Friday, May 30, 2014

PhoulBallz Podcast Episode 63: Moose Mattair Interview

On the 63rd edition of the PhoulBallz Minor League Podcast Tug and Jay are joined by former Phillies prospect and current Reds farmhand Moose Mattair. The guys also chat about the progress of Nefi Ogando, Maikel Franco and David Buchanan as well as Domonic Brown's regression. Also, injury updates on Zach Green, Kelly Dugan 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.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

BlueClaws set to retire Hamels' number

Phillies ace Cole Hamels started his career in Lakewood
Cole Hamels has achieved a lot as a professional pitcher, but, as many realize, his accomplished career began in the minor leagues.  To honor his time in the developmental ranks, the 30-year-old lefty hurler will have his jersey number 19 retired by the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws prior to the team's game on Monday, June 9th.

Hamels, who was the Phillies' top draft choice in 2002 (17th overall), made his pro debut with the BlueClaws in 2003.  As a 19-year-old in the South Atlantic League, Hamels tallied a 6-1 record with a 0.84 ERA in 13 starts before earning a promotion to Class A Advanced Clearwater.

"Cole is the greatest pitcher that has come through Lakewood and certainly worthy of having his #19 retired by the BlueClaws," said team general manager Chris Tafrow. "His level of dominance as a BlueClaw speaks for itself, and we have been thrilled to see him carry his professional success that started here 11 years ago into a tremendous career with the Phillies. We're looking forward to seeing him back in Lakewood in June."

The jersey retirement ceremony will mark Hamels' first visit back to FirstEnergy Park since he made a rehab appearance for the 'Claws in June 2006.

Hamels, a three-time All-Star and the MVP of the 2008 World Series, will be the second former BlueClaws player to have such an honor, after Ryan Howard's #29 was retired by the team during a rehab appearance in 2010. Additionally, Jackie Robinson's #42 is retired across baseball for breaking baseball's color barrier, and in honor of long-time South Atlantic League/Western Carolinas League President John Henry Moss, #50 is also retired by all SAL clubs.

Tickets are currently on sale by calling the BlueClaws' sales office at 732-901-7000 option 2.  Fans can also purchase online by clicking here.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Minor League Notebook: Hot/Cold List, Injury Updates

The latest semi-weekly rundown of your top performers from the Phillies developmental ranks and those that need to turn some things around includes a few injury notes on some key prospects. Read ahead on the latest from the minors.


Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs (25-24 record, 4th place in the International League North division)-

Who's hot...

Third baseman/first baseman Maikel Franco has tallied a .301/.389/.482 slash line in 21 games this month. The 21-year-old, who is rumored to be a candidate to join the big league roster this week, missed two games over the weekend due to a respiratory illness.

Outfielder Steve Susdorf is having quite a month, sporting a .344 average with seven doubles and nine RBI in 22 games. The 28-year-old lefty batter went 1-for-7 in three games with the big league Phillies last season.

Who's not...

Catcher Cameron Rupp is batting .208 with a home run in seven games since returning from the disabled list following an oblique strain. Rupp, 25, went 4-for-13 (.308 avg) in four games in the majors last season.

In his most recent start against Toledo, righty pitcher Brad Lincoln allowed five earned runs in five innings. While the 29-year-old has tallied a 3.71 ERA in four starts, he's averaging less than five innings per start. Lincoln allowed three earned runs in 2 1/3 innings for the Phillies this season.


Double-A Reading (28-19, 2nd place in the Eastern League's Eastern division)-

Injury notes...

Lefty ace Jesse Biddle missed his start on Sunday after experiencing headaches which stemmed from being struck in the head with ice during a hail storm on Thursday. The 22-year-old has a 3-4 record with a 3.18 ERA and a 9.69 K/9 mark in 10 games this year.

Outfielder Kelly Dugan is still rehabbing his oblique strain in Clearwater and expects that he could return to game action in the coming days. Through 14 games this season, the 23-year-old was batting .275 with a home run and five RBI.

Who's hot...

Lefty hurler Hoby Milner has been great lately, going 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA in his last four starts. The 23-year-old was the Phillies' 7th round draft choice in 2012.

Having taken over the closer role since the promotion of Kenny Giles to Lehigh Valley, right-hander Nefi Ogando has been excellent, posting a 1-0 record with six saves and a 0.87 ERA in his last eight appearances. The 24-year-old was acquired last August from Boston for John McDonald. The Domincan Republic native regularly hits 95 MPH with his fastball.

Who's not...

First baseman Chris Serritella is 2-for-31 (.065 avg) over his last eight games. A 4th round draft pick in 2012, the 24-year-old is batting .186 with two homers and seven RBI in 31 games this season.

Outfielder Anthony Hewitt, 25, is batting .097 with two RBI in his last ten games for the Fightins. The Phils' top draft pick in 2008 (24th overall), Hewitt has a .136/.143/.170 slash line in 29 games this season.


Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers (10-39, last place in the Florida State League's North division)-

Who's hot...

Former big league hurler Adam Loewen returned to the mound on Sunday, earning a win by allowing three earned runs over six innings for the Threshers. Loewen experienced multiple stress fractures in his throwing elbow back in 2008 and a four-and-a-half-inch screw was used to repair the damage, seemingly ended his pitching career. He was a positional prospect in the Toronto system in recent years, but signed with the Phillies as a pitcher last month.

Who's not...

Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez has a 0-2 record with a 6.75 ERA through three starts with the Threshers. In 9 1/3 innings, the 27-year-old has struck out three and walked nine.

Outfielder Brian Pointer is 3-for-31 (.097 avg) over his last nine games. The lefty batting 22-year-old has a .186/.266/.314 slash line in 41 games this season. Pointer was a 28th round pick in 2010.


Class A Lakewood BlueClaws (19-28, 6th place in the South Altantic League's Nothern division)-

Injury Update...

Righty hurler Shane Watson is slated to begin his throwing program on Monday. The 20-year-old underwent surgery in January to repair an enlarged capsule in his throwing shoulder.

Who's hot...

J.P. Crawford has been scorching hot of late, posting a .455 average over his last six contests. The 19-year-old was the Phillies' top draft pick (16th overall) last year.

Righty starter Ranfi Casimiro has a 1-0 record with a 0.56 ERA in his last three starts. The 21-year-old sports a 2-4 record with a 5.40 ERA and a .262 batting average against in nine games this year.


Venezuelan Summer League Phillies (8-3, tied for 1st place)-

Who's hot...

Outfielder Joseph Miranda leads the VSL in both home runs (three) and RBI (14). The switch-hitting 19-year-old has posted a .326/.418/.609 slash line in 11 games. The Panama native was signed by the Phillies in December, 2012.

Friday, May 23, 2014

PhoulBallz Podcast Episode 62: Perci Garner Interview

On the 62nd edition of the PhoulBallz Minor League Podcast, Jay chats with righty pitching prospect Perci Garner, who discusses how confidence is key for him, his pitch repertoire, rehabbing with Jamie Moyer and plenty more. Tug and Jay also discuss J.P. Crawford's hot stretch, Addison Maruszak's unique double header, Andrew Knapp's and Roman Quinn's progress, David Buchanan's big league debut, Ruben Amaro Jr.'s low rank among GM's and loads 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.

Kenny Giles Interview Excerpts

Kenny Giles, Image- Jay Floyd
Recently, I spoke with Phillies pitching prospect Kenny Giles for a segment on Phillies Nation TV. Some of what the 23-year-old right-hander chatted with me about didn't make the cut for the show, but I've transcribed that material below.

Through 18 combined games with Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley this season, Giles has posted a 2-0 record along with eight saves, a 1.29 ERA and a .155 batting average against.  Additionally, the Phils' 7th round pick from 2011 has struck out 33 and walked 10 in 21 innings.

Read ahead for some exclusive quotes from Kenny.


-I asked Giles which individual stood out among Phillies teammates that he learned the most from during his time with the big club in spring training this year...

I can't just pick one guy.  I mean, everybody on that team opened up my eyes and opened my mind to bigger and better things.  Just things I never thought I would think about.  I'd just say everybody on that team opened my eyes.


-Giles spoke about the progress of his consistency and how that is key for him...

I think my consistency is getting a lot better.  My control is getting there.  I mean, I wouldn't say I'm perfect.  I'm never gonna be perfect, but I think over the years, I've gotten so much better with my consistency.  I've been a lot better this year.  


-On the subject of how missing a lengthy amount of time last season with oblique strains and how that helped him develop mental toughness...

It was a big thing mentally.  I mean, everything I went through was really hard on me.  I really wanted to get on the field.  I'm one of those guys that even if something hurts a little bit, I'm gonna push right through it.  But, in that case, I couldn't do it, 'cause it's one of those things where (the Phillies) wouldn't let me.  And, so, they sat me down and were like, "Hey, you need to take a breather.  Take some time off and focus on what you need to do first."  And they broke me down and I started to see why they wanted me to do that.  Right now, it's been great so far. 


-I asked Giles if he has athletics in his family tree...

I've got some athletics.  Nothing you would expect.  My mother was a swimmer and my dad was a track star, wrestler and a football player in high school and he did track in college.  So, I don't know where this arm strength came from, but I guess that's the perfect combination for it.  

My brother (Joshua) played for the Texas Rangers' (organization) for five years, now currently playing indy ball right now and I have an older sister (Cassandra) that played played three years of (collegiate) softball as a pitcher as well.


-Giles also spoke of getting a kick out of hitting 100 MPH on ballpark radar guns and the buzz that comes from the crowd and the dugouts when he enters a game...
 

I enjoy it.  That's who I am.  I'm not gonna change that for the world.  I'm the guy that can pump triple digits whenever I need to.  It's always there and I'm going to unleash it once it a while.  That's just who I am.  That's just what I do.

It's like a sideshow for everybody.  I like to enjoy and I like to entertain people.  But, it's always fun.  The more people (there are) wanting to see me, the more excited I'll get.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

BlueClaws Quotables: Coaches talk about Grullon, Walding, others

This week I spoke with Lakewood manager Greg Legg and team pitching coach Les Lancaster about a some interesting Class A BlueClaws players. Legg, who is in his 33rd year in the Phillies organization, shared his thoughts about a pair of young positional prospects, catcher Deivi Grullon and third baseman Mitch Walding. Lancaster, who pitched in the majors for seven seasons and is coaching his fourth season in the Phils system, shared thoughts on righty starter Ranfi Casimiro and BlueClaws reliever Ulises Joaquin.

-Legg speaking about Grullon, an 18-year-old backstop who was ranked as PhilliesNation.com's #24 prospect heading into the season...

"He's as young as they get. I don't know if there's anybody younger in the league than him. He's got a lot of energy back there. He's got a strong arm. He's just a young catcher with some tools. And we're hoping, Les and myself and Lino (Connell), that we can get him experience behind the plate on how to call a game and- especially with our young pitchers. And he's getting better at it every time out."

-Legg on the 21-year-old Walding (.247 avg., three doubles, seven RBI in 20 games), who appears in great shape following surgery to remove a rib that had been a chronic problem dating back to last season...

"(He's got) a little more experience. He's a veteran now and he knows what's coming or knows what to expect and he's been carrying himself real well. He's got great presence on the field and he's got quick hands with that bat, when he uses them. He gets us hits."

-Lancaster spoke of the 21-year-old righty Joaquin, who entered action on Tuesday with a 6.13 ERA, but regularly clocks 93-95 MPH with his fastball...

"He definitely has (taken some strides). I mean, he definitely has a plus fastball and a plus change. The slider's a work in progress, right now and everything. He's a pitcher that's gonna attack you with the fastball and everything and when he pitches ahead, that change up's real effective."

-Lancaster provided thoughts on the 21-year-old Casimiro, who has allowed just two earned runs in twelve total innings over his last two starts, after sporting an 8.39 ERA prior to that...

"Well, definitely, he's come a long way since the first part of the season. We got him to not lift his leg up so high, sometimes, out of the wind up and (out of) the stretch and everything where's he's able to get out front with his fastball and his pitches- a lot better, pitches are down in the zone. He's worked hard to get to that point. The curve ball is coming around slowly and gives him a secondary pitch. And the change up, he has good confidence in it and throws it anytime in the count."

Monday, May 19, 2014

Pullin striving to improve his game in Lakewood

Andrew Pullin, Image- Jay Floyd
For Class A Lakewood BlueClaws second baseman Andrew Pullin a determined grind has helped turn around a season that started out in regrettable fashion.

Pullin, the Phillies' 5th round pick from two years ago, began his 2014 campaign with a .205 batting average with a homer and two RBI through his first 21 games.  Since then, the six-foot 180-pounder has tallied a .292 average while mashing three home runs and knocking in 11 runs in 18 contests.

Asked to explain the strides that he has taken at the plate, the lefty hitting Pullin offers an admission that he wasn't being selective enough in the early going this season.

"I had a slow start. I was chasing a lot of pitches out of the zone.  I've just been working on looking for good pitches to hit," Pullin said shyly.

His manager, Greg Legg, credits Pullin's hard work with the turnaround on offense.

"He's in the cage with (hitting coach Lino Connell) all the time, working on things and we're trying to get his bat and hands into a position to take a good pass at the ball, keeping it simple.  But, his own hard work more than anything has been the reason," Legg asserted with pride.

Pullin has an excellent track record when it comes to making adjustments as a pro.  Tasked with changing positions late in the Gulf Coast League season the year he was drafted, Pullin strived to adapt and looks as though he's been playing second base for several years.

According to Pullin a familiar name was responsible for his positional switch.

"I was drafted as an outfielder and Pat Gillick thought I could make the transition to the infield, so with about two weeks left in the GCL that year, I made the switch to the infield and I've played second base since," Pullin explained.

The Washington state native was in touch with Gillick, the Phillies' former general manager and current team special advisor, a considerable amount prior to being drafted and it came as no surprise that Pullin was selected by the Phillies in 2012.

The modest Pullin credits former Phillies infield coordinator and current field coordinator Doug Mansolino with guiding his adjustment period to the infield.  The youngster's skipper cites Pullin's own efforts with where he is defensively.

"Anything he does, you're not going to try to get him to work, he just does it and any time you work at something as hard as he does, you're going to get better at it," Legg stated.

The outstanding efforts continued for Pullin on Sunday, as he laced a double and a team-lead tying (four) home run while driving in three runs to pace the BlueClaws in their 8-3 romp of the Rome Braves.

Lakewood's homestand will wrap up with two more contests against Rome on Monday and Tuesday evening, with each game slated for a 6:35 PM first pitch.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

BlueClaws' Crawford set to return Monday

Out of the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws' lineup for the past five games, top prospect J.P. Crawford is set to return to action on Monday.

Crawford, the Phillies' top draft choice last year (16th overall), has been sidelined since injuring the index finger on his left hand during a routine team workout last week. Sporting a bandage beneath his batting glove, Crawford, a shortstop, took pregame batting practice on Sunday and was available for the team's contest against the Rome Braves if he was needed.

The 19-year-old lefty batter sports a .328/.421/.481 slash line in 34 games this season with Lakewood. Crawford has been hot of late, tallying a 1.110 OPS in 12 May games.

The BlueClaws continue their home stand with two more games against Rome on Monday and Tuesday with first pitch slated for 6:35 PM each night.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Fightins Quotables: Hewitt, Alonso & Wathan Speak

While covering the Double-A Reading Fightins over the past week, I collected a ton of feedback from many players and coaches. With so much material in the hopper, here are some quotes that I didn't want readers to miss from 2008's top Phillies draft pick Anthony Hewitt, U Del product and utility infielder Carlos Alonso as well as team manager Dusty Wathan.

Anthony Hewitt, Image- Jay Floyd
-Hewitt (.139/.149/.181 slash line in 24 games this season) spoke of if there's any mental impact related to his struggles at the plate thus far in 2014...

Mental impact? I don't even know. I'm struggling, (but) I'm just going out there every day, grinding, having fun, having a positive attitude, getting my work in on and off the field and, you know, that's all I can do. It's a game of failure. Just, right now, no hits are falling. No luck's turning my way, but I'm sure that tomorrow, today, whenever it's gonna happen, good luck's gonna fall my way, hits are gonna start falling my way. Everything comes in bunches and I can wait till the bunches start coming my way.

-The 25-year-old Hewitt on if he is discouraged with the lack of offense he has produced, when he was able to be more productive last season at the same level...

No, not discouraging at all. It's just that's just the way it is. That's just the way the cookie crumbles sometimes. You just gotta stay positive and stay at it and, um, you know, things unfold the way they're supposed to be at the end of the season. It's still early. We still got plenty of season to go.

-Hewitt on if he is ever frustrated when his name is not in the lineup...

No, that thought process doesn't even come to mind. I just come to the field every day ready to work and with the mindset that I'm gonna play and that's how I feel you gotta keep it. Let's say someone gets hurt during the day, I'm ready to go. My mindset doesn't change. I come to the ballpark ready to play and that's it. That's the mindset I'm always going to have, whether I'm playing or not.

-Carlos Alonso on playing in front of fans in Reading that grew up as true Phillies fans...

Yeah, I mean it's awesome. Anytime you can be in front of a fan base that's excited to be there to watch you play, you just kind of feed off the energy in the crowd. Especially, coming from Florida, where the few fans that go are great, but it's not the same type of excitement, because these are actual Phillie fans. So, there's definitely a lot of passion and it's fun to play in front of them.

-Alonso on playing a road series in Trenton that doesn't feel like a road series because of the favorable turnout...

It's kind of funny. It's almost like the crowd is divided. You look over to their side- it's almost like we're playing on a neutral field. Because on their side, they got a bunch of Trenton fans, then on our side you see all the red and the Phillies hats and uniforms and stuff. We love the support and it doesn't almost feel like a road series because we have so much support out there.

-Wathan speaks on outfield prospect Aaron Altherr, who opened the season on the disabled list with a wrist injury...

"He's done well. He stepped into the middle of the lineup and he's held his own. He's behind a little bit (after) missing a lot of games in spring training, so, you know, when he first got here, I think his timing was off a little bit and he was trying to catch up with some at bats. But, every day it's getting a little bit better and I think he's doing well.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

PhoulBallz Podcast Episode 61: Brandon Duckworth Interview

On the 61st edition of the PhoulBallz Minor League Podcast Tug and Jay are joined by former Phillies hurler Brandon Duckworth, who phoned in to discuss his minor league days, winning multiple Paul Owens Awards, pitching in Japan and plenty more. The guys also chat about Jimmy Rollins' chase of the all-time Phillies hit record, Severino Gonzalez's struggles, the progress of Cesar Hernandez and some relief that may be on the way for the big club.

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, May 14, 2014

PNTV Feature: "100 Miles" Kenny Giles

While the Phillies have struggled out of the bullpen this year, fans and media alike have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of righty reliever Ken Giles to the big leagues.

Armed with a fastball that regularly clocks at 100 MPH or higher and a steadily improving slider, the 23-year-old has been a standout performer in the minor leagues this season.

Through 13 games with Double-A Reading, the 6-foot-2 205-pounder sported a 1.20 ERA with seven saves while striking out 29 batters and walking five in 15 innings. Since he was promoted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley last week, Giles has allowed one earned run in three innings while striking out two and walking one.

Recently, I spoke with Giles and his manager with Reading Dusty Wathan about his progress and potential for Phillies Nation TV.

New episodes of the show air each Tuesday at 6PM on The Comcast Network and replay throughout the week on TCN and Comcast Sportsnet. Check out the media player below to see that video feature on Giles.



Shout out to Rob and Rudy at 20/20 Visual Media for the fine editing and camera work.

Click HERE for the full episode online.

Hernandez returns as more versatile player

Cesar Hernandez, Image- Jay Floyd
Recalled by the Phillies on Tuesday, infielder Cesar Hernandez hopes that he has displayed enough improvement at a new position to stick around in the big leagues for the foreseeable future.

The switch-hitting Hernandez opened the 2014 season with the Phillies, but was demoted to Double-A Reading in April tasked with developing his defensive repertoire. The Phillies wanted the slick-fielding second baseman to add third base to his skill set.

After an extensive amount of work, Hernandez seems ready to handle the entire infield.

At the hot corner, the 23-year-old no longer looks new to the position. Hernandez worked extensively to become well-rounded and has been able to show how far he has come.

Whether it's coming in hard on a dribbler to gun down a runner, going quickly to his left with a stab-and-spin effort to notch an out or making the routine plays expected of a capable fielder, Hernandez looks ready for the challenge of being a utility man at the big league level.

"So, you think it’s pretty good now? Well, it’s gotten a lot better. It takes a lot of early work," Reading manager Dusty Wathan stated, responding to an assertion that Hernandez plays like an experienced individual at third. "He’s worked every single day we’re home and he’s done 20, 30, 40 minutes a day. It’s just repetition, repetition, getting used to it, getting it in the game.”

Hernandez has increased his comfort level on the left side of the infield, mixing in time at shortstop as well, a position he hadn't played regularly since he was a teenager in the Venezuela Summer League. He feels the steady exposure and game action has been the key.

“Now, I feel comfortable, but when I started at third base that was a little difficult, because you need to learn so much," Hernandez said over the weekend. "It's better now that I have a little experience playing third, because I play there every day.”

The transition from second to shortstop came easier for Hernandez because of the proximity and the distance from home plate, but third base is closer to the batter, set ups are much different and adapting took more time.

"It’s not the same thing. It’s difficult. But I'm working every day to learn to read the ball," Hernandez said.

The promotion of Hernandez came on the heels of recent transactions which saw the removal of Jayson Nix and Freddy Galvis from the big league roster.

Through 26 games with the Reading Fightins, Hernandez was among the Eastern League leaders in batting average with a .340 mark. His offensive skills were never in question, though. The Phillies were adamant that time in the minors for the switch-hitter was for defensive work.

“My offense is good. I just try to hit and see the ball and swing. That’s it. I just keep doing that and they know I can hit,” Hernandez stated.

The Phillies minor league coaches and coordinators made sure to present Hernandez with every possible scenario at the new position, in order to help him progress and to have the most ideal basis to judge the strides he was taking. They would change his position from third to shortstop mid-game. They taught him the concept of baiting a batter into bunting.  All the nuances of the position were presented and the 5-foot-10 166-pounder responded nicely.

Hernandez, who was demoted from Triple-A to Double-A last year, after being honored as an All-Star with Lehigh Valley, in order to learn the outfield, was not disappointed when he was sent down this year. In fact, the youngster appreciated the organization's desire to have him become more versatile. He sees a brighter future because of it.

"I feel good because I’ll have more opportunity to come back to the bigs leagues because I’ll play third and short and second."



Bonus note:

Reading utility man Carlos Alonso, a 25-year-old University of Delaware product who has played all over the diamond since he began his pro career in 2010, was able to provide Hernandez with some encouragement while the two were donning Fightins' uniforms together this season.

"If I’ve told him anything it’s, 'Just keep with it! Just get your reads in the games and either come in or set back on the ball.' There’s definitely an adjustment to be made, especially going from second to third," Alonso said.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Batting Practice Footage- Altherr, Perkins, Serritella, Joseph

Over the weekend, I shot video footage of some Double-A Reading players taking their pregame hacks.

Included in the clip in the video player below are outfielders Aaron Altherr and Cameron Perkins, first baseman Chris Serritella and catcher Tommy Joseph.

Altherr was the Phillies' 9th round draft pick in 2009.  Through 19 games with Reading this year, the 23-year-old, who opened the season on the disabled list with a wrist injury, is batting .234 with two homers, 10 RBI and a stolen base.

Perkins had an outstanding start to his second full pro season.  The 23-year-old was the Phillies' 6th round draft pick in 2012.  In 33 games, Perkins sports a .338 average with two home runs, 18 RBI and four steals.

Serritella has a .250 average with two home runs and seven RBI in 22 games.  The 24-year-old was the Phils' 4th round pick in 2012.

Joseph, acquired from the Giants in the Hunter Pence trade, sports a .282 average with five home runs and 19 RBI through 21 games.  The 22-year-old missed time last year and this season with concussion concerns and is currently dealing with a left wrist injury after a hard slide into second base over the weekend.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Minor League Notes: Hot and Cold List

Here's a brief rundown of some top performers and some that aren't doing too well from throughout the Phillies developmental levels, in no particular order.


Double-A Reading Fightins-

Who's hot...

Tommy Joseph, Image- Jay Floyd
Catcher Tommy Joseph, who was batting .359 with four home runs and 13 RBI in his last 10 games, left Friday's game with a left wrist issue. The 22-year-old sat out Saturday and wore a brace on the ailing joint. Jose Mayorga, who was with Lakewood last week, was with the Reading team on Saturday, seemingly in case further evaluation on the often injured Joseph results in another trip to the disabled list.

Infielder Cesar Hernandez is staying hot at the plate while he adapts to third base in the Eastern League. With two hits in a game that was suspended due to rain on Saturday, the Venezuela native who turns 24-years-old later this month, extended his hitting streak to nine games. He's batting .455 during that stretch. Overall in 24 contests at Reading, the switch hitting youngster is sporting a .355 average with three homers and 14 RBI.

Despite taking the loss in his most recent outing (5 1/3 IP, 5R/3ER, 6K, 3BB) on Friday in Trenton, Jesse Biddle's numbers still look solid this season. In eight starts, the lefty sports a 3-4 record with a 3.63 ERA, a 10.28 K/9 mark and a .224 batting average against.

Who's not...

Outfielder Anthony Hewitt, the Phillies' top draft pick (24th overall) from 2008, looks outmatched in the Eastern League this year. The 25-year-old is 3-for-31 (.097 avg) in his last eight games and is batting just .138 overall in 21 contests. In 116 games with Reading last year, Hewitt posted a .244/.296/.430 slash line.


Class A Lakewood BlueClaws-

Who's hot...

Shortstop J.P. Crawford can't be stopped lately. The 19-year-old went 3-for-3 on Saturday night to extend his hitting streak (batting .442 in that stretch) to 11 games while bringing his season average to .339. The lefty batting Crawford was the Phils' top draft pick (16th overall) last year.

Who's not...

Well regarded catching prospect Deivi Grullon hasn't had too much luck at the plate since joining the BlueClaws. The righty batting 18-year-old sports a .161 average with a home run and four RBI through nine games. Grullon, a native of the Dominican Republic, posted a .273/.333/.364 line in 41 games in the Gulf Coast League last season.


Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers-

Who's hot...

Outfielder Peter Lavin notched a four-hit game on Saturday to take his hitting streak to eight games. In his past 10 contests, the Phils' 20th round pick from 2011 has tallied a .429 average with three home runs and six RBI. Overall, in 31 games, the 26-year-old is batting .320 with five homers, 15 RBI and five steals.

Nothing too hot here, but rehabbing Phils slugger Darin Ruf is 3-for-12 with three RBI in three games with the Threshers. The 27-year-old has missed time with an oblique strain.

Who's not...

Catcher Andrew Knapp, who is working his way back from Tommy John surgery, has been getting game action in the designated hitter role and has not played defense for Clearwater. Through four games, last year's 2nd round draft pick is 1-for-14 (.071 avg).


Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs-

Who's hot...

Catcher Sebastian Valle, who is sharing playing time behind the plate with Koyie Hill as of late, is 4-for-11 with two homers and seven RBI in his last three games. Through nine games with the Pigs, the 23-year-old has a .276/.281/.586 line.

Who's not...

In his last two appearances, righty reliever Phillippe Aumont has allowed six earned runs in two innings, while walking five and striking out four. Through 11 outings with the Pigs, the 25-year-old has a 0-1 record along with a 5.93 ERA while striking out 17 and walking 15 in 13 2/3 innings.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Fightins Quotables: Reading manager Wathan talks Phils prospects

I sat down with Reading Fightins' manager Dusty Wathan this week to chat about some well-known Phillies prospects. The Double-A skipper openly discussed the progress of young pitching prospect Severino Gonzalez and outfielder Cameron Perkins. He also shared details about the status of infielder Cesar Hernandez, who was a late scratch from the team's lineup on Thursday with groin tightness, as well as catcher Tommy Joseph, who has had repeated concussion concerns.


Severino Gonzalez, Image- Jay Floyd
Talking about the output and progress of 21-year-old righty Severino Gonzalez, who sports a 3-2 record with a 4.02 ERA through seven starts this season-

He's done a nice job. He's, obviously, advanced in the system quickly. One of the younger guys in this league. And he's done a nice job. You know, he's learning a lot of stuff. He's here quick. He hasn't advanced through the system kind of the normal way a guy would. He kind of flew through it. He started in extended spring (last year) and then started here for us this year, so he's still learning a lot of things. I think sometimes people expect a guy to be in Double-A and sometimes guys are more polished than others.

He's still working on his fastball command and his change up. I mean his fastball command is there most nights, but when he doesn't have his fastball command, he has to be able to get outs with other pitches and make adjustments. He needs to really work on his change up and he has. We're forcing him to throw it a little bit because we think it's a very important pitch for all starting pitchers and it's usually the last one to come. Being a young guy we want him to get after it a little bit with that.

Speaking about 23-year-old outfielder/first baseman Cam Perkins, who sports a .359 average with two homers and 18 RBI through 30 games this season-


He's been outstanding. Another guy that's got here quick. Second full season in professional baseball. He's a guy that's a tremendous baseball player. I think, I always say that he's a guy that not all the scouts look at and go "Ooh and ahh" about him, but he does the things that you want a baseball player to do. He runs the bases well, tremendous hand-eye coordination, he puts the ball in play, just has instincts for how to run the bases, what the situations are. You can put in center field one day, you can put him in left field, you can put him at first base. He doesn't care where he's playing, as long as he gets to play. He's a very fun player to watch, a very exciting guy.


Cesar Hernandez, Image- Jay Floyd
Regarding 23-year-old switch hitter Cesar Hernandez who is hot at the plate (.524 avg., double, triple, two HR, six RBI in his last six games), but is stuck in the minors learning new positions-

It doesn't have anything to do with his offense. We all know that he can hit. Cesar has progressed through this system as a hitter. And, obviously, as a second baseman. He needs to learn how to play third base and shortstop. Third base especially is a difficult position for a middle infielder because you're a lot closer to the ball, the way you play it, it's totally different angles, it's totally different set up, totally different responsibilities. So, it's just something that he needs to learn how to do. Right now, where we're at with what they have a Triple-A, this is the best spot for him to be able to get those reps defensively. So, he's going to be playing a lot of third base and shortstop and when we feel like he has enough time here, he'll end up moving on, whether that's to Lehigh Valley or to the Major Leagues or whatever the case may be.

On 22-year-old backstop Tommy Joseph (.280 average, five home runs, 19 RBI in 20 games), and if, as a former catcher, Wathan thinks a change of position could be beneficial to preserve Joseph's health-

You know, I'm not a doctor. Obviously, Tommy's been cleared for all activities. He's cleared to catch. He's seen some very good doctors over the course of the last year or so and he got a foul tip and felt like he wasn't himself, so precautionary- we took him out. We sent him to see some guys and they cleared him. I think our view on it is, if Tommy wants to catch, we want him to catch. If he doesn't want to catch, as long as the medical people say that he's able to catch and he's gonna be fine, then he's gonna hear some arguments from our side. But, you know, as soon as that comes up, we'll deal with it. But for now, Tommy's a catcher, he's progressing nicely, he's swinging the bat well and he's doing a nice job. So, for the time being, he's going to catch for the foreseeable future.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Greene to have surgery, will miss two months

Larry Greene Jr., Image- Jay Floyd
Following up with more exclusive details on news that was broken here last week, outfield prospect Larry Greene Jr. is expected to miss two months, as he is slated to undergo surgery to repair his injured left wrist.

Greene, who initially injured the wrist on a diving play in the outfield, is scheduled go under the knife on Thursday, May 15th. The surgery to repair torn cartilage for the 21-year-old will be conducted by Dr. Randall Culp in King of Prussia, PA.

The Phillies' supplementary round draft selection (39th overall) from 2011 was batting .167 with two doubles, one triple and five RBI in 15 games this season.

Since turning pro, the once highly touted slugger has tallied a .231/.326/.326 slash line in 196 games.

Threshers Quotables: Art Charles speaks on Clearwater's struggles

Art Charles w/ Lakewood in 2013
Despite finding themselves victorious in each of their past two contests, the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers possess the worst record in professional baseball with a 7-22 mark.

Thus far this year, the Threshers have struggled to find a groove and string together anything that could help the team build confidence or show any indication that they are a club that could bounce back and rise in the Florida State League standings.

Following 10 days without a victory, the Threshers busted out of a winless drought this week, downing the Brevard Country Manatees (Milwaukee affiliate), who had served Clearwater a 20-0 defeat the week prior, for back-to-back wins.

Art Charles, the Threshers' first baseman, took time this week to offer his thoughts on the team's struggles and dismal opening month to the 2014 campaign. The six-foot-six 220-pounder, who was acquired from Toronto last year for pitcher Michael Schwimer, spoke about the mental impact the team has dealt with, the coaches' outlook and what the future holds for the team.

Charles is one of seven Threshers offensive regulars that sports a batting average lower than a .240 mark. Thus far this season, Charles is batting .237 with four doubles, one home run and 11 RBI in 26 games.

Read ahead for exclusive quotes from the 23-year-old slugger.

-With the struggles the Threshers have had on the field thus far this season, how are the players dealing with having such a tough time winning?

As you know people deal with adversity and things differently. I can't really speak on how others are dealing with the struggles so far this season besides the fact that day in and day out WE are still working really hard to improve OUR game. Our record may not be where we want it to be right now, but we are still grinding everyday like a championship team does. For me, it's all about staying strong mentally, having a short memory, and focusing in the moment one pitch at a time. I feel that if you do that for nine innings, whether on defense or offense, you will have competed the whole game and left it all on the field. These are all important especially when things aren't going your way because it becomes easy to lose focus and dwell on the negative. I believe we have a good team but we haven't showed it yet. We will bounce back and start playing better.

-A 20-0 loss...does that get under guys' skin more than a normal 4-3 or 6-4 loss? How have you guys tried to bounce back from that as well as the lengthy winless streaks?

A 20-0 loss will mess with you no matter who you are, but it's about what you do after something like that, that will dictate the rest of your season. You can either let that get to you and continue to lose in that fashion or you can pull it together, regroup, and prove to everyone, including yourself, that you are better than that. It was a rough game and season for us thus far but that is just the first month. We aren't the team that we showed in April. I believe we are better than that and the constant work that we put in everyday shows it. Like I said earlier, we have been working on our work and are determined to be better.

-Has there been any change in message or approach from the coaching staff during this tough stretch?

Our coaching staff knows we are better than we are playing and encourage us to stay positive as well as continue to improve our game. They have reminded us that this is the first month of five and we can still do something special. Also that we can't let our past games affect what we do in the future because that it's not about how you start, it's about how you finish. We have to just make the plays, make quality pitches, and swing the bats well in situations.

-You've had a slow start but have still managed to have some good games. With other guys sporting low averages and things, do you think the adjustment to this level has been tough for many of the players including yourself?

It's still early. I know the guys, including myself, would like to be doing better than we are right now offensively but we are all working on things. I know that I am going to hit lot better than I have this far and believe my teammates will as well. Maybe getting adjusted to the pitching is one thing, but the truth is, if you are going to get to the show you can't afford make that excuse because they are all good up there. You just have to find a way to get the job done and help your team win. We have to keep stepping to the plate with confidence knowing that the guy on the mound is in the same league as we are and trying to get to where we want to be, that his best can't beat our best, and the mentality that if it us or him it's going to be us every time. It's the same game we have always played, so there is no reason to add extra pressure on ourselves. Just have to fun and play the game the way it should be played and good things will start happening.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Larry Greene Jr. out with wrist tear

Larry Greene Jr. works with coach Lino Connell, image- Jay Floyd
Sidelined since last week with a left wrist issue, Larry Greene Jr. was originally listed as day-to-day by the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws after he was injured on a diving play in the outfield. Further evaluation has turned up a diagnosis of a cartilage tear for the Phillies' top draft pick (39th overall) from 2011.

Greene, who last played on Wednesday, April 23rd, had posted a lackluster .167 average along with two doubles, a triple and five RBI in 15 games for the BlueClaws prior to being injured, this season.

The BlueClaws return home from a road trip to Lexington and Asheville next Wednesday. At that time, more examinations will take place for the six-foot 235-pounder. In the meantime, the left fielder Greene will wear a brace on the ailing wrist and remain out of action.

In other injury news, righty pitching prospect Nic Hanson spent his 22nd birthday on the operating table a couple weeks back to remove a bone spur from his throwing elbow. The Phils' 16th round draft pick from 2012 expects to begin a throwing program in two weeks.

Hanson, who is currently on Class A Advanced Clearwater's disabled list, sported a 2-3 record with a 3.31 ERA and a 5.77 K/9 mark in 22 outings at three levels last season.

PhoulBallz Podcast Episode 60: Mark Leiter Interview w/ Willians Astudillo Cameo

On the 60th edition of the PhoulBallz Minor League Podcast, Tug and Jay talk about prospects galore, including Tyson Gillies, Cameron Perkins and Mookie Betts. The guys also discuss the struggling Clearwater Threshers and their disappointing output. The show also features an exclusive interview with pitcher Mark Leiter Jr., with a sweet vocal cameo from Lakewood standout Willians Astudillo.

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.