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Archive for January, 2011

ProspectNation 2011: #13 Phillippe Aumont- RHP

Posted by Jay Floyd, Mon, January 31, 2011 03:30 PM Comments: 11

Phillippe Aumont, the second prospect acquired from the Mariners for pitcher Cliff Lee last off-season to appear on this countdown, is back in a position more comfortable to him after experiencing some hiccups in his progress during the 2010 season. Upon joining the Phillies organization, higher ups decided to move the young reliever into a starting role. Aumont struggled as a starting pitcher during his first season in the Philadelphia system, but remains a talented pitcher worthy of consideration as an excellent prospect.

A first round draft choice (11th overall) by Seattle in the 2007 amateur draft, Aumont was a highly regarded hurler when he was traded to Philadelphia in 2009.

In 2008, his first season as a professional, Aumont appeared in 15 games, 8 of which were starts, posting a 4-4 record with a 2.75 ERA and 50 strike outs in 55 2/3 innings in the Class A Midwest League. The following season, Aumont appeared exclusively as a reliever in High A and Double A, going 2-6 with a 3.88 ERA, 16 saves and 59 strike outs in 51 innings. Both seasons were shortened by injuries as he landed on the disabled list twice in 2008 with elbow soreness and missed time in 2009 after breaking his hand when he punched a wall following a blown save.

Also in 2009, Aumont pitched for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic, retiring MLB All-stars David Wright, Kevin Youkilis and Curtis Granderson, in order, to escape a jam in a game against Team USA.

In Aumont’s first season with the Phillies organization, he went 1-6 with a 7.43 ERA as a 21-year-old in 11 starts with Double A Reading, before being demoted to High A Clearwater, where he improved his numbers a bit, going 2-5 with a 4.48 ERA. With Clearwater, 10 of Aumont’s 16 appearances were as a starter.

The silver lining of Aumont’s bust of a season in 2010, when he posted a 3-11 record and a 5.68 ERA in 27 combined games between two levels, was that he pitched more innings that season (122) than he had in his previous two seasons (106 2/3) as a professional. That gave Aumont plenty of time to work on his pitches and provided the Phillies with significant opportunities to see their highly touted prospect in action. Philadelphia’s clear decision to return the Quebec native, Aumont, to the bullpen was a direct product of his struggles, so if he achieves success at higher levels as a reliever, the rough 2010 season will have been well worth it.

The 6’7″, 255 pound right-hander certainly has the size that could intimidate opposing hitters. He has a pitch repertoire that includes a 4-seam fastball that is regularly clocked in the mid-to-high 90′s and a plus “slurve” that has very good movement. Aumont also mixes in a change up that rounds out his arsenal of weapons. However, if Aumont sticks to a relief role, it is likely that he could focus on using his two best pitches exclusively, as he wouldn’t regularly face batters more than once a game. Some of Major League Baseball’s best closers are solid examples of success with a two-pitch selection.

Thanks to Aumont, and Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., fans were introduced to brand new baseball speak after the 2010 regular season, when Amaro told me, of Aumont, “We don’t judge (his) abilities necessarily by performance, but (instead) by progress and he’s still a young kid. Prospects sometimes take a long time. The pudding has not been made yet, so it’s really a matter of time for (him) to continue to develop. We still believe in him to be a fine prospect.”

So, consider Aumont “a pudding prospect”, whose consistency hasn’t quite developed yet, but is capable of becoming a gratifying home made treat, once given the proper allotment of time to refine.

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Jay Floyd is PhilliesNation’s minor league contributor. You can check out more from Jay on his site, PhoulBallz.com.

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Phillies Sign Journeyman RP Jason Grilli

Posted by Pat Gallen, Mon, January 31, 2011 01:25 PM Comments: 2

(Originally posted Jan. 29, 5:54 pm)

From Paul Hagen of the Philadelphia Daily News and Beerleaguer on CSNPhilly.com:

The Phillies have some interest in signing free-agent reliever Jason Grilli to a minor league contract, two sources confirmed yesterday. No agreement has been reached yet.

The 34-year-old righthander missed all of last season with a knee injury. He’s 18-18 with a 4.74 earned run average in an 8-year career with the Marlins, White Sox, Tigers, Rockies and Rangers.

Grilli was a first-round draft choice, out of Seton Hall, of the Giants in 1997, the fourth player selected overall. His best year was 2008, when he had a 3.00 combined ERA for Detroit and Colorado.

In 2009, he had a 5.32 ERA for Colorado and Texas and signed as a minor league free agent with the Indians before last season.

Just another working arm to add to the pile and hope he pans out for some organizational depth. Grilli has been around the block and its been a while since he’s been able to help a major league team. On the bright side, Grilli is only 34, so he may still be young enough to have something left in the tank. Look for him to end up at Lehigh Valley.

UPDATE, Monday Jan 31, 1:25 pm: Jason Grilli has inked a minor league contract with the Phillies according to he and Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. Grilli posted on his twitter account that he’s looking forward to the City of Brotherly Love.

Zolecki confirmed the signing about an hour ago. Grilli has not been invited to major league camp.

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Week in Review 1/24 – 1/30

Posted by Kieran Carobine, Sun, January 30, 2011 05:07 PM Comments: 0

Tick tock, tick tock. I don’t know about the rest of you out there in Phillies Nation, but this clock of mine feels like it is getting slower and slower. Thanks to Twitter, I can find a daily countdown to when pitchers(the aces) and catchers(Chooch) report for Spring Training. We are at 15 days and counting to a season that could be, and should be, historic. I don’t need to tell you why.

Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay found his name mentioned amongst some pretty good company this week. He crashed into the Bloomberg Businessweek’s “Power 100″ list for most powerful athletes. Previously unranked on the list last year, Halladay broke in at number 30. Player stats factored into voting as well as potential earnings, endorsements and other off the field factors. Ryan Howard was again on the list year at number 67. Good for Howard for making the list again, but it was a huge drop off from last year’s list where he was listed at number 14.

This is a great recognition for Halladay who had been playing in baseball boredom up in Toronto for so long. Nowadays it is hard to not know who he is. He pitches in one of the most sports-passionate cities, threw a perfect game, notched a postseason no-hitter and won the Cy Young award for last season’s best pitcher.

Cole Hamels took great strides this past season making adjustments to his pitching approach and we were all there to reap the benefits. Hamels looked calmer on the mound, less frustrated and was almost back to his 2008 form. PN’s Paul Boye took an in depth look, with an assist from Baseball Analytics, as to what changed. Also, Phillies Nation would like to congratulate Paul on accepting the position of Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Video Scout! Congrats Boy-e.

Phillies farmhands Domonic Brown and Jonathan Singleton made their way onto MLB.com’s Top 50 prospect list. Brown, who was called up last season is well known to Phillies fans and will be competing for the starting right field position come spring training, was ranked fourth on the list behind the Angel’s Mike Trout, the Ray’s Jeremy Hellickson, and the National’s wonder boy Bryce Harper. Singleton is a guy you should know. He hit 14 home runs last year in Single A-Lakewood and will see time in left field this upcoming season; he has played only first base in his career for the Phillies organization. He came in at number 30 on the list. Singleton will be very exciting to watch as he develops. In 104 games he had 77 RBIs and only committed four errors. Oh and he is only 19 years-old.

The Phillies have a lot of great prospects putting their time in down on the farm. PN’s resident minor league guy Jay Floyd has done an incredible job counting down these guys in his Prospect Nation Top 25. Don’t worry, he isn’t done yet. This week we met Domingo Santana, J.C. Ramirez, and Scott Mathieson. You will probably recognize Ramirez’s name; he was one of the players acquired by the Phillies from Seattle in the original Cliff Lee trade. If you missed any of the past rankings you can check them out at Prospect Nation.

Phillies prospect Moose Mattair is checking in again on his journey back to baseball. This week he talks about Miami, those first couple workouts and getting back to Clearwater. Check out all his progress in his third installment of Moose Tracks.

The Phillies’ front office seems to have some interest in the services of right handed journeyman Jason Grilli. Grilli has played for five different clubs in eight years after being the fourth overall pick in the 1997 draft out of Seton Hall. Grilli is 18-18 for his career with a 4.74 ERA. At 34 years-old, the Phillies might hope he still has something left in the tank. If they do sign him, he would most likely head to Lehigh Valley and be a fill in if the bullpen runs into the injury bug. That is, of course, if the Phillies actually do sign him. For all of you that enjoy following athletes on twitter, Grilli regularly tweets and seems to be a real nice guy. You can follow him at Jason Grilli.

We started this week asking the readers what was the most surprising free agent signing of the offseason? Overwhelmingly, 70% of readers said the Phillies signing Cliff Lee back surprised them the most. With that said, I would like to end the week with another question. Your question. Do you have any burning questions you want answered by the Phillies Nation crew? Ask away and we might just pick one for our next Roundtable discussion.

Until then, good luck to all the Eagle’s playing in tonight’s NFL Pro Bowl.

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ProspectNation 2011: #14 Domingo Santana- OF

Posted by Jay Floyd, Fri, January 28, 2011 04:50 PM Comments: 4

In March, 2009, Domingo Santana was signed as a 16-year-old free agent out of the Dominican Republic. At the time, the Yankees were also interested in Santana and it took a $330,000 signing bonus to lock down the youngster.

At 6-feet-5-inches tall and weighing around 205 pounds, Santana possesses one of those athletic and projectable frames that the Phillies organization loves.

Santana, primarily a right fielder with a very good arm, made his professional debut as a member of the Gulf Coast League Phillies in 2009 and posted great numbers. In 37 games, Santana batted .288, slugged 6 homers, drove in 28 runs and posted an .897 OPS. His homerun total in 118 at bats, at age 16, was extremely impressive, especially considering the rest of the GCL Phillies roster mashed only 11 homers in 1,744 at bats. Members of the media and scouts alike saw elite power potential in the well regarded teenage phenom.

In 2010, the right-handed hitting Santana started the season as a 17-year-old with Class A Lakewood. He struggled a great deal there, batting .182 in 49 games with 76 strike outs in 165 at bats. Santana was moved to short-season Williamsport, once their season began in June, despite having spent many hours working one on one with Lakewood hitting coach Greg Legg in the BlueClaws’ batting cages. His offensive production improved a bit as a member of the Crosscutters (.237 avg. in 54 games), but Santana’s overall OPS, combined at the two levels, was 234 points lower than it was the previous year in the lower GCL.

Santana is one of many young hitters who needs to develop pitch recognition. His high strike out totals are evidence that he is guessing what is coming out of the pitcher’s hand far too often. If he continues hitting fastballs well and learns to react to the off-speed pitches, letting the bad ones go, opposing pitchers will be in deep trouble.

Regarded as an outfielder with solid range, Santana’s speed on the bases hasn’t been anything to boast about quite yet in his young career. In two seasons in the minors, Santana has stolen 12 bases and has been caught 11 times. Although, as he matures, Santana could surely develop as more of a thief on the bases. The athleticism and quickness is there for Santana to add base running to his arsenal of dangerous weapons, it will be a matter of developing his instincts.

One game against the Yankees affiliate Charleston, in May, stands out as evidence of Santana’s underdeveloped aptitude. In the 8th inning of a close match up in which the BlueClaws trailed 2-0 at home, Domingo led off with a double and moved to third when catcher Torre Langley singled. Jonathan Villar followed with a dribbler back to pitcher Ronny Marte, who fired to the shortstop at second base, ahead of Langley. The relay throw to first base was in time to erase Villar for the second out, but Santana, who was never looked back to third by Marte, had frozen and broke late toward home plate, and was gunned down to complete a stunning 1-6-3-2 triple play, with the top of the order due up. The score stayed the same and Lakewood dropped the matinee pitchers’ duel.

Coaches don’t feel that Santana’s occasional lapses in judgement or questionable stolen base percentage are defining. The fundamentals can be taught and often, at the lower levels of the minors, first base coaches are reserve players, not actual coaches trying to help the runners steal bags. However, as players move up, they will have access to members of the staff who actively aid in scouting a pitcher or catcher in order to take advantage on the bases.

According to 2010 Lakewood manager Mark Parent, “When (Santana) matures and decides to put in the work and learns to compete everyday in my opinion he could become one of the really good prospects in the Phillies organization. It really is up to him how good he will become.”

In a nutshell, Santana is a “toolsy” outfielder that has physical strength which already stands out and has the potential to make a big impact at higher levels. If he continues to progress as a hitter and develops on the bases, the Majors should easily be in his future.

Expect Santana to return to Lakewood in 2011, as the BlueClaws will try to lock down a three-peat of South Atlantic League titles under new manager Chris Truby, who managed Santana with Williamsport last year.

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Jay Floyd is PhilliesNation’s minor league writer. You can find more from Jay by visiting his site, PhoulBallz.com.

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16 Days Until Spring Training

Posted by Pat Gallen, Fri, January 28, 2011 02:17 PM Comments: 4

My guess is you can count, but for those of you who are stuck amid the heaps of snow piling up around you, it’s just a pleasant reminder. Phillies pitchers and catchers report for duty on February 13, with their first workout the following day in Clearwater, Florida. That’s 16 days from now.

At that time, it will be bright and sunny on the left coast of Florida while snow is still piled up in your yard. However, the warming feeling of baseball finally restarting will be a pleasant distraction from Mother Nature’s firm clutch on the entire country.

As far as story lines go, they won’t be abundant. The Phillies will once again resume the role of the NL’s most impressive team. Only a few questions remain:

  • Will Joe Blanton stick around?
  • Where do Kyle Kendrick/Vance Worley fit in?
  • Who’s in right field?
  • Will the Phillies extend Charlie Manuel?
  • Can a Phillies prospect break into the bullpen with a regular role?

Were just 16 days away from enjoying the sights and sounds of Spring Training. Try not to go too crazy until then.

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Halladay Ranks High on Bloomberg “Power 100″

Posted by Pat Gallen, Fri, January 28, 2011 09:59 AM Comments: 0

According to Bloomburg Businessweek (via Philly.com), Roy Halladay is a very powerful athlete.

Taking into account off-the-field factors like endorsements and earning potential, as well as the stuff between the lines like stats, Roy Halladay ranked 30th in sports after being previously unranked. At the top of the list were the usual stars, here’s the top 10:

  • 1. Peyton Manning
  • 2. Shaun White
  • 3. Tiger Woods
  • 4. Phil Mickleson
  • 5. Tom Brady
  • 6. Shaquille O’Neal
  • 7. Drew Brees
  • 8. Lance Armstrong
  • 9. Albert Pujols
  • 10. Apolo Anton Ohno

Ranking 30th, Halladay is now among some of the most recognizable names in the world. It’s quite a impressive leap for someone who was not well known outside of the game of baseball before last season. However, a perfect game, a no-hitter in the postseason, and a Cy Young award vaulted him into rarefied air.

Ryan Howard also made the list, coming in at No. 67, a sharp decline from last years No. 14 ranking.

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Cole Hamels and Approach

Posted by Paul Boye, Fri, January 28, 2011 08:40 AM Comments: 8

(Originally posted Tuesday, Jan. 25 at 4:05 pm.)

Cole Hamels’s bouncing back from a rough 2009 was one of many welcomed surprises in 2010. While a few different things were to blame for Cole’s rough ’09 – be it his slow, injured start to the year or plain old bad luck at times – there seems to have been a noticeable change in his approach and, consequently, a change in his pitches’ locations.

That’s a statement that seems sort of obvious in its elemental nature; Cole had a better season and, at its core, that was because he made better pitches. That’s something we saw throughout the 2010 season, but not something we could tangibly see in detail. Well, until now, anyway.

After the jump, let’s take a look at two of Cole’s pitches and how they differed in 2009 and 2010.

Continue reading Cole Hamels and Approach

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Brown, Singleton Make MLB.com’s Top 50 Prospect List

Posted by Paul Boye, Thu, January 27, 2011 07:40 PM Comments: 3

(Originally posted Jan 25 at 10:40 pm.)

In case you missed it….

Furnished by MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo, MLB.com’s Top 50 Prospects list features two Phillies farmhands this season.

Top Philly prospect Domonic Brown comes in at No. 4 on Mayo’s list, behind the Angels’ Mike Trout, Rays’ Jeremy Hellickson and Nationals’ No. 1 pick Bryce Harper. First baseman Jonathan Singleton, who burst onto the scene with a strong first half in 2010, came in at No. 30.

Across Double-A and Triple-A in 2010, Brown, 23, hit .327/.391/.589 with 20 HR in 389 plate appearances. Brown retains his “prospect” – and rookie – eligibility by accruing fewer than 130 at-bats and 45 days of service before the September 1 roster expansion date. Singleton, 19, hit .290/.393/.479 with 14 HR in 450 plate appearances for Single-A Lakewood in 2010. Singleton will reportedly see time in left field this season.

Full top 50 list after the jump.

Continue reading Brown, Singleton Make MLB.com’s Top 50 Prospect List

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ProspectNation 2011: #15 JC Ramirez- RHP

Posted by Jay Floyd, Thu, January 27, 2011 08:00 AM Comments: 4

Righty hurler JC Ramirez was one of three prospects acquired from Seattle last off-season in the trade for Cliff Lee. While some critics suggest that the trio of farm hands did not necessarily impress (Ramirez posted a 5.45 ERA at Double A, Phillippe Aumont struggled greatly at Double A when he was converted to a starting pitcher and Tyson Gillies was sidelined with a leg injury much of the season), Ramirez showed flashes of exceptional talent and displayed reason to believe he can mature into the talent that the Phillies were hopeful for when they acquired him.

One example of what Ramirez can do was an extremely impressive complete game loss, on the road, to the eventual Eastern Division champion Trenton Thunder in which he struck out 9 and walked none while allowing just 3 earned runs that were scored on two defensive miscues by his teammates.

With a two-seam fastball that regularly reaches the mid-90′s, a slider with excellent control, and a respectable change up that he uses to keep batters honest, Ramirez has tools that continue to impress. The Phillies encouraged Ramirez to throw his change up more frequently in order to put together a big league repertoire, so he spent much of the season focused on improving that pitch.

The 6’3″, 225 pound Ramirez, who was a catcher before he became a pitcher in his youth, joined the Phillies organization with a career ERA of 4.78 in 82 games as a pro.

Combined at two levels of the Phillies system in 2010, Ramirez posted a 7-7 record with a 4.82 ERA and 115 strike outs in 142 innings pitched, over 24 starts. In addition, Ramirez held opponents to a .277 batting average.

After going 4-3 with a 4.05 ERA as a member of the High A Clearwater staff, Ramirez was promoted to Double A Reading in June. As a member of the Reading Phillies, Ramirez’s overall numbers weren’t great (3-4, 5.45 ERA, .291 BAA), but take away his two worst outings with the R-Phils and the stats look considerably better (3-4, 4.48 ERA, .272 BAA).

Ramirez, the product of a Cuban father and a Nicaraguan mother, had surgery just after the 2010 season ended, to repair torn cartilage in his hip. His recovery is reportedly moving along and Ramirez is expected to be active once minor leaguers report to spring training.

In a July interview, Ramirez told me, with a laugh, that when the 2010 season began he wanted to show the people of Philadelphia that their team acquired the guy that could replace Cliff Lee. However, now that Cliff Lee has returned to the Phillies organization, after signing as a free agent this off-season, Ramirez’s future won’t involve replacing Lee, but instead he will find an even more difficult task ahead…trying to break into the same pitching staff as Lee.

If the 22-year-old Ramirez can continue to mature, avoid those occasional disastrous outings and fully heal from his off-season procedure, he could certainly be a prospect that moves up the ranks quickly in 2011 with an arrival time in the Majors not far away.

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Jay Floyd is PhilliesNation’s minor league contributor. You can read more from Jay by visiting his site, PhoulBallz.com.

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Moose Tracks, Vol. 3

Posted by Jay Floyd, Wed, January 26, 2011 07:00 AM Comments: 2

Phillies minor league third baseman Moose Mattair checked in, once again, to give readers an inside look at his journey back to baseball, after taking a year off to try his hand at Division I college basketball.

Moose and his cousin Eric drove together from Washington state and stopped in central Florida to move Moose into his temporary Winter/Spring residence before wrapping up their bonding with a few days in Miami. Moose is now back in the Clearwater area and phoned in, on Monday, with a report on the past week, or so, in Florida. To read Moose’s previous diary entries click here and here.

 

Miami is an awesome place…just a fabulous place. The weather was beautiful. I got a nice sunburn, which prevented me from getting the tattoo that I originally planned to get on the trip. I wanted to add on to the cross that I have on my back, but I was just too sunburned that I couldn’t get it. We went around the city and took in the beach and went to a couple different spots. It was a load of fun, but that place is quite expensive and my cousin and I weren’t looking to spent everything there, so we came back (to the Clearwater area) a day early. Miami is definitely a spot that I’ll go back to, for sure.

My cousin Eric headed back to Washington on Sunday morning really early. He’s home, safe and sound. He had to get up for work today around 4:30. He ended up getting his tattoo, while he was down here with me. He flew back. There was no way you’d get him to ride in a car any longer than we did for the trip down here.

Initially, when I got to central Florida to move in and work out a couple days last week, I hit in the cage and did some pretty intense workouts with our trainer Shawn Fcasni in Clearwater. Tuesday was upper body day and Wednesday was lower body. Shawn has us doing this new workout routine from Japan that the speed skaters used to do over there to add bulk and endurance to their muscles as fast as they possibly can. It took a toll on me. It’s a different workout and got me pretty sore for the week in Miami.

Overall, it was great to see everyone when I got there and give them all a hug…some of my best friends that I haven’t seen in a long time. Plus with Shawn Fcasni and all the head honchos and everybody, it was fun to see them and it seemed like they were excited to see me, which made me feel more than welcomed back and I was just really thrilled.

It’s just great to be back and it’s phenomenal to see everyone. I am glad to get back into a baseball routine and I am confident I’ll be playing baseball for a long while and it’s so good to be back. I look forward to spring training and the season as well. I feel like good things are in my future.

It’s great to see the work ethics of some of these guys that are ahead of me, like the Halladays, the Howards, the Browns…it’s great to be here working out with them, because you get to see what kind of work you have to put in, in order to be great. I’m really soaking that in and really trying to imitate what they’re doing because that’s what you have to do to be great, is what they’re doing, and that’s what I want to be- great.

I’m so glad that I’ve come down early. I am planning to go five days a week, so starting today I’ll be there Monday through Friday until spring training officially begins.

As far as my routine, I went to the ballpark today around 9:30 and hit off a tee by myself for a little while and then had a full-on lifting workout and then took a little break. Then about 1, I took batting practice with Ryan Howard, Domonic Brown and Anthony Hewitt. Howard took time afterward and talked to all three of us, for what must have been 45 minutes, about mental preparation and thinking positive. I learned more in that hour than I’ve learned in a long, long time in baseball. In that situation, you’re so intent and focus on someone that you’ve looked up to and that is ahead of you, when they’re speaking, that you soak everything up that they’re saying. It was an awesome experience.

It’s a lot of fun. It sounds like I’ll be doing more of that, which is very exciting, and then soon I’ll start working on some fielding. It’s a full day at the ballpark, I couldn’t ask for more. If I’m not at the ballpark, I’m not doing very much, so it’s good thing to be there and getting my work in.

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Jay Floyd is PhilliesNation’s minor league contributor.  You can read more from Jay by checking out his site, PhoulBallz.com.

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