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PhoulBallz Podcast Episode 76: Matt Hockenberry & Jake Fox Interviews

Posted by Jay Floyd, Fri, April 24, 2015 07:45 AM Comments: 23

On the 76th edition of the PhoulBallz Podcast, Jay and Tug chat about the brand new baseball season, running down the hot starts of prospects such as Brock Stassi, Jesse Biddle, Roman Quinn, Zach Eflin, Carlos Tocci, Rhys Hoskins and others. The show also features two exclusive interviews as “El Sangre” Jake Fox talks about leaving the Phillies organization and Temple University product Matt Hockenberry participates in the fun segment Nine Silly-ass Questions.

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.

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Lakewood Pitching Coach Aaron Fultz Interview Excerpts

Posted by Jay Floyd, Tue, April 21, 2015 08:15 AM Comments: 0

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Aaron Fultz, image- Jay Floyd

Former big leaguer Aaron Fultz is in his fourth season coaching in the Phillies’ developmental ranks. In his career, the lefty Fultz tallied a 25-15 record with a 4.26 ERA and three saves over eight major league seasons. Now, the 41-year-old is leading the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws’ pitching staff toward their dream of reach the top level of the sport.

Recently, I chatted with Fultz about various topics related to his young prospects. Read ahead for those interview excerpts.

-What are you impressions of your pitching staff in the early going this year?

So far, I’ve been really pleased with the amount of strikes that we’ve thrown. We haven’t walked many guys. There’s still some mistakes here and there, but overall very pleased with the way we’re going about the game.

-Matt Hockenberry‘s got a true closer mentality and persona, as he mans the late innings for the BlueClaws.  He’s a Temple guy with local ties.  What are your thoughts on Matt and what his ceiling could be?

You know what, he had a rough year here last year and he came to me in Williamsport and for me, he was outstanding. I loved just- he’s very confident and some would say a very arrogant guy. But, I love his demeanor on the mound. He’s very confident. He’s goes out there and used all his pitches. I mean, so far, from last year and this year, I love what I see. And he’s got the ability to be able to repeat it and do it every day.

-Out of spring and in the early portion of the season here, is there anyone on your staff that strikes you as performing at a higher level that you anticipated?

I had definitely high expectations of Ricardo Pinto. I had him last year. I picked him to be the opening day guy. A lot of the guys had good spring trainings. Alexis Rivero was a guy that made this team- he had a great spring. A lot of the guys, are doing really well. It’s hard to say they’re exceeding expectations, but we’re off to a good start. Continue reading Lakewood Pitching Coach Aaron Fultz Interview Excerpts

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PN Interview: Phils Director of Player Development Joe Jordan

Posted by Jay Floyd, Sun, April 19, 2015 09:00 AM Comments: 1

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Joe Jordan, image- Jay Floyd

Recently, I caught up with the Phillies’ director of player development Joe Jordan to discuss several key subjects throughout the minor leagues.  Jordan, who took over his current role following the 2011 season, commented on pitching prospects Adam Morgan and Ricardo Pinto as well as outfielders Cord Sandberg, Roman Quinn, Cam Perkins and Aaron Altherr along with catcher Tommy Joseph.  Also a topic of discussion is the realignment of some minor league coaches this year plus field coordinator Doug Mansolino.

Read ahead for the comments from Jordan and click here for his exclusive injury updates from last week.

-Adam Morgan (0-1, 5.00 ERA in two starts) is back in action at the Triple-A level for the IronPigs.  What’s the outlook for Adam right now?

Adam had a good camp.  He just progressed all the way.  We got him built up there at the end, so he was ready to go to Lehigh.  Adam looks good, you know.  He’s fine.  He just needs to pitch.  He needs to compete.  He hasn’t been able to do that for a while.  He got his feet wet in the fall league a little bit, which is what he needed.  But, he had a good spring training and he just really needs to continue to get mound time, for me.  His execution (in his first start) in Lehigh wasn’t very good, but the weather wasn’t very good.  But, he’s fine.  He just needs to get out and compete.

-I talked with Lehigh Valley pitching coach Ray Burris last week and he asserted that Adam’s shoulder injury, which needed surgery, resulted from his mechanics and Ray saw it coming.  Is it common that this sort of thing is noticed well in advance and it ends up with such a negative result anyway?

I think a lot of times what happens- yeah, we try to identify things early that we feel might become a problem.  Now, if a pitcher’s having success, sometimes they’re not real open to change.  You know, they’re being successful and things are going well and, so there are opportunities maybe after a guy is hurt for them to be a little more receptive.  You know, this is going to happen again unless we can adjust a couple things. Continue reading PN Interview: Phils Director of Player Development Joe Jordan

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PN Interview: Rhys Hoskins talks transitioning to pros & his knowledge of Phils history

Posted by Jay Floyd, Fri, April 17, 2015 08:00 AM Comments: 0

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Rhys Hoskins, image- Jay Floyd

First baseman Rhys Hoskins was selected by the Phillies in the 5th round of last year’s amateur draft.  After debuting as a pro, the six-foot-four 225-pounder showed some nice pop, slugging nine homers while lacing 15 doubles and driving in 40 runs to go along with his .237 average over 70 games with short-season Class A Williamsport.

Thus far this season, through seven games with Class A Lakewood, the California State University-Sacramento product sports a .261 average with two doubles and two RBI.

Last week I spoke with the 22-year-old about adjusting to the minor leagues straight out of collegiate ball.  Hoskins also scouted himself, offered some thoughts on the BlueClaws’ excitement level for a new season and proudly showed off his (limited) knowledge of Phillies history.

Read ahead for those interview excerpts from Rhys.

-How do you feel college ball prepared you for the minors?

I mean it did.  It just taught me about the game itself.  You know, obviously, the more you play, the better you get.  So, I definitely wasn’t ready to play pro baseball out of high school and just getting to learn the ins and outs, the way you have to think, has really prepared me for right now. 

-You posted some good power numbers, but your average wasn’t gleaming last year.  What was the adjustment period like for you?

It definitely was not easy by any means.  It was about as I expected.  I think the biggest thing to get used to was just playing every day.  And then, obviously, with the traveling- traveling through the night and that sort of thing.  Probably, the biggest transition was, facing the quote-unquote “Friday night guy” in college, you face that guy every single night (in the pros).  And then you get to the bullpen and face a guy that throws harder.  And the next guy throws harder than that.  So, it definitely wasn’t an easy transition. I think, as a competitor, I was just trying to compete and, you know, the season, stat-wise, didn’t go the way I wanted it to, but the power numbers were there and I think that’s why I’m here, so I am satisfied with that.  We’ll see if (I) can get better this year and we’ll see what happens. Continue reading PN Interview: Rhys Hoskins talks transitioning to pros & his knowledge of Phils history

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BlueClaws Quotables: Viza, Oliver, Hoskins excited for new season

Posted by Jay Floyd, Mon, April 13, 2015 07:30 AM Comments: 0

The Lakewood BlueClaws returned to action over the weekend, going 2-2 against division rival Kannapolis to start their 2015 campaign. Recently, I spoke with several of the team’s players about the start of a new year.  Read ahead for what righty pitchers Tyler Viza (32nd round pick, 2013) and Chris Oliver (4th round pick, 2014) as well as first baseman Rhys Hoskins (5th round, 2014) had to say about a brand new year in the Phillies organization.

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Tyler Viza, image- Jay Floyd

-Viza, who pitched with Lakewood last year, posting a 3-17 record, spoke about his outlook returning to the BlueClaws…

I’m extremely excited. We’ve got a great group of guys, got a great coaching staff. I’m happy to be here, to play with these guys and play for these fans again. I’m really excited to be here. Last year’s behind me and I’m ready to push forward this year.

-Viza commented on having former Phillies hurler Aaron Fultz as his pitching coach and what advantages he has with Fultz guiding his career…

I had Fultz in the instructional league. He’s a great guy, awesome! I love having him as my pitching coach.

Yeah, you know it’s kind of nice, you get to pick their brains a little bit about what works and what sort of things didn’t work. Maybe what worked for him isn’t going to work for us and vice versa, but it’s awesome to have that experience at our disposal and to know what works. Continue reading BlueClaws Quotables: Viza, Oliver, Hoskins excited for new season

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PN Interview: BlueClaws manager Shawn Williams discusses his team

Posted by Jay Floyd, Fri, April 10, 2015 12:30 PM Comments: 0

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Shawn Williams, image- Jay Floyd

The Class A Lakewood BlueClaws got their season underway on Thursday with a new roster and a new manager.  Shawn Williams, son of long-time big league coach Jimy Williams, takes over the reigns with the ‘Claws after a year as skipper of the Class A Short-season Williamsport Crosscutters.

Prior to their season opener on Thursday, I chatted with the 31-year-old about his club.  Read ahead for comments from Williams about several names including Rhys Hoskins, Carlos Tocci, Deivi Grullon and many more.

-Is there anyone on the roster that stood out in spring training as a guy that was a catalyst for the club?

I look at our whole lineup and, really, all the guys are catalysts.  There are guys that do the little things to help your team win.  They’re great guys in the clubhouse, they play hard, they give you 100 percent every night and they do everything to kind of help your team win.

-Carlos Tocci returns to Lakewood for his third season.  At 19 years old, he’s still one of the youngest guys on the team, probably one of the youngest guys in the league.  What do you think about where he’s at right now?

I haven’t seen him much until this year, but he has really, for me, really improved.  He’s really swinging the bat well.  He had a good spring training.  Obviously, his defense is outstanding.  He’s running the bases.  His instincts are there.  I’m looking for him- and I know he’s looking to have a great year here and see what happens. Continue reading PN Interview: BlueClaws manager Shawn Williams discusses his team

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Lehigh Valley & Reading pitching coaches discuss their staffs

Posted by Jay Floyd, Thu, April 09, 2015 07:30 AM Comments: 0

The minor league regular season gets under way on Thursday with the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs hosting the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Double-A Reading Fightins hitting the road to take on the Portland SeaDogs.

This week, I spoke with IronPigs pitching coach Ray Burris as well as Fightins pitching coach Dave Lundquist, who each commented on several of their respective teams’ hurlers.  Read ahead for these exclusive quotes about the Phillies’ top pitching prospects at the upper levels of the developmental ranks.

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Burris, image- Jay Floyd

Ray Burris-

-On LHP Adam Morgan, who missed the entire 2014 season following surgery to repair his throwing shoulder, and his potential to live up to being an early round draft pick…

I’m confident (that he can).  I think he feels that way now, because he understands and knows how his delivery is supposed to work.  When you have that knowledge inside of you and when you throw the ball incorrectly, you know that didn’t feel right, so you immediately go to what caused it and you go to correct it on the next pitch.  That’s half the battle in anything.

-Speaking about Morgan’s work ethic…

He’s the type of guy that’s going to outwork everybody that puts the uniform on because that’s what he has to do to get that job done.

-On injured pitcher Miguel A. Gonzalez…

Well, I had a little time with him last year in the 2014 season.  Some of the things that I got to see him do, we worked on improving those things in spring training.  So, it’ll be interesting to see how he goes about his business this year as well, based on what we talked about in spring training. Continue reading Lehigh Valley & Reading pitching coaches discuss their staffs

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Crawford’s Chronicles: J.P. talks about looking up to Mansolino and Rollins

Posted by Jay Floyd, Thu, March 26, 2015 01:15 PM Comments: 5

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JP Crawford, image- Jay Floyd

Throughout spring training, Phillies prospect J.P. Crawford has been checking in to offer his thoughts straight from Clearwater, FL.

The 20-year-old is widely considered the Phils’ top prospect after the team’s first round draft pick in 2013 posted a .285/.375/.406 slash line in 123 combined games at Class A Lakewood and Class A Advanced Clearwater last year in his first full pro season.

News broke today that Crawford would miss time to open the season with an oblique strain.  Despite the ailment, the California native, in his exclusive weekly interview with Phillies Nation, spoke about a new focus in the Phils’ developmental ranks this year, what made Philadelphia appealing to him as a child, his daily spring routine and plenty more.

Read ahead for all that Crawford had to say and click here to read previous entries in this series.

-Sharing thoughts on how things have been going in minor league camp thus far in 2015…

“We’ve been playing real well together.  We’ve been playing real team baseball, which has been the goal for spring training.  But our top guy says he wants us playing team baseball and wants to change it up this year and everybody’s just doing their job to try to win a ball game and it’s been paying off.” Continue reading Crawford’s Chronicles: J.P. talks about looking up to Mansolino and Rollins

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Crawford’s Chronicles: J.P. Talks Game Action, Teammates, Utley, Greene

Posted by Jay Floyd, Thu, March 19, 2015 08:00 AM Comments: 8

J.P. Crawford, image- Jay Floyd

Throughout spring training, Phillies prospect J.P. Crawford will be checking in to offer his thoughts straight from Clearwater, FL.

Crawford, 20, is widely considered the Phils’ top prospect after the team’s first round draft pick in 2013 posted a .285/.375/.406 slash line in 123 combined games at Class A Lakewood and Class A Advanced Clearwater last year in his first full pro season.

This week the lefty batting shortstop spoke about the start of game action, his double play combo partners, Larry Greene Jr.’s surprise absence from camp, Chase Utley once again plus plenty more.

Read ahead for all the exclusive quotes straight from the one and only J.P..

-With games getting underway, Crawford talked about how he and his group that’s being coached by the Clearwater staff did in the opening two days…

“We played the Blue Jays (on Tuesday) and the Pirates (on Wednesday) and we beat both of them.  We started off real well, playing real good team baseball.  I went 2-for-3 on Wednesday, so, I’m finally starting to get a feel for live pitching again and everything’s starting to come around.

“I think I went 0-for-3 on Tuesday and played all nine innings.  I played seven innings (on Wednesday).”

-On the topic of the intrasquad games in which the Phillies’ minor leaguers play against one another and if the players take those games seriously…

“We always take it serious.  Whenever we’re on the field playing a game, we’re out there trying to win.  And especially when we’re out there playing against the older squad, it’s a lot of fun.  It’s really competitive for us.  We’re trying- we’re going out there to beat them.

“The first intrasquad game, I went 2-for-4.  I faced Zach Eflin the first game.  I got a base hit off of him.” Continue reading Crawford’s Chronicles: J.P. Talks Game Action, Teammates, Utley, Greene

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Crawford’s Chronicles: JP Crawford talks Spring Training

Posted by Jay Floyd, Tue, March 10, 2015 07:30 AM Comments: 0

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JP Crawford, image- Jay Floyd

Entering this year as the widely regarded top prospect in the Phillies organization, J.P. Crawford will be taking time each week to provide insight  directly from inside spring training in Clearwater, FL, right here on PhilliesNation.com.

Crawford, 20, was named the top positional prospect in two leagues (Class A South Atlantic League and Class A Advanced Florida State League) last year, when he combined, in 123 games, to post a .285 average, 11 homers, 48 RBI and 24 stolen bases.  He also represented the Phils organization in the MLB All-Star Futures Game last season.

As the 2015 campaign approaches, the six-foot-two 180-pound lefty batter is expected to reach the Double-A level and continue to prove why the Phillies selected him in the first round of the 2013 draft.

In this initial installment of our weekly check-in with J.P., he shares thoughts on a variety of topics, including his exclusion from big league camp, which member of the big league roster he’s impressed by, which minor league teammate he looks up to, his coaches and more.

-Sharing his thoughts on not being invited to big league spring training…

“I mean, it’s (the team’s) decision.  I’m just going to go out, where ever I am, I’m just going to try to play hard and just try to impress everybody and do my job.  I didn’t have an opinion about whether or not I should be there, so I’m not going to get mad about anything.” Continue reading Crawford’s Chronicles: JP Crawford talks Spring Training

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