Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Versatile Astudillo standing out for BlueClaws

Willians Astudillo, Image- Jay Floyd
For Willians Astudillo, it doesn’t matter what position he’s assigned to on defense, as long as his name is written in the lineup. His coaches find a way to make that happen.

Astudillo is most often manning first base for the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws this season, but he is listed on the club’s roster as a catcher. The Venezuela native, who entered the season without a definitive position locked in place, has earned playing time at the plate as the ‘Claws’ most consistent batter. As a pro, he has played every infield position as well as right field and left field.

“Whatever (position) I have a chance to play, I want to help,” Astudillo asserted through an interpreter, coach Lino Connell. “I’ll feel the same about any position. Before I signed, I played a lot of infield, so changing from catcher to the infield, it’s not really a big deal.”

What is a big deal is the 22-year-old’s offensive output. Sporting a sizzling .406 average following Tuesday's 9-4 win at Lexington, Astudillo has made it nearly impossible for the team’s manager Greg Legg to not find a spot for him on a nightly basis.

"He puts the ball in play, gives himself a chance every at bat,” Legg stated about Lakewood's versatile leader. “He stays inside the ball. He’s found some holes. He gives you at least two good at bats every night. He’s a hot hitter right now.”

On top of his South Atlantic League leading batting average, Astudillo, who was signed as an amateur free agent in 2008, has also laced four doubles and a home run while driving in 11 runs in 17 games. His .931 OPS is also among the league leaders.

Astudillo missed the entire 2013 campaign with a left knee injury and feels that the down time really helped him appreciate the game and develop his own mental toughness. Missing time on the field gave the youngster, that is generously listed at 5-foot-9 and 195 pounds, the drive to improve and increased his focus as he studied the game.

Additionally, the righty hitting Astudillo feels the time rehabbing in Florida at the Phillies’ spring training home and watching all the game action going on through spring and summer, with the extended spring training team that becomes the short-season Class A Williamsport Crosscutters as well as the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers, made him feel anxious and increased his love of the sport.

“I felt like, ‘I want to get better, I want to get better.’ And as soon as I can, I wanted to get in a uniform and play,” the enthusiastic Astudillo exclaimed.

The focus on getting back to the diamond has turned out nicely for Astudillo, who has developed a hefty amount of confidence. It shows with the way he fields questions, with his fun, loose demeanor around the ballpark, with the way he creates energy for the team, and with his performance on the field.

“I am all about confidence. I see a lot of work to do to improve, but to be able to get to this level, I have a lot of confidence in myself.”

With a multitude of mitts and a bat that won't quit, Astudillo appreciates his spot and plans to stay hot to help the BlueClaws win games this season.

“I feel good at the plate and I just want to continue doing what I am doing right now. I am enjoying the opportunity to play and I just want to do my best every time I am in the lineup.”

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Minor League Hot List: Franco, Leiter, Joseph & More

It's another edition of our weekly minor league round up, where we take a look at the hottest players in the Phillies system. Read ahead for all the notes on your standout prospects and a shining pro vet.


Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs-

Maikel Franco, Image- Jay Floyd
Third baseman Maikel Franco is 9-for-31 (.290 avg) with three doubles, a homer and five RBI in his last seven games. The 21-year-old Domincan was batting .111 on the season prior to that stretch of games.

Righty hurler Greg Smith has been on fire in his past three starts, posting a 2-0 record with a 0.90 ERA while striking out 15 and walking one in 20 innings during that stretch. Smith tallied a 3.31 ERA in 23 games with the IronPigs last season. The 30-year-old has pitched in the big leagues with Oakland and Colorado.

Double-A Reading Fightins-

Outfielder Cam Perkins has maintained his strong output since the start of the season and, after notching his 12th multi-hit game of the year on Monday, is batting .375 through 21 games. The Purdue product was a 6th round draft choice in 2012. Perkins, 23, sports a 1.013 OPS, which is 4th best in the Eastern League.

Prior to landing on the disabled list with concussion complications last weekend, catcher Tommy Joseph was heating up considerably. The 22-year-old had gone 12-for-33 (.367 avg) with two doubles, three homers and 13 RBI in the eight games prior to his latest injury. Don't be surprised if the backstop changes positions, as the wear and tear behind the dish won't help him stay healthy.


Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers-

Righty reliever Colton Murray has looked strong overall this year. In eight appearances, the 24-year-old has a 2-1 record along with a 1.93 ERA while striking out 16 and walking six in 14 innings of work. Murray was a 13th round pick out of the University of Kansas in 2011.


Class A Lakewood BlueClaws-

Starting pitcher Mark Leiter Jr. has been the most consistent performer throughout the Phils minor league ranks thus far in 2014. The 23-year-old has tallied a 3-1 record along with a 1.97 ERA while striking out 27 and walking six in 32 innings over five starts. Most recently, last year's 22nd round draft choice tossed eight shut out innings against the Mets affiliate Savannah on Saturday. To check out my recent feature, with quotes from Leiter, click here.

First baseman/catcher/DH Willians Astudillo continues to perform very well, as the 22-year-old Venezuelan is batting .400 with a homer and 10 RBI through 16 games. Astudillo saw a 12-game hitting streak come to an end on Saturday.

Monday, April 28, 2014

BlueClaws Quotables: Legg, Connell and Viza Speak

This weekend I spoke with Class A Lakewood manager Greg Legg about several of his players. I also got insight from BlueClaws hitting coach Lino Connell on the Phillies' supplementary round (39th overall) draft choice from 2011 Larry Greene Jr.'s progress this year and the team's best hitter thus far, Willians Astudillo. Additionally, righty pitching prospect Tyler Viza spoke on how he stays focused and more. Read ahead for all those quotes.


Lakewood manager Greg Legg, Image- Jay Floyd
Greg Legg-

Asked about how fans might be wondering when Larry Greene Jr. (.176/.237/.241 in 15 games this year) is going to show and prove why he was the Phils' top draft choice three years ago...

"Well, this would be a good year for him to do it. Kinda expect it. Right now, he hurt his wrist, so his wrist has been bothering him. He hurt it on a diving play out in the outfield. So, he's a little banged up right now. He's shown some signs of all that earlier in the season. The numbers aren't there yet. He got off to a pretty good start. He's hit a couple balls good and they haven't found holes. But, this wuld be a good year to do it. I hope his wrist's okay."

On third base prospect Zach Green's hip injury that led to his demotion to the extended spring training roster...

"We got good news. He's not hurt as bad as we thought. He went and saw a doctor. He's okay. We're making sure...it's early in the season. We think a lot of Zach Green. We're making sure he's okay. We're protecting him a little bit. He would try to play. We're trying to get him 100-percent."

On second baseman Andrew Pullin, a 5th round pick in 2012 who is off to a slow start, posting a .211/.299/.276 slash line in 22 games...

"Well he's hit a lot of balls hard that haven't shown up in the box score as hits. Especially the last few games. he's been smoking some balls right at people. And he hit a homer the other day. He had another (one) well hit that the guy's played up against the fence (Thursday) night. So, I look for him to kind of keep doing what he's been doing and the ball's he's hit will find some holes and that average will go up."

Sharing thoughts on 18-year-old pitcher Tyler Viza (2-2, 3.72 ERA in five starts), who was reportedly signed for $160K last year as a 32nd rounder...

"He has competed well, throws strikes, pitches inside, gives our team a chance to win every outing he's been out there."

"I think we expected (what he has done). The guys that know him and the people that evaluate him, Carlos Arroyo, Les (Lancaster), they knew what he was going to do. They knew he was going to throw strikes and compete and not back away from the competition of this level."

Speaking about relief pitcher Cody Forsythe, a 25th round pick last year, who has been filling the role as the team's closer...

"He's done his job. A left-handed reliever for us and he's done great job and, hopefully, he can get a couple more saves."


Lino Connell-

On Larry Greene Jr.-

"He's got a couple games where he got good contact (without results). He's shown a lot better approach at the plate and I think it's still a very short time to see what he's going to do on the year. But, we will keep working with him. He's right there. He's almost right where we want it. We got a lot of improvement in spring training. We see a lot of good things from him in spring training and, hopefully, this year we'll get where we want it."

Sharing thoughts on 22-year-old first baseman/catcher/OF/DH Willians Astudillo, who has been Lakewood's hottest batter, hitting safely in 14 of his 16 games and sporting a league best .400 average this year...

"We know that he's- the organization knows that he's one of our good hitters that we have. He always puts the ball in play. He always makes contact. He knows what he's doing at the plate, so it's no surprise for us to see what we see right now. He's always been like that. He's very mature at the plate to be able to do what he's doing right now."


Tyler Viza-

Talking about how he bounces back from a bad outing or a mistake on the mound...

"I always try not to look back on what I did wrong. You know, I'm always looking forward to my next start once the start's over. I gotta focus one game at a time, one pitch at a time. Once the last pitch is over or the last game is over, you can't worry too much about it. I just try to keep a level head, a good mindset and move on."

On how his coaches' confidence in his skills can help him and his teammates...

"The coaches have a lot of confidence in me and everybody else on the team. We have a great group of guys here and we have a great coaching staff. They know what they're talking about and believe that what they're saying, that we can all take in and I feel like I've been doing that as well as a lot of other people and we just take it one step at a time."

Speaking about his feelings on what he's done thus far in his first full season of professional baseball...

"I feel very confident and comfortable. You know, I'm gonna keep coming at everybody, so I'm ready.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Bright “Leiter” for the BlueClaws

Mark Leiter Jr. (center), Image- BlueClaws
Wins have been hard to come by for the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws this season, but every fifth day, when their ace is on the mound, the team appears to have excellent chances at notching a victory.

For the BlueClaws team that sits in last place in the South Atlantic League's Northern division with a 6-16 record, Mark Leiter Jr. has been the most solid contributor on the pitching staff. The 23-year-old sports a 3-1 record along with a 1.97 ERA and a .209 batting average against through five starts.

Possessing half of the team's wins, the right-hander is pleased with his own dominant output, which is displayed by his 1.31 ERA with Lakewood dating back to last season, but Leiter, a Forked River, NJ native, credits his teammates for his personal success.

"I'm playing with a lot of really good players and I'm fortunate to throw to some really good catchers and this year, with (Gabriel) Lino, we've been on the same page every time we've been out there and it's been outstanding. When you're on the same page with the catcher, that makes a lot of difference," explained the reserved Leiter before offering additional props to the players behind him.

"The defense has been really great. You know, I think not overthrowing and trusting your defense helps you a lot in tight spots and getting those double play balls or whatever the case might be, a diving play here or something. So, it's been a lot of things clicking," Leiter stated.

In his most recent outing on Saturday at Lakewood's FirstEnergy Park, Leiter tossed eight shutout innings, allowing four hits while striking out five and walking two, earning the win against the Mets affiliate Savannah.

Son of former big leaguer Mark Leiter Sr., who pitched for the Yankees, Phillies and six other teams at the top level of the sport, and nephew of former Major League pitcher Al Leiter, the younger Leiter has found it easy to transition to professional baseball after being around it for so much of his life.

Leiter, who was selected by the Phillies in the 22nd round of the 2013 draft, may have surprised some with his output, but the BlueClaws' coaching staff aren't on that list of people that didn't see this type of potential in the six-foot 195-pounder..

"Nothing he does surprises me," asserted Lakewood manager Greg Legg. "He knows how to pitch, keeps us in the game, does his job. He's kind of a quiet leader on our team (and he's) a good pitcher."

Asked about if he is personally has any level of amazement with the type of success he's had since turning pro after being drafted out of the New Jersey Institute of Technology last June, Leiter attributes his readiness as being key.

"You prepare all spring training and all off-season to go out and have success, so if you're surprised by it, maybe...you didn't work as well as you thought you worked to get to that point. But I think with the Phillies organization we have a great setup with everything and our preparation has allowed us to expect to have success."

Looking as though he's got nothing left to prove in the South Atlantic League, Leiter isn't focusing on a possible promotion. He's only concerned with the assignment he's given and will continue to shine for the BlueClaws until he gets the chance to pitch at a higher level.

"Where ever I'm pitching, that's what I'm concentrating on. I don't really want to look ahead to anything like that. I'm enjoying the moment and the ride that goes along with it. You know, I don't really want to look ahead at this point."

This post originally appeared on ShoreSportsNetwork.com.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

PhoulBallz Interview: 3B Prospect Zach Green

Zach Green, Image- Jay Floyd
Third base prospect Zach Green was selected by the Phillies in the third round of the 2012 draft out of Jesuit High School in California. Since then, the six-foot-three 205-pounder has shown great potential and has impressed many.

After signing his first professional contract in 2012, Green sported a .284 average with three home runs and 21 RBI in 47 games with the Gulf Coast League Phillies.

Last season, as a 19-year-old in the Class A short-season New York-Penn League, Green led the league in homers (13), doubles (20) and runs scored (52) while batting .252 and driving in 41 runs in 74 games with the Williamsport Crosscutters.

Through 15 contests this season with Class A Lakewood, Green was off to a slow start, posting a .186 batting average with two doubles, four RBI and three steals. A right hip injury put Green out of action and a roster move was made, demoting the 20-year-old to extended spring training. A reversal of the transaction could be made sooner than the required seven days if he had been placed on the disabled list.

I spoke with Zach this week about the ailment, his draft experience, representing the 'Cutters as an All-Star and plenty more. Read ahead for that full interview.

-What can you tell me about your hip injury and the roster move that came along with it?

It's like a nerve issue and nothing serious. I think they just put me on the (extended spring) roster so they didn't have to burn a DL...be on there for seven days and maybe I can come back the fifth or sixth day. It's kind of like they're just giving me rest and it's one of those things I was playing from the beginning of spring training so they want to just make sure it's fully healed before I go back on the field.

-So is it still possible that you're back more quickly than seven days?

Anything is possible at this point.

-What's the severity of the issue? You said you were playing with it for a while. When did the pain become too great to play?

About last week- last Saturday, the game in Hagerstown. It really hurt and that's why I got scratched right before game time on Monday.

-You got off to a bit of a slow start and then your last four games leading up to the injury you began to turn things on, going 6-for-15 with a couple RBI. How do you feel about your season thus far?

Yeah, the slow start is just baseball. All of spring training, I never felt, like, comfortable like I usually am, until the injury, I started to feel like I normally am. I felt I was about to get even more hot, so I mean, unfortunately the injury happened when it did, so I'm just excited to get back out there.

-You had a really tremendous season last year with Williamsport. You represented the Crosscutters as a New York-Penn League All-Star. How do you feel your season last year prepared you for the next step here with Lakewood?

It was a fun year and I think it got me ready with just the travel and bus rides and playing every single day and getting used to what professional baseball is really like.

-I mentioned there that you had an All-Star season. You got to go out there and enjoy that along with some Crosscutters teammates. Does doing that along with some friends make that experience more special?

Yeah, I think it shows that we're part of a good organization and all those guys- it was (Jiandido) Tromp, (Tyler) Buckley, (Gabe) Lino...three really hard workers, so it was really cool to be out there with them.

-You got a trophy during your trip there...All-Star home run derby champion. What can you tell me about that?

Yeah, I mean, a lot of the guys were having fun out there, trying to see how far we could hit it and I ended up competing against my teammate Gabriel Lino in the last round and that was pretty cool. A lot of trash talk. So, I'm really glad I got the win when I knew I was facing Lino in the championship. (Laughs)

-So, that gave you bragging rights for a good stretch of time?

Definitely. Yeah.

-Also, I wanted to ask you about your draft experience. You were selected by the Phillies in the third round of the 2012 draft. How were you tracking it and how did you celebrate?

I was actually just hitting in the cage and I got done my round and I had a feeling I was going to be drafted a certain time during that day and I looked at my phone and I had a bunch of text messages and missed calls, so I had a feeling that I just got drafted and that's how I found out.

Then, I just finished my round and went out to dinner with my parents and my area scout.

-Was there any level of surprise that the Phillies chose you or were they the top team interested in you to that point?

There were other teams, but the Phillies were high on me and I had a really good relationship with my area scout, Joey Davis, so it wasn't too much of a shock that they picked me.

-So speaking of getting drafted and transitioning to the pro's, how easy was the transition for you? Was it easier of more difficult than you expected?

I really wasn't sure what to expect. I just wanted to take it all in and learn every single day. So, I wouldn't say I was expecting much, but I'll say one thing I got out of it was know your body. Know when to take less swings in the cage, knowing when to take more swings and just get used to playing every single day.

-Who were some players your looked up to growing up?

I think most recently, when I was in high school, guys like Evan Longoria, um, (Ryan) Zimmerman. Guys at the hot corner. And then when I was little, (Derek) Jeter. He's just the captain. And guys like Cal Ripken. Bigger guys in the infield, those are guys that I looked up to.

-You're a California guy. Were you ever able to get out to the park to see any of those guys play?

I grew up as a Giants fan, so I didn't really get to see those guys play, but I grew up watching that '02 team...Barry Bonds, Rich Aurilia, Jeff Kent. You know, those guys smashed down the bay area and it's hard to hit home runs there. So, yeah I got to go see a couple Giants games.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Gillies Suspended, De Fratus Offers Positive Impression

Tyson Gillies with Reading in 2013, Image- Jay Floyd
Bad luck continued for troubled outfielder Tyson Gillies on Friday, as the Phillies announced that the 25-year-old was suspended for three games.

Confirming the rumor that he had taken his frustration out on some equipment after a tough loss for Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Thursday night, a game in which Gillies went 0-for-5 and struck out four times, the youngster explained via his Twitter account what took place and resulted in the missed time.

"I apologize to everyone for my actions and know this can't happen. Frustration got the best of me and I threw my equipment against the wall," Gillies tweeted.

Gillies, a British Columbia native, joined the Phillies in December 2009 as part of the Cliff Lee trade with Seattle. The lefty batting speedster has missed loads of time, playing in only 231 regular season games since joining the Phillies.

In the past four seasons, Gillies has been plagued by injuries which included repeated hamstring string issues and lengthy concussion concerns. Additionally, a drug arrest which did not lead to charges filed and a previous suspension that was the result of an angry tirade directed at a team bus driver have presented some concern for the toolsy youngster that was once ranked highly among Mariners prospects.

Aware of fans' frustration with Gillies and the bad reputation that follows him, his IronPigs teammate Justin De Fratus spoke out about the misconceptions surrounding Gillies.

"He's one of the best people I've ever played with," De Fratus expressed with emotion. "The guy gives everything he has everyday he shows up to the field. He's working so hard every day to be the best player he can be for this organization."

A desire to stay healthy and succeed with little to show for it is bound to get to any player. Gillies' teammates can definitely relate, according to the reliever De Fratus.

"When things don't work out there are times when you feel alone and have no way out. Fans start judging your character based on whether or not you have success on the field and when you're struggling with certain adjustments, sometimes you feel completely alone and all that's left for you is to let your frustration out on something because that's better than letting it out on someone," De Fratus explained.

De Fratus, who opened the season with the Phillies and was sent down to Lehigh Valley after four outings, further expressed his positive impression of Gillies while also asserting his old school style wish for privacy behind the scenes.

"The fact of the matter is it's nobody's business what happens in the clubhouse. I just feel people need to know the real person Gillies is. The one that gives every ounce of himself on every single play, from the first pitch to the last. The guy who wants every one of his teammates to succeed. He's one of the most amazing people I've ever met, who has been very unlucky with certain circumstances."

Through nine games with the IronPigs thus far this season, Gillies has tallied a .184 batting average with a home run, three RBI and two stolen bases. He went 1-for-9 with a double in big league spring training this year.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

PhoulBallz Podcast Episode 59: Lance Parrish Interview

On the 59th edition of the show, Jay chats with former big league All-Star Lance Parrish about coaching in the minors, his time with the Phillies and who helped him the most in his career. Tug and Jay also discuss the hot starts for Cameron Perkins, Carlos Tocci, Willians Astudillo and Koyie Hill. The guys also discuss Zach Green's injury, Jesse Biddle's improvements, Tug's blossoming friendship with Charlie Manuel and 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.  



**UPDATE**
Despite info stated on the show asserting that Zach Green's reassignment to the extended spring training roster had him relocated to Florida with that actual team, it's simply a paper move and the youngster is still with his Lakewood teammates for the time being, according to a source. Details of Green's injury on the episode are accurate.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

PNTV Feature: J.P. Crawford

For this week's edition of The Comcast Network's Phillies Nation TV, I produced a video package that features shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford. The 19-year-old was selected by the Phillies with the 16th overall pick in last year's draft. Since then, the talented lefty hitter has performed very well in the minors and appears ready to move upward in the developmental ranks at a fast pace.

This month, the gentlemen of 20/20 Visual Media and I spent some time with J.P. as well as his manager with Class A Lakewood, Greg Legg, and we put together the piece in the media player below. It's the first of many to come. Enjoy the segment.



**Update**
To view the full episode which features details on Cole Hamels and Ryan Howard as well as a segment with former Phils hurler Tommy Greene, check out the media player below.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Minors Notes: Who's Hot, Who's Not

MinorsLogo
Kicking off this season's (usually) weekly rundown of top performers from the minor leagues, we'll also take a look at some names that aren't off to a hot start in the developmental ranks.

Class A Lakewood-

Who's hot...

First baseman/catcher Willians Astudillo is off to a great start, batting .447 with two doubles, a home run and nine RBI in 10 games for the BlueClaws. The 22-year-old Venezuela native spent the entire 2013 campaign on the disabled list with a left knee injury.

In three starts, right-hander Mark Leiter Jr. has a 2-1 record and a 3.00 ERA while striking out 15 and walking two in 18 innings of work. Leiter was drafted in the 22nd round last year out of the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Who's not...

Third baseman Zach Green is having a slow start at the plate, batting .186 with two doubles, four RBI and three steals in 15 games. The 20-year-old righty hitter was selected in the third round of the 2012 draft.

Right-handed starter Ranfi Casimiro has a 0-2 record along with a 10.80 ERA through three games for the BlueClaws. Casimiro has struck out six and walked eight in 10 innings. The Dominican native stands six-eight and weighs about 200 pounds.

Class A Advanced Clearwater-

Who's hot...

Righty reliever Colton Murray is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in five appearances thus far this season. The 24-year-old has struck out 10 and walked two in 8 2/3 innings. Murray was the Phils' 13th round pick in 2011 out of the University of Kansas.

Left-handed starter Ethan Stewart has posted a 0-1 record with a 1.14 ERA through four games this season. The 23-year-old British Columbia native was selected in the 47th round of the 2010 draft by the Phillies.

Who's not...

Outfielder Justin Parr is struggling to start his first full year in the pro's. The lefty batting 23-year-old has posted a .082 average with a double and two RBI in 13 games for the Threshers. Parr, an eighth round draft choice last year, posted a .247/.332/.353 line in 56 games with short-season Class A Williamsport in 2013.

Righty starter Colin Kleven has a 0-3 record with an 8.80 ERA through three starts. The 23-year-old was the Phils' 33rd round draft pick in 2009.

Double-A Reading-

Who's hot...

Since getting demoted from the big league roster, Cesar Hernandez is on fire through seven games, playing mostly third base. The 23-year-old switch-hitter is batting .500 with a home run, five RBI and a stolen base. While adapting to the new position, the youngster, who was an All-Star second baseman in the minors, has three errors.

Outfielder Cam Perkins has been an excellent offensive producer for the Fightins, tallying a .415 average, with eight doubles, a triple, a homer, nine RBI and two steals. The 23-year-old was the Phillies' sixth round draft choice in 2012 out of Purdue.

Fightins closer Ken Giles looks great thus far this season. In six appearances, the 23-year-old righty has notched five saves and has yet to allow a run. In seven innings of work, the Phils' seventh round pick from 2011 has recorded 16 strike outs and has walked three batters. With just one hit, opponents are batting .043 against Giles.

Who's not...

Former top draft selection Anthony Hewitt is batting .148 with no extra base hits and two RBI through 10 games this year. The 25-year-old outfielder was selected with the 24th overall pick in 2008.


Triple-A Lehigh Valley-

Who's hot...

Backstop Koyie Hill is looking good, filling in for the injured Cameron Rupp. The 35-year-old is sporting a .393 average with two doubles, a triple and five RBI in nine games. Hill has played parts of 10 seasons in the big leagues and is a .206 hitter in 331 MLB games.

Left-hander Cesar Jimenez has allowed one earned while striking out 11 and walking three run in 11 2/3 innings (0.77 ERA) in four appearances with the Pigs. The 29-year-old Venezuelan posted a 1-1 record and a 3.71 ERA in 19 appearances in the big leagues last season.

Who's not...

Third baseman Maikel Franco had a nice game on Sunday, in which he went 3-for-5, but overall, the 21-year-old Dominican is sporting a .153/.231/.188 slash line in 16 games. Franco was widely regarded as the Phillies' top prospect heading into this season.

Outfielder Tyson Gillies is 3-for-23 (.136 avg) in five games to start his season with the IronPigs. Prior to joining LV last week, Gillies had gone 2-for-8 in two rehab appearance with Clearwater. The 25-year-old was dealing with a hamstring issue out of spring training.

Friday, April 18, 2014

PhoulBallz Podcast 58: Jim Murphy Interview, Injury Updates

On episode 58 of the PhoulBallz Minor League Podcast, Jay chats with Phillies minor leaguer Jim Murphy about his progress, his status in the system and more. Tug and Jay also chat about Passover, the return of Cole Hamels as well as loads of minor leaguers including Jay Johnson, Kenny Giles, Willie Carmona, Roman Quinn, Mitch Walding and Joey Gallo.

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.  

Hamels sharp in what should be final rehab outing

Cole Hamels, Image- AP
In what was likely his final tune up before he returns from the disabled list, lefty starter Cole Hamels looked sharp in a rehab appearance with the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers on Thursday night.

In a contest at Clearwater's Brighthouse Field, Hamels went seven innings against Lakeland (Tigers affiliate), allowing one earned run on three hits while striking out two and walking one. The 30-year-old threw 87 pitches, 57 of which were strikes.

The Threshers failed to take advantage of the strong effort by Hamels, as they dropped the match up 2-1. The run given up by Hamels was a solo homer to OF Connor Harrell, who entered the game sporting a .100 batting average. Harrell was a 31st round draft selection by Detroit in 2012.

Hamels surrendered four earned runs in 17 innings (2.12 ERA) over three starts with the Threshers in recent weeks.

Sidelined for much of the spring with biceps tendinitis in his throwing arm, Hamels is expected to return to the Phillies' rotation next Tuesday or Wednesday, against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

In his career at Dodger Stadium Hamels has a 3-0 record and a 2.54 ERA in four starts, including the postseason.


This entry originally appeared on PhilliesNation.com.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Prospects Quinn, Walding nearing return to the diamond

Roman Quinn, Image- Jay Floyd
Out of action since last year following a ruptured Achilles tendon, shortstop Roman Quinn is nearing a return to game action.

While recovering from a broken left wrist suffered when was he hit by a pitch last season, Quinn felt a pop in the back of his right ankle as he ran routine sprints early in the 2013/2014 off-season. Surgery to repair the second significant injury of his year took place shortly afterward.

Now, after nearly a half-year of recovery, the switch-hitting Quinn is just about ready to participate in games.

"I'm doing pretty much everything. Ground balls, I'm running full speed and I'm taking live batting practice," Quinn said via text message.

The youngster who is known for his speed doesn't anticipate his quickness suffering due to the damage he did to his Achilles. In fact, Quinn feels he could be faster than ever and hopes to improve all around.

Quinn, the Phils' second round draft choice in 2011 out of Port St. Joe High School in FL, has posted a .260 average with six home runs, 44 RBI and 62 stolen bases in 133 combined games with short-season Class A Williamsport and Class A Lakewood over two professional seasons.

April 29th will mark six months since Quinn had the procedure to repair the damaged tendon. The 20-year-old expects that shortly after that date he'll begin getting into some games with the Phillies' extended spring training team. He can hardly wait.

"I'm so excited, man. It's been a while," Quinn said.

Another infielder getting close to joining the extended spring training roster is third baseman Mitch Walding. After dealing with recurring issues following a broken rib suffered last season, the lefty batting youngster had the rib removed this spring.

The Phillies' 5th round draft pick in 2011, Walding has been fully active in batting and fielding practice in recent days and expects to participate in game action next week.

Walding, who batted .227 with two homers and 73 RBI in 184 combined games with Williamsport and Lakewood over the past two seasons, is quite ready to see his name in the lineup.

"(I'm) pretty anxious. Watching everyone play makes me want to get back at it pretty bad," Walding stated.

BlueClaws Batting Practice Footage: Greene, Cozens, Pullin

Recently, I shot some short video clips of a few Class A Lakewood players taking cuts during batting practice.  The footage below features outfielders Larry Greene Jr., Dylan Cozens and second baseman Andrew Pullin.

Greene was the Phillies' top draft choice (39th overall) in 2011.  In two professional seasons since then, Greene has posted a .236 average with six home runs and 54 RBI in 181 games combined at short-season A level Williamsport and Lakewood.  In 11 contests thus far with Lakewood this year, the 21-year-old is batting .243 with two doubles, a triple, four RBI and two steals.  The six-foot 235-pounder is still striving to live up to the reputation of being a power hitter when he was drafted.



Cozens, who will turn 20 next month, was the Phils' 2nd round draft selection in 2012.  In two pro seasons, the six-foot-six 235-pounder has tallied a .261 average with 14 homers and 59 RBI in 118 games combined with the rookie level Gulf Coast League team and with Williamsport.  In 12 games with Lakewood this year, Cozens is sporting a .235 average with two doubles and four RBI.



Pullin was the 5th round pick of the Phillies in 2012.  The Washington state native has notched a .285 average along with five home runs and 36 RBI in 92 combined games in the GCL and with Williamsport over the past two seasons.  The 20-year-old, who stands six feet tall and weighs 185 pounds, is hitting .182 with two doubles and an RBI for Lakewood through 12 games this season.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Minors Notes & Quotes: Rupp, Dugan Injured, RHP Viza Speaks, More Transactions

Monday was a busy day for roster moves in the Phillies' organization. On top of the news that Mike Adams would return to the Phillies at the expense of Luis Garcia being sent down to Triple-A, there were several notable transactions announced throughout the system.

Cameron Rupp, Image- Jay Floyd
Top catching prospect Cameron Rupp was placed on the disabled list with a strained oblique suffered in Sunday's game. The 25-year-old was batting .231 with four homers and eight RBI in nine games with the Triple-A IronPigs. Sebastian Valle was promoted to Lehigh Valley from Double-A Reading to fill the void.

Other backstop moves: Chad Carman promoted to the Reading roster from Class A Advanced Clearwater, Deivi Grullon activated for Clearwater from extended spring training.

Also placed on the disabled list with an oblique strain for Lehigh Valley was infielder Andres Blanco. The 30-year-old infielder was batting .273 with one RBI in nine contests in the young season.

Reading outfielder Kelly Dugan, who was hit on the left hand with a pitch on Sunday, tweeted on Monday evening that X-rays were negative and he expects to be out of action for a week. The 23-year-old was hitting .233 with a home run and four RBI through 10 games.

Outfielder Tyson Gillies was activated for the IronPigs on Monday, after going 2-for-8 in two games while rehabbing an ailing hamstring with the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers. The 25-year-old Canadian has been troubled by injuries since joining the Phillies from Seattle in the 2009 Cliff Lee trade.

Righty reliever Mike Nesseth was moved from Lehigh Valley to Reading. Nesseth, who turns 26 later this month, tallied a 0-2 record with a 9.39 ERA in four outings (one start) with the IronPigs thus far this season.

It was announced that the Phillies have released righty reliever Justin Friend. The 27-year-old had made three scoreless appearances this season (one for Lehigh Valley, two for Reading). Friend sported a 3.79 ERA in 46 games at the Triple-A level last year.

In four contests as Reading's third baseman, 23-year-old Cesar Hernandez is batting .471 with an RBI and a stolen base. Comparatively, in 11 games at Lehigh Valley's third baseman, 21-year-old Maikel Franco has a .098 average witha double and two RBI.


Quotables:

Tyler Viza, Image- 20/20 Visual Media
Class A Lakewood right-hander Tyler Viza is one of the youngest pitchers in the South Atlantic League. Drafted out of Desert Vista High School in the 32nd round of last year's draft, the 19-year-old has allowed seven runs in 10 innings (6.30 ERA) while losing both of his starts for the BlueClaws.

Despite the troubling numbers, the Arizona native is maintaining a positive outlook. Read ahead for his thoughts...

-Sharing thoughts on what he did to stand out and earn a spot in Lakewood's starting rotation...

"You know, everybody threw real well in spring training and, fortunately, I got to come here and I had a good spring training, but I'm looking for a better season."


-On if he was surprised to begin his first full year in pro ball on the full-season Class A roster...

"It's tough to say. I'm happy where I'm at. I'd be happy anywhere I go. You know, I gotta take things one step at a time. Can't look too much into the future, if I'm here all season, I am..."

-On his transition to the pro's and his exceptional success with the GCL team last year, when he posted a 1-0 record with a 1.41 ERA in 12 games (six starts)...

"It's still baseball to me. You know, I'm going to keep staying on my game, pounding the zone, attacking hitters and everything. Not surprised. It's still baseball. There's a little more competition and everything."

-Speaking about pitchers that he looked up to as a kid...

"Growing up, I was a Randy Johnson fan. He played for the Diamondbacks and I'm from Arizona. Lived there my whole life. He has the same kind of mindset that I like to have, just don't really care who's in the box. Just going after them and getting outs."

-Asked if, as a young pitcher, he thinks about or anticipates the possibility of adding to his six-foot-three 170-pound frame and the increased velocity that might come along with that...

"I try not to think about it. If it comes, it comes. I know that I'm real young, I have time to grow and I'm looking forward to what the future has for me."

Monday, April 14, 2014

Reading's Giles Inching Closer to Big Leagues

Kenny Giles, Image- Jay Floyd
According to some, the back-end of the Phillies' bullpen is questionable. But true relief might not be very far away.

With Double-A Reading, closer Kenny Giles is off to a hot start and his velocity brings the real heat.

The 23-year-old sports a fastball that is regularly clocked at 100 MPH or higher. His arsenal is rounded out with a strong slider that leaves opposing batters looking foolish.

This year, with the responsibility of being a late inning reliever, the Phils' 7th round draft selection from 2011 is ready for the challenges that lie ahead.

"I'm really excited (to close), 'cause this will be my first time doing it in the Phillies organization. A lot of guys on the team want me to shut the door and I'm going to be able to do that for them," Giles said in a recent interview.

Unlike others in his line of work, Giles is open about getting a kick out of notching such big numbers on radar gun readings. Where some pitchers might not openly admit a desire to clock 100 MPH or even enjoying the energy that it can bring to the crowd, the youngster produces a nice sized grin when he chats about his superior pitch speed.

"Once the season goes on, you'll start seeing it a lot more," Giles said. "I'm always told that I'm being watched and the one thing I like to show off is my velocity. I like to show the triple-digits up there."

In spring training with the big club this year, Giles tallied a 2.00 ERA in nine appearances while striking out 12 in nine innings. The six-foot-two 205-pounder wasn't surprised by his Grapefruit League output, but is pleased if anyone else was.

"I pitched up to my expectations. I opened up a lot of eyes. A lot of front office guys were very impressed at what I did out there and I am looking forward to opening up more eyes and proving everybody else wrong," Giles stated.

Giles missed a considerable portion of last season with two separate oblique strains. Despite the physical limitations, he averaged 11.92 strike outs per nine innings in 24 relief appearances with the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers and began to make a name for himself.

The New Mexico native, who describes missing so much time last year as heartbreaking, feels the time dealing with injuries last season was beneficial and helped him to develop mental toughness that may have been missing prior to the forced downtime.

"It was like a mental game, just everyday, having to do rehab," Giles stated. "I just had to keep a strong mental game and I worked on that and I think it helped me greatly in the long run."

As a member of the Reading Fightins this season, Giles has proven tough, converting save opportunities in each of his four appearances.  He has struck out 11 batters while walking two and surrendering one hit without allowing a run in five innings of work.

With the ultimate goal of reaching the big leagues that all prospect possess, Giles isn't one to look too far ahead.  He's got objectives that he feels are attainable which should lead to the other.

"My number one goal is just staying healthy and going out there and throwing strikes. I want to work on my slider a little more. I'm just going to do what they want me to do and we'll just start from there."

Sunday, April 13, 2014

BlueClaws Quotables: Manager Greg Legg Talks New Season

Earlier this weekend, I sat down with Class A Lakewood manager Greg Legg, who has been in the Phillies organization for the past 33 years, after being drafted by the club in 1982. He managed the BlueClaws in their inaugural season in 2001, managed Double-A Reading from 2002 to 2004, was the skipper for Class A Advanced Clearwater from 2005 through 2006 and managed short-season Class A Williamsport in 2007. He then acted as hitting coach in Lakewood from 2008 through 2013.

The former infielder played in the big leagues for just a handful of games in 1986 and 1987. He now grooms the Phillies' stars of the future.

Greg spoke with me about the roles of some of his players including Gabriel Lino, Carlos Tocci, Samuel Hiciano and Willians Astudillo, the BlueClaws' start to the new season, his own goals for this year plus plenty more. Read ahead for his thoughts.

-The team started the season on the road before having its opening home stand this weekend. What were your thoughts on how the team opened the season, winning two of six contests?

For what happened on the road, we played pretty good baseball. We could have won five of the six. J.P. (Crawford) missed two games. He could have been the difference in at least one of them. But, I thought we played pretty good ball on the road trip.

-The BlueClaws have just a small amount of returning names this year. What can you tell me about how you expect those guys to help the team this year?

Well, (Carlos) Tocci was so young last year, he almost had to come back here this year and he should patrol center field for us pretty good and get the job done out there. And we're hoping he's a little stronger, he's a bit heavier- six or seven pounds heavier- so far, he's swung the bat really good. He hasn't gotten much results for it, but he's driven some balls better than last season. I look for him to have a pretty good year. Larry Greene got out of the gate slow last year, joined us (late) and didn't have the year that he wanted and he's back here repeating and, hopefully, this year he'll have a nice season for us.

-How will the playing duties be distributed among the catchers on the roster?

Well, (Gabriel) Lino's our number one catcher for right now and he's done a great job for us. He had a great spring. (Willians) Astudillo's our first baseman-slash-third baseman-slash-DH-slash-catcher. He creates a lot of energy for us, with his enthusiasm for the game and his ability to put the ball in play and be a threat with the bat.

-Any details on the roles for any other offensive players?

(Samuel) Hiciano is our fourth outfielder and DH. He can play all three positions and he can do a little bit of everything. He throws well, runs well, shows a little bit of pop in his bat, so he's a pretty complete player. He's just got to get some at bats and grow as a player.

-Can you share some thoughts on Mark Leiter Jr., who has performed strongly for you guys?

Yeah, he pitched great last year and the two games he pitched on the road trip really rested our bullpen and gave us a shot in the arm. He could be 2-0 real easy.


-How about that bullpen...are there any defined roles for a lot of those guys?

No, I don't think you can, down here in the Sally League. At least not at the beginning. If we get a chance to be a playoff type team, maybe at the end, we'll do a little more of that, but for right now, we're going to try to get some guys a couple innings here and there and let it play itself out, see who the guys are. Maybe give them all a chance to close and find out who the right guy is.

-Last thing...your role. You're new to the role, but not new to the role. Just talk about that a bit and what is your outlook for the year?

Well, I'm here to try teach them as much as I can about playing pro ball, but a lot of them are new to it, it's their first full year. Some of them have a little more experience, (they know) what to expect, how to handle it the correct way. I'm supposed to be there for them, but, hopefully, I start the season with these 25 guys and end the season with 25 different guys. That's kind of my goal.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

PhoulBallz Interview: OF Prospect Dylan Cozens

Dylan Cozens, image- MiLB.com
Taken with the Phillies 2nd round draft choice in 2012, Dylan Cozens has been an impressive young player since joining the organization.

In 50 games with the Gulf Coast League team after signing his first pro contract, the Arizona native sported a .255 average with five home runs and 24 RBI.

Last year with short-season Class A Williamsport the six-foot-six 235-pounder tallied a .265 average with nine homers and 35 homers in 68 games.

Assigned to a full-season club for the first time in his career, the 19-year-old Cozens will man right field for Greg Legg's Class A Lakewood BlueClaws this year. Through a week of the season, the lefty batting power hitter is batting .278 with two doubles and four runs driven in.

This week I spoke with Dylan about being drafted, his progress thus far as a pro, his coaches and more. Read ahead for that full interview with the Phils' 19th ranked prospect.

-When you were drafted by the Phillies back in 2012, how were you tracking it and how did you celebrate?

I just watched on the computer, the day of the draft. I went out to a sports bar afterwards, had a bunch of people come out and celebrate and it was a good time. Pretty much anybody that was close to me could come on and come celebrate with me, so it was friends and family.

-Were you expecting the Phillies to be the team that drafted you or were they a surprise?

I was kind of expecting it. It was them and a couple other teams that I was pretty sure would be one of those three teams. So, the Phillies, I felt pretty strong about them.

-Who were the other teams that were most interested in you?

The Rangers and the Yankees.

-You performed well in the New York-Penn League last year. What thoughts can you share on your efforts there?

I think I did a decent job. I still had a lot of room to improve. I'm not happy, but I'm also not not happy with the way I played. So, I mean, I'm always looking to get better. I'm never satisfied. Just looking to have a better year this year.

-Do you think the competition there prepared you for the Sally League this year and when were you ready to take the step here?

I definitely feel like I'm ready for this step here. I felt like I was ready last year. Just, where ever you send me, I feel like I'm ready for it. If you move me up tomorrow, I feel like I'm going to go out there and compete and play well and hang with everybody. Last year, definitely I gained a lot of experience. This year's going to be my first full year, so that'll be a good learning experience to see what a full season is like, so I'm excited.

-So, you guys got the home opener out of the way here and you've been in town in Lakewood for a short period of time. What are your impression of the town thus far and breaking in the season here?

So far, from what I've seen, it's a nice, cool, peaceful town. Looks like there's a lot of good people who live here. I haven't gotten to see a whole lot, but it seems like it's going to be a cool place to spend the summer.

-Sometimes guys will come here with existing impressions of the Jersey shore. Is that the case for you?

(Laughs) I don't know. I guess I'll just have to go see for myself and see what the hype's all about.

-Speaking of hype, there's some buzz surrounding you. You're a big guy, you hit for power, scouts like you. If you were going to scout yourself, what would you share with me?

I'd say I'm going to go out there every day and give my best. I've got some tools and the game's going to bring those tools out. I'm just always going to give 100-percent and hustle.

-I also wanted to ask you, since you've been in the Phils system, what are your thoughts on the coaching staff and how they've helped you progress so far?

I love all those coaches. It's a great coaching staff. They've all helped me a ton and they're always there for me. Always saying positive things and positive criticism and they'll get on me, if I need to be...they're all great and I'm blessed to have such a great coaching staff.

-Your manager this year, Greg Legg, is often popular with the hitters. Thoughts on Greg specifically?

I love him. I mean, he's probably one of my favorite managers as a baseball player in my whole life. He's a cool guy off the field, on the field, in the clubhouse. He's fun to be around, fun to play for. He knows what he's doing and I feel like he's a big time manager and I feel lucky to be playing for him.

-And you mentioned coach Greg being cool off the field, I wanted to ask a couple things about you away from the field before I let you go. What's your favorite baseball movie and why?

I'd have to say The Sandlot. It's just a classic.

-Before you signed as a pro, who were some player you looked up to?

I'd say Mike Trout was one of them. Josh Hamilton is another.

-That's surprising, because Trout is such a young guy, but, clearly, you are too. But he was a guy that was big before you signed and was doing things that impressed you?

Definitely! He's kind of like how I want my career to go. Try to get up there soon and be a young player in the big leagues soon. The kid hustles, runs hard, makes crazy catches in the outfield, hits for power, hits for average, he does it all. That's kind of what I'd like to model my

Friday, April 11, 2014

PhoulBallz Podcast Episode 57: Wes Chamberlain Interview

On episode 57 of the PhoulBallz Minor League Podcast Tug and Jay are joined by former Phillies outfielder Wes Chamberlain who chats about his new book, his pro career, playing in Japan, Philadelphia fans and tons more. The guys also discuss Tug's new gig as Reading team photographer as well as early season success for some Double-A Fightins talent like Kenny Giles, Severino Gonzalez, Cameron Perkins and Edgar Duran among others.

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

Lakewood drops another home opener, SP Viza stays positive

Tyler Viza on opening night in Lakewood, image-20/20 Visual Media
Kicking off their home schedule on Thursday evening the Lakewood BlueClaws saw a familiar result. For the 12th time in 14 seasons, the Class A affiliate of the Phillies dropped their home opener, as they fell 6-0 to the Hagerstown (MD) Suns.

In front of an announced crowd of 7.006 at the Jersey shore's finest sports facility, FirstEnergy Park, righty hurler Tyler Viza, a 32nd round draft choice last year, took the mound. The 19-year-old was charged with five runs (four earned) on five hits over five-plus innings of work while striking out five and walking just one.

Viza, a six-foot-three 170-pounder felt like he executed his game plan on the mound, but cited some costly pitches in the 6th frame as the difference in the contest.

"I felt really good," Viza stated. "I felt like my pitches were doing what they were supposed to and I was throwing them where they were supposed to go. I just made a couple bad pitches and (the Suns) knocked on the door, when they needed to."

One of the team's youngest players, Viza, is grateful for the chance to open his 2014 campaign on a full season roster and is already focused on bouncing back to earn wins for the home crowd the next time he has a chance.

"I got the opportunity to come and play for a good team with a great bunch of guys and I'm ready for the opportunity and we've got a long season ahead of us and we'll get some wins," Viza added.

On the offensive side for the BlueClaws, doubles by Samuel Hiciano, Carlos Tocci and Gabe Lino were the only safeties to speak of.

The match up was the first of 27 times the BlueClaws will face the Suns (Nationals affiliate) this season. The clubs will continue their series Friday through Sunday in Lakewood. Fans can attend each of those contests for just $1 thanks to the Asbury Park Press.

This piece appeared on ShoreSportsNetwork.com.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Morandini climbing back toward majors in second pro career

The Lehigh Valley coaching staff includes some reinforcements this year, at the expense of the local shore team, with former Phillies second baseman Mickey Morandini added to the Triple-A team's dugout personnel.

Taking on the newly created duty of bench coach, the 1996 National League All-Star hopes to use his third professional coaching assignment as a stepping stone back to the top level of the sport.

It's not just players that want to ascend upward in the ranks.

Having been the manager of the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws for each of the past two seasons and the skipper of short-season Class A Williamsport prior to that, Morandini took on the new role with the IronPigs after advising the Phillies that he wanted to do whatever he could to move closer to the major leagues.

Joining incumbent manager Dave Brundage, hitting coach Sal Rende and pitching coach Ray Burris, Morandini is absorbing as much as he can and is slated to take on various levels of duties with Lehigh Valley.

"I'm gonna be coaching some third base, some first base, I'll be in charge of the infielders and some base running, so it's gonna be a multitude of things that I'll do.  But, it's going well.  I'm looking forward to it," Morandini excitedly stated last week.

As a member of the Triple-A staff, Morandini was among the coaches utilized for big league spring training this year as well.  He hopes to use his time around those at the top and the knowledge of his counterparts to his advantage.

"I learned a lot in big league camp this year," Morandini said.  "I really enjoyed that, being around the Bowa's and the Sandberg's and all those guys.  And I'm with, really, a veteran coaching group here.  They've been around a long time, so I'm just trying to learn as much as I can from them and trying to help these players stay in shape and do the right things and get them prepared so when the big club needs somebody, they're ready to go up." 

While he climbs his way through the developmental ranks for his second career in pro ball, Morandini has noticed some upgrades in the facilities, in places such as Lakewood, that he feels are advantageous to today's players and fans alike. 

"There weren't a lot of good parks (when I played)...not like there are now," Morandini asserted.  "You've got some state-of-the-art minor league parks now.  There were a lot of old buildings.  The playing surface wasn't very good at times.  You didn't draw very well.  Minor league baseball has come a long way with the stadiums and the fan support and things like that."

Morandini will look to use the increasingly posh digs of today's minor league teams as launching pads back toward the big leagues in the coming seasons, as another recent BlueClaws manager, Mark Parent, did, when he took a job as bench coach for the Chicago White Sox after leading Lakewood to a South Atlantic League title in 2010 and helping Reading clinch a playoff berth the following year.

Taking over for Morandini as BlueClaws skipper this year is Greg Legg, who had served as the team's hitting coach since 2008 and previously managed Lakewood in 2001.  This season will mark Legg's 33rd year in the Phillies organization.

The BlueClaws will open their 2014 home schedule this Thursday at 6:35 PM, when they host the Hagerstown Suns for the first of a four game series.


This article was originally posted on ShoreSportsNetwork.com.  

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Schedule of Events for Phillies Home Opener

A brand new season is already more than a week old, but the home schedule for the Phillies is set to get underway on Tuesday.  For the team's 2014 home opener in which the Phils host the Milwaukee Brewers, the following is the schedule of events.


7 AM- The Majestic Clubhouse store opens.

1 PM- Citizens Bank Way Opening Day Party...features Live Music from Go Go Gadjet, food, beverages.

1:13 PM- Phillies batting practice.

1:35 PM- All gates open.

2:13 PM- Brewers batting practice.

3:13 PM- Line up on 10th St, behind the ballpark.  Fans not yet in the park can line up outside the stadium to view the 2014 make their grand entrance into opening day, as their led by the Cardinal O'Hara High School Marching Band.

3:22 PM- Fans are urged to be in their seats for pregame ceremonies as the team enters from the outfield down the red carpet.

3:34 PM- "Philadelphia Pride" and "America the Beautiful" sung by Philadelphia Boys Choir and Men's Chorale.

3:40 PM- Brewers team introduction.

3:44 PM- Phillies team introduction.

3:50 PM- National anthem sung by Jacquie Lee of NBC's The Voice.

4 PM- Ceremonial 1st pitch, featuring a surprise Phillies alumnus.

4:07 PM- Game time.

5th inning- Live performance of "What's the Phanatic Say?"

7th inning- "God Bless America" sung by Julie Udine of the cast of "Phanton of the Opera"

Saturday, April 5, 2014

PhoulBallz Interview: OF Cameron Perkins

Cam Perkins, Image- Jay Floyd
In a short amount of time, outfielder Cameron Perkins has made a name for himself in the Phils system. The 23-year-old is among the Double-A Reading Fightins starting outfield less than two years after he was drafted in the 6th round out of Purdue University.

Upon debuting in the minors, Perkins batted .294 with a home run and 41 RBI in 72 combined games with the Gulf Coast League Phillies and short-season Class A Williamsport in 2012.

Last year, despite missing some time with Class A Advanced Clearwater due to an injury, the six-foot-five 195 pound righty hitter posted a .295 average with six homers and 53 RBI in 103 contests.

At this pace, it may not be long before Perkins is impacting baseball betting found on an online sportsbook.

This week, I spoke with Cam, who shared his thoughts on his quick progress as a pro, his coaching staff with Reading, his strengths as a player and plenty more. Read ahead for that full interview.

-What are your thoughts on starting out your second full pro season in the Eastern League at the Double-A level?

You know, I'm excited. I mean, as long as you're climbing the ladder and not going backwards, or what everyone says, if you're steadily moving up, it's good. I'm excited to be here. It looks like a fun town. I'm used to playing in cold weather, being from up north, so that's not gonna effect me too much, I feel like. And it looks like it'll be a lot of fun.

-Last year in Clearwater, you had a good season down there. What can you share about your time playing in the Florida State League?

It was a pretty solid year. You know, I would have liked to win more games, but I feel like that's (the same) with anyone. Offensively, I came to play and I had a lot of things go my way. I hit some balls hard, had some good swings. Besides breaking my wrist and being out for that time, I couldn't have asked for a better season.

-You've progressed upward in the Phils system at quite a solid pace. How pleased are you with the progress you've made since you were drafted?

So far, my professional career has gone how I want it to go. But, even if you don't move up as quickly as I did, all you can do is go on whatever roster they put you on and play as best you can. That's really all that's in my control. I can't control where they put me or if I'm in the lineup that day. All I can control is, what can I do to help my team win? Getting a bunt down, catching a fly ball, cutting a ball off in the gap. What can I do to help the team win that day? That's what I like to focus on.

-If you were asked to scout yourself, what would you cite as some strengths for yourself?

I'm a pretty aggressive hitter. I feel like I put the ball in play pretty consistently. I swing at a lot of pitches, but that's kind of my game. I go up there and I'm ready to hit, so it helps me out because I can find balls to hit early in the count, but then sometimes it gets me in trouble. I'm pretty aggressive. It's a good thing for knocking in runs.

-Who are you rooming with this season?

My roommates this year are Perci Garner, Hoby Milner and Aaron Altherr once he gets here. It's a pretty fun group. We like to goof around and play a lot of video games. Pretty laid back. It's going to be a lot of fun this year.

(Altherr is currently on the disabled list with a wrist issue)

-What are your impressions of the coaching staff here with Reading thus far?

I like it. I think, Coach Ducey, he's new to the organization, so he's new to not just myself. And he's a guy that definitely wants to get after it and work. You know, he's not there to sit around like some guys. If you're doing anything, you should be doing it with a purpose. That's his motto. And Dusty (Wathan), I mean I really like him. He's definitely a players' coach. He likes to play the kind of baseball that I like to play. I'm the kind that's going out there, fundamentally, I need to be able to hit and run, hit the ball and move runners. It's fun when you play baseball that way, when you play fundamentally sound and you're scoring runs by not hitting it over the fence. It's a lot of fun. That's the kind of baseball he wants to play and I feel like that's the kind of baseball we are going to play as a team.

-Who were some players that you looked up to prior to turning pro?

Before I turned pro...I was always a Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell fan. I really liked how Craig Biggio played. He played hard and he was a scrappy guy. But, I always enjoyed watching Vladimir Guerrero, cause I always classified myself- obviously, he's miles and miles ahead of me, but he would swing at a ball that's in the other batters box and hit it over the fence somehow and that's my goal, if I swing at a bad pitch, I can still hit it pretty well!