Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Odds and Ends: Rising Stars, R-Phils' Rebranding & More


Rosters for the Arizona Fall League's All-Star type showcase were announced on Wednesday with two Phillies prospects among the talents involved.  Third baseman Cody Asche (pictured) and catcher Tommy Joseph will represent their Javelinas club in the seventh annual Rising Stars Game, which will be televised on MLB Network this coming Saturday, November 3rd at 8 PM eastern time.

Asche, the Phillies' 4th round draft selection in 2011, was a fast mover upward in the developmental ranks this year. After beginning his first full pro season with Class A Advanced Clearwater, Asche was promoted to Double-A Reading in June.

Altogether in 130 regular season games at the two levels, Asche, who recently offered his thoughts on his time in the AFL, launched 12 home runs with 72 RBI and an .849 OPS.  In 15 games with Peoria in the AFL, Asche, a University of Nebraska product, has tallied a .259 average with one home run and seven RBI.

Joseph, who was acquired from San Francisco in the Hunter Pence trade this past summer, has struggled a bit in AFL play, batting .172 with no home runs and one RBI in nine games played.

Both of the Phils' representatives are well-regarded prospects and could be knocking on the door to the big leagues rather soon.

Former Phillies prospect Jarred Cosart will represent the Eastern Division as that team's starting pitcher. The right-hander posted a 6-7 combined record with a 3.30 ERA and a 7.22 K/9 mark in 2012 at the Double-A and Triple-A levels of the Houston organization. Through four games as a member of the Mesa Solar Sox in the AFL, Cosart, 22, has a 0-2 record with a 7.36 ERA.  Additionally, former Phillies first base prospect Jonathan Singleton will also represent the Astros organization in the contest. The 21-year-old has posted a .250 average with three homers and seven RBI in 18 games for Mesa.


Also on Wednesday, the Double-A Reading Phillies announced a partnership with Brandoise to rebrand the team for the upcoming 2013 season. From the sound of things, the R-Phils, one of a very small amount of minor league teams owned by its major league parent club, will likely see a full name change as part of the process.

Employees inside the club are mum on details until the next steps in the process are revealed at FirstEnergy Stadium this coming Sunday, November 4th, when the team hosts a Toy Run event at 12:30 PM.

Philadelphia’s Class A Advanced affiliate in Clearwater was also known as the Phillies until it was rebranded as the Threshers prior to the 2004 season.

Reading and Philadelphia have the longest running relationship in minor league baseball, dating back to 1967.


Lastly, I spoke with former Phillies pitching prospect Eric Pettis recently, and he confirmed that he is done with baseball. Citing that he has moved on to bigger and better things, the UC Irvine product, who pitched two season in the Phillies developmental system, was released during spring training in 2012.

Early this past summer, Pettis stated that he was still hopeful of catching on with an affiliated team in the minors and did not wish to sign with an independent league team. As time went on and the openings weren't there, Pettis clearly changed his mind about a return to the game.

Pettis released a book shortly after leaving the Phillies organization, chronicling his time in as a professional hurler. The memoir, titled "Just a Minor Perspective: Through the Eyes of a Minor League Rookie", was met with extremely solid reviews by other writers and fans alike. The righty, who sported a 10-3 record and a 2.17 ERA in 67 games as a pro, hopes to spend more time writing in the future.
________________________________________________________

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Weekly Off-season League Updates, 10/28/12

It's another edition of our off-season league updates. Each week, we'll take a tour around the globe for a look at Phillies talents participating in various autumn and winter action. 

Venezuelan League-

Shortstop Freddy Galvis (pictured, left) is batting .321 with two doubles, a triple and three home runs through 14 games with Zulia. The switch-hitter is just 2-for-16 (.125 avg) against lefty pitchers.

Infielder Harold Garcia has been playing some third base for Zulia. The 26-year-old is 4-for-12 with a double and a triple through five contests.

Outfielder Tyson Gillies returned to action on Wednesday after missing nine days with a hamstring strain.  Gillies, who turns 24-years-old this week, is batting.385 with a double, a triple and two RBI in seven games for Lara.  Gillies has been plagued by injuries throughout his career, since joining the Phillies organization as part of the Cliff Lee trade with Seattle in December, 2009.

Phillies rookie Darin Ruf has posted a .213 batting average with a double, six home runs and 13 RBI in 13 games for La Guaira. The 26-year-old righty hitter mashed two homers and drove in six runs in the Tiburones' 8-2 win on Saturday. Ruf, the Phils' 20th round draft selection in 2009 slugged a club record 38 homers for Double-A Reading in 2012.  (UPDATE, Sunday, 8:19 PM- Ruf mashed two home runs for the second consecutive game in Sunday's match up against Anzoategui, bringing his season total to eight in 14 games)

Ruf's teammate with Reading and La Guaira Justin Friend has a 2-1 record with a 2.57 ERA and a .233 batting average against in seven relief outings. Additionally, Friend has struck out eight and walked two in seven innings pitched. Friend, a right-hander, was a minor league Rule 5 selection by the Phillies, from Oakland, in 2010.

Also pitching for La Guaira, Mike Cisco has thrown 6 1/3 scoreless innings.  The 25-year-old righty was a 35th round draft pick by the Phillies in 2008 and is the grandson of former Phils pitching coach Galen Cisco.

Eastern League All-Star second baseman Cesar Hernandez is batting .186 with two doubles and a triple in 12 games for Margarita. The 22-year-old has also stolen a league leading six bases.

Infielder Edgar Duran (pictured, right) is batting .250 with two doubles, a homer and three RBI in 11 games for Margarita. Following off-season finger surgery, Duran, 21, spent the 2012 regular season with Class A Advanced Clearwater, posting a .253/.310//357 line in 121 games.

20-year-old right-hander Manaure Martinez has a 1-1 record with a 3.68 ERA in six relief appearances. The 6-foot-1 155-pounder has notched four strike outs and dished out four walks in 7 1/3 innings. Martinez spent time during the 2012 regular season with the Gulf Coast League Phillies and the short-season Williamsport Crosscutters.

Mexican League-

Sebastian Valle is batting .259 with two doubles, two home runs and seven RBI. Valle has played outfield in the Mexican League the past couple years, to prevent extra wear and tear on his knees, but the 22-year-old has strictly played catcher for Los Mochis thus far this season.

Dominican League-

Outfielder Leandro Castro is 1-for-7 (.143 avg) through four games with Oriente. The right-handed hitting Castro, 23, batted .287 with 10 homers and 71 RBI in 133 games for Reading this year.

Third baseman Maikel Franco (pictured, left) has appeared in one game for Cibao, striking out in his only at bat. The 20-year-old batted .280 while slugging 14 home runs and driving in 84 runs with Class A Lakewood during the 2012 regular season.

Righty hurler Lisalverto Bonilla has allowed two earned runs in 1 1/3 innings, but notched a save for Escogido. The 22-year-old posted a 1.55 ERA in 31 games at two levels during the regular season, but injured himself while horsing around at the MLB All-Star Futures Game festivities in July and missed the remainder of the regular season.

Hector Neris, a right-handed pitcher, has appeared in one game for Este, while allowing a lone hit and no runs.  The 23-year-old posted a 4-2 record with a 3.55 ERA in 50 games for Clearwater this year.



Arizona Fall League (all Phillies talent plays for Peoria)-

Catching prospect Tommy Joseph missed six days due to a bout with the flu. Through seven contests, the 21-year-old has gone 3-for-22 (.136 average) with 1 RBI. Joseph was acquired by the Phillies in the Hunter Pence trade last July.

Third baseman Cody Asche has posted a .277 average with five doubles, a homer and seven RBI through 13 contests. Asche, 22, was the Phils’ 4th round draft selection out of Nebraska last year.

Outfielder Zach Collier (pictured, right), has tallied a .343 batting average with two doubles, two triples and five RBI through 11 games. The lefty hitting Collier was a supplemental round draft choice in 2008 out of high school. Collier posted a .269/.333/.399 line in 78 games with Class A Advanced Clearwater in 2012.

Left-handed reliever Jay Johnson has allowed eight earned runs in 4 1/3 innings (16.62 ERA) over six appearances thus far. The 22-year-old Canadian spent some time on the disabled list this season with a shoulder ailment, but posted a 2-1 record with a 4.24 ERA in 33 combined contests at three levels.

Righty Tyler Knigge is sporting a 7.11 ERA, as he has spread five earned runs over 6 1/3 innings. Knigge has walked four and struck out seven in that time as well. The 24-year-old was a 12th round draft pick by the Phillies out of Lewis & Clark State College in 2010.

Right-hander Colby Shreve has no decisions and a 2.08 ERA in seven relief outings. The College of Southern Nevada product has tallied a 3.54 ERA with a 7.24 K/9 mark in three regular seasons as a pro.

Kyle Simon, has had a difficult time, as a starting pitcher, in the AFL. Through four outings, the righty that was acquired in the Jim Thome trade from Baltimore has posted a 1-2 record with a 9.00 ERA. In 20 regular season games as a reliever, after joining the Phillies organization this year, Simon posted a 1.36 ERA.

As some of these young future stars climb the developmental ladder, it may not be long before they garner recognition from folks that are prone to betting on the MLB. Check back regularly for player updates as well as exclusive player interviews all throughout the autumn and winter months.

_____________________________________________________

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE.

Friday, October 26, 2012

PhoulBallz Interview: Colby Shreve, AFL Edition

Through six relief appearances in the Arizona Fall League righty hurler Colby Shreve has posted a 1.35 ERA while holding opponents to a .167 average.

At three levels during the 2012 regular season, the 24-year-old College of Southern Nevada product tallied a 6-3 record with a 3.69 ERA and a 7.38 K/9 mark. A slight adjustment to his arm angle this year helped the 6-foot-5 210-pounder to upgrade his velocity, which was steadily clocked at 95 MPH in 2012.

The Phillies' 6th round draft selection in 2008, Shreve had Tommy John surgery and missed his first full season following signing a professional contract, as he recovered.

Recently, Colby took some time to offer his thoughts on the AFL and what he's working on while there. Read ahead for that interview.

-How did you find out you'd be competing in the Arizona Fall Lg and what was your reaction?

I found out I was coming to the fall league about 10 days before our regular season ended. I was excited to come to the fall league, just as I was last year. It is a great opportunity to compete against the best competition in the minor leagues and showcase yourself in front of every MLB team.

-Your stats are looking good through six outings for the Javelinas. How satisfied are you with your efforts thus far?

I am very satisfied with my results thus far. Last year I came in and tried to be too fine and perfect, instead of just throwing like I know how. This year I came in with a different mindset and it has helped out tremendously. My walks are down, and I am pitching much better.

-How would you rate the competition there in the Fall League?

The level of competition is just about as close to the big leagues as you can get without actually being there. Over half of the players in the fall league will make it to the big leagues in the next few years, so that tells you something.

-Clearly, you're playing under Dusty Wathan, who managed you during the season with Double-A Reading. How much does it help knowing your manager and what he expects of the team?

It helps knowing your coaches, because it gives you a feeling of familiarity. Dusty keeps it loose and fun, and the response from the team has been great, which is reflected in our success so far.

-Many players from last year's Arizona Fall League made their MLB debuts this year. Clearly that ultimate goal of reaching the bigs must always be in the back of your mind, but does an experience like this make you feel legitimately closer to the big show?

Absolutely, it is a great opportunity to perfect your game against the best competition. If you can pitch here, in an hugely offensive league, you have a good chance to pitch in the big leagues.

-Would you have played in another off-season league, if you weren't pitching in the AFL?

Given that I came here last year, I probably would have taken this off-season to give my arm a rest. But with that being said, I appreciate this opportunity and I am going to make the most of it.

-Are you working on anything different out there and/or is your approach any different than is was during the regular season?

Before I left Florida, I sat down with our pitching coordinator, Gorman Heimueller, and we discussed what I would work on down here. I knew that I needed to cut down on the walks, and as far as pitches, I am working on a sinker to complement my cutter.

-What's on tap for your off-season once the AFL is through?

I look forward to going back home and getting ready for next season.

_____________________________________________________________

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Weekly Off-season League Review: 10/21/12

Fans, off-season leagues are in full swing and each week we'll take a tour to review the performances of your Phillies players that are in action all over the world.  Read ahead for the full rundown.

Venezuelan Winter League-

With the Lara Cardenales, outfielder Tyson Gillies, who has steadily concerned both the Phillies organization and its fans with his long list of injury troubles and his off-field issues, is currently sidelined with a right hamstring strain. In four contests, the British Columbia native who turns 24-year-old on Halloween, went 7-for-15 (.467 average) with a double and a triple while driving in two runs. Gillies knows his body well following a stream of hamstring and foot issues in recent years and proclaimed, via Twitter last week, that he would be okay. Right now, the lefty hitting prospect is day-to-day and is expected to return to action by mid-week.

As a member of the Zulia roster, shortstop Freddy Galvis posted a .405 average with two doubles, a triple and three homers and five RBI through nine games to begin the VWL season. A big league rookie in 2012, Galvis was suspended 50 games during the season after testing positive for banned substances.

Infielder Harold Garcia has seen his first organized game action since he was sidelined with a right knee ailment in April. In his first five games, Garcia is 4-for-12 with a double and a triple for Zulia. The switch-hitter, who turns 26-years-old this week, has been playing third base.

Phils rookie Darin Ruf, playing with La Guaira, went 4-for-22 (.182 avg) with a double and two homers while driving in three runs through his first six games. However, Ruf went 2-for-4 with another home run on Saturday, raising his average to .213.  The 26-year-old Creighton product has played both first and left field for the Tiburones.

Also with La Guaira, righty reliever Justin Friend has allowed two earned runs in 1 1/3 innings over three appearances. As the stud closer for Reading this year, the 26-year-old Friend tallied a 0.23 ERA in 38 games. He also posted a 4.40 ERA in 12 games at the Triple-A level.

Second baseman Cesar Hernandez, who was an All-Star with the Double-A Reading Phillies in 2012, went 6-for-24 (.250 avg) with a triple, an RBI and four steals in his first seven contests as a member of the Margarita Bravos.  Hernandez's 0-for-5 effort on Saturday lowered his Venezuela League average to .207. The 22-year-old switch hitter posted a .291/.329/.404 line in 133 combined games at Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley this year.

Shortstop Edgar Duran posted a .241 average with a double, a home run and three RBI through eight games as Hernandez’s Bravos teammate. The 21-year-old switch hitter batted .253 with seven homers and 49 RBI in 121 games for Class A Advanced Clearwater in 2012.

In four relief outings for Aragua, righty hurler Manaure Martinez has allowed one earned run in 6 2/3 innings.  The 20-year-old split time with the Gulf Coast League Phillies and short-season Williamsport in 2012, posting a combined 4-5 record in 14 games (13 starts) with a 3.53 ERA and an 8.55 K/9 mark.


Mexican League-

Catcher Sebastian Valle is batting .385 with a double, two homers and six RBI in four games for Los Mochis.  The righty hitting slugger batted .253 with 17 homers and 58 RBI in 105 combined games with the Double-A R-Phils and the Triple-A IronPigs this year.


Dominican League-

Outfielder Leandro Castro is 1-for-3 through three games with Oriente.  The right-handed hitting Castro, 23, batted .287 with 10 homers and 71 RBI in 133 games for Reading this year.


Arizona Fall League (all Phillies talent plays for Peoria in the AFL)-

Third baseman Cody Asche has posted a .313 average with four doubles, a homer and six RBI in 9 games.  A 4th round draft choice by the Phils last year, Asche batted .324 with 12 home runs and 72 RBI with Class A Advanced Clearwater and Double-A Reading in his first full season as a pro in 2012.

Outfielder Zach Collier, who was the Phillies' supplemental round draft choice in 2008, is sporting a .273 average with a triple and an RBI in 7 games.  Collier began the 2012 regular season serving a suspension, after testing positive for banned substances, but the 22-year-old finished the season with a .269/.333/.399 line for the Class A Advanced Threshers.

Catcher Tommy Joseph, who was acquired by the Phillies in the Hunter Pence trade this past July, is 2-for-16 (.125 avg) with 1 RBI in five games played.  The 21-year-old Joseph was an All-Star in the Double-A Eastern League this year.

Lefty reliever Jay Johnson, a New Brunswick, Canada native, was charged with four earned runs in 1/3 of an inning in his third outing of the AFL season, so his stats are disappointing.  In four games, the 22-year-old is sporting a 16.87 ERA.

Right-hander Tyler Knigge also had a troubling effort in his third outing, as he surrendered four earned runs in an inning of work.  In four games, the 23-year-old has a 0-1 record, an 11.25 ERA, five strike outs and three walks in four innings.

Righty reliever Colby Shreve has allowed one earned run in 4 2/3 innings (1.93 ERA) while striking out one and walking none.  The 24-year-old posted a 3.69 ERA at three levels of the Phillies organization in 2012.

Kyle Simon, a righty pitcher that was acquired in June's Jim Thome trade, had a shockingly bad AFL debut allowing 7 earned runs in 1/3 of an innings in a starting effort.  Since then, the Arizona product gave up a lone earned run in three innings of work in his next outing.  Overall, Simon's fall league ERA stands at 21.60 in two contests.  Simon tallied a 1.36 ERA in 20 games after joining the Phillies organization in 2012.

Check back here, throughout the coming months, for regular updates on all off-season leagues and exclusive player interviews you won't find anyplace else.

__________________________________________________

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Phils Begin Tidying Roster For Off-season

As the Phillies roll deeper into their off-season, the organization has taken to clearing room on their 40-man roster.

On Thursday, the team announced that infielder Pete Orr and catcher Steven Lerud were outrighted to Triple-A.  The 33-year-old Orr batted .315 in 35 games with the Phillies in 2012, but played the majority of his season with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.  Lerud, who was signed as a minor league free agent last off-season, sported a .200 average in three big league games after being called up in August.

Additionally, righty hurler Tyson Brummett, who made his big league debut on the final day of the regular season, was claimed off waivers by Toronto on Thursday.  Brummett was a 7th round draft pick by the Phillies in 2007 out of UCLA.  The 28-year-old will likely serve as organizational depth for the Blue Jays in 2013. 

The Phillies' roster now stands at 37 players, along with four players on the 60-day disabled list.  Teams must add any eligible players to their 40-man roster by November 20th to protect them from December's Rule 5 draft.

__________________________________________________

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

PhoulBallz Interview: Cody Asche, Fall League Edition

The Arizona Fall League is in full swing and Phils third base prospect Cody Asche (pronounced ASH-ee) is leading the way for the Peoria Javelinas.

Last year's 4th round draft selection out of the University of Nebraska posted a .324 batting average with 12 homers and 72 RBI through 130 combined games with Class A Advanced Clearwater and Double A Reading in his first full season as a pro this year. 

Thus far in five games, playing for the Javelinas, Asche is sporting a .375 average with four doubles, three RBI and two runs scored. 

This week, Cody answered some questions, sharing his thoughts on the AFL, the Phillies' new hitting coach Steve Henderson and plenty more.  Read ahead to check out that full interview.


-What are your early thoughts on playing in the Arizona Fall League and the competition there?

It is a great experience. You get to play against organizations and players that you haven't seen before. The competition is great.  Everyone playing is here for a reason.


-Many players from last year's Arizona Fall League made their MLB debuts this year.  Clearly that ultimate goal must always be in the back of your mind, but does an experience like this make you feel legitimately closer to the big show?

Not really, no. I do know the track record of players in the AFL, but they weren't called up because they played in this league. No matter what you do, you will have to go prove yourself everyday, no matter what league you are in. You have to go out and earn your call-up.


-You're playing with Peoria under your Reading manager Dusty Wathan. Does that make things easier for you, already knowing him well and having a good relationship with him?

It definitely does. It's always good to go into a new experience with familiar faces. It's nice for us Phillie guys to have one of our managers here, since we know what they expect of us, and we are familiar with how they coach.


-Clearly, the Arizona Fall League is a big opportunity for the players to get noticed, but the game results might not be that important to everyone.  How seriously do players out there take the league?

I think everyone takes the games pretty seriously. Its definitely an opportunity to refine skills. I think all the players realize that and are out here working on what they need to work on everyday. It would be a disservice to yourself if you did not take this league seriously.


-Steve Henderson, who was promoted to the big league Phillies' coaching staff last week, is very well liked by players and is credited with helping your breakout this year.  Thoughts on Hendu?  And how much help was he to your career?

Hendu is a great guy and a great coach. He as helped me tremendously, since I was drafted. I couldn't be more happy for him. He will do a great job with the big league guys.


-Following the AFL season, what are your plans for the off-season?

I will be back in St. Louis for a while. Then probably make my way down to Clearwater, for spring training, sometime in early February or late January.

_________________________________________________________
You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Venezuelan League Underway- GalBeast Back in Action

The Venezuelan Winter League got underway on Thursday and Phillies infielder, Freddy Galvis saw organized game action for the first time since June, when he was sidelined with a back injury.  The 22-year-old played shortstop and laced four hits in five at bats, while slugging a homer and driving in two runs en route to helping Zulia lock down a 10-3 victory over Aragua.

As a rookie with the Phillies this year, Galvis, who was signed as an amateur free agent in 2006 at the age of 16, batted .226 with 3 home runs and 24 RBI in 58 games.  Galvis tested positive this year for a banned substance and was suspended for 50 games as a result.  He was able to serve the suspension while on the disabled list and would be eligible for game action at the start of the 2013 regular season.

Other Phillies players participating in the VWL include second baseman Cesar Hernandez, who went 1-for-3 in Margarita's 7-4 win over La Guaira.  Hernandez, 22, had a breakout season in 2012, becoming an All-Star with the Double-A Reading Phillies before earning a promotion to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.  In 133 combined games, Hernandez posted a .291/.323/.404 line.

Hernandez's double play partner with Margarita, Edgar Duran, went 1-for-4 in the contest.  Duran, a 21-year-old switch-hitting shortstop batted .253 with 7 homers and 49 RBI in 121 games with Class A Advanced Clearwater this year. 

For La Guaira, Justin Friend, who was Reading's star reliever in 2012, took the loss, surrendering three runs, two of which were earned, in 1/3 of an inning.  Also for La Guaira, Phils rookie Darin Ruf served as designated hitter, going 1-for-4 with a double and a run driven in.

Outfielder Tyson Gillies, batting leadoff for Lara, went 3-for-4 with a triple and an RBI in the club's 6-4 loss to Magallanes.The often injured Gillies posted a .299 average with 4 homers and 24 RBI in 75 games this season in the Phils organization.

Check back throughout the coming months for updates on the off-season leagues as well as exclusive interviews with players as they strive to improve and take strides toward helping the big league Phillies on a permanent basis.

________________________________________________________

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Philly Fans Should Get Behind Players This Off-Season

With the Phillies not participating in the MLB post-season for the first time in six years, regional baseball fans are confused about what to do with their time, how much playoff action they can enjoy and who they might root for. Rest assured, fans, it is perfectly okay to cheer for and have been happy when former Phillie Raul Ibanez single-handedly downed the Orioles in game three of the American League Division Series, giving the hated New York Yankees a 2-1 series lead.

On Wednesday night, the 40-year-old outfielder/designated hitter pinch hit for superstar Alex Rodriguez in the 9th inning and launched a solo homerun that tied the game at two runs apiece and sent the contest into extra frames. In the bottom of the 12th inning, Ibanez smacked another blast that gave his team a 3-2 victory.

Philadelphia fan reaction on Twitter was mixed. Some Philly faithful were happy that the veteran, who has never won a World Series, could help his team in such a tremendous fashion. Others cursed and expressed displeasure with the Phillies for letting him walk away as a free agent last off-season.

Phillies hurler Michael Schwimer pointed out, with a tweet on Thursday, that he was rooting for players this year, not teams.  My advice to Phillies fans would be for them to do the same.  Feelings of hatred or jealousy for the team Ibanez plays for should not impact the affinity that fans feel toward the player they grew so fond of when he became an All-Star in Philadelphia.

Former two-time Phillie Jim Thome is another veteran without a championship ring that is battling in the playoffs.  The future Hall of Famer, who ranks 7th all-time in home runs, with 612, began this season with the Phils before a June trade sent him to Baltimore.

Other former Phillies still active in the MLB post-season that are chasing their first World Series title include Wilson Valdez (Reds), Brandon Moss (Athletics) and Hunter Pence (Giants).

Although, if you're a stereotypical Philadelphia sports fan that simply can't bear to cheer on a guy in any other uniform and would prefer to boo something, there are always the likes of Scott Rolen as well as Jayson Werth and his beloved beard still going for their respective clubs, the Reds and the Nationals, to root against.  Each of those guys already have a World Series ring, so do they really need another one?
______________________________________________________

Image- AP

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

New AFL Season Kicks Off

Tuesday marks the beginning of another baseball season...the Arizona Fall League season.  This year, as the league celebrates its 20th anniversary, representatives from the Phillies organization will team with players from the Reds, Padres, Twins and Mariners to make up the Poeria Javelinas roster.

Led by 2012 Double-A Reading Phillies manager Dusty Wathan, the club will feature seven Phils minor leaguers.  Righty relievers Kyle Simon, Tyler Knigge and Colby Shreve, who each manned a key bullpen role for the R-Phils into the playoffs this season, will solidify Peoria’s relief corp.  Left-hander Jay Johnson will also be serving as a reliever for the team.  Additionally, catcher Tommy Joseph, who was acquired by the Phillies in the Hunter Pence trade this year, will see considerable playing time.  Third baseman Cody Asche, who made an impact at two levels in 2012, his first full year of professional baseball, is also on the roster along with outfielder Zach Collier, who was the Phils’ supplementary 1st round draft choice in 2008.

Simon, a 22-year-old, was acquired from Baltimore in the Jim Thome trade this year, posted excellent numbers after joining the Phils system.  In 20 contests, the University of Arizona product posted a 4-0 record with a 1.36 ERA while striking out 35 batters and walking just six in 39 2/3 innings.  Simon was the Orioles’ 4th round draft pick in 2011.

Knigge, who will turn 24-years-old in late October, had an outstanding season at two levels in 2012.  In 34 outings with High-A Clearwater, Knigge sported a 0.60 ERA and, following his promotion to Reading, he tallied a 2.92 mark.  Overall, the 12th round draft choice from 2010 notched a 4-1 record with 11 saves and a 9.09 K/9 mark.

Shreve began his 2012 regular season in Lakewood, but moved up two levels by early June.  The 24-year-old was selected in the 6th round of the 2008 amateur draft despite being sidelined, in need of Tommy John surgery at the time.  In 47 combined games at three levels this year, the 6-foot-5-inch 210-pounder went 6-3 with a 3.69 ERA and a 7.38 K/9 mark.  This year marked the first season of his career where Shreve appeared exclusively as a reliever.

With Reading this year, Johnson missed time due to a shoulder strain, but posted a 2-1 record with a 4.24 ERA while averaging 10.59 K/9 in 33 games, which includes some rehab outings with the GCL Phillies and Clearwater.  The 21-year-old Canadian was signed as a free agent prior to the 2011 season.

The 22-year-old Collier began 2012 serving a 50-game suspension after testing positive for banned substances in 2011.  In 78 games this year with the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers, Collier posted a career high in HR with 6 while driving in 32 runs and stealing 11 bases in 14 chances.  Collier has had a rough pro career, having missed the entire 2010 season due to injuries and later being forced to sit out this year.  Playing against the solid competition in the AFL will certainly allow the left-handed hitting Collier to make up for some missed time this year.

Joseph, an All-Star in the Double-A Eastern League this year, posted a .257 batting average with 11 homers and 48 RBI in 108 combined games between the Giants and Phils organizations during the regular season.  The 21-year-old was San Francisco's 2nd round draft pick in 2009.

Asche, the Phillies’ 4th round draft selection from 2011, was a fast mover this year. After playing for the short-season Williamsport Crosscutters and participating in the fall instructional league last year, Asche began the 2012 season with Class-A Advanced Clearwater, where he batted .349 with 2 home runs and 25 RBI in 62 games. Promoted to Double-A in late June, Asche was a key contributor to Reading’s offense, as he sported a .300 batting average while mashing 10 homers and driving in 47 runs in 68 games. His .849 overall OPS was certainly impressive as well.

The Javelinas play their home games at the Peoria Sports Complex, which serves as the spring training home to the Padres and Mariners.

Players from last year's Arizona Fall League that made their big league debuts in 2012 include Darin Ruf, Tyler Cloyd, Anthony Gose, Mike Olt, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper.

________________________________________________


You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE.

Friday, October 5, 2012

PhoulBallz Interview: RHP Matt Campbell

Righty pitcher Matt Campbell was drafted by the Phillies in the 24th round of the 2011 amateur draft out of the University of Florida.  In two seasons as a pro, the Tampa, FL native has posted a 4-3 record with a 3.90 ERA, while pitching at three levels.

Campbell, who turned 25 years old in September, stands 6-feet-2-inches tall and weighs around 200 pounds.  

In this previously unreleased interview with Matt from this past May, we discuss his pitch repertoire, how his pre-pro Rays fandom conflicts a bit with playing in the Phillies organization, recovery from injury and plenty more.  At the time of this interview, Matt had posted exciting stats with a 1-1 record a 1.80 ERA, 3 saves and a .154 batting average against for the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws.



__________________________________________________

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Coaching Changes Ensue as Phils Miss Playoffs

On Wednesday, the Phillies' disappointing year finally ended and the organization took to making some changes in a very quick fashion.  Within hours of the end of the Phils' 81-81 season that marked an end to their run of five consecutive division titles, the team announced that three coaches, Sam Perlozzo (1st base), Greg Gross (hitting) and Pete Mackanin (bench), would not return next season.

Within a day, the Phillies then announced some promotions from within to fill those voids. Hall of Fame player Ryne Sandberg (pictured), who has managed the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs for the past two seasons, will become the Phillies' third base coach, while Juan Samuel, who previously manned that position, has been asked to move to the first base coach's box.  It seems that Samuel may still be weighing his options.

The Phillies are not expected to have a bench coach while an assistant hitting coach is expected to be hired.

Additionally, Lehigh Valley's pitching coach, Rod Nichols, will become the bullpen coach with the big league club and minor league hitting coordinator Steve Henderson will become the Phillies' hitting coach.

Nichols pitched in the pros for 12 years after being selected as a 5th round draft choice by Cleveland in 1987.  He began his coaching career in 2000, making stops in short-season Peidmont, Class A Lakewood, Double-A Reading as well as the Triple-A level.

Henderson played 12 years in the big leagues for the Mets, Cubs, Athletics, Mariners and the Astros.  Henderson was NL Rookie of the Year runner up to Hall of Famer Andre Dawson in 1977.  He previously coached in the big leagues with the Astros and the Rays.

Manager Charlie Manuel, who has one year left of his contract, is confirmed to return next year and pitching coach Rich Dubee is set to remain in his position as well. Also, Mick Billmeyer has been moved to catching coach for the Phillies. 

Sandberg has steadily been talked about as a successor to Manuel as the team's skipper.  This could simply be the easiest way for the Phillies to try to ensure that happens in the future, as Sandberg would have been a hot commodity to clubs with managerial vacancies over this off-season.  Placing Sandberg in the on deck circle for Manuel's job should keep him in the Phils' organization until what some consider to be an inevitable move happens.


Insight...

A switch has been long overdue at the Phillies' hitting coach position.  When I interviewed Gross prior to the 2011 season, he was open about his lack of impact on big league hitters when it came to improving their situational hitting.  The veteran stated, "Those types of situations are things that (players) have to want to do.  I mean, it's like bunting or anything else.  They have to want to do it, in order for it to work and we have a club that, for the last five years, that's lived on home runs."  Surely, that type of mindset can be a product of the environment or come from above, but if a coach virtually states that he can't make an impact on a crucial aspect of the game that he's is held responsible for, shouldn't changes be made?

Henderson is well respected and is held in high regard by the prospects that he helps.  The 61-year-old former outfielder is credited with helping fast-rising prospect Cody Asche with excelling at such a speedy pace in his first full pro season this year.  The man affectionately known as "Hendu" spends great amounts of time working with his hitters and would be a perfect participant as the club updates its coaching mentality moving forward.

Nichols is the type of coach that leaves lasting impressions with his players.  Pitchers that move upward or move on from the Phillies organization regularly cite Nichols as a teacher that offered great amounts of assistance with helping them mature as a player and as a person.  Those individuals often stay in touch with the Georgia resident as their career progress as well, which makes it evident that Nichols, father of Phils 2012 draft pick Chris Nichols, is a valuable mentor for those ball players.

Placing Ryne Sandberg in the 3rd base coach's role without appointing a bench coach allows the team to promote Sandberg to a very active on-field position without appointing another second-in-command.  Considering the admission of Manuel at a press conference on Thursday that Sandberg would take over manager duties in his absence, should such a situation arise, confirms that the former Phillies 20th round draft selection is ranked directly behind Manuel in the hierarchy of the coaching staff. 

The evident ranking of the coaches and his potential move across the diamond are things that could combine to leave Samuel feeling displeased.  Samuel, a former Phillies player, has previously managed in the big leagues (Baltimore, 2010) and has expressed his interest in returning to such a position in the future.  Placement behind Sandberg might urge the Dominican native, Samuel, to seek employment elsewhere.

More...

Team general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. stated that Sandberg's position does not preclude him from interviewing for vacant MLB managerial positions during the upcoming off-season.

_________________________________________________

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Series Preview: Phillies at Nationals, October 1-3


To begin their final series of the 2012 season, the Phillies (80-79) will travel to Washington, where they'll face the playoff-bound Nationals (96-63), who have a magic number of one, to clinch their first National League East division title.

Just one win by the Nationals or a loss by the Braves will lock down Washington's division crown and Atlanta's wild card placement.  This will mark an end to the Phillies' run of five consecutive division titles, a franchise record. 

Not only is the division title on the line, but the Nats are also tied with Cincinnati for the best record in the league, which would determine home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Read ahead for more about the pitching match ups as well as plenty more statistical information from this series.

Monday, 7:05 PM. Kyle Kendrick (10-12, 4.08 ERA) vs. John Lannan (4-0, 4.23 ERA). The lefty Lannan earned a win against the Phils last week, when he allowed 2 earned runs over 5 1/3 innings in Philadelphia. In 18 career starts against the Phillies, Lannan is 3-12 with a 5.64 ERA. Lannan has a 5.94 ERA in 3 home starts this year. In 18 road games this season (10 starts), Kendrick has a 4-5 record with a 3.65 ERA. Adam LoRoche is 3-for-18 (.167 avg) in his career against Kendrick. In 6 career games at Nationals Park, Kendrick has a 1-1 record with a 5.54 ERA.

Tuesday, 7:05 PM. B.J. Rosenberg (1-2, 6.86 ERA) vs. Gio Gonzalez (21-8, 2.89 ERA). In 8 road games, Rosenberg has posted a 0-1 record with a 12.86 ERA. Rosenberg had a 0.87 ERA in 8 relief appearances in September. The left-handed Gonzalez has a 3-1 record with a 2.52 ERA in 4 career starts against the Phillies. In 14 home starts this season, Gonzalez is 9-4 with a 2.38 ERA. In his last 6 starts, Gonzalez has a 5-1 record with a 1.35 ERA.

Wednesday, 1:05 PM. Cliff Lee (6-8, 3.12 ERA) vs. Edwin Jackson (9-11, 4.13 ERA). In his last 7 starts, Lee has a 4-1 record with a 1.07 ERA. Lee is 5-2 with a 2.28 ERA in 7 career starts against Washington. In 15 road starts this season, Lee has a 4-2 record with a 2.73 ERA. Jackson is 0-4 with a 5.32 ERA and a .319 batting average against in 4 career starts against the Phillies. Jackson is 0-2 with an 8.38 ERA over his last 4 starts. Carlos Ruiz is 5-for-6 (.833 avg) with 2 doubles in his career against Jackson.


Righty hurler Tyson Brummett, who posted a 5-6 record with a 3.20 ERA in 44 minor league games this season, will join the Phillies to add some depth to the pitching staff with Tyler Cloyd shut down for the remainder of the season. The 28-year-old Brummett was the Phils' 7th round draft selection in 2007.

Laynce Nix is batting .197 in 46 games since the All-Star break. Nix has posted a .346 average with runners in scoring position this season.

Chase Utley is 10-for-30 (.333 avg) with 2 doubles against the Nationals this season. Utley is a career .307 hitter with 4 homers and 18 RBI in 31 games played at Nationals Park.

In 56 road games this season, Carlos Ruiz has posted a .340/.395/.563 slash line. Ruiz is batting an even .330 against both left-handed and right-handed pitching this season.

Rookie Bryce Harper's 97 runs scored lead the Nationals team. Harper drove in 6 runs against the Phillies in a 3-game series last week.

All-Star Ian Desmond is batting .211 in 10 games against the Phillies this season. Desmond is batting .310 with 16 homers and 45 RBI in 67 home games this year.

In 32 career games against the Phillies, Jayson Werth is a .250 hitter with 5 HR and 19 RBI.

Phillies runs scored since the All-Star break- 216 (23rd in MLB)
National runs scored since the All-Star break- 287 (2nd in MLB)

_______________________________________________

You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE.