Thursday, May 31, 2012

PhoulBallz Minor League Podcast, Episode 4


We're back!  After a substantial hiatus, Tug Haines and Jay Floyd are back with another edition of the PhoulBallz Minor League Podcast, a show that talks about developmental baseball leagues, with a focus on the Phillies' system.

On the latest episode, in semi-rusty fashion, we talk about hot performers throughout the Phillies organization like Cody Asche and Darin Ruf.  Plus we provide an exclusive injury update on LHP Nick Hernandez and discuss the minor league baseball Mascot Mania tournament. Additionally, we also field some questions from our listeners.

Direct download for episode 4 of the podcast HERE.
Archives/previous episodes HERE.

You can also stream the show with the media player below. Thanks for checking us out!
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Dugan becoming Lakewood's offensive star

Lakewood BlueClaws first baseman Kelly Dugan has been somewhat forgotten by many people that follow prospects throughout the minor leagues.

A flurry of physical setbacks have prevented the Phillies’ top selection from the 2009 MLB amateur draft (2nd round, 75th pick overall) from progressing through the system with any type of commanding push.

This year, however, Kelly, the son of film director Dennis Dugan (Happy Gilmore, Big Daddy), hopes to make enough of a splash in the Class A South Atlantic League to rekindle some of the excitement that surrounded him when he was originally selected by the Phils.
 
The level of instant popularity that came Dugan's way upon joining the Phillies organization could have been credited to an image taken on draft day from the set of his father's film, Grown Ups, which starred Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock and David Spade. With the closely knit star power involved and the collection of widely-known actors all sporting Phillies caps, fans and media alike were ready to see this Hollywood endorsed ballplayer make an impact in the pros.

Unfortunately for the 21-year-old Dugan, injuries have hindered his progress.

In 2010, Dugan dealt with a staph infection after being hit with a batted ball during batting practice, which resulted in him missing a large chunk of the season. The history of disabled list stints left Dugan in disbelief, like last month when he turned his left ankle badly while stepping on first base and fielding a throw on a close play. The damage to the ankle was only a sprain, despite awful looking bruises and substantial swelling. Dugan was grateful for only needing to miss about two weeks of action with his latest ailment.

“When you get injured, you can't really move up,” Dugan told me recently. “You need to take at bats at each level and you have to show that you can produce at the level before they're going to move you up, so you just end up repeating. It was frustrating, but it just makes me grateful that I can go out and play right now.”

Last season, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Dugan was named a NY-Penn League All-Star as an outfielder in his second campaign with the short-season Williamsport Crosscutters, batting .284 with four doubles, four triples, two home runs and 21 RBI in 47 games.

His change in position this year -- although he did play some first base last season -- was forced by a hamstring issue in spring training. The Phillies thought it was best to place the youngster in a spot that would reduce his need to run in the field. Dugan could certainly see his defensive assignment change again if the need arises or if circumstances dictate a change.

With his own positional future lacking clarity, Dugan is focused on stepping up all aspects of his game, even at a position that supposedly provides a light workload. And he is willing to man any position so long as it means he is playing regularly.

"I just want to be in the lineup," Dugan said. "I played first base in high school and I played outfield. So, [at this level], you just have to work [on defense] every single day... just like hitting. Just like you hit in the cage and work on your hitting, you have to work on your fielding."

Since returning from his most recent injury, the switch-hitting Dugan has been a strong performer, posting a .275 batting average with six doubles, a triple and two homers in 15 games.

Lakewood’s manager, former Phillies All-Star Mickey Morandini, sees loads of potential in Dugan and likes that the club's standout performer of late continues to show improvements in his offensive game.

"He's been hitting the ball really well, especially since he's come back from the ankle injury,” Morandini said. “What I really like is that he's showing some pop, some power. He's driving the ball really well, he's hitting doubles. He hit a home run, opposite field (recently) and hit a couple other balls that almost got out of here in the gap. So, we really like the way he's swinging the bat. He's being aggressive, hitting the fastball real well."

As Dugan continues to excel with Lakewood and garners the endorsements of established baseball minds like Morandini, the shine of this young star will steadily grow brighter. Perhaps one day he'll become as well known as some of the celebrities he considers family.
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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Halladay out 6-8 weeks

The Phillies announced on Tuesday afternoon that right-handed starting pitcher Roy Halladay had been placed on the disabled list with a strain of his latissimus dorsi, or in other words- a lat strain. Halladay left his most recent start against the Cardinals on Sunday after just 2 innings of work. The team’s ace is expected to miss 6-8 weeks, while he recovers.

Speculation had been running increasingly wild this season, as Halladay’s statistics were not reflective of his typical dominance. In his previous two seasons since joining the Phillies, Halladay, 35, sported a 40-16 record along with a 2.40 ERA in 65 regular season starts. This year, however, the man known as “Doc” had struggled a bit, tallying a 4-5 record with a 3.98 ERA.

A positive outlook on this situation is that Halladay does not require surgery.  Missing Halladay for less than two months is certainly a much better option for the Phillies than for the two-time Cy Young Award winner to miss the remainder of the season.

The news for Halladay came exactly two years to the day after he threw a perfect game against the Florida Marlins in Miami.

Cole Hamels (8-1, 2.43 ERA), Cliff Lee (0-2, 2.82 ERA) and Joe Blanton (4-4, 4.55 ERA) remain in the Phillies rotation, along with Kyle Kendrick (1-4, 4.10 ERA), who is already filling in for injured righty Vance Worley. Sidelined since May 12th with right elbow inflammation, Worley is hopeful for a return to action soon. 

While catcher Erik Kratz has been called up to fill Halladay's void on the roster, for the time being, it is unclear who will take Halladay's spot in the rotation the next time it comes up.  With an off day on Thursday, the Phillies could skip his turn and let the other four hurlers throw on the normal four days of rest.  Right-hander Tyler Cloyd (recent feature HERE, exclusive interview excerpts HERE) stands out as a likely option, as the 25-year-old has dominated Double-A and Triple-A opposition thus far in 2012.  Combined in 10 starts for Reading and Lehigh Valley, the 6-foot-3-inch 195-pounder is sporting a 7-1 record with a 2.01 ERA and a .208 batting average against. 
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RHP Colin Kleven Video



Right-handed hurler Colin Kleven has been one of the most consistent pitchers on the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws roster this season.  The native of Kamloops, British Columbia was a 33rd round draft selection by the Phillies in 2009.  In his first two pro seasons, Kleven posted a 4-11 record with a 5.53 ERA in 24 games (21 starts) combined with the Gulf Coast League Phillies and the Williamsport Crosscutters.

This season, the 21-year-old has been much more solid in the starting rotation for the BlueClaws.  Through 9 starts, Kleven has tallied a 3-4 record with 3.59 ERA while holding opponents to a .238 batting average. Take away one start in which Kleven struggled against the Hagerstown Suns, allowing 6 earned runs in 2 2/3 innings, in mid-April, and Kleven has a 2.60 ERA this year.

The 6-foot-6-inch 225-pounder regularly hits 92-93 MPH with his fastball and has averaged 7.74 strike outs per 9 innings this season.

Video of Kleven throwing a bullpen session can be seen below.


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Monday, May 28, 2012

Series Preview: Phillies at Metropolitans, May 28-30


It's Memorial Day, so here's an abbreviated edition of the typical PhoulBallz series preview, focused on the pitching match ups for the upcoming three-game set between the Phillies and the Metropolitans.



Monday 1:10 PM.  Cole Hamels (7-1, 2.17 ERA) vs. Jonathan Niese (3-2, 4.29 ERA).  In his last 8 starts, Hamels is 7-0 with a 1.89 ERA.  Hamels has a 4-10 record with a 4.33 ERA in 18 career starts against the Mets.  In 7 career starts at Citi Field, Hamels is 1-4 with a 4.43 ERA.  Niese is 1-0 with a 3.79 ERA and a .186 batting average against.  In 10 career starts against the Phillies, Niese is 4-4 with a 3.58 ERA. Placido Polanco is 11-for-26 (.423 avg) with 5 doubles in his career against Niese.


Tuesday, 7:10 PM.  Joe Blanton (4-4, 4.55 ERA) vs. Jeremy Hefner (0-2, 6.17 ERA). In 10 career starts against the Mets, Blanton has a 3-1 record with a 3.71 ERA.  Blanton has allowed 13 earned runs in 8 2/3 innings (13.49 ERA) in his last two outings.  Hefner, a right-hander, will be making his second big league start.  Hefner, a 5th round draft pick in 2007 by San Diego, was picked up off waivers by New York last off-season.


Wednesday, 7:10 PM.  Cliff Lee (0-2, 2.82 ERA) vs. Dillon Gee (4-3, 4.92 ERA).  In 5 career starts against the Mets, Lee has a 2-1 record with a 1.85 ERA.  Lee has posted a 3.53 ERA in 4 starts since returning from the disabled list with an oblique strain.  In 5 career games against the Phillies, Gee has a 2-1 record with a 7.50 ERA.  Gee has posted a 1-3 record with a 5.93 ERA in 5 home starts this season.  Jimmy Rollins is 4-for-6 (.667 avg) against Gee in his career.


Phillies team ERA in May- 4.22 (ranked 10th in the National League)
Mets team ERA in May- 4.35 (ranked 13th in the National League)

Phillies team batting average in May- .282 (ranked 2nd in NL)
Mets team batting average in May- .242 (ranked 10th in the NL)

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Morandini Ejected, Minor League News & Notes

The Class A Lakewood BlueClaws lost in controversial fashion on Sunday evening, dropping their series finale against the Hagerstown Suns (Nationals affiliate), by a score of 7-6, in front of 5,457 fans at Lakewood's FirstEnergy Park.

In the bottom of the 8th inning, trailing 7-5 with the bases loaded and 1 out, Lakewood second baseman Carlos Perdomo laced a low liner toward Hagerstown shortstop Jason Martinson.  In a fashion that Phillies fans are used to seeing, when Chase Utley, on occasion, allows such hits in similar situations to drop so he can attempt to double up baserunners, Martinson did not catch the ball on the fly and immediately flipped the ball to second base for a force out on the runner from first base.  Outfielder Brian Pointer, who was on second base, retreated to the bag with the assumption the liner would be caught. A throw to third base drew the call from the umpiring crew for the second out.  The umps then ruled that the runner at second had been tagged, off the base, and credited Lakewood with having scored a run between the time the force out was recorded and the imaginary tag out of Pointer was made. 

BlueClaws manager Mickey Morandini then gave the umpires, Charlie Tierney and Doug Del Bello, a considerable ear full.  Morandini lashed out at the blundering duo until he was ejected from the contest.  Video of that exchange can be seen in the media player below.




The loss was Lakewood's 5th in the 6-game set against Hagerstown.
In Sunday's game, 21-year-old right-hander Ramon Oviedo took the loss, allowing 7 earned runs in 5 innings pitched.  Oviedo had allowed just 1 run in 6 innings in his Class A debut last Tuesday.  Additionally, on offense, Pointer (7) and Kelly Dugan (4) each homered for the BlueClaws. 


Several transactions involving Lakewood...

Josh Warner, who was added to the roster on Saturday, to start one end of the club's double header (2nd DH in 3 days) for Lakewood, will return to extended spring training.  Infielder Gustavo Gonzalez and catcher Logan Moore are also headed to extended spring training.

Lefty pitcher Mario Hollands has been promoted to Class A Advanced Clearwater.

Starting pitcher Ervis Manzanillo will be activated from Lakewood's disabled list.

20-year-old infielder Alejandro Villalobos will join the BlueClaws from extended spring training.

Catcher John Hill, a 19th round draft pick from 2011, will be added to the Lakewood roster from Clearwater.   

More notes...

Outfielder, Zach Collier, who was suspended for the first 50 games of the 2012 season following a positive test result for banned substances last year, is slated to return to action this week.  Collier is expected to be activated on the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers roster, once he is cleared to play.

Reading outfielder Tyson Gillies is reportedly day-to-day with a left wrist contusion with no disabled list stint expected.  The injury occurred in Reading's match up with Harrisburg on Saturday, when Gillies collided with teammate Jiwan James, while fielding a fly ball.  Gillies successfully made the catch.  While at a hospital to be examined on Saturday night, Gillies informed PhoulBallz.com that he felt he'd be okay.
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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Weekly Minor League Wrap Up, 5/27/12

Here's your weekly walk through the Phillies minor leagues.  This time we glance at some noteworthy performances from the four full season clubs as well as the Venezuelan Summer League.



Venezuelan Summer League team….9-3 record, 1st place tie in the 4 team league.

Catcher Rafael Fernandez has been scorching hot for the VSL Phils in the early going. Through his first 7 games, the 20-year-old posted a .458 batting average with a double and a homer while driving in 7 runs. The righty batting native of Caracas, VZ is in his 3rd season in the VSL and tallied a .220 batting average with 1 HR in 65 games over his 2 previous seasons.

Through 3 starts, Douglas Parada has a 2-0 record with a 2.00 ERA while striking out 14 batters and walking only 1 in 18 innings pitched. Additionally, Parada has held opponents to a .161 batting average. The 19-year-old left-hander was signed last July and made 5 starts in the VSL last summer, posting a 0-2 record with a 5.40 ERA in his debut campaign as a pro.

In Friday’s contest against the Tigers’ club, Wilmer Oberto was a single shy of hitting for the cycle. Oberto, 19, is a lefty hitting outfielder that has posted a .326 average with 6 doubles, a triple and a homerun while driving in 6 runs through his first 11 games this season.


Lakewood BlueClaws….19-29, 6th place, out of 7 teams, in the Class A South Atlantic League’s Northern division.

Kelly Dugan (pictured, left) has been performing very well since coming off the disabled list after suffering an ankle sprain. The 21-year-old first baseman posted a .295/.385/.545 line in 12 May games. Dugan, a 2nd round draft selection in 2009, was an All-Star in the short-season NY-Penn League with Williamsport last season.

There really isn’t much hotness going on in Lakewood these days. The team’s lineup on Friday ended the game with four batters hitting under .190, while just two batters, Dugan and first baseman/third baseman Harold Martinez, had batting averages above .250. Additionally, the BlueClaws’ starting rotation entered play on Saturday with two hurlers who had ERA’s at 6.00 or greater as well as three individuals with no wins.


Clearwater Threshers….25-22, 2nd place (6 GB) in the Class A Advanced Florida State League’s North division.

Lefty hurler Jesse Biddle has been excellent in 5 May starts. The 20-year-old has a 2-0 record with a 1.38 ERA and a .191 batting average against this month. Biddle was the Phils’ first round pick in the 2010 draft.

Tyler Knigge (pictured, left), 23, has been strong out of the Threshers’ bullpen. Knigge has posted a 0.67 ERA with a 2-0 record and 2 saves in 19 appearances. Opponents are batting just .174 against Knigge, who has struck out 22 and walked 6 in 27 innings and has yet to surrender a homerun this season. Knigge was a 12th round draft selection by the Phillies out of Lewis & Clark State College in 2010

Brody Colvin, who was struggling this season as a starter, was used in relief on Saturday, for the first time this season.  Colvin, who entered action with a 5.64 ERA through 9 starts, allowed 1 earned run in 2 innings of work against the Daytona Cubs. The 7th round draft pick from 2009 was among a group of hurlers nicknamed the "Baby Aces" last season, but has continued to have a rough go of things in Clearwater, while his teammates have moved on and upward in the system.



Reading Phillies….27-20, 2nd place (1/2 GB) in the Double-A Eastern League’s Eastern division.

Outfielder Leandro Castro recently had an 8-game hitting streak in which he went 16-for-32 (.500 avg) with 5 doubles, a triple and 2 HR. Castro’s .309/.356/.519 line through his first 22 games in May dwarfed his .214/.240/.329 output in 20 April games. Castro, 22, has played all three outfield positions as a pro. Overall, the Dominican born righty hitter is batting .260 with 3 homers and 22 RBI this season.

Shortstop Troy Hanzawa has posted surprisingly strong numbers this season. The Hawaiian born right-handed hitter sports a .308 average with 5 doubles, 2 triples and 18 RBI through 41 games this season. Hanzawa, 26, hit .213 in 120 games with Clearwater and Reading last season. Also, the Phillies' 16th round draft pick from 2008 was a .246 hitter in 4 pro seasons in the minors prior to 2012.

Reading closer Justin Friend (pictured, right) has been exceptional out of the bullpen this season. The 25-year-old right-hander has posted a 0.53 ERA with 10 saves and no decisions in 16 games thus far in 2012. Friend, an Oklahoma State product, was a Rule 5 draft pick in 2010 out of the Oakland organization.

Phillies top ranked offensive prospect Sebastian Valle has had a rough month. Through game action on Friday, the Mexican born catcher was sporting a .167/.187/.292 line in 18 May games. Valle, 21, bounced back a bit on Saturday, lacing 2 hits including a homer in Reading's loss at Harrisburg.  Valle is batting .229 with 6 doubles, 4 homers and 16 RBI in 36 games thus far in 2012.


Lehigh Valley IronPigs…28-21, 2nd place tie (2.5 GB) in the Triple-A International League’s North division.

Veteran hurler Dave Bush has thrown back-to-back scoreless outings in his last two games, including a complete game shutout against the Louisville Bats last Tuesday, in which he struck out 6 batters and walked none. Overall this season, the right-hander has a 4-3 record with a 2.73 ERA. The 32-year-old was signed as a free agent, by the Phillies, last August.

Michael Schwimer has posted extremely good numbers with the IronPigs this season. Overall in 13 games with Lehigh Valley, the 6-foot-8-inch 240-pounder has a 2-0 record with 5 saves and a 1.08 ERA. He also has averaged 9.72 K’s per 9 innings. Comparatively, at the big league level, Schwimer produced an 8.53 ERA in 5 appearances this season.

Domonic Brown has been playing some center field lately for the IronPigs.  The 24-year-old prospect is sporting a .172 batting average in 9 May games.  Brown is still without a homerun on the season through 31 games overall.

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Threshers Promo Pics

This week the Ft. Myers Miracle (Twins affiliate) hosted a couple noteworthy promotions when they played against the Phillies' Class A Advanced club, the Clearwater Threshers.  Thanks to the Twitter feeds of a couple Threshers players, we got an inside look at some behind-the-scenes action.

On Wednesday, the Miracle held their annual tribute to the Negro Leagues, when they donned the uniforms of the Newark Eagles while Clearwater represented the Homestead Grays.   Starting pitcher Perci Garner posted the below image of himself, along with some teammates including Tyler Knigge, Jesse Biddle and Ryan Duke, sporting the Grays gear.



In addition, surging third base prospect Cody Asche took time prior to Thursday's "School is Out for Summer" promotion to pose for a photo with the most famous television school principal ever, "Mr. Belding" from Saved by the Bell, actor Dennis Haskins.



It's certainly fun to see young players enjoying their lives on the road.  The Threshers (24-12) are currently in 2nd place in the Florida State League's North division, 5 games behind 1st place Dunedin.
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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Series Preview: Phillies at Cardinals, May 24-27

Last season the St. Louis Cardinals ousted the Philadelphia Phillies from the postseason, en route to a surprising World Series victory.  In the first rematch between the two teams, since that National League Division Series which the Cards won 3-2, the Phillies will visit St. Louis' Busch Stadium to begin a four-game series on Thursday night.

Currently, the Cardinals (25-19) have maintained the level of success that took them deep into the October playing schedule last year, as they hold the top spot in the National League Central division, despite losing top slugger Albert Pujols to free agency, following their 2012 title run.  Meanwhile, the Phillies (22-23) have been missing a pair of injured stars, namely Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, and haven't been able to stay atop the NL East division that they have won each of the past five season. Philadelphia currently occupies the bottom spot in the five-team division.

Read ahead for details on the pitching match ups and loads more statistical details from this series.



Thursday, 8:15 PM. Joe Blanton (4-4, 3.74 ERA) vs. Jake Westbrook (4-3, 2.41 ERA). In 3 regular season starts at Busch Stadium, Blanton is 2-1 with a 2.25 ERA with a .211 batting average against. Blanton is a 3-2 record with a 3.03 ERA in 6 career regular season games against St. Louis. On the road this season, Blanton is 1-3 with a 3.48 ERA in 4 games. Carlos Beltran is 3-for-16 (.188 avg) in regular season action against Blanton. At home this season, the right-handed Westbrook has a 2-1 record with a 3.55 ERA in 4 starts. In 3 career starts against Philadelphia, Westbrook is 1-1 with a 3.52 ERA. Hunter Pence is 7-for-12 (.583 avg) in his career against Westbrook.


Friday, 8:15 PM. Cliff Lee (0-2, 2.66 ERA) vs. Kyle Lohse (5-1, 2.91 ERA). Lee has posted a 0.56 ERA with no decisions in 2 road starts this season. Dating back to 2011, Lee has a 0.89 ERA in his last 8 road starts. In his career against St. Louis in the regular season, Lee has a 3-1 record with a 1.48 ERA in 4 starts. In 10 career regular season starts against Philadelphia, Lohse, a former Phillie, has a 3-4 record with a 3.43 ERA. Jimmy Rollins is 5-for-27 (.185 avg) in his regular season career against Lohse.


Saturday, 7:15 PM. Kyle Kendrick (0-4, 5.23 ERA) vs. Jaime Garcia (3-2, 3.55 ERA). In his regular season career against the Cardinals, Kendrick is 4-1 with a 3.32 ERA in 7 games (5 starts). Opponents are batting .310 against Kendrick this season in 10 games. In 6 road outings this season, Kendrick has posted a 0-1 record with a 5.19 ERA. Matt Holliday is 2-for-14 (.143 avg) with a double and a homer in regular season action against Kendrick. In 4 home starts this season, the lefty Garcia has posted a 1-1 record with a 3.38 ERA. Jimmy Rollins is 1-for-11 (.091 avg) in his regular season career against Garcia. In 6 career regular season outings (4 starts) against the Phillies, Garcia has a 2-1 record with a 1.20 ERA and a .178 batting average against.


Sunday, 2:15 PM. Roy Halladay (4-4, 3.58 ERA) vs. Adam Wainwright (3-5, 4.78 ERA). Halladay has a 3-1 record with a 3.72 ERA in 5 road starts this season. Halladay did not earn a win in 2 starts against St. Louis last season. Carlos Beltran is 14-for-42 (.333 avg) with a double and 2 homers in his career against Halladay. In 5 home starts this season, Wainwright has a 2-3 record with a 6.67 ERA. Wainwright has a 2-1 record with a 2.30 ERA in 8 career regular season appearances (6 starts) against the Phils. Jimmy Rollins is 6-for-17 (.353 avg) with 2 doubles in his career against Wainwright.


Juan Pierre is fresh off a dismal home stand in which he went 1-for-19 (.053 avg).  Pierre is a .263 career hitter in 71 games against St. Louis.

Carlos Ruiz's .357 batting average ranks 3rd in the National League.  In 18 road games this season, Ruiz has posted a .397 batting average. 

Ty Wigginton in 21 May games is batting .148 with 0 extra-base hits. In 8 career games at Busch Stadium, Wigginton has a .208 batting average with 1 HR.

Rafael Furcal, who is batting .339 this season, for the Cards, has posted a .259 batting average with 7 HR and 38 RBI in 117 career regular season games against Philadelphia. In 4 regular season games against the Phillies last year, Furcal went 7-for-17 (.412 avg) with 3 doubles. Furcal is 12-for-62 (.194 avg) in 15 career postseason games against the Phillies.

Cardinals closer Jason Motte has allowed 11 earned runs in 8 1/3 career regular season innings pitched (11.88 ERA) against the Phillies. Motte did, however, throw 3 1/3 scoreless innings against Philadelphia in the postseason last year.

David Freese is batting .218 in 16 home games this season. In 20 May games, Freese has posted a .194 batting average, while in 20 April games, Freese sported a .333 average.

Carlos Beltan's 14 homeruns are tops in the National League.  

The Cardinals lead the National League in runs scored with 231.  The Phillies rank 9th in the NL with 178.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

True Phillie Material: Bob Stumpo

Throughout the 1990’s and into the 2000’s, Bob Stumpo, a resident of Wilmington, DE, grew up rooting for his local Major League Baseball team, the Philadelphia Phillies. Currently, Stumpo is a catcher/first baseman for the Phillies Class A affiliate, the Lakewood BlueClaws in the South Atlantic League, where is developing into a player worthy of wearing a Philadelphia uniform.

Through 14 games with Lakewood, the switch-hitting Stumpo has posted a .314 batting average with 2 doubles, a triple and 7 RBI. Prior to joining Lakewood, Stumpo sported a .313 average in 4 games with the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers. In the two seasons prior, Stumpo combined to bat .243 with 1 HR and 26 RBI in 67 combined games at three levels.

Back in June, 2010, Stumpo, a West Chester University graduate, was stunned to hear his name selected by his favorite club during the annual Major League Baseball amateur draft (33rd round). He describes that draft day as one of the most remarkable moments of his life.

"When the Phillies called my name on draft day, I was really excited,” Stumpo, whose father is a Phillies season ticket holder, recently told PhoulBallz.com's Jay Floyd. “I talked to them before the draft and I thought it might happen, but getting drafted by the team you've been following your whole life is really exciting. Hopefully, I can keep moving up and up and be out in Citizens Bank Park one day. It's almost a dream come true.”

Almost is a meaningful element to that statement for the 6-foot-3-inch 225-pounder. His ultimate goal is to one day don the catcher’s pads for his big league parent club. In the meantime, though, Stumpo speaks like a mature, media savvy Phillie player already. Asked about the troublesome stats belonging to Lakewood’s starting rotation (two hurlers have ERA’s of 6 or greater, while another has an ERA of 4.67, and only one has a winning record), Stumpo put a positive spin on the progress of the pitchers that he helps guide and refocused the negative on the bright futures each hurler could have.

"It's a talented group. I mean, all of them can pitch, we know that. It's a different situation, where some guys have never been on a full season team, you know, they were down in Florida, in extended or things like that, going to short-season, so it's a process of getting used to it and stuff, especially playing up in the cold for a couple weeks, early in the season. But, there's a lot of talent in this starting rotation, so I don't think it's going to be a problem. (I’m) just trying to lead them in the right way,” Stumpo said.

The 24–year-old Stumpo grew up rooting for many of the same players that loads of similarly aged members of the Phillies Nation did during their formative years. Names like Jim Thome, Ryan Howard and Shane Victorino stand out as individuals that Stumpo looked up to and modeled his playing style after. But there is one player that stands out just a bit more to Stumpo, who fashions his hard-nosed on-field grind after one of Philadelphia’s hardest playing athletes.

"I’ve always loved how Chase Utley played the game,” Stumpo said with admiration. “It just stands out, how hard he plays. Utley's number one, of guys to watch and learn from, just because of how intense he is and how he plays the game. He never takes a play off and never takes a pitch off. I'd say I watched Utley the most."

Stumpo’s demeanor and skills make him stand out as a leader, which is impressive, in just his second full season in the minors. Lakewood manager, former Phillies All-Star Mickey Morandini, coached Stumpo last season in Williamsport and recognizes Stumpo’s ability to be a field general and a positive influence on his team off the field. According to Stumpo, while his demotion from Clearwater to Lakewood in April was beneficial and mainly focused on getting him additional at bats, he thinks Morandini had a little something to do with the move.

“I'm an older guy and I was with Mickey last year and I think he wanted to get me up here, and get me more playing time, and help out around the clubhouse, and help the younger guys and things like that,” Stumpo said.

While he is pleased with his current spot in the organization and credits an aggressive approach with a focus on working the count for his success thus far with Lakewood, Stumpo is always focused on reaching the next level and has a simple Phillie-centric outlook toward attaining his goals and climbing the developmental ladder.

“(I) just try to help my team, anyway I can, whenever I get the chance…even helping other guys.”

That’s how Phillies do it. That’s Bob Stumpo.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Series Preview: Nationals at Phillies, May 21-23

A budding rivalry is set to continue as the Washington Nationals (24-17) visit the Phillies (21-21) for a three-game series beginning Monday night at Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park.

Initially sparked up this year when the Nationals organization attempted to prevent Philadelphia fans from attending their team's games at Nationals Park, the rivalry's intensity reached considerably greater levels this month when lefty pitcher Cole Hamels admitted to intentionally hitting highly hyped rookie outfielder Bryce Harper with a pitch to welcome him to the big leagues.

Fresh off a series loss to Boston, the Phillies remain in last place in the National League East division which they have won for five consecutive season.  The Nationals are in second place in the same division, 1 1/2 games behind Atlanta for the top spot.  The challenge to catch the Nats and the Braves will only get tougher for the Phils, as they start a stretch of 6 straight series against teams with winning records, on Monday.

Read ahead for details on the pitching match ups and plenty more statistical details from this series.



Monday, 7:05 PM.  Gio Gonzalez (5-1, 2.22 ERA) vs. Kyle Kendrick (0-3, 5.96 ERA).  In his lone career start against Philadelphia, the former Phillies prospect Gonzalez earned a win with 7 innings of 1-run ball earlier this month.  Gonzalez is 2-1 with a 3.48 ERA in 4 road starts this season.  In 14 career games against the Nationals, Kendrick has a 2-3 record with a 5.19 ERA.  This season opponents are batting .330 against Kendrick.  Ryan Zimmerman is 10-for-22 (.455 avg) with 7 doubles and a HR in his career against Kendrick.


Tuesday, 7:05 PM.  Jordan Zimmermann (2-4, 2.58 ERA) vs. Roy Halladay (4-3, 3.22 ERA).  In 4 career starts against the Phillies, Zimmermann has a 0-3 record with a 6.00 ERA.  Zimmermann is 1-3 with a 3.91 ERA in his last 4 starts.  Halladay is 11-1 with a 2.28 ERA in 16 career games (15 starts) against the Nationals.  In 4 home starts this season, Halladay has a 1-2 record with a 2.57 ERA.


Wednesday, 7:05 PM.  Edwin Jackson (1-1, 3.31 ERA) vs. Cole Hamels (6-1, 2.48 ERA).  In his last 6 starts, Jackson has no decisions but has posted a 2.93 ERA.  Jackson allowed 5 earned runs over 5 innings in his lone career start against the Phillies.  Placido Polanco is 0-for-6 in his career against Jackson.  In 21 career starts against the Nationals, Hamels has posted an 11-4 record with a 2.62 ERA.  In his last 7 starts, Hamels is 6-0 with a 2.20 ERA.


Ryan Zimmerman has a .285 batting average with 13 HR and 61 RBI in 97 career games against the Phillies.  Zimmerman is batting .244 in 12 road games this season.

In 8 road games, Bryce Harper has posted a .188 batting average.  Harper has gone 10-for-31 (.322 avg) with 2 triples and 2 homers in his last 7 games.

Henry Rodriguez, who leads the Nats with 9 saves, has posted a 0-3 record with 3 blown saves and a 9.82 ERA in 9 road games this season.

Carlos Ruiz's .355 batting average ranks 3rd in the National League.  Ruiz is a .309 hitter in 74 career games against the Nats.

Ty Wigginton is 8-for-49 (.163 average) with no extra base hits in May.

Shane Victorino's .282 batting average in 19 May games is much improved over his .228 mark in in 23 April games.

Nationals team ERA this month- 3.63 (7th in NL)
Phillies team ERA this month- 4.30 (13th in NL)

Nationals runs per game this month- 4.26
Phillies runs per game this month- 5.0
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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Weekly Minor League Wrap Up, 5/20/12

Once again, the weekly minor league wrap up is back, taking a look at each of the Phillies' four full season minor league clubs.  This time around, we'll take a look at the hot and cold lists from each team.

Class A Lakewood BlueClaws 15-25, 6th place out of 7 (14.5 GB) in South Atlantic League Northern Division.

Who’s hot-

1st baseman/3rd baseman Harold Martinez (pictured left), through action on Saturday, has strung together a stretch of 7 games where he has gone 10-for-24 (.417 avg) to boost his season batting average 58 points. Martinez, 22, was the Phillies’ 2nd round draft selection out of the University of Miami last year.

Right-handed reliever Matt Campbell has been a solid contributor out of the Lakewood bullpen. Since joining the club in late April, the 24th round draft pick from last season has a 1-1 record with 2 saves and a 1.46 ERA while striking out 12 batters in 12 1/3 innings pitched. Campbell has thrown more than 1 inning in 5 of 6 of his outings. Additionally, the Florida native has held opponents to a .163 batting average.

Who’s not-

Infielder Stephen Malcolm, has gone 2-for-18 (.111 avg) through his first 7 games of Class A ball since joining the BlueClaws last weekend. The 22-year-old missed all of last season due to disciplinary issues. Malcolm was an 8th round draft choice in 2010.

Outfielder Brian Pointer, who was among the Phillies’ top minor league performers in April, with a .295 batting average, 5 HR, 19 RBI and a .964 OPS, has really struggled in May. The lefty hitting 20-year-old has posted a .140 batting average with 0 HR and just 1 RBI and a .479 OPS in 15 May games.


Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers, 21-19, tied for 2nd place (5 GB) in the Florida State League’s North Division.


Who’s hot-

Cody Asche has been on fire for the Threshers. Through action on Friday, the third baseman has posted a .394 batting average with 5 doubles, 2 triples, 2 HR and 11 RBI in 16 May games. The left-handed hitting Asche was selected by the Phillies in the 4th round of the 2011 amateur draft. The University of Nebraska product is 21 years old.

University of Delaware product Carlos Alonso (pictured, right) was sporting a .373 batting average with 3 doubles, 2 HR and 10 RBI in 14 May games. Alonso, 24, is a versatile multi-positional infielder for the Threshers.

LHP Jesse Biddle has been sharp lately for Clearwater. The 20-year-old is 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA with a .179 batting average against in 4 May starts. Biddle, a Philadelphia native, was the Phillies’ 1st round draft pick in 2010.

Who’s not-

Righty starting pitcher Perci Garner has had a tough month, posting an 0-2 record with a 6.63 ERA in 4 May starts. Garner is the Phillies' 2nd round draft pick from 2010.



Double-A Reading Phillies,23-17, 2nd place (1.5 GB) in the Eastern League's Eastern Division.

Who’s hot-

RHP Julio Rodriguez has been the ace of the R-Phils’ staff. In 4 May starts, Rodriguez has not allowed an earned run. His ERA on the season sits at 1.88 through 7 starts. For all his dominance, Rodriguez has just 3 wins, but has not lost this season.  The 21-year-old Puerto Rico native led the Florida State League in wins last season with 16.


Second baseman Cesar Hernandez (pictured, left) has had an exceptional month as well, sporting a .382 batting average in 17 May games. The switch-hitting Venezuela native has fairly even splits vs. lefty and righty pitchers, as he has tallied a .327 average against left-handers and a .319 mark against right-handers through Friday's game.  Hernandez will celebrate his 22nd birthday this Wednesday.

Who’s not-

Infielder Jeremy Barnes is 1-for-10 (.100 avg) in 3 games with Reading since being activated from the disabled list.  Overall this season, in time split with Clearwater and Reading, the 25-year-old Notre Dame product has posted a .138 batting average with just 1 extra base hit, a double, in 18 games.


Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs, 25-17, 3rd place (1 GB) in the International League's North Division.

Who's hot-

RHP Tyler Cloyd has posted a 4-0 record with a 0.69 ERA in 4 starts this season with the IronPigs.  The 25-year-old has not lost this season and has a 7-0 record, a 1.24 ERA and a .194 batting average against in 8 combined starts at Reading and Lehigh Valley.  At this rate, it's only a matter of time before Cloyd gets a shot with the big club.

Who's not-

Cody Overbeck has had a weak May, posting a .161 batting average in 18 games this month.  The 25-year-old righty hitting first baseman had a strong enough April that his season batting average is still a respectable .252.

Outifelder Domonic Brown has not played in a game since May 7th, as he tries to recover from a left hamstring ailment.

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Costanzo Living His Big League Dream

After a lengthy career in the minors, Mike Costanzo, who was a promising young third baseman in the Phillies system several years back, is finally living his dream of playing big league baseball. The life-long Philadelphia sports fan and resident of the city's suburbs, was selected in the 2nd round of the 2005 MLB amateur draft by his hometown club, but struggled in recent years and, to some, looked to be a bust.

Following a few productive years in the Phillies' developmental ranks, Costanzo was traded to Houston, along with Michael Bourn and Geoff Geary, for Brad Lidge and Eric Bruntlett following the 2007 season. That year, his second full season as a pro, Costanzo batted .270 while lacing 27 homers and driving in 86 runs for the Reading Phillies. Costanzo was then flipped in another deal, during the same off-season, to the Orioles for All-Star Miguel Tejada.

The road to the big leagues was a long one for the determined Costanzo. After his impressive season at Double-A in 2007, his production faltered. As he took a step upward to Triple-A in 2008, Costanzo struggled and saw his OPS dip 130 points from the previous season. The following year, Costanzo split time between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk, posting improved numbers, but Baltimore didn’t see big league potential in the 6-foor-3-inch 215-pounder and he did not return to the organization the following season.

Back at home as a free agent, Costanzo signed with the independent Camden Riversharks of the Atlantic League. In 2010, Costanzo played just 16 games there before Cincinnati called to offer him a contract with an affiliated team.

In each of the past three seasons, including this year, the lefty hitting Costanzo has split time at the Double-A level and the Triple-A level in the Reds organization. Overall in the minors, since joining Cincinnati, Costanzo has posted a .263 batting average with 30 HR and 137 RBI in 248 games played.

Last week, the Coastal Carolina University product made his Major League debut after nearly 8 long years in the minor leagues. He did so by driving in a run on a sacrifice fly against Washington’s Edwin Jackson.

Ironically, for Costanzo, he got the call that he was finally being promoted to the Majors at the expense of another third baseman that was selected in the second round by Philadelphia. Scott Rolen, a 1993 draft pick, was placed on the disabled list with a shoulder strain and left a vacancy for the 28-year-old Costanzo to realize his dream of reaching the big leagues.  Rolen had been a guy Costanzo looked up to, prior to turning pro.

Everything about the experience of playing big league baseball was exciting for Costanzo, who was never sure if he would make it to the highest level of the sport he loved so much.

"A lot of emotions are running around in my head.  It's been quite a journey for me.  I'm ecstatic about being here," Costanzo told MLB.com recently.

On Saturday afternoon, against the Yankees in New York, the experience got just a little bit sweeter for Costanzo, as he notched his first big league hit. The single came against right-hander Ivan Nova.

In the MLB.com piece, Costanzo stated that he never once gave up on his dream of playing big league baseball.

"I love baseball," Costanzo said.  "Definitely being 28 and in Triple-A the last five years, going to indy ball and doing all that stuff, it makes you wonder sometimes. Never did I want to stop playing."


Additional note-
Costanzo and Rolen aren't the only third baseman in the Cincinnati organization that were drafted in the 2nd round by the Phillies. Travis "Moose" Mattair, a 2007 draft pick, was taken by the Reds in the Rule 5 draft last year. Through action on Friday, Mattair had posted a .148 batting average with 6 HR and 13 RBI in 31 games for Class A Advanced Bakersfield.
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Image- AP
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Friday, May 18, 2012

Series Preview: Red Sox at Phillies, May 18-20

Jonathan Papelbon, who signed a $50 million four-year contract with Philadelphia this past off-season after becoming a household name in the Boston organization, expects to see action against his former team for the very first time this weekend.  The Phillies (20-19) will host the Red Sox (18-20) for a three-game series beginning Friday night at Citizens Bank Park to kick off 2012 inter-league play.

Papelbon has transitioned easily into the National League, where he has successfully converted all 11 save opportunities with the Phils this season.  In his regular season career, Papelbon has converted 88.8% of his save chances.

Boston and Philadelphia are perennial favorites for playoff spots each season, but both have run into difficult times in the early going, this season, as they have been plagued with injuries to injured stars like Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and others.  Both teams are in last place in their respective divisions.

In the opener of the series, the Red Sox will send right-hander Daniel Bard, who is 2-2 with a 4.26 ERA in his last 4 starts, to the mound.  The Phillies will counter with standout lefty Cole Hamels, who has had tremendous success against Boston, with a 3-0 record and a 1.44 ERA and a .191 batting average against in 4 career starts.

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



Friday, 7:05 PM.  Daniel Bard (3-4, 4.30 ERA) vs. Cole Hamels (5-1, 2.28 ERA).  In 4 career relief appearances against the Phillies, Bard has a 9.82 ERA.  In 4 road games (3 starts) this season, Bard has posted a 2-2 record with a 5.49 ERA.  Bard has a 5.76 ERA in 5 night games this season.  Hamels has posted a 2-1 record with a 2.79 ERA in 3 home starts this year.  In his last 6 starts, Hamels is 5-0 with a 1.93 ERA.  Adrian Gonzalez is 8-for-24 (.333 avg) with 2 HR in his career against Hamels. 


Saturday, 7:15 PM.  Jon Lester (2-3, 3.71 ERA) vs. Joe Blanton (4-3, 2.96 ERA).  Lester is 2-0 with a 0.43 ERA in 3 career starts against the Phillies.  In 5 road starts this season, the left-handed Lester has posted a 1-2 record with a 2.65 ERA.  Ty Wigginton is 8-for-20 (.400 avg) with a double and a homer against Lester.  In 10 career starts against the Red Sox, Blanton has posted a 3-3 record with with a 4.70 ERA.  Blanton is 3-0 with a 2.57 ERA in 4 home starts this year.  Blanton has not lost at Citizens Bank Park in over a year.  Adrian Gonzalez is 7-for-16 (.438 avg) with 2 HR in his career against Blanton. 


Sunday, 1:35 PM.  Josh Beckett (3-4, 4.97 ERA) vs. Cliff Lee (0-1, 1.95 ERA).  In 11 career starts against Boston, Lee has a 3-4 record with a 3.56 ERA.  Lee is 14-6 with a 2.16 ERA in 26 career regular season starts at Citizens Bank Park.  In 20 career games against the Phillies, Beckett has an 8-5 record with a 4.18 ERA. Brian Schneider is 4-for-30 (.133 avg) in his career against Beckett.


Boston reliever Vicente Padilla has a 5.05 ERA in 27 career regular season games at Citizens Bank Park.  Padilla was an All-Star for Philadelphia in 2002.

In 28 career games against the Phillies, David Ortiz has a .301 batting average with 5 HR and 21 RBI.  Ortiz's .345 batting average is 4th best in the American League.

Former Phillie Marlon Byrd is a .238 hitter in 29 career games against Philadelphia.  Byrd has a .205 batting average in 62 career games at Citizens Bank Park.

In 14 career appearances at Citizens Bank Park, Jonathan Papelbon has posted a 0-1 record with 8 saves and a 2.63 ERA.

In 15 May games, Carlos Ruiz is 21-for-49 (.429 avg) with 4 doubles, 4 HR and 17 RBI.  Ruiz has a .109 career batting average in 15 games against Boston. 

Ty Wigginton is a career .275 hitter with 13 HR and 32 RBI in 57 games against the Red Sox.  Wigginton is batting .158 with no extra base hits in 15 May games. 

Hunter Pence has a .391/.444/.565 line in 6 career games against Boston.  Pence is batting .236 in 18 home games this season.

Boston team batting average- .273
Phillies team batting average- .263

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PhoulBallz Interview: Harold Martinez

Last year's 2nd round draft pick of the Phillies, Harold Martinez has begun to get hot after a bit of a slow start to his 2012 regular season.

After beginning the season rehabbing his injured left hand and playing some games in extended spring training, Harold joined the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws on April 24th.  Through his first 16 games with Lakewood, Martinez was batting .213, but after a hot week, the Cuban born first baseman/third baseman has his average up to .272 against South Atlantic League pitching.

The 22-year-old righty hitter came over to the United States at a young age and has dreamed of playing professional baseball ever since.

Last year, in his first season of pro ball, Martinez, a University of Miami product, sported a .251 batting average with 2 homers and 31 RBI in 67 games for the short-season Williamsport Crosscutters of the NY-Penn League.

Recently, I spoke with Harold about his draft experience, his journey from Cuba to the U.S., playing for Lakewood and plenty more.  Check out the media player below to hear the full interview.



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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Series Preview: Phillies at Cubs, May 16-17

The Phillies (18-19) are set to hit the road for the 2 games that break up a stretch in which they play 14 of 16 games at home, as they head to Chicago to face the Cubs (15-21).
 
For the second time this season, righty Kyle Kendrick will fill in for an injured member of the Phils' starting rotation and face Cubs hurler Matt Garza.  Last time, Kendrick pitched in place of Cliff Lee, while he takes Vance Worley's turn this time around.  Worley is slated to miss a start, as he deals with soreness in his throwing arm.

The switch could be a break for Chicago, as Worley has been a strong contributor (3-1, 2.81 ERA in his last 5 games) for the Phillies while Kendrick has struggled greatly this year.

Last season, the Phillies won 2 of 3 meetings with the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Read ahead for more information on the pitching match ups for this series and well as many more statistical nuggets.



Wednesday, 8:05 PM. Kyle Kendrick (0-3, 7.32 ERA) vs. Matt Garza (2-1, 2.56 ERA). Kendrick is 0-1 with a 1.80 ERA in 3 career games against the Cubs. Kendrick has thrown just 1 inning, a scoreless frame, at Wrigley Field in his career. In 4 career starts against Philadelphia, Garza has a 2-1 record with a 0.96 ERA and a .135 batting average against. Garza is 1-0 with a 1.66 ERA in 3 home starts this season. Shane Victorino, Placido Polanco and Jimmy Rollins are a combined 5-for-29 (.128 avg) in their careers against Garza in regular season action.


Thursday, 8:05 PM. Roy Halladay (3-3, 3.20 ERA) vs. Chris Volstad (0-5, 6.92 ERA). Halladay has a 2-1 record with a 3.75 ERA in 4 road starts this season. In 6 career starts against the Cubs, Halladay is 1-5 with a 3.75 ERA. The Phillies have lost each of Halladay’s last 5 starts. In 13 career starts against the Phillies, the righty Volstad has a 2-5 record with a 5.89 ERA. Volstad is a former 1st round draft selection (2005) of the Marlins. Volstad has a 0-4 record with a 6.07 ERA in 8 career starts at Wrigley Field.


Former Cub Mike Fontenot has a .273 average with 9 HR and 58 RBI in 210 career games at Wrigley Field. The lefty batting Fontenot is 1-for-3 against Garza and is 5-for-16 (.313 avg) with 2 doubles and a HR in his career against Volstad.

Carlos Ruiz is batting .352 with 3 HR and 13 RBI in 16 road games this season.  Ruiz is a .205 in 15 career games at Wrigley Field.

In 19 road games this year, Freddy Galvis has posted a .164 batting average.  Galvis' 15 RBI rank 3rd best on the Phillies.

Bryan LaHair, Chicago’s HR leader with 10, is 7-for-15 (.467 avg) in his career against Philadelphia. In 18 home games this season, LaHair is batting .373 with 4 homers and 8 RBI.

Alfonso Soriano is a .252 career hitter in 54 games against the Phillies. Soriano, who has hit 20 or more homeruns for each of the past ten seasons, hit his first homerun of the season against St. Louis on Tuesday.

Former Phillies prospect Adrian Cardenas made his Major League debut with the Cubs last week and, since then, he has gone 1-for-10 (.100 average). Cardenas was dealt away in the 2008 Joe Blanton trade.

In 14 home games this season, Cubs catcher Geovany Soto has posted a .125 average.

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PhoulBallz Interview: Stephen Malcolm

Infielder Stephen Malcolm joined the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws last weekend after a solid 6 weeks in extended spring training.  Thus far in South Atlantic League play, the 22-year-old Malcolm has gone 1-for-7 with a stolen base, but is slated to get playing time at both second base and shortstop.

An 8th round draft selection by the Phillies in 2010, Malcolm missed the entire 2011 season after he was sent home for disciplinary reasons in April.

In 2010, after signing as a pro, Malcolm posted a .253 batting average with 3 doubles and 10 RBI in 27 games with the Gulf Coast League Phillies.

Recently, I spoke with Stephen about his promotion, working closely with his manager, former Phillies All-Star Mickey Morandini, his feelings toward the Phillies' brass and plenty more.  Check out the media player below to hear the full interview.


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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Baby Ace Rodriguez Feeling at Home in Reading

Puerto Rican born starting pitcher Julio Rodriguez grew up dreaming of becoming a baseball star. These days, he is among the core of young Philadelphia pitching prospects that have begun to get a lot of attention after some considerable success in recent years and he is happy to now be standing out practically in the Phillies' back yard.

Last year, with the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers, the 6-foot-4-inch 230-pounder led the Florida State League in wins when he posted a 16-7 record with a 2.76 ERA and a .186 batting average against. The season before that, Rodriguez split time at short-season Williamsport and with Class A Lakewood, where he combined to post a 7-3 record with a 1.89 ERA in 20 games (12 starts). Prior to that he played two seasons with the Gulf Coast League Phillies. In those areas, fan attention toward rising prospects isn’t very prevalent. Things would certainly change when Rodriguez came north to show what he's all about.

Having never possessed a blazing fastball, regularly registering in the high-80's with his best offerings, Rodriguez still produces big-time strikeout totals that are reflective of a power pitcher. His 10.50 K's per 9 innings mark, in his 4 pro season entering this season, is extremely impressive and indicative of some serious talent.

The 8th round draft selection from 2008 uses a bit of trickery on the mound to draw swings and misses. Rodriguez attributes his deceiving windup with helping to blow away opposing batters.

 “I just forget about the velocity and try to make my pitches the best that I can and keep the ball down," Rodriguez stated in an exclusive interview with PhoulBallz.com's Jay Floyd. "I have a difficult wind up. I keep the ball back and hidden from view. I think that bothers the hitters."
 
Despite a bit of a drop in the strike out rate in the early going this year (8 K/9 IP), for Rodriguez, the success has continued into the new season, as he has been an extremely dependable starter for the Reading Phillies. Through 7 starts in the Double-A Eastern League, Rodriguez sports a 3-0 record with a 2.25 ERA.

All of Rodriguez's minor league success, including the 2010 South Atlantic League title he helped Lakewood win as well as the 2011 mid-season and postseason Florida State League All-Star nods he earned last year, are certainly among the highlights of his playing career. However, the moment of his baseball life that stands out as significantly memorable came in a contest while Rodriguez was pitching away from the Phillies system, when he was competing for Carolina in the Puerto Rican winter league last off-season. The 21-year-old Phillies prospect faced 40-year-old big league veteran Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez.

Julio was not able to bond with the future Hall of Famer. Being on opposing clubs prevented that. However, the younger Rodriguez speaks glowingly about the moment he was able to shine against the Puerto Rican legend that every young player from the same commonwealth grew up idolizing.

"I didn't talk to him, because he was on another team," Julio stated of Pudge. "But I did strike him out the just one time I faced him. It was a big, big experience for me. I was following Rodriguez when I was like 8 years old, and then to pitch against him was a great experience."

Rodriguez, who has previously competed for Team Puerto Rico in the Pan-Am qualifiers, takes great pride in representing his place of birth.

One new thing that ranks up there with the excitement of pitching for his home is the vibe that Rodriguez now gets when he takes the mound in the Philadelphia region with Reading. Located just about one hour outside the home city to the parent club, the municipality known as Baseball Town provides a taste of the big league life, as fans with generations-old attachments to their Phillies root hard for their team’s star prospects. He hears the attention that well-regarded prospects garner more than he ever did in previous seasons. The high praise that comes along with the “Baby Aces” nickname, given to Rodriguez and his top performing teammates Trevor May and Jonathan Pettibone, is something that flatters Rodriguez.

"It feels good. It feels great when they say that," Rodriguez said with a smile. "I really hope to be an ace in the big leagues for the Phillies some day and live up to it."

With a bright future ahead, Rodriguez will continue to draw from his love of the game that he built as a youth rooting for a local legend from his homeland and now from the fanfare surrounding him in the spirited Philadelphia sports region. _________________________________________________________

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Series Preview: Astros at Phillies, May 14-15

The Phillies (16-19) will try to get on a roll and win consecutive games for the first time this month as they host the Astros (15-19) for a quick two-game series at Citizens Bank Park.

In the series opener, the Phillies will sent righty hurler Joe Blanton, who has not lost at Citizens Bank Park since May 14th, 2011, to the mound.  The Astros will counter with right-hander Lucas Harrell, who has never faced the Phillies before.

The Astros were swept by the Phillies in their 3-game series in Philadelphia last year.

Read ahead for more details on the pitching match ups for this series as well as plenty more statistical info.



Monday, 7:05 PM.  Lucas Harrell (2-2, 4.58 ERA) vs. Joe Blanton (3-3, 3.24 ERA). Harrell has posted a 0-2 record with a 6.23 ERA in 4 road starts this season.  Harrell is 1-2 with a 6.23 ERA in his last 4 starts.  In 24 career big league games, opponents have posted a .300 batting average against Harrell.  Blanton is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in 4 career games against Houston.  In 3 home starts this season, Blanton is 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA.  Carlos Lee is 6-for-15 (.400 avg) with 3 doubles in his career against Blanton.


Tuesday, 1.05 PM.  Jordan Lyles (0-0, 4.50 ERA) vs. Cliff Lee (0-1, 2.17 ERA).  Lyles is the likely candidate to take this start for Houston...it would be his 2nd big league start this season.  In 6 starts for Triple-A Oklahoma City, Lyles has posted a 5-0 record with a 3.49 ERA.  Lyles, a right-hander, was the Astros' supplemental 1st round draft selection in (38th overall) in 2009.  In 3 career starts against Houston, Lee is 1-2 with a 6.89 ERA.  Carlos Lee is 8-for-21 (.381 avg) with a triple and 3 HR in his career against Cliff Lee.  Opponents are batting .192 against Cliff Lee this season.


Former Phillie Brett Myers is perfect in 9 save opportunities and has posted a 0.77 ERA this season for Houston.  Myers has a 4.10 ERA in 98 career games at Citizens Bank Park.

In 9 May games Chris Johnson is batting .353 with 4 HR and 8 RBI.  Johnson is a .293 hitter in 13 career games against Philadelphia. 

Carlos Lee is a .278 career hitter in 52 games against the Phillies.  In 25 games at Citizens Bank Park, Lee has posted a .317 average with 8 doubles, a triple, 9 HR and 24 RBI.

After joining the Phillies last season from Houston, Hunter Pence went 4-for-11 (.364 avg) in 3 games against his former team.  Pence is batting .207 in 16 home games this season.

Carlos Ruiz is batting .361 in 11 games this month.  In 27 career games against Houston, Ruiz has a .256 batting average with 3 HR and 12 RBI.

In 69 career games against Houston, Jimmy Rollins is a .307 hitter with 10 HR and 28 RBI.  Rollins is batting .328 in 16 home games this season, compared to .139 on the road.

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