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LHP DeNato promoted from Lakewood to Lehigh Valley

Posted by Jay Floyd, Sat, August 29, 2015 01:11 PM Comments: 0

denatoLAKEWOOD, NJ- Left-handed reliever Joey DeNato has had an exceptional season to date with the Lakewood BlueClaws, but couldn’t seem to earn a promotion despite dominating Class A competition.  Until now.

DeNato, a 19th round draft selection by the Phillies last year out of Indiana University, will jump three levels, as he joins the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs on Saturday.

Honored as a South Atlantic League mid-season All-Star, DeNato sports a 2-3 record with 10 saves and a 1.24 ERA through 43 appearances this season.

The move may be overdue, but DeNato has kept a solid frame of mind, fending off discouragement in favor of determination.

“There is some frustration because I think this is the best I’ve ever pitched.  Then again, I don’t let the frustration get to me,” DeNato stated with a look of empowerment during the BlueClaws’ homestand this week.  “If anything, I can kind of use it as a chip on my shoulder and that’s what I’ve kind of been trying to do.  Not trying to let up, not trying to let frustration get to me or anything like that.”

The 23-year-old sports a 1.49 overall ERA and a 9.02 K/9 mark in 66 pro appearances since signing with the Phillies last summer. Continue reading LHP DeNato promoted from Lakewood to Lehigh Valley

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Injuries lead to roster moves, Ogando & Cozens promoted

Posted by Jay Floyd, Fri, August 28, 2015 03:45 PM Comments: 0

Necessary roster moves were made on Friday following the placement on the disabled list for two injured players.  Phillies reliever Elvis Araujo will miss time with a groin strain while Reading outfielder Nick Williams is out with a concussion following a collision in the field on Wednesday.

Replacing Araujo on the big league roster is righty Nefi Ogando.  The 26-year-old was acquired near the end of the 2013 season from Boston in a trade for utility guy John McDonald.  Ogando, a native of the Dominican Republic, sports a 4-5 record with a 3.05 ERA, three saves and a 7.8 K/9 mark in 42 games combined at Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley this season.

Filling the void with Reading will be outfielder Dylan Cozens.  The 21-year-old was the Phillies’ 2nd round draft choice in 2012.  In 96 games with Class A Advanced Clearwater this season, Cozens sports a .282 average with five home runs, 46 RBI and 18 steals.

Dylan Cozens

Cozens, image- Jay Floyd

The 24-year-old rookie Araujo was signed as a free agent last off-season.  He had been a solid contributor out of the bullpen this season, sporting a 2-1 record, a 3.38 ERA and a .225 batting average against.

Williams, 21, was one of the prized prospects the Phils acquired from Texas in the trade last month for Cole Hamels.   With Reading, Williams tallied a .326 average with four homers and 10 RBI in 21 games. Continue reading Injuries lead to roster moves, Ogando & Cozens promoted

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Lakewood’s Viza developing despite lack of success in win column

Posted by Jay Floyd, Fri, August 28, 2015 02:30 PM Comments: 1

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Tyler Viza, image- Jay Floyd

LAKEWOOD, NJ- Atlanta’s Shelby Miller has garnered plenty of attention of late for his losing ways. The 25-year-old former first round pick, has not notched a win in his last 18 starts, losing 10 consecutive decisions over that stretch. The lack of success isn’t Miller’s fault though, as he sports a remarkable 2.63 ERA this season and a solid 3.24 mark during this stretch in the big leagues. In the minors, the Phillies have a poor luck loser of their own.

Right-hander Tyler Viza surpassed his win total with the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws from last year with his fourth victory on June 1st of this year. The 20-year-old has not recorded a win since that date over a span of 12 appearances.

Like Miller, Viza’s lack of wins certainly isn’t due to poor output. He has tallied a 3.38 ERA this season through 21 games (20 starts).  In his last 9 starts, the six-foot-three 170-pounder has gone 0-7 with a 2.58 ERA.  The BlueClaws, however, are averaging just 2.11 runs per game in those contests.

His pitching coach, former Phillies reliever Aaron Fultz, asserts that he feels frustration for the young hurler.

“This year, I mean, it’s frustrating,” Fultz admitted. “He’s been probably our best starter for two months and he hasn’t had a win since June 1st. Like I tell him, as a pitcher, we don’t control that. We can do everything right and get a no decision. We just have to give our team a chance to win and he does that every time out.”

Viza, though, is not bothered by his own lack of W’s and has his mind firmly focused on the bigger picture.

“I would look at it like I want to get my team a win. I’m trying to do my best for the team and I know they’re trying to do their best. When we come out with a loss, it’s harder to take than a win, but I’ll show up tomorrow and do it all again,” Viza said in the home dugout at FirstEnergy Park this week. Continue reading Lakewood’s Viza developing despite lack of success in win column

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Catching prospect Alfaro debuts with GCL Phillies

Posted by Jay Floyd, Thu, August 27, 2015 07:31 PM Comments: 4

milb logoNew Phillies prospect Jorge Alfaro made his Phillies organization debut on Thursday, going 1-for-1 while reaching base twice after being hit with a pitched ball.  Starting at catcher for the Phils’ rookie level Gulf Coast League team, the Colombia native left the game early after three plate appearances.

Reached via text message, Phillies director of player development Joe Jordan said he saw Alfaro play in person and asserted that the 22-year-old is fine after the HBP’s.  Jordan also stated that the youngster will play again with the GCL club on Friday.

Alfaro was a key return from Texas in the Cole Hamels trade just a few weeks ago.  He was previously sidelined following ankle surgery.

Opposing runners went 0-for-1 against Alfaro in his organizational debut, as the young backstop gunned down the only potential base stealer.

Also competing in the game for the GCL team was 28-year-old Cuban Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, who tossed four scoreless frames, earning a no decision as the starter.  Through four appearances, the right-hander has not allowed a run in 11 innings pitched.  Gonzalez has struck out 10 batter and walked four thus far. Continue reading Catching prospect Alfaro debuts with GCL Phillies

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PN Interview: RHP Ben Lively talks Reading postseason push

Posted by Jay Floyd, Thu, August 27, 2015 04:30 PM Comments: 0

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Ben Lively, image- Jay Floyd

Activated on Thursday from the disabled list after dealing with a shoulder strain, right-hander Ben Lively will help the Double-A Reading Fightins push toward the postseason.

In 22 starts this year for Reading, the 23-year-old sports a record of 8-7 with a 4.17 ERA while striking out 96 batters and walking 42 in 127 1/3 innings.

Lively was acquired last off-season from Cincinnati for Marlon Byrd.

Earlier this month, I spoke with Ben about some ups and downs this season, his excitement level to be chasing the Eastern League crown and more. Read ahead for that interview.

-You’ve mostly been consistent this season, but have had some shaky outings. What are your thoughts on your 2015 thus far?

We’ve been working on a lot of stuff this year. I kind of got in a little funk and that got me down, and that’s what kind of got me up and down and I haven’t been consistent. But, this past outing we were watching stuff from last year, kind of nit picked little stuff we needed to work on and it’s been working out. I feel like everything just snapped in and I’ve been working in my bullpens and everything’s been feeling great and hopefully, it turns on the rest of the way.

-You spoke of reviewing film and making adjustments. What can you share about what you worked on?

I mean, just like kind of worked on my front side. Tried to stiffen up my front side, to get more power and stuff. I was spinning off and I was throwing the ball all over the place. I feel like I have to get everything where I want it. Everything felt ten times better (in my last start) with the things we adjusted to. Continue reading PN Interview: RHP Ben Lively talks Reading postseason push

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Phillies Nation Episode 20: Amaro’s Future, Trade Evaluations & Knapp Feature

Posted by Jay Floyd, Wed, August 26, 2015 08:05 AM Comments: 2

This week on Phillies Nation, Kevin Cooney of Calkins Media and the Bucks County Courier Times joins Rachel and Corey to evaluate the Phillies’ recent trades as well as discuss Ruben Amaro‘s future with the Phillies.  Plus, Jay Floyd has a special report on Andrew Knapp, Reading’s hot switch-hitting catcher.

Check out this week’s episode in the media player below and look for new episodes to premiere each Tuesday at 6PM on The Comcast Network.

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PN Interview: 6th round draft pick LHP Tyler Gilbert

Posted by Jay Floyd, Sun, August 23, 2015 12:35 PM Comments: 11

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Tyler Gilbert, image- Jay Floyd

After being drafted in the 6th round out of USC in this year’s MLB first year player draft, left-hander Tyler Gilbert has looked impressive for the Class A short-season Williamsport Crosscutters.  In nine outings (seven starts), the 21-year-old California native sports a 3-3 record with a 3.00 ERA while striking out 38 batters and walking just five in 36 innings pitched.

Recently, I spoke with Tyler about his draft experience, his transition to the pro ranks, which players he looks up to and much more.  Read ahead for the full interview.

-You’ve posted some solid number thus far in the minors.  What are your thoughts on your time with the Crosscutters thus far?

It’s been good the whole season.  I’ve been keeping my numbers relatively good and I’ve got a low ERA.  I had one shaky outing a few weeks ago and that was about it.  I think so far, five or six outings I’ve been relatively good.  So, I’ve been really happy with how everything is going.

-As an early-round draft selection, what was your draft experience like?

I had really no idea when I’d be drafted.  I heard various scouting reports and stuff and I actually didn’t see my name on the prospect lists for the top 200 picks.  So, I really had no clue what was going to happen until the Phillies called me in the sixth round and said, ‘Will you sign in the sixth for slot?’  And I said, ‘Of course!’  I mean, it was the second day of the draft and I was with my family, so it was a pretty exciting day.  It was awesome. Continue reading PN Interview: 6th round draft pick LHP Tyler Gilbert

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PNTV Outtake: Potential 2017 Phillies Lineup

Posted by Jay Floyd, Thu, August 20, 2015 05:00 PM Comments: 8

On the heels of Chase Utley being traded to the Dodgers, the focus of the Phillies and their fans further focuses on the future.  And not the immediate future.  We’re talking years down the line.

In this Phillies Nation TV outtake, Rudy Mezzy and Jay Floyd discuss the possibilities of how the Phils’ lineup could pan out in 2017 with so much talent in the minors while keeping it real, knowing the team will use some of their depth to allow themselves to bolster the offense and spend salary.  The discussion ranges from names like Aaron Altherr and J.P. Crawford to a perennial MVP candidate.

The segment was filmed for an upcoming episode of PNTV, but will not be used, so here it is, in the media player below, as a web exclusive.

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OF Quinn will not return to Reading this season

Posted by Jay Floyd, Wed, August 19, 2015 05:46 PM Comments: 0

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Roman Quinn, image- Jay Floyd

Reading outfielder Roman Quinn will not return to baseball this year for the regular season or the playoffs.

According to Phillies’ director of player development Joe Jordan, the 22-year-old switch hitter is progressing well after injuring his hip on June 12th and he could be available in time for Reading’s potential post-season run, but instead the organization prefers for Quinn to take things slowly, for his long term benefit.

Avoiding any rush to return, in an effort to help his team chase the Eastern League crown, the Phils’ brass prefers for him to prepare for winter ball later this year.

Prior to being sidelined with the injury, the Phillies’ 2nd round draft choice from 2011 was having a breakout season for Double-A Reading, posting a .306 average with four homers, 15 RBI and 29 steals. Continue reading OF Quinn will not return to Reading this season

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PN Interview: Reading pitching coach Dave Lundquist talks Thompson, Lively, Eflin, more

Posted by Jay Floyd, Tue, August 18, 2015 08:30 AM Comments: 0

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Jake Thompson, image- Jay Floyd

Over the weekend I chatted with Double-A Reading pitching coach Dave Lundquist, who spoke about his staff. Among the topics are new addition Jake Thompson, standout starter Zach Eflin, team saves record holder Stephen Shackleford the injured Ben Lively (shoulder strain) and more. Read ahead for all the exclusive remarks from “Lundy”…

-Since being acquired in the deal for Cole Hamels, Jake Thompson has gone 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA in three games started. In his latest out, he kept the team in it and earned a win despite walking five. If I asked him, he probably wouldn’t like his output, based on the walks. What are your thoughts on his latest effort?

They never want to see that, but you’ve got a situation where a guy can command four pitches and the misses, the fastball was moving a little too much off the plate. But, you have a guy that’s able to find a way to limit the damage to just two runs on a solo home run and you don’t want the walks but you’ve got a competitor that’s able to find a way to pitch around them.

-Zach Eflin had a strong outing in the weekend series against Trenton, going seven scoreless frames. What have you seen from Zach lately?

For me, (Friday) night was the best I’ve seen Zach in, since early in the year. You know, he commanded the fastball, probably had the best movement, slider was as good in and out of the zone as it’s been and he had a plus change up. The thing that has helped Zach a lot is we added a curve ball. I’ve kept it on the side a lot and made him develop it and get it game ready, but his last two starts he’s used it and it’s a very good weapon. It’s already a solid average and maybe at times a touch above major league average pitch. It helps him out a lot.

-Was the curve a completely new pitch for him or just something that he hadn’t thrown since coming over in the Jimmy Rollins trade last off-season?

It was something that he threw in high school, but he was more of a power guy. He was wanting to throw it a lot early in the year, but at that point we really needed to get that slider to be a consistent major league pitch and then once we achieved that, it was matter of let’s get this (other) pitch game ready and let’s- I don’t want him going out there and getting hurt on a pitch that’s not ready, but he probably was working on it three weeks to a month before we unleashed it in games and we made sure we got it right before we went out and put it in games. It’s been a good weapon for him. Continue reading PN Interview: Reading pitching coach Dave Lundquist talks Thompson, Lively, Eflin, more

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