Friday, September 30, 2011

Mixed Feelings: De Fratus Expresses Himself

It was a wild and frenzied finish for several teams as the regular season wound down. While some clubs faltered, seeing their seasons come to an end, others triumphed and advanced to the playoffs. Whether it was a collapse or a significant comeback, countless states of mind resulted from the memorable final weeks of the season. Exhilaration, disappointment, confusion, hysteria and disgust could all be used to detail how players and fans all around baseball felt.

For one young player, that list of feelings varies a bit but is likely just as long when describing his big league debut and the subsequent two weeks.

EXCITEMENT


Rookie hurler Justin De Fratus, who just two years ago was a member of the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws South Atlantic League championship team, pitched a scoreless 12th inning to not only notch his very first big league victory, but to put his name in the history books, as the Phillies won their franchise record 102nd game.

De Fratus found himself the pitcher of record and an inevitable trivia answer on Wednesday night, thanks in part to some good luck. According to the 6-foot-4-inch 220-pounder, the achievement was something that he long hoped to accomplish, but he can hardly comprehend it now that it has occurred.

"The timing of everything that's happened for me, it's been unbelievable," De Fratus said. "Especially, my first day in the big leagues we clinched the NL East and then my first win happens to be this historic win. I just can't believe the timing of everything that's happened to me. It's just crazy. I feel lucky."

FRUSTRATION

Ranked by The Reading Eagle as the Phillies' number 7 prospect
, De Fratus helped lead Lehigh Valley into the Governor's Cup Finals in International League. After losing in the championship round to the Columbus Clippers, De Fratus received word that he was being promoted to the big league Phillies. Before he could make the call that he had long dreamed of making, delivering the tremendous news to his father Terry, word of the promotion had been posted to Twitter by members of the media. The right-hander was truly heartbroken over the fact that he wasn't able to phone home with the news, on his own, and would ideally like to see teams give players an opportunity to have that information well before the media gets a hold of it.

"To be completely honest I was (very upset) about it," De Fratus exclaimed. "You would figure...I know people have news to break and all that, but you would think that they would at least give you the common courtesy to hold onto that news for a little bit and let the players-- this is something that we dream about for our whole lives. That goes through our minds, 'How am I going to break this to my parents when this actually happens? What kind of words am I going to use to express what just happened?' And then, all of a sudden, I call my dad and he already knows.

"To me, I thought it was a lack of courtesy. And I don't think that anyone did it maliciously. I understand they have a story to put out, but it would have been nice for me to be the one to tell my parents."

GRATEFUL

Despite the levels of annoyance, De Fratus bounced back quickly, being joined by four IronPigs teammates as Phillies September call ups and celebrating the team's fifth consecutive division title one night later. The 23-year-old asserted that making the trip to Philadelphia with Triple-A standouts Erik Kratz, Brandon Moss, Joe Savery, Domonic Brown and manager Ryne Sandberg made the move more special.

"We all had high hopes. You're just hoping for it, and when the dream actually does come true, you just look at everyone's face and see the genuine joy. It was a good situation to be in and everybody deserved it and they're all good people."

De Fratus, a California native, was excellent in the minors this season. Combined at two levels for the Double-A Reading Phillies and the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs, De Fratus posted a 6-3 record with 15 saves and a 2.99 ERA while striking out 99 batters in 75 1/3 innings pitched.

PRIDE

During his brief stint with the Phillies, De Fratus was assigned the distinction of sporting the famed pink bullpen backpack. Typically a task given to the youngest or newest member of a team's relief corps, the girls' bag contains snacks for the entire bullpen, but must be transported there for each game, so a rookie generally does so, as part of a ribbing.

There's no way De Fratus was going to be embarrassed by something like that though. In fact, it was the complete opposite.

"It means you're there. It's an initiation type of thing," De Fratus explained. "It's just like dressing up on one of the road trips like we had to do. It's almost- you don't want to call it this- but it's almost like a frat. It's a baseball brotherhood and you have to go through some stuff to be accepted. So, I took that backpack and I was proud to wear it. I don't find it embarrassing at all. People can say what they want, I'm in the Major Leagues!"

APPRECIATIVE & EQUIPPED

With the postseason ready to get rolling, the Phils had to trim their active roster to 25 players once again. De Fratus is among a trio of players (Joe Savery and Domonic Brown are the others) that have been sent to the Fall Instructional League to stay sharp in case the big league club finds itself in need of a replacement for any reason.

De Fratus, who pitched extensively last year, spending time with Team USA at the Pan-Am qualifiers and pitching in the Arizona Fall League, feels like the lengthy 2010 campaign helped stretch him out a bit and kept him fresh for a long season this year. The 11th round pick from the 2007 draft says he's ready to go, if needed, and takes it as a great compliment to be held in high enough regard to get such an assignment, while the Phillies head into the playoffs.

"I still feel that I'm strong right now," De Fratus stated. "I don't feel my body is worn down any more than normal and I feel that last year, the length of my season, played a big part in that.

"Hopefully, I stay (in Clearwater) for the whole playoffs and that nobody gets hurt. I never want to wish an injury on anybody. But that's what I'm here for, it's sort of a little insurance policy. You know, I'm honored to be a guy that (the Phillies) look at like that- somebody that if one of their guys isn't able to stay healthy that I'm a guy that they can bring up to get the job done."

With the openness to share his multitude of emotions, De Fratus is easily one of the most interesting players in the Philadelphia organization. Here's hoping the list of mental and physical statuses continues to grow while he dons red pinstripes.

_______________________________________________

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Early LDS Game Times Announced

The eight teams in the 2011 Major League Baseball playoffs are officially set and start times for early League Division Series games were announced today, including some preferable slots for the Phillies, who have home field advantage throughout the postseason.

Games are set to be broadcast on TBS, unless otherwise specified.


TIGERS vs. YANKEES:
Game 1- DET @ NYY Friday, 9/30 8:37 EST
Game 2- DET @ NYY Saturday, 10/1 8:37 EST
Game 3- NYY @ DET Monday, 10/3 8:37 EST
Game 4- NYY @ DET Tuesday, 10/4 To be determined
Game 5- DET @ NYY Thursday, 10/6 TBD

RAYS vs. RANGERS:
Game 1- TB @ TEX Friday, 9/30 5:07 EST
Game 2- TB @ TEX Saturday, 10/1 7:07 EST (on TNT)
Game 3- TEX @ TB Monday, 10/3 5:07 EST
Game 4- TEX @ TB Tuesday, 10/4 TBD
Game 5- TB @ TEX Thursday, 10/6 TBD


PHILLIES vs. CARDINALS:
Game 1-STL @ PHI Saturday, 10/1 5:07 EST
Game 2- STL @ PHI Sunday, 10/2 8:07 EST
Game 3- PHI @ STL Tuesday, 10/4 TBD
Game 4- PHI @ STL Wednesday, 10/5 TBD
Game 5- STL @ PHI Friday, 10/7 TBD

DIAMONDBACKS vs. BREWERS
Game 1- ARZ @ MIL Saturday, 10/1 2:07 EST
Game 2- ARZ @ MIL Sunday, 10/2 4:37 EST
Game 3- MIL @ ARZ Tuesday, 10/4 TBD
Game 4- MIL @ ARZ Wednesday, 10/5 TBD
Game 5- ARZ @ MIL Friday, 10/7 TBD

____________________________________________

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Phils Win, Make History

With the Phillies' 7-1 victory over the Braves on Tuesday night, milestones were reached. Not only did the Phillies tie their single season wins record by matching the 1976 and 1977 teams that had 101 wins, the win also tied Charlie Manuel with Gene Mauch on the all-time managerial wins list in team history with 645.

Manuel began managing the Phillies in 2005 and has helped the franchise take command of a division that had previously been dominated by Atlanta and New York. Manuel reached the landmark win total in two fewer seasons than Mauch needed.

Mauch's tenure as skipper of the Phillies lasted from 1960-1968.

Additional highlights from Tuesday's win were the solid outings from righty starter Roy Oswalt and left-handed reliever Antonio Bastardo.

The 6 IP/0 run outing by the veteran Oswalt completed a foursome of excellent showings by the projected Phillies playoff rotation in their final starts of the regular season. As pointed out by Phillies.com's Todd Zolecki, the group of Roy Halladay,Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Oswalt had strong postseason tune ups, allowing just 3 earned runs in 25 innings (1.08 ERA).

Bastardo, a 26-year-old native of the Dominican Republic, had posted a 22.07 ERA in his last 7 appearances. Bastardo's effort on Tuesday marked his first 1-2-3 inning of work since September 2nd.

With the hopes of putting some new records in the books, the Phils will face the wild card hopeful Braves once again, in the regular season finale on Wednesday.
___________________________________________

Images- AP

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE

Denoting Your Baseball Fandom

If you’re the kind of baseball fan who likes to let everyone else know just how huge of a baseball nerd you are, you’re probably always looking for new ways to solidify your fandom. That way, no matter what competitor comes along knocking, challenging you to show your stuff and your support for America’s pastime, you’ll be prepared for him. The following are suggestions to keep your dominance as the super fan of baseball intact, so that you can show off your love for baseball without anyone else even coming close to your obsession with this great sport.

Pull up those socks


Real baseball fans know that it’s all about going old school, and nothing screams old school baseball quite the way high socks do. If you’re out there on the field playing a pick-up game, be sure to roll up those pants and hike up those socks all the way to your knees, just the way the legends did, and just the way superstars like Alex Rodriguez do now. If you want to take it to the next level, consider putting those high socks on even when wearing shorts. The fools may think you’re trying to be like Urkel, but you’ll know at heart that you’re a baseball nerd, not a glasses wearing one.

Don’t waste your free time

If you’re caught spending the off-season in front of the television watching basketball, critics are going to call you lame and suggest that maybe your baseball fandom isn’t quite what you made it out to be. To silence said critics, don’t spend any of your free time pursuing tasks that don’t increase your level of baseball support. For example, instead of working out at the gym, you can try heading to the batting cages and facing off against a fast pitch baseball pitching machine. It may not be quite like facing Cliff Lee or Mariano Rivera, but then again, you also probably won’t go down swinging 1-2-3.

Go all the way

Even if you’re a Baltimore Orioles or Washington Nationals fan, just because your team has no chance of making the playoffs most years doesn’t mean you should stop following the sport the second the playoffs start (or your team’s eliminated from the playoffs). After all, a true baseball fan loves the sport over all else, including the team, so you’ll want to prove your transcendence by watching through the entire World Series, just to say you didn’t miss a second of any important game.

Changes Leading to Bright Future For Hollands

Lefty pitcher Mario Hollands had a roller coaster of a season in 2011 with the Phillies Class A affiliate the Lakewood BlueClaws. Hollands, who had a strong showing in spring training to earn the spot as the 'Claws' opening day starter in April, was removed from the pitching rotation after a rough 7 start stretch in which the 6-foot-5-inch 210-pounder posted a 6.95 ERA.

Once he was moved to the bullpen the 23-year-old improved greatly for Lakewood. Having posted a 4-4 record with a 4.64 ERA in 15 starts, Hollands looked much stronger in relief, going 2-2 with a 3.00 ERA in 13 outings. In addition, Hollands' batting average against was over 100 points better in relief (.205) than it was as a starter (.306).

Hollands, who was a 10th round pick by the Phillies in the 2010 amateur draft, expressed a preference for working out of the bullpen following the success he had appearing in relief.

"I don't mind doing either one, but since I made the move, I kind of enjoy the bullpen a little bit more," Hollands said. "I get to pitch more often and I like that a little more. It seems a lot easier, just because you can go in there for one or two innings, and just blow it all out, then you can come out there a day or two later and do the same thing. My success out of the bullpen is only encouraging for the years to come."

The native of El Cerrito, California made his professional debut with the short-season Williamsport Crosscutters in 2010, posting a 4-4 record with a 4.57 ERA in 14 starts. Since then he has dropped a curveball from his repertoire and worked closely with Lakewood pitching coach Steve Schrenk to improve his slider and his cutter. Those pitches compliment Hollands' two-seam fastball, which saw a jump upward in speed from the high 80's he regularly threw early in the season once he made some mechanical adjustments.

"Schrenky and I tinkered with a bunch of little stuff and it's all helped in some way. Everything from (lowering) my arm down a little to where it was last year, little things that people may not be able to see," Hollands said.

"We wanted to change a few things and that took a while to work on, over the middle of the summer, but I'm still happy with how most of the season went."

While there is no confusing the progress Hollands made in his first full season as a pro, there is one thing about him that does require steady clarification. Hollands, who is of Mexican and black descent, regularly runs into players, umpires and team staffers that have a misguided notion about Hollands' first language. He is often mistaken for being fluent in Spanish.

"A good percentage of umpires and a lot of other Latin players expect me to be fluent in Spanish, but disappointingly I am not," Hollands stated. "It takes umpires and other teams' players a little while to figure that out when I don't answer back in Spanish. And even my teammates (in the Phillies organization), when I meet some of the guys for the first time, they don't think I'm American."

One of Hollands' biggest off-season goals is to work on improving his Spanish in order to make things easier on everyone.

Also on the agenda for Hollands over the winter is a workout routine to stay in shape, as he hopes to climb the developmental ranks next season. He'll do so by working out with the baseball team at UC Santa Barbara, where he is spending time this autumn to complete his education. He'll include swimming and basketball in his training regimen, during the period of about two months when he does not pick up a baseball.

As Hollands trains this off-season, he'll do so with the likes of other professional UC Santa Barbara products like Jesse Meaux, Connor Whalen, Mark Haddow and Greg Davis, as well as Major Leaguer Ryan Spilborghs, another former Gaucho. With all that company, the fall and winter months will surely fly by for Hollands who is already focused on getting back on the mound in meaningful games.

"The Phillies want me to get more comfortable as a reliever, but you can only do so much over the off-season without playing actual games."
_______________________________________________

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE

Monday, September 26, 2011

Series Preview: Phillies at Braves, 9/26-9/28

For the final series of the regular season, the Phillies (99-60) will travel to Atlanta to face the Braves (89-70), who are battling to clinch the National League wild card for the second straight season. Heading into action on Monday, Atlanta leads St. Louis by 1 games in the wild card race.

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


Monday, 7:10 PM. Cliff Lee (16-8, 2.38 ERA) vs. Randall Delgado (1-1, 2.70 ERA). Lee has posted a 0-1 record with a 1.57 ERA in his last 3 starts. In 13 road games this year, Lee is 5-5 with a 3.03 ERA. Lee has a 1-1 record with a 5.65 ERA in 3 career starts at Turner Field. Delgado posted a 7-7 record with a 3.88 ERA in 25 minor league starts this season. In 4 home starts with the Braves, the rookie Delgado is 0-1 with a 3.60 ERA.

Tuesday, 7:10 PM. Roy Oswalt (8-10, 3.86 ERA) vs. Derek Lowe (9-16, 4.92 ERA). In two starts this season against the Braves, Oswalt is 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA and a .200 batting average against. In 9 starts since the All-Star break, Oswalt is 4-4 with a 3.94 ERA. Dan Uggla is 3-for-24 (.125 avg.) in his career against Oswalt. In his last 4 outings, Lowe is 0-4 with an 8.24 ERA. In 22 career games against the Phillies Lowe is 8-7 with 2 saves, 1 blown save and a 3.39 ERA. Hunter Pence is 8-for-17 (.471 avg.) with a double and a HR in his career against Lowe.

Wednesday, 7:10 PM. To Be Announced vs. Tim Hudson (16-10, 3.23 ERA). Cole Hamels is expected to pitch in relief in this game. Hamels' first playoff start is set to be the following Tuesday. In 21 career starts against the Phillies, Hudson has a 7-8 record with a 3.75 ERA. Hudson has a 10-4 record with a 2.29 ERA and a .204 batting average against in 18 home starts this season. Jimmy Rollins, Placido Polanco and Ryan Howard are a combined 2-for-26 (.077 avg.) against Hudson in 2011.


In 8 games against the Braves this year, Hunter Pence is 8-for-40 (.400 avg.) with 4 doubles, a HR and 8 RBI. Through his first 50 games with the Phillies, Pence posted a .314 batting average and a .910 OPS.

Shane Victorino has a .329 average with 4 HR and 23 RBI in 48 career games at Turner Field. Victorino is 18-for-105 (.171 avg.) in 26 September games.

In 66 road games this season, Raul Ibanez has posted a .206 batting average. Turner Field is the only MLB ballpark that Ibanez has played 12 or more games in and never hit a homerun.

Lefty reliever Eric O'Flaherty has a 1-1 record with 1 blown save and a 1.19 ERA in 24 career games against the Phillies. In 31 games since the All-Star break, O'Flaherty has a 0.92 ERA.

Brian McCann is batting .196 with 2 doubles and a HR in 14 games against the Phillies this season. In 45 games since the All-Star break, McCann has posted a .200 batting average.

In 60 career games against the Phillies, Matt Diaz has posted a .327 average with 8 HR and 31 RBI.

Phillies team ERA- 3.04
Braves team ERA- 3.46
_________________________________________________

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE

Phillies Rookie Hazing- 2011 Edition


Obviously, this was a bit easier to do after the Phillies defeated the Metropolitans by a score of 9-4 on Sunday to end their 8-game losing streak. As the Phillies traveled from New York to Atlanta, for the final series of the regular season, the annual rookie hazing costumes returned.

The image was brought to the world via the glorious Twitter account of Phillies outfielder Hunter Pence.

Pictured from left to right- team massage therapist Ichiro Kitano, catcher Erik Kratz, Justin De Fratus (kneeling), Joe Savery, Vance Worley, Michael Martinez, Michael Schwimer, Mike Stutes and Domonic Brown.

________________________________________

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Barnes Undergoes Successful Surgery

Jeremy Barnes, who split his 2011 season between the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws and the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers, underwent surgery last week to repair an abdominal tear and a tear in his left groin.

Barnes is projected to have a quick recovery and will be ready for baseball action in time for the start of spring training next year.

In 122 combined games this year, Barnes, a multi-positional infielder, posted a .260 batting average with 28 doubles, 10 homers and 55 RBI.

The 24-year-old Barnes, who was selected in the 11th round of the 2009 draft out of University Notre Dame, spent the majority of last off-season in the Philadelphia area training locally at Power Train Sports Institute, with Phillies outfielder Raul Ibanez. Barnes, who had his surgery in Philadelphia, plans to do the same thing this winter.

While at Notre Dame, the right-handed hitting Barnes, who stands 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs 190 pounds, wore the same jersey number, 20, that Phillies relief pitcher Brad Lidge wore when he pitched for the Fighting Irish.
____________________________________________

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE

Friday, September 23, 2011

PN Round Table: Brown on Postseason Roster?

Today over at PhilliesNation.com, their team of writers took part in a round table discussion, answering the question of whether or not rookie outfielder Domonic Brown should be included on the Phillies' postseason roster.

Various points of view were expressed, however my answer to the inquiry was left out of the published piece. Below are the thoughts that I submitted on the matter.


No, Domonic Brown should not be included on the Phillies' postseason roster unless manager Charlie Manuel begins using Brown a considerable amount over the final week of the regular season. As things stand now, the 24-year-old Brown has been the odd man out, as at bats that could be suited for Brown are going to John Bowker and others.

Even before rejoining the Phillies last week, Brown slumped so much down the stretch, for the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs, that he was benched for two of the team's seven playoff games. Additionally, in the recent action that Brown did see for Lehigh Valley, he was only used as a designated hitter or a pinch hitter, which means he hasn't played the outfield since August 29th.


Recent talk from GM Ruben Amaro Jr. stating that the Florida Instructional League was a possibility for Brown, has virtually removed him from the running for a postseason roster spot, in my mind.



To read other PN contributors' thoughts on the possibility of Brown making the playoff roster and/or to join the discussion on the PhilliesNation website, click here.

____________________________________________

Photo- Joe Wombough

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE

Series Preview: Phillies at Metropolitans, 9/23-9/25

The Phillies, losers of 6 straight games, travel to Citi Field this weekend to take on the division rival New York Metropolitans in a three-game series.

During the Phillies' recent skid, the five-time National League East division champions have been without two big time contributors to their offense, as Ryan Howard and Hunter Pence have missed time with injuries. Howard has been resting his ailing left ankle this week, while Pence has been out since straining the patellar tendon in his left knee on Tuesday. Both stars are expected to play this weekend.

In the series opener, the Phils will send lefty Cole Hamels, who hasn't been very successful against the Metropolitans throughout his career, to the mound, while New York counters with right-hander R.A. Dickey, who is typically strong against the Phillies.

Philadelphia has won 10 of 15 meetings with the Metropolitans this season. Read ahead for more details on the pitching match ups and other key notes from this series.


Friday, 7:10 PM. Cole Hamels (14-9, 2.80 ERA) vs. RA Dickey (8-13, 3.35 ERA). In 16 career starts against the Metropolitans, Hamels is 3-10 with a 4.69 ERA. Hamels is 1-4 with a 5.05 ERA and a .340 batting average against in 6 career starts at Citi Field. In his last 5 starts, Hamels has posted a 0-2 record with a 3.71 ERA. Dickey has a 2-3 record with a 2.90 ERA in 5 career starts against the Phillies. In his last 5 starts, Dickey is 3-2 with a 1.56 ERA. Jimmy Rollins is 1-for-11 (.091 avg) in his career against Dickey.

Saturday, 1:10 PM. Kyle Kendrick (8-6, 3.04 ERA) vs. Dillon Gee (12-6, 4.48 ERA). Kendrick is 5-1 with a 3.15 ERA in 15 road games this year. In 14 career games (11 starts) against the Metropolitans, Kendrick has a 2.97 ERA. Jose Reyes is 10-for-26 (.385 avg) with a double, a triple and 2 HR in his career against Kendrick. In 14 home games this season, Gee has a 6-3 record with a 3.18 ERA. Gee is 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA in his last 4 starts.

Sunday, 1:10 PM. Roy Halladay (18-6, 2.40 ERA) vs. Mike Pelfrey (7-12, 4.58 ERA). Halladay has an 8-2 record with a 3.13 ERA in 10 career starts against the Metropolitans. In 16 road starts this year, Halladay is 10-3 with a 2.35 ERA. Josh Thole is 7-for-15 (.467 avg) in his career against Halladay. In 18 career starts against the Phillies, the righty Pelfrey is 7-6 with a 5.08 ERA. Pelfrey has a 2-4 record with a 4.62 ERA in 14 outings since the All-Star break. Chase Utley is 12-for-37 (.324 avg) with 3 doubles and 4 HR in his career against Pelfrey.


In 9 games against the Phillies this year, Josh Thole has posted a .192 batting average. The lefty hitting Thole has a .171 average against left-handed pitchers this year, through games on Wednesday.

Jose Reyes is batting .331 in 58 home games this season. Reyes has a .405 batting average in 9 games played against the Phillies in 2011.

Carlos Beltran's 15 HR and 66 RBI are still tops on the Metropolitans team, and he was traded away in July.

In 12 games against the Metropolitans this season, Jimmy Rollins has posted a .320 average.

John Mayberry Jr. has posted a .310 batting average with 10 HR and 30 RBI since the All-Star break. Mayberry is a .160 hitter in 7 games at Citi Field.

In 70 career games against the Metropolitans, Carlos Ruiz is a .228 hitter. Ruiz has posted a .320 batting average in 54 games since the All-Star break.

Phillies team ERA- 3.05
Metropolitans team ERA- 4.22
__________________________________________________________

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Phillies Nation TV Episode 3

For those that don't know, I am a contributor at PhilliesNation.com. The site features several great writers and provides fans with insider content and unique opinions on a daily basis year round.

Recently, the staff at PhilliesNation has begun putting together weekly video talk segments known as Phillies Nation TV. The web show features 97.3 ESPN's Pat Gallen and BrotherlyGlove's Corey Seidman.

Along with the usual outstanding statistical analysis that Pat and Corey deliver, this week's edition of PNTV includes content from yours truly wrapping up the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs' postseason run.

Check out the clip in the media player below and be sure to head on over to PhilliesNation.com for outstanding content from the entire PN team.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Twitter Serving as Platform for Athletes

It is not often that a player will reach out publicly to fans and take the full burden for his team's loss. Many times, players will deliver an overly used athlete quote like, "Gotta let that go and get 'em tomorrow," which isn't bad, but it gets quite routine after hearing it dozens upon dozens of times over the years.

Considering that, in the past, quotes from team personnel would normally be delivered to the masses via sports reporters, who could edit out any expletives that might have been uttered, hearing genuine, unedited thoughts from a sports figure is rather uncommon. These days, however, things are considerably different.

With the current state of technology, players are able to bypass the middle man and connect with thousands of people almost instantly. For instance, during Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins' recent trip to the disabled list, the veteran ballplayer was able to scoop reporters by delivering updates on his status directly to the public via his Twitter account.

More recently, another Phillies player has taken to the social networking site to speak out, voicing his displeasure with his own recent performances, squashing the abilities of local media to pass along his thoughts.

Following his outing in game 1 of Tuesday's double header against the Nationals, righty reliever Michael Schwimer (pictured) expressed an extreme level of annoyance with his efforts in his past two appearances. The rookie has allowed 5 earned runs over 2 total innings pitched in those games. Schwimer took a loss against the Cardinals last Friday and ruined a gem by starter Kyle Kendrick when he faced Washington, but did not figure in the decision that day.

In the Twitter post, Schwimer declared, "Back to back horseshit outings cost the team 2 wins." He then added a blurb about the struggles being a tough pill to swallow.

While this sort of openness from players and the availability to the public that comes along with it is not necessarily the norm, the world we live in, where digital and internet technology leave traditional forms of media fearing for their futures, could be progressively leading to a place where players speak their minds on their own time and trim out the third party.

Players have the ability to say as much as they like, as often as they like, to whomever they like via services like Twitter. They can build a fan base and develop a brand all by themselves or with some help. Why would they continue to allow writers to interpret their words or add their personal angle or their employer's spin to happenings pertaining to the athlete, deep into the future? Athletes don't have to do that, so as time goes on and more sports personalities realize this fact, expect to see the list of players handling their own news and postgame vocal offerings on their own.
_____________________________________________

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Florida Instructional League Gets Underway

On Monday, the annual Florida Instructional League got underway for Phillies minor leaguers at the team's spring training home in Clearwater. Instructs, as they are commonly known, 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. It also serves as an opportunity for a greater number developmental coaches and managers to see newly signed players in action.

Below is a full roster of Phillies minor league players and coaches in attendance for the instructional league.

Pitchers: Gabriel Arias, Jesse Biddle, James Birmingham, Lisalberto Bonilla (pictured), Ranfi Casimiro, Lendy Castillo, Brody Colvin, Jesen Dygestile-Therrien, Perci Garner, Kenneth Giles, Steven Inch, Ulises Joaquin, Jay Johnson, Colin Kleven, Ervis Manzanillo, Lino Martinez, Adam Morgan, Hector Neris, Ramon Oviedo, J.C. Ramirez, Yacksel Rios, Braden Shull, Ethan Stewart, Josh Warner, Austin Wright.

Catchers: Francisco Diaz, Logan Moore, Chace Numata, Cameron Rupp, Bob Stumpo

Infielders: Cody Ashe, Albert Cartwright, Maikel Franco, Gustavo Gonzalez, Tyler Greene, Cesar Hernandez, Harold Martinez, Roman Quinn, Brock Stassi, Alejandro Villalobos, Mitch Walding.

Outfielders: Aaron Altherr, Zach Collier, Gauntlett Eldemire, Tyson Gillies, Larry Greene, Kyrell Hudson, Jonathan Knight, Brian Pointer, 16-year-old Carlos Tocci, Jiandido Tromp.

Coaches and Instructors in attendance: Mike Compton, Gorman Heimueller, Steve Henderson, Doug Mansolino, Mickey Morandini, Frank Cacciatore, Carlos Arroyo, Les Lancaster, Mark Parent, Dusty Wathan.

Lefty pitching prospect Jesse Biddle, who had an excellent season for the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws (7-8 record, 2.98 ERA in 25 games) in his first full season as a pro, is in attendance at instructs, despite having injured his right knee in his final start of the season. Biddle, a Philadelphia native, was the Phillies' top draft selection in 2010.

Infielder Edgar Duran, who spent the 2011 season with Lakewood, has been excused from instructs after breaking his right middle finger on the BlueClaws' final homestand of the season. Duran was expected to require surgery at the time of the injury.

Also confirmed to be in Florida for instructs is 2008 Phillies 1st round draft pick Zach Collier, who received a 50-game suspension earlier this month after testing positive for amphetamines. Collier, a 21-year-old outfielder, batted .255 with 1 HR, 36 RBI and 35 stolen bases with Class A Lakewood this year. Collier will begin serving his suspension at the start of the 2012 regular season.

CSN's Jim Salisbury reported on Monday night that if Domonic Brown is not included on the Phillies' postseason roster that he could be sent to instructs to see some action, according to general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.

______________________________________

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE

Series Preview: National at Phillies, 9/20-9/22

The Phillies (98-54), who have clinched the National League East division title and having locked down home field advantage throughout the playoffs, sit just 2 wins away from the century mark and 4 wins away from an all-time franchise record for wins in a season. With the division rival Nationals (72-79) coming in for a 4-game series, both marks are within reach before the Phils complete their regular season home schedule on Thursday.

Right-hander Kyle Kendrick will get things started in the series opener, as the teams will play a twin bill on Tuesday. The Nationals will counter with left-hander Ross Detwiler, who has struggled in his career against the Phillies.

In the night cap, Cy Young Award contender Cliff Lee will take the mound for Philadelphia, while Washington is slated to go with rookie Tommy Milone.

The Phillies have won 8 of 14 meetings against the Nationals to date this season.

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


Tuesday, 1:05 PM. Ross Detwiler (2-5, 3.76 ERA) vs. Kyle Kendrick (8-6, 3.22 ERA). In 6 road games this season, Detwiler is 0-3 with a 4.10 ERA. Detwiler is 1-5 with a 4.34 ERA in his past 7 outings. In 5 career games against the Phillies, Detwiler is 0-3 with a 6.00 ERA. Kendrick is 2-3 with a 6.02 ERA in 12 career games against the Nats. In 9 games since the All-Star break, Kendrick is 4-2 with a 2.74 ERA. Ryan Zimmerman is 10-for-22 (.455 avg) with 7 doubles and a HR in his career against Kendrick.

Tuesday, 7:05 PM. Tommy Milone (1-0, 4.60 ERA) vs. Cliff Lee (16-7, 2.38 ERA). The rookie left-hander Milone will be making his 4th career big league start. In 24 starts for Triple-A Syracuse this season, Milone posted a 12-6 record with a 3.22 ERA. Lee has a 3-1 record with a 2.97 ERA in 4 career starts against the Nationals. In his last 9 starts, Lee is 7-0 with a 1.00 ERA.

Wednesday, 7:05 PM. Jon Lannan (9-13, 3.68 ERA) vs. Vance Worley (11-2, 2.85 ERA). In 16 career starts against the Phillies, Lannan has a 1-12 record with a 5.81 ERA and a .314 batting average against. Lannan has won just once in his last 8 outings. In 6 career starts at Citizens Bank Park, Lannan is 0-5 with a 7.40 ERA. In 11 home starts this season, Worley is 6-0 with a 2.01 ERA and a .195 batting average against.

Thursday, 7:05 PM. Brad Peacock (1-0, 1.42 ERA) vs. Roy Oswalt (8-9, 3.66 ERA). The righty rookie Peacock is slated to make his 2nd career start. Combined at two levels on the minors this year, Peacock went 15-3 with a 2.39 ERA while striking out 177 batters in 146 2/3 innings. In 9 home starts this season, Oswalt is 4-3 with a 3.38 ERA. Oswalt has posted a 7-4 record with a 2.95 ERA in 20 career games against the Nats. Opponents are batting .304 against Oswalt in 8 starts since the All-Star break.


In 5 games against the Phillies this year, Ryan Zimmerman is 8-for-19 (.421 avg). Zimmerman is a .235 career hitter in 43 games at Citizens Bank Park.

Michael Morse is a career .351 hitter in 29 games against the Phillies. In 15 September games, Morse has posted a .197 batting average.

Nats closer Drew Storen has a 7.71 ERA in 8 career games against the Phillies.

Ryan Howard, who has been resting his ailing right ankle, may return to the lineup on Thursday.

Shane Victorino has posted a .194 batting average in 18 September games. Victorino's OPS against lefty pitchers this year- 1.089. Victorino's OPS against righty pitchers this year- .809.

In 16 day games this season, Ryan Madson is 2-0 with a 1.15 ERA and is perfect in 6 save opportunities. Madson has allowed 6 earned runs in 1 2/3 innings (32.40 ERA) this season against the Nationals.

Nationals team batting average- .242.
Phillies team batting average- .252.
____________________________________________

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Phillies Clinch Fifth Consecutive Division Title

Behind 7 dominant innings from starting pitcher Roy Oswalt, the Phillies defeated the Cardinals, by a score of 9-2 on Saturday, to clinch their fifth National League East division championship in five years. In front of 45,470 fans at Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park, the righty veteran Oswalt earned his 8th win of the season and looked dominant, while allowing no runs and striking out 7 batters.

Thanks to the strong effort from Oswalt, the Phillies took a 3-0 lead into the 8th inning. Mike Stutes came on in relief and, after getting the first two outs of the inning on 7 pitches, gave up hits to four straight batters, allowing the Cardinals to cut the Phils' lead down to one run, before Brad Lidge came on to squash the visitors' rally.

The Phillies, determined to lock down the division crown in the franchise-best 150th game of the season, put an exclamation point on the clincher. Batting around, the Phillies plated 6 runners, including a grand slam by Raul Ibanez to complete the scoring.

After Ryan Madson threw a scoreless 9th inning the celebration commenced. As the team did last year, when they waited for Roy Halladay, Brian Schneider and Mike Sweeney -three veterans who had never won a division title- to open the first bottles of champagne, this time the Phillies made sure Hunter Pence got to pop things off.


The next step, of course, is the postseason. In the 12 games until then, the Phillies will likely rest many players and utilize some of their talented youngsters that have filled in throughout the year and/or have joined the team after a solid run in the minor league playoffs with the Triple-A IronPigs.

The capacity crowd marked the 198th consecutive sellout at CBP.

________________________________________________

Images- AP

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE

Saturday, September 17, 2011

IronPigs Fall in Finals, New Life For Six

Facing elimination in the Triple-A International League Governor's Cup Finals at Allentown's Coca Cola Park, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs were hoping to get some offensive production after scoring just three total runs in their losses in games 2 and 3 against the defending league champions, the Columbus Clippers (Indians affiliate).

Also needed was a solid outing from starting right-hander Ryan Edell, who had been a strong contributor all season long. At two levels of the Phillies' system this season, the left-handed Edell posted a 10-6 record with a 3.38 ERA.

Unfortunately for Lehigh Valley, the offensive improvements never came and the Clippers' pitcher proved better than Edell on this night.

Right-hander Paolo Espino, Cleveland's 10th round pick from the 2006 draft, allowed just 4 hits and 1 run over 7 innings while striking out 5 batters and walking only 1 to earn the win.

The 4-1 defeat ended the IronPigs' season and locked down a repeat as champion for the Clippers, who won the best-of-five series in four games.

Columbus got the scoring started in the 2nd inning when shortstop Juan Diaz and catcher Paul Phillips each smacked a run scoring hit off of Edell. In the next frame, the Clippers increased their lead to 3-0 when third baseman Jared Goedert smacked a solo homerun to deep left field.

Lehigh Valley notched its lone run in the 7th inning when postseason powerhouse Brandon Moss smacked his 4th playoff homerun. Moss, the 'Pigs' right fielder who would receive some good news later in the night, finished the postseason with a .385 batting average in 7 games played.

The 28-year-old Edell took the loss, going five innings while allowing 3 runs on 6 hits.

Following the defeat, the Phillies announced that they would be adding five players from the IronPigs' roster. Outfielder Domonic Brown and right-handed hurler Justin De Fratus were recalled, while the team selected the contracts of left-handed pitcher Joe Savery, catcher Erik Kratz and Moss.

Lehigh Valley manager Ryne Sandberg will also join the Phillies for the remainder of the season, as an extra coach. The 51-year-old Sandberg, a baseball Hall of Famer, led the IronPigs to the International League final in his first season back in the Philadelphia organization since he was traded to the Cubs in 1982.

In order to make room on the 40-man roster, pitchers Mike Zagurski, Juan Perez and Drew Naylor were all designated for assignment.

_____________________________________________

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE

Friday, September 16, 2011

Series Preview: Cardinals at Phillies, 9/16-9/19

With the Phillies' magic number to clinch a fifth consecutive National League East Division championship, they'll begin a four-game series with the visiting St. Louis Cardinals.

Not only are the playoffs ahead, but the Phils, who currently possess the best record in baseball at 97-51, also have home field advantage throughout the playoffs and an all-time franchise single season record for wins in sight. The current Phillies record for wins, 101, was set in 1976, then tied in 1977.

The Cardinals, who are 5 1/2 games back in the Central division, will send lefty Jaime Garcia, who has held Philadelphia to a .171 batting average in 5 career appearances, to the mound for the series opener. The Phillies will counter with rookie right-hander Vance Worley, who took a loss for the first time in 15 starts his last time out against the Brewers.

St. Louis has won three of five meetings with Philadelphia this season.

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


Friday, 7:05 PM. Jaime Garcia (12-7, 3.68 ERA) vs. Vance Worley (11-2, 2.92 ERA). In 5 career games against the Phillies, Garcia has a 2-1 record with a 1.17 ERA. Garcia is 2-2 with a 6.04 ERA over his last 5 starts. Ryan Howard is 2-for-12 (.167 avg) with a homerun in his career against Garcia. In 10 home starts, Worley is 6-0 with a 2.07 ERA and a .189 batting average against. Worley is 9-0 with a 1.62 ERA in 15 night games this season.

Saturday, 7:05 PM. Jake Westbrook (12-8, 4.61 ERA) vs. Roy Oswalt (7-9, 3.88 ERA). In 15 road starts this year, Westbrook has an 8-3 record with a 3.65 ERA. Westbrook is 3-1 with a 3.98 ERA in his last 5 starts. Hunter Pence is 6-for-11 (.545 avg) in his career against Westbrook. In 30 career games against the Cardinals, Oswalt has a 9-9 record with a 3.30 ERA. Oswalt is 1-2 with a 5.19 ERA in his last 4 starts. In 8 home starts this year, Oswat is 3-3 with a 3.83 ERA.

Sunday, 8:05 PM. Chris Carpenter (9-9, 3.80 ERA) vs. Cole Hamels (14-8, 2.71 ERA). In 10 career starts against the Phillies, Carpenter is 6-2 with a 4.66 ERA. Carpenter is 5-2 with a 3.72 ERA in 12 starts since the All-Star break. In 14 home starts this year, Hamels is 7-5 with a 2.45 ERA. Hamels is 2-2 with a 3.00 ERA in 8 career starts against St. Louis. Albert Pujols is 3-for-20 (.150 avg) with a double and a HR against Cole Hamels in his career.

Monday, 7:05 PM. Kyle Lohse (13-8, 3.62 ERA) vs. Roy Halladay (18-5, 2.34 ERA). Lohse is 2-4 with a 3.91 ERA in 9 career starts against the Phillies. In 15 road starts this season, Lohse has a 7-3 record with a 3.39 ERA. Raul Ibanez is 9-for-30 (.300 avg) with 3 HR in his career against the righty Lohse. In 3 career starts against the Cardinals, Halladay is 2-0 with a 1.23 ERA and a .198 batting average against. Halladay has a 3-0 record and a 1.29 ERA in his last 5 starts. In 33 career regular season games at Citizens Bank Park, Halladay is 20-7 with a 2.23 ERA.


Lance Berkman is a .299 hitter with 5 HR and 15 RBI in 19 career games at Citizens Bank Park.

Skip Schumaker is a .340 career hitter in 33 career games against the Phillies. Schumaker is batting .321 in 52 games since the All-Star break.

Yadier Molina's 12 homeruns this season are 5 more than his previous career high. Molina is 8-for-17 (.471 avg) in 5 games against the Phillies this season.

In 67 home games this season, Raul Ibanez is batting .292 with 13 homeruns. Ibanez on the road...63 games, .200 average, 5 homeruns.

Carlos Ruiz is a .319 career hitter in 30 games against the Cardinals. In 48 games since the All-Star break, Ruiz is batting .320.

In 39 games against the Cardinals in his career, Shane Victorino has a .304 average with 4 HR and 21 RBI. In 15 games this month, Victorino is batting .177.

Cardinals team batting avg- .271
Phillies team batting avg- .253

_______________________________________________

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE

IronPigs Drop Another, Near Elimination

The Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs have dropped two straight games in the Governor's Cup Finals after taking control with a victory in the series opener. In game 3 on Thursday night, the 'Pigs faced New Jersey native Joe Martinez, who was outstanding, striking out a career high 13 batters, allowing 1 run and 3 hits, while leading the Columbus Clippers (Indians affiliate) to a 6-2 victory and a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.

The tone for the night was set early on, as the right-handed Martinez struck out the side in each of the first two innings.

Martinez's battery mate Luke Carlin drove in 3 runs, including a 2-run homerun off of IronPigs starting pitcher Dave Bush in the 2nd inning, to pace the Columbus offense.

Third baseman Kevin Frandsen got Lehigh Valley on the board in the 3rd inning, when a sacrifice fly brought home shortstop Freddy Galvis.

The score stayed 2-1 until the 7th when IronPigs reliever Ryan Feierabend surrendered an RBI infield single to Columbus left fielder Chad Huffman.

Trailing 3-1 in the 8th inning, Lehigh Valley got one back. Reliever Chen Lee walked the first batter he faced, IronPigs center fielder Rich Thompson. The speedster quickly swiped second base for his second steal of the game, and moved up to third base on a throwing error by Carlin. Left-fielder Scott Podsednik then rolled a grounder to shortstop that plated Thompson and brought the 'Pigs back within a run.

The contest didn't remain close for long, as relief pitchers Juan Perez and Chance Chapman, making their first appearances of the postseason, dug Lehigh Valley into a hole they couldn't climb out of. The duo combined to serve up five straight 2 out walks, three of which forced in a run, to put wrap up the scoring.

Lehigh Valley will attempt to stay alive in the 2011 postseason in Friday night's game four scheduled for 7:05 PM at Allentown's Coca Cola Park. Game five, also at CCP if necessary, will be played on Saturday at 6:35 PM.


In other news...

Right-handed pitching prospect Brody Colvin breathed a sigh of relief on Thursday when he received word that charges against him, stemming from a January 2009 arrest, had all been dropped.

Colvin, who was 19 years old at the time, was charged with disturbing the peace, simple battery and resisting an officer. His older brother Littleton was also taken into police custody at the time of the incident, which occurred outside an establishment known as City Bar in Colvin's hometown of Lafayette, LA.

The Phillies' 7th round draft pick in 2009, Colvin was recently ranked as the organization's 6th best prospect in a poll conducted by The Reading Eagle.

_____________________________________________

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Double Header Preview: Marlins at Phillies, 9/15

Here's a brief statistical preview for Thursday's double header between the Phillies and Marlins, to be played at Citizens Bank Park.


Tuesday, 2:35 PM. Anibal Sanchez (8-7, 3.64 ERA) vs Kyle Kendrick (7-6, 3.29 ERA). In 15 starts in the road this year, Sanchez has a 5-4 record with a 3.47 ERA. Sanchez is 1-1 with a 1.73 ERA over his last 4 starts. In 4 starts against the Phillies this year, Sanchez has no decisions and a 3.52 ERA. Kendrick has a 3-2 record with a 2.85 ERA in 8 games since the All-Star break. In 15 home games this year, Kendrick has a 2-5 record with a 3.45 ERA. Gaby Sanchez is 8-for-16 (.500 avg) with a double and a HR against Kendrick in his career.

Tuesday, 7:35 PM. Alex Sanabia (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Cliff Lee (16-7, 2.44 ERA). The righty Sanabia will be making his second big league appearance this season. In 15 games with the Marlins last year, Sanabia went 5-3 with a 3.73 ERA. In his last 8 starts, Cliff Lee is 7-0 with a 0.99 ERA. In 4 career starts against Florida, Lee is 2-0 with a 2.77 ERA and a .232 batting average against. Lee has posted an 11-2 record with a 1.97 ERA in 16 home starts this season.


In 37 career games against the Phillies, Gaby Sanchez has a .286 batting average with 7 HR and 22 RBI. Sanchez is batting .215 in 54 games since the All-Star break.

Mike Stanton's 32 homeruns are tied for 5th best in the National League. Stanton is batting .182 with 2 HR in 15 games against the Phillies this season.

Hunter Pence is batting .349 with 2 HR and 10 RBI in 17 games at Citizens Bank Park this season.

In 17 relief appearances since the All-Star break, David Herndon is 1-1 with a 1.85 ERA and a .221 batting average against.

Marlins team ERA- 4.01
Phillies team ERA- 3.03

____________________________________________________

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE

Clippers Down IronPigs, Tie Series

Heading into game 2 of the Triple-A level International League championship series, Lehigh Valley was on a remarkable roll, winning 8 straight games and appearing unstoppable. However, it was the Columbus Clippers (Indians affiliate) who rallied late to notch a 4-1 victory over the IronPigs before a home crowd of 5,308 at Huntington Park.

Bump was cruising along with a 1-0 lead, thanks to a solo blast by first baseman Tagg Bozied in the 5th inning. Having allowed just 3 runners to reach base through the opening 7 frames of the contest, IronPigs starter Nate Bump's success ran out in the 8th as the Clippers broke out for 4 runs and held the lead to tie the best-of-five series at 1 game apiece.

After looking dominant through much of the game, the wheels came off for the Penn State product, Bump, in the 8th inning. He served up a lead-off single to Columbus shortstop Juan Diaz, but bounced back to strike out catcher Luke Carlin. Second baseman Argenis Reyes then stroked a double to right field, moving Diaz to third base. Lefty reliever Mike Zagurski then entered the game to thwart the rally.

Zagurski intentionally walked pinch hitter Jerad Head to load the bases and set up a force play around the diamond. Right fielder Travis Buck drove a fly ball to left field for a sacrifice fly that scored Diaz and tied the game at 1.

IronPigs shortstop Freddy Galvis kept the game tied with a diving stop on a single by Columbus third baseman Jared Goedert, to keep the ball in the infield. But Zagurski then uncorked a wild pitch while facing first baseman Beau Mills that allowed the Clippers to take the lead. Mills, Cleveland's 1st round draft pick from 2007, put his own stamp on things when he singled to bring in both Reyes and Head to cap the scoring.

Right-hander Mitch Talbot, who made 28 Major League starts a year ago and 11 starts this year for the Indians, looked sharp, going the distance for the complete game victory. Talbot, 2-0 in the postseason, struck out 7 and walked none while allowing just the lone run against the Lehigh Valley offense.

Highly regarded Phillies prospect Domonic Brown went 0-for-4 in the game, including a strike out that ended the game, lowering his postseason batting average to .067.

The remainder of the series will be played at Allentown's Coca Cola Park. Game 3 is slated for 7:05 PM on Thursday, while game 4 is scheduled for Friday evening at 7:05. Game 5, if necessary, will be played Saturday at 6:35 PM.

________________________________________________

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mark Parent Interview Excerpts

The Reading Phillies' season ended on Sunday night, when they lost their best-of-five playoff series in four games to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Prior to the game, I spoke with R-Phils manager Mark Parent about various topics. Excerpts from that discussion can be heard by checking out the media player below.



___________________________________________________________

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

You can also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE

IronPigs Win IL Championship Series Opener

A three-run homerun by Brandon Moss in the opening frame was more than enough offense for the IronPigs pitching staff, as four pitchers combined to hold the Columbus Clippers to 2 runs on 7 hits earning Lehigh Valley a victory in game 1 of the Triple-A International League Championship Series.

The long ball by Moss, his 3rd of the postseason, came off of Columbus All-Star Zach McAllister, who spent some time with the parent club, Cleveland, this year. The right-handed McAllister lasted 8 innings, but took the loss.

The lefty batting Moss, who has seen Major League action as a member of the Red Sox, had the table set for his big blast in the top of the 1st inning by 1-out singles from Scott Podsednik and Kevin Frandsen. Moss, the IronPigs' clean up hitter who turns 28-years-old later this week, then mashed a deep drive to straight away center that put Lehigh Valley ahead for good.

Lehigh Valley added another run an inning later. An RBI ground out by the left fielder Podsednik brought home catcher Erik Kratz to put the IronPigs up 4-0.

Lehigh Valley starter Scott Mathieson, who has also pitched in the big leagues this year with the Phillies, earned the win with 5 innings of work in which he surrendered 5 hits and 2 runs, while walking 2 and striking out 2.

Left-hander Joe Savery tossed 2 scoreless innings and righty Phillippe Aumont added a scoreless frame to hold the Clippers to just 2 runs through 8 innings of play.

First baseman Cody Overbeck smacked a solo homerun to lead off the 9th. Kratz then doubled to chase McAllister from the game. Lefty Kelvin De La Cruz came on in relief and thwarted the rally.

Righty hurler Justin De Fratus had a shaky bottom of the 9th inning, as he had difficulty locating throwing strikes. The Phillies' 11th round draft pick from 2007, who is well regarded for his accuracy, struggled with his command, issuing a pair of free passes with 1 down before retiring Clippers center fielder Tim Fedroff on a fly out. Things got more interesting when short stop Juan Diaz stroked a single which loaded the bases. However, De Fratus bounced back and struck out first baseman Jared Goedert slider to earn his 2nd save of the postseason.

Outfielder Domonic Brown, another occasional Phillie, went 1-for-4 in the contest to raise his dismal postseason batting average to .091.

Columbus, the defending IL champs, will host game 2 on Wednesday. The series then moves to Lehigh Valley's Coca Cola Park for the remaining games in the best-of-five title series.

_____________________________________________________

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

You can also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

RHP Prospect Hyatt Develops His Game

For right-handed hurler Austin Hyatt, the 2011 season was packed with success. As the virtual ace of the Double-A Reading Phillies' pitching staff, the 25-year-old Hyatt proved to be one of the most reliable pitching prospects in the Philadelphia developmental system.

During a season in which he was named as an Eastern League All-Star, Hyatt posted tremendous numbers in the second half, to help his team reach the post-season. In 10 starts after the All-Star break, Hyatt posted a 5-1 record with a 2.78 ERA and a .221 batting average against.

Overall with Reading, the 6-foot-2-inch 180-pound Hyatt averaged more than a strike out per inning pitched (171 K's in 154 1/3 innings), which is impressive at any level.

According to Reading pitching coach Bob Milacki, who previously coached with the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws, Hyatt's pitching repertoire has come along quite well since Milacki first saw the Georgia native when Hyatt joined the 'Claws for their postseason run two years ago. But while some people evaluate Hyatt, whose fastball tops out in the mid-90's, as having been old for each level he has pitched in, Milacki feels that Hyatt's progress is leading toward bigger things.

"Overall, I think he has a chance (to reach the Majors), especially with his slider coming around and he's always had a good change up," Milacki said. "He's one of the few guys I've seen (at this level) that has a swing-and-miss fastball. And that's not because of his velocity, it's because of the angle," Milacki stated.

Hyatt signed with the Phillies in 2009 after being drafted in the 15th round out of the University of Alabama, but was previously drafted by the Braves in 2008 and elected to stay in school.

Prior to his promotion to Lakewood at the end of the 2009 season, Hyatt posted a 3-0 record with 6 saves and a 0.66 ERA in 17 outings for short-season Williamsport. In 2010, his first full year as a pro, Hyatt was named the Florida State League's pitcher of the year, when he went 11-5 with a 3.04 ERA in 23 games for the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers.

Hyatt, who was ranked 12th in a recent Phillies prospect survey conducted by The Reading Eagle, clearly has his sights set on climbing the developmental ladder, going forward, as all prospects do, but Hyatt's drive wasn't the same as many other minor leaguers this season. While most of his peers focused on improving their physical skills, Hyatt's largest goal this year was to enhance the mental side of his own game.

"A lot of (my focus on improving this year) has been on reading hitters," Hyatt said. "I try to see what the hitter's presenting based on his swing and his approach in the box. It's not something I did too much last year, reading swings and reading hitters, but it's something that Bob (Milacki) and I have focused on and really tried to bear down and work on."

The mindset for Hyatt is somewhat unique. While batters at various levels of baseball can feel it is advantageous having faced a pitcher before, allowing themselves opportunities to figure out the opponent's tendencies, Hyatt feels that he, as a pitcher, is better off after having seen batters multiple times. He feels this helped with his exceptional second half this year.

"A lot of times, facing a team twice, you kind of learn the hitters," Hyatt stated. "Just like with New Hampshire, I've faced them so many times, I know each guy and how to pitch them and execute pitches. It allows me to be more comfortable out there and have a better game plan going into each start."

Despite taking a hard-luck loss at the hands of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Toronto affiliate) in game 3 of the Eastern League divisional playoffs, Hyatt performed very well against the Eastern division champions this year. Facing a Cats lineup that included EL Most Valuable Player Travis d'Arnaud, highly regarded Blue Jays prospect Anthony Gose as well as sluggers Mike McDade and Moises Sierra, during the regular season Hyatt went 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA. In addition, he went on to allow just 1 earned run in 7 innings, while striking out 9, in his lone postseason outing against New Hampshire, who ousted Wild Card entrant Reading from the playoffs.

With a menu of pitches that he has used to dominate many of the best hitters in his league during each of the past two seasons, a developing mental approach needed to succeed at higher levels and a strong 2 1/2 years in the Phillies' organization, the future is bright for Austin Hyatt.

____________________________________________

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

You can also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE