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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.

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