Sunday, November 12, 2017

Phillies Arizona Fall League Notebook

Running down some numbers from a crop of Phillies players participating in the prestigious Arizona Fall League. Statistics listed are through games played on Saturday, November 11th.
 
In the AFL, which wraps up at the end of this week, Phillies minor leaguers play on the Glendale Desert Dogs along with players from the Dodgers, Indians, Pirates and White Sox.  The team is managed by 2017 Clearwater Threshers skipper Shawn Williams. 

Typcially, the Arizona Fall League features many prospects on the verge of the big leagues.  With close proximity to the majors, it's not far-fetched to think that it won't be long before some of these players aren't far from making an impact at BetOnline.ag Sportsbook.
 
Right-handed pitcher J.D. Hammer is having tremendous success in the AFL.  The six-foot-three 215-pounder has a 0.00 ERA and is holding opponents to a .081 average through nine appearances.  Hammer, 23, was acquired from the Rockies last season in the trade for All-Star Pat Neshek.  After joining the Phillies organization, Hammer, who was a 24th round draft pick in 2016, posted a 2-0 record with a 0.57 ERA in 12 relief outings for Class A Advanced Clearwater. 
 
Lefty pitcher Garrett Cleavinger has a 0-1 record with a 7.71 ERA and a .359 batting average against in nine appearances.   The 23-year-old was acquired from the Orioles in the Jeremy Helickson trade last season.  Cleavinger was a 3rd round draft pick of Baltimore in 2015.  After joining the Phillies organization, he joined the Double-A Reading staff, where he would record a 0-1 record with a save and a 5.28 ERA in 11 games.
 
Righty Trevor Bettencourt had his stats marred by a couple of tough outings in which he recorded just an inning of work and surrendered eight total earned runs.  Overall in seven games, the reliever sports and 13.50 ERA while notching a save and a .333 batting average against.  Bettencourt, the Phils 25th round pick in 2016 out of UC Santa Barbara, had a strong regular season in 2017, posting a combined 5-2 record with 10 saves and a 2.61 ERA for Class A Lakewood and Class A Advanced Clearwater. 
 
Lefty starter Elniery Garcia is through with the AFL, leaving the Glendale team after four starts for undisclosed reasons.  He sported a 1-2 record with a 5.79 ERA during his time there and struck out 13 while walking four in 14 innings.  Garcia missed much of the 2017 season following a suspension for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs.  In seven total regular season starts this year (two in the Gulf Coast League as warm-up appearances and five with Double-A Reading), Garcia went 2-1 with a 1.47 ERA.  He also pitched in the post-season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
 
Converted outfielder Aaron Brown took Garcia’s place for the final week of the AFL season.  Through one outing, Brown has a scoreless frame under his belt.  In 14 regular season appearances on the mound this year, the 25-year-old lefty posted a 0-1 record and a 4.74 ERA.  Brown was a 3rd round pick of the Phillies out of Pepperdine in 2014.  He was a standout both on offense and as a hurler in college, so last year when his bat stalled, the move to pitching was made. 
 
Backstop Edgar Cabral has enjoyed success with Glendale, batting .333 with a double and three RBI through 12 games.  The righty batting Californian posted a combined .260 batting average with four homers and 26 RBI this year with Lakewood and Clearwater.  The 22-year-old was an 11th round draft choice by the Phillies in 2015 out of Mount San Antonio College. 
 
Cornelius Randolph with Lakewood in 2016, image- Jay Floyd
Outfielder Cornelius Randolph has dealt with some struggles in the AFL.  The left-handed hitter is batting .203 with three doubles, a triple and five RBI through 16 games.  Randolph, who was the Phils’ 1st round draft choice in 2015, is the youngest player on his team and one of the youngest players in the league at 20 years old. 
 
Zach Green, a corner infielder, is batting .184 with a homer and three RBI in 15 games for Glendale.  A 3rd round draft pick by the Phillies in 2012, Green batted .227 with nine home runs and 26 RBI in 57 combined games at three levels this year, following a stint on the disabled list with multiple ailments this year.

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Thursday, November 2, 2017

Excerpts from my interview for Phillies Minor Thoughts

I recently answered some questions on the 2017 Class A Lakewood BlueClaws for Matt Winkleman's Phillies Minor Thoughts site.

The interview was part of Matt's season review for the team. He's running a series of such posts for each level of the Phils' minor league system.

Below are a few quotes, but you can check out his site for the complete feature.

Sixto Sanchez, image- Jay Floyd
Tim Tebow got the national headlines, but Sixto Sanchez was the spectacle in Lakewood this year. What was the environment in the park when he pitched?

Sixto was quickly becoming the name to see in the Phillies’ system this year.  There was some extra fan buzz for sure, as the season went on.  His 2nd half stats (1.91 ERA, 8.7 K/9, .179 BAA) just ensured the BlueClaws would get a shot at a win each time he took the hill, which energized the team behind him.

He’s a combination of both talented and smart, which is why he stands out.  He’s able to fire it up and hurl triple digits, but he can wisely vary the velocity.  Sanchez can pitch with great command and all the positive reviews are on point.  

When he was out there, Sixto electrified the game.  He was the sensation of the 2017 BlueClaws.

This was the second year a Lakewood hitter went on a home run binge. Last year, Jose Pujols went 12/12 Home and road with his home runs, this year Darick Hall hit 22 of his 29 on the road. Can you speak to how the park effects hitters?

Hall’s presence in the Lakewood lineup was a huge key for that team.  His home/road splits display pretty clearly that Lakewood’s FirstEnergy Park plays larger than other fields.  I wouldn’t say the park effects the BlueClaws hitters much.  It’s a place that many of them hear about before they step on the field.  They understand that the place is tough to hit the ball out of, just the same as Reading pitchers know ahead of time that their numbers could show the opposite- favorable factors for the offense- when they pitch at home in Reading’s FirstEnergy STADIUM.

The coaching staff in Lakewood references their place as “Yellowstone National Park” because it plays so huge.  They call center field “BigBoyVille”.  Seven out of 27 for Hall is telling about Lakewood, but the road numbers are just as telling to what a batter can do in more typical facilities.

If anything, that park gives Class A batters an extra level of hurdles to deal with as they attempt to develop their game.  Struggles and difficulties can be good things for players to deal with.  They are part of the game.

Coaches, instructors and other evaluators are very tuned in with keeping mental tallies of things that more or less give them sort of an adjusted average (or simply adjusted impressions) to accommodate for tough luck scenarios.  I can’t tell you how many times coaches and managers have cited how stats aren’t telling the full story for a hitter because he’s hitting the ball very hard right at people, or some similar thing.  They give that same feedback to the players.  That’s a reason I don’t think Phils prospects would be dragged down by a park that can sandbag some of their statistics.

There are also positives that come with the park in Lakewood.  It’s a newer venue with great amenities and a terrific fan base.  The BlueClaws led their league in attendance for 15 straight years and they have access to top notch training equipment and a full sized gym.  It’s a special place that hundreds or thousands of other players probably wish they could call home.
  

Click here for additional thoughts on Mickey Moniak, Daniel Brito, Arquemedes Gamboa, Nick Fanti and more.