Sunday, January 31, 2016

Prospect Nation 2016: #7 OF Cornelius Randolph

randolph- betsy
Randolph, image- Baseball Betsy
Selected with the 10th overall pick in last year's draft as a shortstop out of Griffin High School in Georgia, Cornelius Randolph quickly placed among the Phillies' top prospect rankings across many outlets.

In his senior season, Randolph drew loads of attention from pro clubs, posting great offensive numbers with a .533 average, seven home runs, 33 RBI and a 1.631 OPS in 26 games, leading his team into the state tournament.

Listed at five-foot-11, 205-pounds, the 18-year-old had a tremendous professional debut in 2015, posting a .302/.425/.442 slash line in 53 games for the rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies.

Touted by scouting director Johnny Almaraz as the top high school bat in the country last year, the Phillies were very happy with their selection. Armed with a quick bat, the lefty batting Randolph has the ability to hit for average as well as power. A Clemson recruit out of high school, he is described as a patient hitter that has a good approach at the plate.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Biddle DFA'd to make room for new addition

Biddle, image- Jay Floyd

The Phillies made a move on Friday removing 2010 top draft choice Jesse Biddle from the team's 40-man roster in favor of lefty pitcher Bobby LaFromboise, who was claimed off waivers from the Angels.

It's not a stunning move that the Phils designated the 24-year-old for assignment, as he underwent Tommy John surgery this off-season and is expected to miss the entirety of the 2016 campaign. With that down time in mind, it isn't very likely that another team will claim him.

Biddle, a lefty, had a fair season last year, splitting time with Double-A Reading the Triple-A Lehigh Valley. In 24 starts, he posted a 9-8 record with a 4.95 ERA and a .295 batting average against. Control had been an issue for Biddle in recent seasons, issuing 4.6 free passes per nine innings for his 2014 and 2015 campaigns.

Injuries have become a concern for the Philadelphia native as well. Aside from the elbow issue he is currently dealing with, Biddle has also been sidelined with a concussion as well as a separate elbow strain and he faced a serious battle with whooping cough all within the past couple years.

It is worth noting that players on the 60-day disabled list don't "clog up" a spot on a team's 40-man roster, as there are exceptions to make additions in place of such players, as the Phillies did with Cliff Lee and Jonathan Pettibone last season. So, the Phillies could have certainly found a way for Biddle to remain untouched. This could be a bit of evidence of the new front office's vision going forward and that it may not include Biddle.

LaFromboise was originally an 8th round draft selection in 2008 by Seattle. In 27 big league appearances, the 29-year-old sported a 0-1 record with a 3.63 ERA along with a 9.3 K/9 mark.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Prospect Nation 2016: #8 RHP Zach Eflin

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Zach Eflin, image- Jay Floyd
Right-hander Zach Eflin was the key target when the Phillies traded away former National League MVP Jimmy Rollins last off-season. With a solid repertoire and a proven track record of being a strike thrower, the 21-year-old is one of the most promising hurlers in the system.

Selected with the 33rd overall pick in the 2012 draft by San Diego out of Hagerty High School in FL, Eflin made his professional debut that same year as a member of the rookie level Arizona League Padres. He would post a 0-1 record with a 7.71 ERA in four games (three starts) as an 18-year-old.

After making minimal impact upon his minor league debut, Eflin came back strong in 2013, tallying a 7-6 record along with a 2.73 ERA, a .239 batting average against and a 6.5 K/9 mark in 22 starts with Class A Fort Worth.

In 2014, as a 20-year-old, Eflin sported a 10-7 record with a 3.80 ERA and a 6.5 K/9 in 24 starts for Lake Elsinore in the Class A California League.

Last year, Eflin would open his first season in the Phillies organization as a member of the Double-A Reading Fightins, where he would spend the entire regular season campaign, leading the team toward the Eastern League playoffs. In 23 starts, the Florida native sported an 8-6 record with a 3.69 ERA, a 4.6 K/9 mark and a .268 batting average against. He was also honored as a mid-season All-Star, sporting a 2.88 ERA at the break.

Eflin's arsenal includes a low-to-mid-90's four-seam fastball, a solid slider as well as a change up that has great potential as a possible plus offering. He worked last year on refining his secondary pitches, with pitching coach Dave Lundquist, adding a curve ball, which became a very good weapon, during the season. Consistency with his mechanics is said to be a big plus for the youngster and he pitches to contact, getting a lot of ground balls thanks to the sinking movement on his fastball.

The six-foot-four 200-pounder has the right mentality for a starter that can take on the challenges of the upper levels. When faced with bad results, he won't allow them to impact his approach negatively and is able to display considerable poise on the mound.

Not only was Eflin part of the Rollins trade with the Dodgers, Los Angeles flipped him immediately after they acquired him from the Padres in a swap for two-time All-Star Matt Kemp as well.

Expect Eflin to hold down a rotation spot with Triple-A Lehigh Valley this year. With a ceiling as a middle of the rotation starter, possibly higher in the order, Eflin could see some big league time by season's end. With an invitation to major league camp, he should get plenty of exposure with the big league team in spring training.

Follow this year's full prospect countdown by clicking this link.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Prospect Nation 2016: #9 Catcher Jorge Alfaro

Alfaro, image- USA Today

Acquired as part of the the return for Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman from Texas last summer, catcher Jorge Alfaro quickly became one of the Phillies' most promising young talents. With a powerful bat and outstanding skills behind the dish, Alfaro could become a fast moving performer for his new organization.

Originally signed by the Rangers for a reported $1.3 million in 2010 at the age of 16, the Colombia native would make his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League that same year. In 48 games, the righty hitting Alfaro posted a .221 average and a home run along with 23 RBI.

The following year, with Class A short-season Spokane, the talented youngster tallied a .300 average with six homers and 23 RBI.

In 2012 with full season Class A level Hickory, he batted .261 with five home runs, 34 RBI and 16 stolen bases in 74 contests.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Chesson Hadley: A Rising Star


Chesson Hadley is an American golfer who can holds several achievements to his name, including winning the Puerto Rico Open and the award of PGA Rookie of the Year which he received in 2014. Chesson Hadley is available to be booked for appearances as an after dinner speaker at private and corporate events or for brand opportunities through London based talent agency MN2S.

Hadley was born in North Carolina in 1987 was a natural sportsman from an early age. Especially taken with golf at 6 years of age, by the age of 12, he had already broken par, and was later a three-time All-State performer while at high school and a five-year letterwinner at North Raleigh Christian Academy, as well as winning every conference match in his senior year.

Winning a scholarship to Georgia Tech, he went on to perform impressively over the course of his college years, and in 2008 represented the USA on the Palmer Cup team. Off the back of this success, he turned professional in 2010, having also achieved a degree in Business Management during his golf filled college years.



After playing on the eGolf Tour for two years, he qualified for the Web.com Tour at the 2012 PGA Tour Qualifying School. He won the tour twice in 2013, including the honour of winning his hometown event, the Rex Hospital Open, and emerging victorious at the Tour Championship. Finishing with the highest earnings, he went on to become a rookie on the PGA Tour in 2013.
His successful first season on the tour saw him take first place at the Puerto Rico Open and achieve four top ten finishes, warranting the award of 2014 PGA Tour Rookie of the year.

Hadley has already proved himself a character on the tour, becoming known for his trademark finger click routine which he brings out at moments of particular success when playing. He has become a popular figure on the circuit, identifiable by his tall lanky frame and big grin which shows beyond a doubt his genuine love of the sport.



Ever a humorous character, Hadley once pranked his tour mate, Bubba Watson as the latter was signing autographs. Given a tendency of famous sports players of any discipline to go into an vacant autopilot when presented with countless autographs to sign, Hadley slipped into the crowd pushing a magazine under Watson’s nose to sign while flashing the camera an infectious grin as Watson noticed nothing.

Hadley is a promising golfer, with strong successes and an excellent reputation among his peers already. An undeniable talent, Hadley is available to talk about his career and entertain an audience with his distinctive personality. Such a well-respected figure in the golfing world is an excellent choice as after dinner speaker or for a brand endorsement alike, and can be booked through MN2S talent agency in the UK.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Prospect Nation 2016: #10 RHP Franklyn Kilome

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Franklyn Kilome, image- Jay Floyd
One of the most promising young pitching prospects in the Phillies organization is right-hander Franklyn Kilome. Armed with great velocity and a remarkable repertoire, the talented youngster will soon be among the collection of the team's pitching prospects pushing his way toward the big leagues.

Signed by the Phillies as an international free agent in January, 2013, Kilome would make his professional debut the following year.

With the rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies, as an 18-year-0ld, Kilome would post a 3-1 record with a 3.12 ERA and a .235 batting average against. He struck out 25 and walked 11 in 40 1/3 innings.

The Dominican native opened 2015 in extended spring training, then joined the short-season Class A Williamsport club. He helped the Crosscutters charge into the postseason with a 3-2 record with a 3.28 ERA and a .230 BAA. He struck out 36 and walked 21 in 49 1/3 innings.

Consistency was something that stood out about Kilome's progress last season, showing an ability to work on his mechanics and repeat his motions. He throws from a 3/4 slot and, despite the walks, he features plenty of command with his pitches steadily peppering the lower portion of the strike zone, when he wants them to.

His arsenal features a dominant upper-90's fastball that can get up to 100 MPH on occasion. The 20-year-old also touts a dependable above average curve ball with bite and a solid change up that coaches altered the grip on last year.

This off-season, the Phillies brought Kilome north to work out at the team's spring training facility in Clearwater, FL with a goal of adding muscle to his projectable and slim six-foot-six 175-pound frame. According to reports, the program was successful and the difference is noticeable.

Kilome told me last August that he is inspired by the path of top draft pick Aaron Nola to the majors. The younger hurler wants to take the mound for the Phillies with quickness.

According to Phillies director of player development, the organization may not have a pitcher with bigger upside if all things go right for Kilome.

An argument could be made for Kilome opening the 2016 season as part of different rosters. With his skill set where it is, he might certainly be able to compete at Class A Advanced Clearwater, while opening the campaign with Class A full-season Lakewood might be most suitable for his age and experience level.

For the immediate future, it sounds like the Phils will proceed with Kilome in a starting role, but the team's needs down the line as well as the youngster's blazing fastball may result in a move to the bullpen at a later stage.

Follow this year's full prospect countdown by clicking this link.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Prospect Nation 2016: #11 RHP Jimmy Cordero

Cordero, image- Jay Floyd
Acquired last season from Toronto as part of the Ben Revere trade, righty hurler Jimmy Cordero looks to be a promising arm that could become a top contributor to the Phillies' big league bullpen very soon.  Sporting an overpowering fastball as part of his electric arsenal, Cordero is as promising a reliever as the Phils have in their minor league system.
Originally signed as an international free agent by the Blue Jays in 2012, the six-foot-three 215-pounder made his professional debut that year in the Dominican Summer League.  In seven games (three starts) there, he tallied a 1-3 record with a 5.60 ERA and .203 batting average against.

The following year, Cordero combined to post a 4-2 record with a 5.47 ERA and a .275 batting average against in 16 total games (two starts) for the rookie level Gulf Coast League Blue Jays and Bluefield of the Appalachian League.

In 2014, with Class A Lansing, the Dominican native notched a 3-2 record with a 3.06 ERA and a 9.5 K/9 mark in 25 appearances.

He opened the 2015 season with Dunedin in the Class A Advanced Dunedin, where he was 0-1 with a save and a 2.49 ERA in 16 outings.  Cordero was promoted to Double-A New Hampshire in late May, posting a 0-1 record with a save and a 2.92 ERA in 17 games.  Following the deadline trade, Cordero joined Double-A Reading, where he helped the team reach the post-season, sporting a 2.12 ERA with no decisions in 13 games.  With those three teams, Cordero struck out 64 and walked 24 in 67 innings pitched.

This off-season in 10 relief appearances for the Leones in the Dominican Winter League, Cordero posted a 1.93 ERA, striking out 10 and walking seven in 9 1/3 innings.

In his aresenal, the fastball is key.  He has big time velocity that regularly can clock in triple digits.   His slider is a nasty pitch with plus potential.  He also throws a pretty good curve ball that his coaches like.  With a great feel for his off-speed offerings, Cordero's fastball is even more devastating.

The 24-year-old is able to throw first-pitch strikes on a consistent basis in order to get ahead of the opposition as well. 

It would not be far-fetched to anticipate Cordero making his big league debut in 2016.  However, it is most likely that he could open the season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, manning a key role in their bullpen.

Follow this year's full prospect countdown by clicking this link.

 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Prospect Nation 2016: #12 OF Tyler Goeddel

Goeddel, image- MiLB.com

Selected by the Phillies in December's MLB Rule 5 draft, outfielder Tyler Goeddel will get every chance to catch on with the big league club as they open a new season in 2016.

Goeddel was taken 41st overall out of high school in the 2011 draft by Tampa Bay. Touted as a five-tool player at the time, he has worked hard to prove those reviews as accurate.

Upon making his professional debut in 2012 as a 19-year-old for Class A Bowling Green, Goeddel posted a .246 batting average with six homers, 46 RBI and 30 stolen bases. Repeating that level the following season, he tallied a .249 average with seven home runs, 65 RBI and 30 steals in 112 games.

The following year, Goeddel posted a .269 average with six homers, 61 RBI and 20 stolen bases in 113 games for Class A Advanced Charlotte in the Florida State League.

In 2015 Goeddel posted a strong offensive campaign, sporting a .279 average with 12 home runs, 72 RBI and 28 steals in 123 games with Double-A Montgomery in the Southern League.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Prospect Nation 2016: #13 RHP Ricardo Pinto

Pinto n KnappRight-handed starting pitcher Ricardo Pinto (pictured, center) had a breakout season in the Phillies organization last year. Honored as the top pitcher in their minor league ranks, the 21-year-old is very promising and will look to continue his success this year, as he moves up.

Boasting a mid-90's fastball and a plus change up, Pinto has looked great at the lower levels of the minors. Phillies director of player development Joe Jordan states that Pinto's is the best change up among the organization's righty prospects. Development of a third offering, his slider, will be the determining factor of the type of progress he'll see.

Signed as an international free agent in December, 2011, the Venezuela native debuted in pro ball in the Venezuela Summer League the following year. In 15 games (10 starts) he sported a 7-3 record with one save, a 2.74 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP.

He repeated the VSL in 2013, posting a 3-5 record with a 2.85 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP in 14 games, strictly as a starter.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Hollands visits team doctor in Philly, progressing well

Hollands, image- Jay Floyd
Phillies left-hander Mario Hollands was in Philadelphia this week to have a follow up exam on his surgically repaired elbow and feedback was positive.

Hollands, who was the Phils' 10th round draft selection in 2010 out of UC Santa Barbara, was sidelined last year during spring training, and soon underwent UCL reconstructive (Tommy John) surgery.

Nine months out from surgery, the throwing arm is healing as well as can be expected, according to team doctor Michael Ciccotti .

The team anticipates that Hollands will begin throwing off a mound by late January or early February. His time table for facing batters remains to be determined, but with a month of spring training action still six weeks away, Hollands will have plenty of time to get in game shape. Keep the 27-year-old in discussions for holding down a big league bullpen spot in the first half of the coming season.

In 50 games as a big league rookie in 2014, Hollands posted a 2-2 record along with a 4.40 ERA.

On Tuesday, Hollands returned to Florida to continue his rehab work with team training staff at their spring training home in Clearwater.

Additionally, minor league third baseman Zach Green, who missed much of last season with a broken left wrist, is fully healed and will report early to spring training by mid-week next week.

Green entered the 2015 season ranked as Phillies Nation's number 13 prospect. In just 26 games for Class A Advanced Cleatwater last season, the 21-year-old righty batter sported a .173 average with a home run and seven RBI.

A six-foot-three 210-pounder, Green was the Phils' 3rd round draft selection in 2012.

Prospect Nation 2016: #14 1B Rhys Hoskins

Rhys Hoskins, image- Jay Floyd

First baseman Rhys Hoskins made significant impressions in his first full season as a pro in 2015. With a powerful bat and a great approach at the plate, the righty hitting slugger could be on a fast pace toward the upper levels of the sport.

A product of Cal State- Sacramento, Hoskins tallied a .319 average with 25 home runs and 128 RBI in 168 college games prior to turning pro.

Drafted by the Phillies as a 5th round selection in 2014, Hoskins made his minor league debut as a member of the Class A short-season Williamsport Crosscutters. In 70 games there, the California native posted a .237 average with nine homers and 40 RBI. He was said to have hit better there than his numbers would show, as he hit into a lot of hard outs and lacked luck at the plate.

He would spend time at the Florida Instructional League following the regular season. It was there that coaches implemented a leg kick as a timing mechanism, to assist with Hoskins' efforts at the plate. It worked very well and the proof was in the numbers to come.

After a strong spring, Hoskins would open his 2015 campaign with Class A Lakewood. In 68 games for the BlueClaws, the 22-year-old put together a .322/.397/.525 slash line en route to being named a South Atlantic League All-Star and earned a promotion.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Prospect Nation 2016: #15 2B Scott Kingery

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Scott Kingery, image- Jay Floyd
A second round draft choice last year, second baseman Scott Kingery is a talented player that many feel could be a fast moving prospect for the rebuilding Phillies.

Kingery, who was a walk-on as a freshman at Arizona, was named Pac-12 Player of the Year in 2015, 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.

Making his pro debut, the five-foot-10 180-pounder joined the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws in June. In 66 games, he tallied a .250/.314/.337 slash line while swiping 11 bags in 12 opportunities.

Phillies fans will certainly enjoy Kingery's game, as he is a very exciting young player with all the right tools to become an offensive catalyst at the highest levels of the sport.

Very capable with the bat, Kingery projects to be a very good hitting second baseman that has some consistent pop and can spray the ball to all fields. He is a player that can set the table for his team at the top of the lineup, a spark plug that puts together great at bats.

Speed is a key weapon for him. Very quick-footed, Kingery should be a steady stolen base threat against even the toughest batteries.

A great defender, Kingery features excellent range and quick hands. He's an exemplary second baseman with a strong arm that can lay out on batted balls in the hole and can turn double plays with the best of them.

Coaches in the Phils' system were impressed with the Arizona native's preparation, standing out as a player his teammates could look to as a leader.

Kingery lists Chase Utley and Ian Kinsler among players that he admired and wished to emulate in his younger days.

It's likely that Kingery will open this coming season as a member of the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers. Estimated time of arrival for the big leagues is probably a couple years off.

Follow this year's full prospect countdown by clicking this link.

 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Prospect Nation 2016: #16 OF Dylan Cozens

Cozens with Lakewood in 2014, image- Jay Floyd
Outfielder Dylan Cozens is one of the Phillies most underrated prospects.  A pure athlete that can really drive the ball, the 21-year-old could have a very promising future as he matures on the diamond.

At six feet six inches tall and weighing 235 pounds, Cozens has an imposing frame that was well-suited for the grid iron, as he was a two-sport star in his high school days. Already touting some significant power, the youngster sports some big time homer potential.

After he was selected in the 2nd round of the 2012 draft, Cozens debuted in the minors with the rookie level Gulf Coast Phillies. In 50 games there, he notched 15 doubles, two triples, five homers and 24 RBI. Cozens also participated in the Florida Instructional League in 2012.

Following a productive spring in 2013, Cozens was retained in extended spring training and made his official season debut with the Class A short-season Williamsport Crosscutters when they began playing in June. Cozens was among the league leaders in many categories that year, placing second in doubles (19), extra base hits (30), and runs (50) while ranking third in slugging percentage (.469). Additionally, he batted .265 with two triples, nine home runs and 35 RBI in 68 games for the Cutters.

In 2014, with Class A Lakewood, Cozens had a solid campaign, posting a .248 average with 16 homers and 62 RBI.  He followed that up with a great effort in the Australian Baseball League in the off-season that followed. In 45 games with Melbourne, he tallied a .255 average with eight home runs, 23 RBI and 11 steals.

The 2015 season saw Cozens opening his year with the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers.  In 96 games in the Florida State League, he sported a 282/.335/.411 slash line.  Despite missing a month with a foot sprain, he earned a promotion to Double-A Reading late in the season and found the transition easy.  He batted .350 with three homers and nine RBI in 11 regular season games before continuing to contribute into the Fightins' postseason.

Cozens was slated to spend time in the Arizona Fall League this off-season, but an arm injury prevented that from happening.  Instead, once he was healthy, the strong lefty hitter joined the Indios in the Roberto Clemente League in Puerto Rico.  In 26 regular season games there, he posted a .275 average with three home runs and nine RBI.

A fluid swing and plus raw power potential for Cozens could catapult him to the highest levels of the sport.  Some feel his ceiling is as a 4th outfielder or as a platoon hitter, but after proving that he already belonged at the Double-A level at the age of 21, it is not far-fetched to feel the right progress could land the Arizona native a shot at an everyday gig in the big leagues.

On the bases, Cozens isn't as slow as some might expect of a big-bodied masher type. He has proven to be a threat on the base paths, swiping 20 bags in 26 attempts last year. He sports a 75% success rate in steal attempts as a professional and should continue to contribute with his slept-on speed.

Cozens, who has played a wide majority of his games in right field, has been praised for his adaptability and is a very capable fielder. He covers a very good amount of ground on defense and has a considerably strong arm in the outfield.  With much organization depth in the outfield, an eventual positional switch to first base may ease his path to the big leagues.

Look for Cozens, who turns 22 on May 31st, to have another go around with Reading in the Eastern League this year, where a full season should be best for his development.

Follow this year's full prospect countdown by clicking this link.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Prospect Nation 2016: #17 RHP Alberto Tirado

Right-hander Alberto Tirado has an arm that scouts can go wild for.  Acquired by the Phillies from Toronto last season as part of the Ben Revere trade, the talented hurler could develop into a top bullpen arm for the organization in the coming years.

Despite concerns with his accuracy, Tirado misses plenty of bats and clocks big numbers on radar guns, which leads many to feel he has a very high ceiling.

Signed by the Blue Jays in 2011, Tirado would make his professional debut as a member of their rookie level Gulf Coast League team in 2012 as a 17-year-old.  In 14 games started, combined with the rookie level Appalachian League and the Gulf Coast League teams, he tallied a 3-2 record with a 2.63 ERA and a .198 batting average against.

He returned to the Appalachian League the following season posting a 3-0 record with a 1.68 ERA and an 8.2 K/9 mark in 12 games (eight starts).

In 2014, splitting time between Class A short-season Vancouver and Class A Lansing, the Domincan native posted a combined 2-2 record with a 5.00 ERA and a 9.0 K/9 mark in 30 apearances (10 starts). 

He was honored as a Class A Advanced Florida State League All-Star as a member of the Dunedin Blue Jays last season.  In 31 games there, pitching strictly in relief, Tirado sported a 4-3 record with three saves, a 3.23 ERA and a .213 batting average against while striking out 61 and walking 35 in 61 1/3 innings. 

After he was dealt to the Phillies, as a member of the Clearwater Threshers, also in the FSL, he notched a 1-0 record with a 0.56 ERA and a .130 BAA.  His strike out numbers were his usual dominant style (16 K's in 16 innings), but he also walked quite a bit with 18 free passes issued.

Left unprotected in this off-season's MLB Rule 5 draft, the 21-year-old was not selected likely due to his control concerns and rawness.

Tirado's offerings are described as electric.  His repertoire features a fastball that has most often been clocked in the upper 90's, touching triple digits with some regularity.  His slider and change up have promise, but getting them over the plate is critical if he is to move upward on the developmental ladder.   

Refining his control will be goal number one for the six foot tall 180-pounder.   Where the Phillies assign him this coming season to work on that could be debated.  Former Phillies pitcher Aaron Fultz, who has drawn considerable praise from his players in previous seasons at lower levels of the organization, will take on pitching coach duties with Clearwater next season and may be a good fit to assist Tirado with his development.  

Another factor related to Tirado's assignment would be if the Phillies wish to switch him back to a starting role, though his most ideal path is very likely as a reliever. 

Down the line, the promising fire baller projects to be a back-end bullpen staple at the big league level.

Follow this year's full prospect countdown by clicking this link.


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Prospect Nation 2016: #18 RHP Edubray Ramos

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Edubray Ramos, image- Jay Floyd
Righty pitcher Edubray Ramos took strides with an exceptional campaign last year and locked himself into discussion among hurlers that could impact the big league roster very soon.

Equipped with a fastball that steadily ranges from 93 to 95 MPH, the promising reliever also has a standout breaking pitch described by battery mate Andrew Knapp as "a wipe out slider" that is a plus offering as his out pitch. He also tosses a curve ball to get ahead in the count at times along with a change up to keep batters honest.

Splitting his time rather evenly at three levels in 2014 after missing two seasons, Ramos tallied a 2-1 record with 10 saves, a 0.81 ERA and a .189 batting average against in 26 total games combined with the Phillies' Venezuelan Summer League team, the rookie level Gulf Coast League team and with the Class A short-season Williamsport Crosscutters.

Lights out stats with Class A Advanced Clearwater had fans and media members clamoring for his promotion for much of the 2015 season and he made that happen, moving up and continuing to shine once he did.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Prospect Nation 2016: #19 OF Carlos Tocci

Carlos Tocci, image- Jay Floyd
Since he was signed by the Phillies for a reported bonus of $759,000 in the summer of 2011 on his 16th birthday, Carlos Tocci has been followed by a tremendous reputation that he seemed to finally be living up to during his 2015 season.

Right from the start of his career, he was tasked with very challenging assignments.  Tocci says that one of the things that resulted in him choosing to sign with the Phillies was that they pledged to allow him to begin his pro career in the United States instead of playing at home in the Venezuelan Summer League.

After participating in the Phillies’ fall instructional league following his signing, Tocci debuted in the minors with the rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies in 2012, batting .278 with two doubles, nine RBI and nine steals in 38 games. The following year, as a 17-year-old, he played the entire season with the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws. Struggling against more experienced pitching, Tocci posted a .209/.261/.249 slash line in 118 games.

The unimpressive numbers didn't sour the Phillies on his ceiling, though, as the organization maintained its opinion of the young righty batter as a very promising prospect.  Tocci is a guy that has always been praised for his maturity, which his coaches love.

In a repeat campaign with Lakewood in 2014, Tocci, who grew up admiring MLB slugger and fellow Venezuelan Miguel Cabrera, continued to adapt to the elder competition, seeing some improvement at the plate with a .242/.297/.324 slash line in 125 games.

He entered his age 19 season last year with plenty left to prove in the Class A South Atlantic League, so Tocci returned to Lakewood and posted impressive offensive numbers, at long last.  Earning a nod as an All-Star while posting a .321 batting average with two homers, 25 RBI and 14 steals in 16 opportunities.

At mid-season, Tocci was promoted to Class A Advanced Clearwater, where he sported a .258 average with a pair of home runs and 18 RBI. 

It took 862 professional at bats before Tocci launched his first round tripper, but with four homers in his 2015 season, he's clearly beginning to hit with more power.  The Phils have long wanted for Tocci to add strength to his thin six-foot-two 160-pound frame.  He's been working on that for four straight years now.  Touted as a contact hitter that has made loads of improvements at recognizing pitches, if Tocci can add the muscle, his offensive game will be much better off.

Featuring above average speed, Tocci certainly can be a threat on the base paths.  He'll look to improve on his abilities at reading pitchers after getting caught in nine of his 12 steal attempts with Clearwater after his promotion last season.

Described as a glider, Tocci has excellent range in the outfield and sparkles defensively with his glove.  He's a already a plus defender.

With plenty of outfield depth in the Phils organization, Tocci could become a trade chip for the club that originally signed him, as players such as Odubel Herrera, Aaron Altherr, Tyler Goeddel, Nick Williams, Roman Quinn and others block Tocci's path to the big leagues.

Expect Tocci to be back with the Threshers to open 2016.  A full season there would be beneficial to his progress.






Follow this year's full prospect countdown by clicking this link.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Prospect Nation 2016: #20 SS Malquin Canelo

M Canelo4
Malquin Canelo, image- Jay Floyd
Shortstop Malquin Canelo had a breakout season in 2015, proving himself worthy of being in consideration to rank among the Phillies' top prospects, coming a long way as a hitter from previous seasons as he continued to shine with his glove.

Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2012, the talented youngster made his professional debut that year with the Phils' Dominican Summer League team. In 54 games, Canelo sported a .167 average with five doubles, two triples and nine RBI.

The following season, he split time at two levels, producing a .221/.287/.296 slash line in 61 total games for the rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies and the short-season A level Williamsport Crosscutters.

In 2014, Canelo displayed improvements with the bat posting a .249/.302/.324 slash line in 66 combined games with Williamsport, Class A Lakewood and Class A Advanced Clearwater.

As a 20-year-old, Canelo would open the 2015 campaign back at Lakewood, where he would earn a nod as a South Atlantic League All-Star.

As the lead-off man for Lakewood, the righty hitting Canelo displayed a very good head for his role, doing his best to put the ball in play and often taking till the pitcher threw two strikes, giving his own teammates the best opportunity to see the hurler's offerings as much as possible.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Prospect Nation 2016: #21 RHP Thomas Eshelman

Eshelman, image- MiLB.com
Right-handed pitcher Thomas Eshelman joined the Phillies organization this off-season as part of the return from Houston from the Ken Giles trade.  With the right amount of progress, Eshelman could become the steal of the deal.

Control is definitely the big factor in Eshelman's game, as he notched a collegiate career record 0.4 BB/9 mark in three years at Cal State Fullerton, where he was a multi-time All-American.  He possessed a 313-to-18 strike out-to-walk ratio in his college career.  For his 2015 junior campaign, Eshelman sported a 1.58 ERA in 18 outings.

Scouts had Eshelman classified as one of the most polished pitchers in last year's draft.

After becoming Houston's 2nd round draft choice (46th overall) in 2015 and signing for a reported $1.1 million, the 21-year-old started four total games at two levels of the Astros' system.

As a member of the rookie level Gulf Coast League Astros, Eshelman allowed two earned runs while striking out three and walking two in four innings of work.  He was then promoted to Class A Quad Cities where he allowed three earned runs while striking out five and walking three in 6 1/3 innings.

Reports state that Eshelman's arsenal does not include an offering that grades as better than average.  Equipped with a fastball that features good sink and can touch 93 MPH, he more often will sit in the upper-80's and lower-90's.  He also throws a quality curve ball along with a slider and a change up.

At six-foot-three, 210 pounds, Eshelman could continue to develop physically and add velocity. 

The ability to locate pitches helps Eshelman greatly, as he has an ability to throw any pitch in any count, so the concept of a "hitter's count" doesn't really apply with him.  Considering that command is something that typically comes later with pitching prospects and that Eshelman already has it, he's well ahead of the game in that regard.

Projected as a back-end starting pitcher, the California native's ceiling likely isn't the highest among pitchers on this list.


Look for Eshelman to be an anchor in the Class A Advanced Clearwater rotation in the coming season. 

Follow this year's full prospect countdown by clicking this link.


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Prospect Nation 2016: #22 LHP Tom Windle

Tom Windle, image- Jay Floyd
Left-handed pitcher Tom Windle joined a new organization and was among a group of well-touted pitching prospects on the Double-A Reading Fightins pitching staff last year.

Part of the return from the Dodgers in the swap for Phillies all-time hits leader Jimmy Rollins, along with right-handed pitcher Zach Eflin, Windle is a promising hurler with tools that scouts have long been high on.

A 2nd round pick in 2013 (56th overall), the Minnesota native  debuted in the minors the same year with Class A Great Lakes. In 13 games (12 starts), Windle posted a 5-1 record with a 2.68 ERA while striking out 51 and walking 20 in 53 2/3 innings. His excellent initial pro effort followed a strong junior campaign at the University of Minnesota that year which saw the youngster sport a 6-4 record, a 2.14 ERA with a .208 batting average against and 86 strike outs in 92 2/3 innings in 14 games.

With Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamongo in 2014, the six-foot-four 215-pounder tallied a 12-8 record with a 4.26 ERA while striking out 111 and walking 44 in 139 1/3 innings over 26 games (25 starts).

In 2015 with Reading, midway through the season, Windle was moved to the bullpen after posting a 2-5 record with a 5.35 ERA while experiencing control issues (43 strike outs, 40 walks in 70 2/3 innings) in 14 starts.  The switch proved advantageous, as the 23-year-old would go 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA while striking out 21 and walking 11 in 26 2/3 relief innings for the Fightins.

Late in the season last year, Windle remained hopeful that he could get back to starting at some point.  If his results out of the bullpen are any indication, it would be wise for the Phillies to utilize the youngster where he is most effective and the teams seems locked into that plan for the foreseeable future.

Fastball command will be the major determining factor in how far Windle can go, as the jump in walk rate (4.7 per nine innings in the 2015 regular season, up from 2.8 in 2014) was alarming.

With Glendale in the prominent Arizona Fall League this off-season, Windle allowed just two earned runs while striking out seven and walking four in 10 1/3 innings.

The six-foot-four 215-pounder relies mainly on his fastball-slider combination, but mixes in an occasional third offering, a change up that could likely be fazed out completely in time.  With good arm speed, he throws both four-seam and two-seam fastballs.  Windle's velocity readings often peak at 94 or 95 MPH, but can touch higher.

Windle looked up to reliever Glen Perkins, a fellow Minnesota native and three-time All-Star closer, prior to turning pro.  Following the veteran's path to the big show would be something Windle can strive for.

I would expect Windle to see some more time at the Double-A level in 2016, but if his role stays the same and he displays great levels of comfort with the job, as he did last season, it won't be too long before he's given a shot at late innings in Triple-A.

Follow this year's full prospect countdown by clicking this link.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Prospect Nation 2016: #23 RHP Ben Lively

Ben Lively, image- Jay Floyd
Acquired last off-season from Cincinnati, righty hurler Ben Lively quickly joined the ranks of the top Phillies prospects.

Originally selected in the fourth round of the 2013 draft, Lively would begin his pro career as a member of the rookie level Billings Mustangs. In 12 starts, he posted a 0-3 record with a 0.73 ERA and an 11.9 K/9 mark. He was promoted to Class A Dayton to close out the season with a single start, allowing one earned run in four innings of work while striking out seven and walking one.

This was fresh off his junior season at the University of Central Florida where, in 15 games, he went 7-5 with a 2.04 ERA and an 8.6 K/9 mark as the team's ace.

Lively would follow up his exceptional year by becoming the Reds' minor league player of the year in 2014. Opening his first full professional season with Class A Advanced Bakersfield, Lively tallied a 10-1 record with a 2.28 ERA, a .201 batting average against along with a 10.8 K/9 mark in 13 starts. A stretch of 31 consecutive scoreless innings as a member of the Blaze got Lively some considerable attention and he was selected as a California League All-Star.

In mid-June, he was promoted to his hometown Double-A Pensacola Blue Wahoos. There, he would sport a 3-6 record with a 3.88 ERA, a .232 batting average against and a 9.5 K/9 mark.

New Years Eve 2014 saw Lively traded to Philadelphia for OF Marlon Byrd.

After joining the Phils organization, he was assigned to the Double-A Reading Fightins' rotation last year.  The six-foot-four 190-pounder posted an 8-7 record with a 4.13 ERA and a 6.9 K/9 mark in 25 starts there.  He missed a couple turns in the rotation in August with a shoulder strain.  Taking away two troubling starts just prior to his disabled list stint from his season numbers, his ERA drops to 3.61.

The Florida native's repertoire features a low-90's fastball, a quality slider, a change up and a curve ball.  The fastball plays better than the velocity can indicate, as batters don't see the ball well when Lively is on his game.  All of his offerings come with a deceptive delivery which helps the young hurler.

During the season last year, following some poor efforts in games, the 23-year-old worked closely with pitching coach Dave Lundquist on his mechanics, stiffening up his front side to increase power and refine his accuracy.  Coaches want to see Lively show an ability to make adjustments on the fly, to address situations with more urgency.

Lively projects to remain a starter.  He's an unfinished product and will continue to work hard to reach higher levels of the sport.  Look for Lively to return to Reading to begin the 2016 season.

Follow this year's full prospect countdown by clicking this link.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Prospect Nation 2016: #24 Catcher Deivi Grullon

Deivi Grullon, image- Jay Floyd
At the time of his signing with the Phillies at the age of 16, backstop Deivi Grullon was one of the top baseball prospects in the Caribbean. Following three years in the minors, the 19-year-old is still looked at as a very promising player.

Grullon, who signed for a reported $575,000 in July 2012, looked very good upon making his professional debut with the Gulf Coast League Phillies in 2013, posting a .273 batting average with eight doubles, a home run and 14 RBI in 41 games at the rookie level.

He followed up that campaign with a season in which he split time at three levels in 2014. Grullon started his season in mid-April with a promotion to Class A Advanced Clearwater out of extended spring training. He notched two hits in ten at bats in two games there. A demotion to Class A Lakewood, where he would get more playing time, followed. In 24 games as a BlueClaw, Grullon posted a .237 average with five doubles, a home run and seven RBI. Grullon would be demoted once more to short-season Class A Williamsport when their season began in June. With the Crosscutters, he batted .225 with nine doubles, a triple and 18 RBI in 53 games.

Last year back with Lakewood, the Dominican native tallied a .221 batting average with eight home runs and 50 RBI in 107 games.  He closed out his 2015 on a positive note, posting a .301/.370/.470 slash line in 25 August games after struggling at the plate for much of the summer.  His coaches feel the late-season statistics were more exemplary of the type of output Grullon can deliver on a regular basis.

A right-handed hitter, Grullon typically has fairly even splits against righty (.610 OPS in 2015) and lefty (.600 OPS in 2015) pitchers.

A refined approach when faced with pitchers' counts, in general, is something scouts have cited as a standout quality for Grullon.  Critics would like to see improved bat speed from the youngster.  He displays an ability to stay on the ball, having good at bats even when success isn't there.  

Coaches view Grullon as an all-around strong leader, one of the key qualities for a catcher in the professional ranks. A player that teammates go to for assistance, Grullon is highly valuable to his club.  Additionally, the youngster himself is hungry to learn.

His communication improved very much last season.  Mastering the English language, which will come as he continues to play in the United States, will be something that helps Grullon and his pitchers. 

With a frame that is well suited for the position, the six-foot-one 180-pounder has excellent tools on defense and features a plus arm that keeps opposing runners reserved.  His defensive projections are what make Grullon stand out the most. 

Look for Grullon to see time with Clearwater in 2016 as the Phillies look for progress from the talented young catcher.



Follow this year's full prospect countdown by clicking this link.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Prospect Nation 2016: #25 LHP Matt Imhof

Matt Imhof, image- Jay Floyd
Lefty hurler Matt Imhof quickly shot toward the rankings of Phillies top prospects after being selected as their 2nd round pick in 2014.  Following a season in which he suffered an injury to his throwing arm, Imhof's position on such lists has taken a hit.

Regarded as a polished college hurler, the Cal Poly product looked tremendous in his junior season, posting a 10-4 record with a 2.45 ERA and an 11.24 K/9 mark in 15 starts while earning second team All-American honors and leading to him being drafted 47th overall. He wrapped up his college career with an 18-7 record and a 2.68 ERA in 48 games.

After the draft, Imhof quickly signed his first pro deal and proceeded to pitch at three levels of the developmental ranks in 2014. Following his initial outing in which he tossed three scoreless frames for the rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies, Imhof was promoted to short-season A level Williamsport. As a member of the Crosscutters, he posted a 1-0 record while allowing just one earned run in 12 innings (0.75 ERA).

In mid-July that year, the six-foot-five 220-pounder earned another promotion to Class A Lakewood, where he tallied a 0-2 record with a 4.28 ERA in seven starts.

Overall in 11 minor league appearances in his initial turn as a pro, the California native posted a .260 batting average against along with an 8.5 K/9 mark as well as a 2.3 BB/9 mark.


After moving up a level to begin his 2015 campaign with Class A Advanced Clearwater, Imhof missed two months in his first full pro season, dealing with a bicep strain.

In 18 starts for the Threshers, Imhof sported an 8-5 record with a 3.94 ERA and a .248 BAA.  He struck out 59 and walked 39 in 77 2/3 innings for the Threshers.

The 22-year-old's pitch repertoire includes a fastball along with slider-curve hybrid that has sharp break and helps him fool batters along with a developing change up. The change up was something Imhof began using increasingly after the draft and will become a true weapon as he refines it.  His fastball velocity seemed to take a dip following the injury last year, sitting in the upper-80's quite often.  Historically, he had regularly clocked at 92 MPH and reached 94 from time to time.

Additionally, the California native has a good feel on the mound and his control is a noteworthy aspect of his skill set.  His wind up features some nice concealment of the ball resulting in difficulty for batters in picking up his offerings.

The big-framed Imhof was projected to have plus potential on his velocity, prior to last season's throwing arm issue.  It was expected that his body would fill out more, adding strength, and could then reach the mid-90's with more regularly.

Imhof, who grew up idolizing Randy Johnson, should figure in the rotation battle at the Double-A level for Reading this year.

Follow this year's full prospect countdown by clicking this link.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Prospect Nation 2016 Countdown Prelude

The dawn of a near year brings along with it our annual “Prospect Nation” rankings, which counts down the Phillies organization’s top 25 up and coming young players. Over the next several weeks, with the organization in rebuild mode, I’ll be bringing you reviews for each of the top developmental talents that appear to have the brightest futures for the Phillies.

Always taken into consideration when compiling this list is age, minor league performance relative to levels played, value to the organization as well as future potential and proximity to the big leagues.

These rankings do not include players over 25 years old or individuals that have spent lengthy stretches in the big leagues.

For instance, a talented youngster such as Darnell Sweeney, who wrapped up the regular season on the Major League roster after having played in 37 games for the Phils last year, will not be on this list. Hurlers Alec Asher and Severino Gonzalez, who each made seven starts in the majors last season, are also excluded from the list.

Players who garnered consideration for the countdown but missed the list include a very good collection of right-handed pitchers.

RHP Nick Pivetta was the trade return from Washington for reliever Jonathan Papelbon last summer. He has a promising arm, but posted a 7.27 ERA in 10 starts at the Double-A level last year after tallying a 2.29 ERA through 15 games (14 starts) in the Class A Advanced Carolina League. Pivetta's ceiling is very likely the majors, but the manner in which he'll perform there could range from David Buchanan in 2014, who went from unranked on this list to notching a 3.75 ERA in 20 big league appearances that year, to Buchanan in 2015, who looked like he didn't belong in the majors when he sported a 6.99 ERA in 15 games started with the Phillies last season.

RHP Adonis Medina is a 19-year-old Dominican that many insiders believe has big upside. Still years away from upper levels of professional baseball, Medina already hits mid-90's with his fastball and has impressed scouts with the potential of his secondary offerings (a curve and a change up). In 10 games (eight starts) at the rookie level Gulf Coast League last year, the six-foot-one 185-pounder posted a 3-2 record with a 2.98 ERA and a 6.9 K/9 mark.

RHP Alexis Rivero looked solid as a closer with Class A Lakewood last year (3-0 record, 2.62 ERA, seven saves in 25 games) and earned a promotion to Class A Advanced Clearwater (1-2, 2.67, three saves in 16 games). The 21-year-old Venezuelan shows an ability to hit upper-90's on the radar gun, which, paired with his excellent slider, is great for a late inning reliever. I would anticipate Rivero getting a look at the Double-A level this year.

RHP Shane Watson was the Phillies' top draft selection (40th overall) in 2012. After missing two full seasons with shoulder issues, he made it back to the mound this past summer. With Class A Lakewood, the 22-year-old notched a 1-5 record with a 4.53 ERA in 11 starts. His control needed refinement, as he struck out 34 and walked 25 in 47 2/3 innings. Watson, who clocked 96 MPH with his fastball late in the season, was likely still getting used to pitching with his surgically repaired shoulder as well as his bulked up frame which now can be measured around 240 pounds, up from his pre-surgery bio listing of 200 pounds. Look for Watson in the Clearwater rotation this year.

Additionally, several youngsters that made last year's list and remain in the organization have slipped from the top 25. Much of that shifting has to do with the manner in which the Phillies have beefed up their farm system and less to do with backwards progress from following players.

LHP Jesse Biddle has been battling injuries for some time. He sat out several weeks in 2014 with a concussion and most recently the Phillies' 1st round draft pick from 2010 has undergone Tommy John surgery to repair his damaged elbow. The 24-year-old made it to Triple-A Lehigh Valley last year, posting a 2-4 record with a 6.25 ERA in nine starts there. He is expected to miss the entire 2016 campaign while he recovers.

2B Jesmuel Valentin was suspended last season related to legal matters that have since been resolved The 21-year-old is still very promising, as he posted a .273/.351/.424 slash line in 31 games to close out the season with Clearwater last year. The switch-hitter is playing in Puerto Rico this off-season to make up for missed time on the diamond.

3B Zach Green has displayed plenty of raw power in his career thus far, but he didn't make progress in 2015, after missing much of the season with a broken left wrist. In 26 games for Clearwater last year, the 21-year-old righty batter sported a .173 average with a home run and seven RBI. Look for Green, the Phillies' 3rd round pick from 2012, to return to full health this year and, hopefully, get his swing back.

OF Cam Perkins reached Triple-A Lehigh Valley in his second full pro season in 2014, but wasn't convincing with his efforts there, as he posted a .216/.259/.298 slash line in 74 games. Last year, back at Double-A Reading, he sported a .252 average with 11 homers and 51 RBI. Perkins is a smart ball player that will likely get another shot at Triple-A this year. The righty batting 25-year-old was the Phils' 6th round draft choice in 2012.

OF Aaron Brown had a good season for Clearwater last year, batting .257 with 11 home runs, 47 RBI and 10 steals in 110 games there, then posted a .627 OPS in 13 games in the prominent Arizona Fall League this off-season. The 23-year-old also pitched in college at Pepperdine prior to the Phils making him their 3rd round draft pick in 2014, but his hit tool is serious and he's strictly an outfielder now. With a big time ability to hit hard and drive the ball, look for the lefty batter to re-enter the top 25 soon and to spend time at the Double-A level this year. For me, Brown was the player I had the most difficulty leaving out of this year's countdown.

In the coming weeks, check back here often for the unveiling of this year’s countdown of the top 25 ranked prospects within the Phillies organization.

Follow this year's full prospect countdown by clicking this link.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

PhoulBallz Off-season Check In: OF Nick Williams

Nick Williams, image- Jay Floyd
Outfielder Nick Williams was one of the highly touted players that the Phillies acquired in the deal that sent Cole Hamels to Texas last summer.

Upon arriving in the Phillies organization, Williams was assigned to Double-A Reading, where he helped the club reach the postseason. In 22 regular season games as a member of the Fightins, the 22-year-old posted a .320/.340/.536 slash line. Overall in 119 Double-A games last season, the promising lefty batting prospect sported a .303 average with 17 home runs, 55 RBI and 13 stolen bases.

Williams, a Texas native, took time recently to offer some feedback on his off-season routine and his upcoming plans to visit Philadelphia for the first time and more. Read ahead for that full interview.

-Are you still enjoying some down time or have you gotten back to baseball activities yet?

I am swinging now. I like to get my work outs done in the morning. Or some days I'll go hit before and then work out after.

I'm not swinging every day, but I'm taking some cuts here and there. Just hitting off the tee and soft toss.

-Do you pair up with anybody to get your baseball work done and what facility do you use?


I usually just use my dad or some of my coaches. I'll go, like, if I use a facility I usually go to (the Texas Prospect Baseball Academy) the Houston Banditos, where I used to play, in Tomball.

-How much time do you actually go without picking up a bat and what else do you do during the off-season to stay fit aside from baseball activities?

I actually, I mean, I'm always playing basketball or playing 7-on-7. I'm always doing something athletic. I'm on the go. I'm always doing something athletic where I can compete in some way. But, with baseball activities, I usually go till about the middle of December or January because, for me, I just get in the groove really fast with hitting and things like that.