Friday, April 18, 2014

PhoulBallz Podcast 58: Jim Murphy Interview, Injury Updates

On episode 58 of the PhoulBallz Minor League Podcast, Jay chats with Phillies minor leaguer Jim Murphy about his progress, his status in the system and more. Tug and Jay also chat about Passover, the return of Cole Hamels as well as loads of minor leaguers including Jay Johnson, Kenny Giles, Willie Carmona, Roman Quinn, Mitch Walding and Joey Gallo.

Use the media player below to stream the full episode, or simply download it by clicking HERE.

You can also check out previous episodes and subscribe on iTunes.  

Hamels sharp in what should be final rehab outing

Cole Hamels, Image- AP
In what was likely his final tune up before he returns from the disabled list, lefty starter Cole Hamels looked sharp in a rehab appearance with the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers on Thursday night.

In a contest at Clearwater's Brighthouse Field, Hamels went seven innings against Lakeland (Tigers affiliate), allowing one earned run on three hits while striking out two and walking one. The 30-year-old threw 87 pitches, 57 of which were strikes.

The Threshers failed to take advantage of the strong effort by Hamels, as they dropped the match up 2-1. The run given up by Hamels was a solo homer to OF Connor Harrell, who entered the game sporting a .100 batting average. Harrell was a 31st round draft selection by Detroit in 2012.

Hamels surrendered four earned runs in 17 innings (2.12 ERA) over three starts with the Threshers in recent weeks.

Sidelined for much of the spring with biceps tendinitis in his throwing arm, Hamels is expected to return to the Phillies' rotation next Tuesday or Wednesday, against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

In his career at Dodger Stadium Hamels has a 3-0 record and a 2.54 ERA in four starts, including the postseason.


This entry originally appeared on PhilliesNation.com.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Prospects Quinn, Walding nearing return to the diamond

Roman Quinn, Image- Jay Floyd
Out of action since last year following a ruptured Achilles tendon, shortstop Roman Quinn is nearing a return to game action.

While recovering from a broken left wrist suffered when was he hit by a pitch last season, Quinn felt a pop in the back of his right ankle as he ran routine sprints early in the 2013/2014 off-season. Surgery to repair the second significant injury of his year took place shortly afterward.

Now, after nearly a half-year of recovery, the switch-hitting Quinn is just about ready to participate in games.

"I'm doing pretty much everything. Ground balls, I'm running full speed and I'm taking live batting practice," Quinn said via text message.

The youngster who is known for his speed doesn't anticipate his quickness suffering due to the damage he did to his Achilles. In fact, Quinn feels he could be faster than ever and hopes to improve all around.

Quinn, the Phils' second round draft choice in 2011 out of Port St. Joe High School in FL, has posted a .260 average with six home runs, 44 RBI and 62 stolen bases in 133 combined games with short-season Class A Williamsport and Class A Lakewood over two professional seasons.

April 29th will mark six months since Quinn had the procedure to repair the damaged tendon. The 20-year-old expects that shortly after that date he'll begin getting into some games with the Phillies' extended spring training team. He can hardly wait.

"I'm so excited, man. It's been a while," Quinn said.

Another infielder getting close to joining the extended spring training roster is third baseman Mitch Walding. After dealing with recurring issues following a broken rib suffered last season, the lefty batting youngster had the rib removed this spring.

The Phillies' 5th round draft pick in 2011, Walding has been fully active in batting and fielding practice in recent days and expects to participate in game action next week.

Walding, who batted .227 with two homers and 73 RBI in 184 combined games with Williamsport and Lakewood over the past two seasons, is quite ready to see his name in the lineup.

"(I'm) pretty anxious. Watching everyone play makes me want to get back at it pretty bad," Walding stated.

BlueClaws Batting Practice Footage: Greene, Cozens, Pullin

Recently, I shot some short video clips of a few Class A Lakewood players taking cuts during batting practice.  The footage below features outfielders Larry Greene Jr., Dylan Cozens and second baseman Andrew Pullin.

Greene was the Phillies' top draft choice (39th overall) in 2011.  In two professional seasons since then, Greene has posted a .236 average with six home runs and 54 RBI in 181 games combined at short-season A level Williamsport and Lakewood.  In 11 contests thus far with Lakewood this year, the 21-year-old is batting .243 with two doubles, a triple, four RBI and two steals.  The six-foot 235-pounder is still striving to live up to the reputation of being a power hitter when he was drafted.



Cozens, who will turn 20 next month, was the Phils' 2nd round draft selection in 2012.  In two pro seasons, the six-foot-six 235-pounder has tallied a .261 average with 14 homers and 59 RBI in 118 games combined with the rookie level Gulf Coast League team and with Williamsport.  In 12 games with Lakewood this year, Cozens is sporting a .235 average with two doubles and four RBI.



Pullin was the 5th round pick of the Phillies in 2012.  The Washington state native has notched a .285 average along with five home runs and 36 RBI in 92 combined games in the GCL and with Williamsport over the past two seasons.  The 20-year-old, who stands six feet tall and weighs 185 pounds, is hitting .182 with two doubles and an RBI for Lakewood through 12 games this season.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Minors Notes & Quotes: Rupp, Dugan Injured, RHP Viza Speaks, More Transactions

Monday was a busy day for roster moves in the Phillies' organization. On top of the news that Mike Adams would return to the Phillies at the expense of Luis Garcia being sent down to Triple-A, there were several notable transactions announced throughout the system.

Cameron Rupp, Image- Jay Floyd
Top catching prospect Cameron Rupp was placed on the disabled list with a strained oblique suffered in Sunday's game. The 25-year-old was batting .231 with four homers and eight RBI in nine games with the Triple-A IronPigs. Sebastian Valle was promoted to Lehigh Valley from Double-A Reading to fill the void.

Other backstop moves: Chad Carman promoted to the Reading roster from Class A Advanced Clearwater, Deivi Grullon activated for Clearwater from extended spring training.

Also placed on the disabled list with an oblique strain for Lehigh Valley was infielder Andres Blanco. The 30-year-old infielder was batting .273 with one RBI in nine contests in the young season.

Reading outfielder Kelly Dugan, who was hit on the left hand with a pitch on Sunday, tweeted on Monday evening that X-rays were negative and he expects to be out of action for a week. The 23-year-old was hitting .233 with a home run and four RBI through 10 games.

Outfielder Tyson Gillies was activated for the IronPigs on Monday, after going 2-for-8 in two games while rehabbing an ailing hamstring with the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers. The 25-year-old Canadian has been troubled by injuries since joining the Phillies from Seattle in the 2009 Cliff Lee trade.

Righty reliever Mike Nesseth was moved from Lehigh Valley to Reading. Nesseth, who turns 26 later this month, tallied a 0-2 record with a 9.39 ERA in four outings (one start) with the IronPigs thus far this season.

It was announced that the Phillies have released righty reliever Justin Friend. The 27-year-old had made three scoreless appearances this season (one for Lehigh Valley, two for Reading). Friend sported a 3.79 ERA in 46 games at the Triple-A level last year.

In four contests as Reading's third baseman, 23-year-old Cesar Hernandez is batting .471 with an RBI and a stolen base. Comparatively, in 11 games at Lehigh Valley's third baseman, 21-year-old Maikel Franco has a .098 average witha double and two RBI.


Quotables:

Tyler Viza, Image- 20/20 Visual Media
Class A Lakewood right-hander Tyler Viza is one of the youngest pitchers in the South Atlantic League. Drafted out of Desert Vista High School in the 32nd round of last year's draft, the 19-year-old has allowed seven runs in 10 innings (6.30 ERA) while losing both of his starts for the BlueClaws.

Despite the troubling numbers, the Arizona native is maintaining a positive outlook. Read ahead for his thoughts...

-Sharing thoughts on what he did to stand out and earn a spot in Lakewood's starting rotation...

"You know, everybody threw real well in spring training and, fortunately, I got to come here and I had a good spring training, but I'm looking for a better season."


-On if he was surprised to begin his first full year in pro ball on the full-season Class A roster...

"It's tough to say. I'm happy where I'm at. I'd be happy anywhere I go. You know, I gotta take things one step at a time. Can't look too much into the future, if I'm here all season, I am..."

-On his transition to the pro's and his exceptional success with the GCL team last year, when he posted a 1-0 record with a 1.41 ERA in 12 games (six starts)...

"It's still baseball to me. You know, I'm going to keep staying on my game, pounding the zone, attacking hitters and everything. Not surprised. It's still baseball. There's a little more competition and everything."

-Speaking about pitchers that he looked up to as a kid...

"Growing up, I was a Randy Johnson fan. He played for the Diamondbacks and I'm from Arizona. Lived there my whole life. He has the same kind of mindset that I like to have, just don't really care who's in the box. Just going after them and getting outs."

-Asked if, as a young pitcher, he thinks about or anticipates the possibility of adding to his six-foot-three 170-pound frame and the increased velocity that might come along with that...

"I try not to think about it. If it comes, it comes. I know that I'm real young, I have time to grow and I'm looking forward to what the future has for me."

Monday, April 14, 2014

Reading's Giles Inching Closer to Big Leagues

Kenny Giles, Image- Jay Floyd
According to some, the back-end of the Phillies' bullpen is questionable. But true relief might not be very far away.

With Double-A Reading, closer Kenny Giles is off to a hot start and his velocity brings the real heat.

The 23-year-old sports a fastball that is regularly clocked at 100 MPH or higher. His arsenal is rounded out with a strong slider that leaves opposing batters looking foolish.

This year, with the responsibility of being a late inning reliever, the Phils' 7th round draft selection from 2011 is ready for the challenges that lie ahead.

"I'm really excited (to close), 'cause this will be my first time doing it in the Phillies organization. A lot of guys on the team want me to shut the door and I'm going to be able to do that for them," Giles said in a recent interview.

Unlike others in his line of work, Giles is open about getting a kick out of notching such big numbers on radar gun readings. Where some pitchers might not openly admit a desire to clock 100 MPH or even enjoying the energy that it can bring to the crowd, the youngster produces a nice sized grin when he chats about his superior pitch speed.

"Once the season goes on, you'll start seeing it a lot more," Giles said. "I'm always told that I'm being watched and the one thing I like to show off is my velocity. I like to show the triple-digits up there."

In spring training with the big club this year, Giles tallied a 2.00 ERA in nine appearances while striking out 12 in nine innings. The six-foot-two 205-pounder wasn't surprised by his Grapefruit League output, but is pleased if anyone else was.

"I pitched up to my expectations. I opened up a lot of eyes. A lot of front office guys were very impressed at what I did out there and I am looking forward to opening up more eyes and proving everybody else wrong," Giles stated.

Giles missed a considerable portion of last season with two separate oblique strains. Despite the physical limitations, he averaged 11.92 strike outs per nine innings in 24 relief appearances with the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers and began to make a name for himself.

The New Mexico native, who describes missing so much time last year as heartbreaking, feels the time dealing with injuries last season was beneficial and helped him to develop mental toughness that may have been missing prior to the forced downtime.

"It was like a mental game, just everyday, having to do rehab," Giles stated. "I just had to keep a strong mental game and I worked on that and I think it helped me greatly in the long run."

As a member of the Reading Fightins this season, Giles has proven tough, converting save opportunities in each of his four appearances.  He has struck out 11 batters while walking two and surrendering one hit without allowing a run in five innings of work.

With the ultimate goal of reaching the big leagues that all prospect possess, Giles isn't one to look too far ahead.  He's got objectives that he feels are attainable which should lead to the other.

"My number one goal is just staying healthy and going out there and throwing strikes. I want to work on my slider a little more. I'm just going to do what they want me to do and we'll just start from there."

Sunday, April 13, 2014

BlueClaws Quotables: Manager Greg Legg Talks New Season

Earlier this weekend, I sat down with Class A Lakewood manager Greg Legg, who has been in the Phillies organization for the past 33 years, after being drafted by the club in 1982. He managed the BlueClaws in their inaugural season in 2001, managed Double-A Reading from 2002 to 2004, was the skipper for Class A Advanced Clearwater from 2005 through 2006 and managed short-season Class A Williamsport in 2007. He then acted as hitting coach in Lakewood from 2008 through 2013.

The former infielder played in the big leagues for just a handful of games in 1986 and 1987. He now grooms the Phillies' stars of the future.

Greg spoke with me about the roles of some of his players including Gabriel Lino, Carlos Tocci, Samuel Hiciano and Willians Astudillo, the BlueClaws' start to the new season, his own goals for this year plus plenty more. Read ahead for his thoughts.

-The team started the season on the road before having its opening home stand this weekend. What were your thoughts on how the team opened the season, winning two of six contests?

For what happened on the road, we played pretty good baseball. We could have won five of the six. J.P. (Crawford) missed two games. He could have been the difference in at least one of them. But, I thought we played pretty good ball on the road trip.

-The BlueClaws have just a small amount of returning names this year. What can you tell me about how you expect those guys to help the team this year?

Well, (Carlos) Tocci was so young last year, he almost had to come back here this year and he should patrol center field for us pretty good and get the job done out there. And we're hoping he's a little stronger, he's a bit heavier- six or seven pounds heavier- so far, he's swung the bat really good. He hasn't gotten much results for it, but he's driven some balls better than last season. I look for him to have a pretty good year. Larry Greene got out of the gate slow last year, joined us (late) and didn't have the year that he wanted and he's back here repeating and, hopefully, this year he'll have a nice season for us.

-How will the playing duties be distributed among the catchers on the roster?

Well, (Gabriel) Lino's our number one catcher for right now and he's done a great job for us. He had a great spring. (Willians) Astudillo's our first baseman-slash-third baseman-slash-DH-slash-catcher. He creates a lot of energy for us, with his enthusiasm for the game and his ability to put the ball in play and be a threat with the bat.

-Any details on the roles for any other offensive players?

(Samuel) Hiciano is our fourth outfielder and DH. He can play all three positions and he can do a little bit of everything. He throws well, runs well, shows a little bit of pop in his bat, so he's a pretty complete player. He's just got to get some at bats and grow as a player.

-Can you share some thoughts on Mark Leiter Jr., who has performed strongly for you guys?

Yeah, he pitched great last year and the two games he pitched on the road trip really rested our bullpen and gave us a shot in the arm. He could be 2-0 real easy.


-How about that bullpen...are there any defined roles for a lot of those guys?

No, I don't think you can, down here in the Sally League. At least not at the beginning. If we get a chance to be a playoff type team, maybe at the end, we'll do a little more of that, but for right now, we're going to try to get some guys a couple innings here and there and let it play itself out, see who the guys are. Maybe give them all a chance to close and find out who the right guy is.

-Last thing...your role. You're new to the role, but not new to the role. Just talk about that a bit and what is your outlook for the year?

Well, I'm here to try teach them as much as I can about playing pro ball, but a lot of them are new to it, it's their first full year. Some of them have a little more experience, (they know) what to expect, how to handle it the correct way. I'm supposed to be there for them, but, hopefully, I start the season with these 25 guys and end the season with 25 different guys. That's kind of my goal.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

PhoulBallz Interview: OF Prospect Dylan Cozens

Dylan Cozens, image- MiLB.com
Taken with the Phillies 2nd round draft choice in 2012, Dylan Cozens has been an impressive young player since joining the organization.

In 50 games with the Gulf Coast League team after signing his first pro contract, the Arizona native sported a .255 average with five home runs and 24 RBI.

Last year with short-season Class A Williamsport the six-foot-six 235-pounder tallied a .265 average with nine homers and 35 homers in 68 games.

Assigned to a full-season club for the first time in his career, the 19-year-old Cozens will man right field for Greg Legg's Class A Lakewood BlueClaws this year. Through a week of the season, the lefty batting power hitter is batting .278 with two doubles and four runs driven in.

This week I spoke with Dylan about being drafted, his progress thus far as a pro, his coaches and more. Read ahead for that full interview with the Phils' 19th ranked prospect.

-When you were drafted by the Phillies back in 2012, how were you tracking it and how did you celebrate?

I just watched on the computer, the day of the draft. I went out to a sports bar afterwards, had a bunch of people come out and celebrate and it was a good time. Pretty much anybody that was close to me could come on and come celebrate with me, so it was friends and family.

-Were you expecting the Phillies to be the team that drafted you or were they a surprise?

I was kind of expecting it. It was them and a couple other teams that I was pretty sure would be one of those three teams. So, the Phillies, I felt pretty strong about them.

-Who were the other teams that were most interested in you?

The Rangers and the Yankees.

-You performed well in the New York-Penn League last year. What thoughts can you share on your efforts there?

I think I did a decent job. I still had a lot of room to improve. I'm not happy, but I'm also not not happy with the way I played. So, I mean, I'm always looking to get better. I'm never satisfied. Just looking to have a better year this year.

-Do you think the competition there prepared you for the Sally League this year and when were you ready to take the step here?

I definitely feel like I'm ready for this step here. I felt like I was ready last year. Just, where ever you send me, I feel like I'm ready for it. If you move me up tomorrow, I feel like I'm going to go out there and compete and play well and hang with everybody. Last year, definitely I gained a lot of experience. This year's going to be my first full year, so that'll be a good learning experience to see what a full season is like, so I'm excited.

-So, you guys got the home opener out of the way here and you've been in town in Lakewood for a short period of time. What are your impression of the town thus far and breaking in the season here?

So far, from what I've seen, it's a nice, cool, peaceful town. Looks like there's a lot of good people who live here. I haven't gotten to see a whole lot, but it seems like it's going to be a cool place to spend the summer.

-Sometimes guys will come here with existing impressions of the Jersey shore. Is that the case for you?

(Laughs) I don't know. I guess I'll just have to go see for myself and see what the hype's all about.

-Speaking of hype, there's some buzz surrounding you. You're a big guy, you hit for power, scouts like you. If you were going to scout yourself, what would you share with me?

I'd say I'm going to go out there every day and give my best. I've got some tools and the game's going to bring those tools out. I'm just always going to give 100-percent and hustle.

-I also wanted to ask you, since you've been in the Phils system, what are your thoughts on the coaching staff and how they've helped you progress so far?

I love all those coaches. It's a great coaching staff. They've all helped me a ton and they're always there for me. Always saying positive things and positive criticism and they'll get on me, if I need to be...they're all great and I'm blessed to have such a great coaching staff.

-Your manager this year, Greg Legg, is often popular with the hitters. Thoughts on Greg specifically?

I love him. I mean, he's probably one of my favorite managers as a baseball player in my whole life. He's a cool guy off the field, on the field, in the clubhouse. He's fun to be around, fun to play for. He knows what he's doing and I feel like he's a big time manager and I feel lucky to be playing for him.

-And you mentioned coach Greg being cool off the field, I wanted to ask a couple things about you away from the field before I let you go. What's your favorite baseball movie and why?

I'd have to say The Sandlot. It's just a classic.

-Before you signed as a pro, who were some player you looked up to?

I'd say Mike Trout was one of them. Josh Hamilton is another.

-That's surprising, because Trout is such a young guy, but, clearly, you are too. But he was a guy that was big before you signed and was doing things that impressed you?

Definitely! He's kind of like how I want my career to go. Try to get up there soon and be a young player in the big leagues soon. The kid hustles, runs hard, makes crazy catches in the outfield, hits for power, hits for average, he does it all. That's kind of what I'd like to model my

Friday, April 11, 2014

PhoulBallz Podcast Episode 57: Wes Chamberlain Interview

On episode 57 of the PhoulBallz Minor League Podcast Tug and Jay are joined by former Phillies outfielder Wes Chamberlain who chats about his new book, his pro career, playing in Japan, Philadelphia fans and tons more. The guys also discuss Tug's new gig as Reading team photographer as well as early season success for some Double-A Fightins talent like Kenny Giles, Severino Gonzalez, Cameron Perkins and Edgar Duran among others.

Use the media player below to stream the full episode, or simply download it by clicking HERE.

You can also check out previous episodes and subscribe on iTunes

Lakewood drops another home opener, SP Viza stays positive

Tyler Viza on opening night in Lakewood, image-20/20 Visual Media
Kicking off their home schedule on Thursday evening the Lakewood BlueClaws saw a familiar result. For the 12th time in 14 seasons, the Class A affiliate of the Phillies dropped their home opener, as they fell 6-0 to the Hagerstown (MD) Suns.

In front of an announced crowd of 7.006 at the Jersey shore's finest sports facility, FirstEnergy Park, righty hurler Tyler Viza, a 32nd round draft choice last year, took the mound. The 19-year-old was charged with five runs (four earned) on five hits over five-plus innings of work while striking out five and walking just one.

Viza, a six-foot-three 170-pounder felt like he executed his game plan on the mound, but cited some costly pitches in the 6th frame as the difference in the contest.

"I felt really good," Viza stated. "I felt like my pitches were doing what they were supposed to and I was throwing them where they were supposed to go. I just made a couple bad pitches and (the Suns) knocked on the door, when they needed to."

One of the team's youngest players, Viza, is grateful for the chance to open his 2014 campaign on a full season roster and is already focused on bouncing back to earn wins for the home crowd the next time he has a chance.

"I got the opportunity to come and play for a good team with a great bunch of guys and I'm ready for the opportunity and we've got a long season ahead of us and we'll get some wins," Viza added.

On the offensive side for the BlueClaws, doubles by Samuel Hiciano, Carlos Tocci and Gabe Lino were the only safeties to speak of.

The match up was the first of 27 times the BlueClaws will face the Suns (Nationals affiliate) this season. The clubs will continue their series Friday through Sunday in Lakewood. Fans can attend each of those contests for just $1 thanks to the Asbury Park Press.

This piece appeared on ShoreSportsNetwork.com.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Morandini climbing back toward majors in second pro career

The Lehigh Valley coaching staff includes some reinforcements this year, at the expense of the local shore team, with former Phillies second baseman Mickey Morandini added to the Triple-A team's dugout personnel.

Taking on the newly created duty of bench coach, the 1996 National League All-Star hopes to use his third professional coaching assignment as a stepping stone back to the top level of the sport.

It's not just players that want to ascend upward in the ranks.

Having been the manager of the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws for each of the past two seasons and the skipper of short-season Class A Williamsport prior to that, Morandini took on the new role with the IronPigs after advising the Phillies that he wanted to do whatever he could to move closer to the major leagues.

Joining incumbent manager Dave Brundage, hitting coach Sal Rende and pitching coach Ray Burris, Morandini is absorbing as much as he can and is slated to take on various levels of duties with Lehigh Valley.

"I'm gonna be coaching some third base, some first base, I'll be in charge of the infielders and some base running, so it's gonna be a multitude of things that I'll do.  But, it's going well.  I'm looking forward to it," Morandini excitedly stated last week.

As a member of the Triple-A staff, Morandini was among the coaches utilized for big league spring training this year as well.  He hopes to use his time around those at the top and the knowledge of his counterparts to his advantage.

"I learned a lot in big league camp this year," Morandini said.  "I really enjoyed that, being around the Bowa's and the Sandberg's and all those guys.  And I'm with, really, a veteran coaching group here.  They've been around a long time, so I'm just trying to learn as much as I can from them and trying to help these players stay in shape and do the right things and get them prepared so when the big club needs somebody, they're ready to go up." 

While he climbs his way through the developmental ranks for his second career in pro ball, Morandini has noticed some upgrades in the facilities, in places such as Lakewood, that he feels are advantageous to today's players and fans alike. 

"There weren't a lot of good parks (when I played)...not like there are now," Morandini asserted.  "You've got some state-of-the-art minor league parks now.  There were a lot of old buildings.  The playing surface wasn't very good at times.  You didn't draw very well.  Minor league baseball has come a long way with the stadiums and the fan support and things like that."

Morandini will look to use the increasingly posh digs of today's minor league teams as launching pads back toward the big leagues in the coming seasons, as another recent BlueClaws manager, Mark Parent, did, when he took a job as bench coach for the Chicago White Sox after leading Lakewood to a South Atlantic League title in 2010 and helping Reading clinch a playoff berth the following year.

Taking over for Morandini as BlueClaws skipper this year is Greg Legg, who had served as the team's hitting coach since 2008 and previously managed Lakewood in 2001.  This season will mark Legg's 33rd year in the Phillies organization.

The BlueClaws will open their 2014 home schedule this Thursday at 6:35 PM, when they host the Hagerstown Suns for the first of a four game series.


This article was originally posted on ShoreSportsNetwork.com.  

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Schedule of Events for Phillies Home Opener

A brand new season is already more than a week old, but the home schedule for the Phillies is set to get underway on Tuesday.  For the team's 2014 home opener in which the Phils host the Milwaukee Brewers, the following is the schedule of events.


7 AM- The Majestic Clubhouse store opens.

1 PM- Citizens Bank Way Opening Day Party...features Live Music from Go Go Gadjet, food, beverages.

1:13 PM- Phillies batting practice.

1:35 PM- All gates open.

2:13 PM- Brewers batting practice.

3:13 PM- Line up on 10th St, behind the ballpark.  Fans not yet in the park can line up outside the stadium to view the 2014 make their grand entrance into opening day, as their led by the Cardinal O'Hara High School Marching Band.

3:22 PM- Fans are urged to be in their seats for pregame ceremonies as the team enters from the outfield down the red carpet.

3:34 PM- "Philadelphia Pride" and "America the Beautiful" sung by Philadelphia Boys Choir and Men's Chorale.

3:40 PM- Brewers team introduction.

3:44 PM- Phillies team introduction.

3:50 PM- National anthem sung by Jacquie Lee of NBC's The Voice.

4 PM- Ceremonial 1st pitch, featuring a surprise Phillies alumnus.

4:07 PM- Game time.

5th inning- Live performance of "What's the Phanatic Say?"

7th inning- "God Bless America" sung by Julie Udine of the cast of "Phanton of the Opera"

Saturday, April 5, 2014

PhoulBallz Interview: OF Cameron Perkins

Cam Perkins, Image- Jay Floyd
In a short amount of time, outfielder Cameron Perkins has made a name for himself in the Phils system. The 23-year-old is among the Double-A Reading Fightins starting outfield less than two years after he was drafted in the 6th round out of Purdue University.

Upon debuting in the minors, Perkins batted .294 with a home run and 41 RBI in 72 combined games with the Gulf Coast League Phillies and short-season Class A Williamsport in 2012.

Last year, despite missing some time with Class A Advanced Clearwater due to an injury, the six-foot-five 195 pound righty hitter posted a .295 average with six homers and 53 RBI in 103 contests.

At this pace, it may not be long before Perkins is impacting baseball betting found on an online sportsbook.

This week, I spoke with Cam, who shared his thoughts on his quick progress as a pro, his coaching staff with Reading, his strengths as a player and plenty more. Read ahead for that full interview.

-What are your thoughts on starting out your second full pro season in the Eastern League at the Double-A level?

You know, I'm excited. I mean, as long as you're climbing the ladder and not going backwards, or what everyone says, if you're steadily moving up, it's good. I'm excited to be here. It looks like a fun town. I'm used to playing in cold weather, being from up north, so that's not gonna effect me too much, I feel like. And it looks like it'll be a lot of fun.

-Last year in Clearwater, you had a good season down there. What can you share about your time playing in the Florida State League?

It was a pretty solid year. You know, I would have liked to win more games, but I feel like that's (the same) with anyone. Offensively, I came to play and I had a lot of things go my way. I hit some balls hard, had some good swings. Besides breaking my wrist and being out for that time, I couldn't have asked for a better season.

-You've progressed upward in the Phils system at quite a solid pace. How pleased are you with the progress you've made since you were drafted?

So far, my professional career has gone how I want it to go. But, even if you don't move up as quickly as I did, all you can do is go on whatever roster they put you on and play as best you can. That's really all that's in my control. I can't control where they put me or if I'm in the lineup that day. All I can control is, what can I do to help my team win? Getting a bunt down, catching a fly ball, cutting a ball off in the gap. What can I do to help the team win that day? That's what I like to focus on.

-If you were asked to scout yourself, what would you cite as some strengths for yourself?

I'm a pretty aggressive hitter. I feel like I put the ball in play pretty consistently. I swing at a lot of pitches, but that's kind of my game. I go up there and I'm ready to hit, so it helps me out because I can find balls to hit early in the count, but then sometimes it gets me in trouble. I'm pretty aggressive. It's a good thing for knocking in runs.

-Who are you rooming with this season?

My roommates this year are Perci Garner, Hoby Milner and Aaron Altherr once he gets here. It's a pretty fun group. We like to goof around and play a lot of video games. Pretty laid back. It's going to be a lot of fun this year.

(Altherr is currently on the disabled list with a wrist issue)

-What are your impressions of the coaching staff here with Reading thus far?

I like it. I think, Coach Ducey, he's new to the organization, so he's new to not just myself. And he's a guy that definitely wants to get after it and work. You know, he's not there to sit around like some guys. If you're doing anything, you should be doing it with a purpose. That's his motto. And Dusty (Wathan), I mean I really like him. He's definitely a players' coach. He likes to play the kind of baseball that I like to play. I'm the kind that's going out there, fundamentally, I need to be able to hit and run, hit the ball and move runners. It's fun when you play baseball that way, when you play fundamentally sound and you're scoring runs by not hitting it over the fence. It's a lot of fun. That's the kind of baseball he wants to play and I feel like that's the kind of baseball we are going to play as a team.

-Who were some players that you looked up to prior to turning pro?

Before I turned pro...I was always a Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell fan. I really liked how Craig Biggio played. He played hard and he was a scrappy guy. But, I always enjoyed watching Vladimir Guerrero, cause I always classified myself- obviously, he's miles and miles ahead of me, but he would swing at a ball that's in the other batters box and hit it over the fence somehow and that's my goal, if I swing at a bad pitch, I can still hit it pretty well!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Buchanan continues to shine, wins IronPigs opener

David Buchanan with Reading in 2013, Image- Jay Floyd
Righty pitcher David Buchanan, building on his excellent spring season with the Phillies, put forth a great effort to open the Triple-A schedule with Lehigh Valley on Thursday night, leading his team to victory.

Taking the mound as the IronPigs' opening day starter against Boston affiliate Pawtucket, the 24-year-old tossed six scoreless innings while allowing two hits, two walks and notching five strike outs.

Buchanan has displayed considerable improvement over the past year and received positive feedback from the likes of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, A.J. Burnett and Kyle Kendrick while pitching with the big league team in spring training.

Coaches and veterans alike were pleased with his pace, the way he attacks the strike zone and his manner of challenging opposing batters. The uplifting words had a lasting impact on the Georgia native and he's experienced a boost in confidence because of it.

"It's something to build off of," Buchanan said earlier this week. "You know, when you hear that from older guys, especially from guys at the top level, that's something that you really take to heart. So, I'm going to continue to thrive off of the confidence that they gave me and the advice and incorporate it all and, hopefully, it comes out to success."

The six-foot-three 200-pounder, who went 4-2 with a 3.00 ERA in six starts for the IronPigs last year to wrap up his season, says adjustments to the grips on his cutter and curve ball have refined his arsenal and resulted in improved output on the mound.

In Grapefruit League competition, the Phils' 7th round pick from 2010 posted a 1-1 record with a 2.25 ERA and a .146 batting average against while striking out 11 and walking two in 12 innings pitched. His consistent efforts through five appearances (four starts) had his name in the mix to be included in the Phillies' rotation this season.

"Just knowing that I was that close and being the last guy invited and being that close to making the team out of camp, that really lifted my spirits and it was a pleasure to be down there for that long. I have no regrets," Buchanan stated.

Right-handers Mike Nesseth and Luis Garcia as well as left-hander Jeremy Horst each added a scoreless/hitless frame for the 'Pigs to lock down Buchanan's first win of the season, a 4-0 victory over the PawSox in Rhode Island.

First baseman Jim Murphy led the Lehigh Valley offense with three hits including a double and a triple while driving in a run. Additionally, Buchanan's battery mate Cameron Rupp launched a solo homer for the IronPigs.

More Phils minors opening day notes...

The Double-A Reading Fightins were no-hit in a rain shortened affair at home against the Boston affiliate Portland Sea Dogs. Lefty Henry Owens notched nine strike outs and walked two through six innings. Figthins left-hander Jesse Biddle took the loss, allowing nine hits and four earned runs while walking two and striking out five in 3 1/3 innings.

The Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers were shutout, dropping their opener 7-0 to the Dunedin Blue Jays. In a rehab outing, Phils reliever Mike Adams tossed a scoreless frame, allowing a hit while striking out two. Adams is recovering from off-season shoulder surgery.

The Class A Lakewood BlueClaws won their opener in Savannah against the Mets affiliate Sand Gnats. Larry Greene Jr. carried the offense, lacing three hits, including a triple, and driving in four runs. New Jersey native Mark Leiter Jr. earned the win, tossing five shutout inning.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Minor League Notes and Quotes: Fightins & IronPigs Updates

-Both the Triple-A Lehigh Valley and Double-A Reading coaching staffs openly addressed an organization-wide focus on small ball prior to both clubs opening their seasons. The directive, handed down by new Phils skipper Ryne Sandberg, will have the entire Phillies system playing a more aggressive style of baseball.

Dusty Wathan, Image- Jay Floyd
"I think we're going to utilize a National League style of baseball dating back to the 70's a little bit. You'll see some triples, some hit-and-run and some bunting. I think it's kind of an organizational philosophy since Ryne has taken over. You're going to see it implemented not only at the big league level, but at the minor league level. It's something we really stress, is base running, being aggressive, taking extra bases, sacrifice bunting, hitting and running. So, you're going to see a very aggressive game and it's going to be a lot of fun to watch," Reading manager Dusty Wathan said on Tuesday.

"I guess it's just a little more attention to detail, doing the little things and, you know, we never really got away from it, but the home run was a big part of the game not too long ago. So, we're trying to get back to the stolen bases, the bunts, the hit and runs, you know, the little things that'll help you win ball games," Lehigh Valley bench coach Mickey Morandini stated.

-Wathan expressed confidence that last year's Paul Owens Award winner Severino Gonzalez has the stuff to compete at the Double-A level, citing a mature frame of mind, describing a situation in spring training where the 20-year-old changed from the windup to pitching from the stretch on his own, in order to find his rhythm.

On the youngster with great control, Wathan added, "(Severino) can make the ball go both ways, up and down. He changes speeds, his change up's come a long way, so I absolutely think he can (compete in the Eastern League) and I think we're in a good situation with him, because you can teach a guy to throw balls. It's more difficult to teach a guy to throw strikes."

-Tommy Joseph will be the primary backstop for the Fightins. Sebastian Valle will serve as the team's backup catcher. Joseph, who was the big get in the Hunter Pence trade with San Francisco in 2012, missed a large portion of last season while dealing with concussion symptoms.

-Flame thrower Kenny Giles will begin the season as the Fightins' closer. The 23-year-old, who is equipped with a triple-digit fastball, missed significant time last season dealing with two oblique strains on opposing sides while on the Class-A Advanced Clearwater roster.

-Wathan offered his thoughts on lefty Mario Hollands, who made his big league debut this week after pitching in Reading in each of the past two seasons...

"Aw, it's awesome! What a great story. I think, uh, a guy that couldn't break with the team for two years, you know, I know there were talks of, 'We love the guy, but there's no room for him', all this stuff year after year. Mario's just one of those guys, he goes out there, like we say, he throws strikes, care free attitude, competes like crazy when he goes out there, great person, great teammate and he's getting rewarded for that right now."

-Righty hurler David Buchanan will be the IronPigs' opening day starting pitcher, when they take on Pawtucket to open the season on Thursday. In five Grapefruit League contests with the big league club this spring, Buchanan sported a 1-1 record with a 2.25 ERA while striking out 11 and walking two in 12 innings pitched.

-Maikel Franco will primarily man third base for the IronPigs, but the club's coaching staff expects to get him occasional exposure at first base. Franco, who played shortstop prior to signing as a pro, added to his versatility last year, playing some first with Reading and with the Gigantes in the Dominican Winter League.

Mickey Morandini, Image- Jay Floyd
Morandini stated, about Franco, "He will get some opportunities to play first base, 'cause if, knock on wood, something happens to Ryan (Howard), and Franco gets the call, he's got to be able to play over there."

Morandini spoke of a few other IronPigs players...

On Leandro Castro- "I mean Castro's an interesting player. He's put up some good numbers where he's been. He's got some speed. He plays good defense. He's got a strong arm. So, I think he's someone we can watch a little bit."

On Tyson Gillies- "He's got all the tools. We just need him to kind of put that together and get that confidence going and keep him on the field."

On Cameron Rupp- "He's shown that he's come a long way in a short period of time. He's a heck of a defensive catcher and he belongs in the big leagues and he's going to be there, hopefully, back up there pretty soon."

Monday, March 31, 2014

Opening Day Preview: Phillies at Rangers

The 2014 season kicks off on Monday, as the Phillies open on a road trip, visiting the American League's Texas Rangers.  The newly renamed Globe Life Park will play host to both clubs' initial series of the season.

While the core of the Phillies lineup has looked the same for several years, the Rangers have new additions leading the charge into the 2014 season, namely Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo.  Their first real test in their new uniforms will come against a familiar figure.

Phils ace Cliff Lee will be making his first return to the Texas mound since he pitched for the Rangers in the 2010 World Series.  Rangers hurler Tanner Scheppers will be making his debut as a starter after shining out of the bullpen last season.

Weather forecasts call for 80 degrees and partly cloudy on Monday in Arlington.  The teams will play two more games against one another there on Wednesday and Thursday.

Read ahead for details on the pitching match up plus plenty more stats.

Monday, 2:05pm.  Cliff Lee (14-8, 2.87 ERA in 2013) vs. Tanner Scheppers (6-2, 1.88 ERA in 2013).  In 16 road starts last season, the lefty Lee posted a 7-3 record along with a 2.43 ERA.  Lee had a 2-1 record in three starts against interleague opponents last year.  In his career against Lee, Adrian Beltre is 4-for-32 (.125 avg).  Scheppers, a right-hander, was the Rangers' 1st round (44th overall) draft choice in 2009.  The 27-year-old Scheppers was 3-0 with a 2.85 ERA in 42 home games last season.


Ben Revere is 13-for-42 (.310 avg) in his career at Texas.  Revere batted .294 in 21 spring training games this year.

Marlon Byrd is a career .305 hitter with 25 homers and 123 RBI at Globe Life Park.  Byrd batted .298 in 21 games this spring.

In 22 games against Texas in his career, Ryan Howard is a .273 hitter with two homers and three RBI.  Howard batted .234 in 45 road games in 2013.

Outfielder Shin-Soo Choo went 3-for-19 (.158 avg) against the Phillies last season.   Choo batted .161 in 20 games this spring.

Prince Fielder went 1-for-12 (.083 avg) against the Phillies last season.  Fielder batted .225 with a double and no RBI in the postseason last year. 

Geovany Soto batted .307 with seven home runs and 16 RBI at the Ballpark in Arlington last season.  The righty batting Soto batted just .200 against lefties last year. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Minor League Roster Announcements

JP Crawford, Image- Jay Floyd
As the 2014 season draws near, rosters for the Phillies' minor league clubs have begun to surface.

The Class A Lakewood BlueClaws will feature the return of last year's top draft selection SS J.P. Crawford. Local NJ product Mark Leiter Jr., who made his pro debut last year, will return to the Claws as well.

The team's outfield will be made up of 2011 top pick Larry Greene Jr., 2012 2nd rounder Dylan Cozens, well-regarded youngster Carlos Tocci as well as Samuel Hiciano.

Joining Crawford in the infield will be Andrew Pullin, Zach Green, Wilmer Oberto and Robinson Torres.

The team's backstops will be two Velezuelans Gabriel Lino and Willians Astudillo along with Jose Mayorga of Panama.

The Lakewood pitching staff will also feature Alejandro Arteaga, Tyler Buckley, Ranfi Casimiro, Cody Forsythe, Ulises Joaquin, Shane Martin, Manny Martinez, Julio Reyes, Yacksel Rios, Keivi Rojas, Jesen Therrien and Tyler Viza.

The Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs will feature plenty of familiar names on their roster. The team's outfield will include last season's Phillies cup-of-coffee name Steve Susdorf while catcher Cameron Rupp, who made his big league debut also last year will be on the opening day roster for the Pigs. Reliever Phillippe Aumont and starting hurler Jonathan Pettibone were also with the big league club last year and will open the season with LV.

According to Greg Joyce the team will also be made up the following:

Outfield- Tyson Gillies, Clete Thomas and Leandro Castro.
Infield- Maikel Franco, Jim Murphy, Tyler Henson, Reid Brignac, Andres Blanco and Troy Hanzawa.
Catcher- Koyie Hill
Pitchers- Greg Smith, David Buchanan, Barry Enright, Sean O'Sullivan, Luis Garcia, Shawn Camp, Hector Neris, Mike Nesseth, Kyle Simon, Jeremy Horst, Cesar Jimenez.
Disabled list- Brian Bixler, Chris Bootcheck, Adam Morgan, Dave Sappelt.

The Double-A Reading Fightins will feature a load returning names including top pitching prospect Jesse Biddle, outfielders Zach Collier, Anthony Hewitt and Kelly Dugan, infielders Albert Cartwright, Edgar Duran and Matt Tolbert, catchers Sebastian Valle and Tommy Joseph, pitchers Tyler Knigge, Brody Colvin, Jay Johnson, Justin Friend and Austin Wright.

Also included on the Reading pitching staff will be lefty Hoby Milner, right-hander Perci Garner, Luis Paulino, Kenny Giles and Nefi Ogando. Last year's Paul Owens Award winner and rising pitching prospect Severino Gonzalez will also open the season with Reading.

Infielders Brock Stassi, Carlos Alonso and Chris Serritella will also be sporting Ostriches on their caps to open the 2014 campaign.

Cameron Perkins will round out the outfield for the Figthins.

Aaron Altherr, a toolsy outfielder that is often praised by scouts, is slated to begin the season on the disabled list for Reading. Hurler Ryan Demmin and Jiwan James will also open the season on the DL.