Sunday, June 28, 2015

Huge night for Pointer helps Reading lock down win

Pointer- Tug
Pointer congratulated on a HR this year, image- Tug Haines
In what was likely the top performance by a Phillies minor leaguer this season, outfielder Brian Pointer blasted three home runs in four at bats while driving in five runs and drawing a walk in Reading's 8-5 road win over the Portland Sea Dogs on Saturday.

The 23-year-old Pointer got his big night rolling in the top of the 2nd inning, when he launched a solo shot off of Portland starting pitcher Heri Quevedo. Later in the contest, he connected for a two-run line drive home run to center field off of reliever Mike McCarthy. In the 8th inning, the lefty batter slammed another center field blast off of Miguel Celestino.

Confidence and comfort were big factors in the game, helping Pointer connect for the power trifecta, according to the six-foot tall 190-pounder.

"It was a pretty awesome feeling out there. I was definitely seeing the ball well and had a nice rhythm going on. That really seemed to help me out and got some pretty nice results," Pointer said via text message on Sunday.

Pointer, the Phillies' 28th round draft pick in 2010, had been an occasional contributor as the team's fourth outfielder until recently when an injury to center fielder Roman Quinn and the promotion of Aaron Altherr to Triple-A Lehigh Valley left more at bats available for the Nevada native.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Cornelius debuts in GCL, Nola & Crawford to represent Phils in Futures Game

milb logoGreat news for the last three top draft picks by the Phillies. On Thursday, 2015 first round draft choice Cornelius Randolph made his professional debut in the Gulf Coast League, recording a triple in his initial plate appearance.

Facing Pirates left-handed pitching prospect Nestor Oronel, the lefty batting Randolph, who was in the lineup as the team's designated hitter, mashed a three-bagger to right field, notching his first professional hit.

By the third inning, Cornelius had gone 2-for-2, as he singled in his second chance at the plate, this time against right-hander Richard Mitchell.

Randolph, who was taken with the 10th overall selection, was touted as a power hitter with remarkable bat speed coming into this year's amateur draft. The Georgia native turned 18 years old this month.

Also, the MLB All-Star Futures Game is slated to be played in Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park on July 12th and the Phillies' most highly ranked prospects will be among the top young talent in baseball taking the field for that annual exhibition. Righty pitcher Aaron Nola and shortstop J.P. Crawford have been named to the United States team.

Nola, who made his second start with the Triple-A IronPigs on Wednesday, sports a 9-3 record with a 1.91 ERA in 14 combined starts at two levels this season. The 22-year-old was selected 7th overall in last year's draft.

Crawford, who was recently promoted to Double-A Reading, has reached base via hit or walk in all 24 games he has played at that level. Overall at two levels this year, the 20-year-old lefty batter sports a .339/.440/.432 slash line in 45 total games. Crawford, the Phillies' 1st round pick from 2013, played in the Futures Game last year as well.

Minor Moves: Canelo & Hoskins promoted, Kingery & Martin to debut

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Malquin Canelo, image- Jay Floyd
In news released by the Class A BlueClaws, a pair of Sally League All-Stars has been promoted from Lakewood to Class A Advanced Clearwater. Shortstop Malquin Canelo, who was honored with the South Atlantic League All-Star Game Top Star Award this week, and slugging first baseman Rhys Hoskins will join the Threshers on Thursday. Replacing the pair will be Phillies 2nd round draft selection Scott Kingery and 4th round draft pick Kyle Martin.

Canelo went 2-for-3 with a double and a walk in the SAL All-Star Game this week after sporting a .311 average with five homers and 23 RBI in the first half of the season. Canelo was previously profiled on PhilliesNation.com. Readers can find that article by clicking here.

Hoskins, last year's 5th round pick, posted a league-best .322 average with nine home runs and 51 RBI in the first half for the 'Claws. The 22-year-old was featured on this week's edition of Phillies Nation TV. Check out that video profile by clicking here.

Kingery, a University of Arizona product, won the Pac-12 batting title in each of the past two seasons. The 21-year-old was honored as conference player of the year this year in his junior season.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

PNTV: Aaron Nola and Rhys Hoskins Features


The latest episode of Phillies Nation featured a profile on top pitching prospect Aaron Nola put together by Rudy Mezzy and another segment on slugging Class A Lakewood All-Star Rhys Hoskins which was produced by yours truly, Jay Floyd.  Big shout out to the gang at 20/20 Visual Media for the editing and video work on each piece.  Check out the media players below for those features and look for new episodes premiering each Tuesday at 6PM on The Comcast Network.



OF Altherr promoted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley

Aaron Altherr
Aaron Altherr, image- Jay Floyd
On Tuesday, outfielder Aaron Altherr was promoted from Double-A Reading to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The news was initially broken on Twitter by Altherr's father Frank late Monday night.

In 60 games this year for the Fightins, the 24-year-old righty batter posted a .293/.371/.480 slash line with eight stolen bases.

Last season, the six-foot-five 215-pounder appeared in two games with the big league Phillies. Altherr, who was a 9th round draft selection in 2009, was ranked as the Phillies' 12th best prospect this year by PhilliesNation.

In May, Altherr spoke about his approach this year compared the last season, describing himself as feeling more comfortable with his swing.

To make room on the IronPigs roster, the Phillies released Jayson Nix.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Interview Excerpts: Morandini on position players pitching, Reading clubhouse

Morandini, image- Jay Floyd
During the Double-A Reading Fightins' road series at Trenton last week, former Phillies All-Star second baseman and current minor league coach Mickey Morandini sat down for the Phillies Nation TV cameras.  During the interview, he spoke on various topics including Reading's recent home stand in which they played three consecutive extra inning games and were forced to use position players to pitch.  Morandini, who was part of the famed 1993 Phillies, also spoke of what type of clubhouse the Fightins have this season.  Read ahead for those interview excerpts. 

-On his club tallying 45 innings over a three-game stretch including an 18-inning affair against Altoona on June 11th in which first baseman Brock Stassi played 15 innings on defense, collected four hits and threw three scoreless innings to earn the win...

It's tough.  We played a stretch there where we went 18, 13 and 15 (innings) and the 18 inning game was long enough where we had to bring somebody in.  Brock pitched and got the win.  He went three innings, so we just didn't have anybody left to pitch.  All the relievers had been used either the day before or that game and we're not doing the developing when we have to bring a position player in.  We, as coaches, are always talking about it and we'd like to see some cap put on it.  Maybe like a 12 inning cap in a minor league game just to keep the development going where you don't have to use position players to pitch or you don't have to throw a reliever three days in a row or whatever it may be.

-Speaking about how it's fun for the players, but sort of a head ache for the coaches to have position players pitching...

It is fun for the kids to get into game.  I know Brock pitched in college and he was pretty successful.  So, when he got on the mound, he had an idea of what to do.  But, I think in those three games, six or seven position players had to pitch on both teams and that's not something you want to do.  You don't want one of your position players go in and try to overdo it and come up with some sort of arm problems or something like that, so I think the minor league brass, who ever's responsible for the rules and things, needs to really take a hard look at that and possibly cap games and have a certain innings limit. 

-Expanding on if the appropriate decision makers have considered an innings limit on minor league games...

I honestly don't know the answer to that question.  I hope it's been thrown around a little bit.  I hope when they see that- "Oh my God!  This team played 45 innings in three days and had to use three position players to pitch," that at least it's being talked about.  I don't see a reason why there can't be a tie in the minor leagues.  They're really not going to affect anything really.  So, I hope it's being talked about a little bit.  I hope it doesn't come down to position players start getting hurt before they start making decisions and changing their minds and coming up with something to alleviate having to throw position players in a game.

-Sharing thoughts on what the Reading clubhouse is like and who stands out as having potential to be a leader at higher levels...

This clubhouse...I've been in the minor leagues, this is my fifth year, and this is the most tight clubhouse that I've been a part of.  I mean, they really get along real well.  They pull for each other.  (Cam) Perkins is great in the clubhouse.  Stassi is great in the clubhouse.  I think J.P. (Crawford) is learning to be good in the clubhouse.  But, obviously, he's young and has only been in the system for a (couple) years.  But those three stand out to be from the position player standpoint.  And they're all good.  They really are.  They pull for each other.  They're tight knit.  They don't point fingers and things like that.  So, it's been a real good and fun group to work with.  They come to work, they get their business done and they play hard every day. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Boy singing anthem not interested in singing anthem

Prior to Thursday's Double-A Reading Fightins game at Trenton, home of the Yankees' affiliate the Thunder, I noticed a youngster among a group of about a few dozen children from a local school singing the national anthem.  Among the crowd, there was one kid who wasn't quite interested in singing at all.  He caught my attention while he was glancing backward toward the stadium's video board and not participating with his classmates, who were positioned with him on the field.  After a few lines, I picked up my camera to capture video of the boy who seemed considerably impressed with his status in the moment.  Have a look at that fairly cute video clip below.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Morgan earns promotion to fill rotation void

The Phillies announced on Friday that lefty pitcher Adam Morgan will be promoted to the big league club and fill the void left by Jerome Williams in the starting rotation on Sunday.
Morgan, 25, was the Phillies' 3rd round draft selection in 2011 out of Alabama. The six-foot-one 195-pounder has a 0-6 record along with a 4.74 ERA and a .298 batting average against in 13 starts for the Triple-A IronPigs this season. He missed all of the 2014 regular season following shoulder surgery.

The right-handed Williams left his start on Tuesday with a left hamstring strain and was placed on the disabled list as a result. In 14 starts for the Phillies this season, the 33-year-old sports a 3-7 record along with a 6.43 ERA.

Earlier this season, Phillies Nation profiled Morgan on television. Check out the media player below for that segment.



This post was originally published on Phillies Nation.

PhoulBallz Interview: Reading pitching coach Dave Lundquist talks Eflin, Biddle, Nola, more

During the Double-A Reading Fightins' recent road series in Trenton, I sat down with the team's pitching coach Dave Lundquist to chat about his pitching staff. "Lundy", who pitched in the big leagues with the White Sox and the Padres, is in his eight season coaching in the Phillies' organization after spending three years in the Pirates' system.

Lundquist spoke about his group of well-touted starting pitchers including specific comments on Zach Eflin, Jesse Biddle and recently promoted righty Aaron Nola. He also shared some thoughts on his bullpen hurlers and how a player like Tyler Knigge, who gets moved up and down between levels could be impacted by the movement, among other things.

Read ahead for that full interview...

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Lively, image- Jay Floyd
-We talked back in April about the group of five starters you entered the season with that included Tom Windle, Jesse Biddle, Zach Eflin and Ben Lively. Almost halfway into the season, what can you share about that group?

I think what we talked about early still is true. They're a very talented group. They are a group of guys that have really good stuff and they're still learning situational pitching. You know, but as a group, they're all getting better. Command, breaking stuff, holding runners, every thing. All around I feel pretty good with what they're all doing.

-How about your bullpen? You've got a couple guys that can crank it up on the radar gun and things? Is there anyone among that group who has stood out?

Well, (Stephen) Shackleford has been very good closing games for us. (Tyler) Knigge was very good his last outing, very aggressive. More aggressive than I've seen him in a few years. Colton Murray's done a nice job attacking hitters with a pretty good secondary pitch to finish hitters. I don't want to miss anybody, but there's been a lot of good with the whole staff.

Phillies Nation Episode 12: Giles, Tocci and Palladino's

On the latest edition of Phillies Nation, Pat and Corey discuss the latest on Aaron Nola, Maikel Franco as well as Jonathan Papelbon and chat about the Phils' early round draft picks. Also on the program, Ryann talks with Phillies reliever Kenny Giles, Jay catches up with outfield prospect Carlos Tocci and Natalie enjoys some unique tailgating food at Palladino's in Philadelphia.

Check out this week's episode in the media player below and look for new episodes premiering each Tuesday at 6PM on The Comcast SportsNet.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Buchanan returns to the mound in Clearwater

In his first action facing hitters since he was sidelined with a severe right ankle sprain in an outing for the Triple-A IronPigs in mid-May, right-hander David Buchanan looked good on the mound in an exhibition with the Phillies' extended spring training team on Thursday.

According to Jim Peyton of PhuturePhillies.com, who was present for the outing, the 26-year-old hurler faced 14 batters, retiring 13 of them and looked good moving around on defense.

Screenshot_2015-06-18-18-20-41_1Buchanan, who tallied a 0-5 record with an 8.76 ERA in five starts with the big league team and went 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in three starts for Lehigh Valley this year, posted images (featured to the left) of his ankle in various stages of the injury this week on Instagram.

Seeing action in that same game was righty hurler Shane Watson, who is nearing a return to full-season club action following his second shoulder surgery last year.

Watson, who stands six-foot-four and is up to 240 pounds, threw five scoreless innings, notched one strike out, walked one and gave up three hits. He ranged 88-94 MPH with his fastball.

The Phils' top pick in 2012 (40th overall) expects to make one more start with the rookie level Gulf Coast League team next week prior to being activated for either Class A Lakewood or Class A Advanced Clearwater.

PhoulBallz Interview: RHP Prospect Zach Eflin

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Zach Eflin, image- Jay Floyd
Acquired last off-season from the Dodgers in the trade for Jimmy Rollins, righty pitcher Zach Eflin has made an impact this season for his new organization. As part of the highly touted Double-A Reading Fightins' rotation, Eflin has posted a 4-4 record along with a 2.99 ERA in 12 starts.

Following his start against Trenton on Wednesday, a 6-5 loss, Eflin spoke about his outing, his pitch repertoire, his reaction to the trade that brought him to the Phillies and more. Read ahead for that interview.

-You went six innings, allowed four runs, one earned, took the loss. Talk about your outing against the Thunder...

I was having trouble keeping the ball down, obviously. It felt like they weren't missing the ball and I gotta do a better job of keeping the ball down and mixing in my off-speeds for strikes. I was cutting them, I was pushing them a little bit and just, it was a day to throw as many strikes as I could and I felt like I did a somewhat of a good job of throwing strikes. I just needed to throw my pitches with more conviction.

-What pitch are you finding the most success with this year and what is the full repertoire?

This year I think I am having the most success with my two-seam. Being able to get ground balls when I need them. And I have a four-seam, change up and slider though. Definitely my fastball has been the best this year. I've been able to locate it pretty decently throughout the year. I just struggled a little bit with it tonight.

-After a great start to your season, in which you posted a 1.14 ERA through your first four starts, the results have cooled off a bit. Is there any level of frustration that can build for you, when the numbers take a dip?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Biddle cruises close to home as Reading downs Trenton

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Jesse Biddle, image- Jay Floyd
TRENTON, NJ- Jesse Biddle thrived in his home away from home to turn in a strong outing and help the Reading Fightins (34-29) lock down an 8-2 win in their series opener against the Trenton Thunder (35-29) on Tuesday night.

The left-hander threw 7 2/3 innings, allowed two runs, one of those earned, while striking out four and walking one to notch a win and help move his team within a half game of the second place Thunder and 1 1/2 games behind the division leading New Britain Rock Cats in the Double-A Eastern League Eastern division.

Biddle, the Phillies' first round draft choice from 2010, is from nearby Philadelphia and has a following of loved ones whenever he takes the mound at Trenton's Arm & Hammer Park.

"Every time I come here, the first thing I do is write names down on the pass list," Biddle said with a smile. "It's a lot of fun to have people come to the game and cheer me on, especially when we're on the road. That's definitely a good feeling. I can't thank the people in my life enough for everything they do for me."

The effort by Biddle took his season record to 6-1 and brought his ERA to a solid 3.90.

"This was the best outing of the year for Jesse. Command was there, breaking ball, slider, he was throwing everything for strikes," said interim team manager Mickey Morandini, who is filling in for vacationing skipper Dusty Wathan.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Catcher Knapp leads group of Threshers to FSL All-Star Game

Andrew Knapp
Andrew Knapp, image- Jay Floyd
Last week the Florida State League announced the rosters for its 54th annual All-Star Game with five Phillies prospects being honored. Leading the way among the group that will represent Clearwater is standout catcher Andrew Knapp.

The switch-hitting Knapp was the Phillies' second round draft selection in 2013 out of California. With the Class A Advanced Threshers this season, the 23-year-old has a .258 average with 10 doubles, three triples, two home runs and 28 RBI in 57 games.

He missed a portion of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Following a disappointing stretch in which he tallied a .157/.222/.205 slash line initially in 24 games at Clearwater, Knapp joined the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws and got things back on track. In 75 games with the 'Claws, Knapp posted a .290 average with five homers and 25 RBI.

The six-foot-one 190-pounder ranked 25th on the organization's prospect ranking prior to this season, according to Phillies Nation.

Knowing now that has made improvements with a bat in his hands, Knapp, who is considered a strong defender, is looking to take strides in the other half of his game as well.

"As far as my progress, (the coaches) just want me to keep playing and learning. I have been learning a lot as far as calling a game and controlling a pitching staff goes, as well as leading on an offensive level as well," Knapp said.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Top pitching prospect Nola promoted to Triple-A

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Aaron Nola, image- Jay Floyd
Following Sunday's loss in extra inning to the Pirates, the Phillies announced that top pitching prospect Aaron Nola has been promoted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Thus far this season with Double-A Reading, the right-hander posted a 7-3 record with a 1.88 ERA while striking out 59 batters and walking nine in 76 2/3 innings.

Just over a year ago, the 22-year-old was the Phillies' first round draft choice (7th overall) out of LSU where he tallied an 11-1 record along with a 1.47 ERA and a 10.37 K/9 mark in 16 starts in his junior season.

After signing his first pro deal, Nola made his professional debut as a member of the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers on June 23rd, taking a loss by allowing four earned runs in 2 1/3 innings. Over his following five starts, Nola let up seven earned runs in 24 innings (2.63 ERA) and earned a promotion to Double-A.

As a member of Reading's rotation late last season, Nola would post a 2-0 record and a 2.63 ERA in five games.

Nola entered the 2015 season ranked as the Phillies' number 2 prospect by Phillies Nation.  He is expected to make his IronPigs debut on Thursday in Allentown, when the team hosts Buffalo.

Check out the media player below for a PN video feature on Nola.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Quinn leaves game for Reading with leg injury

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Roman Quinn, image- Jay Floyd
Early in a game that turned into a disappointing extra-inning loss for the Double-A Reading Fightins, the team lost its lead-off man to an apparent upper leg injury.

Center fielder Roman Quinn was en route to first base, running out his second hit of the night in the bottom of the second inning in Friday's contest against Akron, when he began clutching his upper left leg. Quinn could not put weight on the leg and was assisted off the field, according to Reading Eagle reporter Mike Drago, who also updated that the team's manager Dusty Wathan did not provide any official word on the ailment following the game.

The 22-year-old, who was the Phillies' second round draft pick in 2011, sports a .306 batting average with four home runs, 15 RBI and 28 stolen bases in 57 games for the Fightins this season.

Quinn, a speedy Florida native, missed a portion of last season following off-season surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon on his right leg.

Phillies Nation ranked Quinn as the number 4 prospect in the Phils' organization this year.

Reading lost the contest by a score of 12-11 in 12 innings after blowing a five-run lead in the 9th inning.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Series Preview: Phillies at Pirates, June 12-14

phils logoDespite being known across baseball as "the lowly Phillies", the team heads across state to take on the Pirates in an effort to change their recent poor luck with tacking on digits in the win column.

With a record of 22-39 and losers of 13 of their last 16 games, the Phillies have a major league worst .361 winning percentage. Their seven road wins are fewest of any big league team by a considerable margin as well. Meanwhile, the Pirates (32-27) , who have been to the National League wild card play-in game in each of the past two seasons, are trying to make their way in a tough NL Central.

In game 1 of the three-game set, the Phils will send former Pirate Kevin Correia to the mound to make his debut with his new club. Correia last pitched in the majors with the Dodgers last August. He'll be opposed by Pirates lefty Jeff Locke, who is a terrific performer against the Phils in his career.

The two clubs split their four-games series in Philadelphia last month.

Friday, 7:05PM. Kevin Correia (0-1, 3.58 ERA in six starts for Triple-A Sacramento) vs. Jeff Locke (3-3, 5.37 ERA). The 34-year-old Correia exercised the opt-out clause in his contract with the Giants recently and was quickly signed by the Phils. In 30 career regular season starts at PNC Park, the right-handed Correia sports an 11-11 record along with a 5.09 ERA. Correia posted a 7.46 ERA in 13 big league outings after the All-Star break last season. His 17 losses in the big leagues last year were second only to A.J. Burnett's 18. In four career starts against the Phillies, Locke has tallied a 4-0 record along with a 1.35 ERA and a .163 batting average against. The left-handed Locke has a 3.52 ERA in six home starts this year. Ben Revere is 1-for-11 (.091 avg) in his career against Locke.

Imhof returns from injury, notches win for Threshers

Matt Imhof
Matt Imhof, image- Jay Floyd
On Thursday night, lefty pitcher Matt Imhof returned to action, after eight weeks on the shelf with a bicep strain, to notch the win for the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers.

In five innings of work against Bradenton (Pirates affiliate), the 21-year-old tossed five strong innings, allowing one earned run on five hits while striking out four and walking two. It was Imhof's first start for the Threshers since April 14th.

Fresh off a rehab appearance with the Phillies' extended spring training club last weekend in which he threw five innings, Imhof, who was the Phillies' second round draft selection a year ago, took the mound, throwing all three of his pitches with confidence and held nothing back, feeding off the excitement of being back on the mound for a game that counts in the standings.

"It was good to get back out there. When you're on rehab for seven weeks, or whatever it was, you get a little pent up, so I think there was an adrenaline rush. It's almost like you're starting the season all over again. I had a lot of adrenaline, a lot of energy and it was good to get back out there and get the win," Imhof said over the phone from Florida on Friday.

While the results were good, the six-foot-five 220-pounder asserted that his pitches aren't as refined as they'll be after he's able to get things ironed out and knock any proverbial rust completely off in his upcoming outings.

"As far as how (my pitches) feel, they don't all feel quite top form," Imhof confided. "The curve ball was a little bit loopier last night and I didn't have a great feel for my change up, but I'm throwing everything to the best of my ability. Just trying to get the feel still."

Outfielder Kelly Dugan, who has been sidelined since spring training with a foot injury, was activated for the Threshers on Thursday as well. Imhof and Dugan spent time together in recent weeks, while the two rehabbed from their injuries.

"I've been rehabbing with Dugan and I'm excited to play with him," Imhof stated. "We had a good little rehab group going on and that definitely made the time (on the sideline) a little easier."

In Thursday's game, Dugan did not play, but outfielder Aaron Brown (3rd round pick, 2014) paced the offense with a 2-run homer, helping to lock down Clearwater's 4-2 victory over the Marauders.

On the season, Imhof's record is 2-1 and he has tallied a 1.80 ERA with a .260 batting average against in three starts for the Threshers.

Bonus quotes from Imhof...

Asked about how his pitch count and innings cap may increase as he pitches in more games-

"They honestly don't tell me stuff like that. It's kind of a game by game basis. Last night I was on a five inning/75 pitch count limit and I think I went five and threw 80. Hopefully, next week, I get to go a little farther. You know, I'd like to go deeper into games and help my team win. So, hopefully, next week I get to go a little farther, but that's not for me to decide."

Expanding on how he'll get a better feel for things as the games go on and his pitch velocity-

"I don't know where my velocity was last night, but I know it's starting to come back to where it was earlier in the year. I think if I'm not mistaken, I topped out at 91 last night. The curve ball has been sharper than it was in extended (spring training). Yesterday I was having trouble finding it, but I got it later in the game. The change up, I'm still working on it. It has its good days and bad days. But, you need three pitches as you go up in the levels. You can't get away with two pitches, unless you're trying to be a reliever. So, I'm definitely going to need three pitches. I'll continue to work on the change up. I just need to throw it. I'm comfortable with everything, but I haven't thrown it a ton in a game, but I really gotta get a feel for it in game action and the only way I'm going to do that is to go out there and throw it more often. But, everything progressed nicely and I'm happy with where I was last night."

More thoughts on being out of action-

"Anytime you're away from your team it wears on you a little bit, especially when you're rehabbing. You do your rehab 8 (AM) to 12 (PM), so 10 hours of my day, I didn't really do that much, so I'd try to come to as many Threshers games as I could. But, you just feel like you're not contributing, you get all pent up especially when you start to feel healthy and you want to get back out there."

"The frustration is definitely the hardest part to deal with."

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Day 3 Phillies Draft (more than just nepotism!) Notes

14-0704_MLB Draft Logo-2015Much attention from the Phillies' third day of the 2015 first-year player draft was given to nepotism. With the team selecting relatives of its general manager, its television play-by-play man as well as the sons of two current minor league coaches, the coverage made sense. There were, however, other players worth highlighting.

With their initial pick of Wednesday's final day of the draft, the Phillies selected 19-year-old catcher Edgar Cabral, a JuCo player out of Mt. San Antonio College in the 11th round. The righty batter posted a .331 average with five home runs and 32 RBI in 31 games this season, according to the Mt. SAC web site. The five-foot-11 205-pounder is said to show a lot of strength, which the Phils were high on.

Righty pitcher Skylar Hunter was the Phils' 11th round choice. The 21-year-old was a closer for The Citadel, where he holds the team and conference saves records. As a junior this year, the six-foot-one 205-pounder tossed 53 innings with the Bulldogs, notching 13 saves while striking out 59 and sporting an ERA of 3.74. Hunter was a catcher in high school and had not pitched much before college.

In the 13th round, the Phils selected center fielder Zach Coppola, who is touted for his speed and ranks second all-time in steals for San Diego State University. In 55 games as a junior this year, the lefty-hitting 21-year-old sported a team-leading .373 batting average with six doubles and a triple while also converting 39 of 39 stolen base attempts.

The Phils took Penn catcher Austin Bossart in the 14th round. A strong defender, the 21-year-old sported a gleaming 1.000 fielding percentage in 37 games this year while also performing very well with the bat. The 21-year-old posted a team-best .357 batting average with four homers and 27 RBI.

Duke closer Ken Koplove was the Phils' 17th round pick. His fastball clocks in the low-90's and he touts a high-potential change up. This year for the Blue Devils, the 21-year-old right-hander notched a 1-2 record with 11 saves, a 2.13 ERA and a 13.15 K/9 mark in 21 appearances. Koplove, a Philadelphia native, also played shortstop at Duke, but he'll move forward on the mound in the pro ranks. His older brother Mike, a UDel product, played in the big leagues for seven seasons.

In the 18th round, the Phils took Turnersville, NJ native Greg Brodzinski. The righty batting catcher grew up as a Phillies fan and will turn 24 years old next month.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Hoskins, Tocci, three other BlueClaws honored as Sally League All-Stars

LAKEWOOD, NJ- Five Phillies prospects, including top performers Carlos Tocci and Rhys Hoskins will represent the Lakewood BlueClaws in the Class A South Atlantic League All-Star game in Asheville, NC on June 23rd.

Tocci, a 19-year-old center fielder, is batting .324 with a home run, 23 RBI and 13 stolen bases in 54 games with Lakewood.

According to a press release from the BlueClaws, Tocci received more votes than any other player in the SAL, marking the second straight year that the team has had the leading vote-getter, following shortstop J.P. Crawford in 2014.

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Rhys Hoskin, image- Jay Floyd
Last year's 5th round draft pick by the Phillies, Hoskins, has a league leading .335 batting average with seven home runs and 40 RBI.

The 22-year-old first baseman was recently honored as the Phillies' minor league player of the month for May, after posting a .342 average with two homers and 23 RBI in 29 games. The righty batting slugger has been a bit reserved in regards to that honor, stating that he doesn't want to let the organizational recognition consume his thoughts, but expressed enthusiasm on what it would mean to be able to head to the All-Star Game with his teammates.

"It'll be awesome for the fans. It'll be awesome for the team in general," Hoskins stated. "Being recognized for the hard work that we've been putting in these last couple months is something that's pretty special.

Lakewood's hitting coach Nelson Prada feels the honor to be an All-Star is a very big deal.

"To be one of the best in the league, it's always got to be an honor," Prada said. "You've got to be proud, because you don't have the chance to go every year. You know...a lot of times, you don't have a good year every year in this game. I think they're very proud about. And they talk about it and I think when they go, they're going to have fun over there."

Also joining the Tocci and Hoskins at the SAL All-Star Game will be shortstop Malquin Canelo as well as relief pitchers Alexis Rivero and Joey DeNato.

Canelo, 20, is batting .302 with two home runs, 11 RBI and eight stolen bases as the BlueClaws' lead-off man.

Rivero, a 20-year-old righty, has a 2-0 record with six saves and a 2.35 ERA in 17 relief appearances.

DeNato, 23, was the Phils' 19th round pick a year ago. In 17 games, the left-hander sports a 2-1 record with a 1.46 ERA.

Hoskins, Tocci, and Canelo are all slated to start for the Northern Division squad  in less than two weeks and each could be in line for promotions following the annual exhibition.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Day 2 Phillies draft notes

14-0704_MLB Draft Logo-2015With their first pick on Tuesday, the Phillies took high school shortstop Luke Williams out of California. The 18-year-old was selected 83rd overall.

In his senior season this year, the six-foot-one 185-pounder sported a .315 batting average with four homers, 19 RBI and 26 stolen bases. He is rated as a plus runner and hits to all fields. Williams could remain as a shortstop and is said to have the tools to man center field. An athletic youngster, he also was a varsity wide receiver at Dana Hills High School.

Williams, a righty batter, is committed to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, the same school that produced last year's second round pick Matt Imhof.

The Phils took Kyle Martin in the 4th round (114th overall) out of South Carolina. As a senior this year with the Gamecocks, the lefty batting first baseman notched a .350 average with 14 homers and 56 RBI in 57 games. Additionally, he earned first-team All-SEC honors and was a second team All-American with his impressinve 1.090 OPS. Martin was drafted by the Angels last year, but chose not to sign.

In the 5th round (144th overall), the Phillies chose Bailey Falter, a left-handed pitcher out of Chino Hills High School in California. The six-foot-four 175-pounder posted a 6-2 record with a 1.20 ERA in 75 2/3 innings this season, notching 97 strike outs and walking just 11 along the way.

Next was Tyler Gilbert another left-handed pitcher in the 6th round (174th overall). At USC as a 21-year-old junior this year, the six-foot-three 190-pounder sported a 5-2 record with a 2.79 ERA and an 8.78 K/9 mark in 22 games (six starts).

Phils draft second baseman Scott Kingery in 2nd round

14-0704_MLB Draft Logo-2015With their second pick in the 2015 MLB amateur draft (48th overall), the Phillies selected righty batting second baseman Scott Kingery on Monday night. A talented hitter, the five-foot-10 180-pounder was near the top of the NCAA in batting average for much of the season.

Remarkably, Kingery, who was a walk-on as a freshman, was named Pac-12 Player of the Year. This year in his junior season, the 21-year-old posted a .392/.423/.561 slash line while driving in 36 runs and stealing 11 bases in 54 games.

In three seasons with the Wildcats, Kingery batted .351 while driving in 80 runs and stealing 38 bases in 149 games.

Kingery is said to have a short stroke with an ability to spray line drives to all fields. Scouts have him profiling as a top-of-the-order contributor. Considerable speed is also said to be a key tool for the Phoenix native.

Defensively, the youngster played the majority of his sophomore season in center field and was a shortstop in high school, but the Phillies seem comfortable keeping him at second base going forward.

Earlier Monday evening, the Phillies selected high school shortstop Cornelius Randolph with the 10th overall selection.

The draft is slated continue Tuesday with coverage beginning at 12:30 Eastern on MLB.com with rounds three through 10. The draft will conclude Wednesday with rounds 11 through 40.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Phillies select Cornelius Randolph with 10th overall draft pick

With the 10th overall pick in this year's MLB amateur draft, the Phillies chose Cornelius Randolph, a shortstop with Griffin High School in Georgia.

Listed at five-foot-11, 205 pounds, Randolph turned 18-year-old just last week. 

From MLB.com's draft tracker:

Griffin (Ga.) High has produced a pair of big league infielders in Jeff Treadway and Tim Beckham, and it may have a third on the way in Randolph. He's Griffin's best prospect since Beckham and profiles as more of an impact hitter than the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 Draft has become. Randolph has the tools and approach to hit for power and average. He offers bat speed, strength and patience from the left side of the plate. He uses the entire field and has better pitch recognition than most high schoolers. Currently a shortstop, Randolph will move to a less challenging position at the next level. The Clemson recruit has good hands but lacks the quickness to play in the middle infield. His arm hasn't been as strong this spring, when he has dealt with biceps tendinitis, but it and his bat would profile well at third base.

According to reports, the Phillies' director of amateur scouting Johnny Almaraz has Randolph pegged to move to left field should he sign once he signs with the organization.

This year marks just the second time since 2001 that the Phils picked within the top 10 spots in the opening round.  Last year with the 7th pick, the team drafted righty pitcher Aaron Nola, out of LSU.

Footage of Randolph at the plate can be seen in the video player below.


PhoulBallz Interview: Lakewood 3B Derek Campbell

D Campbell4
Derek Campbell, image- Jay Floyd
Lakewood infielder Derek Campbell hasn't hit his stride yet this season with the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws. Struggling to bust out offensively (.188 average, one HR, 18 RBI in 43 games), the 23-year-old is focused on helping the team win before anything else.

Playing mostly third base for the BlueClaws, Campbell took some time recently to offer his thoughts on his draft experience last year, on the even of the anniversary of being drafted last year out of UC Berkeley, and playing for manager Shawn Williams among other things.

Read ahead for those quotes from Derek...

-With the draft coming up this week, talk about what your draft experience was like last year.

It was just, I hung out with my family and my friends. I kind of waited, like everyone else does. And I celebrated, not to much, but I was ready for that next step in my life, so it was a fun time.

-How did you approach signing your first pro contract? Was there any delay or negotiating that went on?

I signed pretty quick, 'cause I was a senior and I had graduated and that was what was next to come, was to go play professional baseball. So, I was eager to sign and I was anxious to get to where ever they were going to send me right away.

-Where did you go first? Straight to Williamsport to begin the short-season A level season?

I first went to Clearwater to do all the physicals and then I went to Williamsport.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

BlueClaws Batting Practice Footage: Canelo, Tocci, Hoskins, Tromp

During a recent trip to Lakewood's FirstEnergy Park, I shot some video footage of several BlueClaws batters taking pregame practice cuts.

Footage includes the clips below of shortstop Malquin Canelo, outfielder Carlos Tocci, first baseman Rhys Hoskins and outfielder Jiandido Tromp.

Canelo, 20, is batting .308 and has done an excellent job as the BlueClaws' lead-off man (.357/.419/.488 slash line when leading off an inning) this season.  Have a look at the five-foot-ten 156-pounder's stroke in the video player below.




Tocci, a 19-year-old, has a .320 average with an .800 OPS and 12 stolen bases in 52 games for the BlueClaws this year.  The promising Venezuelan is a lock to represent Lakewood with the Sally League All-Star game later this month.  Check out footage of Tocci's swing in the video player below.



Hoskins, 22, was the Phillies' 5th round draft selection last year.  The six-foot-four 225-pounder's .337 batting average is tops in the South Atlantic League.  He also leads the league in OPS with a .945 mark. See Hoskins in the media player below.



The 21-year-old Tromp has struggled at times this year, but remains a player whose coaches are confident in his abilities.  Overall in 38 games, the Aruba native is batting .174 with three doubles, three triples and eight RBI.  Have a look at Tromp in the cage in the media player below.




Also, here's some bonus footage of Gustavo Martinez...



And footage of catcher Deivi Grullon is featured below...


Friday, June 5, 2015

Minor League Notebook: Zier, Hockenberry, Mayorga, Imhof, Dugan, Lino, more

From the bottom of the developmental ranks to the upper levels here's all the latest this week...

At the Class A level for the Lakewood BlueClaws, as I reported on Twitter on Thursday, infielder Tim Zier is out for the year after undergoing season-ending left knee surgery on Monday. The San Diego State product was injured during pre-game fundamentals/infield work recently. Zier, last year's 21st round draft pick, was batting .264 with two RBI in 15 games with the BlueClaws this year.

Reliever Matt Hockenberry, a Temple product, returned from the disabled list on Thursday, after a stint on the disabled list with a right arm strain. In 11 appearances this season, the 23-year-old sports a 1-0 record with six saves, a 1.06 ERA and a .148 batting average against.

Outfielder Jiandido Tromp return to action this week as well, after being on the disabled list with a hamstring strain. The 21-year-old Aruba native is batting .183 with three doubles, three triples and eight RBI in 35 games this year.

With the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers, catcher Jose Mayorga was added to the roster on Thursday after a short period with Lakewood and after a paperwork move to transition him to the extended spring training roster, in the meantime, just a few days earlier. I asked Lakewood manager Shawn Williams if that sort of movement, which Mayorga was subjected to last season as well, can be disruptive or discouraging to a player.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Threshers Quotables: Mora, Pullin and Leiter talk successful seasons

After their top offensive contributor J.P. Crawford was promoted this week, some fans may have wondered which remaining players could be catalysts for the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers lineup going forward. Middle infielder Angelo Mora now stands as the team's leading hitter with a .350 average while outfielder Andrew Pullin seems to be the club's most consistent batter, as he's tied for the team lead in hits (51) and total bases (72).

I heard from both offensive stars this week to gain some insight on their success at the plate and also got righty pitcher Mark Leiter Jr. to speak about his recent impressive efforts on the mound. Read ahead for those quotes.

Angelo Mora with Lakewood in 2013, image- Jay Floyd
-Mora, who is a 22-year-old Dominican Republic native, spoke on if players at higher levels inspire him to achieve bigger things and how his coaches on the field, and one off the field, have helped him...


"Yes, they inspire many baseball players.  And the coaches are very good and I also ask God to help me to keep working hard and keep hustling and keep a positive mind."

-With the help of a translator, Mora also shared some thoughts on the biggest difference for him this year, as his batting average has taken a considerable jump above the .227 mark he posted at the same level last year...

"The most important factor is to be on the ball.  If the ball is a strike, I concentrate on hitting it and put the ball in play no matter were it goes as long as you get a hit."

-Pullin, a 21-year-old 5th round draft pick from 2012, spoke about making the switch to the outfield, where he played in his youth, after spending two seasons in the pro ranks at second base...

"I made the switch during instructional league last fall. The coordinators talked to me about moving out there.

I was fine with the switch. It doesn't really matter to me if I'm playing infield or outfield as long as I'm playing. I'm pretty comfortable in the outfield because I played it my whole life."

-Pullin also spoke about his success and consistency for the Threshers...

"I feel like the season is going well. I feel like I have made good progress in the outfield from when I first started. It's feeling more natural.  Everything about my game is the still the same. The only thing that has changed is my position." 

-Leiter, who was a 22nd round draft pick out of NJIT two years ago, has been sharp since joining the Threshers' starting rotation. In six games since moving out of the bullpen, the 24-year-old has a 2-1 record with a 1.73 ERA and a .190 batting average against. Leiter offered some remarks about his recent output, giving credit to his battery mate...

"It's been a lot of fun.  Very happy with how things have gone.  Just trying to continue it and find ways to keep improving.  It's a great group of guys down here and (catcher Andrew) Knapp has done a great job calling and controlling the games.  That helps make you feel comfortable on the mound." 

-Leiter also spoke about the other pitchers on the club and how they feed off of one another...

We have a really, really good pitching staff down here and it's great to have that type of competition amongst each other.  Keeps everyone focused and pushing each other. 

With a 27-26 record, the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers sit in second place, five games back in the Florida State League North Division.