Friday, June 23, 2017

PhoulBallz Interview: BlueClaws Manager Marty Malloy speaks on Hall, Moniak, Sanchez & more

The Class A Lakewood BlueClaws missed clinching the first half division title in the Sally League by mere percentage points in the Northern Division standings.  Team skipper Marty Malloy took time last week to sit down with me and chat about his team's success and commented on several of the Claws' key players, including first baseman Darick Hall, last year's top overall draft pick Mickey Moniak, outstanding reliever Will Hibbs, who was promoted to Clearwater since this interview, well regarded righty pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez and others. 

Read ahead for that full interview...


Darick Hall, image- Jay Floyd
-Darick Hall missed a few weeks early in the season with an ankle injury and leads the league in RBI despite missing so many games.  What sort of difference has he made for the team?

I mean he's had a big impact.  Obviously, hitting in the four hole every day, it doesn't matter right-handed pitching, left-handed pitching, he gives us a big presence in the middle of the order behind Moniak driving in runs.  He lengthens our lineup, so he's been a big impact.

-Third baseman Luke Williams had a troublesome start to the season, batting .123 in April, but now he's batting well over .300 in June.  Can you talk about his turnaround?

I think, you know, it can be a confidence thing.  He got off to a slow start.  Whether it was pitch selection or sometimes he hit balls hard right at people, things may just not have went his way.  But, he's been hot of late.  I think a lot of that has to do with confidence and staying the course and understanding that it is a process and just staying positive everyday. 

-You mentioned Moniak earlier.  Have you seen improvements in his game this season?

Absolutely.  You know, I've said it all along, for a kid that just turned 19 a few weeks ago, coming out of high school, being in a full season for the first time, facing-- the majority of pitchers that he's facing are college guys, to hit in the three hole every day and see things he hasn't seen before, he's really held his own.  He's been the same guy everyday, comes to play everyday and his defense has been really good.  And nothing but good things to come.

-Another guy in the outfield that's been performing well lately is David Martinelli.  What have you seen from him?

I think he's similar to Luke Williams.  Got off to a slow start.  May not have played everyday, but stayed positive through the good and the bad and, you know, thing started going his way.  He started barrelling some balls and, you know, his power numbers have increased as well.  So, I think he's another one that just confidence and playing games, getting better everyday and just understanding how to go about it. 

-Is there anyone else that you can see a lot of development in his game over the past couple months here?

I think (second baseman Daniel) Brito.  He got off to a really, really hot start and he's been having to learn to make some adjustments.  His numbers don't indicate what he's met to this team and how far he's come.  He's hitting lead-off everyday.  He's learning how to be a lead-off hitter and we're giving him things to think about as far as once the first at bat of the game's over, how to do different things like see pitches, get in counts and what not.  But he's gonna be fine.  He's had a couple weeks where it's been a little tough on him and (there's been) adversity on a young kid, but he's fine.  

-Brito seems like a good guy for the team.  Having a lot of fun, keeping things loose in the dugout and everything.  Do you see that from him and is there anybody else on the team like that?

He's the loose guy.  He's the class clown, if you want to say it.  But, he keeps loose and has a smile on his face and keeps guys upbeat, so he's really good in the clubhouse.

Sixto Sanchez, image- Jay Floy
-Sixto Sanchez returned from injury after missing a month.  What does he mean to the club.

The energy means a lot.  He's another guy, a loose guy-- he's a business guy, but always has a smile on his face.  He brings electricity.  Everybody knows what kind of stuff he has and the sky is the limit for him.  When he takes the mound all these kids know what we're going to get that night and it's good for everybody. 

-Will Hibbs has been really great out of the bullpen for this team.  Can you share some insight on him?

I think some of it has to do with he's been through some things before.  He's a little older, but he knows how to pitch.  He knows how to expose hitters.  You know, he has meetings with (pitching coach Brian) Sweeney as well as these other pitchers and he's really taken into that on these opposing players and learning how to get them out and set them up or whatever it may be.  Except for one outing-- he went 32 scoreless (consecutive innings), so it's been really nice.
Malloy also talked to me about left-handed starting pitcher Nick Fanti...read those quotes in the feature located at this link.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Dominant BlueClaws All-Star Nick Fanti has focused, humble approach

Nick Fanti, image- Jay Floyd
Lefty hurler Nick Fanti will represent the Phillies organization as the Northern Division's starting pitcher in the South Atlantic League All-Star Game on Tuesday night. 

Through 11 games with the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws this year, the 20-year-old has tallied a 5-0 record and a 2.25 ERA with a .182 batting average against while striking out 65 and walking 16 in 64 innings of work. 

Fanti, who pitched with Team Italy in this year's World Baseball Classic, grabbed headlines in May when he tossed 8 2/3 hitless innings for Lakewood on the road at Columbia.  His room mate Trevor Bettencourt would log the final out to seal the no-hitter. 

The six-foot-two 185-pound Fanti will return to the Spirit Communication Park mound in Columbia for the Sally League All-Star Game. 

Last year in the rookie level Gulf Coast League, he garnered plenty of attention, sporting a 7-0 record with a 1.57 ERA and a .191 batting average against in 11 appearances.

His skipper, former big leaguer Marty Malloy, feels Fanti is deserving of all the accolades he has gotten.

"He's been unbelievable," Malloy stated in the Lakewood home dugout last week.  "The command of the strike zone has been very good.  Mixed his pitches well and he has an idea.  He's another young kid that, probably pitching wise, he's above his years and how he handles hitters in certain situations, so he's done a really nice job."

Fanti doesn't overpower hitters, slinging a fastball that regularly ranges 87-89 MPH with a change up that features a fair variance in velocity from the heater (around 80).  But, his curveball is described as nasty and leaves the opposition looking foolish, as it's difficult to pick up, looking much like his fastball to batters out of his hand.

Brazen and fearless, the Long Island native virtually dares batters to hit his pitches whenever he takes the mound.

"I want to make the guys behind me work," Fanti explained, describing his desire for the opposition to try and hit what he offers.  "I prefer them to hit earlier in the count than later, but that's why I attack the zone, because I have trust in the people behind me and I'll be able to go deeper in the games if they make contact earlier, so getting ahead with early strikes is definitely very important to me."

The youngster dishes out credit to the team surrounding him for his success, including the no-hitter, asserting that the defense and some luck helped things go his way.

With a relaxed and focused approach, Fanti is self-driven.  His 31st round draft position from 2015 is not a factor when looking for motivators on the diamond.

"Regardless of where you got picked, you've still got to come in here and play.  Not that I feel like I have anything to prove or anything-- I do, but I feel like anybody should, no matter where you were drafted," Fanti stated.

On the Northern Division All-Star roster, he'll be joined by five BlueClaws teammates with Bettencourt earning a nod along with battery mate Edgar Cabral and pitchers Will Hibbs, JoJo Romero and Ranger Suarez also being honored.

Fanti values the opportunity to show what BlueClaws and the Phillies are all about.

"It's really cool.  It's a real honor to be able to pitch with the best guys in this league and, hopefully, I'll he throwing to Cabral in the beginning of the game and I'm just excited for the experience."

Saturday, June 17, 2017

PhoulBallz Interview: BlueClaws 3B Luke Williams

Luke Williams, image- Jay Floyd
After a troubling start to his 2017 season, third baseman Luke Williams has turned on the offense for the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws of late.  In 13 June games, the 20-year-old righty batter has posted a .333 batting average with four doubles, a home run and six RBI.

Through the end of May, Williams sported just a .173 average.  With the first half division title on the line, there's been no better time for the Phillies' 3rd round draft pick from 2015 to turn things around.

Following Lakewood's third straight victory on Thursday, I talked with Luke about his offensive improvements, the team's chances at clinching an early playoff berth and plenty more.  Read ahead for that full interview.

-It was a difficult start to the season for you, but things have been going in the opposite direction in recent weeks.  What has helped you make the improvements?

You know, I'd say my confidence is a lot higher than it was at the beginning.  Slow start.  Nothing I can do about it now.  It's baseball.  So, now I'm just taking it day by day.  Me and (hitting coach Nelson Prada) have been hitting the cage and making some minor adjustments and I'm just rolling with it right now.  I'm just trying to keep it going.

-Is there anything you can speak on as far as those adjustments that you mentioned?

Yeah, you know, mainly it was just being on time.  Being on time for every pitch and if I'm not on time, being early rather than later.  So, I think that was the main thing.  Just a little adjustment with my hands, moving them a little closer, just so I can get shorter and quicker to the ball.  Those were just adjustments that I made.

-At times I might ask guys how they feel taking the step up to a higher level and now that you've turned the corner I would imagine you feel better about it.  Do you feel that it was tough to get a handle on this league or this level?

Um, yeah, obviously, the higher you go the better pitching there is, so you've got to make a little adjustments.  It's not too big, but I think it's more just me sticking to my plan, making sure I have the same approach and stuff like that and you just gotta be consistent.  That's the main thing in this game, just be consistent. 

-I saw you before the game and right now you have the same expressions...pleased, satisfaction, smiles.  If I were to look at you earlier in the season, maybe I wouldn't notice those expressions.  You talked about confidence being a factor and with that can come positivity with the results on the field.  Do you feel that translating that way?

Yeah, absolutely.  And when I think about it now, I've always tried to play this game with a lot of fun and a lot of excitement and maybe I wasn't doing that at the beginning of the season.  You know, I was kind of too worried about, maybe, my struggles.  But, I had a lot of teammates-- my teammates are awesome-- they supported me throughout the whole time.  My manager, my coaches- they all had my back and I think one thing that helped me was Cord (Sandberg)'s saying, It's All Part of It.  You know, it really does help.  That's how you've got to take life.  I mean, just take it day by day.  It's all part of it.

-I wrote about it.  Do you wear the shirts and everything?

Yeah!  I've got two shirts.  Cord was actually my roommate when he was here (before a promotion to Clearwater), so I've got two shirts and Cord wore it all the time.  He wore it everyday to bed, so it's a lifestyle.  

-Closing out the first half here this weekend, the BlueClaws are in the midst of a division title and I playoff berth before the All-Star Break.  I know the team is really into this chase.  Did you guys come in and check out the league scoreboard after the game and see how everyone else was doing?

Yeah!  We've kept our eyes on them and I think Hagerstown was losing today, so yeah, we're paying attention.  We want to get that championship.  Definitely.

-It could be a nice weight off your shoulders too, to lock in a playoff berth and not have to worry about it and maybe relax in the second half.

Yeah, you know, we're not going to relax in the second half.  We're still going to play hard and play our game. But it would be nice to have it the first half, absolutely.

Friday, June 16, 2017

For BlueClaws, first-half division race coming down to the wire

Will Hibbs, image- Jay Floyd
LAKEWOOD, NJ-- The Class A South Atlantic League's Northern Division enters the final weekend of the season's first half with four teams within one game of each other chasing one playoff spot. The Lakewood BlueClaws are among three teams sitting one game behind the Kannapolis Intimidators (White Sox affiliate) for a playoff berth.

In full-season A levels, leagues crown first-half and second-half division champions, with both clubs reaching the playoffs, following the conclusion of the regular season on Labor Day weekend.

Just a couple days ago, the Hagerstown Suns (Nationals affiliate) led the division, but they were swept in double headers on back-to-back days on Wednesday and Thursday, allowing the Intimidators to leapfrog the group and take charge in the chase for a postseason spot.

The BlueClaws put themselves behind the eight-ball, so to speak, with a recent road series in Hagerstown, with the visitors dropping three or four contests last weekend.

BlueClaws players are fully aware of what's on the line and are taking each day as a challenge, hoping to reach the playoffs for the second straight season.

"This is the most important part of our season right now, with four teams separated by a total of one or one-and-a-half games right now. These games are paramount," All-Star reliever Will Hibbs shared prior to the BlueClaws' third straight win on Thursday.

With the team steadily checking the league's scoreboard to see what the other title chasers are up to, the 23-year-old righty asserts that there's a great amount of excitement within the Lakewood locker room of late.

"There's nothing anybody wants more than to win the first half, because once you win the first half and secure that playoff spot, you can take a deep breath and go out with a relaxed focus in the second half and not feel like your back's against the wall, knowing you have a playoff spot at the end of the season," Hibbs added.

Marty Malloy, image- Jay Floyd
Lakewood skipper Marty Malloy feels the importance of taking the BlueClaws to the postseason.

"Obviously, we're here to develop these players, but at the same token, we're here to develop winning players.  So, I'm never going to look at one and say it's okay we lose a game. We're all about winning, while we're developing," Malloy stated.

"It's energy right now...guys understand it. They know what's at stake and the energy- they're upbeat. They know every night that we go out that there's something to play for."

Malloy is in his first year coaching in the Phillies organization after spending the previous three years in player development with the Astros. The 45-year-old reached the big leagues with the Braves and Marlins and was part of the 1998 Atlanta team that won the National League East and lost in the league championship series to the Padres.

With such focus on continuing to win, Malloy and the team seemed a bit superstitious this week when they opted to wear the team's current home white uniform instead of the pinstriped throwback duds they've been sporting for Throwback Thursdays this season.

With a three-game series at home against last place Hickory (Rangers affiliate) from Friday through Sunday this weekend at FirstEnergy Park, Lakewood will need to fully pass each of the other teams in the standings, with Greensboro (Marlins affiliate) also in the mix for the division race. Tie-breakers will not fall in the 'Claws' favor.

From the team, what the BlueClaws need: The BlueClaws cannot break a tie with any of the other contenders (Hagerstown has the head to head tiebreaker and Lakewood's head to head advantage over Greensboro and Kannapolis would be moot as those teams will play 68 games instead of 70 and would have a better winning percentage - for example, 39-29 defeats 40-30 on winning percentage)...Therefore, should the BlueClaws sweep Hickory, they would need two Kannapolis losses, one Greensboro loss, and one Hagerstown loss over the weekend...should the BlueClaws win two of three from Hickory, they would need three Kannapolis losses, two Greensboro losses, and two Hagerstown losses.

Last year's top overall draft selection outfielder Mickey Moniak, fresh off the first four-hit game of his professional career on Wednesday and adding two more safeties on Thursday, realizes that there's still hope even if this weekend doesn't work out for the local nine.

"All we can do right now is do what we're doing and focus on winning ball games and letting the rest play out and if it works out, great! If it doesn't, then we have another half to make a run for it," the 19-year-old said.

Tickets for the BlueClaws' weekend series are available at BlueClaws.com, at the BlueClaws box office or on the phone by calling 732-901-7000.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Phillies Draft 2017: Day 2 Notes

Following their selections in the first and second rounds on Monday night, the Phillies had a busy day in rounds three through 10 on Tuesday.  Below is a list of the team's Day 2 selections and notes on each player...

3rd round- RHP Connor Seabold was selected with the 83rd overall pick out of Cal State Fullerton. This year, in his junior season, the six-foot-three 190-pounder posted an 11-5 record with a 3.01 ERA and an 8.8 K/9 mark in 17 starts. The California native could be a key factor as the Titans enter their College World Series match up against Oregon State next Saturday. How the team performs in Omaha, could delay Seabold signing with the Phillies by a week or two. According to MLB.com Seabold’s arsenal features a solid changeup and a usable, albeit fringy, breaking ball. His fastball commonly tops out around 90 MPH.

4th round- Third baseman Jake Scheiner was chosen by the Phils with the 113th pick in the draft out of the University of Houston. With the Cougars in his junior season, Scheiner posted a .346 batting average with 18 doubles, three triples, 18 home runs, 64 RBI and eight steals in 63 contests. The 21-year-old righty batter stands six-foot-one, weighing 200 pounds. He was honored as a third-team All-American this year.

5th round- Lefty hurler Ethan Lindow was drafted out of Locust Grove HS with the 143rd pick. As a senior this year, he was dominant, tallying a 0.97 ERA and had a 97-to-18 strike out-to-walk ratio in 57 2/3 innings of work. The six-foot-four 185-pounder is said to sport a low-90’s fastball along with a good curve and fair change up.

6th round- Shortstop Dalton Guthrie was chosen with the 173rd overall selection out of Florida by the Phils. The 21-year-old batted .272 with four homers, 22 RBI and 10 steals in 59 games as the Gators’ lead-off hitter this year in his junior season. Guthrie is said to have an advanced approach at the plate and sports gleaming defense. He is the son of former big leaguer Mark Guthrie. The righty batter is hoping to lead his club to success in the College World Series.

7th round- Another shortstop Nick Malton was chosen with the 203rd pick. The Lincoln Land Community College product is a speedster, having swiped 33 bags for the Loggers this year in his sophomore season. Additionally, in 49 games the 20-year-old tallied a .408 batting average with eight homers and 46 RBI. Malton was also a pitcher in his collegiate career, but is not expected to continue doing so as a pro.

8th round- Left-handed pitcher Jhordany Mezquita out of the Dominican Republic was the Phils pick at 233rd overall. Apparently, the organization tried to sign the 19-year-old as an international free agent, but he had moved to the United States, making him draft eligible, so the team selected him here.

9th round- Third baseman Jack Zoellner was the Phils’ pick at 263rd overall out of the University of New Mexico. The 22-year-old stands six-foot-two and weighs 205 pounds. This season as a senior with the Lobos, the righty batter posted a .368 average with 12 home runs and 56 RBI in 50 games.

10th round- Connor Brogdon, a righty pitcher out of Lewis-Clark State College, was the 293rd choice in the draft by the Phillies.  In 15 games this year as a senior, the six-foot-six 185-pounder sported an 8-1 record with a 2.91 ERA and an 11.1 K/9 mark.  Lewis-Clark State produced former Phils righty pitching prospect Tyler Knigge (12th round, 2010).  

Phillies minor league leaders, 6/13/17


Friend of the site Steve Potter, also known as @JpoppaCool on Twitter, took time this week to provide some lists of top performers throughout the Phillies' minor league ranks.

Steve is the author of the book The 2016 Phillies Minor Leagues: A Fan's View.  It's a great paperback offering that is available at Citizens Bank Park and online from multiple outlets.


With just Lakewood in action on Monday, out of the four full-season teams, most of the listings are accurate, with stats accurate through Sunday.  Take a look at the organization leader boards in various offensive and pitching categories below...


Phillies Minor League Leaders - Pitching - ( thru 6/11/17 games ) - excluding guys now on Major League Roster 

Top 10 - Wins 

Tom Eshelman - 7 - ( Lehigh - 4, Reading - 3)
Jose Taveras - 5 - Clearwater 
Drew Anderson - 5 - Reading 
Brandon Leibrandt - 5 - Reading
10 tied with 4 

Top 10 (ERA - minimum 50 IP) - Starting Pitchers 

Ranger Suarez - 1.72 (57 2/3 IP) - Lakewood 
Tom Eshelman - 2.11  ( 81 IP) - Lehigh/Reading 
Jose Taveras - 2.17 (70 2/3 IP) - Clearwater 
Jo Jo Romero - 2.26 (63 2/3 IP) - Lakewood
Nick Fanti - 2.31 (58 1/3 IP) - Lakewood 
Franklyn Kilome - 2.60 ( 52 IP) - Clearwater 
Cole Irvin  - 2.84 (57 IP) - Lakewood
Bailey Falter  - 3.50 (54 IP) - Lakewood
Adonis Medina - 3.54 ( 53 1/3 IP) - Lakewood
Brandon Leibrandt - 3.56 ( 60 2/3 IP) - Reading 


Top 10 ( ERA - minimum 25 IP) - Relief Pitchers - included are pitchers recently converted to starters 

Will Hibbs - 1.10 ( 32 2/3 IP) - Lakewood
Jessen Therrien - 1.26 ( 33 2/3 IP) - Reading/Lehigh 
Austin Davis - 1.69 ( 39 1/3 IP) - Clearwater/Reading
Harold Arauz - 2.06 (39 1/3 IP) - Lakewood/Clearwater
Yacksel Rios - 2.18 ( 33 IP) - Reading 
Mauricio Llovera - 2.40 (30 IP) - Lakewood
Pat Venditte - 2.41 (33 2/3 IP) - Lehigh 
Colton Murray - 2.49 (25 1/3 IP) - Reading/Lehigh
Jacob Waguespack - 2.55 ( 35 1/3 IP) - Clearwater/Lehigh
Cesar Ramos - 2.56 ( 38 2/3 IP) - Lehigh

Top 10 - Games 

Pedro Beatto - 26 -  Lehigh
Jessen Therrien - 24 - Reading/Lehigh
Jeff Singer - 23 - Clearwater 
Pat Venditte - 22 - Lehigh 
Hoby Milner - 20 - Lehigh
Yacksel Rios - 20 - Reading 
Miguel Nunez - 20 - Reading 
Alexis Rivero - 20 - Reading 
Luke Leftwich - 19 - Clearwater 
Will Hibbs  - 19 - Lakewood 


Top 10 - Saves 


Pedro Beatto - 19 - Lehigh 
Jeff Singer - 12 - Clearwater 
Will Hibbs - 8 - Lakewood 
Jessen Therrien - 7 - Reading/Lehigh
Luke Leftwich -5 - Clearwater 
Trevor Bettencourt - 4 - Lakewood
Miguel Nunez - 3 - Reading 
Colton Murray  - 3 - Lehigh/Reading
Jonathan Hennigan - 2 - Lakewood 
Michael Mariot - 2 - Lehigh 
Tyler Gilbert - Clearwater 

Top 10 - Innings Pitched 

Tom Eshelman - 81 -  Lehigh/Reading
Jose Taveras - 70 2/3 - Clearwater 
JoJo Romero - 63 2/3 - Lakewood
Drew Anderson - 62 - Reading
Brandon Leibrandt - 60 2/3 - Reading 
Nick Fanti - 58 1/3 - Lakewood 
Ranger Suarez - 57 2/3 Lakewood
Mark Appel - 57 1/3 - Lehigh
Cole Irvin - 57 - Clearwater 
Bailey Falter - 54 - Lakewood

Top 10 - Strikeouts - Starting Pitchers 

Ranger Suarez - 69 - Lakewood 
Jo Jo Romero - 66 - Lakewood
Jose Taveras - 65 - Clearwater 
Adonis Medina - 63 - Lakewood
Nick Fanti - 60 - Lakewood 
Thomas Eshelman - 59 - Reading/Lehigh 
Drew Anderson - 51 - Reading 
Brandon Leibrandt - 48 - Reading 
Franklyn Kilome - 47 - Clearwater 
Alberto Tirado  - 46 - Clearwater


Top 10 - Strikeouts - Relief Pitchers 

Jesen Therrien - 44 ( 35 2/3 IP) - Reading/Lehigh 
Luke Leftwich - 43 (34 IP) - Clearwater 
Austin Davis - 42 ( 37 1/3 IP) - Clearwater/Reading 
Yacksel Rios - 40 ( 33 IP) - Reading 
Jeff Singer - 39 (33 IP) - Clearwater 
Jacob Waguespack - 38 ( 35 1/3 IP) - Clearwater/Lehigh 
Colton Murray - 38 - ( 25 1/3 IP) - Reading/Lehigh 
Harold Arauz - 35 - ( 39 1/3 IP) - Lakewood/Clearwater 
Will Hibbs - 35 - ( 32 2/3 IP) - Lakewood
Jonathan Hennigan - 35 - (27 2/3 IP) - Lakewood 
Trevor Bettencourt - 35 - ( 21 1/3 IP) - Lakewood

Top 10 - WHIP ( minimum 25 IP) 

Jessen Therrien - 0.59 ( 33 IP) - Reading/Lehigh
Will Hibbs - 0.70 (32 2/3 IP) - Lakewood
Sixto Sanchez - 0.78 ( 29 1/3 IP) - Lakewood 
Nick Fanti - 0.89 (58 1/3 IP) - Lakewood 
Harold Arauz - 0.89 (39 1/3 IP) - Lakewood/Clearwater
Cesar Ramos - 0.93 (38 2/3 IP) - Lehigh
Thomas Eshelman - 0.94 ( 81 IP) - Lehigh 
Ranger Suarez - 0.95 (57 2/3 IP) - Lakewood
Jose Taveras - 1.00 ( 70 2/3 IP) - Clearwater 
Seranthony Dominguez - 1.01 ( 35 2/3 IP) - Clearwater

Top 10 - Games Finished 

Pedro Beatto - 25 -  Lehigh 
Jeff Singer - 20 - Clearwater 
Will Hibbs - 17 - Lakewood 
Miguel Nunez - 15 - Reading 
Jessen Therrien - 15 -  Reading/Lehigh
Jacob Waguespack - 11 - Clearwater/Lehigh
Jonathan Hennigan - 8 - Lakewood
5 tied  - 7 


6/12/17 :  Phillies Minor League Offense Leaders  thru 6/11/17 games played :

Home Runs :

Scott Kingery - 18 - Reading
Rhys Hoskins - 14 - Lehigh
Dylan Cozens - 14 - Lehigh
Nick Williams - 13 - Lehigh
Mitch Walding - 13 - Reading
Andrew Pullin - 12 - Reading
Kyle Martin - 11 - Reading
Darick Hall - 8 - Lakewood
Damek Tomscha - 7 - Clearwater
Herlis Rodriquez - 7 - Clearwater

RBI's :

Rhys Hoskins - 49 - Lehigh
Dylan Cozens - 46 - Lehigh
Nick Williams - 39 - Lehigh
Andrew Pullin - 39 - Reading
Darick Hall - 39 - Lakewood
Scott Kingery - 35 - Reading
Mitch Walding - 31 - Reading
Kyle Martin - 31 - Reading
Damek Tomscha - 30 - Clearwater
Cornelius Randolph - 28 - Clearwater

Hits :

Scott Kingery - 71 - Reading
Andrew Pullin - 70 - Reading
Rhys Hoskins - 64 - Lehigh
Nick Williams - 62 - Lehigh
Zach Coppola - 61 - Clearwater/Reading
Carlos Tocci - 59 - Reading
Cord Sandberg - 59 - Lakewood/Clearwater
Mickey Moniak - 57 - Lakewood
Cameron Perkins - 56 - Lehigh
Dylan Cozens - 55 - Lehigh

Stolen Bases :

Scott Kingery - 14 - Reading
Lucas Williams - 12 - Lakewood
Zach Coppola - 12 - Clearwater/Reading
Roman Quinn - 10 - Lehigh
Grenny Cumana - 10 - Clearwater
Daniel Brito - 7 - Lakewood
Malquin Canelo - 7 - Reading
Mark Laird - 7 - Clearwater
Herlis Rodriquez - 6 - Clearwater
Raul Rivas - 6 - Lakewood

Total Bases :

Scott Kingery - 145 - Reading
Andrew Pullin - 128 - Reading
Rhys Hoskins - 127 - Lehigh
Nick Williams - 115 - Lehigh
Dylan Cozens - 109 - Lehigh
Cord Sandberg - 90 - Lakewood/Clearwater
Cameron Perkins - 87 - Lehigh
Mitch Walding - 86 - Reading
Damek Tomscha - 85 - Clearwater
Mickey Moniak - 85 - Lakewood

Walks :

JP Crawford - 36 - Lehigh
Rhys Hoskins - 34 - Lehigh
Cameron Perkins - 27 - Lehigh
Mitch Walding - 26 - Reading
Damek Tomscha - 25 - Clearwater
Scott Kingery - 25 - Reading
Cornelius Randolph - 23 - Clearwater
Malquin Canelo - 23 - Clearwater
Zachary Coppola - 22 - Clearwater/Reading
Andrew Pullin - 21 - Reading

Runs :

Scott Kingery - 55 - Reading
Rhys Hoskins - 44 - Lehigh
Nick Williams - 35 - Lehigh
Dylan Cozens - 34 - Lehigh
Mickey Moniak - 33 - Lakewood
Daniel Brito - 33 - Lakewood
Andrew Pullin - 32 - Reading
Cameron Perkins - 31 - Lehigh
JP Crawford - 30 - Lehigh
Mitch Walding - 29 - Reading

Doubles :

Andrew Pullin - 20 - Reading
Cord Sandberg - 18 - Lakewood/Clearwater
Rhys Hoskins - 15 - Lehigh
Mickey Moniak - 14 - Lakewood
Wilson Garcia - 14 - Clearwater
Jiandido Tromp - 14 - Reading
Cameron Perkins - 14 - Lehigh
Henri Lartigue - 12 - Lakewood
Scott Kingery - 12 - Reading
Nick Williams - 10 - Lehigh

Batting Average :  ( at least 150 at bats )

Zachary Coppola - .335 ( 61-182) - Clearwater/Reading
Cameron Perkins - .308 ( 56-182) - Lehigh
Scott Kingery - .306 ( 71-232) - Reading
Andrew Pullin - .304 ( 70-230) - Reading
Rhys Hoskins - .298 ( 64-215) - Lehigh
Damek Tomscha - .294 ( 55-187) - Clearwater
Nick Williams - .282 ( 62 - 220) - Lehigh
Cord Sandberg - .274 ( 59-215) - Lakewood/Clearwater
Drew Stankiewicz - .274 (45-164) - Clearwater
Roman Quinn - .274 ( 48-175) - Lehigh

On Base Percentage : (minimum 120 plate appearances )

Cameron Perkins - .408 - Lehigh
Zachary Coppola - .408 - Clearwater/Reading
Rhys Hoskins - .395 - Lehigh
Damek Tomscha - .389 - Clearwater
Pedro Florimon - .383 - Lehigh
Scott Kingery - .382 - Reading
Andrew Pullin - .370 - Reading
Carlos Tocci - .352 - Reading
Angelo Mora - .349 - Reading
Herlis Rodriquez - .346 - Clearwater

OPS ( minimum 120 plate appearances)

Scott Kingery - 1.007 - Reading
Rhys Hoskins - .986 - Lehigh
Andrew Pullin - .926 - Reading
Cameron Perkins - .886 - Lehigh
Angelo Mora - .861 - Reading
Damek Tomscha - .843 - Clearwater
Mitch Walding - .842 - Reading
Nick Williams - .839 - Lehigh
Dylan Cozens - .813 - Lehigh
Zachary Coppola - .798 - Clearwater/Reading

Jay Floyd talking prospects on the Felske Files Podcast

Last week I was happy to join John Stolnis on his Felske Files Podcast to talk about many promising young players in the Phillies' developmental ranks. Included in the discussion were oft-injured Roman Quinn, slugging outfielder Nick Williams, talented hurler Franklyn Kilome and plenty more.

Also on this episode, John talked with my old pal, from the Shore Sports Report days, Joe Giglio about many key Phillies related topics.

Check out the show in the embedded media player below.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Phillies draft pitcher Spencer Howard in second round

In the second round with the 45th overall selection in the 2017 MLB Amateur Draft, the Phillies chose righty pitcher Spencer Howard out of Cal Poly.

This season, the 20-year-old sophomore sported an 8-1 record with a 1.95 ERA and a 10 K/9 mark over 17 appearances (12 starts) with the Mustangs.

In his freshman year, 19 of Howard's 21 appearances were as a reliever when he tallied a 2.95 overall ERA.

Howard, who stands six-foot-three and weighs 225 pounds, features a solid four-pitch mix, including key offerings of a fastball, slider and a cutter that project to be average or better pitches.

The Phillies chose another hurler in the second round out of Cal Poly back in 2014, a left-hander named Matt Imhof.  Imhof retired from playing baseball following a workout accident last year that cost the youngster an eye.

The draft will continue for the Phils on Tuesday, when the third round gets going at 1pm Eastern time.

Phillies draft Virginia CF Adam Haseley in first round

With the 8th overall draft pick the Phillies selected first-team All-American outfielder Adam Haseley out of Virginia on Monday evening.

The 21-year-old sported a .390/.491/.659 slash line in 58 games.  His batting average led the Atlantic Coast Conference.  The lefty batter drilled 16 doubles, a triple, 14 homers and 10 steals with the Cavs this year, in his junior season.

Proving to be an offensive catalyst, Haseley reached base safely in 57 of his 58 games this year.

Haseley is described by MLB.com's Jim Callis as one of the best pure hitters available in the MLB draft.

Additionally in his college career, Haseley was a pitcher, helping his squad lock down the 2015 College World Series.  This season, he tallied a 7-1 record with a 3.58 ERA and a 10.1 K/9 mark in 11 starts. He is expected, howver, to move forward as a centerfielder.

Projected higher on several mock drafts from reputable outlets, Haseley may have been a surprise to the Phillies to still be available when their turn came.

At Virginia, Haseley played for head coach Brian O'Connor, who previously helped develop former Phillies All-Star Brad Lidge, another first round draft pick (1998), when he mentored the hurler as a coach at Notre Dame.

Video footage of Haseley in action offensively can be seen in the embedded media players below.

Haseley has been compared to a Jacoby Ellsbury type of player; a guy that can hit for a very good average, but may not have the most power.  Looking around the system, the Phils may be deep with that kind of guy in centerfield.  See last year's top draft selection Mickey Moniak and Double-A Reading's Carlos Tocci. 



Friday, June 9, 2017

PhoulBallz Interview: Reading 1B Kyle Martin

Kyle Martin, image- Jay Floyd
Saturday's home game in Reading is being billed as Super Hero Night, with the home club slated to wear Captain America inspired jerseys, but first baseman Kyle Martin kicked things off early, as he became the hero of Thursday night's contest.  The 24-year-old lefty batter blasted a two-run walk-off home run that helped the Fightin Phils knock off the visiting Bowie Bay Sox by a score of 4-3.

For Martin, the round-tripper was his 11th of the season.  Through 49 games in the Double-A Eastern League, the Phillies' 4th round draft pick from 2015 is batting .191 with 31 RBI.

I recently spoke with Martin, who grew up as a Philadelphia sports fan, about his ups and downs this season, working to improve and plenty more.  Read ahead for that full interview.

-I wanted to get your thoughts on Eastern League competition and how you're performing in the league so far this year.

It's good.  Obviously, as you move up the pitchers get better, the hitters get better, all of it gets a litte bit better.  It's been tough, but I'm coming around as well and I'm getting used to things.

-I think your production was slow to start, which is what you were just getting at there, but the power's definitely been there of late.  Are you happy with your progress right now?

Yeah.  I'm really happy with the progress.  I started out a little slow, but that tends to happen. Some people take a little longer to get out of the gate, so it's coming around and everything's starting to feel good.

-There are a couple guys that have helped the lineup all year that may not have seemed to need that time to warm up.  Andrew Pullin and Scott Kingery have been hot throughout the year and they're a lot of fun to watch-- not indicating that you aren't fun to watch, but how is it as a teammate to be watching these guys do their thing and being a part of the lineup with those two?

Those are great hitters.  They both really know how to hit and they both have some experience up here a little bit, so of course you're going to be a little more used to it.  Um, I mean they know how to hit and get on base and that's important to be at the top of the lineup.

-How do you feel about playing in front of that true Phillies fan base, people that gew up as Phillies fans, in Reading?

I've really enjoyed it so far.  Like you said, they're Phillies fans in and out and it's been a great experience so far.  Being a Phillies fan, I'm one of them, so it's definitely been a lot more enjoyable.

-You and I have talked about the Phillies fandom before, but are you a Philadelphia guy all the way through?  Eagles, Sixers, everything?

Everything!  Yup.  Through and through, since day one.

-Are you following the drafts for these other leagues?

A little bit.  I'll definitely be watching the draft for the Eagles.  That's mainly the other sport that I follow.  The Sixers a little bit, here and there, the Flyers (too) especially when they make the playoffs.

-Back to you, is there any feedback that you've gotten from the coaches that have helped you focus or target where to improve?

There's always stuff to work on and we've talked a good bit.  Getting better pitches is one thing.  That's a good start.  And anticipating pitches in certain counts and just being ready, honestly.

-What was your off-season routine like last year, to step it up or to help you make improvements?

I took a month off just to kind of rest mentally and physically.  Then started getting back in the groove, trying to get bigger, stronger, faster, the usual.  Then I was back in Greenville, hitting with a buddy of mine most of the time and we kind of worked on a few things, kind of picking pitches out, trying to be ready for certain pitches in certain counts.

-Who were you working with?

His name is Jeff Young.  He coached me back in high school in summer ball and stuff and we became really close.

-Is there anybody else in your area that are in the pros that you work with?

Yeah, Bradley Jones...worked out with him a good bit.  A couple other ones.  Ramon Osuna.  He's with the Braves.  Bradley's with the Blue Jays.

Monday, June 5, 2017

PhoulBallz Interview: RHP Shane Watson talks about weak output

Shane Watson, image- Jay Floyd
Righty pitcher Shane Watson, a supplemental 1st round draft pick of the Phillies back in 2012, is having a lackluster season thus far for the Double-A Reading Fightins.  Through 10 starts, the 23-year-old has posted a 2-4 record along with a 5.52 ERA while striking out 24 and walking 26 in 44 innings pitched. 

I recently spoke with Watson about his feelings on his output, what needs to change to improve, the possibility of consulting the Phillies mental skills staff and more.  Read ahead for that full interview.

-What are your thoughts on your output, thus far this season?  I know the starting rotation likely as a group wouldn't be pleased with each of you having high ERA's.

Yeah, all of us don't want to be above five.  Even though the parks are pretty small-- every field I've been at in Double-A so far has been small-- um, working some kinks out.  All of us are competitive and want to do well, like you said, so it's just you know, trying to trust the defense and the players behind us...and try to just battle back and work some kinks out, you know?

-I talked to Drew Anderson recently and he was describing how he doesn't track his stats at all and instead only is concerned if he puts the team in a position to win and if he feels good physically the next day.  I noticed there were a few outings recently where you didn't complete four innings.  What's most important to you from start to start?  

You know, every start it's my goal to give my team the best shot.  Um, not going at least five is always tough.  I went three and then three (and and third), or I forgot what it was...I've just been getting behind in the count and letting the guys get on and mainly, like I said just getting behind on guys.  And my goal is always if I do have a bad start, which you can feel it, just try to keep my team close and give them the best shot.

-So you talk about not getting behind and, with that, getting ahead of the opposition.  What needs to change for you to get that done?

Throw more strikes.  Make it a point to get ahead early.  Get ahead and stay ahead.  You know, I've been falling behind early, you know, ball one, strike one, ball two.  Then it's two-one.  I've got to-- not really let them hit it, but kind of pitch to contact.

-I've heard from guys at times that the Phillies employ a mental skills coach....do you ever deal with him?

That's not for me.  I don't know.  I just try to stay away from that altogether.  He's a great guy, I think he has a lot of good stuff to say, but for me, that's just not for me.  I feel like that's kind of-- once you start getting involved with your mental skills, I think for me personally, that's kind of being mentally soft.  That's just, not knocking his profession, or whatever he needs to do, but you know some guys need it.  For me, I just I have to be aggressive.  That's my mental skills is be aggressive.  Be aggressive.  Be aggressive. 

-So, if you're not dealing with a guy like that, obviously, you might be dealing with (pitching coach Steve) Schrenk and the other coaches more often.  Is there anything they're sharing with you to help you along this year?

Yeah, all the coaches are great.  Schrenk's great.  Legger's great.  Um, they pretty much tell me, like I said, be aggressive.  Somebody gets get a hit off of you, don't let that get to you.  It's not your bad necessarily, it's the pitch that you threw to hit that that swing was bad.  So, it's falling on trusting Legger and Schrenk, 'cause they're good coaches.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Phillies minor league note book, 6/4/17

I haven't delivered my usual semi-weekly hot lists this year, as I have in previous season.  I hope to bring these back more often, so here's a note book on top prospect performers throughout the Phillies' organization...

Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs (37-18 record, 1st place IL North Division)-

Hoskins, image- Jay Floyd
No player in the Phils' system has been as consistent as first base prospect Rhys Hoskins.  The 24-year-old righty batter's 1.005 OPS leads the International League.  Hoskins, who was the Phillies' 5th round draft selection in 2014 is batting .302 with 13 home runs and 41 RBI in 55 games this season.

Outfielder Cam Perkins is batting .385 over his last seven games.  Perkins, a 26-year-old, has posted a .289/393/.480 slash line through 48 games this year.  The righty batter was a 6th round draft selection by the Phils in 2012.

Outfielder Nick Williams was 0-for-3 on Saturday night, but prior to that contest, the 23-year-old had gone 22-for-60 (.367 avg) with eight homers and 19 RBI in his previous 16 games.  Williams, a lefty batter, was acquired from Texas in the 2015 Cole Hamels trade.  Overall he has a .279 average with 11 homers and 34 RBI in 53 games.

Bouncing back from a troublesome April (.136/.211/.296 line in 23 games) outfielder Dylan Cozens had a terrific month of May.  In 26 May games, the 23-year-old posted a .330/.386/.689 slash line.  Cozens, a left-handed batter, was the Phillies' 2nd round draft pick in 2012. 


Additional note on the IronPigs...OF Roman Quinn is day-to-day with an arm ailment following an injury that took place on a slide last week, according to NoiseNation's Kram.

Double-A Reading Fightin Phils (28-24, 3rd place Eastern League East Division)- 

Second baseman Scott Kingery has continued to make headlines, as he leads all of minor league baseball with 17 home runs.  His 1.048 mark leads the Eastern League in OPS.  In 51 games overall, the right-handed hitting Kingery has posted a .314 batting average with 32 RBI and 13 steals. The 23-year-old was the Phils' 2nd round draft selection in 2015.

Ranked second in the Eastern League in OPS is Fightins outfielder Andrew Pullin, who has a .970 mark.  Overall in 52 games, the 23-year-old has a .319 batting average with 12 homers and 36 RBI.  Pullin, a lefty batters, was the Phillies' 5th round draft choice in 2012.

Third baseman Mitch Walding notched two-homer games on back-to-back nights on Thursday and Friday and slammed five homers in a four game stretch last week.  The 24-year-old left-handed batter has yet to break out on a consistent basis this season, as he's batting .200 with 10 home runs and 24 RBI in 42 games this year.

Drew Anderson, image- Jay Floyd
Righty pitcher Drew Anderson has rebounded from a difficult April.  After posting an 8.59 ERA with a .333 batting average against while striking out nine and walking six in 14 2/3 innings over four April starts, Anderson would tally a 2.88 ERA with a .203 BAA while striking out 34 and walking nine in 34 1/3 innings over six May starts.  Anderson, 23, was a 21st round draft pick in 2012.

Tyler Viza, a righty starter, has lowered his season ERA by nearly 1.5 runs over his past two appearances.  In those outings, the 22-year-old has gone 1-0 while allowing two earned runs, striking out 12 and walking one in 12 innings of work.  In 10 total starts this year, the Phils' 32nd round pick from 2013 has a 3-3 record with a 5.59 ERA and a .287 BAA.

Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers (32-24, 1st place Florida State League North Division)-

Righty pitcher Jose Taveras leads the pack of seven Threshers that have been honored as Florida State League All-Stars.  After his complete game victory on Saturday, the 23-year-old Dominican has a 5-2 record with a 2.23 ERA, a .221 BAA and a 7.8 K/9 mark in 10 starts this year.

Outfielder Zach Coppola was batting .350 with a homer, 12 RBI and 10 stolen bases over 45 games and was slated to be an FSL All-Star as well before he was promoted to Reading last week.  The 23-year-old was the Phillies' 13th round draft choice in 2015.

Outfielder Cornelius "C" Randolph is 16-for-40 (.400 avg) over his last 11 games.  Overall in 47 games this season, the 20-year-old lefty hitter has put together a .239 average with five homers and 25 RBI.  Randolph was the Phillies' opening round draft pick in 2015.

Also an All-Star, Philadelphia native Jeff Singer has been strong all season, posting a 3-1 record with 11 saves, a 1.57 ERA and a .170 BAA in 20 relief appearances.  The 23-year-old is a Rutgers-Camden product and was signed as a minor league free agent in 2015.

Class A Lakewood BlueClaws (31-25, 2nd place South Atlantic League North Division)- 

Left pitcher Nick Fanti finally looked a bit human on Saturday in an outing in which he allowed four earned runs over four innings.  However, prior to that start, the 20-year-old, who remains undefeated on the season with a 4-0 record, had tallied a 1.52 ERA and a .156 BAA over his first eight starts this year.  For the year, the Phils 31st round draft pick from 2015 has a remarkable 10.2 K/9 mark overall.

Righty reliever Will Hibbs has still not been scored upon through 16 games (28 innings) this season.   Overall, Hibbs is 4-0 with seven saves, a .078 BAA and a 9.6 K/9 mark.  The six-foot-seven 245-pounder was the Phils' 19th round draft selection last year.

Mickey Moniak, last year's first overall draft pick, is batting .275 with two home runs and 22 RBI in 51 games this season for the 'Claws. 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

PhoulBallz Interview: Reading RHP Drew Anderson

Drew Anderson, image- Jay Floyd
In six May starts right-handed pitcher Drew Anderson posted a 2-2 record with a 2.88 ERA with a .203 batting average against while striking out 34 and walking nine in 34 1/3 innings for Double-A Reading. 

That exceptional month followed up a lackluster April in which he posted a 1-0 record with an 8.59 ERA and a .333 batting average against while striking out nine and walking six in 14 2/3 innings over four starts. 

The six-foot-three, 185-pounder was the Phillies' 21st round draft selection in 2012.  Since returning from Tommy John surgery, which he underwent in April, 2015, Anderson has drawn attention as one of the organization's most promising young hurlers. 

Recently, I sat down with the 23-year-old to inquire about his ups and downs this season along with the buzz surrounding his name entering the 2017 campaign, his team and plenty more.  Read ahead for that interview.


-Coming into the season, there was some excitement, some buzz around your name.  Some were saying things like, "This guy is THE underrated prospect in the Phils system."  Did you hear any of that chatter and what did you think of that type of review?

Yeah, I heard a little bit about it.  It was exciting.  It's about getting out and showing my name, but, yeah, it's been good.

-When the buzz is there, is there any additional-- I'm sure you wouldn't feel or use the word pressure, but is there any excitement behind what you're trying to do?

Not really.  Just going out there and doing what I can do.  Just trying to win ball games.

-On this club, included with you, are some well regarded prospects.  Among them is Scott Kingery.  I asked him about his torrid offensive pace, if the team was excited behind him.  He said some of the guys might be joking with him that it's not exciting anymore because he's hitting homers too often.  What's it like for you to be watching his surge at the plate?

Oh, it's always exciting.  I love baseball, playing it.  It's always exciting.  

-For this Reading rotation, with each of the five main starters having ERA's that are rather high (five starting pitchers including Anderson had marks higher than 5.00 at the time of this interview).  What's your feeling on you output or your stat line right now?  

Honestly, I don't even know it.  We're just still trying to do what we can do.  Get some wins.

-So when you say you don't know (your ERA), that's remarkable to me, where a guy wouldn't pay attention to his own stats at least to know where he stands and keep tabs on the ups and downs of a season.  Is that something that you make habit of, to not know what your statistics are?

I mean, I just don't really-- it doesn't bother me.  As long as my innings are there, everything else will be there.

-Okay.  What is some of the feedback you're getting from the coaching staff right now?  I got some good feedback on the starting rotation from (team manager Greg) Legg.  Any memorable feedback coming from pitching coach Steve Schrenk or anyone else right now?

Yeah, we're all just still developing.  So we're still just getting out there.  Doing what we do.

-I don't mean to challenge you or anything like that, but I feel like I'm getting short answers or maybe stock answers.  That could be your style and I don't have a problem with it, I'm just trying to see if there's any feelings you have with or toward the efforts right now.

No feelings.  We're in second place.  I think we're just right behind Trenton, so we're winning ball games and that's all that matters, really.

-The reports on you, when we talked about that buzz earlier, were the velocity was up for you and you had taken strides since returning from surgery.  Did you notice that was helpful for you, the added ticks on the velocity?

Again, I honestly don't know what my velocity's been at.  I don't really check that.

-I'm surprised, man.  I feel like there's many, many guys that I talk to that at least have sort of a self-inventory in some fashion.  Whether it's their stat line or some other gauge of success.  What's the focus for you-- you mentioned standings and team win-loss record, but there's got to be some way you keep tabs on your success.  What's most meaningful to you at the end of a start?

Just how I feel the next day.  If my body feels healthy.  That's all that matters.  And if we won that day.

-Chace Numata is the primary backstop for this club.  What thoughts can you share on the battery mates you have here with Reading?

I love Chace.  We've been together since, wow- I've been throwing to him for a while.  He's good.  I like him a lot. 

-What's it like playing in Reading right now, in front of fans that really, for the most part, grew up as Phillies fans and want to see all of you guys become the next big thing for the top club?

I mean, I feel like everyone loves it.  Everyone's great.  Just- the Phillies fans, they love it.  They love baseball.

Anderson, image- Jay Floyd
-What are your feelings on the volunteering that's expected of the players on the roster and interacting with that community?  Is that something that you look forward to?

Yeah, that's what being a professional baseball player is all about, is helping out the community.  And we always have sign-up sheets and everything and we all get out there and contribute to the community.

-I know you have some social networking accounts.  I don't know how active you are on them.  Do you get a lot of fan interactions going on with those and do you enjoy it?

I mean, I'm not a big tweeter or anything like that, but every now and a again a fan will reach out and that's kind of cool.  I mean, I'd favorite it, I guess.

-(As teammate Jesen Therrien was walking by, I pointed directly at him, jokingly)  Do you have a favorite reliever on this team?

They're all my favorite!

-Some times a roster can be split into factions with relievers and starters hanging out with one another or Latinos and Americans split up a bit.  What's the vibe in that regard with this Reading team?

We're all good.  I don't speak Spanish, but (the Latino guys) all speak English, so we all get along.  I love them all. 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

PhoulBallz Interview: Fightins LHP Austin Davis

Austin Davis, image- Jay Floyd
Lefty reliever Austin Davis has been an exciting contributor at two levels already this season.  After opening the season with the Class A Advances Clearwater Threshers, the 24-year-old was promoted to Double-A Reading, where he is mowing down the competition.

Overall in 15 appearances this season, Davis, who was the Phils' 12th round pick in 2014, has a 2-0 record with a save, a 1.82 ERA and an 11.2 K/9 mark.

Last week I talked with the six-foot-four 245-pounder about his recent success, learning from Roy Halladay, early memories of the game and plenty more.  Read ahead for that full interview.

-You've been having plenty of success this year.  Talk a bit about your season thus far.

Yeah, I'm just out here trying to help the team and get us wins and get us saves and just do whatever I can to help the team win and so far, so good.

-Excellent.  The word on you early in the season was that your velocity was up a bit from previous years.  What led to that? What can you tell me that's behind the increase there?

I spend the whole off-season getting bigger, stronger, coming off an injury last year.  I used the Driveline program too and that's kind of bringing everything together and the velocity just jumped and I'll let it ride.

-Driveline program...I haven't heard of that.  What details can you share?

Driveline is a weighted ball program out of Seattle.  A lot of big leaguers are trying to use it now.  Teams are trying to take advantage of it.  My trainer back home has a facility where we can use it and I've been using different weighted balls and do long toss in your throwing and just kind of strengthen your arm and get ready for the season.

-I've talked with coaches at times about seeing a handful of guys in Lakewood and by the time they get to Reading, their velocity is up several notches.  And I have heard about team mandated things being key for those guys.  Was there anything specifically from the Phillies that may have helped in that regard as well?

Yeah, definitely.  I mean, it's the culmination of a lot of things.  Getting your legs going is all a part of it too, so it's not two different programs.  It's not Driveline's program and the Phillies program.  It's bringing all the things together and using different tools to increase velocity.

-What's the full pitch menu right now and what do you consider the quality weapons for you?

I'm working with fastball, slider, change up and, you know, I'm here to get lefties out and I know that and I'm just really working on that fastball (and) slider and making those the best tools I can and we'll go from there. 

-There are a few prospects on this Reading club that are drawing some attention this season.  Now that you've joined this club, you're among them.  Have you heard any buzz and can that be exciting for you?

I mean, I had no clue.  I'm not on Twitter or social media that much, so that's not even something that I know.  You know, but I guess that's exciting for them to hyped on people and stuff.  I'm just trying to make it to the big leagues like everyone else and if people want to say that I'm going to make it there faster of slower that's up to them and I'll just do my thing.

-What's the fun level for you this year?  Because, I imagine, success has to make the whole thing more enjoyable for you.

I mean, for me, it's fun to just try to execute every pitch as perfectly as I can and working with Jeff Miller and Roy Halladay down in Florida and getting my mind right with that stuff.  I also work with this guy Buddy Biancalana, who played in the big leagues with the Royals and basically success comes from doing what you want to do each and every time.  Whether you get the guy out or he hits a home run, if you execute your pitch you're successful.  And I feel like I'm doing that at a high percentage this year, so that's a lot of fun.  Yeah.

-You mentioned Halladay there.  Any meaningful feedback you've gotten from him or other coaches that has helped you take strides?

I mean, through my whole career the talk has been, "You have the stuff, you just need to make sure you're doing it every single day."  To be able to go out there and be consistent is what I feel like I've done a good job of this year, so far, and I have to keep that going.  But I think that consistency every day is what I think the coaches are starting to notice a little more.  

-What else can you tell me about your interactions with Halladay?  I've heard guys before share that he's given them a book about the mental approach.  Was it along those lines?

Jeff Miller is our head mental skills coach and Roy is part of that team as well, so Roy is stationed down in Florida and he spends time in the clubhouse talking to us, meeting with us.  And I had a good amount of time to talk to him during the season with Clearwater when I was down there and he just knows the game, has the experience, he can relate to you very well and use the things that come from books like The Mental Game of Baseball, The Mental ABC's of Pitching, stuff like that and translate that to our language and make that more personal for us to use.

-Who inspired you as a youngster watching baseball?  Was there anyone you grew up wanting to emulate?

I grew up in Arizona, so Randy Johnson.  Growing up, you watch him throw 100, just letting it go with a nasty slider and I thought, "Hey, I'm left-handed."  And I was tall and gangly- "I can do this!"  Now I'm just trying to throw balls fast and get guys out.

-Is that your earliest memory of baseball, watching Randy Johnson?

Yeah.  I remember exactly where I was for his perfect game and just watching him with the Diamondbacks win the World Series was just exciting.  So, just trying to think back to that, what made him successful and just use that imprint.

-Did you ever get to see him compete in person?

I saw him pitch in person.  It was sort of toward the end of his career, so he wasn't as nasty as he was back in the day, but still nasty.

-Are there any family members that got you into the game?

My family loves baseball.  None of them played of anything like that, but they were just fans.  My mom and her parents grew up in Kansas City and are huge Royals fans and now live out in Surprise, where the spring training stadium is.  They just enjoy and love baseball.  And I grew up playing every sport and they just let me choose from there.  And I figured I wasn't athletic enough to do anything else, so I just stand in one place and throw the ball as hard as I can.