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Minor Leagues

Phillies Promote Gwynn

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Mon, September 01, 2014 09:01 PM Comments: 2

Earlier today, the Phillies selected the contract of outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. Gwynn, 31, hit .163/.281/.204 with the Phillies before being released and then re-signed by the club. Gwynn hit .290/.383/.362 with Triple-A Lehigh Valley in 20 games after re-signing and will assume the roster spot created by moving Cliff Lee to the 60-day DL.

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BlueClaws Quotables: DeNato on first pro save, Viza on loss record

Posted by Jay Floyd, Sun, August 31, 2014 08:00 AM Comments: 2

Sliding into a key role at the back end of the Class A Lakewood bullpen late in the season, Phillies 19th round draft pick Joe DeNato has notched his first two pro saves in recent days.

Through 22 pro games combined at short-season A level Williamsport and with Lakewood, the Indiana product has tallied a 3-1 record with a 1.78 ERA and a 9.68 K/9 mark.

I spoke with Joe this weekend about his first minor league save, being drafted by the Phillies and more.

-DeNato commented on his initial professional save against Hickory in a 3-0 win in Lakewood on Thursday…

We had the shutout going, so I just really wanted that pitchers’ BP, but I mean, I just went out there, knowing that I needed to throw strikes.  I kind of struggled with that with the first batter.  Luckily, I didn’t walk him.  He ended up getting on base though, but overall I just wanted to get the job done.

-I asked DeNato if the Phillies were on his radar among teams interested in drafting him after posted a 13-1 record with a 1.82 ERA as a starter in college this year…

The Phillies weren’t a surprise.  There were about four teams that were contacting me leading up to the draft and the Phillies were one of them.  I mean, I was happy to be drafted by them.  I’m from San Diego, so honestly I never followed the Phillies that much, but obviously they’re my number one team now.  Yeah, it’s been a good experience.

-DeNato commented on if the transition to the pro ranks was what he expected…

I mean, I didn’t really know what to expect.  I just tried to go with the flow, you know, just try to do what I can do and do what I’m told.  You know, it has worked out so far.  I’m just going to keep trying to succeed.  Continue reading BlueClaws Quotables: DeNato on first pro save, Viza on loss record

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Fightins Quotables: Nola, Lundquist, Altherr, Moore

Posted by Jay Floyd, Sat, August 30, 2014 11:05 AM Comments: 0

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Aaron Nola, image- Tug Haines

Top Phillies draft pick Aaron Nola tossed a gem of an outing in Trenton on Friday night, in what will be the final appearance of his first pro season. Over five innings, the 21-year-old allowed just four hits and surrendered no runs while striking out two and walking none. He notched the win, as the Reading Fightins downed the Thunder by a score of 3-0.

In 12 professional outings, since he was selected 7th overall in this year’s MLB amateur draft, Nola tallied a 4-3 record with a 2.93 ERA while striking out 45 and walking 10 in 55 1/3 innings combined between Double-A Reading and Class A Advanced Clearwater.

After the game, I spoke with Reading pitching coach Dave Lundquist and Nola himself about the outing and more. I also spent time chatting with Nola’s backstop Logan Moore about his season as well as his pitching staff. Additionally, I chatted with outfielder Aaron Altherr about his time with the big league club this year. Read ahead for loads of exclusive quotes…

-Dave Lundquist on Nola’s effort on Friday night…

It was outstanding. You know, five innings, with no runs, 62 total pitches. You know, the thing that was really impressive was, in the fifth, he had (runners on) 2nd and 3rd with nobody out and got a pop up in the infield, a strike out and a ground ball and really showed a good feel for pitching and working himself out of a jam. He did a nice job.

-Asked Lundquist if there’s any temptation to let Nola go beyond his innings limit when his pitch count is low…

No, not right now. Not this year. Not with where he’s at. Total wise, through college and here, no. We just want him to get to that one point and that’s it. His pitch count was really low and he definitely could have continued going and it’s good to know he could have continued going, but at this point in the year, no that’s it.

-Also asked Lundquist for his thoughts about righty reliever Colton Murray, who notched his fifth save of the season for Reading in their win over Trenton on Friday…

Power guy that goes right after people. One thing he’s done is he’s really improved his curve ball as a pitch he can throw in and out of the zone. It’s become a quality swing and miss pitch for him. Very aggressive and he goes right after people. It’s what you look for in a reliever. Continue reading Fightins Quotables: Nola, Lundquist, Altherr, Moore

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Tocci looking to add what’s missing in off-season

Posted by Jay Floyd, Sat, August 30, 2014 07:00 AM Comments: 3

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Carlos Tocci, image- Tug Haines

At a very young age, outfielder Carlos Tocci garnered a high level of praise for his raw tools on the baseball field.  With minimal offensive production since he was signed by the Phillies, the young Venezuelan has left some wondering what’s been missing.

Signed at age 16 for a reported $759,000, Tocci was 2011′s biggest international free agent target.  Since then, the slim framed youngster has struggled to live up to high expectations surrounding him.

In his initial season in the pro ranks, Tocci tallied a .278/.330/.299 slash line in 38 games in the rookie level Gulf Coast League in 2012.

The following season, at age 17, he began the year with full season Class A Lakewood, where he sported a .209/.261/.249 line in 118 games.  He repeated the level this year, posting a .244/.296/.328 line through 122 games, including action on Thursday.

It took 862 professional at bats before Tocci launched his first round tripper.  The youngster, who was ranked as the Phillies’ ninth best prospect heading into this season, felt the big hit he had long waited for was rewarding not only to get over the hump and to prove that he could do it, but it showed the effort he put forth leading up to it was finally having results.

“It makes me happy because when you feel like something’s going good, all the things that you did, all the work, is going well and everybody can finally see it,” Tocci said via translator and teammate Jose Mayorga.

The statistical improvements are clear, but the team’s manager Greg Legg sees more than just the numbers.  Phillies coaches and personnel view the tools and abilities that made Tocci so popular among scouts as lacking a key ingredient.  Strength. Continue reading Tocci looking to add what’s missing in off-season

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BlueClaws Quotables: Team Speaks on Astudillo’s Batting Crown Chase

Posted by Jay Floyd, Fri, August 29, 2014 04:02 PM Comments: 4

As Class A Lakewood standout Willians Astudillo continues his quest toward a South Atlantic League batting title, entering the final weekend of the season, his team is backing him.

The 22-year-old missed all of last season with a left knee injury, but has clearly bounced back nicely.  Astudillo is 40-for-85 (.471 avg) in his last 23 games, helping to boost his league leading season average to .340.

I spoke with BlueClaws personnel about Astudillo’s exciting batting crown chase.  Read ahead for those quotes…

Manager Greg Legg-

“He’s played the same all year, with the same energy and intensity.  I never saw him have a lull.  He loves baseball.  I think that’s the reason he gets up in the morning is to hit.  But it has added some excitement to (our final week of the season).  It’s definitely interesting and if we can do anything to help him, we will.”

“It’s neat, we got Cozens, who set a franchise record for 15 homers and (stealing) 20 bags.  No one else has ever done that.  I think he’s the only guy in the league to do that this year. So, we’ve got a couple pluses on the offensive side.”

Fellow Venezuelan Carlos Tocci-

“I’m excited because I know Astudillo’s going to win that title because he’s been hitting his whole life and he’s a great hitter.  I want to help push him to win that title.”

Reliever Joe DeNato-

“I’ve never seen a better hitter than him.  He’s got the best hands I’ve ever seen.  He doesn’t strike out.  And he’s consistent too.” Continue reading BlueClaws Quotables: Team Speaks on Astudillo’s Batting Crown Chase

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Reading Eagle survey: Crawford ranked top Phils prospect

Posted by Jay Floyd, Mon, August 25, 2014 10:05 AM Comments: 49

Recently, Mike Drago of The Reading Eagle conducted a survey of experts, made up of local writers and other media members, designed to rank the top prospects in the Phillies developmental system.

The participating individuals, who are all close to the Phillies minor league system, were asked to rank their personal top 20, which were tabulated to determine the paper’s published list of top 15 Phillies prospects.  Individuals surveyed included Baseball America’s Josh Norris, Chris Rotolo of the Asbury Park Press, Mitch Rupert of the Williamsport Sun-Gazette as well as yours truly, Jay Floyd of PhilliesNation.com.

The collection of experts determined that last year’s first round draft pick, J.P. Crawford, who represented the Phillies in the MLB All-Star Futures Game this year, is the top prospect in the organization.  Crawford, 19, is widely expected to be the eventual successor to former National League MVP Jimmy Rollins at shortstop.

Last year’s Reading Eagle rankings featured Maikel Franco at the top.  The Dominican native fell to number three this year.  A few new names are also featured on the list.

Here’s an excerpt of The Reading Eagle’s 2014 prospect rankings…

1 J.P. Crawford: Just 14 months after being drafted the California shortstop found himself playing in the All-Star Futures Game. At 19 he was the youngest player on the Team USA roster and the second-youngest in the game. He was moved up to high Class A Clearwater in mid June, his third level in little more than a year. He’s hit at all of them and carries a .295 batting average and .388 on-base percentage through his first 720 professional games.  (ed. note- Crawford has played just 170 pro games)

2 Aaron Nola: The Phillies desperately needed a fast-moving, strike-throwing starting pitcher when they tabbed the LSU right-hander in the June draft and that’s exactly what they got. He became the first Phillies draft pick to reach Double-A in his first professional season since 1986. He’ll likely start next season in Reading and end it in Philadelphia.

3 Maikel Franco: The Phillies were hoping the 21-year-old would be their third baseman by now but he had a poor spring training and an even worse spring at Lehigh Valley. After a lousy first half he finally started to hit, batting .343 in July. He’s still extremely young – almost six years younger than the average International League player – so there’s no reason to panic. Continue reading Reading Eagle survey: Crawford ranked top Phils prospect

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Franco making case for September call up

Posted by Jay Floyd, Sun, August 24, 2014 07:00 AM Comments: 1

Maikel Franco, image- Jay Floyd

While the minor league season begins to wind down, Lehigh Valley third baseman Maikel Franco continues to go full throttle.

As the IronPigs kicked off their final home stand of the season on Saturday with a double header against the division rival Syracuse Chiefs, Franco, who is hoping his season continues on beyond the final day on the regular season calendar, which is Labor Day, September 1st, continued to display his improved offensive efforts going 6-for-7 with two home runs combined in two games while recording a cycle in the night cap.

The feat was certainly quite an achievement, but possibly more impressive because it was accomplished in just six offensive innings for the winning home club in game 2, as minor league double headers are slated as seven-inning contests.

Franco, who turns 22 years old this week, struggled through the early part of his first Triple-A season, ending June with a .202 batting average and just 28 extra-base hits in 78 contests.  In 46 games since the start of July, the Dominican born slugger has tallied a .326 batting average while mashing 26 extra-base hits, including nine of his season total of 14 homers during that stretch. Continue reading Franco making case for September call up

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PhoulBallz Podcast Episode 69: Justin De Fratus In Studio

Posted by Jay Floyd, Fri, August 22, 2014 04:25 PM Comments: 0

It’s the landmark 69th edition of the PhoulBallz Minor League Podcast hosted by Phillies Nation’s minor league expert Jay Floyd.  On the latest edition of the show, Jay and his co-host Tug Haines are joined by Phillies pitcher Justin De Fratus.

Justin was in studio for an extensive interview talking about his time in the minors, his past “controversial” Twitter comments as well as playing for Charlie Manuel and Ryne Sandberg.  He also shares stories about initiating former teammate Brian Gump to Class A ball and how former big league All-Star Brad Lidge impacted his approach after Lidge’s retirement plus loads more.

Use the media player below to stream the full episode, or simply download it by clicking HERE.

The PhoulBallz Podcast is a show that features call-in guests and focuses on the Phillies minor league system.  Check out archived episodes by clicking here.

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PN Interview: Reading’s Cerebral Slugger Jake Fox

Posted by Jay Floyd, Thu, August 21, 2014 03:30 PM Comments: 9

Jake Fox, image- Tug Haines

Since rejoining the Phillies organization in June, corner infielder Jake Fox has been the driving force of the Double-A Reading offense.  The 32-year-old veteran of four big league seasons, having played with the Cubs, A’s and Orioles, has dominated Eastern League pitching, posting a .322 average while mashing 20 home runs and driving in 65 runs in 66 games.

Two seasons ago, Fox played with Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley, batting .230 with five homers in 26 total games as a late-season edition.

Prior to signing with the Phillies this year, Fox competed in Mexico, where he sported a .307/.397/.605 slash like in 57 games with Laguna.

Fox, who was originally drafted in the third round of the 2003 amateur draft by the Cubs, plays with an extremely cerebral approach.

Recently, I spoke with Jake about his intellectual focus toward the game, how he helps the teammates around him and more.  Read ahead for that interview.

-I’ve talked to Zach Collier recently about how you’ve helped him improve his offensive approach and you’re definitely a guy that takes pride in influencing and helping your younger teammates.  What can you tell me about that?

I think one of the hardest things about this level is that you’re stuck in between trying to win games and developing and I think a lot of times at this level you finally separate guys from other things other than their talent, because at this level everybody’s talented, everybody can play the game.  And one thing that I preach to these guys a lot is not relying on athletic ability, because we have some athletes in this locker room.  But, as you move up, it’s an intelligent sport and it’s about more than your athleticism.  So, this is the first time that they have to think about the game, more than just an athletic sport.  And, so, a lot of times when you talk to young guys like Zach Collier and Aaron Altherr, who are young guys that always relied on just their athletic ability, they’ve never had to create an identity as a hitter.  

The most important thing you have to do at this level is create your own identity, about what I want to be and what am I going to do to become that type of hitter.  Because a lot of times a lot of hitting coaches will preach to guys about being a complete hitter instead of playing to what you’re good at.  Okay, so having said that, nobody’s Miguel Cabrera.  Nobody’s going to go out there and hit .340 and 60 homers and 140 RBI’s every year.  But, you can still be effective and get to the big leagues by playing to your strengths.   Continue reading PN Interview: Reading’s Cerebral Slugger Jake Fox

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Phillies Nation: Episode 20 – Minor League Update, Curt Simmons

Posted by Brian Michael, Wed, August 20, 2014 11:25 AM Comments: 2

This week, our minor league expert Jay Floyd joins Pat and Corey to breakdown Phillies prospects and discuss when we might see them in Citizens Bank Park. They analyze guys like Maikel Franco, Aaron Nola, J.P. Crawford and Jesse Biddle.

Ian returns with his exclusive sit-down interview with Phillies legendary pitcher Curt Simmons. He talks about playing baseball in Egypt, NJ and relives his days when Babe Ruth was his coach. How awesome is that?!

Brian Quinn, owner of BQ Basement System (presenting sponsor of PNTV), stops by the set and talks baseball and basements with Pat.

Tommy Greene returns for another pitching lesson. And Ryann and Natalie bring you fan questions like, “What is your favorite baseball movie?”

Phillies Nation TV is presented by BQ Basement Systems and filmed each week at Field House Sports and Beer Hall in Center City Philly.

You can watch Phillies Nation TV on your TV at the following times this week:
Tuesday at 6pm on TCN

  • Tuesday at 11pm on CSN
  • Wednesday at 4:30pm on CSN
  • Wednesday at 11:30pm on TCN
  • Thursday at Midnight on CSN
  • Thursday at 11:30am on CSN
  • Thursday at 9:30pm on TCN
  • Friday at 4pm on CSN

 

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