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Showing posts from May, 2011

Lidge Looks Sharp, More Injury Notes

This afternoon, Phillies pitcher Brad Lidge appeared in an extended spring training game in Tampa against the Yankees club, as he rehabs his strained right rotator cuff. The former All-star reliever has been on the disabled list since spring training and has not appeared in a Major League game this year. The 34-year-old right-hander made his extended spring debut with the Phillies club on Saturday, throwing 24 pitches, while allowing a hit and striking out one batter. On Tuesday, Lidge recorded 5 outs in the same inning, as the rules in extended spring games can be altered a bit in order to accommodate the likes of rehabbing players. After walking the lead-off batter on 4 pitches, Lidge settled in, striking out the next 2 batters, forcing a pop up, striking out another and then wrapping up his game action with a fly out. Following his efforts in his outing on Tuesday, Lidge told a source that he feels he'll be ready to pitch again after 2 days and that his next rehab appearanc

BlueClaws Manager Chris Truby Interview, May 2011

The Phillies Class A affiliate, the Lakewood BlueClaws, have had some noteworthy success lately. The club has won 11 of their last 12 games and their starting pitchers are on a hot streak of not allowing any earned runs in their past 4 outings (a stretch of 28 innings). Two standout stars in the 'Claws' pitching rotation have emerged. Righties David Buchanan (7th round, 2010) and Garett Claypool (11th round, 2010) rank 1st and 2nd in the South Atlantic League in ERA with marks of 1.97 and 2.00 respectively. Two forces on the offensive side during the team's current hot streak have proven to be 25-year-old first baseman Jim Murphy, who has a SAL leading 13 homeruns on the season to go along with 37 RBI in 49 games played, and former top Phils draft pick 22-year-old OF/DH Anthony Hewitt, who has posted a .317 batting average in his last 10 games and has smashed all 6 of his homers this season in May. On the current homestand, I spoke with Lakewood manager, and former Major

Series Preview: Phillies at Nationals, 5/30-6/1

The Phillies (33-20) hope to continue a 5-game winning streak in games against the Nationals (22-30), as they head to Washington to begin a 3-game series on Memorial Day, Monday. In the series opener, Philadelphia will send right-handed ace Roy Halladay, who is nearly unstoppable against Washington, to the mound. The Nationals will counter with righty veteran Livan Hernandez, who has split two decisions against the Phillies this year. Read ahead for loads of details on the pitching match ups and other key information on this series. Monday, 1:05PM. Roy Halladay (6-3, 2.35 ERA) vs. Livan Hernandez (3-6, 3.71 ERA). In 14 career games against the Nationals, Halladay is 10-1 with a 2.01 ERA. In his last 7 starts, Halladay is 4-2 with a 2.10 ERA. In 3 starts at Nationals Park, Halladay is 3-0 with a 1.08 ERA and a .167 batting average against. In 5 home starts this season, Hernandez has a 3-2 record with a 1.80 ERA. In 29 career starts against Philadelphia, Hernandez is 12-11 with a 3.

Podsednik Hitless in Phillies System Debut

Scott Podsednik, who signed with the Phillies last weekend after being granted his release by the Toronto Blue Jays, made his official Phillies system debut on Saturday. Podsednik batted lead-off for the Phillies Triple A team, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs and went 0-for-4 with 2 strike outs in the contest against the Rochester Redwings (Twins). The 35-year-old Podsednik is a veteran of parts of ten Major League seasons. Formerly an all-star with the Chicago White Sox and a member of the Brewers, Royals, Rockies, Dodgers and Mariners, Podsednik had signed as a free agent with the Blue Jays back in February. After missing time this season with plantar fasciitis in his left foot, Podsednik played in 3 games with the Class A Dunedin Blue Jays, then played in 14 games with the Triple A Las Vegas 51's. Combined at the two levels of, Podsednik went 18-for-71 (.254 avg) with 2 doubles, 2 triples and 13 runs scored. Podsednik had started his Phillies tenure down in Clearwater, FL at exte

Victorino Has Successful Rehab Outing

LAKEWOOD, NJ- Phillies centerfielder Shane Victorino looked good in his first rehab appearance with the club's single A affiliate the Lakewood BlueClaws on Saturday night. Victorino has been on the disabled list since May 19th with a strained right hamstring. As the two-time defending South Atlantic League champions piled on early runs against the Greensboro Grasshoppers (Marlins affiliate), Victorino saw plate appearances in each of the game's first three innings. Leading off in the top of the first inning, Victorino lined out to right field. In the midst of a 2nd inning rally, the man known as "the Flyin' Hawaiian" worked the count full and then walked with the bases loaded to force home a run and put the BlueClaws up 4-0. He later scored on a throwing error by Greensboro shortstop Daniel Black. Batting with 2 outs in the third inning, and the 'Claws already leading 8-1, Victorino laced a fastball from 24-year-old righty hurler Kyle Winters into right fie

Series Preview: Phillies at Metropolitans, 5/27-5/29

The financially strapped New York Metropolitans (23-26) will play host this weekend as the first place Phillies (31-19) come to town for a 3-game series. In the opener, the Phillies will send veteran right-hander Roy Oswalt, who has a 1.50 ERA in 2 starts since returning from the disabled list, to the mound. The Metropolitans will counter with lefty Chris Capuano, who served up 4 homeruns in 5 1/3 innings against the Yankees last weekend. Philadelphia has won 4 of the 6 meetings with New York this season. Read ahead for details on the pitching match ups and other key stats for this series. Friday, 7:10PM. Roy Oswalt (3-2, 2.77 ERA) vs. Chris Capuano (3-5, 5.36 ERA). In 14 career starts against the Metropolitans, Oswalt has a 6-5 record with a 3.33 ERA. In 4 road games this season, Oswalt is 2-1 with a 3.15 ERA. Carlos Beltran is 9-for-24 (.375 avg) with 2 doubles and a HR in his career against Oswalt. In 5 career games against the Phillies, Capuano is 0-2 with a 3.20 ERA. In 4 ho

Interview with Pitching Prospect Tyler Knigge

Right-handed reliever Tyler Knigge is having some solid success thus far in 2011 with the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws. In 14 games for the two-time defending South Atlantic League champions, Knigge has posted a 1-1 record with 2 saves, a 3.20 ERA and 19 strike outs in 19 2/3 innings. A 12th round pick by the Phillies in last year's amateur draft, Knigge made his professional debut as a member of the Gulf Coast League Phillies and later earned a bump up to the New York-Penn League's Williamsport Crosscutters. In 11 combined games at those two levels, Knigge posted a 0-4 record with a 5.28 ERA. The 22-year-old stands 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighs around 220 pounds. I had the opportunity to speak with Tyler recently about his draft process, his pitch repertoire, his family and plenty more. Check out the media player below to listen to the full interview. ______________________________________________________ You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE . You can

One For the Books

It was a remarkable game to say the least. It was clearly a contest that players, fans and media alike will be talking about with fondness for years to come... "Remember how Rollins kept making all those great plays on defense?" "Remember how terrific Baez was in out of the 'pen?" "Oh man...and how about Valdez PITCHING?!" The list of facts and stats pertaining to this game goes on and on... Wilson Valdez (who notched 3 hits and a walk) is the first MLB position player to win a game since Brent Mayne did it in 2000 for the Rockies. Also, Valdez is the first MLB player to start the game at a position other than pitcher and earn the win since Babe Ruth did it in 1921. It was the longest game in the history of Citizens Bank Park. It was the Phils' longest game since they played 20 innings in 1993. Charlie Manuel was previously on record saying that he would not use a position player to pitch. Phillies relievers threw 12 innings. Starting c

Romero Comments on Bastardo's Progress

Ask anyone that knows a little something about the Phillies and they'll likely agree that the premiere left-hander out of the team's bullpen has become Antonio Bastardo. In recent years that title could have gone to JC Romero, but not any longer. As the 25-year-old Bastardo has matured, he has developed into a go-to guy on the Phillies pitching staff. As Romero, who turns 35-years-old at the end of next week, has aged, he has lost velocity and his ability to dominate opposing batters. Romero held opponents to a .191 batting average in his first 4 seasons with the Phillies, from 2007-2010. This year, things are much different as Romero has served up a .283 batting average against in 17 appearances. Prior to the 2011 season, Bastardo had held opponents to a .264 batting average in 31 Major League games over 2 seasons. But in 17 games this year, batters have posted a significantly lower .145 average against the Dominican Republic native. When Romero stopped through Lakewood a

Series Preview: Reds at Phillies, 5/23-5/26

The biggest news pertaining to the upcoming Reds vs. Phillies series is the return of Chase Utley. The 32-year-old all-star second baseman will make his 2011 season debut after being activated from the disabled list. Utley has missed time with tendinitis and chondromalacia of his right knee. He has been playing in games with the Phillies extended spring training club and their High A Level team in Clearwater in recent weeks, as part of a rehab assignment. A secondary storyline of importance is the rematch of last year's Divisional Playoffs, when Philadelphia swept Cincinnati out of the postseason in 3 games. Roy Halladay tossed the second ever postseason no-hitter in game 1 of that series at Citizens Bank Park. In the opener for this series, the Phillies will send lefty Cole Hamels, who shut out the Reds to force their exit from the 2010 playoffs, to the mound. Cincinnati will counter with right-hander Bronson Arroyo, who hasn't had much success against Philadelphia in his c

Lakewood's Buchanan Shining in the SAL

Lakewood starting pitcher David Buchanan is off to a tremendous start in the 2011 season. Through 9 starts, the right-hander has prevailed as the premiere hurler on the Phillies Class A BlueClaws staff. Buchanan, a 7th round draft pick of the Phillies in last year's amateur draft, has used his fastball, his slider and his sinker to dominate South Atlantic League batters. Following his victory against the West Virginia Power on Sunday, Buchanan leads the league in ERA (2.21) and innings pitched (57) and is tied for the league lead in wins (6). Earlier this month, Buchanan threw a complete game and got the win against the Yankees affiliate Charleston RiverDogs. It was the BlueClaws' first 9 inning complete game since 2007, when Carlos Monasterios achieved the feat. The 6-foot-3-inch, 190-pound Buchanan is humble and credits the team and coaches behind him for helping him achieve early success in his first full season of professional baseball. "I've got great guys beh

Phillies Minor Updates, 5/20/11

Here are a few exclusive insider updates on some players in the Philadelphia developmental system. -The Double A Reading Phillies have made a move with their pitching staff, moving 26-year-old Canadian Chris Kissock into the bullpen this week, after he surrendered 6 earned runs in 3 innings in his last start. Kissock had posted a 1-4 record and a 6.81 ERA in 7 starts this season. Filling the void in the team's rotation will be 25-year-old BJ Rosenberg, who previously helped solidify a strong bullpen for the R-Phils. Rosenberg, had never started as a professional, but Reading manager Mark Parent expressed some confidence in the decision to switch the two righty hurlers' roles. "Well, we want to get Kissock back in a role that is comfortable and that he was real successful in. BJ will be able to throw more innings and continue to improve his secondary stuff, which is improving all the time," Parent said on Friday. In his first start on Friday night, Rosenberg, who w

Series Preview: Rangers at Phillies, 5/20-5/22

The two teams that Cliff Lee has pitched for in the last two World Series will meet this weekend, as the Texas Rangers (23-21) travel to Philadelphia to take on the Phillies (26-17). The 3-game set will mark the second straight series in which the National League East Division leading Phillies will host a first place team. Lee, who was traded from Seattle to Texas last July, will start on Saturday and be faced by his former teammate Colby Lewis in a game set to be televised by the FOX network. Read on for more details on the pitching match ups and plenty more statistics for this series. Friday, 7:05PM. CJ Wilson (4-2, 3.37 ERA) vs Roy Halladay (5-3, 2.21 ERA). In 3 road starts this season, Wilson has a 1-1 record with a 2.78 ERA. In his last 5 starts, Wilson is 2-2 with a 3.60 ERA. Raul Ibanez is 2-for-19 (.105 avg) in his career against Wilson. Halladay is 3-1 with a 2.52 ERA in 5 home starts this season. In his last 5 starts, Halladay is 3-2 with a 1.77 ERA. In 20 career games

Rizzotti Staying Hot With Sights Set on Majors

With first base for the Phillies occupied for the foreseeable future by former All-star and league Most Valuable Player Ryan Howard, minor leaguer Matt Rizzotti just doesn't have a clear path to the big leagues. Despite extremely solid success down on the farm, Rizzotti remains an understudy in waiting behind the 31-year-old Howard, who is signed with Philadelphia through the 2016 season. Last season, Rizzotti shot up two levels in the Phillies' developmental ranks. The 6-foot-5-inch, 265-pound slugger began the 2010 season with the High A level Clearwater Threshers, earning a promotion to Double A Reading before ultimately landing with the Triple A Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Combined at the three levels, Rizzotti batted .343 with 36 doubles, 17 homers and 76 RBI in 124 games played. He was also selected to the Eastern League All-star game. Thus far this year, Rizzotti is continuing to wreck EL pitching. Back with Reading, the Floral Park, NY native is batting .359 with 8 homeru

Justin De Fratus Interview Excerpts- May, 2011

Armed with a 2-0 record, 3 saves and a 2.95 ERA in 15 games this season for the Double A Reading Phillies, Justin De Fratus continues to make strides toward his goal of reaching the Major Leagues. Ranked as a top 10 prospect within the Phillies system last off-season, the 23-year-old De Fratus was in camp with the Phillies during big league spring training. In 3 games with the Phils during the Grapefruit League season, De Fratus allowed 4 earned runs in 4 innings and took a loss. He did strike out an impressive 5 batters in those 4 frames, however. Drafted in the 11th round of the 2007 amateur draft, De Fratus stood out as a force in relief last year for both the High A Clearwater Threshers and the R-Phils. In 49 combined games at the two levels, De Fratus posted a 3-0 record with 21 saves and a 1.94 ERA. De Fratus continued his excellent 2011 by pitching for Team USA in the Pan-American qualifiers held in Puerto Rico, helping the Americans finish with a 9-1 record. He also posted

Series Preview: Rockies at Phillies, 5/18-5/19

The Phillies (40-26) return home on Wednesday, to start a brief 2-game series with the Colorado Rockies (22-18) in what will be a clash of two first place teams. In the series opener, the National League West leading Rockies will send lefty Jorge De La Rosa, who was never beaten the Phillies, to the mound. The 4-time defending East Division champion Phillies will counter with Cole Hamels, who allowed 7 earned runs in 3 2/3 innings in his only previous regular season start against Colorado in 2009. Last year the Phillies won 6 of 7 meetings with the Rockies, including all 4 games played in Philadelphia. Read ahead for details on the pitching match ups and plenty more key statistics from this series. Wednesday, 7:05PM. Jorge De La Rosa (5-1, 3.70 ERA) vs. Cole Hamels (4.2, 3.19 ERA). In 6 career games against the Phillies, De La Rosa has a 0-3 record with a 8.78 ERA and a .321 batting average against. In 5 road starts this season, De La Rosa is 2-1 with a 3.82 ERA. Shane Victorino

Philadelphia Dealings: The Price is Right

The various costs the Phillies have paid to acquire their dream rotation of top-of-the-line starting pitchers are high and well-documented. The long-term contracts - including the Phillies’ first-ever $20 million arms – put the monetary cost front and center, but the secondary cost of acquiring these players can sometimes be forgotten. Really, it’s not hard to see why. When players like Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt do what they’ve done for the Phils at the Major League level, caring about what could have been with prospects is pushed aside in favor of appreciation, awe and admiration for what actually is. Still, for nostalgia’s sake, it’s nice to keep tabs on former Philly farmhands. In the case of the Phillies, a slew of young players were exchanged for this lineup of fierce hurlers. Few teams have had the depth and quality – or, at least, perceived quality – of minor leaguers to pull off deals like these, especially not in a two-plus-season span. It’s a big family to monitor. Sad

Interview with R-Phils Hitting Coach Frank Cacciatore

Currently, through 37 games, the Double A Reading Phillies lead the Eastern League with a .280 batting average. The R-Phils are also tops in the EL with 195 runs scored, 42 homeruns and a .776 OPS. If you ask the players, their hitting coach, Frank Cacciatore, has a lot to do with their success. Cacciatore, 58, has been with the team since 2008. Previously, he managed in the minors in the Mets, Giants and Astros systems. Cacciatore also coached in the developmental ranks of the Nationals organization. In his playing days, Cacciatore reached as high as Double A in the Tigers system. Last week I spoke with coach Frank about his team's success at the plate, various prospects, his own approach and plenty more. Check out the media player below to listen to the full interview. ____________________________________ You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE . You can also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE .

Series Preview: Phillies at Cardinals, 5/16- 5/17

Fresh off a series loss in Atlanta, the Phillies (25-14) still sport the best record in the league and continue their road trip with 2 games in St. Louis against the Cardinals (22-19). This brief series will pit one exceptional offense against one outstanding pitching staff. The Cardinals' offense has been the strength of the club for much of the season, leading the Majors in runs scored (210) and batting average (.284), while the Phillies' highly-regarded pitching staff has the second best ERA in the National League (3.12). Philadelphia and St. Louis each won four of the eight games the teams played against one another last season. Details on the pitching match ups for this series and plenty more statistics lie ahead. Monday, 7:05PM. Cliff Lee (2-3, 3.78 ERA) vs. Jake Westbrook (2-3, 6.92 ERA). In his last 5 starts, Lee is 0-2 with a 3.54 ERA. In 2 career starts against St. Louis, Lee is 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA. In 4 road starts this season, Lee has a 1-2 record with a

MLB Jeopardy Part 13

For $500 in the category of 1980's MLB hair-do's...the answer is- Long-time MLB player and current Phillies third base coach Juan Samuel was pleased to locate his hair-do from 25 years ago on this musical legend. Question: Who is rock star Carlos Santana? As a bonus, here are more pics from Saturday's MLB Beacon Awards Banquet in Atlanta, GA. Brad Lidge, John Mayberry Jr., Ben Francisco, Pete Orr, baseball Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard. Howard and his fiance Krystal Campbell meet film star Morgan Freeman Santana with Phils broadcaster Tom McCarthy ______________________________ Credit- Getty You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE . You can also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE .

Harper Homer Lashes Lakewood

In a game in which former Phillies top draft pick Anthony Hewitt earned the dreaded Golden Sombrero, last year's top overall draft pick Bryce Harper helped the Nationals affiliate Hagerstown Suns lock down a 1-0 victory over the hometown Lakewood BlueClaws. Harper had a difficult time in his first two trips to the plate on Saturday, as he faced Lakewood righty Garett Claypool, who got the best of the much-hyped Harper by shutting him down on strikes both times. However, the youngster sometimes referred to as "The Natural" was prepared for Claypool's fastball in his third at bat and drove it the opposite way, to deep left field for a homerun that scored the game's lone run. The homer extended the 6-foot-3-inch, 225-pound outfielder's hitting streak to 18 consecutive games. Harper later added a single off of BlueClaws reliever Colby Shreve. The Nevada native is batting a stunning .472 in 13 May games. Hewitt, Philadelphia's 1st round selection in the 2

Series Pitching Matchups: Phillies at Braves, 5/13-5/15

The Phillies (24-12) take on the Braves (21-18) in a 3-game series this weekend in Atlanta . Here is a detailed report on the pitching match ups for this series. Friday, 7:35 PM. Cole Hamels (4-2, 2.83 ERA) vs. Brandon Beachy (1-1, 2.98 ERA). In 21 career starts against Atlanta, Hamels has posted a 10-6 record with a 3.72 ERA. In 3 road starts this season, Hamels is 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA and a .158 batting average against. In his last 12 road starts dating back to last July, including the postseason, Hamels has a 6-2 record with a 1.40 ERA. Dan Uggla is 6-for-43 (.140 avg) in his career against Hamels. The right-handed Beachy has a 0-3 record with a 3.94 ERA in 3 career starts against the Phillies. In his last 4 starts, Beachy is 1-0 with a 1.44 ERA. Carlos Ruiz , who is expected to be activated from the disabled list for the start of this series, is 3-for-4 with 2 doubles against Beachy. Saturday, 1:10 PM. Joe Blanton (1-1, 5.83 ERA) vs. Jair Jurrjens (4-0,

R-Phils Avoid Sweep in Trenton

The Double A Reading Phillies (20-12) needed a stopper after dropping the first two games of a series against the Yankees affiliate Trenton Thunder (17-16). Austin Hyatt filled the role. After being shut down by Thunder aces Dellin Batances and Manny Banuelos in games 1 and 2 respectively, Hyatt made his mark on the Waterfront Park mound on Wednesday night. The 24-year-old right-hander was impressive, scattering 7 hits, walking 1 batter, striking out 5 and allowing just 2 runs in 6 2/3 innings to earn his 5th win of the season. The 15th round draft pick from 2009, Hyatt, used his change up efficiently to keep the Thunder batters guessing all night long, en route to helping his club lock down a 7-3 victory. Hyatt was cruising with a shutout until a mistake to Trenton center fielder Melky Mesa with two outs in the 6th landed in the Delaware River for a 2-run homer. Matt Rizzotti led the offense with three hits and 2 RBI, including a tremendous solo homerun to straight-away center f

Ramirez Struggles in Minor Battle of Aces

TRENTON, NJ- The big league match up in Florida wasn't the only game being billed as a pitchers duel on Tuesday night. In the second game of a 3-games series at Waterfront Park, Phillies minor league pitcher of the month for April JC Ramirez was set to lead Double A Reading against highly touted lefty prospect Manny Banuelos and the Yankees affiliate Trenton Thunder. For one side, it was quickly evident that their hurler wasn't going to live up to the hype on this night. Ramirez, a 22-year-old Nicaragua native, struggled through a long bottom of the 1st inning, tossing 31 pitches and letting up a run before he could retire the side. The difficult early frame set the tone for the right-handed Ramirez's night, as he did not make it past the third inning for the R-Phils, who dropped this game 4-2. Trenton got the scoring started in the first when a lazy fly ball by Bradley Suttle got lost in the twilight sky by everyone on defense and fell in shallow center field to plate

PhoulBallz.com Interview with Phillippe Aumont

Right-handed reliever Phillippe Aumont, part of the trio of players that the Phillies acquired when they traded Cliff Lee to Seattle in 2009, is back on track after an extremely rough start to his tenure in the Philadelphia organization. Aumont, selected 11th overall in the 2007 amateur draft by the Mariners, was a highly touted prospect at the time of the trade. However, that didn't last very long. After joining the Phillies organization Aumont struggled, as he was moved from the bullpen to the starting rotation. He began the season in Double A Reading and went 1-6 with a 7.43 ERA in 11 starts before being demoted to High A Clearwater. As a member of the Treshers, Aumont improved his numbers a bit, going 2-5 with a 4.48 ERA. This season with the Double A Reading Phillies, the 22-year-old Canadian, now exclusively a reliever, has posted a 0-2 record with 2 saves and a 2.57 ERA in 11 games and has begun to rise back toward the Major Leagues. I spoke with Phillippe last week

Series Preview: Phillies at Marlins, 5/9-5/11

The last time Phillies ace Roy Halladay and Marlins ace Josh Johnson faced each other in Florida, was last May. The end result was a legendary outing, as Halladay tossed a perfect game. Those same hurlers will square off again in game 2 of a 3-game series this week at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, FL. Before then, the Phillies (22-11) will send Joe Blanton to the mound, fresh off a disable list stint for an elbow impingement, in the series opener. The Marlins (20-13) will counter with right-hander Javier Vazquez. The Phils and Marlins split two games when the two teams first faced off in April at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. Read ahead for details on the pitching match ups and more information on this series. Monday, 7:10PM. Joe Blanton (0-1, 5.92 ERA) vs. Javier Vazquez (2-2, 6.39 ERA). Vazquez allowed 3 earned runs in 5 innings while not earning a decision in his previous start against the Phillies this season. In 2 home starts this season, Vazquez is 0-2 with a 7.56

PhoulBallz.com Interview with JC Ramirez

As part of the group of players that was sent to Philadelphia from Seattle in December 2009, in exchange for start pitcher Cliff Lee, expectations were high for JC Ramirez from the team, the fans and himself as well. Originally signed by the Mariners in 2005 out of Nicaragua, the 22-year-old Ramirez was a catcher in his youth before he became a pitcher. Ramirez joined the Phillies organization with a career ERA of 4.78 in 82 games as a professional. The righty starter pitched for both High A Level Clearwater and Double A Reading last year. Combined at the two levels, Ramirez posted a 7-7 record with a 4.82 ERA in 24 starts. This season, with refined secondary pitches, the 6-foot-3-inch, 225-pound Ramirez is off to a scorching start to help lead the Reading Phillies to an 18-10 record, which is good enough for first place in the Eastern League's Eastern Division. In 5 games this season, Ramirez has a 4-1 record, a 1.86 ERA and a .186 batting average against. This past week

Utley Goes 5-for-7 in 2011 (Extended Spring) Debut

Down in Clearwater on Saturday, Phillies second baseman Chase Utley played in his first official game of 2011. Recovering from a knee injury (diagnosed as patellar tendonitis), Utley ventured to Clearwater to work out with the Phillies' trainers and rehabilitation staff. His presence there also enables him to play in extended spring training games with a Phillies club that features former top draft pick Kelly Dugan and rehabbing pitching prospect Brody Colvin. In his first action of the season on Saturday, Utley went 5-for-7 with 2 homers and 3 singles. Utley batted in each inning he played. He also spent 5 innings in the field and took two innings off, as extended spring training has loose, exhibition-style rules that would allow rehabbing individuals to play and bat as they need to. Utley told folks after the outing that his knee felt fine, but that he plans to spend the remainder of the weekend resting the tricky joint to ensure that no lingering effects pop up or become a

EL Player of the Month Overbeck Continues to Grow

As an offensive force, Cody Overbeck has become a leader on the Double A Reading Phillies squad. The multi-positional Mississipian has 8 homeruns and 22 RBI, which are both good enough to lead the Eastern League. Overbeck, who stands 6-feet-1-inch tall and weighs 200 pounds, has improved greatly in each of the past two seasons. Thus far in 2011, Overbeck has posted a slash line of .297/.333/.576 (batting average/on base percentage/slugging percentage). Combined at the two levels last year, Overbeck's output looked like- .276/.354/.490, which was a tremendous improvement over his 2009 statistics. In 96 games with Clearwater 2009, Overbeck's line was an unimpressive .230/.282/.399. Named by the Eastern League as player of the month for April this season, Overbeck's focus as he progresses is on staying in a groove. He credits his hitting coach Frank Cacciatore for providing him with an extra pair of eyes and an experienced baseball mind to helping him make adjustments