Tuesday, November 30, 2010

De Fratus Reaches Goals, Sets Sights Higher For 2011

Right-handed pitcher Justin De Fratus has been a fast mover up the Phillies prospect rankings over the past couple of years, thanks to a deep determination and a goal-oriented outlook.

As a player in his youth, Justin wanted to be the best pitcher he could be, so he worked countless hours under the watchful eye of his father, Terry. The focus was always on throwing strikes, which helped De Fratus stand out and continue pitching beyond high school.

While pitching for Ventura College, De Fratus set his sites on becoming a professional pitcher. He signed his first pro contract after being drafted by the Phillies in the 11th round of the 2007 amateur draft.

As he spent the 2008 season with the short-season Williamsport Crosscutters, De Fratus set out to reach Class A ball in 2009 and did so by helping the Lakewood BlueClaws lock down their first of two consecutive South Atlantic League championships.

In 2010, De Fratus focused on three more potential accomplishments to strive for. Certainly, every minor leaguer's goal each season is to reach the big leagues, but with more sensible targets in mind, such as reaching Double A, successfully pitching in the Arizona Fall League and representing the United States in the Pan-Am qualifiers, De Fratus' list of objectives for this year were attainable.

"I accomplish every goal that I set out for myself...and then more. Outside of going the the big leagues, this season was really just a dream come true," De Fratus said in an exclusive interview.

After beginning the 2010 regular season with High-A level Clearwater and posting a 2-0 record with 15 saves and a 1.79 ERA in 29 games, De Fratus was promoted to Double A Reading in July. Over the last two months of the season, he went 1-0 with 6 saves and a 2.19 ERA in 20 games. Other impressive stats collected by De Fratus during the regular season included his strike out total of 71, compared to his walk total of 16 in 65 innings pitched, between the two levels of the minors.

De Fratus, a 6'5" 215 pounder, followed up his exceptional regular season campaign by pitching for Team USA in the Pan American qualifying tournament held in Puerto Rico. De Fratus pitched well in relief and helped the Americans clinch a tie for third place (9-1 overall record) and earn a spot in next year's Pan American games in Mexico.

"After I saw (former teammate in Lakewood, BJ Rosenberg) do it last year, I thought it would be really cool to pitch for my country like that," De Fratus said of his aspirations of pitching for Team USA. "That's really the best word to describe it. Other than speaking about how proud you are to put on that USA uniform, the one word to describe (the experience) is just 'cool'. I'm grateful that I am one of the few who got to do that."

Following the time representing his country, De Fratus ventured to the Arizona Fall League, where he was not scored upon in 7 appearances and held opponents to a .125 batting average.

As a member of the AFL's Mesa Solar Sox, De Fratus set out to improve his slider, which he felt he had lost the feel for this year. Former Major League hurler Ricky Bones worked closely with De Fratus to help with the adjustments and return his confidence in it. "He changed the grip by literally a quarter of an inch and it made a world of difference," De Fratus stated.

De Fratus' pitching repertoire also includes a change up as well as a mid-90's fastball.

Aside from building bonds with his Autumn teammates, De Fratus feels the advantages that he will take away from pitching with two extra teams for an additional two months, following the minor league regular season wrapping up, will be his strength. "My season lasted longer than the big league season does. I know I have the stamina to go start to finish in a full season," De Fratus said.

Moving toward 2011, De Fratus has a single goal in mind and that is to reach the Major Leagues. This month, the Phillies added De Fratus, who spent a couple games with the big league team in spring training in 2010, to their Major League 40-man roster, in order to protect him from the MLB Rule 5 draft.

"I'm really excited, with being put on the 40-man. I'm excited to get to show what I can do (this coming spring) in front of Charlie Manuel and Rich Dubee. Whether I make it to the big leagues or not, it's just an exciting opportunity to get to pitch in front of them.

"I know in my heart and I feel that I have a good shot at, hopefully, making the team out of spring training. That's all I'm concerned about right now, is putting myself in the best possible position to make the Major League club, and if I don't, I want to be the first person they call," De Fratus said.

The commitment that De Fratus possesses will undoubtedly lead to a call up to the big club, and if his track record is any indication, that should happen as soon as De Fratus wants it to.

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday School: Phillies History Lesson 81

Jimmy Ring was a righty hurler with the Phillies from 1921-1925 and then again in 1928. Ring debuted in the Majors with the Cincinatti Reds in 1917, where his manager was pitching great Christy Mathewson.

In his rookie season, Ring posted a 3-7 record and a 4.40 ERA. After having a look at Ring's disappointing "stuff", Mathewson taught Ring a curveball that helped him improve and continue on in the Majors for 11 more seasons. In 1918, Ring improved his numbers, going 9-5 with a 2.85 ERA.

The following season, Ring helped the Reds win the National League pennant, winning 10 games and improved his ERA a considerable amount, rocking a 2.26 mark. In the famed "Black Sox" World Series against Chicago, Ring went 1-1, while allowing just 1 earned run in 14 innings.


Following another season with the Reds, Ring was traded to the Phillies in a deal for pitcher Eppa Rixey. Unfortunately for the Phils, Ring would only produce one winning season, while Rixey went on to win 19 games or better in 4 of his first 5 seasons as a Red.

Ring, who was twice the Phillies' opening day pitcher, often had trouble with his command, leading the National League in walked batters in four consecutive years with the Phillies and led the league in wild pitches in 5 out of 6 seasons.

In 1921, Ring had a 10-19 record with a 4.24 ERA on a Phillies club where no pitcher won more than 11 games. After going 12-18 in 1922, Ring went 18-16 in 1923. However, even though he posted a winning record on a team that had 50 wins and 104 losses, Ring was far from a pitching force, weakening down the stretch and losing 9 of his final 11 starts that season.

The Phillies traded Ring to the Giants after the 1925 season for pitcher/first baseman Jack Netley and pitcher Wayland Dean. With New York, Ring served up an 11-10 record before being dealt to St. Louis in a deal for Rogers Hornsby.

Ring returned to the Phillies to wrap up his playing career, going 4-17 with a 6.44 ERA in 1928. In 218 career games with Philadelphia, Ring had a 68-96 record with a 4.47 ERA.

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Updates on All Four Caribbean Winter Leagues

With many individuals from the Phillies' organization playing in the Caribbean "Winter" leagues, there is still plenty of baseball action to keep tabs on. Below is a run down of all the key players spending time trying to sharpen their skills and gain some extra experience during the North American offseason.


Dominican Winter Baseball League-

David Herndon, a 2010 rookie that spent the entire season on the Phillies' big league roster, is pitching for the Cibao Gigantes. In 2 relief outings, Herndon has pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings. He hasn't walked or struck out a batter in his limited game time, to this point. Herndon, 25, was a Rule 5 draft pick by the Phillies last off-season. In 47 games in the Majors this season, Herndon posted a 1-3 record with a 4.30 ERA, while allowing just 2 HR in 52 1/3 innings pitched.

Antonio Bastardo, a teammate of Herndon with the Phillies this season, continues to occupy the same bullpen as Herndon. In 5 relief outings with the Gigantes, Bastardo has held his opponents hitless in 5 innings, while striking out 6 batters and walking none. With the Major League Phillies this year, Bastardo went 2-0 with a 4.34 ERA in 25 games.

Juan Perez, who the Phillies recently signed to a minor league contract, is another pitcher on the Gigantes roster. The lefty hurler is 1-1 with an 11.81 ERA in 13 DWBL outings...all in relief. The 32-year-old Perez pitched with the Dodgers Triple-A affiliate in Albuquerque in 2010, and posted a 4-3 record with a 2.96 ERA and a save in 45 games there. Last week, Perez was announced as a Phillies non-roster spring training invitee.

Domonic Brown, another Phils rookie in 2010, is playing with the Escogido Leones. The lefty hitting outfielder has struggled, going just 1-for-19 (.053 avg) in his first 6 games played in the Dominican League.

Timo Perez, a former Major Leaguer who spent time with the Phillies Double-A club in Reading this year, has been hitting very well for the Licey Tigres. In 27 games, the lefty batting outfielder has posted a .333 average, which is good enough for 4th best in the league. Perez, a Dominican native, also has 2 HR and 15 RBI for the Tigres.

Phillies pitching prospect Yohan Flande hasn't been extremely sharp with the Toros. In 5 games, 4 of which were starts, the 24-year-old Flande has a 1-1 record with a 5.63 ERA while allowing opposing batters to post a .313 average. In 27 starts at Double-A Reading this year, Flande went 10-8 with a 4.38 ERA.

Infielder Ozzie Chavez, who split the regular season with Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley, is batting .130 in 12 games with the Toros, with no extra base hits and 3 runs scored. Chavez is a native of the Dominican Republic.

Derrick Loop, who pitched with High-A level Clearwater and Lehigh Valley in the Phillies system this year, has a 1-0 record and a 3.00 ERA in 11 relief outings for the Aguilas. Loop has held batters hitless with runners in scoring position thus far in DWBL action.

Former Phillie Fabio Castro leads the Dominican League in all three pitching triple crown categories (wins, ERA & strike outs) for the Gigantes. Castro is 4-1 with a 1.29 ERA and 52 strike outs in 35 innings over 6 starts.


Mexican League-

Pitcher Brian Mazone, who went 7-13 in 28 starts with Lehigh Valley this year, is doing poorly with the Mexicali Aquilas. In 3 Mexican League starts, Mazone has a 0-2 record with a 10.22 ERA. Mazone, a 34-year-old minor league journeyman, has never pitched in the majors.

20-year-old catcher Angel Chavarin, who was a member of the Gulf Coast League champion Phillies squad this year, is hitless in 2 games with the Mexicali Aquilas thus far.

Highly regarded catching prospect Sebastian Valle has been solid with the Los Mochis Caneros. The Mexico native Valle has posted a .264 average with 3 homers and 10 RBI in 27 games. Valle was a member of the A Level Lakewood BlueClaws that won two consecutive South Atlantic League championships over the past couple seasons.


Puerto Rican League-

Julio Rodriguez, another member of the 2010 SAL title winning Lakewood club, is pitching with the Carolina Gigantes. The 20-year-old righty hurler has a 2-1 record 3.80 ERA in 6 games, 5 of which were starts. In 20 games combined between short season Williamsport and A level Lakewood, in 2010, Rodriguez went 7-3 with a 1.89 ERA in 90 1/3 innings pitched.

Former Phillie Antonio Alfonseca is also a member of the Carolina roster. In 12 games, Alfonseca is 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA.


Venezuelan League-

Luis Unda, a left-handed outfielder, has gone 3-for-9 (.333 avg) in 4 games with the Cardenales. Unda, 20, batted .245 with no homers and 16 RBI in 44 games with the Gulf Coast League Phillies in 2010.

Switch-hitting infielder Freddy Galvis is batting .188 in 21 games with the Navegantes. Galvis has well regarded defense, but his .586 OPS in 138 games with Double A Reading in 2010 isn't the sort of offense the Phillies are hoping for from him.

A member of the Phillies' 2009 World Series team who toiled around at Double A in 2010, Sergio Escalona, hasn't been on point thus far with the Tiburones. In 8 games, Escalona has no decisions and a 9.00 ERA. One plus for the 26-year-old lefty is that opponents are only batting .167 against him.

Melvin Dorta, a 28-year-old infielder that played with Reading and Lehigh Valley in 2010, is batting .108 in 12 games with the Aragua Tigres.

Harold Garcia, who made headlines this year by setting the Florida State League hitting streak record at 37 consecutive games, is batting .267 through 19 games with Zulia Aguilas. Unfortunately for Garcia he has no extra base hits and is just 1-for-3 in stolen base attempts.

24-year-old infielder Fidel Hernandez, who spent time at Clearwater and Reading this year, is also on the Aguilas roster. His .191 average and .515 OPS are rather unimpressive.

Venezuela native Cesar Hernandez is 7-for-21 (.333 avg.) in 8 games with the Margarita Bravos. Hernandez, 20, is a switch hitter. He batted .325 with 32 steals in 65 games at short season Williamsport in 2010.

Andy Tracy, who played with the IronPigs and the Phillies over the past few seasons, has joined the Bravos after struggling (2-for-29) in 8 games with the Aguilas in the Dominican League. In 3 games in the Venezuelan league, Tracy is 1-for-4, with a double and 2 walks.

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

5 Things Baseball Fans Should Be Thankful For

Happy Thanksgiving Day to all of you. As you celebrate this national holiday and stuff yourselves full of food, consider these things and thank the baseball gods for them.

5- Ozzie Guillen's bilingual Twitter account.
I mean, yeah, he speaks two languages, but judging by the tweet pictured below, as well as plenty others, Ozzie may not really type any languages.


4- The history of the sport. Thanks to the lengthy past of baseball, fans are not stuck looking toward the steroid era's deceitful record breakers to find men who should never be regarded as icons of this great sport. Instead, they can simply reflect back to the very first induction class of the National Baseball Hall of Fame for players to despise.

3- One another. Yeah, fans...you make the whole experience just a little bit better. Whether you dress up like a team-supporting Humpty Dumpty, storm the playing field, dye/paint yourself to match the team's colors, or rattle your own team's most popular player with insults, you fans enhance the excellence of the sport known as baseball.

2- Down to the wire, baseball remains to be the best sport of all.

Baseball is the only game that can't be iced. There is no clock to run down, there is no taking a knee...the outs, to close out a baseball game, must be earned.

1- Beards

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Phillies Promote Two Minor League Managers

Four of the Phillies' six minor league clubs will officially have new managers in 2011 after the Phillies announced on Monday that they have given promotions to Mark Parent and Chris Truby.

Parent, a former Major League catcher who played with the Phillies, among other clubs, will move up to Double A Reading. Parent, 49, managed the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws to a second consecutive South Atlantic League title in 2010 and then spent time as hitting coach with the Arizona Fall League's Mesa Solar Sox. The Autumn assignment could be more than busy work for Parent, who seems to be a likely candidate for the role of hitting coach at the Major League level in the coming years.

Speaking in an exclusive interview following Lakewood's title clincher in September, Parent seemed to be considerably focused on acquiring a big league spot. Replying to an inquiry about the potential realignment among the Phillies' minor league management positions, Parent stated, "The higher you get (in baseball), there's more on the line. I'm a Major League guy. I like the big leagues, (but) I'll do what (Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.) asks me to do."

Parent now has a mildly revised outlook toward the near future, as evidenced by what he told me Monday evening.

"I'm happy doing whatever the Phillies want me to do this season. You have a group of instructors (and) teachers of the game here that will do their very best job for the benefit of the organization," Parent said. "Last year in Lakewood couldn't have went much better in terms of growth in the young players, largely because of their commitment. I'm looking forward to going to Reading. Reading has long been the stop of many major league players, even a Hall of Famer or two. Hopefully, I can do my part in helping more players become contributing Phillies in the Major Leagues. The bottom line, though, is to develop players that want to win and know what it takes compete."

Truby, a 37-year-old, who played in the Majors with four teams, will follow Parent as the skipper in Lakewood. Truby spent the last two seasons managing the short-season Williamsport Crosscutters, and many of the players he led there should follow Truby upward in the system this coming year.

"I'm obviously very excited," Truby said, via a press release from the BlueClaws. "Lakewood is a place that everyone has rave reviews about and it's a step up for me, a progression in my career.

"You want to get to the point where you move up into a full season league. Going to Lakewood, where they've won two championships in a row and get the fan support that they do is exciting."

Last week, the Phillies hired Mickey Morandini to manage the Williamsport club. The 44-year-old Morandini, who has been coaching high school ball in recent years, has spent time as a guest instructor at spring training with the Phillies in the past. Morandini played 965 games as a member of the Phillies over parts of 9 seasons during his playing career.

Another addition to the Phillies' minor league rankings was Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, who also was once a part of the Phillies organization, as a player. Sandberg was of course traded to the Cubs after debuting with the Phillies as a 21-year-old in 1981. Sandberg will manage the Triple A level Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

High-A level manager Dusty Wathan will remain in place with the Clearwater Threshers, while Roly deArmas will return to manage the Rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies in 2011.

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday School: Phillies History Lesson 80

Only five men in Phillies history have brought home a National League batting title. Francis "Lefty" O'Doul, a converted pitcher, was one of those men, along with Sherry Magee, Chuck Klein, Harry Walker and Richie Ashburn.

O'Doul worked out of the bullpen for the Red Sox and Yankees, into the early 1920's before experiencing a setback with an arm injury that landed him back in the minors in 1923. Once it was clear his pitching days were done, O'Doul converted himself into a slugging outfielder and returned to the Majors with the Giants, where he contributed as a back up player. Despite posting a .318 average for the Giants in 1928, he was traded to Philadelphia with cash for outfielder Freddy Leach. The Giants would quickly regret the move.

In his first season with the Phillies, O'Doul set the National League single season record for hits in a season, with 254, that still stands today (tied, Bill Terry- 1930). His .398 batting average that year also remains as the single season high mark in Philadelphia baseball history. The exceptional benchmark led the league, making O'Doul just the second batting champion in team history. Additionally, O'Doul smacked 32 homeruns and drove in 122 runs while scoring 152 times that season, to finish second in voting for the league's most valuable player award, behind Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby, whose hit record O'Doul had broken.

In a later interview, "Lefty" O'Doul told The Sporting News, regarding his chase of the hit record on the closing day of the 1929 season against the team that traded him away, "It was the last day of the season and we were playing a doubleheader with the Giants in the old Baker Bowl. Going into the first game, I had 248 hits behind me and everyone knew that I was shooting for the great Rogers Hornsby's record of 250 hits in a season. So (Giants manager, John McGraw) started Carl Hubbell, a left-hander. I believe McGraw did not want me to break that record. All I did in that first game was go 4-for-4 off Hubbell. In the second game, McGraw starts another left-hander. I got two more hits."

The following season, O'Doul would impress again, sporting a .383 average with 22 homers, 97 RBI and 122 runs scored. Despite another successful campaign, the Phillies sold high and dealt O'Doul to Brooklyn along with second baseman Fresco Thompson for pitcher Clise Dudley, pitcher Jumbo Elliot, outfielder Hal Lee and cash, following the season.

In 2 1/2 seasons with Brooklyn, O'Doul batted .340 in 325 games. In 1932, O'Doul placed third in league MVP voting, with a .368 average, 20 HR and 90 RBI. The following season, O'Doul landed back with the Giants after a June trade. O'Doul never played for John McGraw, who had wrapped up his managing career in 1932.

After his playing days, O'Doul would go on to manage the San Francisco Seals, of the Pacific Coast League, and helped Joe DiMaggio develop, on his way to the Majors. Also, O'Doul was instrumental in spreading baseball's popularity in Japan, where he served as the sport's goodwill ambassador prior to and after World War II.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Phillies' Arizona Fall League Wrap Up

The month long Arizona Fall League has come and gone for individuals from the Phillies organization assigned to play on the Mesa Solar Sox. The six-team league's regular season wrapped up on Thursday, with just two teams advancing to a winner-takes-all championship game on Saturday afternoon.

Each roster in the AFL features 7 players from 5 different organizations. Mesa served as the Autumn home to Phillies prospects Justin De Fratus, Matt Rizzotti, Tyson Brummett, Jacob Diekman, Tim Kennelly, Josh Zeid, BJ Rosenberg and Chris Kissock. John Mayberry Jr. was also assigned to spend some time with the Solar Sox, but he injured his calf in his debut on October 12th and spent the subsequent weeks at the Phils' spring training home in Clearwater to receive treatment. With Mayberry & Zeid both leaving early, the Phils avoided overlapping and exceeding the 7 man roster rule.

De Fratus, a 23-year-old righty hurler, continued to show why I predicted that he would be a big mover up the Phillies' reliever rankings next season. In 7 games for the Solar Sox, De Fratus did not allow a run, earned a save, held opponents to a .125 batting average and struck out 11 batters in 7 innings. De Fratus, an 11th round draft choice in 2007, posted a 3-0 record, with 21 saves and a 1.94 ERA while striking out 71 against 16 walks in 65 innings combined, at High-A Cleawater and Double A Reading during the 2010 regular season.

Matt Rizzotti, who I wrote about on Thursday, wrapped up an impressive calendar year by ending his AFL season with a .333 avg. and a .500 on-base percentage in 19 games played. At three levels of the Phillies minor league system during the 2010 regular season, Rizzotti posted a .343 batting average while smashing 17 homers and driving in 76 runs in 125 games.

Josh Zeid was one of two Phillies representatives chosen to play in the AFL Rising Stars Game (De Fratus was the other) earlier this month. Zeid, 23, wrapped up his AFL season shortly after the AFL's version of the all-star game. In 4 starts for Mesa, the right-handed Zeid, posted a 3-0 record with a 3.86 ERA. His strike out to walk ratio (12:1) was also quite impressive.

Brummett, another righty pitcher, went 1-1 with a 3.79 ERA in 10 AFL games, 3 starts. In 19 innings, he struck out 13 and walked 2. Brummett, 26, was a 7th round draft pick in 2007.

Rosenberg, a 25-year-old right-hander who struggled with injuries all year, had a rough stretch throughout his AFL stint. En route to a 0-1 record and an 8.53 ERA, batters hit .333 against Rosenberg in 10 games. His disappointing season is a full turn around from the 7-3 record, 1.18 ERA and 22 saves he boasted in 2009 with Lakewood and Reading.

Catcher Tim Kennelly looked sharp in AFL action after attempting some field duties during the season with High-A Clearwater. In 15 games with Mesa, Kennelly posted a .293 avg. with 4 doubles and 4 RBI. Kennelly, 24, batted .274 and slugged 5 homers while driving in 69 runs in 115 games for the Clearwater Threshers in 2010.

Righty Chris Kissock, who joined the Mesa roster after participating in the Pan-Am qualifiers with Team Canada, went 1-0 with a save and a 2.38 ERA in 10 outings (1 start). Combined at two levels with Clearwater and Reading this season, the 25-year-old Kissock had a 7-3 record with a 2.68 ERA in 47 relief outings.

Diekman, a 23-year-old lefty hurler, struggled after reporting late to the AFL. Diekman allowed 12 earned runs in 3 2/3 innings in 5 outings with the Solar Sox. Combined in 45 games between Class A Lakewood and High-A Level Clearwater, Diekman held opponents to a .187 batting average en route to a 2-2 record and a 2.91 ERA.

De Fratus and Rizzotti will be eligible for the MLB Rule 5 draft unless each is added to the Phillies' 40-man roster by Saturday. MLB rules state that a player who was drafted, aged 19 or older, who has spent 4 years with a minor league contract and is not on his organization's 40-man roster, is eligible to be selected by another Major League club in the annual December treasure hunt. For those drafted under age 19, the length of time moves to 5 years. Expect the Phillies to protect both De Fratus and Rizzotti.

The Arizona Fall League's championship game will feature the Scottsdale Scorpions playing host to the Peoria Javelinas and will be televised live on MLB Network this Saturday at 3pm.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Rizzotti Impressive in 2010, Future Questionable


MESA, AZ- Matt Rizzotti, who enjoyed an outstanding season in the minor leagues at three levels of the Phillies organization, brought his hot bat to the Arizona Fall League last month. As a member of the Mesa Solar Sox, the lefty batting first baseman from Floral Park, NY has continued his impressive 2010 into the Autumn.

The 6'5" Rizzotti has made himself a prospect to be reckoned with by blazing through the minors throughout the Spring and Summer, posting a .343 batting average and a .985 OPS in 125 games. He was also one of just two Phils minor leaguers who moved up two levels to stay, during the season. The other was pitcher Vance Worley.

Among Arizona Fall League batters that include top prospects from several Major League organizations, like Seattle's second overall draft choice from 2009 Dustin Ackley, the Angels' Brandon Wood who has played at the Major League level, the Blue Jays' Eric Thames who was an Eastern League MVP candidate this year and Braves' top prospect Freddie Freeman, Rizzotti ranks near the top in batting average (.344) and on-base percentage (.500).

However, while some of Rizzotti's stats are swelling up in Hulkish fashion, his power numbers haven't gone green accordingly. Through 18 games in the Arizona Fall League, Rizzotti has collected just 2 extra base hits, both doubles.

"It's the same as when I started the season in Clearwater. I wasn't trying to do too much, and that's exactly what I am trying to do out here," said Rizzotti, who hit just 1 homerun in 31 games at High A level Clearwater, prior to earning a promotion to Double A Reading, where he smashed 16 homers in his next 77 games. "In Clearwater, the power wasn't necessarily there, and then there was a point where I started to feel good and take some bigger cuts.

"The season here is just a month long and I've just been focusing on having good plate appearances and seeing more pitches. Even though the power isn't there, mentally I still feel fantastic up there (at the plate) and that's important. Sometimes you don't mind sacrificing power for feeling very focused."

Rizzotti, a 6th round draft pick in 2007 out of Manhattan College, credits Mesa hitting coach Mark Parent with influencing his maturation as a hitter this fall. Parent, of course, is a former Major Leaguer who managed the Phillies Class A club the Lakewood BlueClaws to the South Atlantic League championship this year. "(Mark Parent) brings experience...all the tough situations of the game- he's been through them all. It's really good to (be around) him." Rizzotti stated.

Parent's collection of big name contacts are probably what made the biggest impression on Rizzotti, however. This week in Mesa, as Parent spoke of his days as a player and working out with Nolan Ryan, Rizzotti shot a disbelieving, "There's no way you worked out with Nolan Ryan!" toward his coach. Parent had to present the saved entry for the Hall of Famer, and other well-known baseball names, in his own cell phone's directory in order to convince Rizzotti that his tales were true.

Back at home on the east coast, Rizzotti must be added to the Phillies' 40-man roster soon. Without doing so, Rizzotti could be subjected to Major League Baseball's Rule 5 draft. The Rule 5 selection process, done annually each December, is designed to prevent organizations from stock piling too much talent in their minor league system and to allow players who may be blocked at higher levels to gain an opportunity to ascend toward the Majors elsewhere.

The clock is ticking for a 24-year-old prospect like Rizzotti, but don't expect the Phillies to simply let him walk away for nothing.

When the Phillies protect Rizzotti, he will still be blocked at his position by 3-time all-star and former league most valuable player Ryan Howard, who is signed through at least the 2016 season. That situation could result in Rizzotti's name becoming attached to trade talks. If such rumors start to fly, it won't bother Rizzotti.

"If those rumors arise, it's not a good thing, it's not a bad thing. I came up in the Phillies organization and I know everybody, I know the whole system and if I got traded it would be just like starting over. As a player, it's always good to be traded because that means someone is thinking (highly of you) somewhere."

The focus remains strong with Rizzotti to reach the Major Leagues. Ideally, he'd like to stick with the organization that drafted him. He's virtually grown up in the Philadelphia system and he has built relationships, with players as well as coaches, that are closer than he keeps his own buzz cut.

The Phillies recently announced the hiring of former Phillie and Chicago Cubs legend Ryne Sandberg to manage their Triple A affiliate, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Provided Rizzotti remains with the Phillies, he could start the 2011 season with the 'Pigs and might be afforded the opportunity to begin building his own collection of Hall of Fame digits.

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To hear my previous interview with Matt Rizzotti, click HERE.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Halladay Wins 2010 NL Cy Young Award


On Tuesday, Phillies ace Roy Halladay became just the fifth pitcher ever to win a Cy Young Award in both leagues. Halladay, who also won the American League Cy Young Award in 2003, joins Gaylord Perry, Roger Clemens, Pedro Martines and Randy Johnson as the only players to win the award in both the National and American Leagues.

Halladay was acquired by the Phillies last off-season in a trade that sent three prospects (Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor and Travis D'Arnaud) to Toronto. In his first season with Philadelphia, Halladay posted a 21-10 record with a 2.44 ERA, while striking out 219 batters and walking just 30 in 250 2/3 innings. Halladay's win total was tied for the Major League lead, while his strike out total was second in the NL and his ERA ranked third in the league.

According to the Baseball Writers Association of America, Halladay was the 13th unanimous choice in National League voting, as he received all 32 first-place votes. Voting is done in a format that includes two writers in each league city. The unanimous vote gave Halladay a perfect 224 points, based on a tabulation system that rewards seven points for first place votes, four for second, three for third, two for fourth and one for fifth.

Another Phillies hurler received votes from writers. Roy Oswalt, acquired by Philadelphia from the Houston Astros in a mid-season trade, placed sixth in NL Cy Young Award voting, behind the Cardinals' Adam Wainwright, the Rockies' Ubaldo Jimenez, the Braves' Tim Hudson and the Marlins' Josh Johnson, in order from highest to lowest.

A day after being revealed as the cover image for the MLB 2K11 video game, Halladay got a bigger honor by becoming the sixteenth multiple-time Cy Young Award winner. The game will be available on all major consoles next Spring.

Last month, Halladay was named the recipient of the 2010 Major League Baseball Clutch Performer of the Year Award presented by Pepsi. The clutch performer nod is an officially recognized MLB honor that is decided by fan voting. Halladay threw a perfect game against the Marlins in May and threw the second post-season no-hitter in MLB history in the divisional round of the NL playoffs in October against the Reds, although the postseason is not factored into the voting.

Halladay is the fourth pitcher in Phillies history to be crowned as the league's top pitcher and the first since 1987, when reliever Steve Bedrosian was bestowed the honor.

"I think that says a lot about your team," Halladay said of the Cy Young Award, last month. "The year won in Toronto, I honestly believe it was more a result of guys around me than how I actually pitched. Other years I thought actually pitched better. You need other guys' help to get you the end results. There were games in second half where I didn’t necessarily pitch as well and liked and walk out with a win, and you need those. It definitely would mean a lot, but really it’s a huge reflection of the guys around you."

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Prospect Jake Borup Talks with PhoulBallz.com

Jake Borup is a right-handed pitching prospect that was chosen in the 23rd round by the Phillies in the 2010 amateur draft out of Arizona State University. As a sophomore in 2010, Borup posted an 11-1 record and a 4.08 ERA in 16 games with the Sun Devils.

Borup was assigned to Philadelphia's short season rookie league affiliate, the Williamsport Crosscutters, after signing his first professional contract. In his first 3 months of pro ball, Borup posted great statistics while playing in the NY-Penn League. In 16 appearances (4 starts), he was 2-1 with a 2.68 ERA and held opponents to a .215 batting average.

The 6-foot-5-inch hurler's fastball registers around 91 MPH.

I talked with Jake over the weekend about his pitch repertoire, his draft experience, what he has learned thus far as a professional pitcher and plenty more.

While speaking candidly with Jake, I found him to be considerably engaging. Jake has opinions to share and has agreed to bring his thoughts about the world to the public, with an upcoming series of blog posts on PhoulBallz.com and PhilliesNation.com. Obviously, we look forward to introducing Jake to our readers and delivering his distinct outlooks on life and his career to phans everywhere.

Listen to excerpts from the interview with the media player below.


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Kendrick & LaGrossa- Second Phils/Survivor Marriage


On Saturday, Phillies pitcher Kyle Kendrick married 3-time Survivor contestant and former Flyers employee Stephenie LaGrossa. The couple exchanged vows in front of 105 guests at the Silverado Resort in Napa, California.

Their special day featured many personalized aspects, including cocktail hour snacks modeled in the fashion of mini Philly cheesesteaks, as well as the couple's two dogs, Bebe and Champ, serving as flower girl and ring bearer during the ceremony. The pets wore a white dress and a tuxedo, respectively.

Kendrick is now the second Phillies pitcher to marry a former contestant of the CBS reality competition program, as lefty Cole Hamels wedded Heidi Strobel, who appeared on the sixth season of Survivor, in 2007.


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Photos- People.com

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday School: Phillies History Lesson 79

Curt Davis was a pitcher with the Phillies from 1934-1936. Davis was picked up by the Phillies in the 1933 Rule 5 draft, from the Pacific Coast League's San Francisco Seals, after stringing together 5 consecutive 20-win seasons. Davis would prove to be be quite a bargain for Phillies owner Gerry Nugent.

In 1934, as a 30-year-old rookie, Davis started 31 games with the Phillies and won 19 games while posting a 2.95 ERA. He lost 17 games that season, however, but as his ERA, which was third best in the National League, would indicate, he deserved a far better fate. In 10 of those losses, the Phillies, who went 56-93 that season, scored just 1 run or less.

Davis, a Missouri native, got off to a slow start in 1935, winning just 1 of his first 6 starts. He rebounded quickly to win 7 of his next 8 starts, which included back-to-back shutouts of the Reds and Braves in July. He would finish the season with a 16-14 record, a 3.66 ERA and 19 complete games.

Davis kicked off his 1936 season with a 4-hit shutout against the Braves, but won only 1 of the 7 starts that followed. Trade rumors began to spark up and, in May, Davis was sent to the Chicago Cubs along with outfielder Ethan Allen for Chuck Klein and sometimes-pitcher/occasional-outfielder Fabian Kowalik. Klein had been the National League Most Valuable player in 1932 as a member of the Phillies, but was sent to Chicago in a trade for 3 players and $65,000 after the 1933 season.

The right-handed hurler, Davis, would represent the Cubs in the all-star game in 1936. He posted an 11-9 record and a 3.00 ERA while completing 10 games in 19 starts with Chicago following the trade that season.

Exceptional control was a strong attribute for Davis, who twice had the lowest walks per 9 innings ratio in the National League. He walked just 479 batters in 2,325 Major League innings pitched.

His best season in the Majors would come in 1939 as a member of the Cardinals when he went 22-16 with a 3.63 ERA, 13 complete games and 7 saves. He would make his second all-star team that year.

By 1940 Davis pitched for the Brooklyn Dodgers and would later help lead them to the 1941 World Series, although he would take a loss in his lone start and the Yankees won the series. Despite not pitching in the Majors until he was 30, Davis managed to compete in 13 Major League seasons. He closed out his career pitching over 4 more seasons with Brooklyn.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Phils' Wall of Famer Samuel Added to Coaching Staff

In a press release today, the Philadelphia Phillies announced their 2011 Major League coaching staff, which includes former Phillie Juan Samuel, who joins the club as the third base coach and outfield instructor. Previous Phillies third base coach Sam Perlozzo will be moving over to coach first base.

A spot on the Phils' coaching staff was vacated when Davey Lopes recently announced he would not be returning next year, due to a contract dispute. Lopes had been the Phillies first base coach for the past four seasons.

The 49-year-old Samuel had spent the previous four season coaching third base with the Baltimore Orioles, which included a stint as their interim manager following the dismissal of Dave Trembley in June. Samuel has also coached with the Tigers and managed at the Double A level in the Metropolitans' system.

Samuel was the Phillies Wall of Fame inductee in 2008. A 3-time all-star during his playing career, Samuel batted .263, hit 100 HR and stole 249 bases in his Phillies career. Samuel was named Sporting News Rookie of the Year in 1984, when he stole 72 bases, scored 105 runs and set a team record for at bats in a season with 701. Samuel was also named to the All-Vet team, upon the closing of Veterans Stadium in 2003, which was determined by online voting. Primarily a second baseman, Samuel also played in the outfield.

In the press release, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said, "I feel fortunate that we were able to add someone of Juan's stature to our coaching staff. He was a tremendous Major League player and a big part of Phillies history and I'm looking forward to him passing on his knowledge of the game to our players. He's a great addition to our organization."

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Victorino Wins Third Straight NL Gold Glove Award


On Wednesday, centerfielder Shane Victorino became the sixth Phillies player to win at least three Gold Glove Awards. Victorino joins Mike Schmidt (10), Garry Maddox (8), Manny Trillo (3), Scott Rolen (3) and Jimmy Rollins (3). It is the third straight Gold Glove for Victorino, who turns 30 years old on November 30th.

In a press release by the Phillies, Victorino stated, "It’s an honor to be recognized by the managers and coaches as one of the top defensive players in the league along with all the other deserving candidates. I take a lot of pride in my defense and this award means a lot to me."

Former Phillies Scott Rolen and Mike Bourn won Gold Gloves at their respective positions also.

The Gold Glove Award is distributed following each season, to the Major League Baseball players judged to have exhibited superior individual fielding efforts at each position.

Below is a list of Gold Glove winners in Phillies history...
1963- Bobby Wine, SS
1964- Bobby Shantz, P
Ruben Amaro Sr., SS
1966- Bill White, 1B
1972- Larry Bowa, SS
1975- Garry Maddox, OF
1976- Garry Maddox, OF
Mike Schmidt, 3B
Jim Kaat, P
1977- Garry Maddox, OF
Mike Schmidt, 3B
Jim Kaat, P
1978- Garry Maddox, OF
Mike Schmidt, 3B
Larry Bowa, SS
Bob Boone, C
1979- Garry Maddox, OF
Mike Schmidt, 3B
Bob Boone, C
Manny Trillo, 2B
1980- Garry Maddox, OF
Mike Schmidt, 3B
1981- Garry Maddox, OF
Mike Schmidt, 3B
Manny Trillo, 2B
Steve Carlton, P
1982- Garry Maddox, OF
Mike Schmidt, 3B
Manny Trillo, 2B
1983- Mike Schmidt, 3B
1984- Mike Schmidt, 3B
1986- Mike Schmidt, 3B
1998- Scott Rolen, 3B
1999- Mike Lieberthal- C
2000- Scott Rolen, 3B
2001- Scott Rolen, 3B
2005- Bobby Abreu, OF
2007- Jimmy Rollins, SS
Aaron Rowand, OF
2008- Jimmy Rollins, SS
Shane Victorino, OF
2009- Jimmy Rollins, SS
Shane Victorino, OF
2010- Shane Victorino, OF


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Photo- Getty Images

Cody Overbeck Speaks with PhoulBallz.com

Over the off-season, I will post excerpts of some never-before-heard prospect interviews. The first of which is Phillies prospect Cody Overbeck, a 24-year-old third baseman who was an 8th round selection in the 2008 amateur draft out of the University of Mississippi. That year, in 75 games with the short season Williamsport CrossCutters, Overbeck posted a .272 average with 12 homers and 57 RBI. He skipped over Class A Lakewood and began the 2009 season at High A level Clearwater. After struggling a bit in 2009, hitting .230 in 96 games, he bounced back in 2010 with a .302 batting average and a .932 OPS in 56 games to become a Florida State League all-star.

The all-star nod earned Overbeck a promotion to Double A Reading, where he batted .255, slugged 13 homers (24 combined at two levels during the season) and drove in 41 runs in 78 games. Overbeck got off to a slow start at Reading, posting just a .149 average in his first 16 games, but he went on to bat .276 over the final two months of the season with Reading.

Overbeck is situated to become a much talked about prospect going into next season. Depending on what he does in spring training or early in his 2011 campaign, Overbeck could certainly shoot up the prospect rankings very quickly, as his offensive output has already raised some eyebrows.

Check out the media player below to listen to audio excerpts of my interview with Cody from back in July.



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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sandberg Headed Back to Phillies Organization?

Rumors are flying today that Hall of Fame player Ryne Sandberg could become the next manager of the Phillies Triple A affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.

After being passed over for the Chicago Cubs managerial position, Sandberg is parting ways with the organization. Sandberg, who managed the last four seasons in the Cubs' minor league system, finished runner-up to Mike Quade, who was hired on Oct. 19. Quade took over, in an interim role, for Lou Piniella, who retired during the 2010 season.

Sandberg won the manager of the year award while leading the Triple A Iowa Cubs of the Pacific Coast League to record of 82-62, which was tied for best in the league.
According to reports, Sandberg has been in contact with multiple organizations regarding coaching positions at the Major League level and managerial positions in the minors.

The Lehigh managerial slot is not he only vacant position that the Phillies have right now, as the recent departure of Davey Lopes has left a vacancy in the Major League Phillies' first base coach's box. Sandberg has stated that he thinks he may know within a couple of weeks where he'll be working in 2011.

Sandberg was a 20th round draft selection by the Phillies in 1978. He broke into the Majors with Philadelphia in 1981 before being traded to the Cubs in a deal that sent Larry Bowa to Chicago for Ivan De Jesus. In his time with Chicago, Sandberg became a franchise icon while proving himself to be one of the most reliable players in baseball. He won the the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1984 and was a 10-time all-star during his Hall of Fame playing career.

Initial speculation, among those close to the Phillies system, had one of two rising stars among the organization's minor league managers being in line for the vacant spot with the IronPigs. Those big coaching prospects are two former catchers, who spent time with the big league Phillies, Dusty Wathan and Mark Parent. Wathan, who started as manager with short season Williamsport in 2008, has moved up one level in each of his two previous off-seasons managing in the Phillies' system. Wathan was named South Atlantic League manager of the year in 2009, when he led the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws to the SAL championship. Parent was given the same honor, in his first season in the Phillies organization, after leading the BlueClaws to their second straight SAL title.

Former Phillies third base coach Bill Dancy is in the running to be the next Iowa manager. Dancy was the manager of the Cubs Double A affiliate, the Tennessee Smokies, during the 2010 season.
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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Moyer Injured in Dominican Winter League


While pitching in the Dominican Winter League for the Escogido Leones on Saturday, Jamie Moyer was removed from the game after 2 1/3 innings with an elbow injury. Moyer, whose contract with the Phillies expired at the end of the 2010 season, had been sidelined with an elbow injury since mid-season.

Moyer was hoping to use his time in the Winter League to get in shape and showcase himself, in order to draw offers from clubs for another year in the Majors in 2011. Moyer, who will turn 48 years old in less than two weeks, has already pitched 24 years in the Major Leagues.

With the Phillies in 2010, Moyer posted a 9-9 record with a 4.84 ERA in 19 starts. In 3 Dominican Winter League games, Moyer held opponents to a .190 batting average and posted a 1.69 ERA.

Moises Alou, who is the general manager for the Leones team, told reporters that he felt Moyer's pitching days were likely over, due to the severity of the injury. Such a diagnosis is obviously premature and not fully reliable coming from Alou, who is not a doctor as far as anyone knows.

If the injury does prevent Moyer from continuing his career, it would surely be unfortunate for the owner of 267 Major League wins to fail to go out on his own terms. Moyer is expected to travel back to the United States in order to be examined by a specialist.


More Dominican Winter League notes...

Phillies minor league infielder Ozzie Chavez has posted a .250 batting average in 5 games for the Toros. Chavez is a 27-year-old Dominican native.

Phils lefty pitching prospect Yohan Flande has made 2 starts for the Toros and has posted a 5.14 ERA while going 0-1. In 7 innings pitched, the 24-year-old Flande has struck out 6 batters.

A member of the 2010 Lakewood BlueClaws team that won the South Atlantic League championship, Ebelin Lugo is on the Oriente Estrellas roster, but has yet to pitch in a game.

Derrick Loop, who pitched in 16 combined games (5-1 record, 0.32 ERA) between Clearwater and Lehigh Valley in the Phillies organization this year, has thrown 5 relief outings for the Aguilas. In DWL action, Loop has allowed 2 earned runs in 3 innings pitched (6.00 ERA).

Minor League stalwart Andy Tracy is also on the Aguilas roster. Tracy, a 2010 International League all-star with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, is just 2-for-29 (.069 avg) in 8 games.

Timo Perez, a former New York Met that played with the Reading Phillies in 2010, is batting .327 with 7 RBI in 12 games as a member of the Licey Tigres.

Former Phillie Pedro Martinez is listed on the Tigres roster, but he has not pitched in any game action.

Left-handed pitcher Fabio Castro, another former Phillie, has posted a 1-1 record with a 1.59 ERA in 3 starts with the Gigantes. In his most recent outing on Saturday, Castro struck out 11 batters in 6 innings pitched. Castro is best known for being traded for Matt Stairs in 2008.

Infielder Jonathan Villar is 0-for-3 in 3 games with the Aguilas. Villar, a 2010 South Atlantic League all-star as a member of the Lakewood BlueClaws, was part of the package traded to Houston in July for Roy Oswalt.

Former Phils pitching prospect Zack Segovia has allowed 1 hit in 5 innings of relief for the Estrellas. Segovia, now in the Yankees organization, has a 1.80 ERA in the DWL.

Willy Taveras, who spent time with the IronPigs in 2010, is batting .200 with 6 runs scored and 4 RBI in 8 games with the Aguilas. Taveras' .498 OPS is quite poor.

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Saturday, November 6, 2010

AFL Rising Stars Game Tonight


What is being called The Futures Game of the Fall will be played in Surprise, Arizona on Saturday night. The annual Arizona Fall League showcase known as The Rising Stars Game will be televised nationally on MLB Network at 9pm EST, when the best prospects from all organizations meet in a contest that pits the East and West divisions against each other.

As I've stated before, the Arizona Fall League is a stepping stone for many players on their ways upward in the professional baseball ranks. The players on the rosters for this big game, slated to be played at Surprise Stadium, are among the highest regarded prospects in the league. Many of the players will be receiving their very first chance to play on such a big stage, with the eyes of the baseball world upon them.

"The entire year has been an incredible experience and this is only making it better," said righty hurler Justin De Fratus. "I'm excited for it and can't wait to meet the other players." The 23-year-old is one of two Phillies prospects on the East Division roster.

Justin De Fratus prior to a game in August


De Fratus has pitched 6 scoreless innings thus far with the AFL's Mesa Solar Sox. In 49 combined games at High A level Clearwater and Double A Reading this year, De Fratus posted a 3-0 record, a 1.94 ERA, struck out 71 batters in 65 innings and recorded 21 saves.

The other Philadelphia property on the East roster is right-handed pitcher, 23-year-old Josh Zeid, who helped the Phillies Class A affiliate Lakewood BlueClaws lock down their second consecutive South Atlantic League championship during the 2010 season. Zeid has posted a 3-0 record with a 3.86 ERA in 4 AFL starts with the Solar Sox. Zeid was the Phillies' minor league pitcher of the month in April 2010, when, as the closer for Lakewood, he went 2-0 with 2 saves and allowed no earned runs in 9 outings.


Josh Zeid with the SAL championship trophy in September

In an exhibition game where some players might feel pleased to simply be recognized and/or get the opportunity to display their talents, De Fratus wants his team to come out on top. "I hope we can all do our best and win this game."
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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Diekman a Late Addition to Mesa AFL Roster

On Wednesday, Phillies lefty pitching prospect Jacob Diekman made his Arizona Fall League debut. Diekman, who was drafted in the 30th round of the 2007 amateur draft, was assigned to Mesa late, in order to increase his 2010 innings total, according to Mesa hitting coach Mark Parent, who managed Diekman in Lakewood this past season.

Diekman, 23, posted a 2-0 record with 1.90 ERA in 21 games with Class A Lakewood before being promoted to High-A Clearwater on June 24th. In 24 games with the Threshers, Diekman went 0-2 with a 3.66 ERA. Combined, Diekman tossed 55 2/3 innings and held opponents to a .187 batting average against at two levels in 2010.

However, after not pitching in an official game since he threw a shutout inning to wrap up the Clearwater season on September 5th, Diekman was unable to record an out as all seven batters he faced reached base, six with hits, one on an error. Diekman was charged with 5 earned runs in the outing.

Diekman had spent time at instructional ball from mid-September through mid-October, but with some Mesa pitchers already approaching their allotted appearances and possibly because John Mayberry Jr. is sidelined by a calf injury and organizations are required to have 7 players each on an Arizona Fall League roster, Diekman, who generally registers in the low-90's with his fastball, was called upon to contribute to the Mesa staff. Unfortunately for Diekman, he was not credited with any innings. Generally, AFL starting pitchers throw 24-30 innings, while AFL relievers are given roughly 10-12 outings.

With so many righty hurlers, like Justin De Fratus, Austin Hyatt, Jarred Cosart, Brody Colvin, Trevor May and plenty more, on the rise within the the Phillies' system, Diekman is one of very few left-handers that has potential to reach the higher levels of the organization. One poor outing against a tough Peoria Javelinas lineup that includes former Major Leaguer Adam Loewen, 2009 number 2 overall draft pick Dustin Ackley, Mariners OF Nate Tenbrick, who batted .318 in 116 games at two levels in 2010, and Houston prospect Koby Clemens, son of Roger Clemens, who was a mid-season all-star in the Texas League (Double A), won't impact Diekman's value very much, especially considering the lengthy span between games for the Nebraska native.

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Arizona Fall League Rundown

Mesa, Arizona is the autumn home to seven Phillies minor leaguers as well as players from the Angels, Mets, Pirates and Cubs. Seven players from each of those organizations make up the 35-man roster of the Solar Sox, who sit in 2nd place in the Arizona Fall League's East Division. As recently as Friday, the Sox were tied for first in the division with Scottsdale as both teams sported a 9-6 record, but a head-to-head battle between the 2 teams for the top spot in the division went to the Scorpions in a 9-1 rout on Friday.

Following a 15-1 mashing of the Peoria Saguaros on Monday, Mesa has a 10-8 record and sits 1 game behind Scottsdale.

In the game, 24-year-old first base prospect Matt Rizzotti went 3-for-5, with a double, a walk and 2 RBI to bring his batting average up to .412 in 9 AFL games. Rizzotti, an Eastern League all-star in 2010, is also averaging more than a walk per game in Fall action and has posted a stunning .545 on-base percentage.

Some familiar pitchers also shined in Mesa's impressive victory as five Phillies pitchers combined to toss 8 scoreless innings, striking out 7 while allowing no walks and just 4 hits. Starter Josh Zeid, who was a mid-season South Atlantic League all-star with Lakewood during the 2010 season, took his record to 3-0 with 4 innings of 2-hit ball. Tyson Brummett, BJ Rosenberg and Justin De Fratus then combined for 3 perfect innings before Chris Kissock added another scoreless frame.

Zeid, a righty who started and relieved during the 2010 season, has posted a 3.86 ERA in 14 innings pitched in the AFL thus far.

The right-handed Kissock, who posted a combined 7-3 record with a 2.68 ERA in 47 games at High A Clearwater and Double A Reading in 2010, has held opponents to a .158 batting average in 6 AFL relief outings.

Kennelly is a catcher who dabbled at other positions during the 2010 season with Clearwater. Working closely with hitting coach Mark Parent has helped Kennelly, as he is batting .429 and is rocking a 1.119 OPS in 8 games with Mesa.

Brummett, a right-hander, has struck out 10 and walked just 1 batter in 11 innings in AFL action. He has pitched better than his 4.91 ERA might indicate.

Rosenberg, has had two extremely poor outings, allowing 3 earned runs in one relief appearance and 4 earned runs in another, which have resulted in an 8.22 ERA through 6 outings. Rosenberg was sidelined for a good portion of the 2010 season with a right lat strain and is still attempting to return to 2009 form, when he posted a 1.18 ERA, saved 22 games and struck out 73 batters in 61 innings in 47 combined games at Lakewood and Reading.

De Fratus, the fifth and final Phillie right-hander on the roster, has held opponents to a .063 batting average in 5 AFL relief appearances. De Fratus was the Phillies' lone representative on Team USA at the Pan-Am qualifiers in Puerto Rico in September and October.

According to Parent, who managed the Phillies' Class A affiliate Lakewood BlueClaws this season, the Phillies pitchers have been the class of the Arizona Fall League thus far. He suspects that Josh Zeid and Justin De Fratus are likely candidates to be chosen to play in this Saturday's AFL all-star game, known as the Rising Stars Game.

John Mayberry Jr., who has spent time on the Major League Phillies roster in each of the past two seasons, is on the Mesa roster but has been sidelined with a calf injury since the AFL opener on October 12th. Mayberry has been in Clearwater receiving treatment from Phillies trainers since the injury occurred.

The league schedule rolls on through the third week of November, with the championship being decided in a game held on the Saturday before Thanksgiving Day, pitting the division winners against each other.

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Monday, November 1, 2010

The List of the Departed Continues to Grow

Another key piece to the Phillies' run of four straight National League East titles will be moving onward. According to CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury, Phillies first base coach Davey Lopes will not be returning for the 2011 season. Lopes and the Phillies are far apart in a dispute over compensation, according to Lopes.

"We just had a difference of opinion on what I felt my worth was. That's all," Lopes told Salisbury. "It was a really tough decision because I loved my time in Philadelphia, I loved working for [manager] Charlie Manuel, and I have the utmost respect for everyone in that organization."

Lopes, widely considered a base stealing guru, helped the Phillies excel on the base paths during his four-year tenure coaching first base with the team. In each season with Lopes guiding their runners, the Phillies led the National League in stolen base percentage.

Lopes led the NL in stolen bases twice during his playing days in Los Angeles, in 1975 and 1976 and swiped 557 bags during his regular season Major League career. Lopes ranks second in Dodgers history in stolen bases, behind only Maury Wills.

Lopes, who lives in California says he will seek work with a team on the west
coast.

"I’m hoping something pops up. If I’m not in uniform next year, it
won’t be much fun," Lopes said.

Other 2010 Phillies who will be parting ways with the club, as they
approach free agency five days after the World Series ends, are JC Romero, who had his 2011 club option declined last week, Jamie Moyer, whose contract was through the 2010 season, Greg Dobbs, who elected for free agency last week, and of course Jayson Werth, who will be one of the hottest free agents on the market this off-season.

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