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Showing posts from January, 2012

Addition of Qualls is Potentially Bad News

Today the Phillies announced the signing of RHP Chad Qualls to a one-year $1.15 million contract. Qualls, a 33-year-old reliever, who has 8 seasons of big league experience, most recently pitched with the Padres in 2011. With San Diego, Qualls posted a 6-8 record with a 3.51 ERA in 77 appearances. However, in 2010, over 70 combined games with Arizona and Tampa Bay, Qualls struggled a considerable amount, as he sported a 3-4 record with a 7.32 ERA. In 537 career outings, all in relief, Qualls, a University of Nevada, Reno product, has posted a 38-34 record with a 3.78 ERA and a .263 batting average against. Generally, an inexpensive commitment for a veteran arm, even one with an up and down track record, isn’t something to be greatly concerned with, but considering the effect that Qualls’ presence could have on the future on the team as well as his career numbers at the Phillies’ home park this is not an acquisition that Philadelphia fans should be pleased with. As PhilliesNation’s

Prospect Nation 2012: #18 LHP Jake Diekman

Lefty reliever Jake Diekman raised his value a considerable amount in 2011. The 6-foot-4-inch 190-pounder was fresh off a dismal effort in the Arizona Fall League, over the off-season, when a revised focus and some simple adjustments to his loosening efforts breathed new life into the young hurler's pro career. After struggling in the Arizona Fall League in 2010, when he allowed 12 earned runs in 3 2/3 innings over 5 outings, Diekman refocused his approach on the mound. Diekman entered the 2011 season with a goal of throwing all his pitches for strikes and getting into a hitter's mentality in order to mix up his approach toward the opposition. That approach helped the Phillies' 30th round draft choice from 2007 compete against hitters at the higher levels of the minors. The 25-year-old Diekman sports a pitch repertoire that includes a fastball, a slider and a change up. In 2011, the Nebraska native added a couple notches of velocity after receiving advice from for

Steve Noworyta Interview

Last week at the Phillies' winter banquet stop in Lakewood, NJ, I had the opportunity to chat with the team's assistant director of minor league operations Steve Noworyta. Among the developmental topics we discussed, he commented on a pair of players who have had disciplinary issues, namely Stephen Malcolm ( sent home by the Phils for the full 2011 season ) and Zach Collier (50 game suspension related to banned substances, beginning at the start of the 2012 season). I also asked Noworyta about the recent rookie developmental program in Philadelphia, lefty pitcher Jesse Biddle as well as last year's draft class. To hear the full interview, including some unfortunate background noise, check out the media player below. _____________________________________________________________ You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE . Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE .

Prospect Nation 2012: #19 3B Maikel Franco

Maikel Franco has quickly caught plenty of attention around minor league baseball. The Dominican Republic native, whose name is pronounced similarly to Miquel, was signed by the Phillies in 2010 as an amateur free agent. The 6-foot-1-inch 180-pounder began his pro career with the Gulf Coast League Phillies in 2010. As that club’s everyday third baseman, Franco posted respectable numbers for a 17-year-old making his professional debut (.222/.292/.330). It was Franco’s defense, however, that immediately began to get him noticed. With excellent reflexes and a top notch arm at the hot corner, Franco impressed many in his U.S. debut. A year later, Franco began the season in extended spring training and later competed with the short-season Williamsport Crosscutters. The righty hitting Franco looked great against NY-Penn League competition, posting 2 homers, 28 RBI and a .274/.339/.389 line in 42 games before earning a promotion to Class A Lakewood. As an 18-year-old in the South At

Manuel Has Plans For Thome

This off-season the Phillies improved their offense quite a bit by adding multiple free agent reserve types. One of those acquisitions, Jim Thome , is a familiar face that made the man who is in charge of the team each game day extremely pleased. Phils' manager Charlie Manuel knows what Jim Thome can do and looks forward to the type of contributions Thome will make on and off the field. Manuel coached and managed Thome during the 1990's and early-2000's in Cleveland, and then managed Thome again in Philadelphia in 2005. Thome, who ranks 8th among MLB sluggers all-time in homeruns with 604, solidifies a Phillies bench that lacked power last year, especially from the left side. Manuel, the most winning manager in team history, knew from Thome's days as an emerging power hitter, that the now 41-year-old would become an elite slugger in the sport. "I've been around Jimmy about the first fifteen years of his career. I'll tell you something, when I look a

Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. Interview

This week, the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws hosted their annual Phillies banquet at the Woodlake Country Club in Lakewood, NJ. Prior to the event that raised money for BlueClaws charities, I had the opportunity to sit down with Philadelphia general manager to discuss various organizational subjects. Ruben spoke about the Wilson Valdez for Jeremy Horst trade, highly regarded pitching prospect Jesse Biddle, Domonic Brown's future, last year's draft class and plenty more. Check out the media player below to listen to the full one-on-one interview with Ruben Amaro Jr. To check out my previous interviews with Ruben, click HERE and HERE . ___________________________________________________________ You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE . Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE .

Prospect Nation 2012: #20 RHP J.C. Ramirez

For more than two years, righty hurler J.C. Ramirez has been primed to become an impact prospect in the Phillies system, but inconsistency seems to be preventing the Nicaragua native from truly proving himself as a dependable talent. Last season, Ramirez spent the entire season in the Double-A Reading Phillies’ starting rotation, where he got off to a scorching hot start in April, going 4-0 with a 1.03 ERA and a .187 batting average against in 4 starts, but his output fizzled quite a bit after that. Ramirez posted an overall record of 11-13, an ERA of 4.50 and .258 batting average against in 26 starts for the R-Phils. After the All-Star break, Ramirez struggled considerably, tallying a 5.92 ERA and a .305 BAA in 10 outings. It’s possible the 23-year-old experienced fatigue, after he was initially thought to be fully recovered from off-season hip surgery. The wear and tear was rumored to have resulted in nagging discomfort that Ramirez decided to play through. Regularly praised fo

Brummett Commanding Attention in Venezuela

Righty hurler Tyson Brummett, who pitched with the Double-A Reading Phillies and Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs in 2011, has been a star on the mound for the Tiburones de La Guaira in the Venezuelan Winter League down the stretch. Recently, the UCLA product locked down a win that clinched a trip to the league championship series. In the outing, Brummett struck out nine batter while allowing just 1 run on 5 hits in 6 innings. The Tiburones will face off with the Tigres de Aragua in the best-of-seven title series. Among Brummett’s K victims was former Philadelphia outfielder Endy Chavez, who struck out twice against the Phils’ 7th round draft pick from 2007. In three regular season starts for the Tiburones, the 27-year-old Brummett posted a 1-0 record with a 1.59 ERA and a .195 batting average against. The 6-foot 185-pounder was the starting pitcher for Reading's finale in the Eastern League playoffs when they fell in the deciding game to the eventual champion New Hampshire Fis

Prospect Nation 2012: #21 1B Cody Overbeck

Cody Overbeck has proven himself to be an impact slugger after slamming 48 total homeruns and driving in 154 runs across three levels of the Philadelphia developmental ranks from 2010-2011. Throughout his time in the Philadelphia system, Overbeck, who is regarded for his quick hands and his ability to drive the ball, has been valuable to every lineup he has swung a bat for. Formerly a third baseman through his first three seasons in the minor leagues, Overbeck, a 6-foot-1-inch 200-pounder, dabbled in the outfield and was primarily a first baseman in 2011 with Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The experience for Overbeck increased his versatility. This past season, the right-handed hitting Overbeck wrecked Eastern League pitching to the tune of a .275 batting average, 18 HR and 46 RBI through 62 games with the Double-A Reading Phillies before he was promoted to the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Under manager Ryne Sandberg, Overbeck had a slow start, but came back strong

Prospect Nation 2012: #22 RHP David Buchanan

Righty hurler David Buchanan has proven himself as a guy on the fast track upward in the developmental ranks. The 22-year-old ripped through Class A South Atlantic League competition, leading his manager, former big leaguer Chris Truby to describe him as "the most consistent pitcher in the league". The Lakewood BlueClaws' horse became the starting pitcher for the SAL Northern Division All-Star team in 2011. In 20 starts, Buchanan went 11-5 with a 3.38 ERA and a .246 batting average against with Lakewood before being promoted for the final month of the season. As a member of the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers, Buchanan posted considerable numbers through his first five outings, sporting a 3-1 record with a 3.07 ERA. A weak final start to his 2011 campaign (4 ER, 8 hits, 3 innings) largely effected his Clearwater stats. The 6-foot-3-inch 190-pounder used his sweeping delivery and an arsenal of a fastball that registers in the low-90's, a developing slid

Nearly Recovered, d'Arnaud Looks Forward

The following piece originally appeared on one of my other internet homes, 1BlueJaysWay . Back in October, we reported on a thumb injury that top Blue Jays prospect Travis d'Arnaud suffered while competing with Team USA. The reigning Eastern League Most Valuable Player felt a pop after "catching a ball wrong". The 22-year-old was soon diagnosed with a ligament tear in his thumb. d'Arnaud, who was acquired from the Phillies in 2009 as part of the Roy Halladay trade, required surgery and has been rehabbing the repaired hand ever since, to get ready for the upcoming season. According to the All-Star catcher he'll be ready for spring training and doesn't expect to miss a beat in 2012. "My hand feels great," d'Arnaud said. "Rehab went well. I went to (the Sports Medicine Institute) in Anaheim, California and went for about two months of rehab. My thumb feels normal. Now, I just need to get accustomed to catching bullpens and such."

Prospect Nation 2012: #23 RHP Garett Claypool

Right-handed pitcher Garett Claypool is a UCLA product that was selected in the 11th round of the 2010 draft by the Phillies. The 6-foot-2-inch 175-pounder broke out, in 2011, with an All-Star campaign for the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws. Armed with a fastball that ranges from 90-92 MPH, a strong slider which he uses to put hitters away, as well as a curve ball and a change up that are definitely improving, Claypool ranked in the top 10 among South Atlantic League pitchers in several key statistical categories. His ERA (3.47) ranked 8th, and he was tops in strike outs (151). That dominance is even more impressive considering he was 21 K's ahead of the next highest total while only having the 11th highest innings pitched total (137 1/3) in the league. According to Claypool himself, the key to his success has been getting ahead of opposing batters by targeting both sides of the plate with his fastball. He also utilizes a bit of deception with his front side, as he winds up, w

Phillies Prospects Take in Sixers Game

Each January, big league organizations bring several of their brightest prospects to their home city in order to provide the youngsters with a crash course on life at the Major League level. It is known as the MLB Rookie Career Development Program. As a way for the players to witness a live Philadelphia crowd first-hand, the Phillies provided tickets for Wednesday night's Sixers overtime loss to Denver for several of their young talents. Outfielder Jiwan James shot the video featured below of infielder Cesar Hernandez , righty pitcher Julio Rodriguez and catcher Sebastian Valle (in order, left to right) cheering for the hometown team and banging their thunder sticks. Other players in attendance for the program include right-handed hurlers Trevor May , Jonathan Pettibone and Phillippe Aumont . Each of the players named in this post will be included in the currently-in-progress 2012 Top 25 Phillies Prospects countdown. Check back here in the coming weeks to see

Phillies, Hamels Agree to 1 Year Deal

Avoiding arbitration, the Phillies and left-handed hurler Cole Hamels have agreed on a one-year contract worth $15 million, as reported by multiple sources on Tuesday. The deal sets a record as the highest salary paid to an arbitration-eligible pitcher prior to him reaching free agency. The previous record was the $12.4 million that the Chicago Cubs paid Carlos Zambrano in 2007. Incentive bonuses in Hamels’ new deal include $100,000 for being named National League Most Valuable Player, $250,000 for the NL Cy Young Award, $100,000 for World Series MVP and $50,000 for each of the following- League Championship Series MVP, Gold Glove Award, Silver Slugger Award, and an All-Star selection. Hamels is a two-time All-Star and was named MVP of the 2008 World Series when he led the Phillies to their second ever championship. In his career, the 28-year-old Hamels has posted a 74-54 record with a 3.39 ERA and a .237 batting average against in 181 games. In 2011, the California native sported

Prospect Nation 2012: #24- Catcher Cameron Rupp

A blazing hot second half of his 2011 season solidified a spot on this list for catching prospect Cameron Rupp . Following a feeble opening half last season in which he sported a .219 batting average with 2 homeruns and 13 RBI in 48 games, Rupp exploded after the All-Star break, batting .318 with 2 homeruns and 31 RBI in 51 games. Selected in the 3rd round of the 2010 amateur draft out of the University of Texas, Rupp made his professional debut with the short-season Williamsport Crosscutters that season. In 55 games in 2010, Rupp posted a .218 batting average with 5 homeruns and 28 RBI against NY-Penn League competition. Praised for his work ethic on defense, his strong throwing arm, his solid footwork and especially for his ability to lead, Rupp is quickly becoming the complete package on that side of the game. Last season, the 6-foot-2-inch 230-pound Rupp helped a developing collection of young pitchers like David Buchanan , Garett Claypool and Lisalberto Bonilla make t

Prospect Nation 2012: #25- LHP Austin Wright & OF Aaron Altherr

It just so happens that this year's list of top 25 Phillies prospects includes 26 deserving talents. As a result, we have a pair of individuals that simply can't be left off of these annual rankings brought to you by PhoulBallz.com and PhilliesNation.com. Two men tied for the number 25 spot on our list. Austin Wright , an 8th round draft selection last year, prevailed as a tremendous talent in his few short months of professional baseball. The 6-foot-4-inch 235-pound left-hander was a JuCo standout and later transferred to Ole Miss, where he lived up to his parents' dreams of him pitching in the Southeastern Conference. Previously selected in the 23rd round by the Boston Red Sox in 2010, Wright chose not to sign at that time. Wright, an Illinois native that grew up as a Cubs fan, idolizing impressive pitchers such as Kerry Wood and Mark Prior , capitalized on a strong confidence in his own abilities and improving control to sport a 4-3 overall record, a 3.03 ER

Prospect Nation 2012: The Prelude

It's time once again for everybody to come aboard the PROSPECT TRAIN! With just over five weeks until pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater, FL to officially kick off spring training, we'll be spending this time reviewing our exclusive rankings of the top 25 prospects in the Phillies' organization. Taken into consideration when reviewing these young talents will be age, minor league performance relative to levels played, value to the organization and future potential. Gradually, over the comings weeks, as we approach a new season with hopes higher than Snoop Dogg on his marijuana stocked tour bus, we will be unveiling player reviews for all of the best developmental talent that Phils fans should be familiar with. These rankings will not include players over 25-years-old or individuals that have spent multiple stints with the Phillies at the big league level. Thus, players like Domonic Brown , Joe Savery and Matt Rizzotti will not be featured. Some terrifical

Romero Settlement "Validates" Phils' Title

Back in 2008, Phillies lefty reliever J.C. Romero tested positive for banned substances and was subsequently suspended for the first 50 games of the 2009 season. Some felt the findings in Romero's test tainted the World Series victory by Philadelphia that year. Romero contested that he had only used supplements purchased at local vitamin chains and the companies responsible for those items should be held accountable for mislabeling their products. Romero took his issues to court, filing lawsuits in New Jersey Superior Court in early 2009 that named GNC and Vitamin Shoppe as defendants in addition to the manufacturing companies, Ergopharm and Proviant Technologies. According to the NY Daily News , testing done on the vitamins revealed that they were tainted with the banned substance, androstenedione, that Romero tested positive for. This month, nearly three years later, Romero has reached a settlement, which Romero hopes will clear his name and provide closure for Philadelphi

Larkin Named to Hall of Fame

On Monday, the Baseball Writers' Association of America announced that former Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin has been voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The 12-time All-Star was chosen on 495 of 573 ballots (86%), well above the necessary 75 percent. This year marked Larkin's third time on the ballot. He fell 75 votes short of making it into the Hall last year. Larkin, who was named National League MVP in 1995, will be inducted July 22nd in Cooperstown, NY along with the late Ron Santo, who was elected by the Veterans Committee. Over his 19-year career with the Reds, Larkin posted a .295 average along with with 198 HR, 960 RBI, 2,340 hits, 1,329 runs scored and 379 stolen bases. I don't wish to debate Larkin's place in history or his worthiness for votes, however, it is likely that the nine-time Silver Slugger Award winner and three-time Gold Glove Award winner, received a boost from voters thanks to the limited options available for induction

Off-Season Check In: Austin Hyatt

Throughout the autumn and winter months, I have been checking in with various Phillies minor league players to inquire about how they try to maintain their baseball acumen during the long, drawn-out off-season. This edition features 2009's 15th round draft selection, righty pitcher Austin Hyatt . As a member of the Double-A Reading Phillies in 2011, the 25-year-old Hyatt was named an Eastern League All-Star as he sported a 12-6 record with a 3.85 ERA while striking out 171 batters in 154 1/3 innings. As solid as Hyatt's stats seem over his 28 starts, he really turned things on after the All-Star break, going 5-1 with a 2.78 ERA and a .221 batting average against. The 6-foot-3-inch 205-pounder took some time to answer some questions, from his home in Georgia this week, about his off-season routine, his goals for the upcoming season and more. Read ahead to check out what Austin had to say. -How much time off do you take from throwing during the off-season and what's yo

South Jersey's Bailey to Host CHOP Benefit

Boston Red Sox pitcher Andrew Bailey, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, the Phillie Phanatic, former Phillies Ricky Bottalico and Mitch Williams, as well as former Eagle Vince Papale and legendary World Wrestling Entertainment ring announcer Howard Finkel all in the same place? Yes, that's happening. This Saturday, January 7th, All-Star hurler Bailey, along with his wife Amanda, will host the Bailey Bowl, a charity bowling event for the Strike 3 Foundation set to raise money for the Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia and pediatric cancer research. The bowl-a-rama is set to take place at 7 p.m. at the Pinsetter Bar and Bowl on Maple Avenue in Pennsauken, NJ. Admission to the event is $175 at the door. Bailey, a right-handed closer, was born in nearby Voorhees and attended Paul VI High School in Haddonfield. The three-year big league veteran was traded from Oakland to Boston last week in a 5-player deal. Sponsors of the Bailey Bowl include Joe Canal's Liquor, Wilson, Play

Sandberg, Wathan & Morandini Set For Winter Tour

Two Phillies developmental managers are set to make stops at their new homes and a Hall of Famer will be in the house, when the organization's winter tour stops come through the region later this month. On Tuesday, the Reading Phillies (Class Double-A) and the Lakewood BlueClaws (Class A) announced a trio of additions to their lineups for the 2012 Phillies Winter Banquet tour stops. Baseball great Ryne Sandberg and first year Reading manager Dusty Wathan (pictured) have been added to the banquet in Reading on Tuesday, January 24th at The Crowne Plaza Reading Hotel. Meanwhile, it was also revealed that new BlueClaws skipper Mickey Morandini will join the lineup of featured guests at the banquet event in Lakewood on Wednesday, January 25th. Sandberg, Wathan and Morandini were all Phillies on the field during their playing days but have now proven to be top managerial prospects in the Phils' system. Wathan and Morandini were each promoted up one level this off-season. The 38-

Year in Review: Top Posts From 2011

As a review of the year that has just passed, I thought of taking a look at the most viewed material that this site produced during 2011. Generally, the most popular draws for PhoulBallz.com are interviews, and while those appear on the list multiple times, it was prospect reviews, some exclusive insider tips and a one dose of misinformation that filled out the remainder of the top ten. Have a look at the list of 2011's most popular entries from the site... 10- Phillies pitchers press conference. Prior to the season, everyone around the baseball world was excited about the Phils' staff of ace hurlers. Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt and Joe Blanton all sat down with the media and PhoulBallz posted the highlights. 9- Phils prospect Malcolm sent home. Infielder Stephen Malcolm was suspended for misconduct during spring training and PhoulBallz had details on the story when no one else did. 8- Wing Bowl 19 images. Simply put... I took some pictures at Wi

Red Pinstripe Resolutions

Over on one of my other internet homes, PhilliesNation.com, top guy Pat Gallen surveyed the contributors of that site for New Year's resolutions pertaining to the Phillies. Included were several interesting points of view including concerns related to Charlie Manuel, Placido Polanco and Cole Hamels. Read ahead for my thoughts on this roundtable subject... My resolution is for the fans. To the Philadelphia faithful that sell out the Phillies' home park on a daily basis, stop acting a fool. Many members of the fan base despise the manner in which they are depicted by the national media and while pointing out how other city's ticket holders don't get generalized in the same fashion, however the Philadelphia region's fans have continued to fail themselves in recent years. We're all familiar with the events when individuals who lacked good judgement, while in attendance at Citizens Bank Park, caused mischief , violated others or took violence to the ultimate leve