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Minors Notebook: Kratz to return, Williams rehab, more

Posted by Jay Floyd, Sat, July 18, 2015 01:58 PM Comments: 1

On Friday evening, the Phillies announced that veteran backstop Erik Kratz has been signed to a minor league deal and will report to Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Monday.

Kratz made his big league debut at the age of 30 five years ago to the day that this week’s Phillies news came out.  The righty hitting Kratz is now 35 years old and has a .217/.240/.400 slash line in parts of six big league seasons.  He played with the Phils from 2011 to 2013 and was dealt to Toronto in a trade for pitcher Brad Lincoln.

The 6-foot-4 240-pound Kratz played in four big league games this year with Kansas City and played at the Triple-A level for KC and Seattle this season as well.

In the lower levels, this year’s top Phils draft pick, outfielder Cornelius Randolph, sports a .282 average with seven doubles, a triple, a home run and 15 RBI in his first 20 professional games with the rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies.  The lefty batting 18-year-0ld was selected 10th overall. Continue reading Minors Notebook: Kratz to return, Williams rehab, more

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Reading’s Pointer clinches Eastern League All-Star Game victory

Posted by Jay Floyd, Thu, July 16, 2015 07:00 AM Comments: 1

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Pointer following a home run this year, Photo- Tug Haines

With a unique format in place to decide a regulation tie, the Eastern League’s All-Star Game was decided when Reading outfielder Brian Pointer slammed a deciding home run to clinch a victory for the Eastern Division.

The Double-A league’s All-Star exhibition wrapped up nine innings of play with a 4-4 tie in Wednesday’s annual event held in Portland, Maine.  Extra innings were not how the game would be decided and, without a way to display the method that was actually used to decide the winner, the contest’s box score displays the final score as a tie.

Instead of a traditional overtime format, the league used a home run derby to determine the winning club, with the two teams taking turns with one swing each time up, to try and launch a ball over the outfield wall in fair territory.  Following eleven failed attempts by the Western division All-Stars and ten missed opportunities by Pointer and his Eastern division teammates, the 23-year-old lefty batter launched a deep fly to right field that reached the stands.

For Pointer, who was the Phillies’ 28th round draft selection in 2010, it was clearly a highlight to his pro career.

“That was unbelievable!  Just awesome!  One of my best moments that I’ve been a part of,” Pointer excitedly said on Wednesday night. Continue reading Reading’s Pointer clinches Eastern League All-Star Game victory

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Phillies Nation Epsiode 15: Cooney, Wilson and Leiter Jr.

Posted by Jay Floyd, Wed, July 15, 2015 08:05 AM Comments: 1

On this week’s edition of Phillies Nation, Corey and Rachel are joined by Phillies beat writer Kevin Cooney. The trio chats about the Phils’ extremely poor record through the opening half of the season, Maikel Franco being the team’s bright spot and possible upcoming trades. PN’s minor league insider Jay Floyd caught up with Reading hurler Mark Leiter Jr. and also joins the panel to discuss some rising prospects Aaron Nola, J.P. Crawford, Andrew Knapp and Rhys Hoskins.

The episode, featured in the media player below, also includes a segment with hitting instructor Kevin Wilson, fantasy baseball tips and more.

New episodes of Phillies Nation premiere each Tuesday at 6PM on The Comcast Network and replays throughout each week on TCN and Comcast Sportsnet.

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Crawford impresses for US Team in All-Star Futures Game

Posted by Jay Floyd, Sun, July 12, 2015 05:46 PM Comments: 0

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JP Crawford, image- Jay Floyd

In Cincinatti on Sunday afternoon, top Phillies prospect J.P. Crawford contributed to the offensive barrage for the United States Team in the MLB All-Star Futures Game, going 1-for-3 with a run-scoring single while scoring a run himself.

The US Team was up 5-1 when Crawford exited the game following the 5th inning.  Led by key hits from Rockies prospect Trevor Story and Mets prospect Brandon Nimmo, the club would double their score and increase their lead to 10-1 over the World Team in the 6th inning.

Crawford also impressed on defense, nabbing a liner on a leaping catch and turning a slick double play in the 5th frame.

This was the 20-year-old lefty batter’s second trip to the Futures Game.  He went 1-for-2 with a stolen base in last year’s contest, just 13 months after he was drafted 16th overall in the 2013 draft.

Another Phillies prospect honored to be on the US roster in this year’s annual exhibition was starting pitcher Aaron Nola, who did not pitch in the game, after throwing six innings for Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Friday.

In 17 starts combined for Double-A Reading and Lehigh Valley this season, the 22-year-old LSU product has tallied a 10-3 record with a 2.03 ERA and a 7.53 K/9. Nola was drafted 7th overall last year by the Phils.

The game was still in progress at the time this post was published.

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PN Interview: Phillies Director of Player Development Joe Jordan

Posted by Jay Floyd, Mon, July 06, 2015 12:05 PM Comments: 2

On Sunday, Phillies director of player development Joe Jordan took time to answer questions about many topics throughout the minors, including injured players Jonathan Pettibone, Roman Quinn, Zach Green and Aaron Brown. He also provided feedback on the rise of pitching prospects Aaron Nola and Franklyn Kilome, the return of 2012 top draft pick Shane Watson and the release of lefty pitcher Yoel Mecias.

Read ahead for the full interview with Joe…

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Quinn, image- Jay Floyd

-What is the status of Roman Quinn, who was honored as an Eastern League All-Star but has been sidelined with a torn hip flexor?  Would he be able to attend the festivities or will he remain in Florida rehabbing?

He’s staying in Florida to continue his rehab. Very disappointing that it happened, ’cause he, I mean everything was coming together for Roman. He was starting to figure himself out as a player. But, you know, he’s getting better. It’s going to take a few more weeks. He’s gonna need some time and we will not put him out there, obviously, before we know he’s ready.

-Corner infielder Zach Greene has been out of action with a broken wrist for Clearwater. Do you have any updates on his progress?

He’s still a ways away. The point of his injury and they had to do a little bone graft and it’s a part of the wrist and hand where there’s not a lot of circulation and it takes longer (to heal) than if it was another part of the body, so he’s a ways away.

-Clearwater outfielder Aaron Brown left a recent game with an undisclosed ailment. What’s his situation?

Browny’s got a little tightness, got lower back tightness. We don’t think it’s a big deal, but it’s gonna be a few days, just trying to give him some time. Hopefully, he just misses three or four games.

-What’s standing out about the Threshers club lately?

I think the whole club is really- it’s- they’re all doing well. Hoskins has settled right in. You know, Moore was an All-Star, he’s doing a good job for them. Canelo is playing well. You know, Tocci has swung the bat good the past few nights and, hopefully, he gets going. But, it’s a good club right now. They put a pretty good lineup on the field every night.

-Back to injury questions…is there any chance we see Jon Pettibone (shoulder surgery) pitch this year?

There is. I saw Jon pitch a bullpen two days ago when I was in Florida and he is pain free. He’s trying to work through the mental block of, you know, “I feel good. I’m healthy. I’ve got to let the ball go.” He will at times, but he’s got to get comfortable enough to say that it’s not going to break anymore and let the ball go. But, he looked good. Continue reading PN Interview: Phillies Director of Player Development Joe Jordan

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PN Interview: Reading Fightins All-Star Brock Stassi

Posted by Jay Floyd, Fri, July 03, 2015 10:30 AM Comments: 25

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Brock Stassi chats with a teammate, image- Jay Floyd

First baseman Brock Stassi has been a top offensive performer all season long for the Double-A Reading Fightins.  While helping to keep his team in the Eastern League playoff hunt, the 25-year-old lefty batter has posted a .317 average with seven home runs while leading the league in RBI with 52.

Stassi,the Phillies’ 33rd round draft pick in 2011, entered the 2015 season as a .246 career hitter with 15 homers in four professional seasons.

Recently, I spoke with Stassi about his solid success at the plate this year and plenty more.  Read ahead for that interview.

-You’ve had quite a season to date and have really increased your offensive numbers compared to previous seasons.  What do you attribute to the improvements you’ve made?

This off-season it all started with breaking down my swing from the ground up.  Me and my brother Max, who’s with the Astros, live together and the way last year ended, and the way last year ended made me want to work harder this off-season than I ever had before.  And Max was noticing some things online and some videos from guys and we ended up breaking our swings  down from the ground up, so it’s basically a new swing that I’m working with.  I give a lot of the credit to that, really slowing things down for me, so it’s going well so far.

-Was there someone the Max linked up with for assistance with breaking down the video?

There’s a guy, Bobby Tewksbury is his name and we came across him and he had some different hitting philosophies that nobody has ever really be taught.  It’s really some kind of revolutionary stuff that’s starting to catch on.  We got in touch with him, sent him some video and he sent us some video back, telling us what we saw and what we should be doing.

Max was- I substitute teach in the off-season and he’d be up till 2, 3 in the morning just online looking at stuff and it was actually Josh Donaldson, Max played with him when he was with Oakland and stuff like that and it was on his Twitter that Max saw him going back and forth with Bobby Tewksbury and Max ended up following him and got in touch with him and talked to Josh about it too and that’s his guy that he goes to with his hitting stuff and so we kind of hopped on board with that. Continue reading PN Interview: Reading Fightins All-Star Brock Stassi

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Phillies Nation TV Episode 14: JP Crawford, Diamonds and Denim

Posted by Jay Floyd, Fri, July 03, 2015 07:30 AM Comments: 1

On this week’s edition of Phillies Nation, Pat and Corey talked about the resignation of Ryne Sandberg as the Phils’ manager, movement in the team’s front office, Chase Utley‘s injury and the hot bat of rookie third baseman Maikel Franco. The episode also features a profile on top prospect J.P. Crawford with remarks from Reading coach Mickey Morandini as well as a segment from the Hamels Foundations’ Diamonds and Denim charity event featuring comments from Ryan Howard, Cody Asche and Cole Hamels.

Check out the full episode in the media player below. New episodes premiere each Tuesday at 6PM on The Comcast Network.

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Five Fightins honored as Eastern League All-Stars

Posted by Jay Floyd, Thu, July 02, 2015 07:30 AM Comments: 4

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Brock Stassi, image- Jay Floyd

The Reading Fightins will be well represented at the 2015 Eastern League All-Star Game later this month in Portland, Maine when five members of the team head to the annual exhibition.  Shortstop J.P. Crawford, outfielders Cam Perkins and Roman Quinn along with starting pitcher Zach Eflin as well as first baseman Brock Stassi have been named to the Eastern Division roster for the game set to be played on July 15th.

Crawford, the Phillies’ top prospect, joined Reading just over a month ago and has posted a .267/.377/.405 slash line in 31 games with the Fightins.  The lefty batting 20-year-0ld was the 16th overall draft pick in 2013.

Perkins, who is currently on the disabled list with a back issue, has a .252 average with eight home runs and 33 RBI in 61 games.  The 24-year-old was the Phillies’ 6th round draft choice in 2012.

Quinn, also on the disabled list, sported a .306 average with four homers and 15 RBI along with a league-leading 29 stolen bases when he tore his hip flexor in mid-June.  The switch-hitting 22-year-old was the Phils’ second round pick in 2011.

Eflin, the prized prospect acquired in the Jimmy Rollins to Los Angeles trade, has a 5-4 record with 2.88 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP in 14 games started.  The 21-year-old righty sports a 1.80 ERA over his last five outings. Continue reading Five Fightins honored as Eastern League All-Stars

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Huge night for Pointer helps Reading lock down win

Posted by Jay Floyd, Sun, June 28, 2015 05:50 PM Comments: 2

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Pointer congratulated on a HR, image- Tug Haines

In what was likely the top performance by a Phillies minor leaguer this season, outfielder Brian Pointer blasted three home runs in four at bats while driving in five runs and drawing a walk in Reading’s 8-5 road win over the Portland Sea Dogs on Saturday.

The 23-year-old Pointer got his big night rolling in the top of the 2nd inning, when he launched a solo shot off of Portland starting pitcher Heri Quevedo.  Later in the contest, he connected for a two-run line drive home run to center field off of reliever Mike McCarthy.  In the 8th inning, the lefty batter slammed another center field blast off of Miguel Celestino.

Confidence and comfort were big factors in the game, helping Pointer connect for the power trifecta, according to the six-foot tall 190-pounder.

“It was a pretty awesome feeling out there. I was definitely seeing the ball well and had a nice rhythm going on.  That really seemed to help me out and got some pretty nice results,” Pointer said via text message on Sunday.

Pointer, the Phillies’ 28th round draft pick in 2010, had been an occasional contributor as the team’s fourth outfielder until recently when an injury to center fielder Roman Quinn and the promotion of Aaron Altherr to Triple-A Lehigh Valley left more at bats available for the Nevada native. Continue reading Huge night for Pointer helps Reading lock down win

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Cornelius debuts in GCL, Nola & Crawford to represent Phils in Futures Game

Posted by Jay Floyd, Thu, June 25, 2015 02:57 PM Comments: 6

milb logoGreat news for the last three top draft picks by the Phillies.  On Thursday, 2015 first round draft choice Cornelius Randolph made his professional debut in the Gulf Coast League, recording a triple in his initial plate appearance.

Facing Pirates left-handed pitching prospect Nestor Oronel, the lefty batting Randolph, who was in the lineup as the team’s designated hitter, mashed a three-bagger to right field, notching his first professional hit.

By the third inning, Cornelius had gone 2-for-2, as he singled in his second chance at the plate, this time against right-hander Richard Mitchell.

Randolph, who was taken with the 10th overall selection, was touted as a power hitter with remarkable bat speed coming into this year’s amateur draft.  The Georgia native turned 18 years old this month.

Also, the MLB All-Star Futures Game is slated to be played in Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park on July 12th and the Phillies’ most highly ranked prospects will be among the top young talent in baseball taking the field for that annual exhibition.  Righty pitcher Aaron Nola and shortstop J.P. Crawford have been named to the United States team.

Nola, who made his second start with the Triple-A IronPigs on Wednesday, sports a 9-3 record with a 1.91 ERA in 14 combined starts at two levels this season.  The 22-year-old was selected 7th overall in last year’s draft.

Crawford, who was recently promoted to Double-A Reading, has reached base via hit or walk in all 24 games he has played at that level.  Overall at two levels this year, the 20-year-old lefty batter sports a .339/.440/.432 slash line in 45 total games.  Crawford, the Phillies’ 1st round pick from 2013, played in the Futures Game last year as well.

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