Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Phillies Coming North for Futures Series Exhibitions

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OF Nick Williams, image- Jay Floyd


With the Grapefruit League season wrapping up, the Phillies are bringing their preseason schedule north this week. Upcoming games will feature a pair of intrasquad contests with the big league roster taking on their organization's top prospects.
The brand new concept falls in line with the celebration of Double-A Reading's 50th season of affiliation with the Phillies. The debut game in the series will take place at Reading's FirstEnergy Stadium on Thursday, March 31st at 6:05 PM with another game between the two teams taking place on Saturday, April 2nd at 1:05 PM.

The roster set to be made up of the most promising rising minor leaguers includes eight of the top nine Phillies prospects, as ranked by Phillies Nation this year.

Futures Team roster:
C- Jorge Alfaro, Andrew Knapp
1B- Tommy Joseph, Brock Stassi, Rhys Hoskins
2B- Scott Kingery, Jesmuel Valentin, Angelo Mora
SS- J.P. Crawford, Malquin Canelo
3B- Mitch Walding
OF- Carlos Tocci, Andrew Pullin, Roman Quinn, Dylan Cozens, Aaron Brown, Nick Williams
P- Victor Arano, Zach Eflin, Ricardo Pinto, Edubray Ramos, Tom Windle, Joely Rodriguez, Miguel Nunez, Mark Appel

The game in Reading will feature an appearance by the Phillie Phanatic and a Futures Series Fathead giveaway for the first 2,000 children 14 & under. Fans interested in purchasing tickets should dial the Reading Fightins box office at 610-370-BALL.

Thursday's contest will mark the first exhibition game in Reading featuring the Phillies in 16 years. That match up drew over 9,307 fans to see the Reading Phillies defeat the Philadelphia Phillies, 5-2, on May 8th, 2000.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

PhoulBallz Interview: Aaron Nola checks in from Spring Training

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Aaron Nola, image- Jay Floyd
On Easter Sunday, Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola took time out of his busy spring schedule to chat with PN's Jay Floyd.

In four Grapefruit League starts, Nola has a 1-1 record with a 5.28 ERA with 12 strike outs and four walks in 15 1/3 innings. He also tossed 5 1/3 solid innings in a minor league game on Saturday, allowing five hits while striking out seven and walking two.

In this interview, Nola talked abouthow he has progressed through spring training, falling in line to start the team's home opener on Monday, April 11th, how he celebrated the holiday and plenty more.

-Happy Easter! Were you or the team able to do anything special for Easter?

I just went to eat, but I mean, I guess a couple guys on the team will do something special, but I have family in town, so we just went out to eat by the beach.

-That's great. I know your family came up to Philadelphia to see you debut last year and they follow you as closely as they can. What does it mean to you to have them there and have them come out to spring training?

It's awesome, man. I love when they come out, because I don't get to see them that much. My parents came to Florida last week. First they went to see my brother (Marlins minor league infielder Austin Nola) in Jupiter and then they came to see me and we both love it. We love seeing them as much as we can. And we spend all off-season with them too.

Friday, March 18, 2016

PhoulBallz Interview: Phillies Director of Player Development Joe Jordan

On Friday, Phillies director of player development Joe Jordan took time to chat with Phillies Nation's Jay Floyd about an array of topics out of minor league camp. Jordan, who is entering his fifth season in his role, spoke about recently reassigned prospects, top names and what to expect from them, some injuries and much more. Read ahead for the full interview.

Carlos Tocci, image- Jay Floyd
-I noticed that Carlos Tocci is playing with group 2, the team that will become the Double-A Fightins. It's common for players to play up a level during spring. Is there anyone that might take a notable jump to open the regular season? 

Well, I mean it's too early to read anything too much into the work groups. I mean, normally, you know, this spring training's no different than any other. You've got guys playing up a level. As we start getting guys back from big league camp you have guys start getting pushed. Really it won't be till that last week till you'll see guys on the roster where they're going to be (to open the season). So, it's good. Tocci's one example. We wanted him in group 2. We wanted him facing that level of pitching. But, it's not really till the last seven to 10 days that it really starts to look like (the rosters) are what they're going to be facing. We've got A-ball guys playing in group 2. We've got A-ball guys pitching in group 2. So, we'll see.

-Last year's big international signing Jhailyn Ortiz has seen some action this spring. What type of year is expected out of him?

Well, I think the most important thing for me is he's here and he's going to get to play in games. He doesn't have a lot of game experience. He has a lot to learn. He's got some really good physical ability, but he's got a lot to learn like any sophomore or junior in high school in the United States would, which is where his age is. He hasn't played in near as many games as kids coming from the United States would have, at the same age. What I'm expecting and what I hope happens for him is that he stays healthy and just gets to play in games from the end of spring training, all the way till August.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Franco shows power as Phillies tie Detroit

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Franco, image- Jay Floyd
In a contest that ended in a 6-6 tie on Thursday, third baseman Maikel Franco continued his hot spring for the Phillies with a pair of home runs and four RBI against the Tigers in Clearwater.

Franco got the scoring started in the bottom of the 1st inning when he launched a two-run blast off of starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann. With Zimmermann still on the mound in the 4th, the 23-year-old did more damage with another two-run big fly.

A 2-for-2 day put Franco's pre-season batting average at .350 through eight games while the two dingers gives him four in the young exhibition season.

Starting pitcher Aaron Nola wasn't very sharp as he gave up two earned runs on four hits in 2 2/3 innings of work. He notched four strike outs and issued one walk.

Ernesto Frieri pitched the 9th inning for the Phillies, but blew a 5-4 lead, surrendering two earned runs in his lone inning of work.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Phillies minor league workout group listings

Thanks to the always-highly-touted-by-PhoulBallz baseball blogger Baseball Betsy, this weekend we got a firm look at the Phillies' workout groups at the start of minor league camp.



The group listings will change throughout spring as certain players move down from big league camp and others are simply released.

Noteworthy among the initial groupings are outfielder Jhailyn Ortiz with the 4th group as well as the returns of outfielder Samuel Hiciano and infielder Carlos Alonso.

Ortiz, a Dominican native, was a big international signing last year.  The Phils invested $4 million in the powerful teenage outfielder last summer.  He was ranked among the top international free agents by MLB.com in 2015.

Hiciano, a 22-year-old Dominican, missed the entire 2015 campaign after injuring his ankle with three days left in spring training last year.  He has posted a .262/.327/.428 slash line in three seasons at three levels. 

Alonso underwent season-ending left knee surgery early last season as a member of the Double-A Reading Fightins.  The 28-year-old University of Delaware product is now back at full health. 

If you don't already follow Betsy on Twitter, make sure you do so, in order to have access to a tremendous source of baseball news out of Florida throughout the entire season, not just during spring training.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Nola hit hard as Phils drop one to Blue Jays

philsIn his first start of the Grapefruit League season, right-hurler Aaron Nola surrendered four earned runs in two frames to take the loss, as the Phillies fell to Toronto by a score of 9-6 on Saturday.

At the contest in Dunedin, the Blue Jays tagged the 22-year-old for four runs in the first inning, all before he recorded an out. Designated hitter Troy Tulowitzki started things off with his first home run of the spring campaign, a solo shot. Left fielder Michael Saunders launched a 3-run shot a few batters later. He would finish with three hits and five RBI on the day.

Nola would finish with a walk and four hits allowed while striking out none.

It's certainly not panic time for fans of the Phillies' top draft selection from 2014. He posted a 6-2 record with a 3.59 ERA in 13 big league starts as a rookie last season. Having a rusty outing early in spring against one of the top teams in baseball isn't anything to worry about for Nola or Phils fans. It's worth noting that he did toss a scoreless inning earlier this week against the University of Tampa.

Out of the Phils' bullpen on Saturday, lefty Elvis Araujo allowed two earned runs in a lone frame. Righty Reinier Roibal was charged with three unearned runs in two innings of work, allowing four hits and striking out one. Lefty Bobby LaFromboise tossed two scoreless innings, striking out three without allowing a single base runner. Right-hander Dalier Hinojosa finished the game with a scoreless frame.

On offense for the Phillies, third baseman Taylor Featherston slammed a solo home run. He was 1-for-2 with a walk on the day. A trio of Phils catchers each had hits with Logan Moore lacing a double, Jorge Alfaro going 1-for-3 and Carlos Ruiz (as the DH) going 1-for-3 with a RBI.

The loss takes the Phillies' record to 2-3 this spring while Toronto went to 4-0. The Phils return to action on Sunday when they travel to Tampa to take on the Yankees at 1:05pm Eastern.

This post was originally published on Phillies Nation.

PhoulBallz Interview: Veteran Jake Fox talks Korea, mentoring and more

Jake Fox, image- Jay Floyd
Prior to minor league camp breaking this weekend, I had a lengthy chat with veteran Jake Fox. The 33-year-old has played around the globe, has spent time in the majors with multiple teams and will be enjoying his third stint with the Phillies.

Fox has built a reputation for being an extra coach on the diamond, as he is a cerebral slugger that is able to lead his teammates by example.

This week, Jake talked about landing back with the Phillies over a round of golf, spending time last year playing in Korea, the differences between American ball and the game over there, what his next career will be and much more. Read ahead for the full interview.

-How was the connection made for a return to the Phillies organization? Had you stayed in touch, or did the team reach out again?

Well, it's a very funny story. Obviously, I finished last year in Korea. And, you know, it's was amazing, one of the things that I'm amazed about is when you go over seas like that, people forget you're still playing. And, so, I came back and I'd see people who would say, "Oh, you're still playing?"- Yeah, I just spent four months in Korea after playing with the Blue Jays. And even though it's baseball, people forget you're still playing.

The way the story goes is I help out with the high school where I live, it's called Mesquite High School, and the coach was kind enough to open up the field and throw me batting practice and hit me ground balls and all that sort of thing, so any time he does any kind of fund raiser, I always participate. So, they were doing a golf outing and I go to this golf outing and I happen to get paired with his brother, who is a Phillies scout. His name is Brad Holland. So he asked, "What are your plans for next year?" And (I told him), "Well, I'm tossing around some free agent options and I'm really kind of open to anything right now, because I'm trying to figure out what's next." I'm at the point in my career where, you know, I don't know how much longer I'm going to keep playing or how much more time I have. At this point, I just want to know where my career is going. And he goes, "Would you be interested in re-signing with the Phillies?" And I go, "Yeah, absolutely I would, if the situation were right. And if I felt like there was room for me to move forward, because, at this point in my career, if I'm not moving forward, then I'm probably going to be done, because I've got two kids at home that need me to be home." And so, he goes, "You know what, you were so awesome with a lot of those guys the last time you were there and we have new management and (a new) G.M., who knows what the situation is going to be like, but let me just see if they're even interested. I said, "Yeah, no problem. I have some other options out there. But I'm always interested, because I like the Phillies and I enjoy the organization. They know me there, I know them. It's a very good fit, so we'll see where it goes." Well, before we even ended the round of golf, he got a message back saying, "Yeah, we're interested. Have him give me a call and we'll talk about it." And, so the next day, I gave a call and by the end of the week we had a deal drafted.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Phils walk-off in dramatic fashion with Hunter blast

On Friday in Clearwater, the Phillies blew a sizable lead, walking six batters in the 8th and 9th innings combined, but did not quit and held on to lock down a shocking win over the Braves by a score of 12-11.

Early on, third baseman Maikel Franco was the top offensive performer for the Phils, as he went 2-for-3 with a home run and four RBI. The strong effort takes Franco's spring average to .364.
Flame thrower Luis Garcia struggled, as he was charged with four earned runs on five hits and two walks in one inning pitched. Hector Neris loaded the bases in the ninth and walked in a run before the team called on youngster Edubray Ramos to close out the game, clinging to a 9-8 lead. Ramos would walk home the tying run and then a Darnell Sweeney throwing error, his second miscue of the day, allowed two more runs to score, putting the Braves ahead 11-9 in a game they trailed by a score of 9-3 after seven innings.

In the bottom of the 9th, shortstop J.P. Crawford and first baseman Brock Stassi each singled to set up outfielder Cedric Hunter for the dramatic walk-off. With a 1-2 count and two outs, Hunter sent a big fly over the grass berm in right field to put the Phillies at 2-2 on the young exhibition season.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

One up, one down for Phils on split squad day

st 2016In Grapefruit League action on Thursday, the Phillies earned a win and lost a game, as a split squad was successful on the road and had difficulty plating runners at home.

In Tampa, the Phils downed the Yankees by a score of 13-4, led on offense by first baseman Darin Ruf, who had two hits and drove in three runs.

Also in Tampa, third baseman Maikel Franco launched a home run, plating two runs, as he went 1-for-2 with a walk on the day. Catching prospect Jorge Alfaro notched two safeties, recorded two RBI and threw out a potential base stealer. Outfield prospect Roman Quinn was 2-for-5 with a triple and two RBI.

On the mound against the Yankees, lefty Adam Morgan allowed two hits and two earned runs in a pair of innings. Alec Asher struck out four, walked two and let up an earned run in two frames to earn the win. Also, Mark Appel, a key prospect returned in the Ken Giles swap, walked four, allowing an earned run in two innings. Daniel Stumpf threw two scoreless innings while Edward Mujica closed out the game with a scoreless frame.

In Clearwater, the Phillies lost to the Astros 3-2. Struggling at the plate, the Phils twice failed to score a runner on third base with no outs. The team was 0-for-14 with runners in scoring position until Carlos Ruiz (1-for-4 with a walk) singled home a run in the bottom of the 9th inning.

Peter Bourjos, Odubel Herrera and Andrew Knapp each had two hits in the losing effort.

Righty pitching prospect Jake Thompson allowed an unearned run while striking out one and walking one in two innings of work. Right-hander Zach Eflin was also charged with an unearned run in a pair of innings. Ernesto Frieri allowed an earned run in one inning while the bullpen saw scoreless frames from Elvis Araujo, James Russell, Greg Burke and Colton Murray.

This post originally appeared on Phillies Nation.