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Minor Leagues

Crawford, Knapp among Phils prospects headed to AFL

Posted by Jay Floyd, Wed, September 02, 2015 07:00 AM Comments: 0

jp craw 3On Tuesday Arizona Fall League rosters were announced.  The list of talented youngsters that will represent the Phillies in the prominent off-season league is headlined by top prospect J.P. Crawford.

The 20-year-old shortstop was the Phils’ first round draft selection in 2013.  In just his second full pro season this year, he reached the Double-A Eastern League where he was honored as a mid-season All-Star.  Through 101 games combined for Class A Advanced Clearwater and Reading, Crawford tallied a .294 average with six homers, 41 RBI and 12 stolen bases.

Joining Crawford will be his Reading teammate catcher Andrew Knapp..  The 23-year-old has been hot of late as he sported a .404 average with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 25 August games for the playoff bound Fightins.

Also headed to the AFL to take the field as part of the Glendale Desert Dogs will be lefty pitcher Tom Windle, right-handed hurlers Yacksel Rios, Nick Pivetta and Edubray Ramos as well as outfielder Dylan Cozens.

The AFL opens play on Tuesday, October 13th.

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BlueClaws Quotables: Coaches talk Grullon, Kingery, Watson, more

Posted by Jay Floyd, Tue, September 01, 2015 08:05 AM Comments: 0

This past week I spoke with Class A Lakewood manager Shawn Williams and the team’s pitching coach Aaron Fultz.  Below are interview excerpts from both men as we check in on a few familiar names like catching prospect Deivi Grullon, this year’s second round draft choice Scott Kingery as well as 2012 first round pick Shane Watson, plus more.

Williams…

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Deivi Grullon, image- Jay Floyd

-Catcher Deivi Grullon has had some ups and downs at the plate this year.  Has he made solid progress and are you pleased with his seeason? 

I am pleased.  I know the numbers aren’t there offensively, but he’s had some tough luck, he’s had some tough outs.  But, for me, more importantly, he’s finishing the season strong.  His RBI’s and power numbers have come here lately.  He’s gotten better, he’s having better at bats, but more importantly for a catcher, that comes first.  He’s done an outstanding job all year.  He’s done an outstanding job.  He’s learning a lot.  For me, he’s grown up a lot.  He’s getting better with the English language, things that are helping him.  He’s got one of the most important characteristics as a catcher- he’s a leader.  He’s one of those guys that everybody goes to, a like-able guy in the clubhouse and he’s been huge for our pitching staff.

 

-A pair of names that fans would be familiar with on this team are early round draft picks from this year Scott Kingery and Kyle Martin.  What have you seen from those guys since they joined the team a couple months ago?

 

Both of them are very good ballplayers and they are baseball players.  

Kingery- very impressive defensively at second, all around player.  But he can really turn a double play, he can run, he looks very hitterish in the box, he puts together good at bats.  For me, he’s had a very good year with us, for the first year in and playing every day.  He shows up ready to play every day.  He’s a gamer and he’s got the tools there too that are impressive.

And Martin, another guy that can swing the bat, good defensively, a very good base runner, very smart, he can steal a base, good instincts.  Both of them are guys that have instincts, which are hard to teach.  They have them and they’ve really helped our club here in the second half. Continue reading BlueClaws Quotables: Coaches talk Grullon, Kingery, Watson, more

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Reading 1B Stassi named Eastern League MVP

Posted by Jay Floyd, Sun, August 30, 2015 11:45 AM Comments: 6

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Brock Stassi, image- Jay Floyd

Via a press release, the Double-A Eastern League announced on Saturday that Reading Fightins All-Star first baseman Brock Stassi has been honored as the league’s most valuable player for the 2015 season.

The Eastern League of Professional Baseball is pleased to announce that Reading Fightin Phils first baseman Brock Stassi has been selected as the winner of the 2015 Eastern League Most Valuable Player Award. Stassi is batting .312 (138-for-442) with 32 doubles, one triple, 14 home runs, 88 RBIs, 73 runs scored, three stolen bases, a .484 slugging percentage and a .402 on-base percentage in 124 games while helping lead Reading to first place in the Eastern Division standings. The 26-year old has reached base safely in 108 of the 122 games in which he’s had a plate appearance this season for the Fightin Phils, including reaching base safely in 25 straight games from May 24th-June 22nd. He also has 40 multiple hit games this season, including going 4-for-8 with two RBIs, one walk and one stolen base in an 8-7, 18-inning win over Altoona on June 11th at FirstEnergy Stadium. In addition to his offensive contributions in that game, Stassi was also the winning pitcher, striking out three batters while closing out the game with three no-hit innings of relief.

Stassi, who was selected by the Phillies in the 33rd round of the 2011 draft, is tops in the league in RBI, doubles and OPS (.886).

The EL MVP award was voted on by Eastern League managers and coaches as well as members of the media.

The six-foot-two 190-pound lefty batter spoke with Phillies Nation earlier this season about his turnaround at the plate. Click here to read that interview.

Additionally, the Eastern League also named Reading skipper Dusty Wathan manager of the year.  Wathan is in his fourth season managing Reading and took the club t

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LHP DeNato promoted from Lakewood to Lehigh Valley

Posted by Jay Floyd, Sat, August 29, 2015 01:11 PM Comments: 4

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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