Thursday, December 24, 2020

Frosty Phillies Favorites: 2020 Christmas Favorites Survey

Season's greetings to all!  It's that time of the year to celebrate and enjoy the holiday season.  Every year at Christmas time, I survey a group of Phillies prospects about what they get excited for during the holidays.  This year I included a throwback Phils name as well.

Individuals taking part in this year's 11th annual Christmas favorites survey include former Phillies All-Star and coach Mickey Morandini as well as pitching prospects Dominic Pipkin, Erik Miller and Ben Brown along with corner infielder Matt Kroon. Inquiries and responses regarding each player's holly jolly favorites lie ahead...

 

-What's your favorite Christmas song and which version?

Morandini- All I Want For Christmas by Mariah Carey.

Pipkin- Blue Christmas by Elvis.  It's just unbeatable.  

Miller- I don't like Christmas music, to be honest.

Kroon- I am a big fan of the original Jingle Bells. It reminds me of being a kid again. It reminds me of all the holiday activities and good times that are about to be celebrated.

Brown- God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.  And my favorite version is the one that my church's worship group sings.

 

-What's your favorite Christmas movie?

Morandini- A Christmas Story.

Pipkin- Elf.  Will Ferrell is one of my favorite actors. 

Miller- My favorite movie is National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

Kroon- My favorite Christmas movie is Home Alone. Always has been and always will be.  Just a true classic!

Brown- My favorite Christmas movie, hands down, is Elf.  I try to watch at least two times every Christmas season.

 

-What is your favorite thing to eat at the holidays and who makes it?

Morandini- Beef tenderloin that my wife, Peg, makes.

Pipkin- My mom's lobster tail on Christmas Eve.  She makes it perfectly every time. 

Miller- My mom makes this spicy sausage dip once a year for Christmas and it's the best and most sought out dish on Christmas Day. 

Kroon- My Aunt Gia’s homemade mac and cheese! I’ve never had one bad bite.

Brown- My mom makes an amazing breakfast every Christmas.  Really looking forward to that this year.

 

-Do you have a standout memorable gift from childhood?

Morandini- Gremlin go-cart.  

Pipkin- My PS3 when I was 10.  I still use it to this day. 

Miller- I don't have any particularly memorable gifts.  We would go on vacations the day after Christmas when I was younger and those were always great gifts.

Kroon- The most memorable gift from childhood is my first full set of All-Star catchers gear. I was a bit (of a) catcher growing up and I can still picture my excitement to today. My dad had it all packed up in the All-Star bag, the shin guards loaded up with knee savers ready to go.

Brown- My older sister bought me a dog (Charlie Brown) as an early Christmas present in 2007.  Something that I will never forget. 

 

-Do you recall finding out the truth about Santa and is there a story that goes with it?

Morandini- I just remember hearing my mom and brother getting everything put out under the tree while they thought I was sleeping.

Pipkin- I realized Santa wasn't real when we found our Christmas gifts in the garage when I was like eight years old but I wasn't upset about it.

Miller- I was able to figure out the truth about Santa myself.  I just used reasoning to realize there was no way some guy could go around the world on one night and get every kid's gifts to them.

Kroon- Santa still sneaks his way down my chimney every Christmas Eve. I grew up in a family with a very passionate belief in Santa Clause and I look forward to the present that I hope he drops off each and every year.

Brown- Well, Jay, the truth is that Santa is still delivering presents under my tree each year.  Always trying to get on that nice list.  


Previous editions of this survey include answers from Aaron Nola, Rhys Hoskins, Adam Haseley, Scott Kingery, Logan O'Hoppe, and loads of others.  

Those editions of this delightful Christmas questionnaire can be viewed at the following links- 2019 holiday survey, 2018 survey, 2017 survey, 2016 survey, 2015 survey, 2014 survey, 2013 edition, 2012 edition, 2011 edition and the 2010 edition

Sunday, December 20, 2020

PhoulBallz Interview: LHP Erik Miller talks missed season, Instructs, repertoire, O'Hoppe

Erik Miller, image- MiLB.com
Lefty hurler Erik Miller is widely regarded as one of the Phillies most promising prospects.  Selected in the 4th round in last year's draft out of Stanford, he quickly made an impact as a professional and was promoted twice in his brief stint in the minors.

At three levels as a 21-year-old, Miller notched a 1-0 record with a 1.50 ERA, a .188 batting average against, a 1.11WHIP along with a 13.0 K/9 mark in 11 appearances in the minors.  

Listed at six-feet-five, 240-pounds, Miller was outstanding in college as well.  In his junior season (2019), Miller was named as a Baseball America second team Preseason All-American. In 16 starts that season, he posted an 8-3 record with a 3.48 ERA, a .224 batting average against and an 11.1 K/9 mark.  

Miller likely could have made it to the Double-A level this year, if the pandemic had not preempted the minor league season.

Recently, I spoke with the 22-year-old Missouri native about his time at the fall Instructional League this year, his missed season and more.  Read ahead for that interview.

-What can you share about the missed 2020 campaign? How did you stay game ready in case the minor league season re-started?

2020 was obviously a very tough year to be a minor leaguer. Everyone had to deal with it in different ways based on what was available to them. I was fortunate enough to have a place to throw and lift the entire time. I stayed on top of throwing during the pandemic and tried to treat it as if I was throwing during a normal season. For example getting off a mound 2 times a week, one being a bullpen and one being a live session against hitters. 

-How did you try to make sure it wasn't time wasted once it was clear there'd be no minor league season?

Once it was clear the minor season was not happening I tried to maintain the same throwing schedule to simulate a season as much as possible. I needed to make sure I treated my arm as similar as possible to a normal season to ensure I’d be healthy in 2021. From there it was just a constant process of trying to refine and build upon things from my 2019 season. 

-What's your pitch repertoire these days and does that differ from what it was before you were drafted?

My pitch repertoire is different now from when I was drafted because I split my breaking ball into two distinct pitches. I used to throw what I called a slurve, and I now throw a slider and curve ball. When I started throwing early in 2020 my slurve had changed into a cutter-type pitch. With the movement profile of my fastball I need a pitch with vertical break, thus I started to throw a curve ball. I think with more work my curve ball and slider will become true weapons for me. In total I throw a four-seam, change, curve and slider. 

To read the complete version of this interview, in which Miller shares his thoughts on participating in Instructs, teammate Logan O'Hoppe, and plenty more, check out my Patreon page located at Patreon.com/PhoulBallz and support my work.  Membership there will get you access to loads of exclusive material and you'll get other material early.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

PhoulBallz Interview: LHP Garrett Cleavinger talks about his 2020, big league call up, more

Cleavinger, image- Jay Floyd

This post originally appeared on my Patreon page at Patreon.com/PhoulBallz.  Readers can support my work and gain access to exclusive interviews and news along with the ability to read my other material early.  Please consider supporting my work and checking out that page. 

Lefty reliever Garrett Cleavinger made his big league debut with the Phillies this year and hopes to continue his career as a big league contributor in the coming seasons.  

Cleavinger, a third round draft pick of the Orioles in 2015, was acquired by the Phillies in 2017 in a swap for pitcher Jeremy Hellickson.  

In his more than five professional seasons, the Oregon product sports a 19-12 record, a 4.08 ERA, a .217 batting average against and a 12.0 K/9 mark in 140 minor league appearances.  

This year in his lone big league outing, the 26-year-old tossed 2/3 inning, surrendered an earned run and struck out one batter. 

Recently, I talked with Garrett to get his insight on his promotion to the Phils, what he'll be working on this off-season, which team staffer has helped him the most in his career and much more.  Read ahead for that complete interview...

-So can you share some thoughts on your call up to join the big league roster this year?

The call up was pretty unique this year just with the COVID restrictions and like family and friends couldn’t be there so it was kind of weird for sure.

-Inclusion in the taxi squad group...to that point, did the call to be included there kind of have the feeling of a promotion or call up?

The taxi squad was fun, we had a good group of guys that made it competitive everyday. I kind of knew I was going to be on the taxi squad because I was added to the 40 man roster.

-Who has been a big help to you in the Phillies organization, in relation to coaches or teammates? 

Aaron Fultz has probably been the biggest help to me.  I’ve been lucky to be around him for parts of three seasons and he’s someone who I really like being around. He was the one who introduced a slider to my pitch repertoire and so now it’s fastball, curveball, slider and a little of a change up.

-In those taxi squad games, did you get to face any of the coaches that filled in? What was that like? 

I never had any coaches hit off me in the taxi squad games but they played the field behind me quite a bit and it was a lot of fun! So many of those guys played at the highest level and so it’s fun for them to get out there again and fun for us to play with them.

-Any big plans for the off-season? 

Biggest goal for the off-season is to get strong and be in the best shape possible for spring so I can win a job in the bullpen.

-How has your family done with the pandemic? Fortunate enough to remain healthy and employed?

Family has been doing well, safe and healthy.

-A couple people commented on the recent Instagram post of you I had, saying you resemble pro wrestler and MMA fighter Jake Hager. Do you know who that is and have you heard that before?

I haven’t heard of that comparison before.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Winter League Updates

I've got a quick rundown here of how some Phillies players are performing in the off-season/Winter leagues that are underway so far.  Keep in mind that, down under, the Australian Baseball League kicks off later this month and that league is jam packed with Phils.  The Puerto Rico League is set to start action this week.

Darick Hall, image- Jay Floyd
In Mexico, first baseman Darick Hall is ripping up the opposition.  In 10 games, he's posted a .324/.409/.595 slash line.  The 25-year-old lefty slugger has a double, three homers and 16 RBI to date for Los Mochis.  Hall, a 14th round pick in 2016 out of Dallas Baptist, has reportedly been playing some left field in Mexico.

In the Dominican Republic, for Licey, RHP Adonis Medina has appeared in two games.  In three innings of work, the 23-year-old has allowed four hits and two earned runs while striking out three and walking two.  Also with Licey, Enyel De Los Santos has also appeared in a pair of games.  He has notched 1 2/3 scoreless frames while striking out three, walking two and hitting one batter.  The 24-year-old appeared in five games with the big league Phils in 2019.  

Former Phillies prospects Ulises Joaquin and Alfredo Simon are also on the Licey pitching staff.

Outfielder/first baseman Austin Listi made his debut this weekend with Licey in the DR.  He played first base and went 1-for-3 with a walk and was caught stealing.  The 27-year-old was the Phils' 17th round pick in 2017 and was a college teammate of Hall at DBU.

In DR, Ramon Rosso is competing with the Aguilas.  In five appearances, the 24-year-old righty 1-0 with a 0.47 ERA.  He's struck out 20 and walked three in 19 innings.

The rest of this post, which includes information about Daniel Brito, Raul Rivas, Leonel Aponte, Cristopher Sanchez, Johan Quezada and others, can be found on my Patreon page at Patreon.com/PhoulBallz.  Supporters get exclusive content including interviews and news, plus early access to my other material.  This statistics from this article are as of Sunday, December 6th, 2020.