Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Phils Acquire Bowker From Pirates

The Phillies have acquired left-handed batting outfielder John Bowker from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Details released on Wednesday state that the Phillies will send a player to be named or cash considerations to complete the deal at a later date.

The 28-year-old Bowker had gone 4-for-17 (.235 avg) in 19 games this year for the Pirates. In 106 games with Triple A Indianapolis this season, Bowker batted .306 with 15 homeruns and 76 RBI. Bowker, who has played in parts of five Major League seasons, is a former 3rd round draft pick by the San Francisco Giants.

Bowker's career Major League batting line (.237/.289/.390) is not an improvement over the numbers produced by current Phils lefty hitting reserve outfielder Ross Gload (.280/.325/.408).

In an effort to clear a 25-man roster spot, the Phillies optioned Michael Schwimer to Triple A Lehigh Valley following Tuesday night's victory over Cincinnati. The 25-year-old Schwimer is expected to return to the big league roster at some point after the rosters expand on September 1st. Jose Contreras, out for the year with a right elbow injury, was moved to the 60-day disabled list, to make room on the 40-man roster.

Bowker will wear number 16 for the Phillies and will be eligible for the post-season roster.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Biddle Exits Game with Apparent Injured Knee

LAKEWOOD, NJ- In game 1 of Lakewood's Tuesday night double header against the Hickory Crawdads, lefty pitching prospect Jesse Biddle left a tied contest in the 5th inning with an apparent right knee injury.

With 1 out in the frame, Biddle served up a 2-run game tying double to highly-regarded Rangers prospect Jurickson Profar, and quickly grasped his knee. Biddle, the Phillies' 1st round draft selection last year, was tended to by the team's training staff and walked off the field with a limp, under his own power.

Lakewood coaches were not able to provide details of the injury between games, but updates should be available shortly after tonight's regular season home finale at FirstEnergy Park.

Biddle, 19, was named to the South Atlantic League Post-season All-star team on Tuesday. In his first full season as a professional, Biddle entered action on Tuesday with a 7-8 record, a 2.94 ERA and a .218 batting average against in 24 outings this season with Class A Lakewood.

The start for Biddle, who was already on a 5-innings-per-outing limit, was likely going to be his last of the season. A source stated that if the club missed the post-season, which seems likely, Biddle would not have taken his next turn in the rotation in the team's final game of the season on Monday in Hagerstown.

Biddle is slated to spend time in the month long post-season Instructional League, but that assignment could be in jeopardy, depending on the severity of the leg injury.

*UPDATE*-

According to Biddle, he'll be returning home to Philadelphia and visit a Phillies team doctor on Wednesday or Thursday. Biddle explained that the knee was causing him some discomfort through the entire outing, but he experienced a greater level of pain when he broke to back up home plate on Jurickson Profar's run scoring hit in the 5th inning.

"My knee locked up on me out there," Biddle stated. "It just didn't feel good the whole game and running home to cover behind home plate really made it stiffen up and it didn't really loosen that well for a while, so I just had to come out of the game."

Biddle, who gave up 2 earned runs over his 4 1/3 innings in the contest, admitted that this injury would end his season and expressed displeasure with going out on a down note.

"(My teammates) keep telling me, 'Don't focus on this last outing.' But I just wanted to finish strong and today was a day we could have made our final push for the playoffs, and I just didn't pitch as well as I wanted to."


In a related note, the BlueClaws other Post-season All-star representative, first baseman Jim Murphy, was also sidelined with an injury. In the bottom of the 7th inning of game 2, Murphy came to the plate with 2 runners on in a tie ballgame. After fouling a pitch, the 25-year-old experienced pain in his left hand and was unable to continue. Catcher Cameron Rupp was called upon to pinch hit, and, thanks to a throwing error by Profar, helped the BlueClaws salvage a win and avoid a season sweep at the hands of Hickory.

Murphy will also see a team physician. Early assessment of Murphy's pain suggested that his issue was in the area of the hamate bone.
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Lakewood News and Notes, 8/30/11

The Class A Lakewood BlueClaws announced on Tuesday that left-handed pitcher Jesse Biddle and first baseman Jim Murphy were each named to the South Atlantic League Post-season All-star Team. Murphy, a right-handed hitting slugger, represented the 'Claws in this year's mid-season All-star Game as well.

The 25-year-old Murphy, who is the all-time homeruns leader for Lakewood and a massive fan favorite in the Jersey Shore town, expressed his appreciation for the recognition of his 2011 efforts.

"It means a lot. To be recognized for the full season means- full body of work, full season numbers and a full season of consistency. My second half hasn't been quite as consistent as the first half, but I'm proud of the year that I've had. Hopefully, I'll finish strong and put up some more numbers and just end the season able to reflect on a good year and move on from there."

This marks the sixth straight season in which Lakewood has been represented on the Post-season All-star team. Last season's league championship team was represented by four individuals...first baseman Jonathan Singleton, shortstop Jonathan Villar, catcher Sebastian Valle and manager Mark Parent.


In the night cap of Monday's double header, Lakewood shortstop Edgar Duran injured his right middle finger on a play in the field. On a bizarre play, Duran made an attempt at a bare handed effort which jammed the digit. He was removed from the game at that time. Further examination on Tuesday revealed the break. According to hitting coach Greg Legg, Duran could require surgery.

The 20-year-old Venezuela native has been strong on defense all season long for the BlueClaws, however his bat remains a question, as his hitting line in 112 games (.234/.280/.299) suggests.

Despite his season being cut short, Duran, who was signed as an amateur free agent in 2007 at age 16, was in good spirits at the ballpark, smiling for the PhoulBallz.com camera and managing to provide an autograph or two for fans, with a splint on his hand.


Kenny Miramontes, a 23-year-old middle infielder, has been promoted to Lakewood, fillinh Duran's void on the roster. Miramontes was singed this year by the Phillies as an undrafted free agent and posted a .226 batting average in 30 games with the short season Williamsport Crosscutters. The California native did not arrive in time for the start of Lakewood's second straight double header on Tuesday.
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Jesse Biddle Answers Questions From the Phillies Nation

This season lefty pitching prospect Jesse Biddle has become one of the Phillies' fastest rising prospects. The 19-year-old was the organization's 1st round draft choice in 2010 and after just over a year as a professional, Biddle has begun to prevail as a power pitcher. In 11 outings since the South Atlantic League All-star break, Biddle has posted a 1.75 ERA. Overall this season for the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws, Biddle has a 7-8 record with a 2.94 ERA and 123 strike outs in 128 2/3 innings.

This week Jesse took time to answer some questions submitted by Phillies fans. Check out the media player below to listen and see if your question made the cut.



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Monday, August 29, 2011

Collier and Others Headed to Instructional Ball

According to Lakewood BlueClaws manager Chris Truby, the Phillies will send 10 members of their Class A affiliate to the organization's spring training home in Clearwater, FL for instructional ball, beginning in mid-September. "Instructs", as they are commonly referred to, is a month-long off-season league, generally consisting of recently drafted players, those that missed time due to injury, or those that participated in a short-season league, allowing those individuals to refine their skills or add innings/at bats to their season.

One prospect that will be going south for the fall is 20-year-old outfielder Zach Collier. According to the 6-foot-2-inch 190-pound California native, a supplemental 1st round pick in 2008 who was out of action for the entire 2010 season due to injuries, the extra month of baseball will allow him to gain back some of the experience he missed last year and provide an opportunity to improve important aspects of his game.

"More repetitions and more at bats are the main things I'm looking forward to," Collier said. "The Phillies also want me to work on some things that I haven't done here in the season, like bunting for base hits. Speed is part of my game, so it's definitely something I should work on."

The remaining list of BlueClaws players that will be headed south for the Instructional League is as follows-
LHP Jesse Biddle
RHP Ervis Manzanillo
RHP Jay Johnson
RHP Hector Neris
RHP Lendy Castillo
LHP Austin Wright
RHP Lisalberto Bonilla
SS Edgar Duran
C Cameron Rupp


In other news, with a hurricane in the forecast and their games against Hickory cancelled over the weekend, Lakewood BlueClaws players spent the night in their home clubhouse at FirstEnergy Park on Saturday. That decision was made by the Phillies, who were concerned about the safety of the players that live in various places throughout the area. The organization wanted the full roster accounted for, in one place, throughout the dangerous storm.
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Series Preview: Phillies at Cincinnati, 8/29-9/1

After being washed out of Philadelphia by Hurricane Irene over the weekend, the Phillies (83-46) have travelled to Cincinnati to face the Reds (67-66) in a four-game series. The teams faced each other in Philadelphia earlier this season, in a series that saw the Reds drop three of four games.

In the series opener, the Phillies will send lefty Cole Hamels, who will be activated from the disabled list, to the mound. Hamels missed time with shoulder inflammation recently. The Reds will counter with right-hander Homer Bailey, who hasn't lost in the month of August.

Dating back to last July, the Phillies have won 10 of 11 meetings with the Reds, including the National League Division Series last October.

Read ahead for details on the pitching match ups as well as plenty more key information from this series.

Monday, 7:10 PM. Cole Hamels (13-7, 2.62 ERA) vs. Homer Bailey (7-5, 4.44 ERA). In 4 career starts against the Phillies, Bailey has a 0-2 record with a 7.00 ERA. Bailey has posted a 5-2 record with a 4.66 ERA in 8 home starts this season. Chase Utley is 1-for-10 in his career against Bailey. In 9 career starts against the Reds, including the postseason, Hamels has an 8-0 record with a 1.23 ERA. Hamels is 2-2 with a 2.27 ERA in his last 5 starts.

Tuesday, 7:10 PM. Roy Halladay (15-5, 2.56 ERA) vs. Bronson Arroyo (8-10, 5.02 ERA). Halladay is 1-1 with a 3.03 ERA in 5 regular season starts against the Reds. Over his last 6 starts, Halladay is 4-1 with a 2.55 ERA. Halladay, of course, threw a no-hitter in the NLDS against the Reds last October. In 9 career games against the Phillies, Arroyo is 1-6 with a 7.13 ERA. Arroyo has a 1-3 record with a 3.88 ERA in 8 starts since the All-star break. Hunter Pence is 11-for-32 (.344 avg) in his career against Arroyo.

Wednesday, 7:10 PM. Cliff Lee (14-7, 2.71 ERA) vs. Dontrelle Willis (0-3, 4.10 ERA). In 9 career starts against the Reds, Lee has a 5-2 record with a 4.66 ERA. In his last 5 starts, Lee has posted a 5-0 record with a 1.40 ERA. Miguel Cairo is 8-for-16 (.500 avg) in his career against Lee. Willis is 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA in 5 home starts this season. Placido Polanco is 5-for-32 (.156 avg) in his career against Willis.

Thursday, 12:35 PM. Vance Worley (9-1, 2.65 ERA) vs. Mike Leake (11-8, 4.04 ERA). The Phillies have won each of Worley's last 12 starts. In 4 day starts this season, Worley is 1-1 with a 6.86 ERA. Worley is 4-0 with a 2.87 ERA in his last 5 road starts. In 14 home games this season, Leake has an 8-4 record with a 4.04 ERA. Leake has a 6.91 ERA in 2 career regular season starts against the Phillies.


All-star Brandon Phillips is batting .306 with 8 HR in 56 home games this year. In 21 games this month, Phillips has posted a .359 batting average.

Joey Votto is batting .353 in 25 games this month. The lefty hitting Votto has a .362 batting average against left-handed pitchers this season.

In 43 career regular season games against the Phillies, Miguel Cairo has posted a .397 batting average with 2 homers and 14 RBI.

In 51 games on the road this season, Carlos Ruiz has posted a .293 batting average. Ruiz is batting .309 in 30 games since the All-star break.

Chase Utley has a .713 OPS on the road this season, compared to his .931 OPS at home.

Hunter Pence, in 33 career games at Great American Ballpark, has a .286/.331/.474 line. Pence has posted a .330 batting average in 24 games since joining the Phillies.

Phillies team ERA- 3.09
Reds team ERA- 4.07
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Reading Eagle's Annual Prospect Survey

This month Mike Drago of The Reading Eagle conducted a survey of a dozen experts, made up of writers and other media members, designed to rank the top prospects in the Philadelphia developmental system.

The participating individuals, who are all close to the Phillies minor league system, were asked to rank their personal top 15, which were tabulated to determine the paper's published list of top ten prospects. Those that offered their insight for the ratings included Bob Brookover, Joe Berkery, Tony Graham, Jeff Schuler, Brian Seltzer, Mike Drago himself and yours truly, Jay Floyd.
Link
Last year's survey landed two keys to the trade that brought Hunter Pence to the Phillies at the top of the rankings. Jonathan Singleton and Jarred Cosart were numbers 1 and 2, respectively, based on voting done last year. Additionally, this year's top Phillies rookie, Vance Worley, landed at number 3. The two players that followed those youngsters on the 2010 list now find themselves at the top of the latest edition of the Phils prospect hierarchy.

Two of the stars of the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers club, righty hurler Trevor May and catcher Sebastian Valle now take up the highest spots on the Eagle's annual digest.

Last season's top draft pick, left-handed pitcher Jesse Biddle, shot up the list this year with an extremely impressive campaign at Class A Lakewood. The Philadelphia native ranks third.

Another big mover this season was shortstop Freddy Galvis, who worked extremely hard last off-season to add some strength and to improve his offensive game. The Venezuela native has found himself rated as the fourth best prospect in the Phils' organization.

Here's a review of the full top 20 rankings:

1- Trevor May. The 4th round draft pick from 2008 has won a championship in each of his three seasons in the Phillies minor league system and he plans to add to his collection of rings, as he moves upward. May, a Washington state native, has posted a 10-7 record with a 3.54 ERA while striking out 203 batters in 147 1/3 innings over 26 starts.

2- Sebastian Valle. A representative in this year's MLB Futures Game, Valle was signed as an amateur free agent, out of his native Mexico, at the age of 16. Valle, who took big strides last season by working on his ability to hit to all fields, has seen his focus this year go toward his work behind the plate. In the process, the 21-year-old helped 4/5 of the Threshers' pitching rotation gain recognition as Florida State League All-stars. On the offensive side, Valle has seen a bit of a dip in power, after missing time with a pair of injuries, but his batting average has seen a considerable improvement over last season.

3- Jesse Biddle. The 19-year-old has ridden a strong second half to cruise upward on prospect rankings everywhere. Biddle has posted a 1.75 ERA in 11 outings since the South Atlantic League All-star break in June. Though his overall win-loss record (7-8) is not impressive, Biddle, who is 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 235 pounds, has shown serious progress in his pitches this year, while working closely with Lakewood pitching coach Steve Schrenk.

4- Freddy Galvis. The 5-foot-10-inch 175-pound infielder, who developed a reputation for being strong on defense and weak with his offense, has really turned things around this season. Following a winter in which he stuck to a strict workout plan to add a bit of muscle to his frame and improve his bat speed, the 21-year-old has tallied career high power numbers (8 HR, .722 OPS) and earned a promotion to Triple A Lehigh Valley earlier this month, perhaps causing folks to wonder if re-signing Jimmy Rollins, who will be a free agent after the 2011 season, is a necessary move. In 25 games with the IronPigs, the switch-hitting Galvis has rocked a .315 average.

5- Phillippe Aumont. The intimidating reliever joined the Phillies organization as part of the trio of players the team acquired from Seattle for Cliff Lee in 2009. After a year in which he struggled when the Phillies made him a starter, the Quebec native has shined this year out of the bullpen for Double A Reading and Triple A Lehigh Valley. In 41 combined games at two levels, Aumont, who sports a fastball that regularly reaches 97 MPH, has a 1-5 record, a 2.81 ERA, a .222 batting average against and 73 strike outs in 51 1/3 innings pitched. Aumont, who stands 6 feet 7 inches tall and weighs 255 pounds stands a shot at being a strong contributor out the Phillies' bullpen next season.

6- Brody Colvin. After pulling past Cosart in some publications' rankings as the Phillies' top pitching prospect, Colvin has dealt with a back injury and a groin problem that have resulted in difficulty with achieving much success this season. In 21 outings this year, Colvin, the only member of the Clearwater starting rotation that didn't make the FSL All-star team, sports a 2-8 record and a 4.99 ERA. His 8.31 ERA in 5 August starts hasn't effected his status among prospect heads, who feel the 7th round draft pick from 2008 and his live arm (he reached 96 MPH toward the end of the 2010 season) will get back on track once he has a stretch of great health.

7- Justin De Fratus. After a 2010 when he straight dominated competition with Clearwater and Reading, then went on to be untouchable for Team USA in the Pan-Am qualifiers and looked crisp in the Arizona Fall League, the 23-year-old right-hander has been solid out of the bullpen for Reading and Lehigh Valley this year. In 49 combined games at two levels, De Fratus, an 11th round pick from the 2007 amateur draft, has posted a 6-3 record with 14 saves and a 2.99 ERA. The California native, already on the Phils' 40-man roster, stands out as another likely candidate to fill out a big league bullpen with several vacancies following the 2011 season.

8- Julio Rodriguez. The Puerto Rico native began 2010 in extended spring training, but split time with the short season Williamsport Crosscutters and Lakewood BlueClaws throughout the season, while forcing the Phillies to take notice, with his versatility. A finesse pitcher, the righty tosses a fastball in the low-90's and sports a deceiving curve ball and an improving change up. The 21-year-old's 16 wins lead the minors. Through 24 starts, Rodriguez possesses a 2.84 ERA, a .191 batting average against and has struck out 150 batters in 145 2/3 innings. Rodriguez is a lock to be at Reading next season.

9- Michael Schwimer. Although guys with considerable Major League experience and those who were on the big league roster weren't up for nomination, Schwimer was not yet a big league Phillie when balloting began for this survey. Prior to earning his promotion to the big show, Schwimer was tremendous for Lehigh Valley this season, posting a 9-1 record with 10 saves and a 1.88 ERA. Additionally, the 6-foot-8-inch 240-pound righty held right-handed batters to a .135 batting average. Say buckets for the 14th round pick in the 2008 draft!

10- Jiwan James. The converted pitcher turned outfielder fell one spot from last year. James, a 22-year-old outfielder, has put up consistent offensive numbers (.268 avg, 74 runs scored, 4 HR, 37 RBI) at the top of the batting order for Clearwater this season. With a 65% success rate with stolen base attempts (28-for-43) this year, James, a 22nd round draft pick from 2007, has quite a way to go in that department if he wishes to use his speed to help himself climb the developmental ladder, but look for the 6-foot-4-inch 180-pound switch-hitter to take on the next level in 2012.

11- Jonathan Pettibone, RHP, Clearwater
12- Austin Hyatt, RHP, Reading
13- Aaron Altherr, OF, Williamsport
14- Joe Savery, LHP, Lehigh Valley
15- Harold Garcia, 2B, Reading (DL)
16- David Buchanan, RHP, Clearwater
17- Carlos Rivero, 3B, Reading
18- Cesar Hernandez, 2B, Clearwater
19- Lisalberto Bonilla, RHP, Lakewood
20- Zach Collier, OF, Lakewood

Read the full piece from The Reading Eagle by clicking here.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Series Preview: Marlins at Phillies, 8/26-8/27

As the Philadelphia region braces for its most threatening hurricane, possibly, ever, the Phillies (83-45) are attempting to reschedule games for their weekend series against the Marlins (58-72), in order to avoid the damaging weather.

Sunday's game was moved up to Saturday at 1:05PM, while Saturday night's game has now been postponed until September 15th.

Read ahead for details on the pitching match ups and other key information on this series.


Friday, 7:05 PM. Clay Hensley (1-5, 5.47 ERA) vs. Roy Oswalt (6-7, 3.51 ERA). In 13 road games this season, Hensley has posted a 1-4 record with a 5.60 ERA. Hensley, in 17 career games (3 starts) against the Phillies, has a 1-1 record with a 2.94 ERA. Jimmy Rollins is 1-for-13 (.077 avg) in his career against Hensley. In 15 career starts against the Marlins, Oswalt has a 6-4 record with a 3.72 ERA. Oswalt is 2-1 with a 2.57 ERA in his last 3 starts. Mike Cameron is 9-f0r-30 (.300 avg) with a HR in his career against Oswalt.

Saturday, 1:05. Anibal Sanchez (7-6, 4.01 ERA) vs. Roy Halladay (15-5, 2.56 ERA). In 14 career starts against the Phils, Sanchez has a 3-7 record with a 5.67 ERA. Sanchez has won just 1 of his last 13 starts. Chase Utley is 15-for-31 (.484 avg) with 5 doubles and 2 triples in his career against Sanchez. In 14 home starts this season, Halladay has an 8-2 record with a 2.32 ERA. Over his last 6 starts, Halladay is 4-1 with a 2.55 ERA. Halladay has a 9-1 record with a 2.38 ERA in 12 day games this year.


Mike Cameron is a .214 career hitter with 5 HR in 23 games at Citizens Bank Park.

After batting .293 prior to the All-star break, former Phillie Greg Dobbs has posted a .255 average since then. Dobbs is batting .316 in 9 games against the Phillies this year.

Catcher John Buck is batting .188 in 55 road games this season. Buck has posted a .162 average in 12 games against the Phillies this year.

Ryan Madson has seen his ERA shoot up over 1 full run (from 1.82 to 3.18) in his last 6 outings. Madson has a 2.44 career ERA in 61 games against the Marlins.

John Mayberry Jr. has posted a .326 avg and a 1.174 OPS in 15 games played this month.

In 48 home games this season, Placido Polanco has a .308 batting average with 4 HR and 29 RBI. Polanco is batting .342 in 9 games since the All-star break.

Marlins team ERA- 4.14
Phillies team ERA- 3.08

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Cloyd and Cisco Excel For Reading

The Double A Reading Phillies pitching staff, having been led through the first half of the season by the likes of All-star right-hander Austin Hyatt, well regarded prospect JC Ramirez and others, has seen a pair of new arms emerge as leaders as the team makes a run at the postseason in the Eastern League.

As Reading competes for a Wild Card spot in the East division, starter Tyler Cloyd and reliever Michael Cisco have solidified a staff that has been among the best in the league.

With 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief in the R-Phils' win over New Britain on Wednesday night, righty hurler Mike Cisco won his 8th game of the season. The 36th round draft pick from 2008 out of the University of South Carolina is the grandson of former Phils pitching coach Galen Cisco.

The 5-foot-11-inch 195-pounder entered the season with a .253 batting average against, a 16-19 record and a 3.55 ERA in 58 career minor league contests. This season, Cisco has taken things to the next level, holding opponents to a .183 batting average, while going 8-0 with a 1.63 ERA.

Reading pitching coach Bob Milacki describes Cisco as a talent that he's been confident in throughout the season. Additionally, Milacki has noticed improvements in Cisco's game since the Phillies chose to alter his role.

"He's been a starter through most of his career, but he's been able to help us out of the 'pen this year and we're happy...(with) his added velocity and other progress he's made out there," Milacki stated.

On the other hand, Cloyd was switched the other way, going from reliever to starter. After appearing in 37 games in 2010, only 5 of which were starts, the 18th round draft selection from 2008 has shined as a member of the starting rotation this season.

The Nebraska native Cloyd has earned himself a promotion during each of his four pro seasons, although he started both 2010 and 2011 with Class A Advanced Clearwater. After appearing in two games for the R-Phils last season, Cloyd, who sports a pitch repertoire of fastball/change up/slider, began 2011 back in Clearwater. The 24-year-old righty hurler went 3-1 with a 2.75 ERA in 13 games with the Threshers earlier this season, before stepping back up to Reading in June where he's been a key contributor ever since.

After winning two games last week, Cloyd was named the Phillies' minor league pitcher of the week. Overall in four August starts, Cloyd has posted a 2-0 record and a 1.73 ERA with 31 strikeouts in 26 innings.

Milacki, who first helped Cloyd develop as a pitcher two years ago with the Lakewood BlueClaws, has found Cloyd to be one of his most reliable arms.

"(Tyler) is a hard worker," Milacki said. "He definitely puts in his work and competes out there. He has been a reliable guy for us and he's done everything we've asked."

As the R-Phils, who enter the final ten days of the season 1 game up on New Britain, in sole possession of the second playoff spot in the East division, they'll continue to need some of their lesser known prospects like Cisco and Cloyd to help the club reach the postseason for the first time since 2001.

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Lakewood's Bill Rice Interview Excerpts

Recently, PhoulBallz.com featured a piece on New Jersey resident Bill Rice, who attended an open Phillies tryout in Lakewood in 2010 and was signed to a professional contract by the team he grew up rooting for.

The 5-foot-11-inch 185-pound Rice performed well this season with the Gulf Coast League Phillies (.306 batting average) and earned a promotion, up two levels, to the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws. Through 24 games with the two-time defending South Atlantic League champions, Rice has posted an impressive .324 average with 3 doubles, 2 triples, 1 homerun and 14 runs scored.

The lefty hitting Rice was a star player at Washington Township High School and later became a standout contributor at Gloucester County College prior to transferring to the University of South Carolina-Aiken.

These days, the 22-year-old outfielder is living his dream. Check out the media player below to hear excerpts from my exclusive interview with Bill.



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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

U of Delaware Product Alonso Earns His Spot

LAKEWOOD, NJ- As the 2011 minor league regular season began and players were assigned to their full-season clubs, infielder Carlos Alonso stayed behind in extended spring training. For months, Alonso, a 32nd round draft pick out of the University of Delaware in 2010, would split playing time with other players, hoping to get an opportunity and get noticed enough to join a roster.

The chance came for the 5-foot-11-inch 205-pound Alonso, once the short-season Williamsport Crosscutters came north in June. Through 5 games in the New York-Penn League, Alonso went 6-for-14 (.429 avg) with 2 doubles and 4 RBI. However, even then, Alonso had difficulty cracking the lineup on a daily basis.

Luckily for Alonso, some roster maneuvering landed the 23-year-old on the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws roster by July 10th. Since joining the two-time defending South Atlantic League champions, Alonso has played in 35 games and sports a .327 batting average with 1 HR, 16 RBI and a .446 on-base percentage.

Alonso, a California native, feels as though the regular playing time with Lakewood has enabled him to develop a greater level of belief in himself which has assisted in his overall development on the diamond.

"I came here with a new confidence," Alonso said, having earned a spot as the BlueClaws' everyday second baseman. "I wasn't playing much in Williamsport and now I'm playing every day. And I'm just taking each day like it's a new start and enjoying it. I'm just confident that I'm going to go out there and have good at bats every day."

Alonso made his professional debut last year with Williamsport, under his current manager Chris Truby, who has expressed excitement over the contributions Alonso has brought to the BlueClaws this year, while asserting his appreciation for the style of Alonso's efforts.

"I had Carlos last year and I like Carlos, the way he plays his game," Truby stated. "He plays hard. He'll run through a wall for you, if he has to. He'll do whatever you ask and he's one of those guys that goes out there and just competes."

Alonso perfected his hard-nosed style at the University of Delaware, where as a senior in 2010 playing primarily as a third baseman, he posted a .389 batting average with 16 home runs. Alonso started all 99 games of his Blue Hens career after transferring from Santa Barbara City College.

In recent years, his proximity to the Philadelphia media market provided Alonso, who grew up as a Giants fan, with considerable exposure to the Phillies, which he hadn't gotten on the west coast. He references the fashion of baseball that the parent club has become best known for and admits that it has rubbed off on him.

"I'd watch the Phillies games on TV every day. I'm a huge baseball fan and it's hard to not enjoy watching those Phillies. (They've been) one of the best teams in the Majors, so it's just fun to watch those guys play," Alonso admitted with a smile.

"They really talk about, in this organization, doing it the Phillie way. And they're just trying to breed winners. I mean, I've been watching the Phillies for a couple years now, three years, four years, and they have winning guys. They're just all about winning. So, I think that's the type of atmosphere they're trying to brew here in the minors too."

In the most recent seasons, playing baseball the Phillie way has included going to the postseason each year. The BlueClaws have lived up to that expectation, locking down SAL titles in each of the past two seasons. To get back to the playoffs, the team has a tough road ahead, over the remaining two weeks of the season, as Lakewood sits in a tie for third place, 4 games behind second half division leader Kannapolis.

However, with two teams to leap frog, a third club in a dead heat and just 13 games remaining, Alonso and his teammates have confidence that the team can make a run toward a three-peat with the help and support of their local Jersey shore area fans.

"We're not thinking so much about the teams we need to jump, we're just thinking about us. We're just trying to bring energy to the park and just trying to play well down the stretch and we always feed off the energy at home. The crowd is awesome, always. We're gonna push it and see if we can get back (to the postseason)."

Lakewood's final homestand of the season begins this Friday, as the 'Claws play host to the second place Hickory Crawdads for a huge five-game series with the season on the line.

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Series Preview: Metropolitans at Phillies, 8/22-8/24

As the first place Phillies (81-44) approach the final month of the season, it seems as though each week brings another injury. On Monday, it was announced that shortstop Jimmy Rollins will land on the disabled list with a grade 2 groin strain. Luckily, Placido Polanco, who missed time with a sports hernia, will be activated to fill Rollins' void on the roster.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was quoted as saying he hopes that Rollins' DL stint lasts just 15 days, however it is unclear at this time whether or not Rollins will require a longer period to recover. As Corey Seidman of PhilliesNation points out, Orlando Hudson spent 24 days on the disable list earlier this season with the same injury.Link
The Phillies return home after a series loss to Washington over the weekend that saw the division leaders drop two contests in dramatic fashion in the Nationals' final plate appearance of each game.

Philadelphia will play host to the Metropolitans (60-66), who have lost 8 of 12 meetings with the Phillies thus far in 2011.

In the series opener, the Phillies will send ace lefty Cliff Lee, who has won each of his last four starts, to the hill. New York will counter with rookie right-hander Dillon Gee, who completes an interestingly rhyme-y pitching match up.

Read ahead for loads more stats on this upcoming series.


Monday, 7:05 PM. Dillon Gee (11-3, 3.92 ERA) vs. Cliff Lee (13-7, 2.82 ERA). In 12 road games this year, Gee is 6-2 with a 4.41 ERA. Gee has a 2-1 record and a 4.77 ERA over his last 5 starts. Ryan Howard is 2-for-4 with 2 homeruns and 6 RBI in his career against Gee. In his last 5 home starts, Lee has a 3-1 record with a 3.03 ERA. Lee is 1-0 with a 0.64 ERA in 2 career starts against the Metropolitans. Lee has a 9-2 record and a 2.28 ERA in 14 home starts this season.

Tuesday, 7:05 PM. Jonathon Niese (11-10, 4.05 ERA) vs. Vance Worley (8-1, 2.76 ERA). In 13 road games this year, Niese has a 6-4 record with a 4.63 ERA. Niese is 2-2 with a 5.28 ERA in his last 5 starts. In 4 starts at Citizens Bank Park, Niese is 1-2 with a 3.70 ERA. Placido Polanco is 7-for-18 (.389 avg) in his career against the lefty Niese. In his last 10 games, Worley is 6-0 with a 2.45 ERA. Worley is 4-0 with a 2.06 ERA in 4 home starts this season. Daniel Murphy is 4-for-8 (.500 avg) in his career when facing Worley.

Wednesday, 1:05 PM. Mike Pelfrey (6-10, 4.61 ERA) vs. Kyle Kendrick (7-5, 3.24 ERA). In 14 home appearances this season, Kendrick has a 2-4 record with a 3.35 ERA. Kendrick has a 2.68 ERA in 7 games since the All-star break. In 17 career starts against the Phillies, Pelfrey has a 6-6 record with a 5.12 ERA. Pelfrey has allowed 10 earned runs in 6 2/3 innings (14.21 ERA) over two starts this season at Citizens Bank Park. Chase Utley is 10-for-34 (.294 avg) in his career against Pelfrey with 2 doubles and 4 HR.


In 6 games at Citizens Bank Park this season, David Wright is 11-for-27 (.407 avg) with 2 doubles. Wright is a .278 career hitter at CBP and a .273 hitter overall against the Phillies.

Rookie Lucas Duda is batting .320 in 25 games since the All-star break. Duda has posted a .241 average in 38 games on the road this season.

Jason Bay is 12-for-60 (.200 avg) against the Phillies as a member of the Metropolitans. In 52 road games this season, Bay has a .215 batting average and a .597 OPS.

In 93 career games against the Metropolitans, Shane Victorino has a .302 batting average. Victorino's .314 overall batting average this season is good enough for seventh best in the National League.

In 24 games since the All-star break, John Mayberry Jr. is batting .317 with a .989 OPS.

Carlos Ruiz has a .218 batting average in 68 career games against the Mets. Ruiz has hit just 1 HR at home this season.

Metropolitans team ERA- 4.18
Phillies team ERA- 3.10
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Pitching Prospect Austin Wright Interview Excerpts

Austin Wright was selected by the Phillies in the 8th round on the 2011 amateur draft. Since then, the 21-year-old left-hander has looked great, posting a 4-2 record with a 2.70 ERA in 12 games at two levels. Additionally, the 6-foot-4-inch 235-pounder has struck out an impressive 67 batters in 56 2/3 innings pitched.

The Illinois native spent two years pitching for Chipola Junior College before transferring to Ole Miss, where he faced tough competition in 2011.

Wright was promoted from short-season Williamsport to Class A Lakewood on August 1st, following Ryan Duke and becoming the second 2011 draft pick to join the BlueClaws.

Recently I spoke with Austin about his draft experience, growing up as a fan and plenty more. Read the excerpts from that interview below. Also, click here to read my previous feature on Wright and Duke's additions to the Lakewood staff.


Have you been surprised with the level of success you've had this early in your pro career?

No, I work hard and I go out there and try to prepare myself for every start. And just go from there.


I wanted to ask about your draft experience this year. How did you find out? Were you tracking it online?

I was. I was with my family, just sitting at the house, just watching the draft and waiting for a club to take me.


Were the Phillies the club you expected to call your name, or were there other teams that had been in touch with you also?

Yeah, there were a couple teams that I had in mind before the Phillies, definitely. But, you know, it's always great to be drafted by a great club like the Phillies.


Can you give me an idea of which other clubs had been scouting you and who you might have expected to get a call from?

The White Sox were the biggest one. I did a work out for the White Sox previous to the draft and I definitely thought the White Sox were going to take me.


In 2010 you were drafted by Boston. Was that a difficult decision to not sign and continue with your collegiate career?

It was. But, my parents wanted me to play in the SEC and, as a player, I wanted to kind of grow and mature on and off the field. And this year was the year I felt was the right time to come out.


Now, we've talked about your collegiate career and you started out playing JuCo ball, then transferred to Ole Miss. What were some of your highlights or most memorable moments from you college career?

Well, I would say all of them, in the SEC. That was a blast this year, playing all those great caliber teams and stuff like that. My freshman year, I threw a no-hitter. And then following that, I almost threw another no-hitter, but lost it in the 7th. But, that was a pretty memorable moment for me.


You're an Illinois guy. Who were some of the players that you looked up to, growing up as a baseball fan?

Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Sammy Sosa...I was a big Cubs fan.


Did you grow up attending games at Wrigley Field?

I did. Actually, my dad gets tickets and we'd have seats four rows behind the Cubs dugout, so I used to get a lot of autographs and see a lot of good games.


So, speaking of your previous life as an autograph collector, is that something that could inspire you to sign more autographs, now that you're a pro?

Definitely. I try to give back to these fans because without them the game's not as fun. And I know, when I was little, how important it is to get these big autographs and balls and stuff like that, so I just try to help these little kids out.


Some guys here in the Phils organization, with the Crosscutters and with the BlueClaws, are into social networking. I haven't seen you on there quite yet--

I have a Twitter account!


Oh, you do? What's the handle? Let's get some people on that!

It's A_Wright_.


Alright, great! I know Perci Garner's big on there. And I saw that, he seems to be a big video game guy and I just made note of it...he might have been talking trash about you a bit. What's the deal there? Who is the superior gamer?

Definitely Perci. Yeah, we play NBA 2k11 a lot, up in Williamsport. We used to get after it in the locker room a lot. Perci's pretty good and he beat me a couple times, but I'm gonna get him...

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Image- Ole Miss Sports

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Greene & Quinn Practice, Plus Other Notes

On Saturday morning, supplemental first round draft pick, Larry Greene Jr., dressed and took part in baseball activities as a Phillie for the very first time. Along with second round draft choice Roman Quinn, Greene took batting practice in Clearwater at the Gulf Coast Phillies facility. The two youngsters are sharing schedules for practice, trainer sessions and more.

Reports from multiple pitchers who were present at BP stated that Greene was driving balls for great distance during his first day on a pro diamond. Australian right-hander Josh Warner claimed that Greene nearly hit one over the light tower beyond the outfield fence.

At this stage, it is unclear when Greene or Quinn will see game action with the GCL Phillies, but both players look forward to the opportunity to face suitable competition. Both players could be expected to take part in instructional ball from mid-September through mid-October in order to play more and to be evaluated further.

Greene, an 18-year-old Georgia native, agreed to terms with the Phillies late Sunday night and traveled to Philadelphia on Thursday, where he signed his first professional contract and met current players and team personnel, prior to their game against the Diamondbacks. The Phillies gave Greene, a power hitting outfielder, a $1 million signing bonus.

Quinn agreed to terms just prior to the deadline to notify the commissioner's office, at midnight, Monday. The 18-year-old infielder was widely regarded as the fastest player in this year's draft. Quinn, a native of Florida, signed for a $775,000 bonus.

In other news, veteran Scott Podsednik is also in Clearwater, as he continues to rehab his ailing foot. The lefty hitting outfielder remains optimistic that he could join the Phillies as a September call up. Podsednik told a source on Saturday that he feels great and is ready to play. The 35-year-old last played in the Majors with the Dodgers last season.

Also, injured prospect Tyson Gillies says that he isn't sure whether or not he will play winter ball, however he continues to plan for an assignment in the Arizona Fall League. The 22-year-old was first sidelined this season with a hamstring problem, but later injured his foot in an extended spring training game.

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Image- Joe Wombough

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Series Preview: Phillies at Nationals, 8/19-8/21


The Phillies (80-42), winners of 15 of their last 18 contests, hit the road to open a three-game series in Washington DC against the National (59-63).

The Nationals have dropped 7 of the 11 meetings between these two clubs this season.

Roy Oswalt, who has not won in Washington as a member of the Phillies, will take the mound for the series opener. Washington will counter with veteran hurler Livan Hernandez, who allowed 1 unearned run over 6 2/3 innings in a win against the Phillies last week.

Read ahead for more info on the pitching match ups and other key details from this series.

Friday, 7:05PM. Roy Oswalt (5-7, 3.84 ERA) vs. Livan Hernandez (7-11, 4.21 ERA). In 19 career games against Washington, Oswalt has posted a 6-4 record with a 3.17 ERA. On the road this year, Oswalt is 2-5 with a 4.17 ERA in 9 games. Laynce Nix is 11-for-23 (.478 avg) with 4 doubles, 1 triple and 3 HR in his career against Oswalt. In 12 home starts this year, Hernandez is 5-3 with a 3.27 ERA. Hernandez is 2-2 with a 5.31 ERA over his last 4 starts. Ryan Howard is 6-for-12 (.500 avg) with 2 HR this season against Hernandez.

Saturday, 7:05PM. Kyle Kendrick (7-5, 3.25 ERA) vs. John Lannan (8-8, 3.55 ERA). Kendrick has a 6.36 ERA in 11 career outings against the Nationals. In 6 games since the All-star break, Kendrick is 3-1 with a 2.61 ERA. Ryan Zimmerman is 9-for-19 (.474 avg) with a HR in his career against Kendrick. In his last 5 home starts, the lefty Lannan is 2-2 with a 4.45 ERA. Lannan has a 1-11 record and a 5.84 ERA in 15 career starts against the Phillies. Raul Ibanez is 12-for-25 (.480 avg) with 2 HR in his career against Lannan.

Sunday, 1:35PM. Roy Halladay (15-5, 2.53 ERA) vs. Chien-Ming Wang (2-2, 4.21 ERA). Halladay has an 11-1 record with a 2.21 ERA in 15 career games against the Nationals. In his last 5 starts, Halladay is 4-1 with a 2.41 ERA. Wang is 1-2 with a 5.87 ERA in 3 home games this year. The right-handed Wang will be making his fifth Major League start this year after returning from shoulder problems.


Ryan Zimmerman is a career .280 hitter in 90 games against the Phillies. In 35 home games this season, Zimmerman is batting .321.

In 21 career games against the Phillies, Laynce Nix has a .192 batting average. Nix has posted a .175 average in 24 games since the All-star break.

Michael Morse has a .358 average with 4 HR in 26 career games against the Phillies.

In 25 road road games this season, Antonio Bastardo has a 3-0 record with 5 saves, a 1.11 ERA and a .125 batting average against.

Ryan Howard is batting .231 in 57 road games this season. In 31 career games at Nationals Park, Howard has a line of .262/.336/.582.

In 26 games since the All-star break, Shane Victorino has posted a .343 batting average with 4 HR, 10 RBI and 22 runs scored.

Phillies team ERA- 3.07
Nats team ERA- 3.70

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pitching Prospect Ryan Duke Interview Excerpts

Relief pitcher Ryan Duke has been hot since debuting as a pro this year. After being selected by the Phillies in the 25th round of this year's MLB amateur draft, Duke made a splash with the short season Williamsport Crosscutters, quickly earning a promotion to the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws.

In 17 games thus far as a professional, Duke, a 22-year-old right hander, has 0.96 ERA with 7 saves and a .113 batting average against. In addition, he has displayed great command while striking out 22 batters and walking just 3 in 18 2/3 innings.

In his collegiate career, Duke was a force out of the University of Oklahoma bullpen, where he became the school's all-time saves leader.

Recently, I spoke with Ryan about his draft experience, his pitch repertoire and more. Check out the media player below to listen to excerpts from the interview. Also, click here to read more about Ryan and his teammate Austin Wright, another 2011 draft pick currently contributing with the Lakewood pitching staff.



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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Schwimer Gets the Call

Right-handed reliever Michael Schwimer is set to join the Phillies on Wednesday. The 14th round selection out of the 2008 amateur draft, has been called up by the big club to fill the void left when Placido Polanco was placed on the disabled list on Tuesday with a sports hernia.

Through 46 games with the Triple A Lehigh Valley IronPigs this season, the University of Virginia graduate posted a 9-1 record with 10 saves and a 1.88 ERA while 86 striking out in 67 innings pitched.

Schwimer, a 6-foot-8-inch 250-pounder, has been ready for the step upward for a lengthy stretch. An All-star this season, Schwimer has out-shined many of his IronPigs teammates, only to see those players get called up time and time again. Now, Schwimer's chance has finally arrived and, if you ask the man himself, he's been ready for this opportunity for quite a while.

In a recent exclusive interview, Schwimer spoke of his hopes of earning a spot with the big club.

"I absolutely feel like I'm ready," Schwimer stated. "I feel like I've been ready for a while, but...it doesn't matter how I feel. It matters how the scouts feel and the talent evaluators feel and our GM feels. So, I hope they feel that way and I'm just gonna keep pitching to the best of my ability and hopefully that day comes soon."

Schwimer possesses a repertoire that includes a fastball, a plus slider and a solid change up. His fastball has ranged from 92-94 MPH in recent outings.

After being ranked at number 18 in the PhoulBallz.com/PhilliesNation off-season prospect rankings, Schwimer allowed 4 earned runs in 5 innings (7.20 ERA) in 4 games with the Phillies in Grapefruit League action this past spring.

As a new addition to the Phils' bullpen, expect to see Schwimer go hard at opponents when he gets the chance. He's a focused individual that is clearly gifted on the physical side. Combine that with his commanding "my time is now" attitude, and the team could be adding the next homegrown stud to their 'pen, joining the likes of Antonio Bastardo and Mike Stutes.
Link

Additional updates...
The short season NY-Penn League held its annual All-star Game on Tuesday evening in Lowell, Mass. The Phillies' club, the Williamsport Crosscutters, was represented well, as their entire starting outfield, Kyrell Hudson, Aaron Altherr and Kelly Dugan, made the National League club. Righty hurler Mike Nesseth and Dominican reliever Gabriel Arias also made the team.

Hudson, a 3rd round pick in 2009, went 1-for-2, with a single. Altherr, a 9th rounder in 2009, went 0-for-1, while Dugan, a 2nd rounder in 2009, did not play.

Nesseth, a 17th round draft choice last year, allowed 2 earned runs in 1 inning, while striking out 1. The right-handed Arias, a free agent acquisition back in 2007, tossed 2/3 scoreless inning.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Series Preview: D-Backs at Phillies, 8/16-8/18


As news dropped that Placido Polanco and Cole Hamels will miss time, the Phillies (78-41) are set to begin a three-game series against the playoff contending Arizona Diamondbacks (68-53).

After Polanco worked out on the field at Citizens Bank Park, the team decided to place him on the disabled list. The All-star third baseman, who has been out of action lately with a sports hernia, tested his body with running and fielding drills on Tuesday, but the call was made to officially place him on the DL retroactive to August 7th. Polanco would then be available to return after just five more days. The move allows the Phillies to add a player to the active roster in the meantime. Surgery is likely in Polanco's future, but he prefers to put it off until the off-season and play through it, as the Phillies head toward a fifth straight post-season.

In addition, an MRI on Cole Hamels' ailing left shoulder revealed inflammation and the team has announced that he will skip his next turn in the pitching rotation. Hamels expects to return for a start next week.

In the clash of first place teams, Philadelphia will send Roy Halladay, who has led the Phils to an undefeated record over his last 10 home starts, to the mound, while Arizona counters with rookie hurler Josh Collmenter, who has failed to win in his last 4 road outings.

Read ahead for info on the pitching match ups as well as more stats from this series.

Tuesday, 7:05PM. Josh Collmenter (7-7, 3.51 ERA) vs. Roy Halladay (15-4, 2.51 ERA). The righty Collmenter pitched 1 scoreless inning of relief against the Phils earlier this season. In his last 4 outings, Collmenter has a 2-2 record with a 7.20 ERA. Collmenter has a 1-4 record with a 4.10 ERA in 11 appearances on the road this season. Halladay is 4-0 with a 2.22 ERA in his last 4 starts. In 13 games at Citizens Bank Park this season, Halladay has an 8-1 record with a 2.26 ERA. In his career against Arizona, Halladay has a 3-0 record with a 2.61 ERA in 3 starts.

Wednesday, 7:05PM. Joe Saunders (8-9, 3.76 ERA) vs. Cliff Lee (12-7, 2.83 ERA). In 3 career starts against the Phillies, Saunders has a 1-1 record with a 4.58 ERA and a .312 batting average against. Saunders has a 5-0 record and a 1.47 ERA over his last 6 road starts. Ben Francisco is 5-for-11 (.455 avg) in his career against Joe Saunders. In 13 home starts this year, Lee has posted an 8-2 record with a 2.26 ERA. Lee has a 2-1 record and a 3.43 ERA in 3 career starts against Arizona. Lee has a 1.36 ERA in 7 total August starts as a member of the Phillies.

Thursday, 7:05PM. Ian Kennedy (15-3, 3.12 ERA) vs. Vance Worley (8-1, 2.85 ERA). In his last 7 starts, Kennedy is 7-0 with a 2.44 ERA. The right-handed Kennedy has a 1-0 record with a 1.06 ERA in 2 career starts against Philadelphia. Kennedy sports an 8-1 record with a 3.21 ERA in 11 road starts this season. Worley is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA over his last 4 home starts. Worley has never faced Arizona in his career. In 7 home starts this season, Worley is 4-0 with a 2.20 ERA and a .176 batting average against.


Justin Upton leads the D-Backs in just about every major offensive category and has earned some attention as a MVP Award contender this season. In 15 career games against the Phillies, Upton is a .320 hitter with 2 HR and 5 RBI.

In 13 career games against the Phillies, Gerardo Parra has a .195 batting average and a .597 OPS.

Kelly Johnson is a .241 career hitter in 59 games against the Phillies. In 23 games since the All-star break, Johnson has posted a .176 batting average.

Jimmy Rollins is batting .239 in 58 home games, compared to batting .290 in 57 road games. In 55 career games against Arizona, Rollins has a .317 batting average.

In 24 games since the All-star break, Shane Victorino has posted a .341 batting average and a 1.000 OPS.

Carlos Ruiz is a .348 career hitter with a .971 OPS in 24 games against the D-Backs.
Ruiz is batting .243 in 47 home games this year.

D-Backs team ERA- 4.02
Phillies team ERA- 3.09

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PhoulBallz Roundtable: Thome's Place in History

On Monday night, the Minnesota Twins' designated hitter Jim Thome mashed a homerun at the Major League level for the 600th time, becoming only the eighth man ever to do so.

Over what has been beyond an impressive 20-year big league career, Thome has become one of the game's most renowned sluggers, while playing for five different teams. Somehow, though, what would previously have screamed the biggest story in sports, when heavy hitters of the past reached landmarks or chased records, has now had its volume turned way down as one of the game's most liked individuals, Thome, approached the 600 HR plateau.

That lack of great buzz could make some wonder why Thome's approach toward the beastly breakthrough wasn't afforded as much attention as previous baseball milestone's. To discuss those concerns and to address Thome's legend specifically, I asked some friends of this site to offer their thoughts.


-Where does Jim Thome rank among the game's all-time best homerun hitters?

Former Phillies beat reporter Mike Olshin...
Jim Thome is a throwback player, someone who would have been a slugger in any era. He just seems like he belonged in the 50's or 60's, or at least the way we romanticized baseball back then.

Co-host of Just a Bit Outside on 97.3 ESPN in Atlantic City and 105.7 The Hawk, Joe Giglio...
Where does Thome rank all time? As one of its best sluggers. He played in an era where on base percentage was valued and batting average lost appeal. The knock on him is that he was a totally one-dimensional player, but as a hitter? There were few guys with more power. Historically? He's the modern day Reggie Jackson, except for that whole October thing.

PhilliesNation.com writer Kieran Carobine...
To hit 600 homeruns across two leagues says something about the hitting of Thome. He has been a guy who has gone from role player to DH without skipping a beat. The greatest thing about Thome is that he has done all this without having his name mentioned with performance enhancing drugs. Thome is a hitter's hitter. Unlike Matt Stairs, who admittedly tried to crush a homer every time, Thome approached the plate to hit. And lucky for him, it left the yard a couple or 600 times.

Yours truly, Jay Floyd, of various online baseball outlets...
Unfortunately, this is of great concern to me. While the few news features I've seen regarding Thome's 600th homerun have, in some way, asserted that he is one of the game's most liked stars, the limited attention to this milestone, compared to landmarks reached in recent years, genuinely has me concerned about Thome's importance in many folks' minds. Barry Bonds was widely known to be an objectionable figure, and he got tremendous amounts of attention as he chased the single season and all-time homerun records over the past decade. Nice guys finish last?


-Does the 600 HR milestone still mean the same as it once did?

Olshin...
I think 600 HR means a great deal even now. It says something about longevity and continued excellence. A lot of the "steroids stars" burned out and didn't have the career milestone that 600 signifies. I guess you can say 600 is the new 500.

Ballpark E-guides
author Kurt Smith...
The prevailing sentiment regarding Thome’s home run total doesn’t appear to be earthshaking, because 600 home runs doesn’t seem like a big deal anymore. But it is. Only seven other players in history have accomplished it. The lack of enthusiasm this time around is a reflection of the times; and the feeling that at least three of the last four players to reach 600 home runs did not come by that total in the most honest of ways.

Lifelong baseball fan and friend of this site, Jackson Weihl...
I think that 600 means less today than it has in the past. I do think that the 600 club is more relevant than the 500 club. I think that Thome has had a legitimate career never being suspected or named by anyone. To my knowledge he wasn't named on the congressional report, by Canseco or by anyone else. He's been consistent, hasn't had an odd growth spurt or pattern and hasn't broken down the way a PED user likely would. He has been injured a considerable amount in recent years, but not with typical PED tainted injuries.

Floyd...
Exactly as Olshin said, in the theme of Jay-Z's "30's the new 20", in Major League Baseball these days, 600 HR is the new 500 HR. Growing up, I owned a video, hosted by Bob Costas and Mickey Mantle, which reviewed the greatest sluggers ever- The 500 Homerun Club. At that time, it was an extremely exclusive circle, with just 14 members. Since Phillies Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt joined that group in 1987, another 11 members have followed. The previously elite clique is now getting too easy to crack. This next level achievement by Thome is massive and is worthy of a great amount of attention.


-Is Thome's place in history affected by the era in which he played?

Olshin...
There will always be people who de-emphasize longball numbers in the 90's and 00's. But Thome was a great, consistent slugger when compared within his own era. And that's probably the fairest way to do it.

Giglio...
I believe his place in history is affected both positively and negatively by the era he played in. On the one hand, milestone numbers, especially with the long ball, are not paid the attention or reverence they once were because of steroids. On the other, the lack of steroid rumors or positive tests surrounding him make him one of the likable guys.

Smith...
The steroid era has, unfortunately, cast a shadow of doubt over all of baseball’s power totals—one of an infinite number of compelling reasons for their prohibition. Barry Bonds broke two of baseball’s unbreakable records, and fans yawned, knowing just by the size of his head that he was aided by chemicals. This was followed by A-Rod and Sammy Sosa passing the 600 mark, both of whom were credibly accused and don’t have much clout in the trustworthiness category; A-Rod just because he’s A-Rod, and Sosa because he had been busted with a corked bat in the past.

But I’m not going to get into a semantic debate about it here. Thome, to my knowledge anyway, has never been credibly accused of PED use, nor has he been involved in any personal scandals. For all of his achievements on the field, at least publicly anyway, Thome also has an image of being a decent guy off of it. I don’t know him personally obviously, and I was saddened to learn Kirby Puckett wasn’t such a wonderful human after all.

But for now Thome not only deserves the benefit of the doubt, he deserves accolades for an incredible achievement that only seven players in history have accomplished, even with the help of drugs.

Weihl...
I think has place in history will be lessened by the poor choices by some of his peers, but for me he is one of the best real power hitters of our time and just country strong. He was also a really good well rounded hitter in Cleveland, and beyond, for most of his career, in terms of average for a true power hitter. He absolutely is a Hall of Famer. The only thing that could keep him from being a first ballot HOF'er is the real lack of position.

Floyd...
It seems like the performance enhancing drug accusations of others have affected the way fans of baseball regard power totals. There's probably not much else to blame when, by comparison, Derek Jeter being the 28th man to do something (reaching 3,000 career hits earlier this season) gets wildly greater amounts more fanfare than Thome does, being the eighth player ever to accomplish a similarly longevity dependent feat.


-Other thoughts
Giglio...
I rooted for Jim Thome in his pursuit of 600 home runs. He has been one of the most consistent, prolific and likable baseball players over the last 20 years. His "country power" and clean perception have elevated him in fans mind, and rightfully so. Aside from Ken Griffey, we haven't seen a player get to 600 homers without a cloud of performance enhancing drugs in a long time.

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