Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mathieson Released, Headed Overseas

The Phillies announced on Tuesday that right-handed pitcher Scott Mathieson has been released, freeing him to pursue a contract with a team in Asia.

The 27-year-old was 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in 15 big league games in his career. He held opponents scoreless in four relief outings this year for the Phillies.

Mathieson is secretive about his destination, stating exclusively to PhoulBallz.com that he has an agreement with the team he’ll be pitching for to not announce the signing before Friday, when that club expects to make the news public.

A source close to PhoulBallz.com has stated that the Yomiuri Giants in Japan will be the team that Mathieson is set to sign with.

The change is something that Mathieson is ready for and he expects to pitch outside of North America for the foreseeable future.

“I’m very excited for this. I am hoping to play with this team for a while and maybe come back to finish my career in the States, but, right now, I’m hoping to play overseas for a while,” Mathieson stated.

Three times a patient on the operating table, to undergo elbow surgery, Mathieson was originally a 17th round draft choice by the Phillies in 2002. The Vancouver native made his big league debut with the Phillies in 2006 and posted a 1-4 record with a 6.75 ERA before being sidelined with a torn elbow ligament that required Tommy John surgery. Multiple procedures and a lengthy recovery process followed. Mathieson landed back in the majors with the Phillies after four long years in 2010, however he found himself moving up and down between Triple-A Lehigh Valley and the Phillies throughout that season and the year that followed, appearing in very few games for the Phillies. Combined in 2010 and 2011, Mathieson recorded no decisions and posted a 2.70 ERA in 6 games with the Phillies.

Throughout his 9 year minor league career, Mathieson has a 32-37 record with a 3.75 ERA and 34 saves in 201 appearances. In 2010, Mathieson sported a 3-6 record with a 2.80 ERA and 26 saves, earning himself a nod as Phillies minor league pitcher of the year.

This move by the Phillies leaves 39 players on the club's 40-man roster.
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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Phils' Old Spring Home Ready for Reboot

Jack Russell Memorial Stadium in 2003

Currently housed at Bright House Field in Clearwater, FL, the Phillies once called a different Florida complex their southern home. Jack Russell Stadium was home to the big league club from Philadelphia for spring training dating all the way back to 1955 until 2003 when the relocated to the newly built facility in another part of town. These days, the park that was named after a former big league player and Clearwater city commissioner is disassembled and has remained as an inactive lot, only used for overflow parking, and the like, since the Phillies departed for fresher digs.

Community clamor and a struggling economy resulted in plans for housing, in place of the decades old home for Phillies spring training and minor league baseball, to fall apart. Nothing is both what has happened in the period since professional sports vacated the premises and what goes on at the site these days.

In the midst of what is described as a low-income neighborhood, the open grounds have come to be a source of stress and bother for the area, as high hopes met a down time for development. However, a plan now in the works has spirits on the rise again with potential to provide a recreational home to neighborhood children.

According to the St. Petersburg Times, the local parks and recreation department presented a proposal for rebuilding the site to the City Council last week. The plan would be to build two multipurpose fields, parking, fencing and lighting on the site as a home for North Greenwood neighborhood children's teams to play on.

In years past, local youths had called a nearby field home, for football and cheerleading, but after discovering landfill debris presenting a problem underneath the playing surface, the location was shut down. That decision resulted in the roughly 270 children that once played there having to steadily travel to multiple locations across the region to stay active.

Currently, officials are researching the new proposal for the fields on the former Jack Russell Stadium site. It could take months before any decision is made by the council. While the cost of the project has been of great concern, with budgetary issues forecast for the coming year, the plans have a strong possibility of coming to fruition, as it stands as a tremendous way to build long-term returns for the community through the lives of its children.

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Image- CharliesBallparks.com

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Friday, November 25, 2011

Kennelly Living it Up, Down Under

Australian native Tim Kennelly has been enjoying some serious success thus far in the 2011-2012 Australian Baseball League season. The righty hitting utility man is tearing up opposing pitching while playing for his hometown club in the second season of this current incarnation of professional baseball down under.

In the early going, the 25-year-old leads the ABL with a .529 batting average and has helped his club, the defending ABL champion Perth Heat, to a league-best 11-0 record, including an 8-0 mark on the road. Kennelly's 1.237 OPS is also tops in the league.

Kennelly has been a multi-positional player throughout his career in the minors, spending plenty of time at catcher, third base and in the outfield. Such versatility has helped Kennelly earn playing time within the Phillies organization. With the Heat, Kennelly is valuable to his team in the same manner, splitting his time at various spots.

Originally signed by the Phillies in 2003 at age 16, Kennelly has posted a .263 batting average with 18 homeruns and 210 RBI spanning 485 games played in 7 professional seasons. Kennelly had a rough season overall at the plate for Double-A level Reading in 2011, sporting a .215 average with 3 homeruns and 21 RBI in 61 games.

Recently, Kennelly filed for free agency, although he stands a good shot at rejoining the Phillies' developmental ranks for 2012, as his familiarity with the organization's hurlers and his ability to catch a crop of well-regarded pitching prospects expected to arrive at the Double-A level next season may work in his favor.

Some other players in the Aussie league with Philadelphia baseball ties include Brad Harman (who played in 6 games for the 2008 World Series champion Phillies), Mike McGuire (Philadelphia area resident, minor league free agent following 2011 season), Alan Schoenberger (played w/ Clearwater and Lakewood in 2011) and Joel Naughton (played w/ Triple A Lehigh Valley in 2011). Harman, Schoenberger and Naughton are all native Australians.

Harman has been sharp for Melbourne, posting a .423 avg. with 4 doubles, 2 HR and 7 RBI in 7 games played. The 6-foot-7-inch McGuire has been exceptional for Canberra, going 1-0 with a 0.47 ERA and 26 strike outs and 6 walks in 19 1/3 innings over 4 games, 3 of which were starts. Schoenberger has not seen game action to date for Brisbane. Naughton has batted .231 with a homer and 4 RBI in 8 games with Brisbane.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hockey Taking Over CBP

The takeover has begun. As the holiday season approaches and winter becomes more imminent, January 2nd, the date of this season's NHL Winter Classic draws nearer. In 2012, Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park will play host to the annual regular season hockey contest that is broadcast on national television. The ballpark is otherwise home to Major League Baseball's Phillies.

In the upcoming game, the Flyers will take on New York Rangers. It will be New York's first Winter Classic appearance, while the Flyers, who lost at Boston in 2010, will be seeing action in the annual event for the second time.

This will mark the fifth year for the NHL's premiere regular season contest, which first took place in 2008 at Buffalo's Ralph Wilson Stadium, home of the NFL's Bills.

The process to convert the baseball playing field into an ice rink, in time for the week of hockey events set to take place at CBP, began this week. In addition to the January 2nd regular season game, Flyers and Rangers alumni will also compete, in an exhibition on December 31st and the minor league Phantoms will take on the Hershey Bears on January 6th.

Below are a series of images from various sources displaying the conversion of the CBP facility into a home venue for the Flyers, including some orange at black taking over the Phillies' locker room.







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Images- BroadStreetBulletin, NHL.com, Phillies twitter account

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Sandberg to Return, Other Developmental Coaches Set

On Monday, the Phillies announced the return of Ryne Sandberg as manager of Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Sandberg, a Hall of Fame player, is back for his second season with the IronPigs after leading the club to its very first playoff appearance in 2011.

Sandberg, who was originally drafted by the Phillies in 1978 and dealt to the Chicago Cubs in 1982, became a legend in a different city. As a member of the Cubs, Sandberg became a 10-time National League All-star, a 9-time Gold Glove Award winner and 1984 NL Most Valuable Player. Last season, he returned to the Philadelphia organization after 29 years away.

The remainder of the Lehigh Valley coaching staff, Rod Nichols and Sal Rende, will return for the IronPigs as well.

New additions to the developmental coaching ranks include former Phillies Andy Tracy and Aaron Fultz. Tracy will manage the short season Williamsport Crosscutters, while Fultz will serve as that club's pitching coach.

Former Phillies second baseman Mickey Morandini will move from Williamsport to Class A Lakewood, where he will manage many of the same players he had during the 2011 season, as those individuals move up the minor league ranks. Morandini becomes the 10th manager in BlueClaws history. Hitting coach Greg Legg will return to Lakewood. Legg celebrated his 30th season in the Philadelphia organization in 2011. Former big league hurler Les Lancaster will join the 'Claws as pitching coach after filling that role with the Gulf Coast League Phillies in 2011.

Chris Truby, who managed the BlueClaws in 2011, will move up a level and lead the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers. Truby played in the Majors with the Astros, Expos, Tigers and Rays. Former Kansas City Royals manager John Mizerock returns for his second season as a coach for Clearwater and pitching coach Dave Lundquist will be back for his fourth.

Filling the void left by Mark Parent, who left the Phillies minor league ranks to join the Chicago White Sox as bench coach, Dusty Wathan will take over as the skipper of the Double-A Reading Phillies. Wathan managed the BlueClaws to the South Atlantic League title in 2009 and spent the last two years with Clearwater. Pitching coach Bob Milacki and hitting coach Frank Cacciatore will both return to the R-Phils

Roly de Armas will manage the Gulf Coast Phillies for the sixth consecutive season and ninth, overall. His coaching staff will be comprised of Kevin Jordan and Steve Schrenk, who are each spending the winter managing in the Australian Baseball League.

Another former big league player, Andy Abad, will join the ranks of the Phillies' roving minor league instructors and serve as the new outfield/baserunning coordinator for the developmental system.

Absent from the mix is Lance Carter, who served as pitching coach with Williamsport for two seasons. Carter was regularly praised by the Phillies' young pitching prospects. Young hurlers such as Eric Pettis, Colby Shreve, Jake Diekman have stated in interviews with PhoulBallz.com that Carter's influence greatly impacted their professional careers. Players will surely miss the former Royals, Rays and Dodgers pitcher.

Minor league coaches will report to Clearwater for spring training in late February.

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Phils Acquire Wigginton From Rockies

In a trade with the Colorado Rockies, the Phillies have acquired multi-positional veteran Ty Wigginton. A 10-year Major Leaguer, Wigginton is a .265 career hitter with 158 homeruns with six different teams.

The 34-year-old first baseman/second baseman/third basemen/outfielder joins a Phillies team that was in need of a versatile offensive threat such as Wigginton that could fill in for the likes of Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Placido Polanco and become a solid presence in the five-time defending National League East division champions' lineup.

The right-handed hitting Wigginton, who stands 6 feet tall and weighs 230 pounds, is slated to earn $4 million in 2012 with a club option for the same amount in 2013, with a $500,000 buyout.

In the deal, the Phillies are reportedly getting back $2 million, so essentially, Philadelphia will pay Wigginton $2 million in 2012. In return the Phillies will send back a player to be named later or cash.

The addition is a very good one for Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. who was long rumored to be interested in the similarly versatile and comparatively tenured free agent Michael Cuddyer, who is expected to draw considerably more money than Wigginton on the open market.

In 16 career games at Citizens Bank Park, Wigginton has a remarkable .296 batting average with 4 doubles, a triple, 3 HR, 7 RBI and a .941 OPS.

Also, in the three other National League East parks that Wigginton has had experience playing in to date, he has gone 33-for-146 (.226 avg) with 5 homeruns in 27 games.

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Image- MLB.com

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Sunday School: Phillies History Lesson 97

Russ Wrightstone was a utility player with the Phillies from 1920-1928. The lifelong Pennsylvania resident made his big league debut at the ripe age of 27 with Philadelphia.

The Phillies teams of the 1920's were always near the bottom of the barrel. The club won as many as 68 games and finished within 27 games of first place only once during Wrightstone's tenure.

A player such as Wrightstone who regularly batted over .300 and could field multiple positions proved valuable to a lowly club like Philadelphia. Although he wasn't exceptional at any one position, during his time in the Majors, Wrightstone manned first base, second base, third base, shortstop, left field and right field. Managers would shift the 5-foot-10-inch 190-pounder around the diamond in an effort to keep his bat in the lineup.

Wrightstone's best offensive season came in 1925 when he played in just 92 games. That year, the lefty hitting Wrightstone posted a .346 batting average with 14 homeruns and 61 RBI.

The following year, Wrightstone had the game of his life, as he laced two doubles, a triple and a homerun while driving in 6 runs in a contest against Pittsburgh.

Early in the 1928 season, Wrightstone was dealt to the New York Giants for outfielder Art Jahn. Wrightstone would appear primarily in a pinch hitting role with the Giants in what would be his last season in the big leagues.

In 1969, Wrightstone passed away at the age of 75. He was laid to rest in Harrisburg, PA.

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

2011 Phillies AFL Wrap Up

The Arizona Fall League season wraps up today as the Salt River Rafters take on the Surprise Saguaros in the championship game in Scottsdale. The game will be broadcast live on MLB Network and on MLB.com at 3 PM Eastern.

No Phillies prospects will be represented in the title contest, as their club, the Scottsdale Scorpions finished 14-22, placing last in the East division.

Salt River features minor leaguers from the Astros, D-Backs, Dodgers, Rockies and Tigers, while Surprise includes players from the Braves, Marlins, Rays, Rangers and Royals.

Despite Philadelphia farmhands missing out on the final game of the AFL season, let's take a look at their fall league performances, with some players shining and others just getting by.

Lefty hurler Jake Diekman, who was added to the Phillies' 40-man roster on Friday, performed exceptionally for the Scorpions. The 6-foot-4-inch 190-pound reliever allowed just 1 earned run in 11 appearances (11 1/3 innings) while striking out 14 batters and walking 6. AFL opponents posted a lowly .079 batting average against Diekman, who also recorded 2 saves. The Nebraska native was originally a 30th round draft pick by the Phillies in 2007.

25-year-old first baseman Darin Ruf picked up his production during the latter portion of the AFL season, posting a .333 average over his last 10 games, but had a .239 mark overall for Scottsdale. The 6-foot-3-inch 220-pound righty batter also slugged 3 homeruns and drove in 14. Ruf, a 20th round draft choice in 2009, spent the 2011 season with Class A Advanced Clearwater and sported a .308/.388/.506 line in 133 games.

First baseman/third baseman/outfielder Cody Overbeck had a strong AFL showing, posting a .321 average with 6 doubles, 1 triple, 1 HR and 7 RBI. The 25-year-old has hit 24 homeruns in each of the last two regular seasons in the Phillies system. With his positional versatility, he should get a good look in spring training with the big club.

Outfielder Tyson Gillies had a rough go of it during AFL play. The 23-year-old batted .178 with 2 doubles, a HR and 7 RBI in 27 games in the autumn developmental league. The speedster who has missed a great majority of the past two regular seasons with hamstring and foot injuries also stole 4 bases without being caught. The Canadian born Gillies was acquired by Philadelphia as part of the December 2009 Cliff Lee trade with Seattle.

Right-handed pitcher Tyler Cloyd made 8 starts without much success. The 18th round pick from 2008 went 1-4 with a 4.35 ERA while serving up a .296 batting average against. The 24-year-old was solid throughout the 2011 regular season, posting a combined 9-4 record with a 2.77 ERA in 31 appearances for Clearwater and Double-A Reading.

BJ Rosenberg's 5.14 ERA in 6 AFL contests was not very appealing. The same applies to Colby Shreve's 5.59 ERA in 9 games. Rosenberg was once a fast rising reliever within the Philadelphia developmental ranks, however he no longer appears to be on the rise as he posted a 5-7 record with 2 saves and a 4.28 ERA in 39 games (14 starts) during the 2011 regular season. Shreve, a Nevada native, was a 6th round draft choice from 2008. He posted a 2.87 ERA in 40 combined games for Class A Lakewood and High A level Clearwater this year. The 23-year-old still stands a solid chance at reaching Double-A Reading in 2012.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Back-up Backstop Schneider to Return

The Phillies announced on Thursday that they have re-signed catcher Brian Schneider to a one-year contract valued at $800,000. The veteran of 12 big league seasons, who turns 35-years-old later this month, returns to Philadelphia after serving as back-up to Carlos Ruiz for the past two seasons.

Schneider can earn an additional $200,000 in performance bonuses, but don’t count on that happening as the reserve sported a .176 batting average in 41 games with the Phillies during the 2011 season.

Clearly, Schneider is being brought back for his excellent guidance of the Philadelphia pitching staff, not because of his bat. Phillies pitchers posted a strong 2.85 ERA with Schneider behind the dish this past season.

Pat Gallen of PhilliesNation.com writes that the Phillies went 28-8 (.777 winning percentage) in Schneider’s 36 starts in 2011, including 27-3 (.900) in his first 30 starts. From May 7 through September 6, the Phillies went 19-0 in Schneider’s starts.

Through his career, the lefty hitting backstop has played exclusively in the National League East, catching for the Expos/Nationals, the Mets and the Phillies.


Noteworthy Schneider stats-

Schneider had just 1 RBI in 23 home games with the Phillies in 2011.

Schneider threw out only 18% of runners attempting to steal in his two seasons with Philadelphia, while his career caught stealing percentage prior to joining the Phillies was 39%.

Schneider is 1-for-27 (.037 avg.) with runners in scoring position and 2 outs in his two seasons with the Phillies.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Off-season League Updates, 11/16/11

Throughout the off-season, we'll take regular looks at Phillies players participating in winter leagues around the world. Plenty of players contracted to the Phillies are still in action, despite the North American season being over for many weeks. In this post, the Caribbean and Australian baseball leagues will be covered.

-Right-handed hurler Julio Rodriguez (pictured), an 8th round draft selection in 2008, has appeared in two games as a reliever for the Gigantes de Carolina in the Puerto Rican Winter League. In his first outing, the 21-year-old threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings, while he allowed 2 earned runs in 2/3 of an inning in his second appearance. Rodriguez had an outstanding regular season for the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers in 2011, going 16-7 with a 2.76 ERA and a .186 batting average against in 27 starts.

-Shortstop Freddy Galvis has performed well lately for the Aguilas del Zulia in the Venezuelan league. After a considerably slow start and a wrist ailment that forced him to miss a week, Galvis has produced steadily improving numbers resulting in a .241 batting average with 12 RBI in 18 games. Galvis solidified his status among top Phillies prospects this year by posting a .278/.324/.392 line in 137 combined games with Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

-Second baseman Cesar Hernandez has posted a .266 average through 21 games with the Bravos de Margarita in Venezuela. The switch-hitting 21-year-old has just one extra base hit thus far...a double. Hernandez, who was signed as a free agent by the Phillies in July, 2006, has not appeared in a game in more than twoa weeks. The well-regarded prospect posted a .268/.306/.333 line in 119 games with the High A level Clearwater Threshers during the 2011 regular season.

-Infielder Carlos Rivero is batting .246 with 5 doubles and a HR through 19 games with the Leones del Caracas in the Venezuelan league. Rivero, who was claimed by the Phillies last off-season from Cleveland, is 23 years old and bats right-handed. The Venezuelan born Rivero had a good 2011 regular season, posting a .270/.326/.440 line, combined with Reading and Lehigh Valley.

-Lefty pitcher Ervis Manzanillo has made one scoreless relief appearance for the Navegantes del Magallanes in Venezuela. No word on why Manzanillo has not pitched since October 13th. During the 2011 regular season, the 20-year-old Manzanillo had some ups and downs with the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws, posting an 8-7 record with a 5.02 ERA with a .257 batting average against in 26 games (25 starts).

-Reliever Justin Friend, a Rule 5 draft pick of the Phillies last off-season, has pitched in 6 games for the Tiburones de La Guaira in Venezuela. The 25-year-old, who served as a closer for both Clearwater and Reading this past season, has earned 3 saves for the Tiburones. In 55 combined games during the 2011 regular season, Friend went 3-7 with 28 saves and a 2.75 ERA while striking out 61 and walking 16 batters in 59 innings.

-Outfielder Rich Thompson, who was a key contributor throughout the 2011 season with the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs, has posted a .265 average with a double and a homerun through 9 games with the Estrellas de Oriente in the Dominican League. The 32-year-old Thompson has not appeared in a game since November 2nd.

-Scott Podsednik and Scott Mathieson are assigned to rosters in the Venezuelan Winter League, however neither of them have seen game action just yet.

-Left-handed pitcher Juan Perez has looked great in the Dominican Winter League with the Gigantes del Cibao. Through 13 games Perez has a 0-1 record with a save and has not allowed an earned run. In 16 innings, the 33-year-old has struck out 19 batters and walked 6 batters. The veteran reliever appeared in 8 games at the big league level with the Phillies in 2011.

-Another member of the Gigantes in the Dominican Republic, Wilson Valdez, has struggled with his average, going 8-for-34 (.235 avg) through 9 games with the Gigantes del Cibao in the Dominican Republic. Among his 8 hits, Valdez has laced 2 doubles and 2 homeruns. The 33-year-old batted .249 in 99 games with the big league Phillies this past regular season.

-Utility man Michael Martinez has performed miserably with the Estrellas del Oriente in the Dominican league. Through 7 games, Martinez has gone 2-for-28 (.071 avg). The 29-year-old has been playing shortstop and batting lead-off for the Estrellas. Martinez batted .196 in 88 games with the Phillies in his first MLB season in 2011.

-Another member of the Estrellas, outfielder Leandro Castro, who missed much of the 2011 regular season with an injury, has appeared in one Dominican League game, but did not have an official at bat. Castro, 22, was assigned to the High A level Threshers this year, where he posted a .277/.304/481 line in 56 games.

-19-year-old pitcher Fabian Cota, through 10 relief appearaces with the Caneros de los Mochis in the Mexican Winter League, has posted a 9.64 ERA with 1 save and a .412 batting average against. In 15 games with the Gulf Coast League Phillies in 2011, the Mexican lefty recorded a 1-0 record with a 3.52 ERA. The 6-foot-1-inch 170-pound Cota has not appeared in a game since November 6th.

-Also in the Mexican league, top Phillies offensive prospect Sebastian Valle has posted a .261 batting average through 6 games with his hometown Caneros de los Mochis. Valle, 21, has 2 doubles and a homerun among his 6 hits. Last year, Valle, who is a catcher, played the outfield in the Mexican league to avoid additional wear and tear behind the plate. The righty-hitting Valle is the Phillies’ top ranked offensive prospect according to several outlets.

-In the Australian Baseball League, two Phillies coaches are leading teams as managers, with Lakewood pitching coach piloting the Canberra Cavalry and long time developmental coach Kevin Jordan in charge of the Brisbane Bandits.

-Catcher/infielder/outfielder Tim Kennelly has posted a .471 average with 4 doubles and 4 steals in 4 games with the Perth Heat in the Aussie league. Kennelly batted .215 in 61 games with Reading in 2011.

With the Arizona Fall League wrapping up in the coming days, stay tuned as that league will get its own write up.
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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

RHP Prospect David Buchanan Footage

Lakewood pitching coach Steve Schrenk watches David Buchanan get loose

Selected by the Phillies in the 7th round of the amateur draft in 2010, righty hurler David Buchanan has quickly made a name for himself in the developmental ranks. The 22-year-old had an outstanding season this year, as he earned himself a spot as the starting pitcher for the north division team in the South Atlantic League All-Star Game while posting an 11-5 record with a 3.38 ERA through 20 starts with the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws.

Buchanan's exceptional efforts in his first full season as a pro also earned him a promotion to High A level Clearwater, where he went 3-2 with a 3.90 ERA in 6 outings.

A Georgia native, Buchanan grew up as a Braves fan, but is more than happy to be a part of the Philadelphia organization, home to several pitchers that he admires the same way he looked up to the famed Atlanta starting pitching staff of the 1990's.

The 6-foot-3-inch 190-pound Buchanan sports a low-90's fastball along with a sinker and a slider.

In August, Buchanan ranked 16th among Phillies prospects in a survey of minor league experts conducted by The Reading Eagle.

Below is some footage of the man known to his teammates as "Buck Nasty", warming up prior to a 2011 start in Lakewood.




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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Phillies Sign New Closer

Another week, another free agent Friday. The Phillies have signed former Boston hurler Jonathan Papelbon to a deal to become their new premiere relief pitcher. The deal is done, pending a physical examination and is reportedly worth $50 million over four years. The contract also has a vesting option to increase the length to five years and the value above $60 million. It would be the largest free-agent contract for a reliever in MLB history.

Papelbon, who will turn 31-years-old later this month, has had a more than a solid career to date with the Red Sox. The 4th round pick from the 2003 amateur draft has a career regular season record of 23-19 with a .233 ERA, 219 saves and a .204 batting average against in his 7 year career.

In 18 career postseason contests, Papelbon sports an exceptional 1.00 ERA with a 2-1 record and 7 saves. What's even more impressive is that the Mississippi State product has held the opposition scoreless in all but one of those outings.

Comparatively, exiting Phillies closer Ryan Madson, who was the target of a proposed contract with the Phillies for much of the previous week, has plenty more mileage on his lanky frame than Papelbon does on his more athletic appearing body. Madson, who turned 31 in August, has thrown 208 2/3 more innings in his big league career, including the postseason, than Papelbon has. So, the Philadelphia faithful that figure to miss the "home grown" Madson, who has pitched more games for the Phillies than anyone not named Steve Carlton or Robin Roberts, may find the new guy appealing sooner than later.

The focus for the Phillies now moves toward filling their vacant shortstop position. With another long-time Philadelphia mainstay, Jimmy Rollins, on the free agent market, it remains to be seen how the organization will fill that void. With 21-year-old prospect Freddy Galvis batting .240 through 16 Venezuelan Winter League games, using an in house option may not be the best bet for the five-time defending National League East division champions.

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Photo- AP

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Burrell's Career Could Be Over

Former Phillies outfielder Pat Burrell announced on Thursday that his playing days are likely over, due to a recurring right foot injury that limited his action in 2011.

According to a report from the Associated Press, Burrell had previously declared that he would contemplate retirement if he was unable to return to full strength. This appears to be the case, however Burrell has not made a final decision.

“I have not decided yet, but I don’t think I can play anymore,” Burrell stated. “It hurts me to say that.”

The 35-year-old was the first overall draft choice by the Phillies in 1998. He was part of the 2008 club that locked down Philadelphia’s second ever World Series title. The University of Miami product ranks fourth all-time in Phillies history with 251 regular season homeruns.

Burrell left Philadelphia as a free agent following the 2008 season, signing with Tampa Bay. He struggled through much of his time there, and after the Rays released him during the 2010 season, Burrell signed with San Francisco, where he helped the Giants win the World Series, earning his second championship ring.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Caribbean Winter League Updates, 11/9/11

Plenty of Phillies players are staying in shape in the early going this off-season on the field and not just in the gym or in batting cages. Plenty of individuals contracted to the Phillies are playing ball down in the Caribbean winter leagues. Here's a run down of how various Philadelphia farm hands and a couple big leaguers are doing in the off-season leagues.


-Right-hander Julio Rodriguez has made two relief appearances for the Gigantes de Carolina in the Puerto Rican Winter League. In his first outing, the 21-year-old threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings, while he allowed 2 earned runs in 2/3 of an inning in his second appearance. Rodriguez had an outstanding regular season for the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers in 2011, going 16-7 with a 2.76 ERA and a .186 batting average against in 27 starts.

-Shortstop Freddy Galvis hasn't looked too sharp lately for the Aguilas del Zulia in the Venezuelan league. In 10 games since returning from a right wrist injury, the 21-year-old has gone 6-for-32 (.188 average) with a double, a triple and 6 RBI.

-Second baseman Cesar Hernandez has posted a .266 average through 21 games with the Bravos de Margarita in Venezuela. The switch-hitting 21-year-old has just one extra base hit under his belt...a double. Hernandez posted a .268/.306/.333 line in 119 games with the High A level Clearwater Threshers during the 2011 regular season.

-Infielder Carlos Rivero is batting .256 with 5 doubles, a HR and 9 RBI through 13 games with the Leones del Caracas in Venezuela. That's quite an improvement following a 1-for-16 start. Rivero, who was claimed by the Phillies last off-season from Cleveland, is 23 years old. The Venezuelan born Rivero had a good 2011 regular season, posting a .270/.326/.440 line combined with Reading and Lehigh Valley.

-LHP Ervis Manzanillo has made one scoreless relief appearance for the Navegantes del Magallanes in Venezuela. No word on why Manzanillo has not pitched since October 13th. During the 2011 regular season, the 20-year-old Manzanillo had some ups and downs with the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws, posting an 8-7 record with a 5.02 ERA with a .257 batting average against in 26 games (25 starts).

-Reliever Justin Friend, a Rule 5 draft pick of the Phillies last off-season, has pitched in 4 games for the Tiburones de La Guaira in Venezuela. The 25-year-old has earned 2 saves, but has allowed 2 earned runs in 4 innings. In 55 combined games with Clearwater and Reading during the 2011 regular season, Friend went 3-7 with 28 saves and a 2.75 ERA while striking out 61 and walking 16 batters in 59 innings.

-Outfielder Rich Thompson, who was a key contributor throughout the 2011 season with the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs, has posted a .265 average with a double and a homerun through 9 games with the Estrellas de Oriente in the Dominican League.

-Scott Podsednik and Scott Mathieson are all assigned to rosters in the Venezuelan Winter League, however neither of them have seen game action just yet.

-Lefty pitcher Juan Perez has looked great in the Dominican Winter League with the Gigantes del Cibao. Through 11 games Perez has a 0-1 record with a save and has not allowed an earned run. In 14 innings, the 33-year-old has struck out 17 batters and walked 6 batters. The veteran reliever appeared in 8 games at the big league level with the Phillies in 2011.

-Another member of the Gigantes in the Dominican Republic, Wilson Valdez, has gotten off to a good start, going 5-for-17 (.294 avg) with a double and a homerun in 5 games. Valdez has been playing shortstop and batting second in the Gigantes batting order.

-19-year-old pitcher Fabian Cota, through 10 relief appearaces with the Caneros de los Mochis in the Mexican Winter League, has posted a 9.64 ERA with 1 save and a .412 batting average against. In 15 games with the Gulf Coast League Phillies in 2011, the Mexican lefty recorded a 1-0 record with a 3.52 ERA.

-Also in the Mexican league, top Phillies offensive prospect Sebastian Valle played in his first game for his hometown Caneros de los Mochis on Tuesday. Valle, 21, went 1-for-4 in his debut. Last year, Valle, who is a catcher, played the outfield in the Mexican league to avoid additional wear and tear behind the plate.

-Utility man Michael Martinez made his Dominican League debut on Monday with the Estrellas del Oriente. The 29-year-old went 0-for-3 while batting 8th and playing shortstop. "Mini Mart" followed up his Dominican debut with another 0-for-3 spot on Tuesday, although he walked in that effort. Martinez batted .196 in 88 games with the Phillies in his rookie season this year.

-Another member of the Estrellas, outfielder Leandro Castro, who missed much of the 2011 regular season with an injury, has appeared in one Dominican League game, but did not have an official at bat. Castro was assigned to the High A level Thresher this year.

Check back here throughout the off-season for regular updates on all the winter leagues.
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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ibanez Makes Hall of Fame History

It's every player's dream to be enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. For Raul Ibanez, who hasn't had the sort of career that would ensure his face would one day be cast in bronze and displayed on the Hall walls, it was necessary to find a less common way to earn a spot in the annals of baseball history. Recently, Ibanez became the very first big league player to spend the night in the plaque gallery at the storied Hall of Fame.

As detailed on the National Baseball Hall of Fame's website, Ibanez accompanied his son's Little League travel team to the Hall, where they participated in the Museum's "Extra Innings Overnight", a program that allows groups to travel to Cooperstown, NY in order learn more about the great game of baseball.

Ibanez's son, Raul Jr., is 11-years-old and plays baseball in Lower Merion, PA.

The article on the Hall of Fame's website quoted Ibanez as being excited to see some recent Phillies milestones represented among the all-time great historical moments of the sport.

"I am most amazed at how beautifully the game is being preserved here in Cooperstown," Raul Sr. said. "You see things that are legendary. Not just the excellence of the Hall of Fame, but the snapshots in time, where, for one moment, you were involved in something great. I texted (former Phillies teammate) Eric Bruntlett a photo of his jersey from his unassisted triple play, and he was so fired up to see it. Also, (teammate) Wilson Valdez's cap from this year (when Valdez, a position player, earned a victory on the mound in an extra-inning game). To be on the field for both of those moments that are represented in the Hall of Fame, it really hit home what it is to be part of the history of the game."

Raul Sr. is currently a free agent. The 39-year-old veteran outfielder played three seasons with Philadelphia. He posted a .245 average with 20 homeruns and 84 RBI in 144 games for the Phillies in 2011.

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Monday, November 7, 2011

Arizona Fall League Updates, 11/7/11

Today we're taking a glance at Phillies developmental talents playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League, through Sunday, November 6th.

First baseman/third baseman Cody Overbeck has been excellent, posting a .339 average with 2 doubles, a triple, a HR and 6 RBI through 17 AFL games. The 25-year-old Overbeck, also sports an on-base percentage of .451. The righty batting slugger mashed 24 regular season homeruns, combined, for Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2011.

Outfielder Tyson Gillies has played in 19 games and posted an unimpressive .197 with 2 doubles and a homerun, 5 RBI and 12 walks. The 23-year-old Gillies, who has been sidelined with hamstring and foot injuries over the past two years, has only made one stolen base attempt in AFL play.

Darin Ruf, a first baseman, has slugged 3 homers and driven in 13 runs, but has had a tough time overall, batting just .223 in 16 games. The 25-year-old was a 20th round draft pick in 2009 by Philadelphia. He posted an .894 OPS in 133 games with Class A Advanced Clearwater in 2011.

Righty hurler Tyler Cloyd has posted a 1-3 record with a 5.73 ERA in 6 starts for Scottsdale. Cloyd, who had a strong second half of the 2011 season with the Double-A Reading Phillies (6-3, 2.78 ERA, 18 games), has struck out 20 batters in 22 innings, but opposing batters have had considerable success against him, hitting .303. The 24-year-old was an 18th round draft choice by the Phillies in 2008.

In 6 relief outings, B.J. Rosenberg has not looked too solid, posting a 0-1 record with a 5.14 ERA. The 26-year-old righty was once a fast rising relief prospect, but has had a difficult time over the past two years after pitching for Team USA following the 2009 season.

23-year-old right-hander Colby Shreve had also struggled, walking just as many as he has struck out, 7, while serving up a .324 opponents batting average and tallying a 6.00 ERA through 8 AFL appearances. Shreve had some ups and downs during the 2011 regular season, moving from the starting rotation to the bullpen for Class A Lakewood, but improved in relief and earned a promotion to High A Clearwater. Overall in 40 regular season games, Shreve posted a 2.87 ERA and a .268 batting average against while striking out 79 batters in 84 2/3 innings.

On a better note, lefty pitcher Jake Diekman has allowed just 1 hit in 8 1/3 innings without serving up an earned run. The 24-year-old reliever took part in the AFL Rising Stars Game on Saturday, throwing 2/3 of an inning without being charged a run. Diekman held opponents to a .199 batting average during the 2011 regular season with Reading. In addition, the Nebraska native averaged 11.49 strike outs per 9 innings this past season.

Lastly, former Phillies outfield prospect Anthony Gose has posted a .242 batting average with 5 doubles, 3 triples and 3 homeruns while swiping 6 bases in 22 games for Phoenix. The 21-year-old stands a good shot at breaking into the big leagues in 2012 with the Blue Jays. Gose was dealt to Houston as part of a trade for Roy Oswalt in 2010 then was quickly flipped to Toronto in another swap.
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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday School: Phillies History Lesson 96

Relief pitcher Larry Andersen spent two different stints with the Phillies, once in the 1980's and another in the 1990's. The right-hander was originally selected in the 7th round of the 1971 amateur draft by the Cleveland Indians out of high school.

Andersen made his Major League debut with the Indians in 1975 as a 22-year-old and posted a 4.76 ERA in 3 relief outings. He went back to the minors for the 1976 season, but returned to the big show in 1977 for 11 games.

Following the 1979 season, Andersen was dealt to Pittsburgh, but never appeared at the big league level for the Pirates. Following the 1980 season, the native of Washington state was sent to Seattle as a player to be named later in a swap from much earlier in the year.

As a member of the Mariners, Andersen became a mainstay out of the bullpen, appearing in 81 games over two seasons. In his debut campaign with the M's, Andersen looked sharp, posting a 2.66 ERA with a 3-3 record. However, the following year, his ERA shot up to 5.99 and led to him being sent back to a National League club.

In 1983, the Phillies purchased Andersen's contract from the Mariners. Andersen would add depth to the Phils' relief corps and helped the team lock down the NL pennant. Andersen pitched in two games of the World Series against the Baltimore Orioles that year.

The next year, in his first full season with the Phillies, Andersen tallied an impressive streak of 33 consecutive scoreless innings in relief, the second longest stretch of its kind in team history. In 64 appearances that year, Andersen threw 90 2/3 innings and notched an outstanding ERA of 2.38.

Andersen rolled that exceptional campaign right into the next season, beginning the year with 15 straight scoreless frames. He struggled through the second half of the season, however, and ended 1985 with a 4.32 ERA in 57 outings.

After hitting a rough patch to open the 1986 season, Andersen was released by the Phillies in May. He was soon signed by the Houston Astros, where he was a key contributor out of the bullpen for more than four years.

As a 37-year-old in 1990, Andersen had a particularly great season, posting a 1.95 ERA in 50 games and was in high demand for the eventual NL East division champion Boston Red Sox. In what became one of the most notorious trades in MLB history, the Astros worked a deal to acquire future Houston legend, NL most valuable player and four-time All-Star Jeff Bagwell, straight up for the aging Larry Eugene Andersen.

The following off-season, Andersen signed as a free agent with San Diego, where he would record a career high 13 saves in 1991. Recurring arm trouble limited his activity with the Padres.

In 1993, Andersen returned to Philadelphia as a free agent. His first season back with the Phillies was marked by another post-season run. In 64 games that year, Andersen was excellent, as he sported a 3-2 record and 2.92 ERA in 64 regular season games.

The veteran wasn't as solid in the post-season, as he combined to post a 13.50 ERA in 7 combined outings in the National League Championship Series and in the World Series.

Off-season knee surgery led to trouble in 1994, as multiple trips to the disabled list ended Andersen's season in July.

After not making the Phillies roster out of spring training in 1995, Andersen served as a player/coach for Double-A Reading. He spent the next two seasons as a pitching coach in the Phillies developmental ranks before he was added to the big league broadcast team in 1998, where he has worked ever since.

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Friday, November 4, 2011

Thome Returning to Philadelphia

Jim Thome is coming back to Philadelphia. Phillies.com's Todd Zolecki broke the news Friday evening that the Phillies and the 41-year-old first baseman/designated hitter had reached an agreement on a one-year contract.

Thome, who ranks 8th all-time with 604 career regular season homeruns, is a lock to someday be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, however the veteran of 21 big league seasons has never won a World Series. Joining the steady National League favorite Phillies gives him a great opportunity to acquire that elusive world championship ring.

Thome posted a .256 batting average with 15 HR and 50 RBI in 93 combined games for Minnesota and Cleveland in 2011.

Details of the contract were not available.
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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Aussie League Rolling Again

The second season of the revamped Australian Baseball League gets under way this weekend. Over the years, the ABL had previous incarnations that failed. The current version debuted in 2010 as a new entity that is jointly owned by Major League Baseball (75%) and the Australian Baseball Federation (25%). The league features many American players and coaches, plenty of which are employed by MLB affiliated clubs in the United States.

The league down under consists of six teams and has the potential to grow in the coming years, provided the fan attention progresses with it.

According to former Phillies minor league hurler Mike McGuire, who will pitch for the Canberra Cavalry, he's enjoying the exposure to a different culture and the popularity of the sport is growing greater.

"The experience has been great so far," McGuire said. "I'm staying with a great family and the people and Aussie players are so helpful, making sure (American players) are comfortable here. We start our season Friday night and, from what I've heard, we have the best fans in the league. The support here is tremendous, as baseball is getting more and more popular each year. They really appreciate Americans coming over and playing for the community."

McGuire, who pitched in relief for the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers and the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws in 2011, stands 6-feet-7-inches tall and weighs around 250 pounds. The big University of Delaware product will serve as the opening day starter for the Cavalry, according to manager Steve Schrenk, who was McGuire's pitching coach with Lakewood.

Schrenk, who pitched in the Major Leagues with the Phillies, has been coaching in the Philadelphia organization since 2004. The 42-year-old is excited for the new season to get underway and almost feels right at home, as he is surrounded by familiar settings at the baseball field and has some countrymen by his side.

"We have several pro players from the USA. Looks like our team is going to be good offensively with some strong starting pitching. Weather has been great. Ready to get going. Opening night is (Friday), Nov 4th."

The Cavalry's opening night contest is against the Brisbane Bandits, who are managed by another former Phillie, Kevin Jordan. The 41-year-old has been coaching in the Phillies organization since 2007.

Jordan's club also includes some players with Phillies ties, including catcher Joel Naughton, infielder Alan Schoenberger. Naughton and Schoenberger, both native Australians, have played in the Philadelphia developmental ranks in recent years.

Canberra and Brisbane were the two teams that missed the playoffs in last season's ABL action.

Stay tuned to PhoulBallz.com throughout the off-season for more updates from the Australian Baseball League and other winter organizations.

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Cardinals Remind Everyone What is Possible

On August 25 the St. Louis Cardinals were coming off a 3 game losing streak as they had won just 3 of their last 10 sports betting matchups and were given up for dead in the National League wild card playoff race, as they were over 10 games behind the Atlanta Braves who seemed to be cruising along towards the post season. But St. Louis manager Tony LaRussa is as tough as they come and never gives up on a single pitch. LaRussa is relentless and his team reflected his character as they still came to play every single day and amazingly enough got back into the playoff race in September with a phenomenal run that coincided with the collapse of the Braves. The Cardinals went 23-9 down the stretch to steal the wild card spot from the Braves, who just died at their home of Turner Field with a chance to clinch the playoffs there against Philadelphia. At the end of the day this was a great lesson on how the marathon baseball season is truly “not over until it’s over.”

The Cardinals certainly showed signs of being a team that could pull of such a feat as they ranked 5th best in Major League Baseball for run production and 12th for staff earned run average. St. Louis was equally tough at home or on the road as they won 45 games as a host and racked up 45 more wins away from Busch Stadium.

Another major factor in the Cardinals advantage was their veteran presence on the roster with such stars as Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman, Yadier Molina, and Matt Holliday. The veteran lineup gave St. Louis the toughness and perspective of a long season and the guts to take on the number one seed Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Division Series and pull off a stunning 3-2 upset. Another tough veteran, starting pitcher Chris Carpenter, went “old school” with a complete game win to clinch the series at Philly for a huge sports betting upset.

The Cardinals' toughness and determination proved to be the difference in a 4-2 series win over the talented but soft and sloppy Milwaukee Brewers for the National League pennant.

In the World Series, the Cardinals simply refused to die, as they kept coming back against the Texas Rangers including a game 6 for the ages when they were down to their last strike and twice rallied in the late innings to take the series to a 7th game, which they won going away.

With toughness, resilience, determination, and retro attitude the Cardinals proved to be an inspiring champion.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Phillies On Deck, Vol. 2: De Fratus & Aumont

From time to time this off-season, we'll take a look at young players within the Phillies organization that could impact the big league roster in 2012. In this edition, relievers Justin De Fratus and Phillippe Aumont will be the focus, as they target filling out a Philadelphia bullpen that has multiple potential vacancies.

With the Phillies' refusal of Brad Lidge's option and with free agent Ryan Madson possibly on the move out of town, the club has some openings up for grabs in the coming season. A pair of young fireballers stand a great shot at filling those voids on the roster for the five-time defending National League East division champions.

Righty hurlers Justin De Fratus and Phillippe Aumont are two of the top candidates to make a big splash on the Phillies pitching staff next year. Each of the two relievers looked sharp at two levels of the developmental ranks this year.

De Fratus was drafted in the 11th round of the 2007 amateur draft by the Phillies. Often praised for his control, De Fratus has seen his stock rise based on his improved abilities to get batters to swing and miss. In recent years, the 6-foot-4-inch 220-pounder has seen his K/9 rate go from 8.84 in 2008 and 2009, to 9.83 in 2010, then to 11.86 in 2011.

The California native, De Fratus, has a repertoire that includes a fastball that tops out at 96 MPH, a slider which he improved in the Arizona Fall League last year after working with former Major Leaguer Ricky Bones and a deceptive change up.

Combined with Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2011, De Fratus posted a 6-3 record with 15 saves, a 2.99 ERA and a .227 batting average against.

The exceptional efforts during his minor league campaign earned De Fratus a promotion to the big leagues in September. In 5 games with the Phillies, the 23-year-old held opponents to a .083 batting average and posted a 2.25 ERA.

Another relief pitcher on the verge of cracking the big league roster is Quebec native Phillippe Aumont, who was acquired as part of the return from Seattle in the December 2009 Cliff Lee trade. Initially, Aumont struggled in the Phils' system, as he was moved from the bullpen to the starting rotation. He began the 2010 season in Double-A Reading and went 1-6 with a 7.43 ERA in 11 starts before being demoted to Class A Advanced Clearwater. Back in his more familiar role as a reliever, in 2011, Aumont shined.

The 22-year-old held opponents to a .216 batting average and struck out 78 batters in 53 2/3 innings pitched in 43 combined games for Reading and Lehigh. In addition, Aumont posted a 2-5 record with 7 saves and a 2.68 ERA.

Aumont is an imposing figure that overpowers the competition not just physically, but with his intensity as well. The 6-foot-7-inch 255-pounder sports a four-seam fastball that registered at 97-98 MPH regularly throughout the 2011 season. Originally a first round draft choice of the Mariners in 2007, Aumont's repertoire also includes a strong curveball, a sinker and a split, all of which give Aumont the type of focus and swagger that should translate well as he continues to ascend up the developmental ranks.

Together, De Fratus and Aumont helped lead the Lehigh Valley IronPigs into the postseason in 2011. Each of these youngsters have much to prove in order to earn a spot with the Phillies, but both are focused on earning a roster spot next year. With some veterans on the move, arms like De Fratus' and Aumont's will be closely watched in spring training and given opportunities to become the next pitchers to rock those red Phillies pinstripes and make an impact.

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Diekman Set to Shine Among AFL Stars

The Arizona Fall League's Rising Stars Game is set to be played on Saturday, November 5th at 8 PM EST. The exhibition contest that features many top prospects from all across baseball will be televised nationally on MLB Network.

Left-handed pitcher Jake Diekman, a 30th round draft choice in 2007, will be the Phillies' lone representative, as he will be among the relievers for the East division squad.

Thus far in 7 appearances for the Scottsdale Scorpions, the 6-foot-4-inch 190-pound Diekman has not allowed a run or a hit. In 7 1/3 innings, Diekman has struck out 9 opponents and walked 5.

Last year, Diekman was summoned to the Arizona Fall League late, to fill a roster void left when John Mayberry Jr. suffered an injury. Diekman's efforts weren't as outstanding during that stint, as he did not expect to compete in the AFL. Diekman had a difficult time adjusting to the surprise, allowing 12 earned runs in 3 2/3 innings over 5 outings.

Diekman discribes that experience as a disappointing one, but feels it was an opportunity to grow.

"That was a downer," Diekman stated. "That was probably the worst month I've ever had, both mentally and physically. But it teaches you how to throw backwards and throw all your pitches for strikes. Like, there might be some lead-off guys (in Double-A) that you know they're gonna swing first pitch, so you just drop a slider in there and freeze them. It just taught me how to pitch to hitters at a higher level."

The 24-year-old bounced back in the 2011 regular season with the Double-A Reading Phillies as he sported a 0-1 record with 3 saves, a 3.05 ERA and a .199 batting average against.

Diekman, a Nebraska native, sports a pitch repertoire that includes a fastball, a slider and a change up. He added a couple notches of velocity this year after receiving advice from Williamsport pitching coach Lance Carter, in spring training, to lower his arm angle when playing long toss. The increased speed helped Diekman in match ups against opposing batters, as he saw his K/9 rate shoot up from 9.05 in 2010 to 11.49 in 2011.

As the Phillies move forward with several well-regarded righty hurlers like Justin De Fratus, Michael Schwimer, Phillippe Aumont, Trevor May, Austin Hyatt and others, Diekman is on a short list of left-handers that have the potential to reach the highest levels of the organization.

Diekman realizes it's a long road ahead to reach the big leagues. He has a simple mentality moving forward and a solid focus on what he needs to do in order to make his dreams a reality.

"I've just got to keep pitching! I've still got a long ways to go. Every now and then, my arm slot will go up and down, but I've just got to keep it consistent, where it is now."

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Other players set to see action in autumn's version of The MLB Futures Game include Angels top prospect Mike Trout, 18-year-old Nats phenom Bryce Harper, Blue Jays outfielder and former Phils prospect Anthony Gose as well as Royals hurler Nate Adcock, who pitched in 24 big league games in 2011.
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