Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hyatt Set to Kick Off 2012 for Phils

As exhilarating as finding out you’re starting the first game of the preseason schedule might sound, there was nothing overly dramatic about the way Austin Hyatt learned he’d be the guy who gets the 2012 campaign rolling for the Phillies on Wednesday afternoon in Clearwater, FL. The right-hander found out he would be pitching in Philadelphia's exhibition opener against the Florida State Seminoles via a list posted on the clubhouse wall. It was just another day of work for the 25-year-old Hyatt.

Hyatt, an Eastern League All-Star last year, is excited to get a brand new season of Phillies baseball rolling. Expected to throw 2 innings, followed by a lengthy list of other pitchers that includes lefties Jake Diekman, Jeremy Horst, and Joe Savery along with right-handers J.C. Ramirez, Phillippe Aumont and B.J. Rosenberg, Hyatt expressed his high level of enthusiasm for the outing, despite the dull manner in which he discovered he’d be making the start.

"It's an honor to start that game and launch a new year," Hyatt said in a phone interview this week. "I'm looking forward to it. It's exciting. I haven't pitched on the Brighthouse Field, there, since I was in the Florida State League a couple years back, so it'll be fun to get back on that mound."

As a member of the Class-A Advanced Clearwater Threshers in 2010, Hyatt was named the Florida State League’s Pitcher of the Year, when he posted a 12-5 record with a 3.32 ERA and 181 strike outs in 146 1/3 innings pitched.

Typically, the Phils use younger pitchers and a few individuals that are in big league camp for the first time for their initial annual exhibition game against the FSU team. Knowing those facts, news of the start did not catch Hyatt by surprise.

At times, Hyatt, a 15th round draft selection out of the University of Alabama in 2009, has been in awe of his surroundings at big league camp, with all the Phillies established star power. One well known major leaguer that is no stranger to drawing the attention of younger players is Roy Halladay, who has made a considerable impression on the Georgia native, Hyatt, as part of his group for daily workouts.

"(Halladay) is all business in between the lines," Hyatt stated with an inflection of wonderment. "He goes out there and works hard. He runs every drill full-speed and he's in there, in the weight room, all the time just getting after it and working hard. Just seeing a guy with that much big league experience and success still that hungry to go out there and work the way that he does is just a really cool thing."

And despite the great levels of exhilaration from being in camp among the elite talents of the Phillies’ roster, the 6-foot-3-inch 205-pound Hyatt has been able to relax and enjoy his time among teammates that he considers close friends away from the game.

"It's great to be here with so many guys I played with last year. Phillippe (Aumont), (Jake) Diekman and (Justin) De Fratus were all my roommates, so we're really close. And then with guys like J.C. (Ramirez) and (Freddy) Galvis, a lot of guys I've played with, it makes it a lot easier and makes coming to camp a lot more comfortable, knowing you get to share it with these guys," Hyatt said.

Overall, Hyatt may be behind the likes of Kyle Kendrick and Joel Pineiro as alternates for the big league starting rotation, in case injuries or other needs arise, but Hyatt is simply focused on absorbing as much as he can from the established names around camp for as long as he can. Beyond that, Hyatt just wants to do his job well and wait his turn for that first real big league start.
_______________________________________________________

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

PN Round Table: Spring Training Excitement

This week over on PhilliesNation.com, the writing staff, including myself, answered the question, "What are you looking forward to seeing most during Spring Training?" My focus, of course, is generally on the younger guys and minor leaguers, so I shared my thoughts on which prospect I would be most looking forward to seeing perform in Grapefruit League action. Read ahead for my answer and check out the full roundtable post over on PhilliesNation.


Jake Diekman is a pitcher I am really looking forward to seeing against Grapefruit League competition this spring. The 25-year-old lefty reliever took great strides in 2011, changing his arm angle during his long toss warm up program, which helped him add some considerable velocity to his fastball, hitting 95 MPH on a regular basis.

With a K/9 rate of 11.49 last year as a member of the Double-A Reading Phillies and a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League in which he held opponents to a .079 batting average in 11 appearances, Diekman has proven himself deserving of a solid look by Phils’ brass this spring.

The 6-foot-4-inch 190-pounder, who was added to the Phils’ 40-man roster this off-season, stands a good chance at making a splash at the big league level this year, if things go his way and needs arise in the Philadelphia bullpen.


To see what other PN contributors had to say about the likes of Domonic Brown, Jonathan Papelbon and others in the upcoming preseason, click THIS LINK.
_________________________________________________________________

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Lidge and Ibanez: The Enemies


The above images feature Brad Lidge sporting the uniform of division rival Washington, while outfielder Raul Ibanez is seen rocking a different color pin stripes than folks might be used to, the New York Yankees' blue. Both pictures seem a bit odd and force me to wonder which one would bother Phillies fans more.

The 35-year-old Lidge is best known for his "perfect" 2008 season, when he led the Phillies to their second ever World Series title by successfully converting all 48 saves chances in the regular and postseason. Ibanez, who will turn 40 years old in June, left the Phillies as a free agent after becoming an All-Star and patrolling leftfield for Philadelphia over the past 3 years.

What is fairly stunning is that this pair that earned an estimated combined total of $24 million in 2011, will now earn a measly total of $2.1 million in base salary with their new organizations in the coming season. Such is the professional life of a pair of aging stars as they move beyond the prime years of their careers.

Last season Lidge seemed to know this type of drop in salary and status was coming. While rehabbing an injury with the Class Double-A Reading team at the same time as outfielder Shane Victorino last July, it was pointed out that Lidge was paying for the minor leaguers' post-game dinner spread because he made more money than Victorino. Lidge's reply to that statement was, "Not for long."

As for Ibanez, it won't be long before his old teammates see him, as the Phillies and Yankees meet on each of the first three days of the Grapefruit League exhibition schedule beginning this coming Saturday, March 3rd.

With these formerly beloved players now wearing enemy colors, it'll be interesting to see the type of adoration the Philadelphia fan base holds onto for each man.
____________________________________________________

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE.

Prospect Nation 2012: #6 RHP Brody Colvin

Right-handed pitcher Brody Colvin had a rather difficult time with Class A Advanced Clearwater in 2011 after making things looks easy with Class A Lakewood the previous year. After cruising through the South Atlantic League to the tune of a 6-8 record with a 3.39 ERA in 27 starts, Colvin's output took a dive with a 3-8 record and a 4.71 ERA in 22 games (21 starts) against Florida State League competition in 2010.

While Colvin's overall stats with Lakewood don't scream for attention, he allowed 0 or 1 runs in 11 different starts in which he did not earn a win during the 2010 season, so it's clear that Colvin's lack of offensive support certainly impacted his win-loss record that year.

As a member of the Clearwater Threshers' staff, Colvin was sidelined in the early going and spent time on the disabled list with a back injury. With some lasting effects of his ailment throughout the season, the St. Thomas More High School (LA) product had a difficult time feeling comfortable on the mound at times and served up a .289 batting average against and posted a 6.02 K/9 average, which were both considerable drop-offs from his previous season's stats (.258 BAA, 7.82 K/9).

Not to be discouraged, Colvin is focused on getting back to 100% with his health so he can once again display exactly why he was such a fast rising prospect a short time ago.

Selected in the 7th round of the 2009 amateur draft, Colvin was originally committed to pitching for Louisiana State University, but signed with the Phillies at the deadline. Colvin made his pro debut that season, appearing in one regular season game for the Gulf Coast League Phillies.

Colvin, who grew up idolizing power pitcher John Smoltz, has a pitch repertoire which features a fastball that has steadily reached 96 MPH, when healthy, as well as an improving circle change up and a curveball with good 12-to-6 movement. Overall, Colvin has shown an improved efficiency with his arsenal, as he has worked hard to develop his pitches and his delivery, often being praised for his pure or electric stuff.

The 6-foot-4-inch 200-pounder has an ideal frame for a pitcher. With so many tools and the physical stature in place, Colvin's biggest improvements could be made between his ears. Small mental lapses on the field and away from it have been a recurring theme for Colvin during his short time as a pro. Prior to the 2010 season Colvin was charged with resisting arrest after a conflict outside a Louisiana night spot. In addition, he was pulled from a game in late 2010 after failing to back up third base when an opposing batter slapped a triple. The mental mistake got Colvin removed from the game immediately and cost him his assignment as the team's number 1 starter going into the postseason that year.

Heading forward in 2012, Colvin is expected to climb the developmental ladder up a level with his "Baby Aces" staff mates and help cement the starting staff for the Double-A Reading Phillies. If hiccups similar to those of last year arise, Colvin could revisit Clearwater, but that should not be considered a likely option.

__________________________________________________________________

Our 2012 prospect countdown index can be found HERE.

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The J-Bone Zone, Vol. 2: Health, Friendships, Valle & Competition

Righty hurler Justin De Fratus, known to his brother Steven and those close to him as "J-Bone", joins us live and direct, once again, from Clearwater, FL to offer his thoughts from inside Phillies spring training.

The 24-year-old reliever went 6-3 with 15 saves, a 2.99 ERA and 99 strike outs in 75 1/3 innings in his time with Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley last year before making his Major League debut in September and holding opponents to a .083 batting average in 5 appearances. Heading forward, De Fratus, an 11th round draft choice in 2007, hopes to be an impact contributor in the Phillies bullpen for years to come.

In the latest edition of The J-Bone Zone, Justin discusses sharing the big league spring training experience with close friends, the Phillies additions of veterans who might present a roadblock for younger prospects and plenty more. Read on for exclusive insider content direct from Florida.


On his ailing elbow that has him sidelined from throwing in the early going and how he's keeping active...

My elbow is still a little sore and we're really just trying to play it on the safe side right now. We just want to take it slow and really make sure that it's ready to go. We don't feel that it's anything serious and there's no reason to rush it right now being that it's February. Trying to catch something before it gets too bad.

I am doing everything full go, aside from throwing. I am doing arm exercises every morning in the trainer's room, getting everything going with the team and far as stretching and conditioning, and doing (pitchers fielding practice). Aside from the long toss part, I am fully involved and I'm part of all the team drills.



On the difference between camp this year vs. his time in big league camp last year...

It's been a pretty cool camp for me...the real cool thing about camp this year is that I really have some of my good friends in camp with me in Austin Hyatt, Jacob Diekman, B.J. Rosenberg and Phillippe Aumont. We've been having a good time together up there.

I was in the same draft class as Diekman, so we've been fighting together since day 1. Last year in Reading, I lived with Phillippe and Austin Hyatt and it's really just a good friendship that we all have. I don't look at them as just teammates anymore. There's a strong bond of friendship and we hang out together all the time off the field. So, it's just a really cool thing to get to share this time in big league spring training with them. It makes everything a lot more comfortable, not only for me but for them too. They're all great guys and I want nothing but the best for them.

A lot of people ask me about Aumont and compare us, saying, "You guys both project for the same thing, with the same style of pitching." And I'm always telling people, "Hey, the guy's better than me."

I know there's a lot of people that want to know how I feel about competing with him and think it's great. It doesn't matter to me, as long as both of us end up in the same bullpen within the big leagues, that would be awesome!



On catchers in camp, mainly top Phillies positional prospect Mexico native Sebastian Valle...

Valle...everything you read about him is true. I mean he's a great catcher. The guy can hit. I got to play with him in Lakewood a little bit and between our conversations we had then and the conversations we have now- obviously, they're better because his English has gotten leaps and bounds better- but, you can hear the maturity when he talks. You can really see his understanding of the game has really come around and I'm excited to see what he can do because he's definitely gotten all the talent in the world. And even talking with other catchers, they have nothing but good things to say about him. It'll be exciting to see what he can do in Double-A this year, especially in Reading, where it's a hitter's ballpark.

Guys like Brian Schneider and Carlos Ruiz, it goes without saying...you know what they can do. But Erik Kratz and Tuffy Gosewisch they're obviously great catchers. It's no secret what they can do behind the plate. Kratz is basically one of my favorite guys to throw to, but they're all great catchers that we have there.


On his outlook over the off-season when the Phillies add veteran relievers like Brian Sanches and Chad Qualls to the mix, and perhaps personally having more obstacles to make it back to the big leagues in 2012...

I don't think about it too much because those are things, as an organization, you have to do. You have to have all areas covered and if I were in the organization's standpoint, you always have to look at, "Are our young guys going to be ready?" And if not, then we want to have some solid, qualified people to fill these roles. And guys like Qualls- he's an established major league pitcher and Sanches had some really good years in Florida. So, you don't even think about that (being an obstacle) at all. You just look at it as a challenge, and you say, "It's going to be fun to go into camp and learn from these guys and compete with them."

Also, there are guys who aren't returning. We lost (Mike) Zagurski, he's in Arizona I think now and Scotty Mathieson is over in Japan. You lose a lot of pieces, so not only do you have to fill spots at the big league level, but you have to fill spots at Triple-A, so you have guys to fill in when there are injuries. So, you don't worry about that too much and you understand that the organization has to make sure they have plan B, in a sense.


On new additions to camp making some positive impressions on him in the early going...

I got to watch Jim Thome hit the ball in batting practice on Saturday and he crushes it! His BP is impressive.

And another person that has impressed me is Jonathan Papelbon. It seems like he's not even throwing the ball hard in his bullpen sessions and that thing just jets out of his hand. He's impressive to watch and it's fun. He's a cool dude too. Everybody is kind of impressive in their own right, so it's just a good atmosphere to be around.



Check back throughout the preseason for more great exclusive content from Justin as he tries to get his health back to 100% and lock down a roster spot with the Phillies.
______________________________________________________

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Prospect Nation 2012: #7 SS Freddy Galvis

Switch-hitting shortstop Freddy Galvis was previously a player who was consider strong with the leather and lacking on offense, until last season. With some significant strides in his hitting game, Galvis improved his status in the Phillies prospect ranks by a considerable margin.

In 2010, The slick fielding prospect had his time in the Venezuelan Winter League cut short by the Phillies, who sent him to the organization's spring training home in Clearwater, FL to enhance his core. The two-month training session worked, as Galvis added strength which improved his throwing arm and his ability to drive the ball.

Galvis had a terrific campaign during the 2011 regular season with Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley. As a member of the R-Phils, Galvis was extremely impressive, batting .273 with a career-high 8 homeruns through 104 games. That output earned him a promotion to the IronPigs, where he batted .298 through 33 games and helped the club reach the Governor’s Cup finals.

The breakthrough season earned Galvis the annual Paul Owens Award, which is given to the top Phillies minor league player and pitcher each year.

The 22-year-old followed that up with a return to the Venezuelan Winter League, playing for the Aguilas del Zulia. In 47 contests he posted a .249/.308/.333 line with 7 doubles, 4 triples, no homers and 24 RBI. He picked up the pace late, as he sported a .326 batting average with 10 RBI over his final ten contests.

Former Phillie Mark Parent, who managed Galvis with Reading last year, credited the youngster's solid success this past regular season with the increased importance of his at bats, after moving up toward the top of the R-Phils' batting order. Meaningful plate appearances were a great motivator for the 5-foot-10-inch 170-pound Galvis, who refined his mental approach and prospered in a big way.

With above average speed, Galvis swiped a career high 23 bases in 2011 as well, although he was caught 13 times. Galvis has also worked on improving his abilities to bunt for hits.

To further evidence the upgraded bat of Galvis, prior to 2011 he posted lowly .233 batting average with 11 homeruns and 117 RBI in four seasons as a pro.

Galvis, who was signed by the Phillies in 2006 at age 16, is excellent on defense. Exceptional reaction time, great range and a strong arm have always forced baseball heads to take notice of his skills.

With a firm focus on reaching the highest level of the sport, Galvis insists on keeping fun in the game, which allows him to stay loose and enjoy himself.

Phillies brass is high on Galvis, following the tremendous levels of improvement he has shown in the past year and they feel he will be a contributor at the big league level. Expect Galvis to start out the 2012 season back with Lehigh Valley, but consider him on deck if a need arises at the big league level this year.

______________________________________________________________

Our 2012 prospect countdown index can be found HERE.

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Prospect Nation 2012: #8 RHP Julio Rodriguez

Right-handed pitcher Julio Rodriguez has quietly become one of the Phillies' most promising prospects in recent years. Without the hype and buzz that has surrounded other well-regarded youngsters within the Philadelphia organization, the Puerto Rican born hurler has proven himself worthy of being held in considerable regard by the Phils, their fans and talent evaluators alike.

Drafted in the 8th round of the 2008 amateur draft as a 17-year-old, Rodriguez made his professional debut that same year, throwing in 7 games with the Gulf Coast League Phillies. However, the 6-foot-4-inch 200-pounder struggled, as he sported a 12.19 ERA and a .383 batting average against.

The following season, back in the GCL, Rodriguez added some strength and made some serious improvements in the GCL, posting a 1-2 record with a 3.08 ERA and a .197 batting average against in 11 games (8 starts).

In 2010, as a 19-year-old, Rodriguez began the season in extended spring training, but joined the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws in May. He spent time with the short-season Williamsport Crosscutters as well that year, and finished with an overall record of 7-3 with a 1.89 ERA and a .175 batting average against in 20 outings (12 starts). J-Rod was a key contributor that helped Lakewood lock down their second straight South Atlantic League championship that year.

Last season with the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers, Rodriguez was named an end-of-season Florida State League All-Star as he had a stellar campaign. In 27 starts, Rodriguez finished with a league leading 16 wins, a 2.76 ERA that stood as second best in the FSL and a .186 batting average against.

Despite lacking blazing speed with a fastball the resides in the low-90's, Rodriguez has steadily recorded impressive strikeout totals. Averaging 10.71 strikeouts per 9 innings over the past two seasons, it is his excellent secondary pitches and his ability to keep batters guessing that help Rodriguez mow down the competition. Among his repertoire are a strong curveball that dives away from righty batters and a solid change up that has shown improvement at each level.

The 21-year-old is versatile, proven by his ability to handle the competition in any role, although sources within the organization have stated the Phillies think Rodriguez's future is as a starter.

This off-season, Rodriguez appeared in 6 games with the Gigantes de Carolina in the Puerto Rican Winter League. In those outings, all relief, he tallied no decisions and a 3.52 ERA.

In my four years covering the minors on a regular basis, I have not come across a Philadelphia pitching prospect that is more enjoyable to watch than Julio Rodriguez. He is cerebral, aggressive, tough and dominant on the mound. Reading area fans will definitely get a treat this year, every five days, when Rodriguez takes the mound for their Double A level Phillies.
__________________________________________________

Our 2012 prospect countdown index can be found HERE.

You can follow PhoulBallz.com on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Connect with PhoulBallz.com on Facebook by clicking HERE.

Victorino Has Network TV Guest Spot

This week Phillies All-Star outfielder made his acting debut on the CBS television network's Hawaii Five-O program. The part was small, but that didn't make things any easier for the man known as "The Flyin' Hawaiian". Victorino told Hawaii News Now that filming the show was more stressful than playing in the World Series.

...It's something that I'm not used to doing. Obviously, playing in the game, playing in the World Series, I played the game of baseball everyday as a kid. And I just saw it as another game. I didn't think, 'Okay, I'm playing in the biggest stage of my career or my life', but I just looked at it as playing another game. So, that definitely kept my nerves down, but I'm definitely a lot more nervous now. Trust me.


Check out video of Victorino's appearance below.



____________________________________________________________

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

De Fratus Diaries: Welcome to the J-Bone Zone

Ladies and gentlemen, join us in welcoming Phillies pitching prospect Justin De Fratus, who will be taking time this preseason to offer rare and unique glances inside spring training.

De Fratus, an 11th round draft pick from 2007, has been one of Philadelphia's fastest rising relief pitchers over the past couple of seasons. After posting a combined 6-3 record with 15 saves and a 2.99 ERA at Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley last year, De Fratus earned a promotion to the majors and appeared in 5 games for the Phillies.

This year, as the 24-year-old De Fratus battles for an opening day roster spot, he'll share all sorts of thoughts and inside looks at camp in Clearwater, FL exclusively with you, Phillies Nation. Read ahead for your first dose of The J-Bone Zone.


I left for Florida from my off-season home in California back in late January. I drove cross-country with my buddy Jameson and I've just been down here since then, soaking in the baseball. I got to work at the complex from day one.

I stay in New Port Richey, which is about 36 miles north of Clearwater. I stay here with a family friend and I've been staying with them for the past couple of years and stuff. They're real cool to me and they take care of me, while I'm down here. It's a nice little set up I've got.

This year already feels a little different, pressure-wise, than other years have felt. I feel more relaxed this year. I played with everybody last year, so it's definitely more of a comfortable situation for me this year, after spending some time with the big league club in September. I feel like I am getting to be myself a little bit more, so for me it's a better atmosphere and I think that can help me as far as my on-field performance...I'll feel more relaxed, knowing that I don't have to impress somebody with every pitch that I throw. It's going to be more about getting ready for the season.

And, although I feel more and more like I belong in big league camp, I still realize the type of talent I am working side by side with. You never take for granted that you're on the field with guys like (Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels). That awe factor is just not there anymore. It can't be, if you want to be successful. In my situation, I am able to look at them more as teammates now, as opposed to them being some big stars.

For daily workouts, bunting and fielding practice I am in a group with Joe Blanton, Mike Stutes, Jonathan Papelbon and Pat Misch. As far as the new teammates go and those guys becoming familiar with how things are, generally the types of things we discuss or they'll ask about have to do with, "What's the conditioning like around here?", because everybody around baseball hears that the Phillies get after it quite a bit.

I've been taking it easy here in the early going, as I have been dealing with some elbow tightness. I'm two days in on rehab throwing, so it's progressing well. We're probably being a little overly cautious, but, why not? It's early. I'm not worried about it at all. It's not really something to be alarmed about. We're just taking is slowly and not rushing it, because we don't have to.


**The material in this post was offered by Justin De Fratus in the form of answers to multiple questions asked by site owner Jay Floyd.**
___________________________________________________

You can follow Justin on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Prospect Nation 2012: #9 RHP Jonathan Pettibone

Right-handed pitcher Jonathan Pettibone, a third round selection in the 2008 amateur draft, was among the excellent starting rotation with Class A Advanced Clearwater that became known as "The Baby Aces" last season. As he has taken strides to improve his skills, Pettibone has begun to earn an increased amount of recognition in the Philadelphia developmental ranks.

The 6-foot-5-inch 200-pound Pettibone made his pro debut with the Gulf Coast League Phillies in 2008, recording an inning of work. The following season, the Esperanza High School (California) product joined the starting rotation for the Williamsport Crosscutters of the short-season New York-Penn League. In 9 games, Pettibone went 2-4 with a lackluster 5.35 ERA and a .261 batting average against. He was then sidelined with an injury and missed time in the latter portion of the season.

In 2010, Pettibone improved his velocity and effectiveness by working closely with pitching coach Steve Schrenk to adjust his mechanics and extension. Pettibone's results on the mound became increasingly solid as his remarkable campaign progressed. After posting a 5.04 ERA in 12 games through the end of June, Pettibone served up a 2.37 ERA over his final 12 appearances of the regular season with Class A Lakewood. That terrific performance down the stretch helped the club win its second straight South Atlantic League championship. Overall, Pettibone recorded an 8-6 record and finished among the league leaders in ERA with a 3.49 mark.

As a member of the Threshers staff, in 2011, Pettibone sported the 5th best ERA in the Florida State League at 2.96 and also recorded a 10-11 record with a .248 batting average against in a league leading 161 innings pitched.

Pettibone signed with Philadelphia in 2008 after committing to the University of Southern California on a baseball scholarship. The son of former Twins pitcher Jay Pettibone states that his dad was an influence on him, during his youth, but dad backed off and let the younger Pettibone learn from his coaches and on his own once he reached high school playing age.

The 21-year-old is an aggressive hurler who steadily focuses on attacking the strike zone, pitching to contact, and trusts his defense to get outs behind him. Pettibone does not rack up hefty strike out numbers (5.76 K/9 in 2010 and 6.43 K/9 in 2011), but he gets batters out and that is what counts most.

Pettibone, who grew up as an Angels fans idolizing innings eater John Lackey, is very durable and is described by coaches as still having gas left in the tank at the end of his outings. His pitch repertoire consists of a mid-90's four-seam fastball, a strong change up and an improving curve ball.

The Phillies feel Pettibone's future is as a starter. Look for this rising star to begin the 2012 season with Double-A Reading, where he should continue his ascent toward the higher levels as a key contributor to their pitching rotation.

___________________________________________________

The 2012 prospect countdown index can be found HERE.

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Phillies Set to Televise 17 Spring Home Games

Welcome to the 2012 baseball season, everyone. Today marks the date for pitchers and catchers in Phillies big league camp to report to the organization's spring home in Clearwater, FL. With new additions like Jonathan Papelbon joining the likes of fast Philadelphia legends Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, the excitement level for the upcoming season is quite massive. Before too long, the full squad will report and the club will begin their Grapefruit League preseason schedule. This year, all 16 Phillies games set to be played at their home park in Florida, Bright House Field, will be televised in the Philadelphia region along with one of the two On-Deck Series games to be played at Citizens Bank Park. The spring television schedule is listed below...


Saturday, March 3......1 PM......vs. Yankees.....Comcast SportsNet

Monday, March 5......1 PM......vs. Yankees....The Comcast Network

Wednesday, March 7......1 PM.....vs. Astros......TCN

Thursday, March 8......1 PM......vs. Pirates......TCN

Saturday, March 10......1 PM......vs. Orioles......CSN

Sunday, March 11.....1 PM......vs. Tigers......PHL 17

Wednesday, March 14.......1 PM......vs. Twins.....TCN

Thursday, March 15.....1 PM......vs. Braves......TCN

Saturday, March 17......1 PM......vs. Blue Jays......TCN

Monday, March 19......1 PM.....vs. Tigers......TCN, ESPN

Friday, March 23......1 PM......vs. Yankees......TCN

Sunday, March 25......1 PM......vs. Orioles......PHL 17

Monday, March 26......1 PM......vs. Red Sox......TCN, ESPN

Tuesday, March 27......1 PM......vs. Pirates......TCN

Thursday, March 29......1 PM......vs. Rays......TCN, ESPN

Saturday, March 31......1 PM......vs. Blue Jays......PHL 17

Monday, April 2......7 PM......vs. Pirates....CSN

There you have it, folks...your 2012 spring training home TV broadcast schedule! Potentially, some more games could be added, if road parks are equipped to broadcast when the Phils visit.

_______________________________________________________________

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Prospect Nation 2012: #10 OF Jiwan James

Originally drafted as a pitcher in the 22nd round of the 2007 draft, Jiwan James was converted to an everyday player in 2009. The switch-hitter has since earned recognition as a superb athlete and a rising star within the Phillies developmental ranks.

In his first season as an everyday player, James played in 30 games with short-season Class A Williamsport. As a member of the Crosscutters in the NY-Penn League, James batted .264 with a homer and 13 RBI.

The following season, James helped the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws lock down a second straight South Atlantic League title. The 6-foot-4-inch 185-pounder shined atop the batting order for SAL champs, setting a club record 24-game hitting streak in July. In the longest season of his career to that point, James posted a .270 average with 26 doubles, 6 triples, 5 homers and 64 RBI in 133 games played.

With the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers in 2011, the Williston High School (Florida) product had another good season. In 130 games in the Florida State League, James sported a .268 batting average while lacing 26 doubles, 6 triples, 4 HR and 38 RBI.

James has a tendency to heat up quite a bit at the plate in mid-season, then notoriously tapers off down the stretch, suggesting that fatigue is a factor for the youngster. In 2010 with Lakewood, James posted a .361 average in July, then slumped, batting .220 in regular season action the rest of the way. In 2011 with Clearwater, James rocked a .330 batting average in July and served up a lowly .234 average the remainder of the way in the regular season. It could be wise for James to participate in the Arizona Fall League in 2012 to test him and stretch him out a bit more.

His ability to drive the ball to the gaps is certainly something the Phillies wish to see more of, from James. It seems as though James' power is the part of his game that requires the most development. Adding some muscle mass is something coaches in the Phils' system have been waiting for the sixth year pro to do for some time.

While his quickness is a major plus in James' game, he has yet to have a massive season swiping bags. In 2010, James stole 33 bases, but sported a lackluster 62% success rate. His numbers improved a bit in 2011 as he safely stole 31 times in 47 tries (66% success), but not enough to be convinced that James will be among the elite in that department. However, as he progresses upward to levels that have actual first base coaches, instead of bench player void fillers, James should show some considerable improvements with his stolen base numbers.

Defensively, James’ range is tremendous. With a great ability to track balls and gun down runners on the bases, the thinly built speedster is a major asset in the outfield. The majority of his time has been spent as a center fielder, however James has dabbled, on occasion, in the other outfield spots. His positional conversion from pitching a few years ago was necessary due to a lingering arm issue that James dealt with in 2008.

James, whose given first name is Nathaniel (Jiwan is his middle name), was in Philadelphia recently for the organization’s off-season MLB Rookie Career Development Program and is looking forward to a big season in the local region with Double-A Reading in 2012.

________________________________________________

The 2012 prospect countdown index can be found HERE.

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Prospect Nation 2012: #11 OF Tyson Gillies

Having dealt with a series of significant injuries since joining the Phillies organization in the December 2009 trade that sent Cliff Lee to Seattle, outfielder Tyson Gillies has become somewhat of an afterthought. Having only played in 31 total regular season games since joining the Philadelphia organization, the lefty batting speedster has not been able to prove himself worthy of the high praise that led to his inclusion in that deal and earned him a spot among the players in the 2009 MLB Futures Game.

Growing up in British Columbia, Gillies played both hockey and baseball. However, in his teenage years, Gillies felt that it was best to choose one sport to focus on and, as determined by his size at the time, he selected baseball. As he progressed as a player, his love and passion for that great game developed along with his talents and he has never looked back.

A 25th round draft selection of the Mariners in the 2006 amateur draft, Gillies began his professional career the following year, as a member of the Arizona League Mariners and later with Everett of the Class A Northwest League. Combined at the two levels, Gillies posted a .255 batting average with 11 steals and a .688 OPS in 39 games.

In 2008 Gillies continued to show improvement, spending time with Everett before earning a promotion to Class A Advanced High Desert. In 72 combined games that season, Gillies' production shot upward as he batted .302 with 25 steals and an .831 OPS in 72 games.

During a return campaign with High Desert, in 2009, Gillies became a highly regarded prospect, as his offensive output excelled even more. Gillies posted a .341 batting average, good enough for third highest in the minors, with 44 steals and a .916 OPS in 124 games.

Since the trade that brought Gillies to Philadelphia along with J.C. Ramirez and Phillippe Aumont, the Iowa Western Community College product has seemed fragile. Recurring hamstring issues and a nagging foot injury have kept Gillies out of action. The 23-year-old grew healthy as the 2011 regular season came to a close, but the Phillies did not wish to rush Gillies back to action too soon, as that had contributed to the repeat ailments in the past, so he continued to rest and rehab.

Gillies was assigned to the Arizona Fall League this off-season, where he struggled considerably at the plate (.178/.302/.233 line in 27 games), but considering the main goal was for him to play a month of healthy baseball and not necessarily mash opposing pitchers, his time there was considered a huge success.

Following AFL play, Gillies spent much of his off-season working out at the Phillies' spring training facilities in Clearwater, FL. After months of hitting, fielding, running and weight training, Gillies has maintained full health and now looks forward to a 2012 with no physical setbacks.

A ground ball/line drive hitter that is known for using his speed to get on base, Gillies is also pretty well known for his hearing impairment. Diagnosed at an early age with significant hearing problems, the 6-foot-2-inch 195-pounder grew up using hearing aids and has become accustomed to playing baseball with a slight disadvantage. Despite what many consider a disability in a game where the crack of the bat could help a fielder judge the distance of a ball in flight, Gillies says for him, it's just natural and has no trouble tracking on defense.

Defensively, Gillies’ range was always a key to his game, but that will remain dependent on his health and speed to return on a lengthy basis. Primarily, Gillies has been a center fielder, however he has played all three outfield positions in his professional career. He has also displayed a strong throwing arm and an ability to gun down frisky runners.

Having been compared to All-Stars like Curtis Granderson and Shane Victorino in previous years, Gillies has a tall task ahead, if he is to reach that status. With projection to reach the majors as an attainable goal, Gillies must avoid injuries and continue to grow on the field. Expect the lefty hitting youngster to begin the season with Double-A Reading, where he'll get another shot at showing he can be an everyday player.
______________________________________________

Image- Joe Wombough

The 2012 prospect countdown index can be found HERE.

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Prospect Nation 2012: #12 Lisalberto Bonilla

Righty hurler Lisalberto Bonilla was one of the fastest rising prospects in the Phillies organization last season. With an All-Star campaign for Class A Lakewood, the 21-year-old built on an already impressive two seasons as a pro, as he showed the world that it's not just Philadelphia's well-regarded "Baby Aces" that should have folks excited about the organization's developing young arms.

The 6-foot-1-inch 170-pounder was signed by the Phillies as an amateur free agent in December 2008. Bonilla began his professional career the following year with the Dominican Summer League team, posting a 6-2 record with a remarkable 1.41 ERA and 2 complete game shutouts in 11 starts.

In 2010, Bonilla split his time between the Gulf Coast League Phillies and the short-season Williamsport Crosscutters. As a starter in the GCL, Bonilla went 2-1 with a 1.95 ERA with 38 strike outs and 5 walks in 32 1/3 innings. After flying high, once he took a step upward, the youngster came back down to Earth, sporting a 1-3 record with a 6.49 ERA, 18 strike outs and 12 walks in 26 1/3 innings in 10 games (3 starts). Bonilla's problems in the NY-Penn League stemmed from difficulties locating his fastball, which was not an issue that lasted beyond that stop.

After participating in the Florida Instructional League, then beginning the 2011 season in extended spring training, Bonilla joined Lakewood's bullpen in early May and got himself right back on track. Within 6 weeks, the native of the Dominican Republic joined the starting rotation. By his fifth start, Bonilla was officially a prospect on the rise. In his July 6th outing against the Hagerstown Suns, Bonilla threw 9 scoreless innings, while striking out 12 and allowing no walks. His manager Chris Truby had high praise for the youngster.

"It was as good of an outing as I've seen at this level. And he didn't seem to work that hard," Truby stated.

Overall with the BlueClaws in 2011, Bonilla tallied a 4-5 record with a 2.80 ERA and a .229 batting average against with 95 strike outs and 29 walks in 106 innings through 26 games.

With a pitch repertoire that includes a fastball that sits around 92-93 MPH, a strong slider and an excellent big league ready change up, Bonilla has proved to be an extremely impressive prospect in the Phillies developmental ranks.

A key to his success is the manner in which Bonilla mixes his pitches and avoids patterns in specific scenarios. In addition, he works quickly and can force batters to get themselves out by guessing his offerings incorrectly early in the count.

Bonilla's strengths, aside from his pitches, are all upstairs. He loves to compete. He wants to give his team a chance to win every time out. He wants to win. And he wants to do all those things at progressively higher levels.

Look for Bonilla to excel with the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers in 2012.
___________________________________________________

The 2012 prospect countdown index can be found HERE.

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Prospect Nation 2012: #13 RHP Michael Schwimer

Righty hurler Michael Schwimer had another great minor league season in 2011 and earned a spot on the big league roster. With nothing left to prove in the developmental ranks, Schwimer will get a considerable look in spring training with the Phillies this year.

Selected in the 14th round of the 2008 draft, Schwimer signed quickly and made his pro debut with short-season Williamsport, posting a 1.96 ERA in 22 relief outings. A year later, Schwimer skipped Class A Lakewood and began his 2009 season at Class A Advanced Clearwater, where he went 2-1 with 20 saves and a 2.85 ERA in 48 games. He earned a promotion to Reading, of the Double A Eastern League, by season's end.

The Virginia native, who will turn 26-years-old next week, began the 2010 season back with Reading where he posted a 5-3 record with 11 saves, a 3.60 ERA and a .225 batting average against in 32 appearances. After a July promotion to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, Schwimer continued posting remarkable numbers, going 2-2 with a 1.35 ERA with a .213 batting average against.

Schwimer had another excellent season in 2011, eventually earning a spot on the big league roster in August. En route to becoming an All-Star with the IronPigs last year, the 6-foot-8-inch 240-pounder dominated the International League, going 9-1 with 10 saves, a 1.85 ERA and a .203 batting average against in 47 relief appearances.

After his promotion to Philadelphia, the University of Virginia product looked respectable, but struggled considerably at home. In 5 games at Citizens Bank Park, Schwimer sported a 10.80 ERA. Conversely, on the road, Schwimer was strong, holding down a 1.93 ERA in 7 games.

In his four seasons in the minors, Schwimer has posted 313 strike outs in 234 innings (12.04 K/9), building a reputation as a whiff artist.

Schwimer is a talented reliever with a firm focus on the mental side of the game. He anticipates what the thought process of the opposing batter might be in each at bat, and for each scenario, and is able to stay a step ahead far more often than not.

With a repertoire that includes a fastball that ranges from 92-94 MPH, a plus slider and a solid change up, Schwimer stands to be a pitcher the Phillies will count on in 2012 when openings in the bullpen arise due to injuries or other reasons.

______________________________________________________________

2012 Prospect countdown index can be found HERE.

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Wall of Fame Nominees Fail Fans

This past week the Phillies announced twelve nominees for the team's Wall of Fame. Annually, the Phils induct one individual that has made great contributions to the organization. Voting is being hosted at Phillies.com and will last through March 14th, as the field of options for the annual lone honoree is narrowed.

Fans are able to vote for three different Phillies alumni and each vote is applied points, based on placement. A first place vote gets 5 points, a second place vote gets 3 points, and a third place vote gets 1 point. Following the deadline, the five individuals with the top point totals will be placed on the official ballot, which will be voted on by the official Wall of Fame Selection Committee, who will determine the man who will join the top names in team history in Ashburn Alley at Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park.

Vice President of Alumni Relations, Larry Shenk, informed me in 2010 that, "The Phillies Wall of Fame Selection Committee is composed of 15 persons. It includes Phillies executives, baseball writers both locally and nationally, Phillies historians, one of our broadcasters, someone from Comcast SportsNet (and representatives from two local sports radio stations)."

So, who are the nominees, you wonder? The list of options is as follows:

Pitchers: Larry Christenson, Jim Konstanty, Ron Reed, Curt Schilling, Rick Wise
Catcher: Mike Lieberthal, Jimmie Wilson
Infielders: Pinky Whitney
Outfielder: Greg Gross, Von Hayes
Coach: Mike Ryan
Manager: Jim Fregosi

And...who is deserving of your vote, you also wonder? Well, information on that and some opinion lies ahead.

Christenson, a first round draft choice of the Phillies in 1972, posted an 83-71 record with a 3.79 ERA in 243 career games, all with Philadelphia. Christenson pitched in four different postseasons, but his ERA in 6 playoff outings was 7.40. And although he made his big league debut at the age of 19, and pitched in the big leagues with the Phillies in 11 different seasons, his stats are not worthy of legendary status.

Konstanty, the Most Valuable Player of the National League in 1950, was a key part of the pennant winning Phils roster that year. However, his great single season (16-7, 22 saves, 2.66 ERA, All-Star nod) is outweighed by his other six seasons with the Phillies (35-32 record, 32 saves, 3.92 ERA, no other awards or All-Star nominations). One great season does not earn a person a spot on the Wall of Fame next to Hall of Famers and major contributors to the history of the organization.

Reed ranks first in team history in relief wins (54) and relief innings pitched (763). He also pitched in six different postseasons with the Phillies, counting 1981's divisional series for the strike shortened season. Reed certainly made a significant impact on the Phillies' past, but I am not convinced he's at an elite level for the organization's top historical performers.

Schilling was the MVP of the 1993 National League Championship Series. During his time with the Phillies, he was named an All-Star three times and led the league in complete games and strikeouts twice. He ranks sixth in team history in wins (with 101) and is fourth in strikeouts (with 1,554). Overall, those marks, along with his 101-78 record and 3.35 ERA as a Phillie, might be worthy of consideration, but with all of his World Series rings (Arizona in 2001 and Boston in 2004 and 2007), Schilling's got other places that will immortalize him in some fashion.

Wise once threw a no-hitter against the Reds and hit TWO homeruns in the same game. However, his overall stats with the Phillies in 7 seasons (75-76 record, 3.60 ERA) are not overly impressive. One tremendous game and a losing record does not earn someone a spot next to organizational legends. In addition, Wise is another hurler that saw his best success with Boston, as he locked down two postseason wins for the Red Sox in 1975. Wise's biggest contribution to Philadelphia baseball was when he was traded for Steve Carlton in 1972.

Lieberthal was another first round draft selection by the Phillies and ranks tops all-time in games caught for the Phils, with 1,139. His career statistics with Philadelphia (.275 avg., .788 OPS, 150 HR, 610 RBI) simply aren't the types that render someone a Wall of Fame player.

The Philadelphia-born Wilson was once an All-Star with the Phillies, but to point out exactly the sort of impact his .288 average, 22 HR and 315 RBI had in 11 seasons with the team, his first name is misspelled (Jimmy instead of Jimmie) on the official online ballot.

One-time All-Star Pinky Whitney and his .307 career average, .789 OPS, 69 HR and 734 RBI won't qualify for the Phillies Wall of Fame unless they institute a cool names division.

Hayes has bigger numbers (.272 avg., 124 HR, 568 RBI, 646 runs, 202 steals in 9 seasons) than another enshrined Phillies Wall of Famer, John Kruk (.309 avg., 62 HR, 390 RBI, 403 runs, 33 steals in 6 seasons), but the one-time All-Star doesn't have a nostalgic tie to a landmark in history, like Kruk did with the 1993 pennant winning club, and likely won't gain the same consideration for team immortality.

Gross holds the Phillies' record for pinch hits with 117. That is surely an impressive mark, especially considering that the next closest total is Tony Taylor's 53, but that consistent activity in a pinch hitting role stands out as clear evidence that Gross was not on the field for a great majority of his time as an active player. Many would feel that reserves should not be placed among the immortals of the organization.

Fregosi managed the Phillies to the NL pennant in 1993, as they notched a 97-65 record. In his other 5 seasons as Phils manager, the team tallied a 334-398 record (.456 win percentage). Just like Konstanty, one remarkable year does not make a large enough impact, or outweigh the other years of mediocrity. Fregosi is not qualified for such an honor.

So, with all of these unworthy and questionable candidates, who is missing as a more-than-valid option to prevent Curt Schilling from continuing what has become the "Favorite Players from 1993 Club" in recent years (Darren Daulton was enshrined in 2010, while John Kruk made the Wall in 2011)? Who should be the first man to represent the most recent string of success and receive the massive acknowledgement as being an all-time team great? Pat Burrell should be an option this year to have his face and name eternalized beside the likes of Larry Bowa, Robin Roberts and Chuck Klein.

Burrell, who recently made his retirement from baseball official, holds more significance in Phillies history than these other options. Without Burrell, who was the top overall draft pick by Philadelphia in 1998 and ranks 4th in team history in HR (241), 8th in RBI (827) and 5th in walks (785), the Phils don't break their playoff drought in 2007 and would not have won the World Series the following year. Burrell hit 30 or more homeruns in a season four times in his career and exceeded 100 RBI in a season twice.

The Philadelphia organization owes it to their fans to have a true highly significant PHILLIES figure to best represent the team on that Wall of Fame.

Another great potential nominee would have been former Phillies general manager Pat Gillick, who was at the helm for the 2008 World Series win. While Gillick was not the big cheese when the Phillies drafted their core of talent (Jimmy Rollins, Cole Hamels, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard), he was the man who added the necessary pieces (Jamie Moyer, Jayson Werth, Pedro Feliz and Brad Lidge) to complete a championship roster.

One plus about the Phillies blowing it and neglecting these proposed options this year is that (hopefully) next year the 1993 team will be out of viable players to nominate and the the next era of Philadelphia big-timers can begin to make their mark on the Wall of Fame.
___________________________________________________

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Prospect Nation 2012: #14 OF Larry Greene Jr.

The Phillies' top draft pick from 2011, Larry Greene Jr., has the type of power that already has many within the organization and around baseball buzzing. After inking his first professional contract close to the signing deadline last year, Greene Jr. has yet to play in his first organized professional contest. The power hitting outfielder from Berrien County High School in Georgia is expected to make his pro debut in just a few short months.

Greene Jr., who got a $1 million signing bonus, worked out with the Gulf Coast League Phillies late in the season last year and spent some time at the Florida Instructional League as well. Despite sitting out with a groin injury, the lefty batting slugger was able to take in plenty of batting practice and put himself on display for the brass in attendance to see many of their newly drafted prospects.

Already, Greene Jr. has begun to impress and has proven himself worthy of the buzz that led to him becoming the 39th overall selection in last year's draft. According to Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., who got a close up view of the slugger at Instructs, Greene Jr. has the type of raw power that is difficult to find. Additionally, new Class A Lakewood BlueClaws manager Mickey Morandini got to see the 6-feet tall 235-pounder take batting practice at the FIL and was quite impressed with his strength at the plate.

The high school All-American posted a .536 average in 30 games with 11 doubles, 19 homeruns, 52 RBI and 37 walks in his senior season.

Some baseball heads project Greene Jr. as a first baseman, but that isn't a change the Phillies are convinced is necessary yet. Evaluations of his defensive skills, as far as the Phils are concerned, have Greene Jr. holding court in the outfield for the time being.

Expect Greene Jr., who turns 19-years-old this week, to begin the 2012 season in extended spring training. He should get some playing time with the short-season Williamsport Crosscutters or Class-A Lakewood as well.

____________________________________________________

Image- Joe Wombough

2012 Prospect countdown index can be found HERE.

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Mickey Morandini Interview

At last week's Phillies winter banquet stop in Lakewood, NJ, I had the opportunity to talk with former Phils player and new manager of the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws, Mickey Morandini. The 1995 All-Star second baseman answered questions about his transition into managing at the pro level, returning to the Phillies in a full-time capacity and plenty more.

Check out the media player below to hear the full interview.




_________________________________________________________________

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Prospect Nation 2012: #15 RHP Austin Hyatt

Right-handed pitcher Austin Hyatt has been a bit of an underrated talent since joining the organization in 2009. Often considered old for each level he pitches in, Hyatt has simply excelled in his career and has recorded strong stats at every level. The University of Alabama graduate had another great season in 2011, proving to be the ace of the Double-A Reading Phillies' staff.

An Eastern League All-Star, Hyatt posted an overall record of 12-6 with a 3.85 ERA and a .235 batting average against last year in 28 starts. Hyatt tallied 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.

In 2011, Hyatt was focused on improving the mental side of his game. His ability to read hitters at the higher levels of the minors has certainly benefited the 6-foot-3-inch 205-pounder. Working closely with Reading pitching coach Bob Milacki on analyzing opposing batters' approaches were evident as Hyatt shut down some of the best hitters in the Eastern League. Facing the eventual league champion New Hampshire Fisher Cats that included EL Most Valuable Player Travis d'Arnaud, highly regarded Blue Jays prospect Anthony Gose as well as All-Stars 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.

In 2010, Hyatt began the season with Class A Advanced Clearwater, where he tallied an 11-5 record with a 3.04 ERA in 23 games and was named Florida State League pitcher of the year. In August, the Georgia native joined Double-A Reading where he went 1-0 with a 4.91 ERA in 4 starts.

Immediately as a pro in 2009, Hyatt made an impact. As a member of the short season Williamsport Crosscutters, Hyatt dominated en route to becoming a NY-Penn League All-Star, posting a 3-0 record with a 0.66 ERA and a .141 batting average against in 17 games (5 starts). With Williamsport, Hyatt struck out an impressive 81 batters in 54 1/3 innings. Late that season, he earned a promotion to Class A Lakewood for their playoff run and he pitched as a reliever in all 5 of the BlueClaws' postseason wins on their way to the South Atlantic League championship.

Hyatt's pitch repertoire includes a mid-90's fastball, an increasingly lively slider and a good change up. Sporting a K/9 rate of 11.03 in 3 pro seasons, Hyatt's biggest advantage with his fastball is not necessarily the velocity, it's his arm angle. The dropped down delivery is deceiving to batters who regularly have a difficult time picking up the 2009 15th round draft choice's pitches.

After spending time this off-season working out and throwing with old amateur teammates and his brother Jared, a former Texas Rangers farmhand, and spending some time working out in Clearwater this January as part of a mini camp of Phillies minor leaguers, Hyatt is targeting a step upward on the developmental ladder and taking the mound for the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Once he tackles the International League, he'll be focused on taking the next step to the big leagues.

It's certainly possible that Hyatt could be moved back to a relief role, as needed, down the road, but for now, he remains a good option as a developing starting pitcher on stand-by if needs arise at the big league level.

____________________________________________________________

2012 Prospect countdown index can be found HERE.

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Prospect Nation 2012: #16 2B Cesar Hernandez

Cesar Hernandez is a Venezuelan born infielder that was signed as an amateur free agent by the Phillies at the age of 16. Since then, Hernandez has proven to be sharp on defense with some outstanding speed on the bases and a productive bat. As the 5-foot-10-inch 160-pounder has shown in recent years, he's deserving of considerable recognition as a rising infielder in the Phillies' system.

Hernandez made his professional debut with the Venezuelan Summer League at the age of 17. In two seasons there, he tallied a .296 batting average with 3 HR and 45 RBI in 114 games.

The current Phillies 40-man roster member played with the Gulf Coast League Phillies in 2009, where he batted .267 with 5 doubles and a triple in 41 games.

In 2010, as a member of the NY-Penn League's (short-season Class A) Williamsport Crosscutters, Hernandez was voted as the Most Valuable Player of the club by his teammates. He proved clutch with the 'Cutters, posting a .400 average (16-for-40) with runners in scoring position and two outs. Overall that season, Hernandez sported an impressive .325/.390/.392 line with 13 doubles and 2 triples in 65 games and was 2nd in the league in stolen bases with 32.

His remarkable season in Williamsport led to a complete skip of full season Class A Lakewood. Hernandez played the entire 2011 season with the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers, where his offensive production took a dip (.268/.303./.333 line). With just 15 extra-base hits against 98 singles last year, a power boost will be something to look for from Hernandez as he climbs upwards in the developmental ranks.

Also taking a noticeable drop was the damage Hernandez did on the base paths. After a success rate of 84% in 2010, the youngster was only successful in 70% of his stolen base attempts with Clearwater the following year. Moving up two levels provides an acceptable reason for the decreased output and, as such, the Phillies were still very pleased with the progress Hernandez made against the difficult Florida State League competition.

The 21-year-old played in the Venezuelan Winter League this off-season. As a member of the Bravos de Margarita, the switch-hitting Hernandez posted a weak .259/.314/.277 line in 34 games.

Defensively, Hernandez's arm is clearly above average and his range is very good. He has played 45 games at shortstop in his pro career, but none since advancing above the VSL.

Hernandez's coaches and organizational instructors praise his many talents (defensive instincts, swing, speed) and are confident that Hernandez has what it will take to compete at the highest levels of professional baseball.

Expect Hernandez to get a shot at playing with the Double-A Reading Phillies in 2012. Whether or not he begins the season there could depend on where the organization places the older Harold Garcia to open the year. While Hernandez may project to compete at the big league level, the capacity in which he could contribute in the Majors will surely depend on the progress he makes in the meantime.

__________________________________________________

Image- Joe Wombough

2012 Prospect countdown index can be found HERE.

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE.

Friday, February 3, 2012

PhoulBallz Interview: Roman Quinn

Recently I had the opportunity to speak with the Phillies' 2nd round selection from the 2011 draft, shortstop Roman Quinn. The 18-year-old signed late and did not play in any official professional games last year, but did participate in work outs with the Gulf Coast League Phillies and spent time in the Florida Instructional League.

Roman is a 5-foot-10-inch tall 170-pound switch-hitting shortstop that is highly praised for his speed and his adaptability. The exciting young talent is primed for a big year, potentially with the Class A short-season Williamsport Crosscutters.

I asked Roman about various topics including his friendship with 1st round draft pick Larry Greene Jr., his off-season thus far and plenty more. Check out the full interview below.


You didn't play an official game after signing with the Phillies in 2011, but you spent time around the GCL club. What was that experience like and how was it beneficial to you?

I think it benefited me by seeing how fast the game was and meeting most of the coordinators and some of the players.


You seemed to be paired up with Larry Greene during that time. Did you guys bond a lot during that stint?

Yeah, me and Larry became real good friends. We learned a lot about each other while we were in Clearwater.


How would you scout yourself as a player? What are your strengths?

I'm very athletic, plus-plus speed, great arm, I have gap power from both sides, and I can play more than one position. All those things aside, I'm young and still have a lot to learn about this game.


What have you been doing this off-season to prepare for your first year as a pro?

I been working on pretty much everything. Switch hitting is still kind of new to me but I'm getting a lot of reps on that side, so I'm starting to feel like a natural lefty, of course bunting on both sides because that is a big part of my game, taking a lot of ground balls at shortstop and working on my fielding technique, speed drills, and working out in the weight room.


I know you made some extra income this off-season, by signing insert cards
for a trading card company. What details can you share about that experience? Were those the first autographs you signed?

The name of the company was Panini and I signed, like, a thousand stickers for them (to be applied to their products) and got something in return. Yes, it was my first autograph signing for an actual company.


Your twitter handle is @baseballswag4. Does that handle speak on your confidence level?

Yeah, it pretty much speaks on my confidence and my girlfriend said I need to add a little bit of style to my Twitter name. So there it is.


What has surprised you the most about being a professional ball player?

Knowing that I have people that are willing to help me get to the big show and achieve my goals.


And one last thing...what is your favorite spot to eat at in Clearwater?

My favorite place to eat in Clearwater is Smokey Bones.

_________________________________________________

Image- Joe Wombough

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Prospect Nation 2012: #17 2B Harold Garcia

Harold Garcia was signed as a free agent at the age of 17 back in 2004. The 5-foot-11-inch, 190-pounder got his professional career started with three seasons in the Venezuelan Summer League before heading to the United States to continue his ascent up the developmental ranks.

In three seasons playing in the VSL, Garcia’s offensive progression was evident, as he posted batting averages that increased annually- .226, .273, .296.

After arriving stateside, Garcia spent the 2008 season with the Gulf Coast League Phillies, where he batted .299 with 5 homers and a .907 OPS in 50 games, leading his club to the league championship.

In 2009, Garcia continued his winning ways, helping the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws lock down the South Atlantic League championship. As a member of the BlueClaws, Garcia finished third in the SAL with 42 stolen bases. He also batted .291 with 8 homers and 55 RBI with a .765 OPS in 118 games that season.

At age 23 in 2010, Garcia really proved himself worthy of considerable praise when he posted a .305 batting average with an .807 OPS and 29 steals in 101 games at two levels. He made headlines that year when, as a member of the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers, he set the all-time Florida State League hit streak record at 37 games. After subsequently being named Phillies minor league player of the month for June, Garcia was promoted to the Double-A Reading Phillies. As a member of the R-Phils, the switch-hitting Garcia posted a solid line of .281/.340/.403.

Primed for a big year in 2011, Garcia's season ended after just 12 games when he tore ligaments in his right knee. In that limited action, Garcia sported a .300 average with 3 doubles, 2 homeruns and 4 RBI.

Fully recovered over the off-season, Garcia spent some time with the his hometown Aguilas del Zulia in the Venezuelan Winter League. In 2 games, the 25-year-old went 1-for-5 with a walk.

Primarily a second baseman throughout his career, Garcia has also played third base (66 games) and shortstop (3) games during his professional career. He even dabbled in the outfield at fall instructional league in 2010. In the field, Garcia ranks well above average, but he may need to spend more times at those other positions to increase his versatility and value.

Speed is definitely a key aspect of Garcia's game as he has stolen 107 bases in his pro career. However, his 76% career success rate certainly leaves some room for improvement.

Barring any setbacks, Garcia, a member of the Phillies' 40-man roster, could see a solid amount of time with the big club in spring training. If Garcia can pick up where he left off last year, he could be counted on as a filler if injuries to the infield arise this season or join the Phils as a September call up this year.

___________________________________________________

2012 Prospect countdown index can be found HERE.

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE.