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PN Interview: Cody Asche

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Wed, October 01, 2014 08:00 AM Comments: 1

This weekend, Phillies Nation was granted VIP Access to Sports Vault’s All Access program at the Philadelphia Sports Card Show and Convention. There, we were able to speak to a number of the guests which included many Phillies, past and present. For the next week, please check out our exclusive interviews and give our friends at Sports Vault a click for the best sports memorabilia and upcoming autograph signings!

Ian Riccaboni, PN: What was the biggest challenge of competing in your first full season at the Major League level?

Cody Asche, third baseman, Philadelphia Phillies: I would say, since I spent time on the DL this year, staying healthy was one of my bigger challenges this year which was unfortunate that it happened, but it did. But I learned from it and I moved on.

IR: Does that make it tougher to your rhythm at the plate?

CA: Certainly doesn’t help! I mean, I wouldn’t say it makes any more difficult. Major League pitching is hard enough as it is. Any time you miss a significant portion of your games, it is going to be tough to find it, yeah.

IR: You’ve come up with a group of guys, a crop of guys, Freddy Galvis, Cesar Hernandez, Darin Ruf. What’s it like coming up with a group of guys, guys that you know?

CA: It’s good. I think we’re all eager to prove that we are capable of being winning players and capable of being part of a winning team. We naturally have a little big of camaraderie together. We just have to go out there and keep working and keep playing together.

IR: What’s the biggest challenge you are looking forward to in 2015?

CA: Improving. I think that is the challenge that faces every player and I think that’s why we all play, to get better and to prove to ourselves that we can get better.

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PN Interview: Maikel Franco

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Tue, September 30, 2014 08:00 AM Comments: 2

This weekend, Phillies Nation was granted VIP Access to Sports Vault’s All Access program at the Philadelphia Sports Card Show and Convention. There, we were able to speak to a number of the guests which included many Phillies, past and present. For the next week, please check out our exclusive interviews and give our friends at Sports Vault a click for the best sports memorabilia and upcoming autograph signings!

Ian Riccaboni, PN: What was it like for you to reach the Major Leagues this year after being so successful in the minor leagues?

Maikel Franco, third baseman, Philadelphia Phillies: You know, it was awesome because it was my dream, it was my goal. I work hard and hope to see my success. I am just happy, excited to be a part of the Phillies.

IR: Is there any pressure being one of the younger players and being known as one of the top prospects in baseball?

MF: I mean, it’s kind of like starting over. You are a star in the minor leagues only because everyone says so. When you get here, you get a new number and start over. You have to show (you can play) everyday. I just keep working hard and everything and try to stay focused to try to stay in the Major Leagues.

IR: Is or was there any player that you looked up to before becoming a Major Leaguer or anyone you hope to emulate in the Major Leagues?

MF: Adrian Beltre. Adrian Beltre is my favorite player and I decided to watch him as much as I could in the Big Leagues and everything. He is my favorite player.

IR: What’s it like to play with Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley and players of that caliber in the infield?

MF: I mean, for me, it is wonderful and unreal because I remember, three, five years ago I remember seeing them playing in the Big Leagues, watching from home in my country. Now, I’m here to just play the game and it’s awesome (to play with them).

IR: There’s a few guys like David Buchanan who you’ve played with in the minors; what is it like to make it to the Major Leagues with players you’ve played with in the minor leagues?

MF: It made me feel comfortable and kinda like calmed down. It’s a little bit different; when you have a good friend in the minor leagues and you see them in the Major Leagues, you can relax.

IR: What’s the biggest adjustment you’ve had to make from the minor leagues to the Majors?

MF: Staying strong (through the season), keep working hard knowing that whatever I did in the minor leagues I have to do in the big leagues. Put in my mind to be strong and to be ready to go.

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PN Interview: 3rd round draft pick Aaron Brown

Posted by Jay Floyd, Mon, September 29, 2014 07:30 AM Comments: 1

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Aaron Brown, image- MiLB.com

Prior to being selected as the Phillies’ 3rd round draft pick this year, Aaron Brown was a dominant college pitcher. In 17 starts for Pepperdine in 2014, he posted a 13-1 record along with a 1.95 ERA. Brown’s efforts at the plate were just as impressive, as he sported a .314 average with 13 homers, 49 RBI and a .908 OPS.

Citing his power and bat speed, the Phils see Brown’s highest ceiling as an offensive player. After playing roughly two months with short-season Class A Williamsport, Brown was promoted to full season A level Lakewood to close out the season with a couple weeks remaining on the schedule. Lakewood manager Greg Legg, a baseball lifer, praised Brown’s intensity and asserted that three of the hardest hits balls he saw all season were off the bat of Brown during the short time he was with the club.

In 61 games in the minors, after making his pro debut, Brown tallied a .268 average while slugging four home runs and driving in 21 runs.

Earlier this month, prior to the end of the minor league season, I spoke with Brown, who sees his own future as an outfielder, about his draft experience, how college prepared him for the pro ranks and plenty more. Read ahead for the full interview.

-What was your draft experience like this year?

It was a great experience. Just getting picked by the Phillies in the third round was pretty awesome. And then, you know, I just wanted to come out here and started learning, kind of developing as a person and as a player and so far, that’s been the experience. So, it’s been a lot of fun learning from the guys, playing with these guys as well and it’s just been a great time so far.

-Were the Phillies among teams you expected could pick you or were they a surprise?

Yeah, they were definitely on the radar. And through my advisers, I had heard a couple things from the Phillies early on and they were always one of the teams that I knew were pretty interested in me and it turned out they called my name and it worked out pretty well.

-How did you celebrate when you got the news you were selected?

Well, for me, it was practicing at TCU before super regionals. And it was a lot of fun. I heard the news, was feeling really excited for the opportunity and just went out there and spent the rest of the day with my teammates and coaches and enjoyed that last part of the college career. Continue reading PN Interview: 3rd round draft pick Aaron Brown

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Phillies Nation: Episode 22 – Phillies Hot Streak and Jayson Stark

Posted by Brian Michael, Wed, September 10, 2014 01:01 PM Comments: 0

This week on Phillies Nation, Pat and Corey discuss the Phillies recent hot streak, in particular their success against team in playoff contention.

ESPN columnist and stats guru Jayson Stark returns to the show to evaluate Jimmy Rollins as well as offer some interesting anecdotes from his new book “Wild Pitches”.

Plus we have not one, but two, legendary Phillies pitches – Curt Simmons and Tommy Greene – offering insights on their days in a Phillies uniform.

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PN Interview: Reading hitting coach Rob Ducey talks prospects

Posted by Jay Floyd, Wed, September 03, 2014 09:00 AM Comments: 0

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Rob Ducey, image- Tug Haines

Prior to the end of the minor league season on Monday, I spent some time with Double-A Reading hitting coach Rob Ducey about several of his players’ progress this season.

Ducey, who played in the big leagues with the Phillies, Blue Jays, Rangers, Mariners, Expos and Angels, joined the Phillies organization as a coach this year.

The former outfielder spoke about the Phillies’ collection of rising young outfielders including Aaron Altherr, Zach Collier, Kelly Dugan, Cam Perkins and Peter Lavin.  He also offered insight on talented infielder Carlos Alonso.  Read ahead for that full interview.

-Aaron Altherr has an exciting year with time spent at the big league level.  What are your thoughts on Altherr’s season?

Well, he’s obviously in the development part of his career and is trying to iron some things out mechanically, mentally, things that young players go through while they’re trying to establish themselves as professional players.  I see worlds of opportunity for him going forward.  He’s got tremendous athleticism, he’s got a very good aptitude to work with and he’s really good to be around.

-Zach Collier didn’t have a great season, but got considerably hot in early August.  He’s a guy that people had high expectations for, based on being an early round draft pick.  What can you share with me about Zach’s progress?

Obviously, this being my first year here, I didn’t have an opportunity to see him prior to this year, but he’s come a long way with the understanding of what he needs to do to prepare to play the game and get ready and compete at this level and, hopefully, at a level higher. Continue reading PN Interview: Reading hitting coach Rob Ducey talks prospects

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PN Interview: RHP Colton Murray

Posted by Jay Floyd, Tue, September 02, 2014 12:00 PM Comments: 41

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Colton Murray, image- Tug Haines

This season right-hander Colton Murray made some solid impressions, earning his way to Double-A and solidifying himself as a key piece at the back end of the club’s bullpen.

A 13th round pick from 2011, Murray had spent time with the big league club in spring training each of the previous two seasons prior to this year. Following a 2013 campaign in which he tallied a 5-7 record with 11 saves and a 5.07 ERA in 47 games with the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers. Those efforts were not enough to earn an invitation back to big league spring training this year. However, with the numbers he posted this season, the 24-year-old Murray is likely a lock to be among pitchers showing up early to big league camp next year.

Following 11 appearances while posting a 2.04 ERA with Clearwater this year, Murray, whose fastball is regularly clocked around 95 MPH, was promoted to Double-A Reading where he sported a 1-5 record with six saves, a 2.29 ERA and a 9.15 K/9 mark.

This weekend, I spoke with Colton about his season, his relationship with former teammate Kenny Giles and more. Read ahead for that interview.

-You’ve had a really nice season. What’s your level of satisfaction with your 2014 campaign?

I’m really satisfied with it. I mean, I feel like I had a really good year. I feel like I had a complete turnaround of last year and I feel like I’ve shown the organization who I am and what I have to offer.

-You’ve spent some time with the big league club in spring training in previous seasons. How do you feel like that time spent there around some of the big league veterans might help you in the long run?

It was a lot of fun and it’s a great experience for guys like me just to be around those guys and be able to speak to them. Being in the bullpen, you’re just able to talk a lot to the guys and get inside their heads a little bit. It’s great seeing (Jake) Diekman and stuff and talking to him. Continue reading PN Interview: RHP Colton Murray

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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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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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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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