That was definitely Aaron Brown dressed as Tim Tebow for Halloween. That was the best costume we had that day!

- That's classic. Wrapping it up here, how do you think this off-season, once the AFL is done in a couple weeks, will vary from your off-season last year?

Yeah, I'm gonna have to tweak some stuff. Last year I went out the California to train for a couple months and I'm gonna have to shorten that, obviously, now. But I think I'm gonna pretty much stick to the same routine, 'cause it helped me a lot during the season, especially (with it being) my first full season, helping me get through. But, I'll definitely take a couple weeks off, let the body rest a little bit and then I'll have to jump right back into things pretty soon, because of the shortened time.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Evaluating the Phillies' Rule 5 Draft & 40-man roster plans

November is the time of year when the Phillies begin to refine their 40-man roster in preparation for the annual MLB Winter Meetings and the corresponding Rule 5 draft. Fans will see players "activated" from the 60-day disabled list, players opting for free agency as well as minor leaguers added to the roster in order to protect them from being scooped up by the competition.

rule_5_draft_logo_ny6zx9iu_9pdnvgoiPlayers are initially eligible for selection in MLB's 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 played in professional baseball for four years, OR 2) were signed at age 18 or younger and have played in pro ball for five years.

Like the annual amateur draft, teams draft in reverse order of the regular-season standings. A team that does not have any vacancies on its 40-man roster may not make a selection in the Rule 5 draft. 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 Phillies are heavily stocked with players that could be of interest to teams throughout baseball. Individuals that are eligible for the first time this year and are not already on the organization's 40-man roster include former top draft choice RHP Shane Watson, powerful outfield prospect Nick Williams, rising slugger Jose Pujols, infielder Jesmuel Valentin, hurlers Nick Pivetta, Mark Appel and Elniery Garcia, plus Paul Owens Awards winners Ricardo Pinto, Ben Lively, Andrew Knapp and Dylan Cozens, among many others.

Watson, who was drafted 40th overall by the Phils in 2012, admitted this year that he thinks about his eligibility for the Rule 5 draft, implying that he wants to stick with the team he turned pro with, but like any smart ballplayer he just wants a chance to succeed somewhere. After missing two full years with shoulder injuries, the 23-year-old righty has yet to reach the Double-A level, having tallied a 4-5 record with a 3.93 ERA and a 7.6 K/9 mark in 14 starts with Class A Advanced Clearwater this past season. He likely would not be ready to stick with a team for an entire season at the big league level next year, so the risk of the Phils losing him would be minimal.

Williams, who was one of the big gets in last year's Cole Hamels trade with Texas, is a lock to be added to the Phillies' 40-man roster. As a member of the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs last season, the 23-year-old lefty batter posted a .258/.287/.427 slash line in 125 games. For a team that had a MLB worst OPS from its outfielders this past season, the Phils will be relying on Williams' bat, which features plus power, in the near future.

Pujols, a 21-year-old righty batting masher, has begun to creep toward the top of the Phillies' prospect rankings. With a hefty amount of strikeouts (179) to go along with his team single-season record 24 home runs for Class A Lakewood last season, it's not likely a team would have confidence with inserting him onto a big league roster for next year's entire campaign. Pujols is far enough down in the baseball ranks that he's likely safe to leave unprotected.


Valentin, the son of former White Sox and Mets infielder Jose Valentin, is another player that has spoken of being aware of his need to be on the 40-man roster in order to avoid the Rule 5 draft. In other organizations, it's possible that Valentin, who wrapped up his 2016 regular season campaign with Triple-A Lehigh Valley (.248 avg, four HR, 14 RBI in 36 games) could end up on the 40-man, but maybe not in this Phils system that is chock full of guys that need protection. The 22-year-old switch-hitter could easily become an instant utility infielder at the top level of the sport, where versatility can often prove valuable.

Pivetta, a 23-year-old righty that sports a mid-90’s fastball, is possibly the best equipped among the players listed here to contribute at the top level starting next April. In 27 combined appearances at Double-A and Triple-A last season, Pivetta, who was acquired from Washington in the Jonathan Papelbon trade in 2015, posted a 12-8 record along with a 3.27 ERA and an 8.4 K/9 mark. A starter throughout his professional career, the British Columbia native could be a prime candidate to see some innings in a relief role in the big leagues next season. 

Appel, who was acquired as part of the 2015 Ken Giles trade with Houston, is a former number 1 overall draft choice (2013). The 25-year-old right-hander missed a majority of last season after requiring shoulder surgery. It is unlikely that a team would jump at a health risk like Appel, although the disabled list status and minor league rehab period that goes with it could help him stick on a 25-man roster for some time until a team can test his durability and capabilities next year. 

Garcia, a 21-year-old Dominican Republic native, had an excellent season for Class A Advanced Clearwater, where he tallied a 12-4 record with a 2.68 ERA and a 6.9 K/9 mark. The left-hander is already regarded among the Phillies' top pitching prospects, but should be considered a long shot to stick on a big league roster for an entire season next year.

Pinto represented the Phillies in the MLB All-Star Futures Game this year. A steady strike thrower with an outstanding change up, the 22-year-old righty had a good season in which he posted a 7-6 record with a 4.10 ERA in 27 games with Reading. The Venezuelan could be attractive to some teams desperate for consistency.
Lively is fresh off a remarkable season that saw him lead all of the minors in wins with 18. In 28 starts combined with Reading and Lehigh Valley, Lively sported a 2.69 ERA with a .192 batting average against. If he is left unprotected, the right-hander might be as likely to draw interest as any of the other hurlers listed, however the 24-year-old may not have a ton of believers that his success can translate to the big leagues.

Knapp, a Triple-A All-Star last season, was overlooked for the younger Jorge Alfaro late in the 2016 campaign when the Phils needed an extra catcher. The switch-hitting 24-year-old posted a .266 average with eight homers and 46 RBI in 107 games for Lehigh Valley. I would expect with the upcoming free agency of fellow backstop A.J. Ellis, the team would have room for Knapp on the 40-man.

Cozens, the minor league home run leader for 2016 (40), is a no-brainer to be added to the Phils' 40-man roster. See earlier notes on Williams for how valuable this lefty hitting powerhouse could be to the future of the team's outfield.

It's worth pointing out that not only players who are eligible for the first time this year are subject to the Rule 5 draft. Names like Carlos Tocci, Mitch Walding, Malquin Canelo, Alberto Tirado and Cam Perkins all became eligible in previous seasons and could draw interest from other clubs. Additionally, players with big league experience like Mario Hollands and Darnell Sweeney could also be subject to the Rule 5 draft.

Tocci, a talented outfielder with limited power, is often ranked among the Phillies' top prospects and could be worthy of protection. Tirado, a 21-year-old righty that can get his fastball up to triple digits, should garner loads of consideration as a future contributor at the big league level.

The Phillies will need to use every single spot on their own 40-man roster to protect as many of these players as possible, so they won't have any room to select in the Rule 5 draft themselves.

Now that the World Series is over, off-season roster moves will begin. Players will officially become free agents, others will be waived, disabled players will be activated and qualifying offers will be extended. Then soon after, some player options (so long, Ryan Howard) will be bought out. All of that will lead to the additions of several of the players I've discussed here to make sure they remain Phillies next year.

Much forecasting and prioritizing will need to be done by the Phillies' front office. It will all be quite a chore to say the least.

This article was originally published on Phillies Nation.