Friday, September 27, 2013

PhoulBallz Podcast Episode 42: Darin Ruf Talks About the Phillies' Season

On the 42nd edition of the PhoulBallz Podcast Tug and Jay are joined by Phillies OF/1B Darin Ruf who chats about the Phillies' disappointing 2013 season, his production this year and more.  The guys also discuss Roy Halladay's health and future, what the Phils' pitching rotation might be like next year and the retirement of Yankees legend Mariano Rivera.

Use the media player below to stream the full episode, or simply download it by clicking HERE.

You can also check out previous episodes and subscribe on iTunes.

Phillies Fall Instructional League Roster Details

At long last, thanks to the Twitter feed of Baseball Prospectus writer Chris King, the info I've been asked for many times this month is finally available.

Here is the complete Phillies' Fall Instructional League roster...


Drew Anderson
Tyler Buckley
Edgar Campusano
Ranfi Casimiro
Daniel Child
Zach Cooper
Seranthony Dominguez
Delvi Francisco
Mitch Gueller
Jordan Guth
Nic Hanson
Denton Keys
Manaure Martinez
Mark Meadors
Angel Mejia
Will Morris
Nefi Ogando
Ricardo Pinto
Yacksel Rios
Alexis Rivero
Feliberto Sanchez
Matt Southard
Jesen Therrien
Tyler Viza
Kevin Walter


Corey Bass
Deivy Grullon
Andrew Knapp
Jesus Posso
Jake Sweaney


Malquin Canelo
Art Charles
J.P. Crawford
Grenny Cumana
Luis Encarnacion
Zach Green
Jan Hernandez
Andrew Pullin
Mitch Walding
Trey Williams


Venn Biter
Dylan Cozens
Carlos Duran
Larry Greene Jr.
Bryan Martelo
Jose Pujols
Cord Sandberg
Carlos Tocci
Freddy Zorrilla

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Series Preview: Phillies at Braves, September 26-29

The Phillies (72-86) will close out their 2013 season with a four-game series against the postseason bound Atlanta Braves (93-65).

When the teams last met in Philadelphia earlier this month, the Braves were swept in a three-game set.  The Phils have dropped four of six meetings at Turner Field, where this series will take place, thus far this season.

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

Thursday, 7:10 PM.  Tyler Cloyd (2-6, 5.40 ERA) vs. David Hale (0-0, 0.00 ERA).  In three starts this month, Cloyd has an 11.77 ERA.  In six road starts, Cloyd is 2-2 with a 4.60 ERA.  Hale, a 25-year-old Princeton product, threw five scoreless frames in his big league debut against the Padres earlier this month.  Hale had a 6-9 record with a 3.22 ERA in 22 Triple-A games this season.

Friday, 7:30 PM.  Cliff Lee (14-7, 2.93 ERA) vs. Kris Medlen (14-12, 3.24 ERA).  In 14 career games against Atlanta, Lee has a 7-5 record with a 2.95 ERA.  Lee sports a 7-2 record with a 2.52 ERA in 15 road starts this season.  Freddie Freeman is 1-for-11 against Lee this year.  Medlen has a 3-2 record with a 5.17 ERA and a .306 batting average against in 17 career games against the Phillies.  In his last five starts, Medlen is 4-0 with a 1.03 ERA.  Medlen, a righty, has a 2.45 ERA in 16 home games this year.

Saturday, 7:10 PM.  To be determined  vs. Mike Minor (13-8, 3.22 ERA).  With arm fatigue experienced by righty hurler Roy Halladay earlier this week, the Phillies are slated to utilize their bullpen throughout Saturday's contest.  Minor is 0-4 with a 4.15 ERA in four starts this month.  In 16 home starts this year, Minor has a 6-4 record with a 3.65 ERA and a .223 batting average against.  Chase Utley is 4-for-17 (.235 avg) with a homer in his career against Minor.

Sunday, 1:35 PM.  Zach Miner (0-1, 3.08 ERA) vs. Julio Teheran (13-8, 3.09 ERA).  The 31-year-old Miner has a 3.65 ERA and a .306 batting average against in seven road contests this year.  B.J. Upton is 3-for-11 (.273 avg) with a double in his career against Miner.  Teheran, 22, has a 2.66 ERA in 11 starts since the All-Star break.  In 15 home games this year, Teheran has a 7-4 record with a 2.82 ERA.  Jimmy Rollins is 4-for-6 (.667 avg) with a double and a home run in his career against Teheran.

 In 27 road games this season, Darin Ruf is batting .217 with three homers and seven RBI.  Ruf has a .333 average with three home runs and five RBI in 12 career games against the Braves.

Chase Utley is batting .347 with two home runs and 16 RBI in 21 games this month.  In 15 games against Atlanta this year, Utley has a .310 average with two homers and nine RBI.

Domonic Brown, who hit 12 home runs in 28 May games, has hit 12 home runs in 81 games since then.

Atlanta closer Craig Kimbrel has 15 saves and a 1.11 ERA in 26 career games against the Phillies.   Kimbrel has a 0.80 ERA in 34 home games this season.

Justin Upton, who leads the Braves in homers with 26 this season, has a .295 career average with seven homers and 16 RBI in 39 games against the Phils. 

Outfielder Jordan Schafer has a .143 average with two homers and three RBI in 16 career games against the Phillies.  The lefty batting Schafer sports a .167 average since the All-Star break.

Phillies team OPS in September- .698 (16th in MLB)
Braves team OPS in September- .640 (28th in MLB)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Series Preview: Phillies at Marlins, September 23-25

Here's a quick review of the pitching match ups for this week's three-game series between the Phillies (71-84) and the Marlins (57-99), in Miami.

Monday, 7:10 PM.  Roy Halladay (4-4, 6.71 ERA) vs. Nathan Eovaldi (3-6, 3.79 ERA).  In his last five starts, Halladay is 2-0 with a 4.28 ERA.  Halladay is 9-5 with a 3.53 ERA in 17 career outings against the Marlins.  Juan Pierre is 0-for-15 in his career against Halladay.  In his last five starts, Eovaldi is 1-3 with a 3.41 ERA.  The 23-year-old Eovaldi has a 0-4 record with a 5.40 ERA in five career starts against the Phils.  Carlos Ruiz is 4-for-8 (.500 avg) with three doubles and two RBI in his career against Eovaldi.

Tuesday, 7:10 PM.  Zach Miner (0-1, 3.22 ERA) vs. Henderson Alvarez (4-5, 4.05 ERA).  Miner posted a 3.90 ERA in 27 appearances with the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs this season.  Opponents are batting .262 against Miner in 14 big league outings this year.  In his last eight starts, the 23-year-old Alvarez is 2-4 with a 5.40 ERA.  In seven home outings this year, the right-handed Alvarez has a 2-4 record with a 4.71 ERA.

Wednesday, 7:10 PM.  Cole Hamels (8-14, 3.62 ERA) vs. Brad Hand (1-1, 3.14 ERA).  Hamels has a 5-7 record with a 3.40 ERA in 15 road outings this season.  In four starts against Miami this season, Hamels sports a 1-2 record along with a 2.00 ERA.  Adeiny Hechavarria is 4-for-10 (.400 avg) with a triple against Hamels in his career.  Hand, a lefty, has held opponents to a .122 batting average against in six big league appearances this season.  In nine home games in the big leagues for the Marlins, Hand has tallied a 1-5 record with a 3.40 ERA.   

Friday, September 20, 2013

Series Preview: Metropolitans at Phillies, September 20-22

The Phillies (71-81) will close out their home schedule this weekend as the division rival Mets (68-84) visit for a three-game series.  Far removed from the playoff picture, the two teams will battle for third place in the National League East division.

In nine of the 16 meetings between the these clubs this year, the Phils have been victorious.

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

Friday, 7:05 PM.  Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-3, 6.12 ERA) vs. Cole Hamels (8-13, 3.48 ERA).  Matsuzaka allowed four earned runs in 4 1/3 innings in his last start against the Phils on August 28th.  Matsuzaka is 0-1 with a 7.27 ERA in two road starts this year.  In his last nine starts, Hamels is 4-0 with a 2.18 ERA.  Hamels is 7-12 with a 4.29 ERA in 25 career starts against the Mets.  In 16 home starts this year, Hamels has a 3-6 record with a 3.55 ERA.

Saturday, 7:05 PM.  Dillon Gee (11-10, 3.47 ERA) vs Tyler Cloyd (2-5, 5.06 ERA).  Gee has a 2-3 record with a 7.66 ERA in nine career games against the Phillies.  Gee, a right-hander, is 7-5 with a 4.32 ERA in 16 road games this season.  In four home outings, Cloyd has a 0-3 record with a 5.73 ERA.  Opponents are batting .306 against Cloyd in 10 big league outings this year.

Sunday, 1:35 PM.  Zack Wheeler (7-5, 3.42 ERA) vs. Cliff Lee (14-6, 2.95 ERA).  Wheeler, a rookie right-hander, has posted a 1-3 record with a 3.26 ERA in his last five starts.  In nine road starts this season, Wheeler is 5-1 with a 2.32 ERA and a .226 batting average against.  Lee has a 6-2 record and a 2.40 ERA in 11 career games against the Mets.  In his last six starts, Lee is 4-0 with a 2.04 ERA.  Lucas Duda is 6-for-18 (.333 avg) with a home run and two RBI in his career against Lee.

Daniel Murphy is a career .305 hitter with three homers and 29 RBI in 67 games against the Phillies.  Murphy is a .264 hitter in 32 career games at Citizens Bank Park.

Travis d'Arnaud, a former Phillies prospect, is batting .163 in 25 big league games this season.  d'Arnaud went 1-for-10 (.100 avg) in three games against the Phils last month.

David Wright is expected to return to action after spending several weeks on the disabled list with a hamstring strain.  Wright is batting .312 with 10 home runs and 31 RBI in 53 road games this season. 

Jimmy Rollins is 16-for-49 (.327 avg) with a homer and four stolen bases in 15 games this month.  Rollins is sporting a .286 batting average in 16 games against the Mets this year.

In 40 home games, Darin Ruf is batting .281 with 11 homers and 20 RBI compared to his .207 average and three home runs in 24 road games.  Ruf is a .143 career hitter in six games against the Mets.

In his last 20 relief outings, lefty Jake Diekman has a 1-3 record with a 1.89 ERA while walking eight and striking out 24 batters.  Diekman has a 1.43 ERA in 39 career outings at Citizens Bank Park.

Mets team ERA in September- 4.73 (27th in MLB)
Phillies team ERA in September- 4.44 (23rd in MLB)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

PhoulBallz Podcast Episode 41: Jesse Biddle Talks About His Progress & Health

On the 41st edition of the PhoulBallz Podcast Tug and Jay are joined by top Phillies Double-A pitching prospect Jesse Biddle who shares some thoughts on his 2013 season, his health concerns, growing up as a fan of the Phillies and loads more.  The guys also talk about Cesar Hernandez's solid production, David Buchanan and Tyler Knigge's service in the community and they try to predict the MLB most valuable player awards.

Use the media player below to stream the full episode, or simply download it by clicking HERE.

You can also check out previous episodes and subscribe on iTunes.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Watson, Cooper to Make Up For Missed Time in Florida Instructional League

Shane Watson, Image- Jay Floyd
The Florida Instructional League will provide an opportunity for a pair of Lakewood hurlers that were sidelined with injuries this summer to make up for some missed time. Shane Watson and Zach Cooper will be among the Phillies prospects spending time in Clearwater at "instructs" over the next several weeks.  The pair will be able to put themselves on display for organizational coaches and brass while they take strides to excel and bounce back from injuries that forced them to miss time this year.

Watson, who has been sidelined since early July with shoulder inflammation, saw a specialist on Monday and was cleared to begin a throwing program.  The 20-year-old was the Phillies' top selection (40th overall) in last year's amateur draft out of Lakewood High School in California.

In 15 starts this season for the Class A BlueClaws, the six-foot-four 200-pounder posted a 4-6 record with a 4.75 ERA and a .230 batting average against.

The hard throwing righty is quite excited for his impending return to the mound but has a fair grasp of the slow type of progress he'll need to make before actually facing live competition.

"I'll probably start throwing (on) the 18th and then I should, hopefully, get an inning or two in the instructs.  But, if I don't, it's no big deal.  I'll go home for a little bit and then come back out there to get stronger early for spring training," Watson said on the most recent edition of the PhoulBallz Podcast.

Cooper, the Phils' 15th round draft choice out of Central Michigan University last year, missed time with bicep tendinitis during the latter portion of the season.  In 33 relief outings for the BlueClaws this year, the right-hander tallied a 1-3 record with two saves and a 3.97 ERA.

Midway through the 2013 season, Phillies minor league pitching gurus suggested that Cooper alter his delivery in order to improve his offerings to opponents.  The results were clear as his difficulty with keeping the ball down with his normal over-the-top delivery was no more after he lowered his arm angle.  He also saw an increase in velocity as well as additional movement in the form of some welcome sink action.  Not all the results were positive though, as the 23-year-old feels his arm issue was a result of the new mechanics.

"It's been a very interesting year, dropping down, but you've kind of got to roll with the punches a little bit and you...understand that going from over-the-top to side-arm, you might run into something like that, just the body getting used to it.  It's kind of part of the learning experience," Cooper said recently in an exclusive interview. 

Another player that will be working out with the instructional league team is Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, who has been out of action with a left knee issue dating back to July.  Howard has been rehabbing the ailment in Clearwater in recent weeks.

Also on the latest PhoulBallz Podcast Watson spoke of Howard being his favorite player in high school and the feeling that comes along with now being a peer and teammate of the former National League Most Valuable Player.

Glancing back at the Phils' instructional league roster from a couple years back, the organization has graduated three players to the major leagues from that collection of talent.  Cameron Rupp, Cesar Hernandez and Cody Asche were all among the players assigned to this minor league bonus time back in 2011.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Series Preview: Marlins at Phillies, September 16-18

With the worst offense in the major leagues, the Marlins (55-94) seem to be an ideal opponent for a Phillies (69-80) team looking to avoid their first losing season since 2002. 

Miami, which ranks last in the big leagues in batting average (.231), runs scored (479), home runs (90), OPS (.627), will face Phils ace Cliff Lee in the opener of a three-game series on Monday night at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phils have been victorious in five straight games against Miami.

Read ahead for full details in the pitching match ups and plenty more details from this series.

Monday, 7:05 PM.  Sam Dyson (0-0, 4.50 ERA) vs. Cliff Lee (13-6, 2.97 ERA).  The 25-year-old Dyson will be making his first big league start.  In five big league relief appearances, Dyson sports a 7.27 ERA and a .371 batting average against.  In his last five starts, Lee has a 3-0 record with a 2.00 ERA.  After throwing six complete game shutouts in 2011, Lee has completed one game, a shutout against Miami in May this year, in 58 starts since then.  Lee has a 6-4 record with a 3.50 ERA in 13 games at home this season.

Tuesday, 7:05 PM.  Brian Flynn (0-1, 10.13 ERA) vs. Roy Halladay (3-4, 7.28 ERA).  Flynn, a 23-year-old lefty, was originally an 18th round draft pick by the Red Sox in 2008.  In 27 minor league contests this year, Flynn sported a 7-12 record with a 2.62 ERA and a 8.22 K/9 mark.  In seven home games this year, Halladay is 2-2 with a 6.56 ERA.  In 16 career games against Miami, Halladay has an 8-5 record along with a 3.65 ERA.  Halladay has tallied a 5.06 ERA in four starts since returning from the disabled list with a shoulder injury last month.

Wednesday, 7:05 PM.  Brad Hand (0-1, 3.18 ERA) vs. Kyle Kendrick (10-13, 4.70 ERA).   Hand, a lefty, was a 2nd round pick by the Marlins in 2008.  In 17 big league games, the 23-year-old Hand has struck out 56 batters and walked 46 in 75 innings pitched.  In his last seven starts, Kendrick has a 0-5 record with a 5.97 ERA.  Kendrick is 6-5 with a 4.48 ERA in 15 home starts this year.  Giancarlo Stanton is 3-for-18 (.167 avg) with a double and a homer in his career against Kendrick.

Adeiny Hechavarria is batting .201 in 55 games since the All-Star break.  In 13 games against the Phillies this year, Hechavarria is sporting a .191 batting average.

Rookie outfielder Christian Yelich entered Sunday batting .375 in 14 September games.  Yelich, 22, was the Marlins' first round draft choice in 2010.  Overall in 50 games this season, Yelich is batting .283.

Chris Coghlan is batting .148 in 10 games against the Phillies this season.  Coghlan is a .347 career hitter in 92 games after the All-Star break.

Cody Asche is 13-for-43 (.302 avg) with three homers and six RBI in 12 games this month. 

Jimmy Rollins is batting .209 with a double in 13 games against the Marlins this year.  Rollins has a .223 average in 51 games since the All-Star break.

Kevin Frandsen is batting .179 in 47 games since the All-Star break after batting .297 in 61 games prior to the midsummer classic.  Frandsen is a career .301 hitter in 91 games at Citizens Bank Park.

In nine September games, Carlos Ruiz is batting .394 with four doubles and 12 RBI.  Ruiz has posted a .320 average in 45 home games this season.


Image- AP

Friday, September 13, 2013

Series Preview: Phillies at Nationals, September 13-15

Without much success away from home recently, having dropped 17 of their last 21 road contests, the Phillies (68-78) will hope to turn things around when they travel and kick off a three-game series against the division rival Washington Nationals (77-69) on Friday.

The Nats, who are 5 1/2 games back in the National League Wild Card standings, are still clinging to some postseason hopes and will look to lock down their fifth straight victory against the Phillies at Nationals Park.

For full details on the pitching match ups and other key notes from this series read ahead.

Friday, 7:05 PM. Kyle Kendrick (10-12, 4.51 ERA) vs. Stephen Strasburg (7-9, 2.96 ERA). In his last six starts, Kendrick has a 0-4 record and a 5.13 ERA. Kendrick sports a 2-3 record and a 5.31 ERA in nine career games at Nationals Park. Bryce Harper is 8-for-20 (.400 avg) with a home run and two RBI in his career against Kendrick. Strasburg has a 5-4 record with a 1.55 ERA in 14 home games this season. In six career games against the Phils, the 25-year-old Strasburg has a 2-1 record, a 2.65 ERA and a .186 batting average against. Jimmy Rollins is 2-for-18 (.111 avg) with a home run in his career against Strasburg.

Saturday, 7:05 PM. Cole Hamels 7-13, 3.45 ERA) vs. Gio Gonzalez (10-6, 3.31 ERA). Hamels is 5-7 with a 3.32 ERA in 14 road games this season. The lefty Hamels is undefeated with a 1.95 ERA in his last eight starts. Jayson Werth is 3-for-21 (.143 avg) with a home run in his career against Hamels. In seven games at Nationals Park, Hamels is 3-2 with a 2.27 ERA. In seven career games against the Phillies, the left-handed Gonzalez is 5-1 with a 2.22 ERA and a .191 batting average against. In his last five home starts, Gonzalez has tallied a 1.52 ERA. Kevin Frandsen is 4-for-10 (.400 avg) in his career against Gonzalez.

Sunday, 1:35 PM. Tyler Cloyd (2-4, 4.56 ERA) vs. Jordan Zimmermann (17-8, 3.36 ERA). In five big league road starts this year, Cloyd has a 2-1 record with a 3.62 ERA. Cloyd allowed six runs in five innings in his lone career start against the Nats. Zimmermann is 10-3 with a 2.84 ERA in 16 home outings this year. Zimmermann has a 5.12 ERA in 10 starts since the All-Star break. Domonic Brown is 4-for-6 (.667 avg) in his career against Zimmermann.

John Mayberry Jr. is batting .160 in 31 games since July. Mayberry has a .224 average in 18 games at Nationals Park. Mayberry is 0-for-9 against Nationals reliever Drew Storen.

In 48 games since the All-Star break, Jimmy Rollins is batting .222. Rollins is 4-for-25 (.160 avg) in six games at Nationals Park this season.

Freddy Galvis is 10-for-21 (.476 avg) with two homers and four RBI in his last five games. Galvis has posted a .195 batting average in 31 big league road games this season.

In 54 home games this season, Bryce Harper has a .916 OPS, compared to his .829 mark in 49 road contests. Harper is a .261 hitter with two home runs and 10 RBI in 30 career games against the Phillies.

Ian Desmond is batting .317 with 10 home runs and 38 RBI in 70 home games this season.

Nats closer Rafael Soriano has a 5.16 ERA since the All-Star break despite stringing together eight straight scoreless outings as of late. Soriano has not allowed a run in six appearances against the Phillies this year.

Phillies OPS since the All-Star break- .656 (29th in MLB)
Nationals OPS since the All-Star break- .769 (4th in MLB)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

PhoulBallz Podcast Episode 40: Shane Watson calls in; Also talking Rupp, Galvis and No Playoffs

We're back with episode 40 of the PhoulBallz Minor League Podcast.  On this week's edition, Jay and Tug are joined by Phillies righty pitching prospect Shane Watson who discusses his recovery from a shoulder issue and playing with diabetes.  Topics also include Cameron Rupp, Freddy Galvis, Jonathan Papelbon and the entire Phils organization failing to place a single team in the postseason.

Use the media player below to stream the full episode, or simply download it by clicking HERE.

You can also check out previous episodes and subscribe on iTunes.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Larry Greene Jr. Batting Practice Footage

Outfield prospect Larry Greene Jr. had plenty of ups and downs all throughout the 2013 season.  The six-foot 235-pounder began the year in extended spring training, with the Phillies citing his fitness level as the reason.  A short time later, Greene joined the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws' roster and proceeded to post a .178 average over his first 34 games.  Following that, in the month of June, the Georgia native tallied a .274 batting average in 23 games.  Then, in the final 54 games of the season, Greene sported a .205 average.

Additionally, the power that Greene was so highly touted for upon signing his first pro contract with the Phillies, after he was drafted 39th overall on 2011, has yet to be put on display in a convincing fashion.  In 181 minor league contests, the 20-year-old has slugged just six homers and has served up a .666 OPS.

Greene put forth a solid performance on defense, as his speed and range is great for a player his size.

Just prior to the season's end, I grabbed some batting practice footage of the youngster that entered this season as the Phillies' 18th ranked prospect and still has some promise.  Check that out in the video player below.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Series Preview: Padres at Phillies, September 10-12

Tyler Cloyd, Image- Jay Floyd
Fresh off a series sweep of the National League East division leading Braves over the weekend, the Phillies (66-77) will continue their homestand as they host the San Diego Padres (65-77).

During their successful sweep, Phils starting pitchers posted a 2.45 ERA while striking out 27 batters in the three games.

In the opening contest of the three-game set, the Phillies will send right-hander Tyler Cloyd, who tallied a 1.36 ERA in his final eight minor league games this season, to the mound.  San Diego will counter with righty Andrew Cashner, who has a 2.18 ERA in his last five starts. 

The Phils were victorious in two of three meetings with the Padres at Citizens Bank Park last season. 

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

Tuesday, 7:05 PM.  Andrew Cashner (8-8, 3.45 ERA) vs. Tyler Cloyd (2-3, 3.57 ERA).  In 16 road games this season, the righty Cashner has a 3-5 record with a 4.61 ERA.  Cashner, who was a first round draft pick of the Cubs in 2008, sports a 2.77 ERA in eight starts since the All-Star break.  Cashner, who will be one day shy of his 27th birthday, has allowed one earned run in five career innings against the Phillies.  Cloyd, 26, last appeared in a big league game on August 24th, when he threw five scoreless innings against Arizona.  The Nebraska native has a 3.50 ERA in three home outings this season.

Wednesday, 7:05 PM.  Eric Stults (8-13, 4.07 ERA) vs. Roy Halladay (3-4, 7.19 ERA).  In 15 road starts this season, Stults has a 3-9 record with a 5.04 ERA.  The 33-year-old has not won a game since July 14th.  Since that time, Stilts has gone 0-6 with a 5.68 ERA in nine starts.  In five career starts against the Padres, Halladay is 3-2 with a 2.15 ERA.  Halladay has a 2-2 record with a 6.32 ERA in six home games this season.  Chase Headley is 3-for-17 (.176 avg) in his career against Halladay.

Thursday, 7:05 PM.  Burch Smith (0-1, ) vs. Cliff Lee (12-6, 3.01 ERA).  The 23-year-old Smith was a 14th round pick by the Padres in 2011.  Smith has a 9.95 ERA in four road starts this season.  Lee has a 1-2 record along with a 4.42 ERA in six career starts against San Diego.  In eight starts since the All-Star break, Lee is 2-3 with a 3.40 ERA.  Chase Headley is 6-for-13 (.462 avg) with two doubles against Lee in his career.

In 22 career games against the Phillies, Will Venable has a .183 batting average with a double and two RBI.  Venable is batting .343 in 45 games since the All-Star break after he sported a .224 average prior to the mid-summer classic.

First baseman Jesus Guzman has hit all eight of his home runs on the road this season.  Guzman is 1-for-10 (.100 avg) in three games against the Phillies in 2013.

In 19 outings since the All-Star break, Padres closer Huston Street has a 0.47 ERA and a .111 batting average against. 

Lefty reliever Jake Diekman has a 2.20 ERA and has allowed just six hits in 16 games since July.  In 19 home games, Diekman has held opponents to a .209 batting average this year.

Carlos Ruiz is 6-for-11 (.525 avg) in three games against the Padres this season.  Ruiz sports a .307 average with four homers and 17 RBI in 41 home games this season.

Rookie third baseman Cody Asche has a .291 batting average with six doubles, three home runs and 13 RBI in 23 home games this season.  The lefty batting 23-year-old is hitting .333 against left-handed pitchers in the big leagues this year.

Padres team ERA since the All-Star break- 3.86 (17th in MLB)
Phillies team ERA since the All-Star break- 4.65 (29th in MLB)

Friday, September 6, 2013

J.P. Crawford Batting Practice Footage

Shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford was one of the brightest spots from a minor league season that saw a grand total of zero Phillies minor league teams reach the postseason.  Drafted 16th overall this past June, the 18-year-old made a great impression in the Gulf Coast League, as he sported a .345 average with eight doubles, three triples, one home run, 19 RBI and 12 stolen bases in 39 games.

After displaying his excellent offensive skills in the rookie level GCL, the Phillies promoted Crawford to the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws.  While the slick fielding California native started out going 10-for-33 (.303 avg.), he wrapped up the season on a 1-for-20 stretch in his final five games, bringing his average at Lakewood down to .208.  Following his debut with the BlueClaws on August 19th, the team won nine of 14 games, so his impact on the team was clear, despite his final numbers there.

Recently, I grabbed some batting practice footage of J.P. at Lakewood's FirstEnergy Park, prior to his BlueClaws home debut.  Check it out in the media player below.  Don't be fooled though, as the youngster is seen rocking a t-shirt with teammate Willie Carmona's name on the back.

Crawford will be among the collection of Phillies prospects that takes part in the Florida Instructional League that is set to begin on September 16th.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

PhoulBallz Podcast 39: Adam Morgan Interview, Paul Owens Awards, Gillies Notes, Season Highlights

On the 39th edition of the PhoulBallz Podcast, Jay chats with lefty pitching prospect Adam Morgan, who dealt with a shoulder injury in 2013 but made a lot of progress.  Additionally, Tug and Jay chat about the Phillies' Paul Owens Award winners Severino Gonzalez and Maikel Franco, Trevor May thoughts on being traded by the Phils last off-season, Tyson Gillies' feelings toward his season, September call-ups as well as much more.

Use the media player below to stream the full episode, or simply download it by clicking HERE.

You can also check out previous episodes and subscribe on iTunes.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Cameron Rupp Ready for Next Level

Cameron Rupp, Image- Jay Floyd
Over the weekend, Cameron Rupp sat in the players' lounge area of the Coca Cola Park clubhouse watching the Phillies on television. On Tuesday, he'll be in the clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park for his first major league game.

Rupp, the Phillies' third round draft choice in 2010 out of the University of Texas, was among a collection of youngsters that was added to the big league roster as September call-ups this week. The strong defending 24-year-old is up for the challenge.

This season, Rupp posted a career high in home runs, with 14, splitting time with the Double-A Reading Fightins and the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Additionally, Rupp sported a .258 average and drove in 45 runs in 94 total games this year. The righty batting Texan, pleased with his own progress this year, had his eyes set on higher levels for much of the season.

"I knew the situation I was in, sharing time with (Sebastian) Valle in Reading and with Tommy (Joseph) being (in Lehigh Valley), you know, I don't want to see anybody get hurt, but as soon as Tommy went down, that was kind of a goal of mine, to keep going and play and, hopefully, get an opportunity to go up and take advantage of it," Rupp said, referencing the Phillies' other well-known catching prospects.

Valle, once a highly promising minor league backstop, has been held back in Double-A due to stunted progress at the plate. Joseph, who was a prized acquisition from the Giants last year in the Hunter Pence trade, has missed considerable time with a concussion and reported shin issues this season.

Rupp entered this season as a .258 career hitter with 19 homers in three professional seasons at three levels, none of which were higher than Class A Advanced where he was a Florida State League All-Star last year as a member of the Clearwater Threshers.  

Regarding his considerable strides in 2013, Rupp credits his Lehigh Valley teammates with helping him improve his mental game and daily approach. He feels that playing with the likes of Josh Fields and Pete Orr, who have a fair amount of big league experience between them, has provided him with the extra guidance many minor league players long for.

"You learn a lot more about the game than just what goes on out there. You learn about mentalities, you learn about situations, you learn more that just what you see watching the game as opposed to what's going on, situations. They've been around long enough to to explain things to younger guys like myself," Rupp said with appreciation in his voice.

A promotion to the big leagues was not certain, but it was also not a full surprise to Rupp, who was aware that he had played well enough to be deserving of a shot at the top level of the sport sooner or later. The man that is often praised for his strong ability to lead a pitching staff has now achieved a lifelong goal and has a strong desire to stick by the methods that allowed him to reach it.

"It's everybody's dream to get up there and play at the big league level," Rupp stated, despite using the word speechless to describe his reaction to getting news of a big league call-up. "You play this game 'cause you love it; one, and two; to get up to the big leagues and play for a long time...I'll go out there and give everything I've got, like I always do."

Monday, September 2, 2013

Galvis Returns, Other Call-ups Announced

Thanks to a tweet from IronPigs beat reporter Jeff Schuler, we got our first glance at the Phillies' September call-ups.

Some familiar faces in pitchers Tyler Cloyd, Joe Savery and Luis Garcia will return after previous stints with the big club this season. Relief pitcher Mauricio Robles and catcher Cameron Rupp will be making their first trips to Citizens Bank Park as official members of the big league roster.

Additionally, the Phillies will recall shortstop Freddy Galvis.  The five-foot-ten 170-pounder posted a .207 average with four homers and 14 RBI in 54 games with the Phillies earlier this season. Of his inclusion on the big league opening day roster, Galvis felt it was encouraging and took a lot of confidence from his time in the majors earlier this year.

"It feels good," Galvis stated.  "You feel like you worked hard and the work you did in the off-season was good.  I mean, when you have the chance to play in the big leagues, that's the best feeling you have."

Since the demotion to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, the switch-hitting Galvis has posted a .245 batting average with three home runs and 25 RBI and three steals in 62 games.

Although he was extremely pleased to have begun the 2013 season on the major league roster, Galvis stated that there was no level of dissatisfaction with being sent back to the minor leagues.

"I think there was no disappointment, man.  It's something I think was good for me.  I wasn't playing every day over there.  I think- I feel like I'm a young guy.  I'm 23-years-old, I should be playing every day, so sending me here was good for me to get here and be playing everyday and try to (continue) the development," Galvis said.

The Venezuelan born youngster admitted that September call-ups were somewhat on his mind last week as the IronPigs were clinging to slim playoff hopes in the International League.  Following Saturday's loss to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, the IronPigs were eliminated from postseason contention.

Cloyd started for the Phillies as recently as last weekend and earned a no decision in Lehigh Valley's win over Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Friday.  In eight big league games this season, the righty has a 2-3 record with a 3.57 ERA and a .270 batting average against.

The left-handed Savery, the Phillies' first round draft choice in 2007, is 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA in 10 big league appearances this season.  

Garcia, a right-hander, has a 0-1 record along with a 5.59 ERA in 17 games with the Phillies this year.  Conversely, the 26-year-old tallied a 2-2 record with 11 saves and a 1.51 ERA in 33 games in the minors in 2013.

Robles, who was originally signed as an international free agent by Detroit in 2006, was claimed off waivers by the Phils last December.  The 24-year-old lefty sported a 5-3 record along with a 1.97 ERA and a .167 batting average against in 51 games with Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley this season.

Pitchers Phillippe Aumont and Raul Valdes, who were thought by many to be likely candidates for late season additions to the Phils' roster, will not be added to the team.

BlueClaws Quotables: Morandini, Charles & Tromp Reflect on 2013

As the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws wrapped up their regular season with a rain out on Monday, I spoke with manager Mickey Morandini about several of his players' progress this year.  Additionally, first baseman Art Charles and outfielder Jiandido Tromp shared some thoughts on their 2013 season and what the off-season might hold.  Read ahead for quotes from all three men.

Mickey Morandini:

Off the top, Morandini shared a list of BlueClaws that will be participating in the Florida Instructional League- RHP Zach Cooper, RHP Delvi Francisco, RHP Kevin Walter, RHP Shane Watson, SS J.P. Crawford, 1B Art Charles, OF Larry Greene Jr. and OF Carlos Tocci.

Morandini spoke about which of those players would benefit most from more time on the field with the Phillies' coaches and minor league staff...

Larry needs to go down there and continue to work on his swing.  Tocci really needs to go down there and get stronger.  I don't think he needs a lot more games.  He's pretty tired right now.  And Walter needs to go down there and work on his mechanics a little bit.  He throws across his body a little too much and that impacts some of his off-speed pitches, so he's gonna work on that.  Mainly, I think Larry needs to go down and iron out the issues with his swing right now.

On the topic of RHP Severino Gonzalez (7-5 record, 2.00 ERA, 119 K's, 22 walks in 103 2/3 innings combined at three levels), who became a bit of a breakout prospect in the Phils' system this season...

Yeah, he's made a name for himself.  There's no question about it.  You know, he started out in extended spring and he did a couple of appearances in the Florida State League and really took off.  A very smart pitcher, throws four pitches for strikes, a very confident pitcher that's not afraid to pitch inside.  He's had a tremendous year, there's no question about it.

On if Severino could be on the verge of being the type of prospect that fans and media will really buzz about next year...

He's got a chance.  You know, that's a long ways away and we don't know where we're gonna need starters, so who knows if he's back in Clearwater or with Reading.  But, as long as he continues to throw strikes and have command like he has- I mean, the key for him is he's not an overpowering pitcher, but he hides the ball well and he's sneaky fast.  As long as he can continue to keep command of all his pitches, he's got a chance to be a pretty darn good one.

On if he feels certain BlueClaws players displayed a considerable amount of progress this season...

I mean, I think Willie Carmona has come a long way.  He was here the last two months last year and overall struggled offensively.  This year, he's been pretty darn consistent after a slow April.  He really took off and he's really our best hitter.  Our most consistent.  Got on base at least twice a game after the All-Star break and started driving in runs and doing what we needed him to do in the middle of that order.  So, he had a great year.  I think Art Charles had a great second half.  He had a great August.  Driving the ball, driving in runs, starting to hit the off-speed pitches a little better.  So, those two guys really stepped up for me.

On this year's first round draft pick J.P. Crawford's impact (batted .208 in 14 games with Lakewood after sporting a .345 average in 39 games with the Gulf Coast League Phillies) in the system thus far...

He's had a huge impact on this team.  I think we were maybe ten and five since he got here, or something like that.  He made us a lot more athletic, played excellent defense, he's got great instincts for a young kid playing shortstop.  Don't read too much into the average, because he had an impact offensively.  The last three games, he's bunted a couple times for outs, he's hit a couple balls hard for outs, so he's had a good impact here and he's going to be a very good baseball player. 

On his own personal satisfaction with the season for his players...

You know, we're not happy with the record, but at this level, it's more about player development than about wins and losses.  Obviously, we want to win and teach them how to win, but as far as I'm concerned, everyone got better here in some aspect of the game and that's what we're here for.  I think we sent eight or nine pitchers to Clearwater.  You know, that's our goal, is to get these guys up to the next level.  And you look around, Tocci's a better player than when he first got here.  Walding's a better player.  Charles is a better player.  Carmona's a better player.  Even though Larry's numbers aren't real good, he's a better player now than from- being, just being able to play a full year and see what it takes to be a player that plays a full year, he's better.  So, as far as I'm concerned, it's been a successful year for us.

On lefty pitcher Yoel Mecias (4-3 record, 3.79 ERA, 70 K's, 22 walks in 57 innings over 13 games), who was an All-Star with Lakewood this year, then went down with an arm injury and required Tommy John surgery...

I don't know what the time table is for him to start throwing and things like that, but he just had the surgery, I think, in June.  So, I'm sure he'll be throwing by spring training.  I don't know when he'll be game-ready.  But, Tommy John is a surgery that guys come back from, you know, there's not too many that don't come back from it.  

He was progressing real nice here.  He was starting to get a lot of confidence.  He was throwing strikes with all his pitches.  He needs to work a little bit more on his breaking ball and if he can get his breaking ball better, he's a chance to be real good, especially from the left side. 

Art Charles (batted .251 with 34 doubles, two triples, 11 homers and 72 RBI in 123 games):

On his level of satisfaction with his 2013 season...

I had an okay season.  Obviously, I wanted to do better.  I felt like, as a player, we always want to do better.  If I had hit .300, I'd want to do better, you know?  But, I'm hitting around .250, I definitely wanted to have a better average and have a little bit better power numbers, but it is what it is.  I'll kind of take it in stride.  I'm going to instructional league and I'll be working on some new things, so it's all about development and kind of finishing strong.  I felt like I did well.  I had an okay season.  Definitely wish I'd have done better, though.

On what's he'll be working on at instructs...

I'll be working on stuff with my hitting.  That's pretty much the biggest thing, just kind of getting a new approach.  Just working on a few different things.  I don't know exactly what we're going to do, but it's going to have to do with hitting.  Stuff that might not be best suited for in-season changes.

On his goals for this off-season...

Definitely want to come back more agile.  More agility.  I want to work on that a lot.  Just strengthening it up, like always.  Better shape as far as, like, body composition and working on that as well.  Just coming back ready for the next full season and to kick it into gear.

On where he feels like he made the most progress this year...

Probably, I mean, I struck out on some off-speed pitches, but I'd say recognizing off-speed pitches better and getting my front foot down and being able to react to those pitches and to drive those pitches, not to just kind of slap them around.  I had a few home runs and doubles off of hanging off-speed pitches and swinging at them, when they're up and obviously, that's going to help my development and my progression because those are the kind of pitches that I have to hit.  I'm not always going to get fastballs, being a big guy and being a first baseman. 

Jiandino Tromp (batted .150 in 13 games with Lakewood, after batting .299 with nine double, a homer and eight RBI in 33 games for short-season Williamsport):

On his 2013 season...

For me, it was good.  For me, I had a good time in Williamsport and then to come here, it was- I mean, you can't see it in the numbers, but I felt good at the plate.  I had some good hits.  I had some struggle, but my struggle wasn't too bad, 'cause I was hitting the ball hard, so that's what I was looking for.  I got it, I'm going home and I'm going home happy.

On what being recognized as an All-Star in the NY-Penn League meant to him, prior to joining the BlueClaws...

I mean, second year in pro ball, being an All-Star in the New York-Penn League, that's an honor.  That was really fun.  We had fun and we lost though, but that's alright. 

On if he'll be playing in any winter or off-season leagues...

I don't know yet.  I'll just, for now, I'll just go home and see what's up next. 

On being from Aruba and representing his country...

Aruba's a nice place.  It's small though, it's like 110,000 people.  But, there's good talents there.  I'm glad to be representing my country and everything.  We just got a big leaguer, right now- Xander Bogaerts.  Yeah, so let's see who's the next one.  

I played with him in the (Little) League World Series.  He's a good guy.  We had a lot of fun together and he's right there right now waiting for me. 

On what his goals are for the off-season to try to improve himself...

In every aspect.  I mean, speed wise, just keep doing the same thing and try to get better day by day.  Just practice hard.  

I have other players (to work out with) and I will have trainers too, in Aruba.  So, I'll be good.

Bonus note: Lakewood third baseman Mitch Walding broke a rib on his left side on Sunday when getting up from the couch in the Blueclaws' clubhouse.  The injury, which was initially diagnosed as a back strain but was actually a stress fracture that resulted in a larger break, had kept the 20-year-old out of action since August 20th.  Walding will still head to the Florida Instructional League later this month and will rehab the injury.  Expected to be sidelined four to six weeks, the Phillies' 5th round draft selection from 2011 may see some instructs game action over the final week of the schedule.

Walding posted a .224 average with a home run and 42 RBI in 115 games with the BlueClaws this season.

PhoulBallz Interview: IronPigs Manager Dave Brundage

Dave Brundage, Image- Jay Floyd
Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs manager Dave Brundage returned the Phillies' organization this season after a 26-year absence.  Previously, Brundage managed the Braves' Triple-A affiliate for the last six seasons.  Prior to his time in the Atlanta system, the 48-year-old spent 19 season in the Mariners organization as a player, coach and manager.  The Georgia resident was originally drafted as a fourth round pick in 1986 and played at three levels with the Phillies, reaching as high as Double-A Reading before he was traded to Seattle.

The IronPigs hung close in the International League wild card standings through the latter portion of the season, but a loss to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Saturday officially eliminated them from the postseason hunt.

This weekend, I spoke with Brundage about several of his players, including Adam Morgan, Tyson Gillies as well as Cameron Rupp and he also chatted about September call-ups among other things.  Read ahead for that full interview.

- What are your thoughts on the type of progress you've seen from pitcher Adam Morgan this year, who sported a 1.59 ERA over seven starts after coming off the disabled list with a shoulder ailment in July?

I think we've benefited from him coming back.  I think, I mean, he benefited first and foremost.  I think he benefited from the experience.  Obviously, fatigue played a factor, you know, (in his most recent start) and it's been a long season.  The young man's gone through an awful lot.  He's battled an arm injury.  He's battling to get back, it's just sometimes you start logging so many innings, for a young man that's fighting a sore arm and stuff like that it can take its toll.  We've kept his pitch count down.  We haven't allowed him to go anything past five innings.  We've kept him around 75 pitches, just so he can gain that experience.  Just so it's not just a year that you say, "Well, we threw that out the window."  He's just benefited a lot from the experience of having to come back.  Maybe not pitching with the best stuff that he pitched with in spring training or in previous year.  But it also teaches you that when he has that back, that he has the ability to understand what it is like to pitch without your best stuff.

- Is Morgan a guy that could benefit from some winter experience this year, because he didn't get a lot of innings, or would he benefit more from the rest in the off-season?

I personally think, it's not my decision, but it's been a long year.  It's been a long year, he's worked his tail off to stay healthy and get healthy.  I think rest is, in my opinion, it's time to shut it down and let the arm rest and regroup.

- Tyson Gillies has had a fairly rough season.  I know, mechanically, he's changed some things at the plate and he's gone up and down this year.  Talk about Tyson's season a little bit.

I like him, you know, in the second half much better than the first half.  And, at the same time, he's getting his feet wet, you know, maybe not as comfortable the first time around.  He goes down to Double-A, he works on things, he gets some things straightened out.  I thought he swung the bat better.  He had better at bats coming back here in the second half.  He was a much more comfortable player, coming back the second time around.  More quality at bats.  He played a good defense.  He threw some runners out.  He did an outstanding job of throwing runners out and playing a good solid defense there in the outfield.  He's a well above average outfielder.  I just think his pitch recognition and things that he's got to work on along the way is just something that can come, down the road.  And, at the same time, I think the more comfortable these players get here, obviously you've got another level to conquer.  If a player shows you they're on the right track, mission accomplished, at times.

- Tyson seemed to think he didn't need to be placed on the disabled list recently.  It's a rarity where a player would tell me that his DL stint was not needed.  He's still sidelined right now, what goes into the decision to-?

Well, what goes into it is that we only have 25 roster spots and we were already strapped.  You know, we needed guys that were healthy and were able to play and the bottom line is that he wasn't able at the time.  It's, you know, he was probably a couple days away and sometimes you've gotta make decisions on certain- you don't know and he already hadn't played for four or five days.  So, it was one of those things where unfortunately you can't go all the way back to his last day, like you do in the big leagues.  Here, it's you can only go back two days, but at the same time, you gotta make decisions and we only have nine healthy guys.  You can't go into a ball game not knowing- I can't play him and I can't play him and I can't play him and now what kind of bench do you have? 

It's a little bit unfortunate, that he does feel like he can get back, but it's not the end of the world.  It was a couple days that he missed out on and, in a long season, maybe there's even more precaution making sure his hamstring is good.

- Leandro Castro's a guy that some people might assess as not having lived up to what his potential should or could be.  What are your thoughts on Leandro?

Well, Leandro's a young player.  Leandro's got talent, he's got tools, he needs this experience here at this level.  He needs to understand and Leandro can show you something great every night.  He can also show you why he needs to be here at this level because he's going to make young mistakes.  He's going to make aggressive mistakes.  You love his aggressiveness.  I love the way he comes to play.  You know, that aggressive, hard work.  But, at the same time, there's times we have to pull back the reins at times and understand and learn from our mistakes.  I think eventually, he's gonna get it. 

He's represented himself very well.  It's not a down year, by any stretch.  He hits- he's hitting .255, he's got eight homers.  He's arguably one of the most clutch guys we've had here all year.  He's had numerous big hits for us.  He's swung the bat very well against left-handers.  You know, there's a lot to be said.  He plays a good outfield and he plays aggressive.  Those are the mistakes we talk about.  He just- eventually, he's going to learn from those mistakes and be a more well-rounded player.

- David Buchanan and Mike Nesseth, two righty pitchers, are guys that have been added to this roster over the last month of the season and they've done a great job for you.  Thoughts on those guys and what their futures could hold?

Well, I mean, I don't know what the future holds, but I know certainly they've opened some eyes here at this level.  When you get the opportunity to take advantage of an want to make a name for yourself and I think they both have.  You know, just in the short stints.  Obviously, Buchanan's been here longer and he's stepped up in some big ballgames for us and he's given us five quality starts.  Nesseth has stepped up.  I know the organization wanted him up here to see what he can do at this level in just a short period of time, 'cause there's a chance that he could be here next year.  So, I think you want to get some guys- the same way you want to get some guys to the big leagues, you want to see if other guys can handle this level and I think they both represented and did a super job.

- Another guy that was added to this team from Reading during the season was catcher Cameron Rupp.  He's another guy that's been a great addition to this roster.  What are your thoughts on Cameron?

Cameron's grown up a little bit.  He's much more comfortable in his surroundings here.  Getting here and trying not to overwhelm him with too many things, because catching is the toughest position by far of any position, when you're going from one level to another, whether it be from A ball to Double-A, or Double-A to Triple-A, or Triple-A to the big leagues because, number one you're learning a whole new staff, you have your own defensive program, throwing, calling a game and then, you know, a whole other ball game is swinging the bat.  I'm not trying to ask too much of Cameron early on.  I think he's so much more comfortable now.  He's more comfortable behind the plate and now's the time when you start to see improvements and in the past month we've seen a lot of improvements.  We always knew they were there, but it's just sometimes as a guy gets more comfortable and they start gaining that experience, the game slows down a little bit, it's not going as fast and the capacity to learn is that much greater and that's exactly what he's done.

- Other key contributors on this roster have been up and down this year with the big club.  You've had guys like Cesar Hernandez, Phillippe Aumont and Freddy Galvis here on this roster.  Clearly, the team goal coming into the final week of the season was playoffs and a wild card berth.  But, I'm sure guys can't help but look forward to when the big league rosters expand as September rolls in.  Do you think that can weigh on guys' minds down the stretch?

It's human nature.  I'm sure that's what motivates them.  One is, you'd love to be in a championship.  You'd love to win a ring.  But, also along the way, the whole objective is to be in the big leagues.  You can't blame anybody for thinking ahead, but I also know that in the (clubhouse) it's also what motivates them.  It's what drives them.  I drives them to be better every day and develop and get better and open eyes and, hopefully, get a call to the big leagues. 

- Steve Susdorf has been a steady performer here with the IronPigs and had that proverbial cup of coffee in the big show.  A lot of folks were happy to see him get that shot.  Among other guys that have climbed the levels of the Phils system, fans might also be partial to a guy like Cody Overbeck to get such a nod as a call-up.  Do you feel that a guy like Susdorf or Overbeck could be in line for a look in September?

I think a lot of them are deserving.  You know, it's just sometimes you run against numbers and I'm not saying one way or another, because that's not my job as- who gets called, but I certainly voice my opinion when asked about guys and, you know, you have your sentimental favorites along the way and the guys like Susdorf and Overbeck have paid their dues and have been good Triple-A ball players.  You would love for them all to get a call, in a sense, and the ones that are deserving especially.  At the same time, I know, realistically, they can't all get a phone call.  You also hope.  It's not cut and dry.  You don't know how the organization's leaning or what they're thinking right now, but, you know, I'd love- Cody Overbeck's been a great teammate just like Susdorf has.

- You mentioned something about offering your thoughts on guys or your endorsement or stamp of approval on somebody.  What goes into that?  What could you say and who do you talk to?

You just speak your mind and tell 'em how you feel.  They'll ask about players and when they ask about them- and they've already asked on a few different and I'm sure they have their minds, you know, not completely made up, but, at the same time, they also- you know, when I'm asked then you want to voice that opinion and stand up for your players, realizing that they all can't get called up but, at the same time, who is deserving and who has earned the right to get an opportunity.

I just speak from my heart and tell them who I think deserves a call.