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Showing posts from June, 2011

Midseason Developmental Report

We've reached the mid-season point on the Major League schedule, as the Phillies played their 81st game of the season last night. Since the minor league regular season schedules typically only go through Labor Day, we're slightly past that halfway point for developmental levels. That doesn't mean we can't take a midpoint glance around the farm to get familiar with the status of each full season team and the progress of some key contributors for each club, through games played on Wednesday. In the Triple A International League, Ryne Sandberg's Lehigh Valley IronPigs lead the North division with a 46-33 record. All season long, the 'Pigs roster has served as the on deck circle for the Major League Phillies, but somehow the team has managed to hold things together and stand out as a strong club in the tough division that includes the Yankees and Red Sox affiliates. Second baseman Josh Barfield, who has Major League experience with the Indians, has posted solid

Savery Back on Mound, Future is Unclear

Monday night, Joe Savery pitched 2 scoreless innings of relief for the Double A Reading Phillies. A year ago, this information may not have surprised too many people. However, this season, since Savery was converted from pitcher to full-time hitter, it caught plenty of folks by surprise. With Reading in the midst of a stretch of their schedule when they have no days off for more than three weeks and the organization promoting players upward, as injuries command, the R-Phils have been in need of some extra pitching. The 25-year-old Savery, who was drafted in the 1st round by the Phillies in 2007 and pitched four professional seasons, fits the bill to supplement the club's needs. Reading manager Mark Parent addressed the matter today, stating that at the time of Savery's mid-June promotion from Class A Advanced Clearwater, it was known that the left-hander could slide into a relief role at some point. "When he was sent here to DH and to get at bats, to see how he was a

Series Preview: Red Sox at Phillies, 6/28-6/30

A pair of favorites to reach the 2011 World Series are set to square off, as interleague play continues this week. The Red Sox (45-32), who are in 2nd place in the American League East division, travel to Philadelphia to take on the Phillies (49-30), who sit atop the National League East division. The teams will begin a three-game series on Tuesday evening at Citizens Bank Park. In game one of the series, Boston will send veteran righty Josh Beckett, who leads the Major Leagues in ERA, to the mound. The Phillies will counter with left-hander Cliff Lee, who has not allowed a run in his past 23 innings. Read ahead for details on the pitching match ups and other key details for this series. Tuesday, 7:05PM. Josh Beckett (6-2, 1.86 ERA) vs. Cliff Lee (8-5, 2.87 ERA). In 8 road starts this year, Beckett has a 4-2 record with a 2.35 ERA and a .183 batting average against. Beckett missed his last start with the flu. Beckett has a 2-2 record and a 6.26 ERA in 4 career starts at Citiz

IronPigs Manager Ryne Sandberg Interview

Drafted in the 20th round by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1978, Ryne Sandberg became one of the most regrettable trade chips in team history. As a youngster, Sandberg played shortstop, second base, third base and center field, but was blocked at each of those positions by a quartet of early 1980's stars by the names of Larry Bowa, Manny Trillo, Mike Schmidt and Garry Maddox. Eventually, Sandberg, a Washington state native, was included as a throw-in, in a trade with the Chicago Cubs. As a second baseman for the Cubs, Sandberg excelled, becoming a 10-time National League All-star, a 9-time Gold Glove Award winner, 1984 NL Most Valuable Player and a Hall of Famer. After decades away from the organization that drafted him, the 51-year-old Sandberg returned this year to manage the Phillies' Triple A level club, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Through the weekend, the IronPigs sported the best record in the International League with a 44-32 mark. Recently, I spoke with Ryne about

PN Round Table: Pressing Need

Today I took part in a writers round table over at one of my other internet homes, PhilliesNation.com . One particular question to the panel of writers, pertaining to what the Phillies' most pressing need is right now, was left out of the piece. I'd like to take this opportunity to share my answer to that question. What is the most pressing need right now? A back-end bullpen arm or a right-handed bat? My answer would surely have been a right-handed bat, in previous weeks. However, with recent news that Jose Contreras won't even throw a baseball for two weeks and Ryan Madson's finger numbness both added to the ever-extending absence of Brad Lidge, it seems as though the Phillies will need to add a solid arm to their relief corps. The Phils have been lucky that in-house addition Mike Stutes has pitched above and beyond expectations (3-0 record, 2.92 ERA, .179 BAA). And while a couple more home grown Mikes, Zagurski and Schwimer, are confident and ready to jo

Get Author Allen Schatz's Baseball Mystery "Game 7: Dead Ball"

Local author, and massive baseball fan, Allen Schatz's initial literary release "Game 7: Dead Ball", a murder mystery based around the World Series in Philadelphia, is now in print, after a successful run as an electronic-read only release. Here's a snippet from the press release from earlier this year: Washington, Pennsylvania - Allen Schatz, Philadelphia native and current resident of western Pennsylvania, mixes a love of the game to spin a mystery-suspense yarn where revenge hides at the core. The book, titled GAME 7: DEAD BALL , targeting mystery fans and baseball fans alike, takes place before and during the 2008 World Series. The lead character, umpire Marshall Connors, believes a vacation cut short is a reasonable price to pay for the opportunity to work the games, but that price rapidly increases when he finds himself in the middle of something more intense than the games on the field. Schatz, who happens to be a friend of PhoulBallz.com, invi

Series Preview: Athletics at Phillies, 6/24-6/26

After taking a series off from interleague play, due to MLB scheduling, the Phillies (47-29) return home to play host to the team that was once Philadelphia's other big league club, the Athletics (34-42). The A's will be making their first visit ever to Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies will see a few familiar faces in the series, as Hideki Matsui (2009 World Series MVP, when the Yankees defeated the Phillies in 6 games) and Josh Outman (10th draft pick by the Phillies in 2005) come to town. Former Phils prospect Gio Gonzalez, a starting pitcher, is also on the Athletics' roster, but he is not due to see action in the series. Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco, who leads fan voting at his position for the 2011 All-star Game, excels against Oakland, as his .376 average in 42 games against the A's is his best mark against any team he has faced. The Athletics have won 5 of 9 all-time interleague meetings between these two clubs. Read ahead for details on the pitch

Phils Starters Shining Brightly

Many baseball fans will recall all the hype surrounding the Phillies' pitching rotation leading into the season. After Philadelphia snatched free agent Cliff Lee up, before the Rangers or the Yankees could lock him into a contract, the baseball world seemed to buzz for months about the potential of the Phillies' starting pitchers for the 2011 season. As the team has reached the 75 games plateau in the 2011 season, the Phillies' 47-28 record is the best record in Major League Baseball and, as should have been expected, they have their pitching staff to thank for it. Overall, the Phillies' pitching staff leads the Majors in ERA, with a 2.98 mark, but the staff has been led by three members of their starting rotation...especially over the past month. Adding together statistics from each of Cole Hamels', Roy Halladay's and Cliff Lee's past 7 starts, the sums are remarkable. The trio has combined for a 15-2 record and a 2.17 ERA while allowing just 24 walks

Interview with Phillies Prospect Colby Shreve

Righty hurler Colby Shreve didn't have a solid start this season with the Phillies' Class A Lakewood BlueClaws. After beginning the year in the starting rotation and posting a .315 batting average against through three April starts, as the team's fifth starter, Shreve was moved to the bullpen. Since that time, the 6-foot-5-inch tall Shreve has sported a .261 BAA and has improved his other numbers as well. Pitching coordinator Gorman Heimueller, along with the BlueClaws coaching staff saw the switch as an opportunity to allow Shreve to become more focused and increase his velocity. A 6th round draft pick in 2008, Shreve missed the 2008 and 2009 season due to elbow issues that required Tommy John surgery and made his pro debut last year, as a member of Lakewood's starting rotation, when he went 7-5 with a 3.95 ERA. In his past 9 relief appearances, Shreve has been strong, going 1-0 with a 1.65 ERA. Last week, I spoke with Colby about his change of roles, his progres

Series Preview: Phillies at Cardinals, 6/21-6/23

When the Cardinals and Phillies meet in a 3-game series beginning on Tuesday night in St. Louis, it will be a match up of two teams that have held onto the top spot in their respective divisions, despite repeated injuries all season long. The Cardinals (40-33) are in first place in the National League Central, but they are just 1/2 game ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers. They'll have a difficult time holding onto that lead as baseball's top hitter suffered a fractured wrist on Sunday in a collision with the Royals' Wilson Betemit. Pujols, the 3-time NL Most Valuable Player, is expected to miss up to 6 weeks with the injury. St. Louis has also lost top pitcher Adam Wainwright for the season to an elbow injury. In addition, outfielder Matt Holliday has spent 2 stints on the disabled list. Nick Punto, David Freese, Gerald Laird, Eduardo Sanchez and others are also currently on the DL. The defending NL East champion Phillies (45-28), with Brian Schneider, Joe Blanton and Br

Murphy a Leader For Class A Lakewood

LAKEWOOD, NJ- Right-handed slugger Jim Murphy knows that the first base position within the Phillies organization is cluttered. With former National League Most Valuable Player Ryan Howard signed with the Phillies through the 2017 season for big money, and names like Matt Rizzotti (.296 avg, 13 HR, 45 RBI in 67 games with Double A Reading this year), Cody Overbeck (.266 avg, 19 HR, 47 RBI in 66 combined games for Reading and Triple A Lehigh Valley), Joe Savery (.303 avg, 2 HR, 25 RBI in 57 combined games for High A Clearwater and Reading) and top Phillies positional prospect "The Boss" Jonathan Singleton (.244, 3 HR, 21 RBI in 57 games for Clearwater) all currently occupying spots ahead of Murphy within the Phils' developmental system, there is limited room to advance, no matter how he performs. This season Murphy is blazing through South Atlantic League pitching. In 67 games with the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws, Murphy is batting .286 and is tied for the league lead wi

Interview with Former Phillie Marlon Anderson

A second round draft pick in 1995 out of the University of South Alabama, Marlon Anderson rose quickly through the Phillies developmental system and made his Major League debut on September 8th, 1998, slamming a homerun as a pinch hitter against the Mets'Mel Rojas. By the following year, Anderson was the Phillies' everyday second baseman. The lefty hitting Anderson posted a .266 batting average in 5 seasons with the Phillies. Following the 2002 season, Anderson became a free agent and began a stretch of his career which saw him play with the Devil Rays, Mets, Dodgers, Cardinals and Nationals within 4 years. Anderson finished out his Major League career with the Mets in 2009, but these days he serves as the hitting coach for the Class A Hagerstown Suns, a Washington Nationals affiliate, where he coaches top minor league prospect Bryce Harper. Last week I spoke with Marlon about his transition into coaching, his approach with player, his time with the Phillies organization a

Sunday School: Phillies History Lesson 93

During the 1944 season, 16-year-old Ralph "Putsy" Caballero became the youngest Phillie in team history when he broke into the Major Leagues. Signed out of high school by the Phillies that year, Caballero reached the big show in September for the final few weeks of the season. He played in parts of 8 different seasons as a member of the Phillies, mostly as a reserve infielder. In his debut season, the right-handed hitting Caballero went 0-for-4 in 4 games and then went hitless in 9 appearances the following season at the big league level. Caballero, a Louisiana native, missed the 1946 season, as he was summoned for military service. He later achieved his first Major League hit in 1947. In 1948, still very young for the highest level of the sport, at 20-years-old, Caballero saw action in 113 games with the Phillies, spending time at second base and third base. That season, Caballero hit .245 with 12 doubles a triple and 33 runs scored. With minimal power, Caballero hit

Series Preview: Phillies at Mariners, 6/17-6/19

The Phillies (44-26), in the midst of a hot streak that has seen them win 7 straight games, will head west for a 3-game interleague series with the Seattle Mariners (35-34) that begins Friday night. Philadelphia has been riding stellar pitching during the recent streak of success. Phillies starting pitchers have combined to post a 1.80 ERA over the past 7 games. The M's, who are 1/2 game behind Texas for 1st place in the American League West division standings, hope to benefit from the promotion of highly regarded prospect, infielder Dustin Ackley. The 2nd overall draft selection in the 2009 draft, Ackley had posted a .303 average with 9 homers and 35 RBI through 66 games with Triple A Tacoma. These two teams have not met since the Mariners took 2 of 3 games from the Phillies at Seattle's Safeco Field in 2005. Read ahead for details on the pitching match ups as well as other key statistics from this series. Friday, 10:10PM. Roy Oswalt (4-4, 3.14 ERA) vs. Michael Pineda (6

Mathieson Returning to Starting Role

PAWTUCKET, RI- Phillies minor league hurler Scott Mathieson has dealt with a lot of obstacles in his career. Three times a patient on the operating table, to undergo elbow surgery, Mathieson was originally a 17th round draft choice by the Phillies in 2002. The Vancouver, BC native made his Major League debut with the Phillies as a starting pitcher in June, 2006. However, by September that season, Mathieson was sidelined with a torn elbow ligament and required Tommy John surgery. As he rehabbed the following year, it was discovered that Mathieson had lingering issues that would force him to undergo an ulnar nerve transposition procedure. Bouncing back from that surgery proved difficult in 2008, when Mathieson was forced to have a second Tommy John surgery. Prior to the surgical procedures, Mathieson had pitched mainly as a starter. However, since returning from that third stint on the disabled list, and working his way back up through the Phillies developmental system, the 6-foo

Worley Up, Romero Designated For Assignment

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. announced after today's game that Vance Worley will officially be activated to the Major League roster. Worley is expected to start for the Phillies on Saturday in Seattle. In a subsequent move, JC Romero has been designated for assignment. According to MLB regulations, the Phillies have 10 days to move Romero's contract. If he is not traded or claimed, Amaro says Romero will be given an opportunity to stay within the organization. The left-handed Romero had posted a 3.86 ERA with no decisions and a .262 batting average against in 24 appearances for Philadelphia this season. Outstanding efforts by younger hurlers like Antonio Bastardo (3-0, 1.05 ERA, .129 BAA) and Mike Stutes (0-0, 2.25 ERA, .174 BAA) have virtually pushed Romero out of his position on the Phillies pitching staff. Last month, when Romero made a rehab appearance with the Lakewood BlueClaws, I asked him about the progress of his fellow lefty Bastardo. The intervie

Quartet of Reading Stars Headed to Lehigh

Before any official release was made by the organization, news came out on Thursday, thanks to social media, that two of the organization's top relief pitching prospects were taking another step toward their ultimate goals of pitching in the Major Leagues. Right-handed pitchers Justin De Fratus and Phillippe Aumont are headed from Double A Reading to the Triple A level Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Both De Fratus and Aumont announced their promotions via Twitter between late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning. De Fratus, a 6-foot-4-inch 220-pounder, has been excellent with the R-Phils. In 23 games, De Fratus posted a 4-0 record with a 2.10 ERA and a team leading 8 saves. De Fratus' 43 strike outs in 34 1/3 innings are impressive as well. The 23-year-old was ranked 5th in the PhoulBallz/PhilliesNation 2011 prospect rankings . The Oxnard, California native De Fratus was originally an 11th round draft pick in 2007 by the Phillies, is definitely pleased with the move, but

Biddle Coming on Strong

LAKEWOOD, NJ- The Phillies' 2010 first round draft pick Jesse Biddle had a difficult opening stretch in his first full season as a professional this year, but has since bounced back and learned how to cope with the rigors of professional baseball. Following a period in which he struggled with his command and seemed to repeatedly let up one big inning to his opponents, Biddle has adapted to the new full season environment and produced effectively for the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws in the South Atlantic League. After beginning the season with a 1-5 record and a 5.57 ERA through his first 7 starts, the left-handed Biddle has gotten himself on the right track, posting a 2-1 record and a 2.60 ERA in his last 6 outings. Biddle feels that a confidence in his own pitching abilities, despite some concerns and doubts about those skills, is what has helped him to improve. "I think earlier I was putting a lot of pressure on myself and kind of just second guessing my stuff and why (th

Moose Mattair Talks About His Lakewood Return

After missing more than a month with an oblique strain, Travis "Moose" Mattair found himself as the odd man out of the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers roster. Having lost his starting job to Jeremy Barnes, who has posted a .293 batting average since taking over for Mattair, the Washington state native was reassigned to the Class A Lakewood roster, where he became on of the club's most popular players during his previous stint there. The 6-foot-5-inch 230-pound Mattair batted .234 with 3 homeruns and 16 RBI in 21 April games as a member of the Threshers. Originally a 2nd round draft selection by the Phillies in 2007, Mattair was a member of the BlueClaws team that won the first of two straight South Atlantic League titles in 2009. After that, Mattair was placed on the retired list in order to try his dream of playing Division 1 college basketball. By late summer last year, Mattair got the itch for baseball and chose to return to the Phillies organization rather tha

Series Preview: Marlins at Phillies, 6/14-6/16

With a double header on Wednesday (the afternoon game is a make up for a rain out back in April) breaking up the highly regarded Philadelphia pitching rotation, the Marlins (32-33) will still have to face the Phillies' (40-26) three strongest starting pitchers in this upcoming 4-game series at Citizens Bank Park. On consecutive days, the Marlins are set to face Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, who, in their past 15 combined starts (5 from each hurler), have posted a 12-1 record and a 2.38 ERA. Florida will counter with a collection of three pitchers that have not had much success against the Phillies (17-19 combined record, 4.69 combined ERA) and a starter that has not been announced yet, in the series. Read ahead for details on the pitching match ups and loads more statistical information from this series. Tuesday, 7:05PM. Chris Volstad (2-6, 5.51 ERA) vs. Cole Hamels (8-2, 2.58 ERA). In 10 career starts against the Phillies, Volstad has a 2-3 record with a 4.45 ERA.

Murphy Completes Big Week in Walk-off Fashion

LAKEWOOD, NJ- It took 15 innings, but Jim Murphy and the Lakewood BlueClaws downed the West Virginia Power by a score of 4-3, to end an eight-game losing streak on Saturday night. Murphy, the club's first baseman, tied the game with a run scoring hit in the 13th to give the team new life and later came through with the hit that locked in the victory for the Class A 'Claws in the final match up of their 3-game series with the Pirates affiliate West Virginia Power. Murphy was named as a starter for the South Atlantic League Northern Division All-star team earlier this week. Following that news, Murphy was named the Phillies' minor league player of the month for May, when he batted .318 with 6 homeruns and 23 RBI in 29 games. Wrapping up a remarkable week, Murphy posted 3 hits in the contest on Saturday. In the 13th, an RBI hit by Power catcher Elias Diaz gave West Virginia the lead. Batting with one down in the bottom of the frame, left fielder Zach Collier doubled and sco

d'Arnaud in Serious Groove Following Concussion

NH hitting coach Justin Mashore working with Travis d'Arnaud last week Sidelined in late April with a concussion, suffered when he was hit with the swing of a batter, catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud began the season in quite a slump. Through 13 games in April with the Double A New Hampshire Fisher Cats, d'Arnaud had posted a .188 batting average with 1 HR and 5 RBI. However, since returning from the disabled list in early May, d'Arnaud has been on a hot streak, ripping into Eastern League pitching to the tune of a .378 batting average with 9 doubles, 5 homeruns and 12 RBI in 27 games. The 22-year-old California native asserted that he hasn't changed anything in his approach or mechanics, confirming that sometimes a hitter can just get into a groove and capitalize on that. "I've been slowing everything down and I feel like the ball looks like a softball right now. I can see it really good," d'Arnaud stated. "When I got on a roll, I was ju

David Buchanan Interview Excerpts

On Tuesday, right-handed pitcher David Buchanan was named the starting pitcher of the Class A South Atlantic League North division All-star team. Thus far in 2011, Buchanan has emerged as the leader of the pitching staff for the Lakewood BlueClaws, posting a 7-3 record with a 2.68 ERA. The 22-year-old Buchanan is among the league leaders in ERA (4th), innings pitched (2nd with 74), wins (1st with 7) and WHIP (6th with 1.11). Buchanan was drafted by the Phillies in the 7th round of last year's amateur draft out of Georgia State University. He made his pro debut as a member of the short-season Williamsport Crosscutters in 2010, going 3-1 with a 4.21 ERA in 12 starts. On Thursday, the 6-foot-3-inch 190-pound Buchanan was honored as the Topps SAL Player of the Month for May. During the month, Buchanan went 4-2 with a 2.06 ERA. The Georgia native Buchanan was previously drafted in the 6th round by the Mets in 2009, but chose not to sign. When Phillies pitcher JC Romero stopped thro

Mattair Headed for Return to Lakewood

Moose-keteers get your headgear ready, as your namesake is headed back to the home of the greatest fan group in Class A baseball history. Ready to be activated from an oblique strain that has kept him out of action since April, Travis "Moose" Mattair is set to see action this weekend with the two-time defending South Atlantic League champions, the Lakewood BlueClaws. Mattair, a 2nd round draft pick in 2007, developed quite a fan following in 2008 and 2009 when manned third base for Lakewood. The 6-foot-5-inch 220-pound Mattair held the BlueClaws all-time RBI record with 91 before Ryan Howard broke the mark during a rehab assignment with Lakewood last year. First baseman Jim Murphy has since surpassed both men, during his second campaign with the club this season. Following the 2009 season, Mattair temporarily retired from baseball, in order to try his hand at Division 1 college basketball . After attempting a bit of an audition with Boise State in 2010, Moose returned to b

Series Preview: Cubs at Phillies, 6/9-6/12

Sporting the best record in the Major Leagues, the Phillies (37-25) will play host for a 4-game series against the Cubs (24-36), who are 11 1/2 games out of first place in the National League Central division. Jimmy Rollins, who has been sidelined in recent days with a deep bone bruise in his right knee, will be back in the Phillies' lineup Thursday night. Read ahead for details on the pitching match ups and more statistics from this series. Thursday, 7:05PM. Randy Wells (1-1, 5.74 ERA) vs. Kyle Kendrick (3-4, 3.78 ERA). In 1 career outing against the Phillies, Wells threw 7 scoreless innings. In 3 starts this season, batters are hitting .246 against Wells. Kendrick has pitched 1 scoreless inning against the Cubs in his career. In 8 games at home this season, Kendrick is 1-3 with a 4.24 ERA. Kendrick has a 19-16 record with a 4.65 ERA in 56 career regular season games at Citizens Bank Park. Friday, 7:05PM. Carlos Zambrano (5-2, 3.98 ERA) vs. Roy Halladay (8-3, 2.56 ERA). In

Phillies Draft 2011- Day 3 Wrap Up

Here are some blurbs, details, stats and more on the players that were selected by the Phillies on the third and final day of the 2011 MLB first-year player draft. The Phils selected three more catchers on the third day of the draft, totaling seven for the entire process. The first player taken on Wednesday was Kyle Olson, a catcher out of Jackson High School in Washington. A two sport (baseball & football) stand out, the 31st round pick Olson batted near .500 in his senior season. Olson, a righty hitter who turned 19-years-old last month, stands 6-feet-2-inches tall and weighs 195 pounds. Other catchers selected on day 3 were 18-year-old Austin Knight (43rd round), a right-handed hitter out of Sumrall High School in Mississippi, and 17-year-old Scott Tomassetti, a righty batter from Sierra Vista High School in Nevada. Another big focus on Wednesday was pitching, as Philadelphia selected 11 pitchers in their last 19 rounds. Among the hurlers taken by the Phils in day 3 of the dr

Day 2 Phillies Draft Report

With their initial pick on day two of the 2011 MLB amateur draft, the Phillies tipped their hand for a game plan set to coordinate with the potential future of the game of baseball. As the game has begun to go the way of speed, small ball, defense and pitching, the Phillies took shortstop Roman Quinn, a product of Port St. Joe's High School in Florida. Quinn, who stands 5-feet-10-inches tall and weighs around 170 pounds, had played some center field and second base during the past couple of seasons as well. According to the Phillies' director of scouting Marti Wolever, Quinn spent time last Sunday working out at shortstop for the Phillies at their complex in Clearwater. The organization and the 18-year-old Quinn alike have interest in the youngster pursuing a professional career at shortstop. Quinn was proclaimed, by some, to be the player with the most speed in this year's MLB first-year player draft, which was appealing to the Phillies. "I've always been a bi