Monday, December 30, 2019

PhoulBallz Interview: OF Matt Vierling Off-season Check In

Vierling w/ Lakewood in 2018, image- Jay Floyd
Outfield prospect Matt Vierling took some time recently to offer some thoughts on his off-season.

The 23-year-old was a 5th round draft selection by the Phillies in 2018.  This year, in his first full season in professional baseball, the Notre Dame product posted a .232 average with five home runs, 41 RBI and 22 stolen bases in 118 games with Class A Advanced Clearwater.

Last week I asked Matt, a Missouri native, to offer some details on his workout routine in the fall and winter months, his thoughts on Major League Baseball's proposed elimination of certain affiliated minor league teams and plenty more.  Read ahead for that interview.

- How much down time do you allow yourself before you get back to picking up a bat and/or taking swings?
I try to give myself at least one to two months off from swinging. This year I was on the longer end because I was coming off of my first full year and felt like I needed the break. That’s what’s nice about having a long off-season.

- Did you attend any of the camps or seminars in Clearwater this off-season? 
I did not attend any of the camps or seminars that they held. Because I wasn’t doing them, I went and finished up a semester of school back at Notre Dame.

- Do you have any key goals for this winter like adding muscle, adding speed, improving your Spanish, those types of things?
I want to add about five to 10 pounds of muscle and obviously improve my speed on a day-to-day basis. I try to set goals at the beginning of the off-season so that I have something to work towards. Some of those goals include strength and speed gains along with eating healthy and keeping my body in shape.

- What facility do you work out at in the fall and winter and who do you work with as far as coaches or other players?
I was up at Notre Dame working out from September until December. They have great facilities and I have access to almost everything up there so that was super beneficial. Back in St. Louis I work out at P3. It’s mainly a pitching performance facility but I’ve been working with Josh Kessel and Steffen Simmons, the strength coaches there, since I was in high school. Having people around that know me in regards to lifting and running is super valuable. There are a lot of pro ball players that work out in there, so it’s a great atmosphere to be apart of on a daily basis. I’m going to be hitting with Bobby Wernes who's a Phillies hitting coach back in St. Louis, which will also helpful.

- What was your best takeaway from the 2019 season? Was there something you took the biggest strides with or was their a big lesson you learned?

There were a lot of takeaways for me with regards to the 2019 season. But the main takeaway would be my body. Going through a full season for the first time, while also being in the Florida State League, made me learn how to handle my body on a daily basis. There were times when I could’ve treated my body better with the food I ate or how I stretched, so learning from that will help me in the future.

The remainder of this interview is available exclusively for Patreon members. You can support my work and get access to content at Patreon.com/PhoulBallz.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Frosty Phillies Favorites: 2019 Christmas Survey

Kevin Gowdy, image- Jay Floyd
Season's greetings to all!  Around here, we surely adore the holidays and, of course, baseball players are no exception. Every year at Christmas time, I survey a group of Phillies prospects about what they get excited for during the holiday season.

Players taking part in this year's TENTH annual Christmas favorites survey are pitchers Albertus Barber, Tyler Carr, Keylan Killgore, Kevin Gowdy, Connor Hinchliffe and Jonathan Hennigan.  Additionally, outfielder Matt Vierling took time to share his thoughts as well.

Inquiries and responses regarding each player's holly jolly favorites lie ahead...

-What is your favorite Christmas song?

Barber- It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas. Big fan of the song.
Hinchliffe- ​All I Want for Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey.
Gowdy- My favorite Christmas song is Mele Kalikimaka by Jimmy Buffett. My parents have always been huge Jimmy Buffett fans, so it was always on during the holidays when I was growing up. Also I love it because it’s a tropical Hawaiian Christmas song, and being from Santa Barbara we’ve never had a white Christmas or anything like that. It’s always been sunny and nice out during Christmas time.
Killgore- My favorite Christmas song is kind of unusual, because to be honest I'm not a huge fa of Christmas music. My favorite Christmas song is "The Christmas Shoes" by Newsong.
Vierling- My favorite Christmas song is All I Want For Christmas is You by Mariah Carey.
Hennigan- The Christmas Shoes. What’s better than a song about helping the needy and talking about Jesus?
Carr- I might be the wrong guy to ask this question. I don't really listen to Christmas music.

-What is your favorite holiday movie or TV special?

Barber- Favorite movie to me seems like a given. Elf to me is an absolute masterpiece. Will Ferrell has a special place in my heart.
Hinchliffe- National Lampoons Christmas Vacation because it’s hard to beat Clark Griswold and crazy Uncle Eddie.
Gowdy- My favorite Christmas movies are Home Alone and Elf. Will Ferrell is the man!
Killgore- Definitely "Home Alone: Lost in New York". I can watch the Home Alone movies all year around, they never get old.
Vierling- My favorite Christmas movie is Elf with Will Ferrell. He's hilarious, especially in that.
Hennigan- Favorite Christmas movie or TV special would be Home Alone 1 and 2.
Carr- I think Elf takes the cake for sure. Will Ferrell, I think he fits that role perfectly.

-What's your favorite thing to eat at Christmas time and who makes it?

Barber- Favorite food item would have to be the special Christmas sugar cookies we leave out for “Santa” that are really just an excuse for your dad to get some extra calories in that day. Mother and me used to make them.
Hinchliffe- I don’t think I can point out a single Christmas food but I love everything my mother makes during the holidays… and no I wasn’t forced to say that!
Gowdy- My favorite thing to eat during the holidays is the cinnamon rolls that my mom makes every year. She makes a good amount of them for Christmas morning, but they never seem to last through the day.
Killgore- It is kind of a tradition in my house that we have Breakfast Casserole on Christmas morning and usually my parents make it. It's just a bunch of cheese and sausage and eggs. It's incredible and I need to learn how to make it.
Vierling- My family always gets a Christmas ham, so that's up there as my favorite I would say since we do that every year.
Hennigan- Papa Dale's ham. That baby would melt in your mouth.
Carr- There's some good stuff. My mom makes a lot of sweets. I'm gonna have to go with her cookies. Sugar cookies, chocolate chip, all of the above. And my dad making the meal...ham and turkey. Whatever we have, it's all really good. That's what I look forward to,

-What is your most memorable gift from childhood?

Barber- Most memorable childhood gift I got was definitely my Nintendo 64. I’ll never forget how amazed I was when I laid eyes on that thing, man. I’m a big nerd about video games, and that was where it all started.
Hinchliff- A memorable Christmas gift from my childhood that sticks out was my brother and I getting custom baseball gloves when we were in little league.
Gowdy- One of my favorite Christmas gifts I’ve gotten has to be when my parents surprised my sister and I with bikes in the garage. I was a lot younger and must’ve been eight or nine, but I absolutely loved it and rode it all the time.
Killgore- I will always remember when my brother, sister and I got a trampoline for Christmas. I can't remember how old I was, but I remember finding a note on the fireplace saying that a gift was left outside. We spent the rest of that Christmas begging to put it together, rather than worry about what else we got.
Vierling- We don't have a specific family tradition that we always do, but my family gets together with both sides of our family. It's great to see both sides and catch up with them at the family parties.
Hennigan- I would say bicycles because we thought we were some type of dare devil stunt men as kids.
Carr- This might sound a little country, but my brother and I got matching rifles back in the day when we were younger. We were trying to find out what our parents got us and we looked all around the house in their closet and other places. Come to find out they hit them in our own closet. In our closet they hid both of them in there! This had to have been when I was probably 15 or 16. We do a lot of hunting and fishing down here. So that's probably the best gift.

-Does your family have a Phillies ornament on the Christmas tree?

Hinchliffe- ​Not sure if we did last year but this year (we'll have one) for sure.

-What's your favorite ornament on your Christmas tree?

Barber- My favorite ornament isn’t really specific, but my grandmother, the sweetest lady ever, will always go find an ornament that reminds us of her, or her of us, and give it to us every year to hang on the tree. She’s done this for over 20 years. Amazing.
Gowdy- My favorite ornament on the Christmas tree has got to be this little toy solider with my name on it. For some reason I just loved it when I was younger, so I’ve always made sure to hang it up on the front of the tree haha.
Killgore- My Grandma used to hide a pickle ornament in the tree and whoever finds it opens the first gift. We haven't done that in a couple years but my brother and I bring it up almost every year.
Hennigan- Probably me and my wife’s first Christmas ornament together.
Carr- To be honest I don't think so. I used to help decorate when I was a kid, but now that's all my mom. I don't think I have anything.

-Do you recall finding out the real deal about Santa Claus and is there a story that goes along with that?

Barber- I found out Santa wasn’t real when I was awake one night at about 9 or 10. Might’ve been younger. Anyways, I was sneaking around trying to see if I could find Santa and catch him. That year my parents had the brilliant idea of not wrapping the presents up until around 1 AM, like they didn’t have weeks before that time, and while doing my recon I heard wrapping paper and my mom yell “HONEY CAN YOU BRING ME THE SCISSORS?” At that point I knew. I wasn’t sad, I wasn’t mad, I just realized that all holiday characters were fake and went on my happy way accepting gifts from them anyways. If your boy needed to act like Santa was real to get presents from him, then you could call me Leonardo DiCaprio.
Gowdy- Honestly, I can’t really remember how I found out about Santa, even though it sounded a little fishy to me as I started getting older. I wish I had a great story for you though!
Killgore- I can't remember to be honest. If I had to guess, one of my older siblings probably broke the news to me and I would imagine it wasn't a soft let down.
Vierling- I found out when my brother and I got a ping pong table for Christmas. My mom had actually forgotten to give it to us and it was sitting in our garage until the middle of January. One day my brother and I went out there to get something in the garage and found the ping pong table we had asked for. That's when we found out the truth.
Hennigan- My cousin told me the bad news! I hit him as soon as he told me, then I thought about it for a second and realized the truth.

-Does your family have any traditions that are a big deal around Christmas?

Barber- One of our standout traditions would always be that we used to all wear the same sweaters that our grandma would get us for a Christmas picture. So here’s 15 to 20 of us all lined up in these absolutely brutal turtleneck sweaters from Dollar General. Hilarious to go back and look at those pictures.
Hinchliffe- One thing that we have done since my brother and I were little is finding a hidden pickle in the Christmas tree to decide who gets to open the first present. I’ve only ever heard of a few people who know of this tradition. The novelty has sort of worn out since we’re older but we still do it for the laughs.
Gowdy- One of my favorite traditions growing up was Christmas Eve going to look at Christmas lights with my dad and sister. I later found out that was how my mom would get some last minute work done for “Santa” getting the stockings ready. Pretty funny.
Killgore- Really the only tradition we have, is we always spend Christmas Eve at my Grandparents' house with our whole family. We usually have a ton of food and everyone stands around in the kitchen talking or the kids go outside and play football.
Vierling- We don't have a specific family tradition that we always do, but my family gets together with both sides of our family. It's great to see both sides and catch up with them at the family parties.
Hennigan- We just go look at Christmas lights.
Carr- A lot of my family members are in law enforcement or the medical field, so sometimes we have to celebrate a day early or a day late. This year we're going to have to do it on Christmas Eve because my brother and his wife are working on Christmas day and it's just small things. We can't ever really have anything set in stone.


Previous editions of this survey include answers from Aaron Nola, Rhys Hoskins, Nick Williams, Adam Haseley, Scott Kingery and loads of others.  

Those editions of this delightful Christmas questionnaire can be viewed at the following links- 2018 holiday survey, 2017 survey, 2016 survey, 2015 survey, 2014 survey, 2013 edition, 2012 edition, 2011 edition and the 2010 edition

Thursday, December 19, 2019

PhoulBallz Interview: Tyler Carr off-season check in

Tyler Carr, image- Jay Floyd

Please head on over the Patreon.com/PhoulBallz to support my work and get access to interviews like this one early as well as other exclusive content you can't get anywhere else.  

Righty pitcher Tyler Carr had an outstanding season in the minor leagues this year. The 23-year-old opened the season with the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws, where he notched a 0.51 ERA in 11 relief appearances before earning a promotion to Class A Advanced Clearwater. As a member of the Threshers' bullpen, Carr sported a 1.54 ERA in 27 outings, including being part of a combined no-hitter in June. Carr was then promoted Double-A Reading, in time for that club's playoff run.

Overall in 39 regular season contests last season, Carr tallied a 5-4 record with six saves, a .180 batting average against along with a 9.8 K/9 mark.

The talented hurler was selected by the Phillies in round 31 of the 2018 draft out of South Alabama.

This week I talked with Tyler about his off-season routine, declining to pitch in off-season ball, his takeaways from 2019 and more. Read ahead for that complete interview.


-Did you attend instructs or was there any winter ball leagues on the table for you to participate in?

I didn't go to instructs. I got asked if I wanted to go play in Australia, in one of the winter ball leagues. I turned it down just because I thought I threw enough innings and just felt good still. I wanted to get back home because you have to get a real job and make money to be able to support yourself and live in the off-season. 'Cause, as you know, you don't get paid a ton and you need to hold up the roof, so...

-I know we spoke and you mentioned you're doing pitching lessons with young players. What age group are your working with, what facility are you using and are you doing anything else work wise?

So, I do give pitching lessons. I live in a real small town, so I don't have access to a big facility. I have some connections at the local public baseball fields, so I have a nice turf mound set up and we work at different distances. I work with mostly nine to 10 (year olds), most of the kids. I do give a couple high schoolers some lessons. But, when I'm not giving lessons, I'm working for a citrus company. One of my best friend's dad, he owns a citrus company and that's just all orange trees and stuff. And I do a lot of care taking in the orange groves and I work 49 hours a week. So, after I get off work- I work from seven to five- and once I get off of work at five, from 5:30 to 6:30, I do a lesson. I do one lesson every day of the week.

-That's pretty awesome. Does working with people that you know and friends of the family, does that make the main gig more enjoyable?

Absolutely, it makes it easier being surrounded by great people at the workplace. The environment's great, so I enjoy it there. And, of course, I like seeing the kids get better as the lessons go by. You see what their flaws are and you work on it and you see them go up hill. That's awesome.

-I wouldn't expect you to have any regrets about choosing to stay stateside and earn some income with the two jobs that you've got, but over these past couple months, are you seeing any posts online from guys like Logan O'Hoppe, Ben Aklinski and the other Phillies guys that are over there living the good life in the summer, down under, and do you have any jealousy for not being there?

(Laughs) No, no. We play enough games for me. But, it's good seeing them. They're over there, having a good time. I've talked to some of the guys and they're actually on the same team as my old-- my junior year, my roommate was from Australia and they're on the same team right now. But I'm good friends with him and he called me and we Facetimed a couple times and he was with some of the guys and Logan and Aklinski and some of those guys.

-What is the Aussie teammate's name?

Jason Lott.

-Great.  Are there any goals or anything you're working on specifically, like adding muscle or weight, this off-season?

You know, last year I tried to gain weight. I put on, like, 10 pounds in the off-season and wanted to see if I weighed more if I'd throw harder and that didn't necessarily work for me. About the 175 range is where I felt the best and I weighed 185 when I came in, but I felt the best at about 175 and I threw my hardest this year at about that weight. The only thing I really need-- and I'm still working out and stuff-- is not so much packing on the pounds, it's more reps and that kind of thing. 

My main goal is to get my slider as consistent as my change up. That's really it. I like where I'm at velocity wise. Change up is my best pitch, but I want to get my slider on the change up level and I'll be excited about that.

-I know this year you had a couple big moments. You pitched in a combined no-hitter with Clearwater and you earned a promotion to Double-A Reading. Was there a big takeaway or lesson from your 2019 season for you?

Not only did I meet so many great people and build so many great relationships around the organization this year, but it was super cool to be part of a no-hitter-- that was awesome for sure. I learned a lot baseball wise. You can't name every single thing, but playing 140 games, even if you're not playing, in the bullpen you learn a lot. I think I learned the game of baseball better. I learned how to approach different batters and I wrapped my head around that as best I could and I think I took a big step in the knowledge area. I think I got a lot smarter baseball wise.

-Communication is a big deal with pitchers and catchers. Some guys will work on that during the off-season. Where's your Espanol currently and is it where you want it to be?

No. I could improve on that. I haven't had a Spanish class yet. I have a lot of friends from the Dominican and places like that and we make it work. You understand each other. You find a way, even if you can't speak each other's languages, you figure it out.

-Is it the case for the battery mates, the words you'll use for pitches are universal, so that helps things?

I mean it's a little bit of everything. It's both. They learn some English and you learn some Spanish and you don't forget. You can use your hands and you can do all kinds of stuff to make it work. And especially being around people that speak another language, being around them for six months, you pick up a lot and learn some stuff.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

PhoulBallz Interview: Off-season Check In with RHP Kevin Gowdy

Kevin Gowdy, image- Jay Floyd
Righty hurler Kevin Gowdy has a successful season as a member of the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws this year. After missing two full seasons following UCL surgery, the 2016 second round draft pick finally made it through a year totally healthy.

In 24 games with the Claws, the California native posted a 0-6 record with a 4.68 ERA and a .281 batting average against.

Recently, I talked with the 22-year-old about his off-season, his progress during the regular season and more. Read ahead for that complete interview.

-What have you been up to since the season wrapped up as far as baseball work?

So after the season wrapped up September 2nd, I went to instructs for two weeks to work on pitch design, I was out in Florida for another two weeks for strength camp and have also had some much-enjoyed time with friends and family.

-How long do you rest and avoid picking up a baseball? And during that time are you doing any conditioning or other sorts of work outs?

Once I’m done with baseball completely for the year, I take about a week off of everything and just hang out by the beach or with friends to really just unwind and get my mind right before getting back to work. After that week, I start getting back into strength training and arm care. I also take about a month of throwing completely, and after that I start playing light catch a couple times a week just to get my arm moving.

-What facility do you have access to use for training purposes?

This off-season I’ve trained at a place called BSTI which is in Aliso Viejo, California and ran through my agent. I’ve also been up at Driveline Baseball in Seattle which has been incredible so far.

-What would you say was your biggest takeaway from 2019? Any major lessons or improvements?

2019 was honestly an awesome year for me. Towards the beginning of the season and even into the summer I had a ton of ups and downs, especially with my command, velocity and my off-speed stuff, but I think a lot of that was to be expected coming back from Tommy John Surgery.

I was frustrated at times but going through such a grueling rehab process really taught me patience and mental toughness when I’m struggling. In a way I’m almost thankful I went through that surgery because it taught me so much about myself as a competitor and as a person. But once I started getting close to that two years post operation date, it all started to come together. My velocity started climbing back up into the mid 90’s, I started throwing my off-speed stuff where I wanted to and I cut down my walk rate by a lot.

This year was all about staying healthy, and I was able to do that. I don’t pay much attention to Twitter, but it was always funny to me when I’d see posts about how I haven’t returned from surgery or how I’ll never be the same pitcher, when, like I said, this year was all about staying healthy and by the end of the year, I was an even better version of myself pre-surgery.

I learned so much this year and am so fired up to get out there and compete next year.

-Do you have any big plans remaining for the off-season? Any vacations or anything else?

I don’t have too many big plans for this off-season, but I’ve had a few little trips here and there. One of them was to my buddy Jonathon Hennigan's wedding in Center, Texas back in October and I had an absolute blast with a bunch of the guys from the organization.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Phillies 2019 Rule 5 Draft Primer

One part of this week's MLB Winter Meetings that typically grabs interest related to the minor leagues is the annual Rule 5 Draft.

Players are eligible for selection in the Rule 5 draft when they are not on their major league organization's 40 man roster and 1) were signed to a contract at age 19 or older and have been in that organization for four years, OR 2) were signed at age 18 or younger and have been in that organization for five years.

Once a player is chosen in the Rule 5 Draft, that player is automatically assigned to his new organization's 40-man roster.

A Rule 5 player must remain on the selecting team's 25-man big league roster for the entire next season, or be offered back to his original team.


Draft order lists the Phillies 15th in this year's Rule 5 Draft. Four of the teams set to pick ahead of the Phils do not currently have room on their 40-man roster, thus they would not get to pick. The Phils head into it this week's Winter Meetings with 38 individuals on their 40-man roster. 
 
For loads of additional details about Phillies players that are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, historical successes from this process and more information, please consider visiting and supporting my Patreon page located online at Patreon.com/PhoulBallz.  Patrons get exclusive content, early access to select posts and interviews with team personnel all throughout the year.  Your backing will help me continue to cover the Phillies developmental ranks like no one else does.  Thank you.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Winners and losers of this off-season's MiLB rebrand frenzy

It's that special time of year when, in the midst of holidays and MLB hot stove, minor league teams have been launching new initiatives to spark interest and sell merchandise.

We've seen new colors, new nicknames, new uniforms and impending relocations getting the complete press release attention throughout the month of "Logovember" and beyond.

Let's take a look at some of the winners and losers of this off-season's newest brands and goods.

Some teams with local ties supplemented their current logos with updated colorways.  Reading went black while Lehigh Valley has gone gold.

Per a press release from the Triple-A Phillies affiliate, the IronPigs: "These uniforms represent what we as an organization think of our fans -- the 'Gold Standard' in Minor League Baseball," said Kurt Landes, President and General Manager of the IronPigs.



And via a release from the organization's Double-A affiliate, the Fightin' Phils shared: The Reading Fightin Phils announced the return of the R-Phils Black R-Train uniforms to be worn as part of Throwback Thursdays for the 2020 season...The black jerseys and hats were worn as an alternate home uniform during the early 2000's. Notable players to have worn these jerseys include Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz.



I surveyed the ultimate media/fan hybrid known as "Kram" from renowned Lehigh Valley focused sports blog Noise Nation for his thoughts on the two Phils affiliates' barrage of merchandise and he offered the following remarks: "I love when the teams try new things and keep things fresh. It was a good idea to come out with this gear prior to the holidays, for gift-giving reasons. It's good that the organizations do this without sacrificing their 'brand identity'. I'll reserve judgement on the merits of the individual releases until I see them on the field--I was completely wrong about the 2019 R-Train R-Phils throwback until I saw it on the field."

Reading, of course, re-launched their former Reading Phillies "R-Phils" uniforms last season after a complete rebrand to the name Fightin' Phils back in 2012.

My thoughts are simply that these offerings look appealing.  The IronPigs are always superior with their logos, branding and merchandise at every turn, with the exception of their full blackout uniform from 2014 that, thankfully, has gone away and did not last very long.  Reading, when they stay away from food items like pretzels, wieners and Whoopie Pies, typically take the field with wonderful looks.

Thus far my favorite logo release of this off-season belongs to Reading, which also updated its Copa de la Diversion concept, which celebrates Hispanic heritage.  The design, which features a Mexican pro wrestling or luchador mask, jumps out to me, a long-time choreographed combat sport fanatic.



Outside of the Phillies organization, another favorite of mine this off-season would be the Tigers Class A short-season team the Norwich Sea Unicorns.  The logos feature a narwhal outfitted as a sea captain with an anchor and a bat-harpoon.  The navy blue and gold colors look remarkable and I immediately gave these logos and hats my approval. 


The Twins' Class A Advanced team in Ft. Myers, FL updated their Miracle name to the Mighty Mussels.  While the colors and logos strike me as having allure, the Mussels' physical mascot may very well leaving children running and hiding due to his scary appearance.



The primary loser is the Boston Red Sox's relocating Triple-A squad announcing a change to the nickname "Woo Sox".  While a name that abbreviates similarly to BoSox isn't the problematic issue, their logos are considerably weak and disappointing in a landscape where business and sales are the primary focus of minor league clubs.  The explanation I read about this logo choice was that the team's future home, Worcester, is the place where the smiley face was invented.  Okay.  If that's what your town is known for and that is your region's primary claim to fame, you've got it pretty tough and additional insights from me here would likely just be putting salt in the wound. 



Another update that strikes me as inadequate is the Marlins' Triple-A affiliate, the Wichita Wind Surge.  So many questions arise and, seemingly, fans hate the name.  Per the team's assistant general manager, some guy, "Wichita is the air capital of the world, and we're paying homage to the wind.  It's a might force."  Stop it right now, some guy!  Air capital?  Just stop making complete fools of everyone with ties to that team.



Other notable brand announcements from the current off-season are the Missouola PaddleHeads as well as the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers.  Both of those are pretty decent.

While many of the updates and designs are handled by the same company, Brandiose, there are certainly hits and misses with the launch of fresh gear and modernized identities.  One remark from my friend Tug Haines really summed it up either way.  As he stated on Twitter this week, "Off-season minor league team Twitter is the try-hardiest."  It surely is.  Nobody tries harder and that's certainly an endearing quality of minor league baseball.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

40-man roster additions made by Phillies

Ahead of the deadline to update the big league 40-man roster in advance of the upcoming Rule 5 draft, the Phillies made some additions on Wednesday.

Jojo Romero, image- Jay Floyd
In moves that did not catch very many people by surprise, right-handed hurler Mauricio Llovera and left-hander JoJo Romero were added to the 40-man roster.  Righty Garrett Cleavinger was also protected.

Llovera, 23, a Venezuela native, notched a 3-4 record with a 4.55 ERA and a 9.9 K/9 mark in 14 games with Double-A Reading this year.  

Romero, a 4th round draft pick from 2016, posted a 7-9 record with a 5.82 ERA with a 7.4 K/9 mark in 24 games split between Triple-A Lehigh Valley and Double-A Reading this year.  In eight appearances in the Arizona Fall League this off-season the 23-year-old recorded a 0.84 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP.

Cleavinger, who was acquired by the Phils in the trade that sent Jeremy Helickson to Baltimore in 2017, posted a 3-2 record with a 3.66 ERA and a .172 batting average against in 34 relief appearances last season.

While the Cleavinger move was unexpected, each of these pitchers stand a fair shot at making a splash in the Phillies' bullpen next season.

The Phillies also dealt minor league infielder Curtis Mead to Tampa Bay for lefty reliever Cristopher Sanchez, who was also added to the 40-man roster.

Sanchez, 22, is a Dominican Republic native, who tallied a 4-1 record with two saves, a 2.26 ERA and a .212 batting average against in 24 games at three levels this year.

The transactions leave the Phillies' 40-man roster standing at 39 individuals.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Off-season League Phillies Notes

So you've been wondering about off-season baseball leagues and how Phillies players are doing. Well, except for the Arizona Fall League, which started and ended its schedule earlier than normal this year, there has been very limited action thus far.

Deivy Grullon, image- Jay Floyd
The Dominican Winter League features Deivy Grullon competing for the Aguilas. In just four games, the catcher has posted a .143 average with two RBI.

Roughly 10 days into its schedule, the Venezuelan Winter League hasn't seen any Phillies impact. Catcher Gregori Rivero, who played in the Phils system last year, is 0-for-1 with a walk for Zulia.
The other leagues in Australia and Puerto Rico are set to open their schedules soon.

On Friday night, the Roberto Clemente League in Puerto Rico will get underway. Lefty pitcher Gabriel Cotto is expected to be featured on the Carolina roster while catcher Willie Estrada is included on the Mayaguez roster.

Cotto pitched in the Gulf Coast League this year. Estrada was signed late in the summer as an undrafted free agent. I would expect other players signed with the Phillies to compete in this league as well. Outfielder Jan Hernandez, a PR native, is possible, as he usually sees action here.

The Aussie league will open its schedule next week on the 20th. After at least two years of no U.S. based Phillies making their way to play down under, the ABL will feature several names. Infielder Cole Stobbe, backstop Logan O'Hoppe and outfielder Ben Aklinski are set to join Australia natives Rixon Taylor-Wingrove, Mitchell Edwards and Curtis Mead on the Adelaide Giants (formerly the Bite) roster.

Also set to see action in the ABL is righty hurler Kyle Glogoski, who will compete for Auckland.
Other former Phillies farmhands such Gift Ngoepe and Tim Kennelly are also set to play in the ABL.
Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@PhoulBallz) or bookmark my Twitter page for daily off-season league updates on the Phillies.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

PhoulBallz Interview: RHP Connor Hinchliffe

Connor Hinchliffe, photo- GoExplorers.com
Right-handed pitcher Connor Hinchliffe performed well after signing with the Phillies as an undrafted free agent this summer.

The La Salle University product debuted with the Phillies' Gulf Coast League West team in late June and notched a 1-1 record, a save, a 1.82 ERA, a .163 batting average against as well as a 1.26 WHIP in 16 appearances (one start).

The six-foot-two 195-pounder began college as a position player, but later switched strictly to working on the mound. Recently, I talked with the 23-year-old Hinchliffe about that change, not getting drafted, his background playing in Phils affiliate facilities, his time in the GCL and plenty more. Read ahead for that interview.


-What can you share about the process of signing with the Phillies? Had they been in touch
ahead of the draft?

Yes, the Phillies had been in touch before the draft. I was seen by the scout from my area, Connor Betbeze, and he invited me to a pre-draft workout a week or so before the draft in Philadelphia. After I threw at the workout, I got to talk to some of the scouting directors and other personnel that attended but still didn’t really know where they stood. I knew they were somewhat interested but wasn’t sure exactly how much.

-Was there any disappointment with not being drafted or was there enough promise of getting a free agent deal that it wasn’t too big of a deal to you?

Every player who has aspirations of professional baseball dreams of getting that call on draft day and seeing your name pop up on the draft tracker, so when that didn’t happen of course there was some disappointment. When the draft came and went I knew there was some promise of a free agent deal with some teams but wasn’t exactly sure how promising that would be. Luckily enough I didn’t have to wait too long when the Phillies called me a day or so after the draft offering me a contract.

-I saw an item in your bio that said you started college as an outfielder. How did the transition to pitching go (was it necessity, was it suggested by a coach) and what was your background on the mound (did you pitch in high school or anything) before the switch?

I actually started out in college as a catcher, then moved to the outfield at the tail end of my freshman year. Sophomore year played primarily outfield with a handful of starts at first base. Junior year primarily outfield again, but actually ended up pitching a little bit that year too but outfield was still my first priority. Then senior year was my first year as a pitcher only, or “PO,” so I was bouncing around all over the field in my career.

The transition to the mound was pretty easy as first actually, because it wasn’t my primary position so not to say that I didn’t care what happened, but I had more of a “here goes nothing” type of attitude.

Then senior year, when I was a PO, was when I got more serious about it since it was my position now and that was what the team needed me to do. It was my coach, Dave Miller, who told me I was going to be a PO and at the time I wasn’t particularly happy about it. He brought me in at the end of my junior year and kept telling me I had a good cutter and could play professionally if I got my velocity up a bit. I remember sitting there thinking “yeah right, coach.” Then I came out in the fall and fully embraced pitching and had a good year so turns out he wasn’t lying. I’m still very close with Coach Miller and can’t thank him enough for seeing that in me and making the switch. My experience pitching before college was little league and I remember I had one varsity start in high school as a freshman and that was it, so not much at all.

-How did competing in college ball prepare you for the minors and pro ball?

College in general prepared me a lot for professional baseball. On the field, balancing a biology major and playing baseball was a hefty commitment so it taught me how to properly manage my time. On the field, learning how to become a catcher at a highly competitive level helped me tremendously on the mound. This probably isn’t the first thing you’d think of and certainly it would be hard to find another pitcher with that answer. I think something I am very good at is putting myself in the mind of the hitter when I’m pitching and knowing what pitches he’s looking for in certain counts. Being a former hitter and catcher, I have years and years of experience being in their shoes facing pitchers so I usually have a good idea of what they’re looking for because I ask myself, “What would I be looking for?” This obviously changes sometimes with different hitters but that’s where I can make an adjustment. Also, I was lucky enough to call my own pitches as a catcher in high school and college, so that was invaluable experience learning hitters, how to sequence them, and reading swings for instant feedback. A lot of pitchers haven’t swung a bat in years so they don’t know what it’s like to be on the other side of the ball and that’s where I think college helped me. I also think college taught me to embrace adversity and be flexible. I think that’s a mindset I can carry with me not only in my baseball career but life as well.

-Did you have friends or any former teammates already signed with the Phillies and did you get any lessons on the organization or its culture ahead of arriving in Clearwater or when you got there?

No, I didn’t have any friends or former teammates that were already with the Phillies. A good friend from back home Travis Blankenhorn was drafted out of high school by the Twins and has been playing in the minors for about 4 years now. He’s given me a good idea of how life in the minors goes. As for the Phillies specifically, I was reporting to Clearwater with no real idea of what to expect in terms of the organization or culture.

-Which coaches or teammates stood out to you as guys you picked up a lot from after joining the Phillies?

As for coaches, I worked every day with my pitching coach Bruce Billings who helped me, and our team, a lot by showing us how to break down film to analyze games. This was the first time in my career ever having video of games so it was awesome to have that resource to learn from. Eric Jagers is coordinator that I used as a valuable resource for weighted ball, slo mo video, and other information. Mike Tampellini is in player development and analytics and I would pick his brain almost every day regarding video and Rhapsodo information.

-Did you get exposure to or time on the field with any rehabbers while in the GCL? What was that like, if you did?

A couple guys that were rehabbing while I was down in Clearwater were David Robertson, Spencer Howard, and Connor Seabold. I’m a type of person that seeks information and experience every single way I can, so picking the brains of other players who are at the level I’m striving for or where I want to be at can only be advantageous.

David Robertson had just got done throwing live BP for the first time since being hurt and I went over to ask him about his cutter, because I throw a cutter. He was nice enough to share some pointers with me. Spencer and Connor are a few of the brightest pitching prospects in the Phillies organization right now so getting to talk to them about pitching, the minors, or anything in general was cool.

-What sort of experiences could you share from the GCL that fans might not expect?

Something fans would not expect from the GCL is the environment. I would assume they probably think even in the GCL we’re playing in stadiums with fans and whatnot. Coming from a small D1 school in Philadelphia, the stands were certainly not packed shoulder to shoulder at our games, especially early in the season when its sub 40 degrees. Looking back I realized that can be used as an advantage for me playing in the GCL because it’s on you to flip that switch into compete mode, the environment isn’t going to do it for you. It is way easier to find that switch when you have packed stands, stadium music, and whatever else but we didn’t have any of that in the GCL. It was on you to focus and, despite no crowd, to find that switch and get into compete mode, which I have been doing for years now coming from a smaller school. If I came from an SEC where every weekend is packed and it’s easier to get juiced up to play, it definitely would be weird playing with no one really there.

-You talked about the cutter. What else is in your pitch repertoire and was there anything added to that menu or anything updated grip or mechanics wise once you joined the Phils?

My pitch repertoire entering the Phillies was a 4s/2s fastball, cutter, curve ball, and change up. Nothing was necessarily added once I got there, but I certainly worked on a few of them, particularly the curve ball and change up. With the curve ball, towards the end of the season I was experimenting with a spiked grip where I had not used that before. This was to get it as more of a 12-6 curve ball than a slider-ish curve ball. I didn’t change the grip of my change up but it was more of becoming more comfortable with it during catch play and throwing it more in bullpens to refine it.

Mechanics wise I had a lot to work on, particularly using my entire body to produce the pitch rather than just using my arm. I am aiming to produce the most biomechanically efficient way to throw the ball, in a repeatable and consistent delivery. That is something I am still working on throughout the off-season.

-You grew up in the Philadelphia region. What early memories do you have of the Phillies and other Philly sports teams or athletes? Did you attend games as a kid?

I grew up about two hours away in Pottsville, PA, which is about 25 minutes from Reading, 35 minutes from Lehigh Valley, and an hour from Williamsport so I’m very familiar with the Phillies affiliates. I’ve been to a bunch of Reading Phillies games, one that sticks out was going to see Stephen Strasburg pitch when he was in AA. I won the district championship my senior year of high school in the IronPigs stadium, which still is one of my best baseball memories. My sophomore year of college I actually started a game in left field at Citizens Bank Park in a championship of a Philadelphia college tournament called the Liberty Bell Classic, which was an awesome experience. Obviously, the Charlie Manuel, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard era sticks out in my mind which was a special group to watch. I was lucky enough to sit next to Mr. Manuel at a GCL game this summer and talk baseball when he was watching our team play.

-Did it mean a lot to you and your family for you to sign with the Phillies?

Honestly, it meant a lot for me and my family to sign professionally with any team, and was very special that it was with the Phillies. I’ve spent the last four years of my life in Philadelphia at La Salle and my cousins go to Villanova, so Philadelphia is a big part of me and my family. Everyone from La Salle and back home are die hard Phillies fans so to play for a team that everyone I know supports is amazing.

-What plans do you have for the off-season? Are you working? Training? Traveling?

My plans for the off season are living in Philadelphia and training at Maplezone Sports Institute until January, then I’m heading out to Driveline in Seattle to do more pitching specific training right before spring training. As for work, I’m doing just about anything I can to make some money before I have to head back. I’m coaching an 11u baseball team, giving personal baseball lessons, landscaping, and a couple other odd jobs to support myself.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Phillies' Realmuto wins Gold Glove Award

For just the third time ever a Phillies catcher has been honored with the Rawlings Gold Glove Award as J.T. Realmuto was named as the National League's top defensive backstop on Sunday.

The award was the first of Realmuto's career.  He joins two-time winner Bob Boone (1978, 1979) and Mike Lieberthal (1999) as Phillies catchers to earn the Gold Glove nod.

The 28-year-old Realmuto caught 43% of base runners trying to steal and sported a .992 fielding percentage during the 2019 campaign.

Originally a 3rd round pick by Miami in 2010, Realmuto was acquired from the Marlins last off-season in a trade that sent pitching prospects Sixto Sanchez and Will Stewart as well as catcher Jorge Alfaro last offseason.

His first season as a Phillie was remarkable, as Realmuto was named an All-Star and posted an .820 OPS in 145 games.  Many members of the media and those around the game expect the Phillies to sign the righty hitter to a contract extension this off-season.

This marks the first time since shortstop Jimmy Rollins in 2012 that a Phillie has won the Gold Glove Award.



Monday, October 28, 2019

PhoulBallz Interview: Mickey Moniak answers Nine Silly-ass Questions

Mickey Moniak, image- Jay Floyd
Despite what overly critical fans online say, Phillies minor league outfielder Mickey Moniak has taken considerable strides and is a genuine prospect on the rise.

This year, he opened the regular season as a 20-year-old in the Double-A Eastern League. As a member of the Reading Fightins, Moniak notched a .252 average in 119 games while leading the league in triples with 13, ranking 2nd in extra base hits with 52 and coming in 4th in RBI with 67.

In recent weeks, the lefty hitting Moniak tallied a .186 average with four doubles, two triples and three stolen bases in 17 games for Scottsdale in the Arizona Fall League.

A while back I talked with Mickey to discuss some of his interests off the field including food, music, Star Wars and more.  To hear this exclusive interview, head on over the Patreon.com/PhoulBallz to support my work and get access to this audio and so much more material that you won't find anywhere else.  

Friday, October 25, 2019

The latest from the off-season: Fall/winter ball stats and more

Over the off-season, sometimes this site can go stretches of several days without a post or an update, but if you're looking for constant news, stats and insight on what is taking place with Phillies developmental talents throughout the autumn and winter months, follow me on Twitter or simply bookmark my Twitter profile page (https://twitter.com/PhoulBallz) to get daily alerts and details.

In the Dominican Winter League thus far, catcher Deivy Grullon and shortstop Malquin Canelo have each posted a .143 batting average in four games for their respective teams.

In the Arizona Fall League, where Phils prospects are playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions, corner infielder Alec Bohm is sporting a .361 batting average with a pair of homers, nine RBI and five walks in 19 contests.

Righty pitcher Spencer Howard has notched a 1-1 record with a 2.11 ERA and an 11.4 K/9 mark in six starts.

In eight appearances left-hander JoJo Romero has posted a 1-0 record, a 0.84 ERA and a .158 batting average against with the Scorpions.

Through four starts righty Connor Seabold is 1-0 with a 1.06 ERA while striking out 22 and walking three over 17 innings pitched.

Outfielder Mickey Moniak sports a .186 batting average with four doubles, two triples, five RBI as well as three steals in 17 games.

Infielder Jose Gomez is batting .091 with an RBI in six games since joining Scottsdale as a replacement for Nick Maton who left the team weeks ago for an undisclosed reason.

In 10 games outfielder Josh Stephen is batting .212 with a triples and two RBI.

Lefty reliever Zach Warren has no decisions, a save, a 3.86 ERA and a .063 batting average against in five outings.

News out of Philadelphia on Thursday saw Joe Girardi being named as the Phillies' new big league managers.  For an exclusive look at what some players think of the decision, support my work over on Patreon.com/PhoulBallz.  $5 membership there comes with plenty of content that is not available anyplace else.

Friday, October 18, 2019

PhoulBallz Interview: Matt Hockenberry talking Morales, Santos, more


Continuing with my multi-part exclusive interview with 2019 Lakewood pitching coach Matt Hockenberry, here's another entry.

In this post, Hockenberry talks about the success of his young staff and their improvements throughout the season this year.  He also discusses exciting 19-year-old right-hander Francisco Morales, his ceiling and what the future could hold for the talented Venezuelan.  He also discusses hurler Victor Santos and plenty more.

Morales, who stands six-foot-four and is listed at 85 pounds, notched a 3.82 ERA, a .226 batting average against, a 1.32 WHIP as well as a 12.0 K/9 mark in 27 appearances for the BlueClaws.

Read ahead for this portion of my interview with Matt Hockenberry that can't be found anywhere else!

Here's a brief sample of "Hock" chatting about his team keeping momentum going throughout the 2019 campaign:

You’ve got guys like Manny Silva, Francisco  Morales, you’ve got (Victor) Santos that have continued to take the ball every  fifth day and they’re just going out and putting up ridiculous numbers.   Morales is striking out close to 13 guys per nine and then on top of  that, he’s really developed his change up to where other teams are  asking when they get to first base, they’re asking our first baseman,  “Hey, when did he start throwing a change up?”

To read the rest of this multi-part interview, head on over to Patreon.com/PhoulBallz and support my work.  For just $5 a month, you will get plenty of exclusive content that you won't be able to find anywhere else and that content continues all through the off-season.  

Sunday, October 13, 2019

PhoulBallz Interview: Matt Hockenberry talks 2019 BlueClaws

Matt Hockenberry, image- Jay Floyd
Over on my Patreon page, I am serving up a multi-part interview with 2019 Class A Lakewood pitching coach Matt Hockenberry.

Part one features Big Hock talking about 22-year-old Dominican righty Rafi Gonell and his progress.  Part two includes quotes from Hockenberry discussing righty reliever Albertus Barber's story of reaching the pro ranks and excelling as an undrafted free agent and his progress.  Also in part two, the subject of pitches thrown in two-strike counts by the BlueClaws and improving their walk rate throughout the season is addressed.

Part three will land later this week and will include insight on promising hurler Francisco Morales.

To access exclusive content such as these quotes from Hockenberry, please visit Patreon.com/PhoulBallz and support my work.


Sample of the material included in the Hockenberry interview excerpts...

I think it’s a great story.  The fact  that (Barber) played some junior college baseball and I think he went a couple  other places throughout his collegiate career, but being able to go to  Driveline—and from what I heard he sacrificed a lot to  be able to go to Driveline.  I think he said he was sleeping on  somebody’s couch.  And being able to go build what he calls his arsenal  of pitches and being able to understand the analytical side of the game,  such as the movement profiles, whether his ball’s  got ride, sink, run, spin efficiencies on his curve ball, his slider.   Being able to take his pitches into the game and dominate.  Since he’s  been here, he’s dominated. 

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Off-season League Check In: 10/5/19

A couple of weeks into action, here's a rundown of how Phillies players are performing in the Arizona Fall League.

Each Phillies prospect plays for the Scottsdale Scorpions. The team has a 6-6 record through 12 games this year.  

Alec Bohm, image- Jay Floyd
Third baseman Alec Bohm in eight games sports a .387 batting average with two doubles and five RBI.  The righty hitting Bohm was the Phillies' first round draft selection in 2018.

In four games, Josh Stephen has tallied a .455 average with a triple and one RBI.  The 22-year-old lefty batter was an 11th round draft selection in 2016 by the Phils.

Center fielder Mickey Moniak has notched a .161 batting average with a double, a triple, four RBI and a stolen base in seven contests with Scottsdale.  The 21-year-old lefty hitter was the first overall selection in the 2016 draft.

In three games, infielder Nick Maton is batting .333 with a double a home run and a pair of RBI.  The lefty batting 22-year-old was selected by the Phillies in the 7th round of the 2017 draft.

Spencer Howard has allowed three hits over six scoreless innings in two starts for the Scorpions.  Additionally, he has struck out six and walked three in those frames.  The 23-year-old righty was the Phils' 2nd round draft choice in 2017.

Connor Seabold has a 1-0 record and a 0.75 ERA in three starts for Scottsdale.  He's struck out 18 batters and walked two in 12 innings.  The 23-year-old right-hander was the Phils' third round pick in 2017.

JoJo Romero has a 2.08 ERA, striking out one and waking three in 4 1/3 innings over three appearances.  Romero, a lefty, was the Phils' 4th round draft pick in 2016. 

Stats listed here are current prior to game action on Friday, October 4th.

Friday, September 27, 2019

PhoulBallz Interview: Jimmy Smith Answers Nine Silly-ass Questions

Jimmy Smith, image- Jay Floyd
Jimmy Smith was an outfielder in the Phillies organization during the during the 2018 and 2019 seasons. A Central Washington product, the righty batting Smith wassigned by the Phils as an undrafted free agent.

In 65 combined games in the Gulf Coast League and with Class A Lakewood, the 24-year-old notched a .250 average with four home runs and 27 RBI.

After dealing with an injury and difficulties improving on offense this year, Smith was released. However, prior to his departure from the Phillies organization, I spent some time with Jimmy talking about hip hop music, television, liking the Eagles and Allen Iverson and some more.

This is one of my favorite interviews I have done in a while as Jimmy and I had a good time. I was initially saving this for a different outlet, but I can't hold it back any longer. I have posted this audio as an exclusive for Patreon members.  You can support my work by heading over to Patreon.com/PhoulBallz and gain access to interviews and other content that are unavailable anyplace else. 

Sunday, September 22, 2019

PhoulBallz Interview: Nick Maton talks AFL and more

Nick Maton, image- Jay Floyd
A few weeks ago I talked with infielder Nick Maton about his 2019 regular season, his assignment to head out and get extra work in the Arizona Fall League and more.

The 22-year-old was the Phillies' 7th round draft selection in 2017.  The lefty batting Maton opened the year with Class A Advanced Clearwater.  In 93 games for the Threshers, he notched a .276 batting average with 14 doubles, three triples, five home runs and 45 RBI.

Promoted to Double-A Reading in early August, Maton would post a .210 average with three doubles, a pair of round-trippers and six RBI in 21 games for the Fightin Phils.

Primarily a shortstop, Maton also saw action at second base and third base this year.

For complete audio of my interview with Maton, please head on over the Patreon.com/PhoulBallz and support my work.  Patreon members get exclusive content and early access to other posts.  You won't be disappointed.



Friday, September 20, 2019

PhoulBallz Interview Excerpts: Reading manager Shawn Williams

Arquimedes Gamboa, image- Jay Floyd
Prior to the end of the regular season, I spoke with Double-A Reading manager Shawn Williams about several topics including outfielders Cornelius Randolph and Josh Stephen (click each of those individuals' names for those features).  Among other things the team's skipper discussed with me were the assignment of several of his players going to the Arizona Fall League this month, what he saw from infielder Arquimedes Gamboa despite a lackluster offensive stat line as well as the progress of top prospects Alec Bohm and Spencer Howard.  Read ahead for those quotes.


-Your team has several guys going to the Arizona Fall League.  I just wanted to get your opinion of how that can help their development.

It definitely does.  It's a really competitive league.  You've got all the best players, pretty much, from all the organizations.  I was fortunate enough to be out there two years ago.  I think it's a lot of fun for them.  It's, like I said, there's a lot of good players, just the competition-- I'm not gonna say it's laid back, but kind of the way that it is, it's kind of like showcasing everybody's skills.  And it's a great honor for the guys we have that are going and for everybody.


The remainder of this post is available exclusively for Patreon supporters.  You can help support my work and help me continue to bring content like this all throughout the year by heading over to Patreon.com/PhoulBallz.  Members get exclusive content, early access to my material and more.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Phillies move on from foursome of developmental coaches

Micucci (right) with Luis Garcia in August, image- Jay Floyd
Early on Monday, I tweeted a bit of a teaser about Phillies minor league staffing moves I had learned about from a pair of sources.  Unclear when the personnel had learned of their fates, I did not want to report the news until all parties had time to address the news in their own ways.

As has been reported by at least another outlet to this point, I am able to confirm that 2019 Class A Lakewood manager Mike Micucci will not be returning to the organization.  Additionally, base running and bunting coordinator Rob Ducey, Gulf Coast League coach Charlie Hayes and Triple-A pitching coach Steve Schrenk are also done in the Phils system.

Micucci was a north Jersey native in his youth and had been hired by the organization less than a year ago.  He worked with Phillies general manager Matt Klentak in Anaheim, which makes his termination even more surprising.

Players that saw action for the BlueClaws this year loved Micucci.  Also, from personal experience, I'd say that, genuinely, Mike could not have been more nice to me each time I encountered him at Lakewood's FirstEnergy Park this year.

Multiple people that I have spoke with feel that another "new hire" that's still under a year into his tenure, Phillies director of player development Josh Bonifay, may be looking to open positions for individuals who are more focused on analytics.

One Phillies minor leaguer who was surprised by the moves expressed concern that with many teams likely going about the same approach, there may not be enough "good analytics guys" to go around.

However, the same player expressed confidence in the current regime, stating that he knows the front office has things under control and will make the right additions.

Hayes had just completed his third season coaching in the Phillies farm system.  He previously played in the big leagues for the Phils, among other teams.  

Ducey, another former Phillies player, had been a coach in the system dating back to 2014.  Schrenk also pitched for the Phils in his playing days and coached in the organization since 2004. 

Additionally, I have heard a rumor that 2019 Clearwater skipper Marty Malloy may be on deck to fill the void left by Ducey.  This transition would leave both full-season Class A teams with vacancies in their managerial positions.