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PN Interview: Reading Fightins All-Star Brock Stassi

Posted by Jay Floyd, Fri, July 03, 2015 10:30 AM Comments: 14

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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: 0

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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Interview Excerpts: Morandini on position players pitching, Reading clubhouse

Posted by Jay Floyd, Sun, June 21, 2015 11:50 AM Comments: 0

Mickey Morandini, image- Jay Floyd

During the Double-A Reading Fightins’ road series at Trenton last week, former Phillies All-Star second baseman and current minor league coach Mickey Morandini sat down for the Phillies Nation TV cameras.  During the interview, he spoke on various topics including Reading’s recent home stand in which they played three consecutive extra inning games and were forced to use position players to pitch.  Morandini, who was part of the famed 1993 Phillies, also spoke of what type of clubhouse the Fightins have this season.  Read ahead for those interview excerpts.

-On his club tallying 45 innings over a three-game stretch including an 18-inning affair against Altoona on June 11th in which first baseman Brock Stassi played 15 innings on defense, collected four hits and threw three scoreless innings to earn the win…

It’s tough.  We played a stretch there where we went 18, 13 and 15 (innings) and the 18 inning game was long enough where we had to bring somebody in.  Brock pitched and got the win.  He went three innings, so we just didn’t have anybody left to pitch.  All the relievers had been used either the day before or that game and we’re not doing the developing when we have to bring a position player in.  We, as coaches, are always talking about it and we’d like to see some cap put on it.  Maybe like a 12 inning cap in a minor league game just to keep the development going where you don’t have to use position players to pitch or you don’t have to throw a reliever three days in a row or whatever it may be.

-Speaking about how it’s fun for the players, but sort of a head ache for the coaches to have position players pitching…

It is fun for the kids to get into game.  I know Brock pitched in college and he was pretty successful.  So, when he got on the mound, he had an idea of what to do.  But, I think in those three games, six or seven position players had to pitch on both teams and that’s not something you want to do.  You don’t want one of your position players go in and try to overdo it and come up with some sort of arm problems or something like that, so I think the minor league brass, who ever’s responsible for the rules and things, needs to really take a hard look at that and possibly cap games and have a certain innings limit.  Continue reading Interview Excerpts: Morandini on position players pitching, Reading clubhouse

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PN Interview: Reading pitching coach Dave Lundquist talks Eflin, Biddle, Nola, more

Posted by Jay Floyd, Fri, June 19, 2015 02:23 PM Comments: 2

During the Double-A Reading Fightins’ recent road series in Trenton, I sat down with the team’s pitching coach Dave Lundquist to chat about his pitching staff. “Lundy”, who pitched in the big leagues with the White Sox and the Padres, is in his eight season coaching in the Phillies’ organization after spending three years in the Pirates’ system.

Lundquist spoke about his group of well-touted starting pitchers including specific comments on Zach Eflin, Jesse Biddle and recently promoted righty Aaron Nola. He also shared some thoughts on his bullpen hurlers and how a player like Tyler Knigge, who gets moved up and down between levels could be impacted by the movement, among other things.

Read ahead for that full interview…

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Lively, image- Jay Floyd

-We talked back in April about the group of five starters you entered the season with that included Tom Windle, Jesse Biddle, Zach Eflin and Ben Lively. Almost halfway into the season, what can you share about that group?

I think what we talked about early still is true. They’re a very talented group. They are a group of guys that have really good stuff and they’re still learning situational pitching. You know, but as a group, they’re all getting better. Command, breaking stuff, holding runners, every thing. All around I feel pretty good with what they’re all doing.

-How about your bullpen? You’ve got a couple guys that can crank it up on the radar gun and things? Is there anyone among that group who has stood out?

Well, (Stephen) Shackleford has been very good closing games for us. (Tyler) Knigge was very good his last outing, very aggressive. More aggressive than I’ve seen him in a few years. Colton Murray‘s done a nice job attacking hitters with a pretty good secondary pitch to finish hitters. I don’t want to miss anybody, but there’s been a lot of good with the whole staff. Continue reading PN Interview: Reading pitching coach Dave Lundquist talks Eflin, Biddle, Nola, more

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Phillies Nation Episode 12: Giles, Tocci and Palladino’s

Posted by Jay Floyd, Fri, June 19, 2015 12:00 AM Comments: 0

On the latest edition of Phillies Nation, Pat and Corey discuss the latest on Aaron Nola, Maikel Franco as well as Jonathan Papelbon and chat about the Phils’ early round draft picks. Also on the program, Ryann talks with Phillies reliever Ken Giles, Jay catches up with outfield prospect Carlos Tocci and Natalie enjoys some unique tailgating food at Palladino’s in Philadelphia.

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

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PN Interview: RHP Prospect Zach Eflin

Posted by Jay Floyd, Thu, June 18, 2015 12:40 PM Comments: 0

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Zach Eflin, image- Jay Floyd

Acquired last off-season from the Dodgers in the trade for Jimmy Rollins, righty pitcher Zach Eflin has made an impact this season for his new organization.  As part of the highly touted Double-A Reading Fightins’ rotation, Eflin has posted a 4-4 record along with a 2.99 ERA in 12 starts.

Following his start against Trenton on Wednesday, a 6-5 loss, Eflin spoke about his outing, his pitch repertoire, his reaction to the trade that brought him to the Phillies and more.  Read ahead for that interview.

-You went six innings, allowed four runs, one earned, took the loss.  Talk about your outing against the Thunder…

I was having trouble keeping the ball down, obviously.  It felt like they weren’t missing the ball and I gotta do a better job of keeping the ball down and mixing in my off-speeds for strikes.  I was cutting them, I was pushing them a little bit and just, it was a day to throw as many strikes as I could and I felt like I did a somewhat of a good job of throwing strikes.  I just needed to throw my pitches with more conviction.

-What pitch are you finding the most success with this year and what is the full repertoire?

This year I think I am having the most success with my two-seam.  Being able to get ground balls when I need them.  And I have a four-seam, change up and slider though.  Definitely my fastball has been the best this year.  I’ve been able to locate it pretty decently throughout the year.  I just struggled a little bit with it tonight.

-After a great start to your season, in which you posted a 1.14 ERA through your first four starts, the results have cooled off a bit.  Is there any level of frustration that can build for you, when the numbers take a dip? Continue reading PN Interview: RHP Prospect Zach Eflin

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PN Interview: Lakewood 3B Derek Campbell

Posted by Jay Floyd, Mon, June 08, 2015 08:00 AM Comments: 2

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Derek Campbell, image- Jay Floyd

Lakewood infielder Derek Campbell hasn’t hit his stride yet this season with the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws. Struggling to bust out offensively (.188 average, one HR, 18 RBI in 43 games), the 23-year-old is focused on helping the team win before anything else.

Playing mostly third base for the BlueClaws, Campbell took some time recently to offer his thoughts on his draft experience last year, on the even of the anniversary of being drafted last year out of UC Berkeley, and playing for manager Shawn Williams among other things.

Read ahead for those quotes from Derek…

-With the draft coming up this week, talk about what your draft experience was like last year.

It was just, I hung out with my family and my friends. I kind of waited, like everyone else does. And I celebrated, not to much, but I was ready for that next step in my life, so it was a fun time.

-How did you approach signing your first pro contract? Was there any delay or negotiating that went on?

I signed pretty quick, ’cause I was a senior and I had graduated and that was what was next to come, was to go play professional baseball. So, I was eager to sign and I was anxious to get to where ever they were going to send me right away.

-Where did you go first? Straight to Williamsport to begin the short-season A level season?

I first went to Clearwater to do all the physicals and then I went to Williamsport. Continue reading PN Interview: Lakewood 3B Derek Campbell

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Threshers Quotables: Mora, Pullin and Leiter talk successful seasons

Posted by Jay Floyd, Thu, June 04, 2015 01:45 PM Comments: 0

After their top offensive contributor J.P. Crawford was promoted this week, some fans may have wondered which remaining players could be catalysts for the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers lineup going forward. Middle infielder Angelo Mora now stands as the team’s leading hitter with a .350 average while outfielder Andrew Pullin seems to be the club’s most consistent batter, as he’s tied for the team lead in hits (51) and total bases (72).

I heard from both offensive stars this week to gain some insight on their success at the plate and also got righty pitcher Mark Leiter Jr. to speak about his recent impressive efforts on the mound.  Read ahead for those quotes.

Mora with Lakewood in 2013, image- Jay Floyd

-Mora, who is a 22-year-old Dominican Republic native, spoke on if players at higher levels inspire him to achieve bigger things and how his coaches on the field, and one off the field, have helped him…

“Yes, they inspire many baseball players.  And the coaches are very good and I also ask God to help me to keep working hard and keep hustling and keep a positive mind.”

-With the help of a translator, Mora also shared some thoughts on the biggest difference for him this year, as his batting average has taken a considerable jump above the .227 mark he posted at the same level last year…

“The most important factor is to be on the ball.  If the ball is a strike, I concentrate on hitting it and put the ball in play no matter were it goes as long as you get a hit.”

-Pullin, a 21-year-old 5th round draft pick from 2012, spoke about making the switch to the outfield, where he played in his youth, after spending two seasons in the pro ranks at second base…

“I made the switch during instructional league last fall. The coordinators talked to me about moving out there. Continue reading Threshers Quotables: Mora, Pullin and Leiter talk successful seasons

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PhoulBallz Podcast Episode 77: Art Charles and Ben Holmes Interviews

Posted by Jay Floyd, Fri, May 22, 2015 03:06 PM Comments: 0

Tug and Jay are back with the latest edition on the PhoulBallz Minor League Podcast.  On the 77th edition of the show, the guys talk about Jake Fox‘s transition to Korea, Mark Leiter Jr.’s, Brandon Leibrandt‘s and J.P. Crawford‘s excellent efforts for Clearwater and Carlos Tocci posting terrific numbers in the Sally League.  Reading slugger Art Charles joins the show for the segment Nine Silly-ass Questions, plus Marlins pitching prospect Ben Holmes (AKA Ben Wetzler) takes time to answer questions about the Phillies reporting him to the NCAA for having an agent represent him at the negotiation table in 2013.

Use the media player below to stream the full episode, or simply download it by clicking HERE.  You can also check out previous episodes and subscribe on iTunes.

Thanks so much to the thousands of you that listen to each episode.  We appreciate you.

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PN Interview: BlueClaws OF Cord Sandberg

Posted by Jay Floyd, Sat, May 09, 2015 08:30 AM Comments: 0

Cord Sandberg, image- Jay Floyd

Lakewood outfielder Cord Sandberg is off to a quiet start this season in the Class A Sally League.  The 20-year-old, through 24 games, is batting .235 with three doubles, eight RBI with a stolen base.

Praised by coaches for his toolsy skill set, his leadership qualities and his professionalism, the Phillies have high hopes for the 2013 third round draft selection.

Recently, I spoke with Cord about his game, his manager, his roommate and more.  Read ahead for that full interview with the lefty batting Florida native, who is not related to Phils manager Ryne Sandberg.


-I’ve heard some great feedback on you with the coaches citing you as a leader for the team.  When you’ve the coaches really believing in you and maybe teammates looking to you, even at 20 years old, as a leader, what does that mean to you?

That definitely means a lot.  As far as other players looking up to me, I mean playing quarterback in high school, there are leadership qualities that kind of comes with playing that position.  You know, baseball..I’m in the outfield, I just try to- I’m not really a vocal guy.  I’m not really a big pump-up guy.  I try to play the game the right way and I try to lead by example and hopefully, that shows with my effort on the field.

-If you were going to scout your own game, what would you tell me?

I’m an outfield guy and I think my arm is strong enough to make the throws I have to.  It’s not unbelievable by any means, but I feel it’s good enough to get the job done out there.  From a hitting standpoint, I’m not- in little league I was a power guy, but you know as I’ve developed, I’ve kind of grown to being a gap-to-gap guy and I can be a power guy, but I’m not really focused on home runs and things like that.  I’m just trying to hit the ball hard and go gap-to-gap.  Continue reading PN Interview: BlueClaws OF Cord Sandberg

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