Monday, March 30, 2020

PhoulBallz Interview: RHP Addison Russ on MLB spring training

Addison Russ, image- Jay Floyd
Righty hurler Addison Russ looked great for the Phillies in this year's spring exhibition season.  Due to the pro sports hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic, his efforts were cut short, however.

In six relief appearances this spring the 25-year-old notched a 1-0 record, a 1.59 ERA and a .263 batting average against.

Last year in 55 appearances with Double-A Reading, Russ, who was the Phillies' 19th round draft selection out of Houston Baptist in 2017, posted a 5-6 record with 22 saves, a 2.54 ERA and a 12.9 K/9 mark. 

Anxious for baseball to get rolling again, Russ talked with me this week, offering feedback on his time around the big league team this spring, his production in Grapefruit League play, his uniform number, how the break in the schedule impacts his progress and more.

Read ahead for remarks and insight from Russ.


- What did you do over the off-season to prepare for the 2020 campaign? And did the invitation to big league spring training alter your plans or routine?


I try to stick to the same routine every off-season.  I take some time off and let the arm and body recover and then slowly work back into my throwing routine. Usually, around Thanksgiving I will start throwing again and ramp it up as weeks go on. The invite to big league camp altered the plans in a positive way, I went into my bullpen phase earlier and got the arm going quicker since I had less time to report.


- You performed well in Grapefruit League action.  Can you share some thoughts on the results and is it what you expected?

The success I’ve had is just from trusting my stuff and trusting the  defense behind me. You’re in a big league game with big league defenders  behind you so it’s awesome being on the mound knowing that the best of  the best are behind you to help in every way that they can. It’s been  more than I could expect. It’s been surreal.

- You were wearing number 69 from what I've seen. Nice. There's some humor tied to that jersey number. What's the vibe when getting assigned that number? Meaning- would guys rather not get it or maybe is there fun attention where other guys say they want it instead?


It’s definitely fun.  There is always some fun when you get to see what number you are given. Mine just happened to be a number that has some ties to it and some guys definitely wish they had it instead.


- Is there a Phils coach and/or a Phils teammate this spring that helped you a lot or that you've learned the most from?

I’ve kind of just been open ears to everyone. Being in the clubhouse with those guys is awesome. There is so much experience when you look around you and so much knowledge to learn so I really just tried to take all of it in! 

For the complete version of this interview, please visit my Patreon page and consider supporting my work.  Your membership will get you access to exclusive interviews as well as early access to other news and features. 

Saturday, March 28, 2020

PhoulBallz Interview: RHP Trevor Bettencourt talks rehab, baseball shutdown, more

Trevor Bettencourt, image- Jay Floyd
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Righty pitcher Trevor Bettencourt continues to recover from his second Tommy John surgery, but instead of rehabbing at the Phillies spring training complex in Florida, he's at home in California, because of the halt of professional sports due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Last year, just two appearances into his 2019 campaign with the Double-A Reading, Bettencourt's season was cut short, as he was dealing with arm trouble.

In his professional career to date, the 25-year-old sports a 7-3 record with 12 saves, a 3.38 ERA and .273 batting average against and an 11.3 K/9 mark in 69 relief appearances.

A 25th round draft selection in 2016, Bettencourt first went under the knife for UCL reconstruction after his sophomore season in college in 2014.

This week I talked with the man known as "T-Betty" about his recovery, how the closure of the Phils' facilities impacts his rehabilitation, recommendations to pass time for people in quarantine and more.  Read ahead for that interview.


- How is recovery going from last year's elbow injury?

It’s going really well, feeling pretty good and it’s nice having the Phillies staff in your corner. I had to do a lot of throwing into a net alone for my first surgery. Including other rehab activities because of the transfer rule at the time. So pretty happy with where I am at the moment in rehab, not happy about this baseball hiatus (laughs).

- How does the baseball shutdown impact your training or rehab? What's the plan for how you will proceed?

I mean it sucks, it really does, but like happy Gilmore said, “It happens”. “ What? Sh*t?”. “Yup”.  But I’ve been finding ways to get what I need done and have been staying in contact with the trainers and athletic staff to stay on top of everything. Currently just doing everything I can at home, might be going to stay with my buddy Daulton Jefferies (A’s) to do some workouts and (physical therapy).

- Are any injured or rehab guys staying in Florida and working at the team's facilities?

To be honest not completely sure. I believe everyone is at home getting their work in.

- Do you have hopes that the big league teams will work something out to make sure minor leaguers will not miss wages? Have you heard anything with that?

I haven’t really heard anything besides yeah, possibly still getting spring training money. I do really hope they get something together to help guys out though.  It’s tough.  A lot of people don’t understand that we really don’t make a sustainable living on just baseball. And then others argue that we are choosing this, which I understand but wouldn’t you too if you had a real chance at your goal? Either way, it’s just a difficult time for everyone involved.

- I know some fans are worried about the players.  Is there anything that fans should know about this situation and how the minor league guys have been treated?

Not exactly sure what to say (laughs), but in reality it’s a tough time on everyone. Just pay it forward I guess the best you can, because there’s people out there really struggling right now.

- What recommendations do you have for people that are locked down at home as far as TV shows to binge or books to read or games to play?

I’ve been really hooked on this show called “Worth It” on Hulu and “Basic Skills Challenge”.  It’s about food and cooking. I’m weird, so not sure how popular those are (laughs) but I like to cook, so those kind of shows.  And I’m re-watching New Girl at the moment. 

Also I'm a big video game guy.  If anyone thinks they can beat Jakob Hernandez and I at Rocket League, we would love the challenge.

- Is there anything I haven't asked about that you want to share?

Just want to share this page on Twitter right now called Adopt a Minor League @adoptmilbplayer.
It’s an organization set up by a guy who understands what struggles minor league players go through. He collects donations and provides everyday essentials for minor leaguers who struggle to make ends meet. It’s a really cool thing that’s starting to get some attention and I think that would be really cool to help get more attention to that idea. His page can explain more than I can do.  I’ll leave it there.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

PhoulBallz Interview: Jeff Singer talks spring training, coronavirus hiatus, more

Jeff Singer, image- Jay Floyd
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Local Philly guy Jeff Singer is back in his home region due to the coronavirus outbreak and the delay it has caused to the 2020 season.  Prior to the pre-season being halted, the 26-year-old got some time on the bump with the big league team in spring training.

In Grapefruit League player, the lefty pitcher notched two scoreless appearances for the Phillies this spring.

Last season in 42 relief outings with Double-A Reading Singer, who was signed as a free agent in 2015, posted a 7-0 record with three saves, a 2.34 ERA, a 10.8 K/9 mark and a .180 batting average against.

Last week, I talked with Singer, who shared his thoughts on his time around the Phillies this spring, his current training situation, the baseball hiatus and more.  Read ahead for that full interview. 


- What can you share thoughts about how the hiatus for the baseball schedule caused by the coronavirus pandemic will impact your training or progress?

This is a tough situation for everyone and it’s something that no one in baseball ever went through. As for my training I’m going to be doing anything I can to stay in shape. 
I will be going to Scanzano Sports Center in Cherry Hill to throw and lift. I’ll be doing my running there and also outside. Most likely be doing workouts in my front or back yard.

- Do you have thoughts to provide on the disruption to your expected baseball related income?  

When I first got home I was setting up lessons and training sessions at the facility. I’m not sure if that’s going to be possible with the possible quarantine that can happen in the next few days. Obviously as a minor leaguer any money you can make is important and I’m sure a bunch of us are curious when the next time we get paid could be.

- Seems that the 40-man roster guys will be getting paid during this break...and I read that MLB has committed money to financially help ballpark employees during the down time.  As an employee of the team, in the developmental ranks, what are your feelings about being left out or having an unclear resolution?

I’m sure the MLB will be taking care of us soon. I understand helping out the big league guys and 40 man first. That’s where the money is. As for the employees at the ball parks, I think that is amazing that they are being helped out.

- What types of workout plans do you have for the downtime?  Training with any other pro players?  

As of right now I will be training by myself and basically throwing at a net or wall, as I usually do during the off-season. If I have a bullpen I will have a one of the catchers at the facility come catch me and give him a few bucks.

- I saw that you got some experience in big league spring training games this year.  Can you describe the experience of playing in Grapefruit League games and enjoying success?  

This was my fifth Spring Training and I pitched in my first Grapefruit League game in 2017.  I felt this year was the most comfortable I felt in one of them games. Definitely two outings I will never forget.

- Was there anyone, like a coach or a teammate, that you were excited to get exposure to with the big club?  

It was great to meet and talk to (Joe) Girardi and (Bryan) Price. I was able to get some exposure in front of them and show them what I can do.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Phils prospect Barber staying positive during baseball's hiatus

Albertus Barber, image- Jay Floyd
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If you simply mind the masses on social networking platforms, you'd think minor league players are really getting the shaft as baseball, among other sports, has shut down completely while the world deals with the coronavirus pandemic.  That's not the case in every prospect's mind.

While there were recently loads of people advocating for teams to pay their minor league talent as it became clear that members of each big league club's 40-man roster won't miss a payday and that stadium staffers can expect to be taken care of as well, some individuals in the minors already feel like they are being compensated quite well.

Pitcher Albertus Barber is perfectly happy with every single bit of treatment by his parent club to date, as the Phillies are still hosting many out-of-towners in Clearwater, FL, while their baseball and training facilities are closed.

"They’re taking care of us like kings and giving us everything we need," Barber stated. "For those unable to go back home we’re still getting paid and receiving three meals a day."

The players that get to stay are being put up in a local hotel and get three daily meals covered by the organization. The designations for which individuals get to stay don't seem to be strict, but it's for players who can't go home or don't have homes to go to, mostly international players.

Some players balked at the initial announcement that Major League Baseball confirmed that players would receive their weekly allowances up to April 8th. That total would vary, but was said to be roughly be $80 per player. Barber, however, isn't bothered by that and is confident that the Phillies will continue to do right by its promising young players.

Arrangements from April 9th and beyond are yet to be announced.

Asked why the reactions might vary so much between different players, the right-hander's response was emphatic.

"'Cause I don't give a (damn) about money," Barber shared starkly. "I’ve wanted to live this dream my whole life, man. As long as you give me a food and a bed, or at least the money to cover that, I’ll be happy. All I give a (crap) about is playing ball."

Some players may have families to support, loan payments or other bills so an interruption to compensation could potentially be cause for alarm, Barber's not one of those guys. He's fully satisfied with his status, citing a decades-long path that put him exactly where he is today.

"My whole entire life has been planned around this and only this. Since I was, like, four years old," the 24-year-old said. "I assessed and calculated every single risk and move I could and couldn't take by the time I was 19 and realistically, everything else can wait. I'm busy."

Barber was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Phillies for $1000 in 2019 after sitting out since the previous year, because he was declared ineligible after taking online college courses following the 2018 MLB draft.

Combined at three levels (Rookie level Gulf Coast League, short-season Class A Williamsport and Class A Lakewood), Barber tallied a 4-0 record with a save, a 0.87 ERA, a .222 batting average against and a 10.0 K/9 average in 14 relief appearances.

The forethought that went into all of the Oklahoma native's devising includes not consuming alcohol (barring an occasional social obligation), running multiple side hustles including working as a janitor and selling personal belongings that he didn't need, including his own car.

All of those things allow Barber to support himself and maximize his chances of being a professional athlete, describing his situation like scraping to start a new business. Eliminating distractions and things that weren't beneficial to his ultimate goal of trying to compete at the professional level aren't always convenient, but he's confident that it's all worth it.

"One day you’re making a lot of money, or you fail, but that’s the beauty of it. The point is, (screw) it. Sacrifices are (freaking) awesome if you end up making it. So give it all up, make it 'life or death', and go take what’s yours."

Sunday, March 22, 2020

PhoulBallz Q&A: What did you stock up on?

With a global pandemic going on, society is on lockdown with many local governments issuing orders to stay at home and for employers to allow their staff to work from home.

This week I reached out to some familiar names to see how they prepared to be hunkered down at home for extended periods of time.  Included in the group that I surveyed are baseball players, a professional wrestling champion, a recording artist as well as the radio voice of a local team.

I asked, "What did you 'panic shop' for or what did you stock up on with all of this going on?"  Read ahead for the responses I got.

Dom Pipkin, image- Jay Floyd
Pitching prospect Dominic Pipkin: We did a little shopping, but it wasn't like hoarders grocery edition or anything.  We got a normal amount of snacks and stuff to eat and we already had toilet paper, so we didn't buy that.

Pitching prospect Jonathan Hennigan, who hunts and fishes:  Man, no.  I got plenty of deer meat, fish and hog meat to eat!  Got plenty of toilet paper.  All is well.

Pitcher Tyler Viza, who spent last season with Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley: Luckily, my family and I had already been getting stuff from the stores before anything even hit the United States.  Luckily, for me, I've been working at Starbucks the last few off-seasons and they had a bunch of sanitizer wipes, so I was able to get those even after they flew off the shelves.

Pitching prospect Luke Leftwich: We haven't really freaked out.  Just getting the essentials; bread, eggs, coffee.

Minor league pitcher Trevor Bettencourt: By the time I got home, there wasn't much opportunity to stock up. I (got some) meat and cereal.

Impact Wrestling X-Division Champion Ace Austin:  Not really, but my roommates did.  They didn't go overboard, but got enough to hold the four of us over.

Trenton Thunder media relations director and play by play broadcaster Jon Mozes: I stocked up on frozen pizzas.  Super easy to make and can last for more than one meal.  And whiskey.  Always need more whiskey at times like this.

Lastly, hip hop artist P-Lane served up this brief text response:  Guns, ammo, food.  LOL

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Baseball season on hold due to pandemic

Minor League Baseball followed suit with Major League baseball, delaying the start of the 2020 season due to the risk off illness related to the coronavirus.

Per a release from MiLB:

“In light of the current coronavirus outbreak, and after consultation with medical professionals and our partners at Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball will delay the start of the 2020 Championship Season. We will continue to monitor the developments and will announce additional information about the 2020 season at a later date. We will work with Major League Baseball and our community partners to resume play as soon as it is safe to do so. The health and safety of Minor League Baseball fans, players and executives is our top priority, and our thoughts are with those around the world who have been affected by this outbreak.”

It's unclear why Minor League Baseball would refer to the season as "the 2020 Championship Season".

In a press release, the Phillies' Double-A affiliate, the Reading Fightin Phils stated the following:

"The R-Phils will keep our fans and partners updated as any further developments occur. Rest assured that the R-Phils will do right by our fans and partners as we all navigate these uncharted waters together."

Additionally, the remainder of the big league spring training schedule has been cancelled, as has the minor league exhibition schedule. 

Per a source, it remains a possibility that there could be exhibition games played before the regular season at various levels begins.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

2020 Phillies Prospects Countdown: #1 RHP Spencer Howard

I invite you to visit Patreon.com/PhoulBallz in order to support my work and get access to material like this before anyone.  Plus you'll get exclusive interviews as well as other content you won't be able to enjoy anywhere else.  I could use, and I would value, your backing.

Spencer Howard, image- Jay Floyd
Right-handed pitcher Spencer Howard is this outlet’s choice as the Phillies’ top overall prospect. Howard was the team’s second round draft selection in 2017 (45th overall) out of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and has proven to be an exceptional hurler in his time in the minor leagues.

In college, in his draft year/sophomore season, Howard sported an 8-1 record with a 1.95 ERA and a 10 K/9 mark over 17 appearances (12 starts) for the Mustangs. As a red shirt freshman the previous year, he posted a 2.95 ERA in 21 appearances (two starts).

After signing his first professional contract, Howard debuted with Class A short-season Williamsport, where he notched a 1-1 record with a 4.45 ERA and a .214 batting average against while striking out 40 and walking 18 in 28 1/3 innings in nine starts. Following the regular season, he participated in the Florida Instructional League.

Howard felt great levels of comfort with his Lakewood teammates, describing his situation as being among “good-ass dudes playing some baseball”. While there, he experienced some highs and some lows, as he notched a 1.89 ERA in four April starts, then came back down to Earth to sport an 8.79 ERA in four May starts for the BlueClaws.

He turned a corner, however, in late June. Starting with a six-inning, no-run, 10 strike out performance against Hagerstown on June 29th, Howard would post a 1.52 ERA over his final 11 starts of the regular season. The success didn’t end there, as Howard had the best day of his life in the post-season, clinching his team’s trip to the South Atlantic League finals by tossing a nine-inning no-hitter against division rival Kannapolis.

Overall, in 23 regular season starts with Lakewood, Howard tallied a 9-8 record with a 3.78 ERA with an 11.8 K/9 mark and a .240 batting average against.

In 2019, Howard opened his campaign with Class A Advanced Clearwater, where he was sidelined with a shoulder injury just four starts into his season.  After roughly two months on the shelf, Howard returned to the mound.  In total, he made seven starts with Clearwater, posting a 2-1 record with 1.29 ERA, a .162 batting average against and a 12.3 K/9 mark.

Howard was promoted to Double-A Reading in July, making six regular season starts there, collecting a 1-0 record with a 2.35 ERA, a .180 batting average against as well as an 11.2 K/9 mark. 

Over the most recent off-season, Howard made up for some of that lost time by participating in the Arizona Fall League, where he faced many of baseball's top minor league talents.  In six appearances for the Scorpions, Howard notched a 1-1 record with a 2.11 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP.  Additionally, he struck out 27 batters in 21 1/3 innings of work. 

Consistency with his delivery is critical for Howard and he knows that's where he can run into trouble with his control. As he moves forward, this will be a key focus for the talented California native.

The 23-year-old has a remarkable feel for all four of his offerings. Howard's pitch repertoire includes a blazing fastball that has clocked in the triple digits quite steadily at times. More commonly it resides around 96-97 MPH. He’s also equipped with an exceptional cutter that resembles a slider, a curveball that features very good break and a superior change up that has fade and fools opposing batters frequently.

Work ethic is a standout quality for the six-foot-three 205-pounder according to Phillies developmental personnel.  A dominant pitcher, Howard has the potential to be a front line big league starter.

Howard was invited to big league spring training this year, but has missed time with a knee injury.

I would expect Howard to open the season back with Double-A Reading, but it shouldn't be long before he gets the opportunity to test his skills at the Triple-A level.

You can keep tabs on this year's top 25 Phillies prospects countdown by clicking this link.

Friday, March 6, 2020

2020 Phillies Prospects Countdown: #2 Third baseman Alec Bohm

Alec Bohm, image- Jay Floyd

I invite you to visit Patreon.com/PhoulBallz in order to support my work and get access to material like this before anyone.  Plus you'll get exclusive interviews as well as other content you won't be able to enjoy anywhere else.  I could use, and I would value, your backing.

After entering the 2018 MLB draft as one of the most advanced college hitters on the board, Alec Bohm was selected with the third overall pick by the Phillies.  Swiftly, he made a name for himself as one of baseball's fastest rising prospects.

A collegiate second team All-American, Bohm batted .339 with 14 doubles, a triple, 16 home runs and 55 RBI while swiping nine bags in 57 games in his junior season for Wichita State in 2018. He notched 24 multi-hit games during his campaign that year.

Overall in three seasons with the Shockers, Bohm batted .317 with 33 homers, 125 RBI and a .941 OPS in 166 total games. He was one of the top ranked college hitters heading into last year’s draft.

After debuting as a pro, the righty hitting Bohm would tally a .343 batting average with a double, a triple and five RBI in 11 games in the Rookie level Gulf Coast League. Additionally, up a level with Class A short-season Williamsport, the six-foot-five 240-pounder would notch a .224 average with five doubles, a triple and 12 RBI in 29 games.

He missed roughly a month of action during the 2018 minor league season after being hit in the left leg by a pitch, but following the regular season, Bohm participated in the Florida Instructional League and was among the first players to arrive for spring training in Clearwater. 


In 2019, Bohm opened the season with Class A full-season Lakewood and didn't last a full month there before he was promoted.  In 22 games with the BlueClaws, the slugger tallied a .367 average with three homers and 11 RBI. 


By late April, Bohm moved up to Class A Advanced Clearwater, where he continued to thrive.  In 40 games with the Threshers, he sported a .329 batting average with four homers and 27 RBI. 

In mid-June another promotion came for Bohm.  In 63 games with Double-A Reading he would bat .269 with 14 home runs and 42 RBI.

Honored as the Phillies' top minor league position player last year, Bohm won the Paul Owens Award, which is given to the team's top position player and top pitcher in the developmental ranks each season. 

During the off-season, Bohm torched the prestigious Arizon Fall League.  In 19 games with Scottsdale, the 23-year-old batted .361 with six doubles, a pair of home runs and 12 RBI. 

Bohm, who grew up as a Yankees fan, is said to have a top notch work ethic and is described by his coaches as a student of the game.  His wonderful bat speed and outstanding power give him potential to be an impact bat at the big league level.

At the plate, Bohm has great at bats, drawing walks and keeping strike outs to a minimum.

Defensively, Bohm has seen plenty of time at first base, including during his AFL stint but he remains primarily a third baseman.  The dual duty simply present some versatility for the organization that could allow the team to get his highly touted bat into their lineup more swiftly and/or more often when the time comes.  

Speed won't be a key factor of this big masher's game, though he has been successful in nine of 13 stolen base attempts in his pro career to date. 

Despite early success at the plate in big league spring training this year, look for Bohm to open the 2020 regular season at the Triple-A level.  He's got an estimated time of arrival for the big leagues looking close to "much sooner rather than later".

You can keep tabs on this year's top 25 Phillies prospects countdown by clicking this link.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

2020 Phillies Prospects Countdown: #3 RHP Francisco Morales

I invite you to visit Patreon.com/PhoulBallz in order to support my work and get access to material like this before anyone.  Plus you'll get exclusive interviews as well as other content you won't be able to enjoy anywhere else.  I could use, and I would value, your backing.

Francisco Morales, image- Jay Floyd
Right-handed pitcher Francisco Morales has emerged as not only one of the Phillies' best prospects but quite possibly one of the best young arms in the sport.

Signed by the Phils in 2016 at age 16, for a reported $900,000, the Venezuela native participated that year in the Florida Instructional League.

He would make his regular season minor league debut the following year with the Rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies, posting a 3-2 record with a 3.05 ERA, a .225 batting average against and a 9.6 K/9 mark in 10 games (nine starts).

In 2018 the six-foot-four 185-pounder stepped up to the Class A short-season New York-Penn League.  There, in 13 starts for Williamsport, Morales collected a 4-5 record with a 5.27 ERA, a .244 batting average against as well as a 10.9 K/9 mark.

Morales wrapped up his regular season in 2018 with five solid outings, sporting a 2.91 ERA over that stretch.  He also recorded a career-high 11 strike outs in a six-inning effort that earned him a win on August 21, at home against State College.

Last year, the talented pitcher notched a 1-8 record with a saves, a 3.82, a .226 batting average against and a 12.0 K/9 mark in 27 appearances with the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws. 

The 20-year-old features a repertoire that includes a fastball that clocks around 95-96 MPH, a terrific slider that dives down and away from righty batters and a vastly improved change up.  Morales uses that menu to get a lot of swings-and-misses from the opposition.

The change up was an offering that wasn't a claim to fame for Morales early last season, but as he used it more and more (coaches would assign an amount of change ups Morales needed to use in any given outing), batters on the opposing team began to wonder aloud to his BlueClaws teammates, "When did he start throwing that?" 

Walks had been a concern for Morales heading into his 2019 campaign, but he took considerable strides in that regard as part of the Lakewood roster.  He averaged roughly 5.9 walks per nine innings prior to 2019 and saw that average reside around 4.3 last year.

Coaches loved the maturity he showed on the mound last year.  Lakewood pitching coach Matt Hockenberry asserted to me toward the end of the season that Morales possesses remarkable mound presence and showed plenty of mental toughness.

The starting role is very likely where Morales will stay, as he has tremendous upside.  The sky is the limit for this exceptional talent.  Expect to see him open the 2020 season with Class A Advanced Clearwater.

You can keep tabs on this year's top 25 Phillies prospects countdown by clicking this link.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

2020 Phillies Prospects Countdown: #4 SS Bryson Stott

I invite you to visit Patreon.com/PhoulBallz in order to support my work and get access to material like this before anyone.  Plus you'll get exclusive interviews as well as other content you won't be able to enjoy anywhere else.  I could use, and I would value, your backing.

Bryson Stott, image- Jay Floyd
The Phillies' first round draft selection from 2019, Bryson Stott, joined the organization and swiftly became one of the most promising prospects in their developmental system.

In his junior season last year with UNLV, Stott posted a .356 average with 10 home runs, 36 RBI and 16 stolen bases in 58 games.  Additionally, the lefty batter that was drafted 14th overall boasted a .486 on base percentage with the Runnin' Rebels.

Soon after the draft, Stott signed with the Phillies and made his professional debut with the Rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies East team.  In four games, he went 6-for-9 with a double, a triple and a home run.  With a promotion to Class A short-season Williamsport, Stott continued his success and was recognized as an All-Star for his efforts.  In 44 games he notched a .274 batting average with eight doubles, two triples, five home runs and 24 RBI.


Listed at six-foot-three, 200 pounds, Stott draws plenty of comparisons to All-Star shortstop Brandon Crawford, as he is more of a contact hitter from the left side that won't always try to focus on the big power swing.

Stott projects to be a plus big league hitter, as he already touts fast hands, excellent plate discipline and the ability to drive the ball to all fields. 

With quick reflexes and a strong arm, Stott is valuable on defense and appears to have what it takes to stick at the position for the long term. 

Speed may not be a huge part of Stott's game, but he is a guy that could contribute on the base paths.  Double-digit steals would be a fair expectation here. 

In his younger years Stott looked up to players like Derek Jeter and Bryce Harper.  Hailing from Las Vegas, Stott has a relationship with Harper that predates both players landing in the Phils' organization.  The two talk baseball often, according to Stott.

Expect the 22-year-old to open this coming season at one of the Class A full-season levels, either Lakewood or possibly Class A Advanced Clearwater. 

The path for Stott could be similar to that of Adam Haseley, who was the Phils' first round pick in 2017 and reached the big leagues last year.  It may not be too long before Stott is helping to solidify things in the middle infield for the Phillies.

You can keep tabs on this year's top 25 Phillies prospects countdown by clicking this link.

Friday, February 28, 2020

2020 Phillies Prospects Countdown: #5 OF Mickey Moniak

I invite you to visit Patreon.com/PhoulBallz in order to support my work and get access to material like this before anyone.  Plus you'll get exclusive interviews as well as other content you won't be able to enjoy anywhere else.  I could use, and I would value, your backing.

Mickey Moniak, image- Jay Floyd
Taken with the first overall selection in the 2016 MLB amateur draft, outfielder Mickey Moniak has garnered loads of attention with many eyes watching closely, in hopes he can live up to the high expectations that come along with being such a high pick.

After signing out of La Costa Canyon High School, where he was ranked as the top high school player in the nation by Baseball America, the left-handed hitting Moniak had a very good professional debut. 

In 46 games with the Phillies' Rookie level Gulf Coast League team, Moniak sported a .284 batting average with 11 doubles, four triples, a home run and 28 RBI. He also showed some speed, swiping 10 bases in 14 opportunities.

Following the regular season, Moniak participated in the Florida Instructional League and spent time at the Phillies' training facility in Clearwater, where he worked to add strength and muscle to his six-foot-two 188-pound frame.

In 2017, as a member of the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws, Moniak notched a .236 batting average with five home runs, 44 RBI and 11 stolen bases.

Coaches were pleased with the his output for the 'Claws despite disappointment from fans that come with high expectations. Progress throughout the season was there in the eyes of the Phillies, even though Moniak's stats (.721 first half OPS vs. .525 second half OPS) didn't prove the point.

His hitting coach with Lakewood, Nelson Prada, suggested that perhaps Moniak was chasing pitches out of the zone at times, due to statistical struggles impacting his approach.

In 2018, as a 20-year-old, Moniak took the step up to Class A Advanced Clearwater where he showed much better plate discipline and posted a .270 average with 28 doubles, three triples, five home runs and 55 RBI in 114 games over the long haul.  Moniak struggled early in the season, batting .213 in 22 April games, but he bounced back the rest of the way, batting .285 through the remainder of the campaign.  


Last season Moniak got some welcomed experience in the Double-A Eastern League with Reading.  In 119 games there, he posted a .252/.303/.439 slash line.  For the season, Moniak led the league in triples with 13, was second in the league in extra-base hits with 52 and was second in the league in total bases with 204.  He also swiped 15 bases.  His efforts at the plate earned Moniak recognition as an All-Star.
 

After Reading's postseason run, Moniak spent a month in the prestigious Arizona Fall League.  Fatigue could have very well been a factor for him, as the offense simply wasn't the same in the AFL as it had been throughout the regular season.  In 17 games with Scottsdale, Moniak notched a .186 average with four doubles, two triples and five RBI. 


Heading into the AFL last year, Moniak told me he felt that perhaps the experience there would launch him to much bigger heights in the sport, as it has for many of baseball's biggest names.

At the plate, Moniak, who was committed to playing at UCLA prior to the 2016 draft, makes strong contact. The California native is touted as a line drive hitter that can stroke the ball to all fields.

Described as a natural on the baseball field, Moniak has the make up to be a strong performer that leads by example and showed enough in his career, competing against older pitchers with college experience, that coaches are confident he's going to develop into a considerable offensive contributor.

With baseball in his lineage, Mickey's grandfather Bill Moniak played six seasons in the Boston organization and was also an outfielder.  

Moniak is a great asset on defense in center field as well, displaying solid range and a strong arm.  The athletic youngster also played a bit in right field last year as well. 

He won't be the most swift player on a team, but he will be speedy enough to help out with some quickness on the base paths.



Moniak, who is 21 years old until mid-May, is in spring training with the big league club, as the exhibition season opened this week.  This will be valuable experience for him, but it's safe to expect his 2020 season to begin at the Triple-A level. 

You can keep tabs on this year's top 25 Phillies prospects countdown by clicking this link.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

2020 Phillies Prospects Countdown: #6 RHP Adonis Medina

Adonis Medina, image- Jay Floyd
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Widely ranked among the Phillies' top prospects by many outlets, righty hurler Adonis Medina has made a name for himself, as scouts rave about his skills, coaches boast about his potential and Phils' brass adores his ability.

Medina, who is equipped with a mid-90's fastball along with a curveball and a change up that are considered to have plus potential, has used that arsenal to impress at the lower levels of the minor leagues to date.

Signed in 2014 at age 17, Medina made his pro debut that year as part of the Phillies' Dominican Summer League team. In 11 games (two starts) he would post a 2-3 record with a save, a 1.27 ERA and a 7.5 K/9 mark along with a .220 batting average against.

In 2015, the six-foot-one 185-pounder competed with the rookie level Gulf Coast League Phils, sporting a 3-2 record with a 2.98 ERA, a .253 BAA and a 6.9 K/9 mark in 10 games (eight starts).

The following season, at the age of 19, he would pitch with the short-season Class A Williamsport Crosscutters and was the team's opening day starter. In 13 games, all starts, Medina tallied a 5-3 record with a 2.92 ERA along with a 4.7 K/9 mark.

In 2017 Medina would join the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws. In 22 starts he would put together a 4-9 record with a 3.01 ERA, a .227 BAA along with a 10.0 K/9 mark (3rd best in the league).

The following year, taking the step up to Class A Advanced Clearwater, Medina sported a 10-4 record with a 4.12 ERA, a .245 batting average against along with a 10.0 K/9 mark in 22 outings (21 starts). He was highly successful at home for the Threshers, notching a 2.86 ERA and .226 BAA in 12 appearances at Spectrum Field, while he tallied a 5.96 ERA and .271 BAA in 10 away games.

In 2019, Medina pitched at Double-A Reading.  In 22 outings (21 starts), he sported a 7-7 record, a 4.94 ERA, a .254 batting average against along with a 7.0 K/9 mark.

Medina, who has a reputation of a competitor, is praised for having a great feel for pitching and a power arm. His fastball, which consistently gets to 95 MPH and touches higher, arrives at the plate featuring sink, helping to result in ground balls from the opposition. Additionally, both secondary pitches are strong. The Dominican Republic native already has shown strong control, filling the strike zone, and coaches cite that he embraces the learning process.

The 23-year-old's projected ceiling seems to have taken a hit partl y due to a dip in strike out numbers and rise in runs allowed, so Medina still has development ahead to fulfill any high expectations.

A member of the Phils' 40-man roster, Medina should get plenty of action in front of the team's big league coaches this spring, but look for him to see action at the Triple-A level to open the 2020 regular season. 

You can keep tabs on this year's top 25 Phillies prospects countdown by clicking this link.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

2020 Phillies Prospects Countdown: #7 RHP Enyel De Los Santos

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Enyel De Los Santos, image- Jay Floyd
Acquired as part of the trade that sent Freddy Galvis to San Diego, Enyel De Los Santos is a talented hurler that instantly landed among the Phillies' top pitching prospects.

A native of the Dominican Republic, De Los Santos signed with Seattle at the age of 18. He would make his professional debut in 2015 in the Rookie level Arizona League. There, he notched a 3-0 record with a 2.55 ERA in five starts. The right-hander earned a promotion to Class A short-season Everett where he would post a 3-0 record with a 4.06 ERA through eight starts.

During the following off-season, he was traded to the Padres in a deal for pitcher Joaquin Benoit.

In 2016, making his debut in the Padres organization, De Los Santos opened the season with Class A Ft. Wayne. In 11 appearances (seven starts) with the Tin Caps, he tallied a 3-2 record with a 2.91 ERA and a .199 batting average against.

De Los Santos was promoted to Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore in June. As a member of the Storm rotation he would sport a 5-3 record with a 4.35 ERA and a 6.8 K/9 mark through 15 starts.

In 2017, he moved up to Double-A San Antonio. There, he collected a 10-6 record with a 3.78 ERA, an 8.3 K/9 mark as well as a .237 BAA. De Los Santos improved greatly as the season went on, seeing his 4.92 ERA in the first half improve after tallying a 2.75 ERA following the All-Star break.  He finished among the Texas League leaders in strike outs, ERA, WHIP and innings pitched. 

The following season, making his Phillies organization debut, De Los Santos had an impressive campaign with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, getting named to the International League All-Star team. In 22 starts for the IronPigs, he collected a 10-5 record with a 2.63 ERA, a complete game shutout, a .226 BAA and a 7.8 K/9 mark. He also was named as the Phillies’ All-Star Futures Game representative.  His ERA was second in the International League behind only teammate Cole Irvin.

Additionally, De Los Santos made seven appearances (two starts) in the big leagues in 2018. With the Phillies, he had a 1-0 record with a 4.74 ERA while striking out 15 and walking eight in 19 innings.


In 2019, De Los Santos had his eyes set for a return to the majors, but opened the season with the IronPigs once again.  In 19 International League starts, De Los Santos produced a 5-7 record, a 4.40 ERA and a .232 batting average against.
 

Time with the Phillies didn't go as well as many hoped, as he appeared in five contest (one start), sporting a 7.36 ERA and a .317 batting average against. 

Listed at six-foot-three 170 pounds, the 24-year-old features a fastball that regularly clocks around 93-95 MPH and features sink to help draw ground ball outs. Additionally, he offers a curve ball, a great change up along with a nice slider. He’s got very good command and can throw each offering in any count. The slider was a new addition to his repertoire in recent seasons.

De Los Santos typically keeps his pitch count low, which can help with staying fresh throughout a contest. Also, he is a focused, intelligent pitcher that possesses and maintains a game plan for each outing.


The talented pitcher is dealing with a hamstring strain early in spring training, which will have his sidelined for the majority of a month, so it's likely that he won't get enough work during the exhibition season to make the big league team for opening day.

Described as fun to work with, De Los Santos seems to have the right tools to achieve success at the big league level. De Los Santos could be a top candidate as a contributor on the Phils' pitching staff this year if and when an opening pops up.

You can keep tabs on this year's top 25 Phillies prospect countdown by clicking this link.

Monday, February 24, 2020

2020 Phillies Prospects Countdown: #8 Catcher Deivy Grullon

Deivy Grullon, image- Jay Floyd
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At the time of his signing with the Phillies at the age of 16, backstop Deivy Grullon was one of the top baseball prospects in the Caribbean. Following a lengthy tenure in the minors, Grullon made his big league debut last season and it could be very difficult to deny him a roster spot at the top level any longer.

Grullon, who signed for a reported $575,000 in July 2012, looked very good upon making his professional debut with the Gulf Coast League Phillies in 2013, posting a .273 batting average with eight doubles, a home run and 14 RBI in 41 games at the Rookie level.

He followed up that campaign with a season in which he saw action at three levels in 2014. Grullon started his season in mid-April with Class A Advanced Clearwater out of extended spring training. He notched two hits in ten at bats in two games there. A move to Class A Lakewood, where he would get more playing time, followed. In 24 games as a member of the BlueClaws, Grullon posted a .237 average with five doubles, a home run and seven RBI. Grullon would be demoted once more to short-season Class A Williamsport when their season began in June. With the Crosscutters, he notched a .225 average with nine doubles, a triple and 18 RBI in 53 games.

In 2015 back with Lakewood, the Dominican Republic native tallied a .221 batting average with eight home runs and 50 RBI in 107 games.  He closed out his season on a positive note, posting a .301/.370/.470 slash line in 25 August games after struggling at the plate in the South Atlantic League for much of the summer.

The following year, Grullon repeated Lakewood, posting a .256 batting average with six home runs and 45 RBI in 87 games.

In 2017 he would open his campaign with Clearwater, sporting a .255 average with eight homers and 24 RBI in 71 games there, earning a promotion to Double-A Reading.  He did fairly well at the higher level, as Grullon would sport a .229 average with four home runs and 13 RBI in 23 games.

Grullon would spend the 2018 season at Reading, standing out as an All-Star and winning the Eastern League's Home Run Derby, putting some power on display.  In 90 games for the Fightin' Phils, the talented backstop boasted a .273 average with a career-high 21 homers and 59 RBI.

He went 0-for-16 in eight Dominican League games in the off-season that followed, before he was removed from the Aguilas' roster.





Last year, Grullon opened the season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley.  In 108 games, he tallied a .283 average with 21 home runs and 77 RBI, which earned him another All-Star nod.  In September, he graduated to the majors, seeing game action in four contests, going 1-for-9 overall with a double and a single RBI. 

A right-handed batter, Grullon had typically performed better against lefties (.969 OPS in 2018) than he does against righties (.778 OPS in 2018), but he made noteworthy improvements in that regard in 2019 with the IronPigs (.856 OPS vs. RHP and .833 OPS vs. LHP), closing the production gap.



Another short stint in the Dominican League was ahead for Grullon this off-season, as he played in four games and went 2-for-14 with the Aguilas.

Coaches view Grullon as an all-around strong leader, one of the key qualities for a catcher in the professional ranks. A player that teammates go to for assistance, Grullon is highly valuable to his club.  Additionally, the youngster himself has always had a reputation as a guy that is hungry to learn. 

Another plus for Grullon is that he's worked with so many of the Phillies' pitchers throughout their careers in the minor leagues.  Having bonds and knowledge of one another

With a frame that is well suited for the position, the six-foot-one 190-pounder has excellent tools on defense, is a great receiver and features an extremely strong arm that keeps opposing runners reserved.

The upside for Grullon at this stage may be a big league back up catcher, but with a talent like J.T. Realmuto in his way with the Phillies, where else is another backstop going to fit in?

It's possible Grullon could open the 2020 season back with Lehigh Valley, but the Phils may be ready to move on from the other main back-up catcher candidate Andrew Knapp, who batted just .213 with two homers last season at the big league level.

You can keep tabs on this year's top 25 Phillies prospect rankings by clicking this link.

Friday, February 21, 2020

2020 Phillies Prospects Countdown: #9 RHP Connor Seabold

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Connor Seabold, image- Jay Floyd
Selected by the Phillies in the third round of the 2017 draft, right-hander Connor Seabold made an immediate impact upon debuting as a pro and has continued to impress as he has moved upward in the developmental ranks at a swift pace.

In his college career at Cal State Fullerton, the California native tallied a 23-15 record with a save, three complete games, a 2.96 ERA and a 9.5 K/9 mark in 56 appearances (42 starts) overall.

After signing with the Phillies, Seabold posted a 2-0 record with a 0.90 ERA and a .143 batting average against while striking out 13 batters and walking two in 10 innings of work as a reliever for the short-season Class A Williamsport Crosscutters.

He followed that up in 2018 by skipping the full season Class A level completely.  Seabold took quite a jump, opening the season with Class A Advanced Clearwater. In 12 games there as a starter, he notched a 4-4 record with a 3.77 ERA, a .213 batting average against as well as an 8.5 K/9 mark.

The six-foot-three 190-pounder earned a promotion to Double-A Reading in late June. With the Fightin Phils, Seabold would post a 1-4 record with a 4.91 ERA, a .241 BAA and a 9.8 K/9 mark in 11 starts.



In 2019, Seabold was set to be Reading's opening day starter, but was sidelined with an oblique strain late in spring training.  He began making rehab appearances in the Gulf Coast League in June and followed those up with two outings for Clearwater before returning to Reading for seven regular season starts and their postseason run.

Overall, in 12 regular season games Seabold notched a 4-2 record with a 2.24 ERA, a .224 batting average against along with a 9.3 K/9 mark.


To make up for some of the lost time last year, the Phils sent Seabold to the prestigious Arizona Fall League, where he dominated.  In four starts, Seabold posted a 1-0 record with a 1.06 ERA.  He struck out 22 batters while walking three in 17 total innings. 

Command is a big positive for Seabold, who features fastball velocity that generally resides in the low 90's, a very good change up and a serviceable curveball.  He can throw all three offerings for strikes and his walk rate is not a concern for the young hurler.  Said to have a great feel for pitching, Seabold mixes his offerings well and keeps the opposition guessing.

The ceiling for Seabold is a member of a big league starting rotation, which would be a valuable addition for an inconsistent club like the Phillies.  Look for the 24-year-old to open the 2020 season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.


You can keep tabs on this year's top 25 Phillies prospect countdown by clicking this link.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

2020 Phillies Prospects Countdown: #10 LHP Erik Miller

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 Left-handed pitcher Erik Miller was a 4th round draft selection by the Phillies last year and was immediately held in regard as one of the organization's most promising up-and-coming prospects.

A starter in college, Miller struggled the previous summer in the prestigious Cape Cod League, posting a 7.71 ERA.  The Stanford product was reportedly signed for $428,300 following the draft.

Once signed, he promptly debuted in the minors and moved up two more levels.

Initially, with the Rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies West team, Miller allowed an earned run in three innings over two appearances.  He was then promoted to Class A short-season Williamsport.  In six games (four starts) as a member of the Crosscutters, the 22-year-old tallied a 0.90 ERA, a .176 batting average against with no decisions while striking out 29 and walking seven in 20 innings.

Miller, a Missouri native, was then promoted once more, moving up to Class A Lakewood, where he would make his final three appearances of the season.  He'd post a 1-0 record with a 2.08 ERA, and a .208 batting average against  while striking out 17 and walking six in 13 total innings.

With a sizable frame at six-feet-five, 240 pounds, Miller is an impressive figure on the mound.  His repertoire features a fastball that typically reaches the mid-90's, a change up that features a nice variance of speed and a strong slider with plus potential.  He's a guy that can add velocity as the season rolls on.

The main critique on Miller around draft time, based on his college efforts, was that he needed to become more consistent with his mechanics.  He walked 4.7 batters per nine innings over his last two college seasons. The Phillies' developmental staff would generally find that sort of concern to be a simple fix for a bright, teachable hurler such as Miller.  Evidence of that: his BB/9 was down to 3.7 as a professional.
The ceiling for the big lefty is pretty high, as some think he could develop into a number two or a number three starter in the big leagues.  

His future role may ultimately be determined by how confident the Phillies coaches are in how Miller's change up will play at higher levels.  If he is reduced to a two-pitch menu, then the most ideal path for the talented youngster would be as a reliever. 

Look for Miller to kick off his 2020 season in the Class A Advanced Florida State League with Clearwater. 

You can keep tabs on this year's top 25 Phillies prospect countdown by clicking this link.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Interview Excerpts: Phillies RHP prospect Luke Leftwich

Luke Leftwich, image- Jay Floyd

Recently, I wrote a feature on Phillies pitching prospect Luke Leftwich and his recovery from a shoulder ailment that he experienced last season.  That piece can be found by clicking this link

Beyond his physical situation and his delayed start to in-game action this spring, the 25-year-old also talked with me about who has helped him stay positive, if he feels undervalued, a huge life event this off-season, some considerable coach turnover in the Phils system and more. 

Read ahead for exclusive interview excerpts with Leftwich.



-(I had asked about his shoulder injury and recovering from that.  Luke offered some feedback in addition to what appears in the article.)

That brings us to now.  With the time I took to do all the physical therapy to work out all the kinks in my shoulder, I got pushed back with the start of my throwing progression.  So, I would consider myself healthy, but I'm about a month behind where I normally would be going into spring training.  I'm on my normal throwing progression, I'm just a little bit behind everyone else that's in camp, so they wanted me to come down here early and technically be in the rehab group so they can monitor my time throwing and coming back because a third occurrence of this kind of injury is really not good.  So, that's where we're at now.

-You sound like you've got a positive tone as you explain it, so you would seem to understand and accept everything and you're good with it, so that's great.  Can you share some thoughts on who has made an impact for you during all this down time?  Is there a coach, a teammate, anyone that's been key in helping you maintain a positive outlook through all of this?

Yeah, it's kind of been a couple people.  Aaron Fultz has checked in on me every few weeks in the off-season and he was always a good person to talk to about basically just, "You're fine.  I know you're behind"- 'cause I was a little bit worried at first about being behind and he put my mind at ease.  And then getting here and being around these other guys, like Trevor Bettencourt, Ben Brown, those guys that had to get Tommy John (surgery) last year.  They've been down here for so long, really grinding their butts off, trying to get back to being healthy.  Honestly, those guys kind of set a good example of getting in, getting your stuff done, because it is such a day-by-day, step-by-step process.

-The Phils' minor league coaching staff announcements came out and some of these we knew about after last season wrapped up, and typically there will be some turnover with the coaching staffs each year, but this time it seems a bit heavier, with maybe more names than normal getting let go.  As a player, do you notice that it seems that way or is the turnover just part of the business, 'cause you'll see that happen with so many players that parting ways is just the nature of the business?

I mean, you do build bonds with coaches and I love a lot of the guys that we had last year that aren't coming back this year.  And it is like you said, I don't want to say you get numb to it after a while, because it sucks every time you lose a teammate, a friend or a coach.  But it is like part of the game, part of the sport, part of the business where you know you're not guaranteed tomorrow, so you kind of have to roll with the punches.  And sometimes you lose somebody that you really like and you gotta show up tomorrow and be the best you that you can be.  You feel for the guys that you lose, but a lot of those guys, especially these coaches, have had such good careers and have worked with so many good players and have done so much that those guys are all gonna land on their feet.  They're all good.


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Saturday, February 15, 2020

Pitching prospect Leftwich ready for 2020

Luke Leftwich, image- Jay Floyd
A tell and an injury raised concern for pitching prospect Luke Leftwich last summer, but the right-hander has a positive outlook and is confident he'll return to form in 2020.

Leftwich entered last year with a 3.18 ERA in four professional seasons including a solid campaign with Double-A Reading in 2018 in which he posted a 3-4 record with three saves, a 3.73 ERA and a .234 batting average against.  It was a scorching hot start with Reading in 2019 that opened plenty of eyes for the talented reliever.  He tallied a 2-0 record with a 1.02 ERA, a .073 batting average against and a 14.3 K/9 mark in 12 total relief appearances with the Fightin Phils.  His remarkable efforts against Eastern League competition earned him a promotion.

With Triple-A Lehigh Valley, Leftwich, who was the Phillies' 7th round draft selection out of Wofford College in 2015, appeared to experience difficulties on the mound from the start.  In 16 total appearances there, the six-foot-three 205-pounder sported a 0-1 record with an 8.28 ERA.  Fans, media members, those within the organization and Leftwich himself took notice and most would wonder if he could really handle competition at the highest levels of the sport.

The struggles at Triple-A caught nearly as much attention as the immense success Leftwich had at the Double-A level, but the 25-year-old got it all figured.

As Leftwich tells it, he was tipping his pitches and every other team knew it.  He points out that the inability to get outs upon his arrival at the Triple-A level left him feeling down and defeated.  The keen eye of roving outfield coach Andy Abad had the remedy.

"(He) told me that I had been tipping pitches for the past month or so and that was a complete eye opener for me because I had no idea," Leftwich stated.

"Once I figured that out, it gave me a confidence boost of like, 'I'm not as bad as I look right now.  I just need to fix this one thing and then I'm good again.'  And as soon as I fixed that I went on a little roll there for a few weeks, threw really well."

Once Abad took time to review video with Leftwich and offered insight on what do stop doing and what actions to implement instead, the statistics saw considerable improvement.

Through his first eight appearances with the IronPigs, Leftwich notched a 15.75 ERA.  After the huddle with Abad, in his next eight outings Leftwich recorded a 1.38 ERA.  

His season then took another downturn as shoulder discomfort set in and Leftwich was placed on the injured list for approximately a month as a result of bicep tendinitis.  He'd ramp things up in late July for a few more games, but the pain reemerged and more time on the shelf was to come. 

"With only like a month left in the season, they didn't take any chances with anything major happening, making sure I didn't have to get surgery or anything like that," Leftwich explained.  "So, I went to see a doctor to check it out.  (I was diagnosed with a) shoulder impingement, no structural damage.  Just inflammation getting in the way of things moving the right way."

Leftwich is behind in his throwing program compared to where he might normally be at this point in the pre-season.  Delayed start to his exhibition season aside, the excitement level is still at a high degree for Leftwich, as many of his friends and teammates have been invited to big league camp this year.

"Since I'm not going to be playing, it gives me an opportunity to go watch those guys and get to see my close friends basically pitch in the big league games," Leftwich said.  "That's exciting for me.  That's exciting for all of us."

It's fair to expect Leftwich, whose father Phil Leftwich and grandfather Tom Timmermann both pitched in the Major Leagues, to get another go at Triple-A this year.  Should he reach the big leagues, he'll be just the second third-generation pitcher in MLB history.  The Phillies hope he'll take strides toward making that happen this year.
Always an optimist, Leftwich took plenty of positives from his 2019 campaign despite the considerable ups and downs.

"The improvements that I made and the mentality shift more than anything, I really knew those last few weeks that I was good enough, confident enough, every bit deserving to be there and get hitters out."

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Thursday, February 13, 2020

2020 Phillies Prospects Countdown: #11 LHP Damon Jones

Damon Jones, image- Jay Floyd
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Left-handed pitcher Damon Jones used an exceptional 2019 season to catapult himself toward the top of the list of names being discussed as top options to help the Phillies' pitching pitching staff.

An 18th round draft selection in 2017, out of Washington State, Jones began his professional career as a member of the short-season Class A Williamsport Crosscutters.  In 13 appearances, all in relief, that season, the six-foot-five 238-pounder notched a 2-3 record with three saves, a 4.85 ERA, a .240 batting average against and a 13.2 K/9 mark.

The following year Jones had a strong campaign with Class A Lakewood.  In 23 games (22 starts), Jones tallied a 10-7 record with a 3.41 ERA, a .247 batting average against as well as a 9.8 K/9 mark.

In 2019, Jones opened the year with a stretch that earned him a promotion and loads of regard as a true up-and-comer for the Phils organization.  With Class A Advanced Clearwater, Jones would post a 4-3 record with a 1.54 ERA and a .188 batting average against in 11 starts.  He moved up Double-A Reading and made a splash in that rotation as well.  In four starts, Jones sported a 1-0 record, a 0.82 ERA and a .129 batting average against.

He would move upward a second time in mid-July, making his final eight starts of the regular season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley.  The statistical production came back down to Earth a bit there, as it took longer for Jones to adjust to the highest level of the minor leagues.  He would notch a 0-1 record with a 6.62 ERA, a 1.56 WHIP and a .214 batting average against as a member of the IronPigs.

Jones continued to deliver strong strike out numbers throughout the full season in 2019, as he posted a 12.0 K/9 mark.

Despite looking like a power pitcher with considerable K numbers, Jones uses his fastball that gets up to 96 and 97 MPH to induce plenty of ground ball outs.  His strong curve ball is the out pitch that garners most of the strike outs for the big man.  He also offers a slider that has good, horizontal movement and a change up that remains a work in progress, as he tries to refine it.

In May last year, Jones described to me how working his fastball to the inside and the outside against opposing batters was changing the look they were getting and helped him keep hitters off of his breaking pitches and his change up.

Command is a big positive for Jones.  It's a part of his game that impresses his coaches the most.

Jones has been invited to big league spring training, as a non-roster player.  He'll have the opportunity to work with the big league coaches and learn from the staff there, which is a major plus for the 25-year-old.

The ceiling for Jones is expected to be a big league starter.  He could make a splash with the Phils this coming season, when an opportunity opens up, but I would expect him to open 2020 back with the IronPigs. 

You can keep tabs on this year's top 25 Phillies prospect countdown by clicking this link.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

2020 Phillies Prospects Countdown: #12 OF Simon Muzziotti

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Simon Muzziotti, image- Jay Floyd
Since joining the organization Simon Muzziotti has emerged as one of the Phillies' most promising outfield prospects. 

Signing infractions by his former organization, the Red Sox, lead the talented youngster to be declared a free agent by Major League Baseball approximately a year after he signed with Boston at the age of 16.  Muzziotti was subsequently inked by the Phillies and has been an attention grabber as he has moved up the developmental ranks with quickness.

In 2016, he played in the Dominican Summer League, tallying a .256 average with six doubles, two triples and eight steals in his combined time with the Sox and Phils teams there.

The following year, at the age of 18, the left-handed hitter notched a .269 batting average with four doubles, six triples and eight stolen bases in 33 games in the Gulf Coast League.  He also recorded two hits in seven at bats as a fill-in with Class A Advanced Clearwater.

In 2018, Muzziotti missed a couple of months with a broken finger, when he was hit by a pitch in April.  Despite the physical set back, the Venezuela native made outstanding impressions and began to stand out.  In 74 games, including a rehab stint in the GCL, Muzziotti posted a .250 average with with 12 doubles, two triples, a home run, 22 RBI and 19 steals, primarily as a lead-off batter.

Last year, Muzziotti spent the regular season with Class A Advanced Clearwater, continuing to hone his craft. In 110 games, he tallied a .287 batting average with 21 doubles, three triples, three homers, 28 RBI and 21 steals.  The efforts earned him the honor of being a Florida State League All-Star. 

He was called up to Double-A Reading for their postseason run last year after Clearwater's season ended, in case his talents were needed.  Ultimately, he was never officially added to their roster at any point during the playoffs.

The hit tool for Muzziotti is what prospect reviewers tout the most.  He is said to be among the best hitters in the minors for the Phillies.  With an ability to spray the ball to all fields, the six-foot-one 175 pounder has a knack for making contact and great hand-eye coordination.  However, he will likely not ever be considered a big power threat.

Last year, his left/right splits at the plate showed plenty of room for improvement.  Against righty pitchers, Muzziotti posted a .772 OPS while he sported a lowly .434 mark against lefty hurlers.

Defensively, Muzziotti boasts remarkable range and has a strong arm.  He is a plus contributor on that side of the ball and should be able to stick in centerfield as he moves upward in the system, though he does have some time in both right field and left field during his career in the minors.

On the bases, Muzziotti possesses excellent speed.  He's got some good instincts as well and is already a stolen base threat.

The ceiling for the 21-year-old may be questionable, but I would feel comfortable asserting he has a high floor, which would see him as a big league contributor in the coming years.

Look for the exciting speedster to see action with Reading this year and fully put on display what he can do at the higher levels of the minors.

You can keep tabs on this year's top 25 Phillies prospect countdown by clicking this link.