Thursday, December 31, 2015

PhoulBallz Off-season Check In: RHP Matt Hockenberry

Matt Hockenberry, image- Jay Floyd
Righty hurler Matt Hockenberry made headlines when the Phillies selected him as their 9th round draft pick in 2014 out of Temple University. Since that time, he's been a contributor out of the Class A bullpen.

Following a 2014 campaign that saw the Dillsburg, PA native tally a 3-0 record with two saves and a 5.12 ERA in 20 outings, Hockenberry bounced back with a great season for the Lakewood BlueClaws this year. In 42 appearances, the 24-year-old posted a 4-4 record with 19 saves and a 2.24 ERA.

Last week I spoke with Matt about his off-season routine, his ties to Temple and the city of Philadelphia, coaching youth players as well as how he tries to knock down boundaries between American and Latino players. Read ahead for that full interview.


-What is the amount of downtime, the time you go without picking up a ball, that you enjoy during the off-season and then what do you do to knock the rust off once action resumes?

That's actually a, I guess, a difficult question for myself. I'm not what you consider a big money guy. I got drafted in the 9th round and everything, but I didn't get a a big signing bonus because I was signed as a senior out of Temple, so I actually work as soon as the season is done. My job is coaching kids between the ages of six and 18 in the Media Line area, out in Broomall, PA area, with the All-Star Baseball Academy...so I touch a baseball every day. So, I really don't have down time like you're asking. I just pace myself as to when I start throwing again, uh, you know I do all the lists and requirements that the Phillies are having me do, but I'm touching a baseball everyday, so I have to monitor what type of activity I'm doing in order to make sure I'm not going to burn myself out for when I have to start my training portion.

-So, when it is time for you to do your own prep work and start building towards spring training, what is the time frame there and then what do you start doing differently?

This year I am starting just a little bit earlier. But, I'm going to pace myself. Last year was my first spring training and I think one of the reasons I had a little hiccup in my elbow throughout the season, was because I was ready to rock and roll January 1st. It was my first spring training, so I didn't know what to expect and I wanted to be as ready as possible. But, now that I have that and my first full season under my belt, I kind of know how to pace myself a little better. I probably won't start throwing bullpens until mid-January and they're going to be very light at that.

I try to do what (the Phillies assign us) to the best of my ability, so I'm not going to wear myself out. And more importantly, I'm just doing all of the arm care and I'm teaching high school guys how to do this type of arm care, so it forces me to get mine in.

-How do you feel about coaching and doing that sort of thing? Is that helpful for you and did you have access to any pro guys when you were coming up to help your progress?

I actually never had a place like All-Star in the place where I am at. Where I grew up when it was baseball season, it was baseball season. But when it wasn't, you were playing other sports. Whether it was basketball or indoor soccer, I was a basketball guy.

To me, it is very important. I have a very strong relationship with the All-Star Baseball Academy, based out of Philadelphia.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

PhoulBallz Podcast Episode 78: Blake McFarland & Stephen Shackleford Interviews

The PhoulBallz Podcast is back to close out 2015 by running down the top moments from the Phillies minor league year. Jay also interviews pitchers Blake McFarland and Stephen Shackleford. Among the topics of discussion are Cornelius Randolph, Aaron Nola and plenty more.

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




Thursday, December 24, 2015

Frosty Phillies Favorites: 2015 Player Christmas Survey

Kyle Martin as Santa, edit- Eric Floyd
Everybody loves the holidays and, of course, baseball players are no exception. Each year at Christmas time, I survey a group of Phillies prospects about what they get excited for during the holiday season.

Players taking part in this year's sixth annual questionnaire include 4th round draft pick first baseman Kyle Martin, 2nd round pick second baseman Scott Kingery, slugging outfielders Nick Williams and Dylan Cozens, righty relievers Matt Hockenberry, Jason Zgardowski and Stephen Shackleford as well as lefty reliever Joey DeNato.

Questions and answers detailing each player’s holly jolly holiday favorites are ahead…

-What is your favorite Christmas movie or TV special?

Martin: I love comedies, so I gotta go with National Lampoons' Christmas Vacation.

Kingery: A Christmas Story. That was one of my dad's favorites and we watched that one every year, growing up. I see a couple times each year.

Williams: Favorite Christmas movie would have to either be Best Man Holiday or all the Home Alone movies. I like all the Home Alones and I still watch them to this day.

Cozens: Elf. Just love Will Ferrell. Whole movies was great.

Hockenberry: I watch A Christmas Story at least seven times on Christmas day. We just keep TBS on and just come and go. We are actually spending Christmas out at my grandfather's and he's got three or four TV's...and we just throw TBS on, so no matter what room you're in, you're watching A Christmas Story. It's more about hanging out with your family.

Shackleford: I really like all the cartoon movies, like The Nightmare Before Christmas and all the (claymation) ones. I like A Christmas Story. Stuff like that.

Zgardowski: Favorite Christmas movie had to be Home Alone. Just because you get to thinking what would you do. Also it doesn't hurt that when I was 10, I always thought people getting over tripping over stuff was pretty funny, especially if it's the bad guys in the movie. But now that I'm older I got to go with Bad Santa.

DeNato: The Santa Clause. It never gets old.

-What is your favorite Christmas song and which version do you prefer?

Martin: I don't listen to a lot of Christmas carols.

Williams: This might sound a little fruity, but I like the Justin Bieber Mistletoe song.

Monday, December 21, 2015

PhoulBallz Off-season Check In: 2B Prospect Scott Kingery

Scott Kingery, image- Jay Floyd
The Phillies' 2nd round draft pick this year was second baseman Scott Kingery. In 66 games with Class A Lakewood after signing his first professional contract, the 21-year-old posted a .250 average with three home runs, 21 RBI and 11 steals.

Kingery, a righty batting second baseman, sported a .392 average while being named Pac-12 player of the year as a member of the Arizona Wildcats in 2015.

The five-foot-10 180-pounder took time recently to talk about his very first off-season, mentoring high school players, feeling inspired by an NBA team and more. Read ahead for the full interview.

-After the season, how much time do you take off from swinging a bat and picking up a ball? Also, during that time, what do you do to stay fit?

I mean, this is my first real off-season. Before this, I was playing year round without a break. So, this is the first time I've had some time off to rest and get my body back in the best shape in can be in. I just started throwing a couple weeks ago and swinging the bat a little bit a couple weeks ago. Before that, I had instructs, so I went a little (longer) than some of the other guys. And I've been just resting and working out and running and keeping my body in shape without doing too much baseball activity because my body needed a break from it.

-Regarding instructs, what was your experience like there in Clearwater for those weeks after the regular season ends and do you feel pressure to impress the organization with all the eyes on you there?

I really looked at it as a way to fine tune some stuff that some people saw during the season. And, to be honest, I think it really helped me. I just tweaked a few things in my swing, worked defensively with a couple guys and figured out some footwork around the bag and worked on defense and tried to fine tune some stuff that will help me during the season.

-You spoke of playing collegiate level and summer leagues, year round. What is it like this year to have this downtime and a true off-season? Does it drive you crazy to not be out on the field?

Shawn Williams, my manager with Lakewood, he put it perfectly. He said, "You guys need the rest, but after about two weeks, you're going to be bored and you're going to want to get back out there on the field." And for me, right now, I'm at the point where I want to start getting back out on the field and play some games again. There's not much to do and when your life's revolved around baseball for 21 years and you finally get some off time, I have no idea what to do. So, I've just been working out and waiting for baseball to start again.

-Are you working a job or doing any clinics to keep busy or earn a check this off-season?

I haven't been working a job, but me and a couple other guys go back to our high school and work with the infielders there and stuff and kind of run some camps. They have winter camps and we just run a couple of those and help out the high schoolers.

-When you were their age did you have players come back to help you and make that type of impression on you to help you develop? And what's it like now to be that guy who mentors younger players?

When I was in high school, there was a couple of guys that came back. Joe Mather was a former big league player and now he's coaching with the Diamondbacks and he would come back and help out and just work with certain specific skills and stuff and it was really cool having those guys there. I knew what it felt like back in the day, so I'm assuming the kids are pretty excited to have me and Cole Tucker, who was in the Sally League last year with West Virginia, to go back and help out and just hang around with the guys for a little bit. I'm sure they're excited for that.

-I know the Phils will issue all their young players workout assignments or guidelines for the off-season, but is there anything specific for you that you are working to improve during the winter?

There wasn't anything specific, but personally, I wanted to put on some weight because, as it is, I'm a small guy and at the end of last season I was really skinny because I had been playing for so long. So, I'm trying to put on some extra weight this off-season, so I can go in and have some extra weight that I can lose and still stay at a healthy playing weight throughout next season.

-Aside from working out with the high school players this off-season, is there anything else you're doing to stay busy or have fun?

I've been hiking a lot. We have a lot of mountains out here in Arizona, so, I go hiking with some of my buddies. We go to some Suns games. Try to make it out to as many Cardinals games as possible, so whatever we can do to have a little fun.

-I know you also vacationed recently out in the bay area and saw a Warriors game. That team could potentially be among the best NBA squads ever. When you're seeing guys do what they do at such an elite level are those guys inspiring to watch, even to athletes from other sports?

It's incredible to just watch how those guy play and how they work together and how dominant they are. You know how much work they've put in and you know exactly what it takes to get to the level that they're at. So, it's really cool getting to watch those guys go out there and play like that.

Image- Jay Floyd

Friday, December 18, 2015

PhoulBallz Interview: RHP Shackleford says goodbye to Reading

Stephen Shackleford, image- Jay Floyd
Righty reliever Stephen Shackleford set the single season saves record for the Double-A Reading Fightins this past season, when he notched 30 in 53 Eastern League appearances.  Following the 2015 campaign, the man known as "Shack" became a free agent and news of his signing with the Nationals was announced on Friday.

Via his twitter account, the 26-year-old fan favorite posted a nod to the city where he enjoyed his record setting season this year as well as the Phillies organization. 

I would like to thank the Phillies and the Fightin Phils for everything they did for me this past year.  I had an amazing experience in Baseballtown and it will always hold a special place in my heart.  I'm looking forward to the next step in my baseball journey and excited to be a part of the Nationals organization.  

Last week I spoke with Shackleford about his off-season routine, playing abroad this autumn following Reading's post-season run along with what other big life news might be happening with him.  Read ahead for that full interview.

 -You pitched this off-season with La Guaira in the Venezuelan Winter League.  Was that your first time playing internationally and what was that like for you?

This is my first time playing internationally and it was awesome.  The baseball was awesome over there.  There was 10-to-20 thousand people in the stands every night, chanting, screaming.  Everybody was in the game every pitch.  Everybody knew was was going on.  Every time there was two strikes on a batter, they'd be chanting.  There was a lot going on, but it was fun.

-Some guys, like yourself, will sign and go over there for just half, or a portion of, the season.  How does that work with contracts and the way players are signed?

When I originally signed I said that I wanted a fly-out date on the 22nd, because I didn't want- I wanted a set date to come home...so I could get home and get rested and start working toward next season. 

Everybody has days that they're supposed to fly in or fly out.  There's also other instances, which is like the ugly side of baseball, where some guys haven't done so hot and they release them and bring another guy in too. 

-With the off-season league and you talked about getting ready for next season already, I don't imagine there's a lot of down time for you, but do you take time completely off?  Also what is your routine like and how to you prepare for what is next?

Most of the time for myself, if I don't go to winter ball, I only spend a couple of weeks not touching a baseball.  Then I start doing some movement work and I start going through the motions, not throwing a ball, just going through the motions, making sure my arm's still going.  Then I start up when there's two-and-a-half, three months until I would get to spring training, I start up my velocity program.  It's a weighted program with heavy balls, lighter balls.  I've been doing that for six years. 

After winter ball, I took a week off and then I started some movement, keeping my arm going, then slowly started building up.  Then, I'll start throwing 100-percent next week.

-How do you find a throwing partner?  How do you pair up with somebody to get your work in?

I work at Legends Sports Academy.  It's in Louisville, Kentucky.  There's a couple other pro guys that are here.  It's a nice facility, it's pretty big.  But with the throwing program, you don't need a partner when you're doing it.  If you want to play catch afterward, there's a couple guys that are doing that with me that you can throw to once or twice a week. 

-You mentioned working there at Legends.  Are you coaching and doing clinics for younger players?

I'm helping to run one of the velocity classes, teaching kids how to do it.  There's a group of about 40 to 50 guys on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and around 30 guys on Monday, Wednesday, Friday.  And then I'm also doing some lessons on the side.

-What is the age range of the pitchers you're working with?

Around, anywhere from 10 years old till 18.  And then there's some college guys that come in.  One of the college guys actually works out with us here now. 

-Just from knowing you, I'd think that having that ability to help young players would be something that would be rewarding to you.  Is that a way you would describe how you feel about it?

Oh, definitely.  I like working with the younger kids.  I like helping them out.  I like trying to be- when I was a kid, I went to a facility and worked out with the pro guys when I was growing up and I feel like that made a huge impact on my life and I'm just trying to give back to them and that's what we all do here.

-Aside from baseball related activities, is there anything you're doing the off-season to keep busy?

Me and my lady are getting married in January.  It's just going to be a very small wedding and it's just basically me, her and our parents.  And then also I got approved for a home loan, so I might be looking to buy a house here soon.  So, that's pretty exciting.

-That is big news!  Congratulations on all that and thanks so much for your time.

Thank you.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Phils minor league coaching assignments announced

After some delay with releasing the details, the Phillies announced their minor league coaching assignments for the 2016 season this week.

Triple-A Lehigh Valley manager Dave Brundage is back with the IronPigs for his fourth season. Dave Lundquist will take on pitching coach duties with Lehigh Valley after holding that spot for Reading for the past three seasons. Sal Rende is back for his fifth season as IronPigs hitting coach. Brundage previously managed in the Atlanta system and was an outfielder during his playing days.

Double-A Reading manager Dusty Wathan returns for his fifth season in the role. Hitting coach Frank Cacciatore will also return, while Steve Schrenk will serve as pitching coach. Schrenk previously held the position with Reading in 2009 and has coached at varied levels of the Phils' developmental ranks in the years since. Wathan's

Class A Advanced Clearweater will again be led by Greg Legg, who was honored as the Florida State League manager of the year in 2015, when he led the Threshers to first and second-half division titles. Former Phillies player Rob Ducey will return as hitting coach and former Phils hurler Aaron Fultz will be the pitching coach after holding that position with Lakewood last season.

Class A Lakewood will see skipper Shawn Williams return for his second season with the BlueClaws. He'll be joined by returning hitting coach Nelson Prada and new pitching coach Brian Sweeney. Williams is the son of former big league manager Jimy Williams. Sweeney, a former Mariners hurler, coached with the Phillies' Gulf Coast League team last season.

Short-season A level Williamsport will see skipper Pat Borders back in charge of the Crosscutters. Joining him on the Williamsport staff will be pitching coach Hector Berrios and hitting coach John Mizerock. Borders was a member of the 1993 Toronto team that defeated the Phillies in the World Series.

With the rookie level GCL team Roly de Armas will serve as the club's manager for the 12th time. He'll be joined by pitching coach Hector Mercado along with coaches Rafael DeLima and Eddie Dennis.

Ray Burriss, who previously served as the pitching coach for Lehigh Valley, will reportedly now take on the role of Phillies rehab pitching coach.

Monday, December 14, 2015

PN Interview: Off-season check in with RHP Jason Zgardowski

JZ honored
Zgardowski honored prior to Lakewood's last home game, image- Jay Floyd
Righty reliever Jason Zgardowski had a solid season in 2015, a year after he was signed by the Phillies as an undrafted free agent. In 34 games combined at short-season A level Williamsport and Class A Lakewood this season, the 22-year-old sported a 4-1 record with two saves, a 3.12 ERA and a .182 batting average against.

The Texas native was honored by the Phils organization this year, representing Lakewood as the player that best displayed leadership through community service.

This weekend I talked with Jason to learn about how he's spending his off-season and what he is doing to stay in shape during the fall and winter months, balancing fatherhood with being a pro athlete and more. Read ahead for the full interview.

-How much time off do you take from picking up a baseball and what other methods do you use to work out during the off-season?

I like to go at least a month and a half before I pick up a baseball, but to keep my arm in shape during that time I still do bands and arm care programs that our trainers give us before we leave for the off-season.

-What is your routine for knocking the rust off? Where do you throw and who do you throw with?

To knock off the rust I start off at 60 to 90 feet for the first two weeks then start building up. I throw at this place called Hack Shack, which is where I played summer baseball and it's a really nice complex where you get to throw with anyone who's not that busy and living in Texas, you get to throw outside everyday since the low so far this year has been 57 (degrees).

-Is there anything mandated from the Phillies that you have to work on improving this off-season?

The main goal going into this off-season was to get bigger and stronger and just get more consistent on my off-speed. I left Lakewood at 194 (pounds) and today when I checked I was 215 and I'm trying to go into the season about 220 to 225.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Phillies acquire RHP Morton, full Giles trade details announced

mortonAs a busy week continued for the 99-loss Phillies, news was released confirming another swap as the team sent minor league hurler David Whitehead to Pittsburgh for starting pitcher Charlie Morton.

The 32-year-old Morton is best known for his mechanics which resemble Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay. In 158 career big league games, the righty sports a 34-70 record along with a 4.54 ERA.

Whitehead, a pitcher not particularly close to the Phillies' top 25 prospects, posted a 9-11 record with a 4.44 ERA and a .291 batting average against for the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers last season.

The addition of Morton likely locks him into a rotation spot as the team's veteran, although he isn't a workhorse, having never thrown 30 or more starts in a season and making more than 26 starts in a year only one time.

Morton will join newly acquired pitcher Jeremy Hellickson as the only locks to be Phils starters. Rookies Aaron Nola (the Phils' 1st round pick from 2014 could also have a rotation spot clinched), Alec Asher, Jerad Eickhoff, Adam Morgan as well as some names from the Kenny Giles swap with Houston who will all work toward earning places in the starting rotation.

Friday, December 11, 2015

PhoulBallz Interview: Off-season check in with 1B Kyle Martin

K Martin 2
Kyle Martin, image- Jay Floyd
First base prospect Kyle Martin grew up in South Carolina as a Phillies fan, admiring slugger Jim Thome, so it was a dream come true for his entire family when the organization made him their 4th round draft choice this year.

A lefty batting power threat, Martin quickly made his professional debut with Class A Lakewood. The transition to the minors seemed easy, as the 23-year-old tallied a .279 average with five home runs and 37 RBI in 65 games for the BlueClaws.

I recently spoke with the University of South Carolina product about his remarkable 2015 as a whole and he ranked how playing in the Phillies organization ranks against playing for Team USA in this year's Premiere 12 tournament. Read ahead for that interview and click here for my previous feature on the six-foot-two 240-pounder.

-Are you still enjoying downtime right now or have you reached the stage of your off-season where you are back to baseball activities and knocking the rust off?

Well, I just got back from USA Baseball, so as far as hitting and throwing and taking ground balls and stuff like that, I'm taking a little time off from that. But as far the routine goes, I'm still working out. I'm still running, still doing all the things that I'm expected to do. Just trying to maintain a consistency there with the Phillies and what they're expecting of me.

-So, regarding your time with Team USA, I imagine that must have been big for you. What can you tell me about that?

I had a great experience. I really enjoyed it. Getting to hang out with Willie Randolph was incredible. I mean, I got to talk to some of the guys that were higher up. I got to play with some Double-A and Triple-A guys and some guys that have been in the show. I just kind of picked their brains a little bit and talked to them. That alone was a great experience and a mind-opening thing right there. Getting to play overseas was a great time. I really enjoyed it. I got to see what it's like over there and what the environment is like. I mean, I couldn't ask for a better experience.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Phils to take OF Goeddel with first pick in Rule 5 draft

Rule5In the midst of trade reports on Wednesday evening, MLB.com's Todd Zolecki confirmed that the Phillies will select Tampa Bay outfielder Tyler Goeddel with the initial pick in Thursday's Rule 5 draft.

The 23-year-old California native was originally selected 41st overall by the Rays in 2011. The righty batting Goeddel sported a .279 average with 12 home runs, 72 RBI and 28 stolen bases in 123 games for Double-A Montgomery this year.

He was converted from third base to the outfield following the 2014 season.

Players are eligible for selection in the Rule 5 draft when they are not on their major league organization's 40 man roster and 1) were signed to a contract at age 19 or older and have been in that organization for four years, OR 2) were signed at age 18 or younger and have been in that organization for five years.

Regulations in the big league portion of the Rule 5 draft require the selecting team to keep any drafted player on its 25-man big league roster for the entire following season, or offer him back to the team he was drafted from.

Some noteworthy selections from recent Rule 5 drafts include Johan Santana, Shane Victorino, Josh Hamilton and Joakim Soria.

Live coverage of this year's Rule 5 draft can be seen on MLB.com beginning 10AM Eastern.

You can read last week's Rule 5 draft primer by clicking here.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Reports: Phils agree to trade Giles for four players

Kenny Giles, image- Jay Floyd
After a day full of hot stove rumors indicating the Phillies were in talks with Houston about a deal for righty closer Kenny Giles, several reports have the deal in place, pending physicals.

A reporter from a Fox affiliate in Houston tweeted incorrect facts about the trade multiple time, but it seems the return coming back for the 25-year-old Giles are right-handed hurler Vincent Velasquez, left-handed pitcher Brett Oberholtzer and outfielder Derek Fisher.

Velsaquez, a 23-year-old, was a 2nd round pick by Houston in 2010.  With terrific upside, the youngster sported a 4-0 record with a 1.91 ERA and a 12.3 K/9 mark in nine games at the Double-A level last season prior to a promotion to the big league.  With the Astros, in 19 games (seven starts) Velasquez tallied a 4.37 ERA and a .240 batting average against.

Oberholtzer, 26, has an 11-20 record in 3.94 ERA in 45 career big league outings.  He was an 8th round draft selection by Houston in 2008.

Fisher, 22, posted a .275 average with 22 homers and 87 RBI in 123 combined games at Class A and High A last season.  He is said to have plus speed, having swiped 31 bags in 38 chances this year.

Phillies beat writer Todd Zolecki also reports a 4th player is headed to Philly for Giles.  Details to come.

Giles took over the role of Phillies' closer this season, in his second year in the big leagues, following the trade of All-Star reliever Jonathan Papelbon.  In 69 outings last season, Giles sported a 6-3 record with 15 saves and a 1.80 ERA.

With the Phils fully in rebuild mode and expected to make a run at last place again next year, the need for a stud closer isn't a great one.  The return of Velasquez and Fisher along with whatever else the Astros send to Philly for the occasional 100 MPH fastball of Giles is a solid one for sure.

This article originally appeared on Phillies Nation.  

*UPDATE*

Astros beat writer Evan Drellich tweeted late Wednesday night that the fourth player coming from Houston is Thomas Eshelman.
Eshelman is a 21-year-old right-hander hurler. The six-foot-three 210-pounder was a 2nd round draft pick this year and pitched in just four pro games in his young career.

Phillies add free agent reliever Hernandez, Giles talks heating up

In their first move at the annual MLB Winter Meetings, the Phillies announced the signing of free agent right-hander David Hernandez to a one-year deal.

The 30-year-old is a veteran of six big league seasons and was originally a 16th round draft selection by Baltimore in 2005. In 40 appearances last season for Arizona, Hernandez sported a 1-5 record along with a 4.38 ERA.

This signing by Philadelphia will help to fill out the bullpen, but should not be expected to improve it. As seen in the embedded tweet below, Hernandez has very similar career numbers to departed righty reliever Justin De Fratus.
Additionally, reports out of the Winter Meetings also mention continued dialogue between the Phils and Astros regarding closer Ken Giles.
If talks with Houston don't move along, the Phillies' big move of the week may take place tomorrow, as the Rule 5 draft is slated for Thursday morning.

This post originally appeared on Phillies Nation.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Off-season League Updates: Franco, Alfaro, Gonzalez, Hoskins, Cozens notes

It's another round of updates from around the globe for Phillies playing in off-season leagues. While some players like Roman Quinn are done with their time abroad, other like Jorge Alfaro and Severino Gonzalez are just getting their extra time on the diamond under way. Read ahead for all the details. 

Dominican Winter League-

MaikelFranco
Maikel Franco, image- Jay Floyd
Maikel Franco is batting .267 with two home runs and four RBI in 11 games thus far with the Gigantes. The 23-year-old tallied a .280 average with 14 homers and 50 RBI this year as a rookie for the Phillies.

Joely Rodriguez is 0-2 with a 3.32 ERA and a .194 batting average against in eight games for the Gigantes. The lefty had a 6.12 combined ERA in 32 total outings for Reading and Lehigh Valley this year. Rodriguez was acquired from Pittsburgh last off-season in a swap for Antonio Bastardo.

In six games righty Jimmy Cordero has a 2.16 ERA while striking out nine and walking six in 8 1/3 innings for the Leones, striking out seven and walking one. Cordero, 24, was acquired from Toronto in the Ben Revere trade this season. In 13 games with Double-A Reading, he posted a 2.12 ERA with 18 strike outs in 17 innings.

Center fielder Roman Quinn has completed his time in the DR League. With Licey, he posted a .212 average with two homers, seven RBI and eight steals in 25 games. Quinn tallied a .306 batting average with four homers, 15 RBI and 29 stolen bases in 58 games with Reading this year prior to being sidelined with an injury. The 22-year-old switch-hitter was the Phillies' second round pick in the 2011 draft.

Backstop Logan Moore is batting .222 with three doubles and eight RBI in 16 games. The 25-year-old lefty hitter posted a .661 OPS in 69 combined games with Reading and Lehigh Valley this year. Moore was the Phils' 9th round draft pick in 2011.

Also with Licey, Emmanuel Burriss batted .206 with three RBI in 12 games. The 30-year-old switch-hitting shortstop was signed by the Phillies as a minor league free agent last month.

In 13 games for the Toros, shortstop Malquin Canelo posted a .214 average with two doubles, three triples and three RBI. The 21-year-old sported a .281 average with eight home runs, 47 RBI and 17 steals in 126 combined games for Lakewood and Clearwater in the 2015 regular season.

In 14 relief outings with the Toros right-handed pitcher Hector Neris has a 1-1 record with a 3.77 ERA. He has struck out 13 and walked four in 14 1/3 innings in the DR League. In 32 games at the big league level this year the 26-year-old.

Infielder Angelys Nina is hitting .273 with a homer and eight RBI in 37 games with the Toros. The Phillies signed Nina as a minor league free agent last month. Last season in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, the 27-year-old batted .300 with four home runs and 50 RBI in 114 games.

Nefi Ogando, a righty hurler, has a 0-2 record with a 2.70 ERA with a .308 batting average in eight games for the Aguilas. The 26-year-old appeared in four big league games this season after posting a 2.86 ERA and a 7.9 K/9 mark in 44 minor league appearances this year.

Ulises Joaquin has a 1-0 record, a 3.09 ERA and a .214 batting average in 13 outings for the Aguilas. The 23-year-old righty reliever had a 4-2 record with 16 saves, a 2.96 ERA and an 8.7 K/9 mark in 46 appearances for Clearwater this year.

Also with the Aguilas, Ranfi Casimiro has no decisions, a 1.96 ERA while striking out 14 and walking six in 23 innings of work. The six-foot-eight 210-pound righty had a 9-7 record with a 3.35 ERA and two complete games in 23 starts for Lakewood this year.

Venezuelan League-

For La Guaira, Jorge Alfaro is batting .083 with an RBI through for four games since joining the team last week. The 22-year-old righty hitting catcher was one of the highly touted prospects received from Texas in the Cole Hamels trade last summer.

SevGonzalez
Severino Gonzalez, image- Jay Floyd
Severino Gonzalez also recently joined La Guaira. In two starts, the righty hurler has a 0-1 record with a 4.05 ERA while striking out three and walking none in 6 2/3 innings. In seven big league games this year, the 23-year-old tallied a 7.92 ERA.

Carlos Tocci is still sidelined with a broken hand after being hit by a pitch. Prior to the injury, Tocci posted a .333 average with a triple, four RBI and two stolen bases in 11 games. The 20-year-old posted a .287/.339/.363 slash line in 127 combined games with Lakewood and Clearwater this year.

Outfielder Herlis Rodriguez is batting .200 with five RBI in 31 games for the Tigres. The 21-year-old lefty batter posted a .284 average with 10 home runs and 61 RBI in 120 games for Class A Lakewood this year.

Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez has completed his time competing for the Aguilas. In seven starts, he posted a 0-4 record with a 4.13 ERA for the Aguilas. In his most recent appearance, MAG allowed seven runs (six earned) in 1 2/3 innings. The 29-year-old right-hander appeared in six minor league games this year after dealing with shoulder issues.

Elvis Araujo has a 3-3 record along with a 4.20 ERA in 18 appearances for the Aguilas. The 24-year-old left-hander posted a 2-1 record, a 3.38 ERA and an 8.8 K/9 mark in 40 games at the big league level this year.

Lino Martinez has a 0-1 record, a 4.80 ERA and a .354 batting average against in 15 games for the Aguilas. The 23-year-old lefty had a 2-0 record with a 5.06 ERA in eight combined games for the rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies and Class A Advanced Clearwater this year.

Catcher Gabriel Lino has a .186 batting average with five doubles, a triple and seven RBI in 34 games for the Cardinales. The 22-year-old sported a .215 batting average with 17 RBI in 53 games with Triple-A Lehigh Valley this year.

In 11 appearances right-hander Alexis Rivero has a 0-2 record with a 4.63 ERA for the Tigres. In 41 combined games with Lakewood and Clearwater this year the 21-year-old posted a 4-2 record with 10 saves, a 2.54 ERA and an 8.4 K/9 mark.

After joining the Leones this weekend, first baseman Brock Stassi has gone 3-for-8 (.375 avg). The Double-A Eastern League MVP previously played in Puerto Rico this off-season but asked for and was granted his release from the Indios.

Australian Baseball League-

In 27 games for the Sydney Blue Sox, first baseman Rhys Hoskins sports a .315/.375/.574 slash line. In his last eight games, Hoskins has gone 15-for-34 (.441 avg). The 22-year-old was a 5th round draft pick by the Phils last year. He batted .319 with 17 home runs and 90 RBI in 135 combined games for Lakewood and Clearwater this year.

Through 26 games with Canberra, outfielder Cord Sandberg has a .239 average with a home run, seven RBI and a stolen base. The 20-year-old was one of nine minor league Gold Glove Award winner as a member of the Lakewood BlueClaws this year. Sandberg was a 3rd round draft pick in 2013.

Mexican Winter League-

For the Yaquis, right-handed pitcher Victor Arano has a 3-0 record along with one saves, a 0.83 ERA in 21 games. In 21 2/3 innings, Arano has struck out 18 and walked three. The 20-year-old sported a 4-12 record with a 4.72 ERA in 24 games with Clearwater this year.

Clemente League (Puerto Rico)-

Outfielder Dylan Cozens has a .333 average with two homers and five RBI in 11 games since joining the Indios. The 21-year-old posted a .350 average with three homers and nine RBI in 11 games after joining Double-A Reading late in the regular season this year. The skilled lefty batter was the Phils' 2nd round pick in 2012.

Jesmuel Valentin is batting .276 with six doubles, eight RBI and three stolen bases in 27 games for the Indios. The 21-year-old infielder missed a majority of the 2015 regular season following a criminal case related to domestic violence and a subsequent suspension by the Phillies. Valentin, a switch-hitter, batted .271 with a home run and 14 RBI in 31 games for Clearwater.

Hoby Milner has a 1.23 ERA in 11 games with the Indios. In 7 1/3 innings, the lefty has struck out six and walked five. The 24-year-old was a 7th round pick in 2012. He posted a 3.52 combined ERA in 30 appearances for Clearwater and Reading last season.

Righty Reinier Roibal has a 1-1 record with a 2.14 ERA in five starts for Santurce. This year with Reading the 26-year-old posted a 6-1 record with a save and a 1.66 ERA.

Third baseman Jan Hernandez is batting .215 with a triple and two RBI with Caguas. The 20-year-old posted a .211 average with 10 homers and 35 RBI in 57 games this year with Class A short-season Williamsport. Hernandez was the Phillies' 3rd round pick in 2013.

Nicaraguan League-

Hurler Austin Davis is shining for the Boer team.  In six starts, the lefty sports a 1-1 record along with a 1.05 ERA.  The 22-year-old has struck out 42 and walked six in 34 1/3 innings of work.  Davis, who pitched with Lakewood this year, was the Phillies' 12th round pick in the 2014 draft.



Stats are current through games on Saturday, with the exception of the Australian League, which includes Sunday stats.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

PhoulBallz Q&A, The Lost Tapes: Tim Zier

Minor league infielder Tim Zier took part in an interview with me in May of this year while he was a member of the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws. Shortly afterward, the Phillies' 21st round draft selection from 2014 suffered a season-ending injury to his left knee. Prior to being sidelined, the 24-year-old had forced coaches to give him more playing time when he posted a .293 batting average in April.

In the following interview that was unused following Zier's injury, he talks about his early success, growing up as a Padres fan and he takes part in Nine Silly-ass Questions, a segment intended for the PhoulBallz Minor League Podcast.

Read ahead for the full interview.

-I heard from the coaching staff that you're a guy that's really pressing them to get you into the lineup with your output. What are your feelings on the success you've had thus far with Lakewood?

I would say it definitely feels good when I get in there and have some success, especially, not being in there every day. But at the same time, it's such a great venue and it's such a great atmosphere all around that I'm just enjoying every moment of it.

-Is this the first time you've been to New Jersey?

This is the first time I've ever been to New Jersey. Born and raised in San Diego county, California. I definitely had to get used to the weather my first month here, but now I'm really looking forward to summer.

-So I imagine you grew up as a Padres fan. Who were the players who stood out to you as a youngster?

I grew up and I really enjoyed watching Tony Gwynn, who I was fortunate enough to play for (at San Diego State University), for four years. Ken Caminiti comes to mind as well. A couple stand out Padres right there.

-What feedback have you gotten from the coaches here with the BlueClaws?

The feedback is positive. They just tell me to keep on working and keep improving myself offensively and defensively. I am just trying to do everything that's in my control.

-I do a minor league podcast and on that show we have a segment called Nine Silly-ass Questions. Would you participate in that with me?

Yeah, sure.

-Name something that New Jersey is famous for-

The Jersey Shore TV show.

-Did you watch the show? What stands out about that show in your mind?

Paulie D saying "The cabs are here!"

-Being in the Phillies organization, do you know something Philadelphia is famous for?

Cheesesteaks!

-If you could have one super power, what would it be and why?

I would have the ability to be invisible.

-What would you do with that invisibility power?

Let's see. I don't want to make it X-rated, so I'll go with my second choice I would probably take as much money as I can.

-What is your favorite candy?

Haribo Gummy Bears.

-Do you have a favorite Wesley Snipes movie?

Probably Major League. I'll go with that.

-If you could be featured on one TV show, what would it be?

Probably "Naked and Afraid". It's on the Discovery Channel and you're just thrown in the wilderness and you have to survive for a month.

-Do you have any guilty pleasures?

I like to rock out to some Taylor Swift.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Rule 5 draft just around the corner, Phils choose first

Rule5The off-season is moving along and it’s almost time for "Hot Stove" excitement. With the Phillies not expected to be a major factor in the MLB free agent market, their time to shine at next week’s Winter Meetings will likely come in the annual Rule 5 draft.

Last December the Phils selected Odubel Herrera, in the 9th slot, from Texas and the youngster proved to be a talented contributor for the team in a clear rebuild mode. As a 23-year-old big league rookie, Herrera tallied a .297 average with eight home runs and 16 stolen bases.

Selecting first this year, the Phillies have a chance to really utilize their professional scouting department and take another player ready to impact a big league roster. Positionally, the spots to target may be the outfield or pitching, with depth or a lineup slot locked up in just about every other place on the roster.

With their eyes on finding another Herrera, some players the Phils should be considering are listed below:

Jabari Blash, OF with Seattle. Originally an 8th round pick in 2010, Blash was eligible last year but was not selected in the Rule 5 draft. Following a 2015 in which he slammed 32 homers and OPS’d at .946 in 116 combined games at Double-A and Triple-A, the righty hitter should expect to find a new opportunity next week. The 26-year-old is said to be a plus defender as well.

Tyler Goeddel, OF with Tampa Bay. The 23-year-old was selected 41st overall by the Rays in 2011. The righty batting Goeddel sported a .279 average with 12 home runs, 72 RBI and 28 stolen bases in 123 games for Double-A Montgomery. He was converted from third base to the outfield following the 2014 season.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Phillies Off-season League Updates: Cordero, MAG, Araujo, Knapp, more

Throughout the off-season, Phillies Nation be bringing you details on Phils players participating in fall and winter leagues from around the globe. Read ahead for a rundown of how various players have performed to date.

Venezuelan Winter League-

Carlos Tocci
Carlos Tocci, image- Jay Floyd
With the Tigres, outfielder Carlos Tocci is currently sidelined with a broken hand after being hit by a pitch. Prior to the injury, Tocci posted a .333 average with a triple, four RBI and two stolen bases in 11 games. The 20-year-old posted a .287/.339/.363 slash line in 127 combined games with Lakewood and Clearwater this year.

Outfielder Herlis Rodriguez is batting .196 with five RBI in 25 games for the Tigres. The 21-year-old lefty batter posted a .284 average with 10 home runs and 61 RBI in 120 games for Class A Lakewood this year.

In six starts Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez as a 0-4 record with a 4.88 ERA for the Aguilas. In his most recent appearance, MAG allowed seven runs (six earned) in 1 2/3 innings. The 29-year-old right-hander appeared in six minor league games this year after dealing with shoulder issues.

Elvis Araujo has a 3-1 record along with a 2.84 ERA and a .205 batting average against in 11 outings for the Aguilas. The 24-year-old left-hander posted a 2-1 record with a 3.38 ERA and an 8.8 K/9 mark in 40 games at the big league level this year.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Phillies acquire SP Hellickson for pitching prospect

phils logoThe Phillies' new general manager has completed his first trade. A deal announced on Saturday saw Matt Klentak send pitching prospect Sam McWilliams to Arizona for right-hander Jeremy Hellickson.

Hellickson will join a Phils pitching staff that included three rookies by season's end and is in need of some established durability. In the last five years, the Iowa native has averaged 150 innings per season.

The 28-year-old sports a 49-48 record along with a 3.94 ERA in 142 career MLB outings. Hellickson was a 4th round pick by Tampa Bay in 2005 and was the American League Rookie of the Year in 2011 when he posted a 2.95 ERA in 29 starts in his first big league season. He also won a Gold Glove Award for his defense in 2012.

McWilliams, 20, was an 8th round draft selection by the Phillies last year. In his time as a pro, the righty sported a 2-5 record with a 4.19 ERA and a 4.8 K/9 mark in 16 games (12 starts).

Klentak took over as the team's GM last month. During his tenure, the Phils have acquired two other hurlers, claiming Dan Otero off waivers from Oakland and signing James Russell to a minor league deal.

Analysis: McWilliams would not have ranked in Phillies Nation's top 25 prospects this off-season and would not have been close. With considerable pitching depth at the upper levels of the organization's developmental ranks, McWilliams, who has not pitched above the rookie level Gulf Coast League (two levels below Class A Lakewood), is very expendable. Acquiring a proven big league arm for this youngster is a steal for the Phils.

This post originally appeared on Phillies Nation

Friday, November 6, 2015

Knapp & Ramos slated to rep Phils in AFL Fall Stars Game

Knapp 1
Knapp, image- Jay Floyd
One of the biggest events of the off-season league schedule takes place this Saturday when the Arizona Fall League's Rising Stars Game happens at Scottsdale's Salt River Fields.

The "Fall Stars" exhibition marks the 10th annual event and will be nationally televised at 8PM Eastern on MLB Network and will stream live online at MLB.com.

Representing the Phillies will be righty hurler Edubray Ramos and catcher Andrew Knapp, who were part of the Double-A Reading team that went to the Eastern League Championship Series this year.

Ramos, a 22-year-old Venezuelan, was a stand out performer this year, when he tallied a 4-6 record with eight saves, a 2.07 ERA and a .196 batting average against in 47 games in relief for Class A Advanced Clearwater and Reading. As a member of the Glendale Desert Dogs in the AFL, Ramos has allowed seven earned runs in 6 2/3 innings (9.45 ERA) while striking out eight and walking none.

The switch-hitting Knapp, who turns 24-year-old next week, entered AFL action on Friday with a .214/.361/.321 slash line in nine games with Glendale. He was honored as the Phillies' top minor league player this season with the Paul Owens Award. Also having split time with Clearwater and Reading, the man known as "The California Kid" sported a .308 average with 13 homers and 84 RBI in 118 combined games.

Knapp was named to the club as a first baseman, where he's been getting playing time in the field to enhance his versatility, when Houston's A.J. Reed was shut down with soreness by the Astros.

Salt River Fields serve as the spring training home to the Rockies and the Diamondbacks.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Morandini added to Phillies coaching staff

M Morandini
Mickey Morandini, image- Jay Floyd
The Phillies announced on Monday that former infielder Mickey Morandini would be added to their staff next year as the team's first base coach.

Morandini spent the last five seasons coaching in the minor leagues in the organization that drafted him in the 5th round in 1988. He began his coaching career as the manager of the Class A short season Williamsport Crosscutters in 2011. He would go on to manage Class A Lakewood the following season, spending two seasons there. He coached at the Triple-A level in 2014 and at Double-A this year. In those roles with Lehigh Valley and Reading, Morandini spent time overseeing base running and assisted with hitting as well.

Previously, the 49-year-old was a guest instructor for the big league team in spring training in 2009 and 2010. As a coach in the higher levels, he was utilized in recent seasons during big league spring training as well.

During his playing career, Morandini, a second baseman, represented the Phillies as an All-Star in 1996 and was a member of the beloved 1993 National League Championship club. He was best known for turning the ninth unassisted triple play in MLB history in 1992. Morandini was a .268 hitter in 1,298 big league games, also playing with Toronto and the Cubs.

Replying via text message, the Indiana native offered his thoughts on the promotion.

"At this stage of my life, I'm just as excited (for a promotion to the major leagues) as I was as a player," Morandini stated. "I consider myself very fortunate to get this opportunity again."

With the addition of Morandini at first base, Juan Samuel is slated to move across the diamond to coach third base.

Other recent additions to the coaching staff for next year include John McLaren as catching coach and Rick Kranitz as the bullpen coach.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Off-season League Notebook: Sandberg, Arano, Knapp stay hot

Throughout the off-season, we'll be bringing you details on Phillies players participating in fall and winter leagues from around the globe. Read ahead for a rundown of how many players have performed to date. Stats are current through games played on Friday except ABL notes, which include stats for Saturday's games.

Australian Baseball League-

cord2
Cord Sandberg, image- Jay Floyd
Outfielder Cord Sandberg is hitting a lofty .444 with a double, four walks and a steal in six games for Canberra. The 20-year-old was one of nine minor league Gold Glove Award winner as a member of the Lakewood BlueClaws this year. Sandberg was a 3rd round draft selection in 2013.

Through seven games for the Sydney Blue Sox, first baseman Rhys Hoskins is batting .240 with five doubles, a homer and five RBI. In a double header on Saturday, Hoskins went 3-for-6 with two doubles and a home run. The 22-year-old was a 5th round draft pick by the Phils last year. He batted .319 with 17 home runs and 90 RBI in 135 combined games for Class A Lakewood and Class A Advanced Clearwater this year.

Mexican Winter League-

For the Yaquis, right-handed pitcher Victor Arano has a 2-0 record with a 1.00 ERA in eight relief outings. He has struck out nine and walked none in nine innings of work. The 20-year-old had a 4-12 record with a 4.72 ERA in 24 games with Clearwater this year.

Arizona Fall League-

Catcher Andrew Knapp is batting .296 with eight RBI in six games. "The California Kid" has played catcher, first base and designated hitter for the Desert Dogs thus far. The 23-year-old was the Phils' second round draft selection in 2013. With Double-A Reading this year, Knapp sported a .360 average with 11 homers and 56 RBI in 55 games.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Crawford injured, replaced in Arizona Fall League by Stankiewicz

Top Phillies prospect J.P. Crawford will miss the remainder of the Arizona Fall League season after suffering a small tear in his left thumb, as first reported by CSN's Jim Salisbury.

Crawford, who was the Phillies top draft selection in 2013 (16th overall), had gone 3-for-20 (.150 average) in five games with Glendale in the AFL this month.

The 20-year-old shortstop missed time early in the 2015 season with an oblique strain.

In a season split between Class A Advanced Clearwater and Double-A Reading, the lefty batting Crawford sported a combined .288 batting average with a .793 OPS in 107 regular season games. He was also named a mid-season All-Star in the Eastern League with Reading and competed in the MLB All-Star Futures Game.

The ailment for Crawford does not require surgery and he is expected to be healthy for spring training.

Stankie
Drew Stankiewicz, image- Jay Floyd
Replacing Crawford with the Glendale Desert Dogs will be infielder Drew Stankiewicz, who was an 11th round draft pick by the Phillies out of Arizona State University in 2014.

The 22-year-old lefty spent time during the 2015 regular season with Clearwater and Class A Lakewood, posting a .283/.345/.368 slash line in 99 games. "Stankie", as he's referred to by teammates, splits his time on defense between shortstop and second base.

The son of former big league player and minor league coach Andy Stankiewicz, Drew attended Arizona Fall League games as a child.

"My excitement level is great," Stankiewicz expressed on Friday. "I remember watching these games when my dad was a coach back when I was little and (I) always wanted to play here."

The call to fill the void on the Glendale roster came as a surprise for Stankiewicz, but he wasn't just sitting at home on the couch getting rusty. He was already set to stay active on the diamond this autumn.

"The call came as a surprise because I was going to work out with Team USA and literally checking in and 10 minutes later I had to return all the stuff because of me playing here. I am ready for this opportunity as I have been working out regularly with my off-season program," the five-foot-nine 160-pounder said.

Stankiewicz understands the call for him to tackle this challenge was under less than ideal circumstances with a teammate getting hurt, but he's looking forward to the chance to play among some of the top prospects in baseball.

"I am honestly just really happy about my opportunity to play right now. Worked out great me being here in the off-season anyway. And (I'm) just looking to make the best of this opportunity and play hard."

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Dylan Cozens Interview Excerpts

Dylan Cozens, image- Jay Floyd
Recently, I spoke with Phillies outfield prospect Dylan Cozens about an injury keeping him from playing in the highly regarded Arizona Fall League (read that feature by clicking here). Below are some bonus quotes from my telephone interview with Cozens about his progress, his 2015 season, spending time last winter playing baseball in Australia and more.

- The 21-year-old talked about transitioning from the Class A Advanced Florida State League to the Double A Eastern League late in the season this year...

I felt like it was easy for me (in Double A). I felt like it was a lot easier up there to get a plan, make a plan against the pitcher. You kind of have an idea of how they are going to attack you. In High A, you don't really see that as much. Everybody's just kind of doing their own thing. I definitely felt like it was easier to get a plan. More pitchers were around the plate, which was good. Umpires were better, made it easier to lay off things, so I felt more confident laying off pitches and waiting to get my pitch. Also, I came up to more hitters' parks, which made things a lot better. I felt like it was very tough to get the ball out of the yard in the Florida State League. So, I just stopped trying to do it. I just focused on hitting line drives.

- Cozens spoke of who has helped him progress through the minor leagues thus far...

I've had some great coaches. I've had Greg Legg as my manager for two years in a row now. He's been awesome. He's helped me out a ton. This year, my hitting coach, Coach (Rob) Ducey was great. We worked on a couple different things and tried new things out. Different approaches, talking game, different things with my swing, stuff like that. He's a hell of a coach and our hitting coordinator (Andy) Tracy is always great. He's taught me a lot too. And then, going up to Double A, Dusty (Wathan) and Mickey Morandini were also great.. They were just supportive and kind of let me do my own thing. I was kind of on the right track. I've been blessed with some great Phillies coaches, that's for sure. And then, (Andy) Abad, the outfield coordinator has really helped my game in the outfield with my throwing and stuff, getting me to throw better as well. 

- I asked Cozens if he feels like he's a little underrated for his defense and speed...

I don't really pay attention to any of the ratings and all of that, but I do feel like I'm definitely one of the fastest and can get around just as good as anybody out there in the outfield. I feel like I've proved that just on the base paths and stealing bags and what not and laying down bunts. And in the outfield, I definitely need to make more of an emphasis on that and keep getting better.