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Phils add three pitching prospects to 40-man roster

Posted by Jay Floyd, Fri, November 21, 2014 02:20 PM Comments: 2

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Jesse Biddle, image- Jay Floyd

It was announced on Thursday that the Phillies added three young hurlers to the big league 40-man roster.  Lefties Jesse Biddle and Adam Morgan along with righty Nefi Ogando were that trio.

Biddle has been among the Phillies’ top prospects since he was selected with their 27th overall pick in 2010.  This news is a rare positive nugget about the 23-year-old, who had a terribly difficult 2014 after missing a lengthy stretch with a a concussion, sitting out his final start of the regular season with a separate ailment and being shut down with elbow soreness after making two appearance this autumn in off-season ball in Puerto Rico.

Since debuting at the Double-A level to begin last year, Biddle hasn’t looked too sharp, posting a 10-24 record along with a 4.02 ERA in 46 appearances over the last two seasons.  Additionally, his 9.52 K/9 mark is very exciting, but the 5.14 BB/9 average (evidence of control concerns) that goes along with it is far from appealing.

Morgan, the Phillies’ 3rd round draft choice in 2011, missed the 2014 regular season after undergoing shoulder surgery last winter.  The 24-year-old has tallied a 12-22 record along with a 3.25 ERA in 56 minor league games (55 starts).  After making a few appearances at the Florida Instructional League in September, Morgan posted a 1-2 record along with a 6.61 ERA in six games in the Arizona Fall League this off-season.

Ogando, who was acquired from Boston for John McDonald last year, was also among the Phils’ representatives in the AFL and had a 1-0 record with three saves and a 3.07 ERA in 12 outings for Scottsdale.  The 25-year-old posted a 5-1 record with seven saves, a 6.27 ERA and a 9.16 K/9 mark in 48 relief appearances for Double-A Reading this year.

The additions were made to protect the players from next month’s Rule 5 draft.

The Phillies’ 40-man roster stands at 38 players.

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Yasmani Tomas May Not Land in Philadelphia

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Thu, November 20, 2014 01:36 PM Comments: 47

This morning on 94.1 WIP-FM, Phillies beat writer Todd Zolecki was on and was asked about the latest on Cuban outfielder, Yosmani Tomas.

What Zolecki said did not sound promising for fans hoping that the young, premiere outfielder would land in Philadelphia this offseason.

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“He’s getting closer (to making a decision on a team), I don’ know if it’ll be the Phillies though,” said Zolecki. “I thought if the Phillies were going to get him, then they would have gotten him by now. Ruben, when he likes to go after these big fish type guys, likes to move fast, be aggressive with it, and move on with the rest of the offseason.”

Tomas, a 24-year-old, 6’1″, 240 pound corner outfielder could very well be the next great Cuban-born slugger to come to MLB, joining a list of players that includes Yasiel Puig, Yoenis Cespedes, and Jose Abreu.

In the 2012-2013 Serie Nacional regular season, Tomas batted .289 with 15 home runs, 34 walks and 52 strikeouts in 324 plate appearances over 81 games. He also ranked fifth in slugging, and sixth in home runs.

His breakout season came in the 2011-2012 regular season where he batted .301 with 16 homers in 240 plate appearances over 69 games.

With Marlon Byrd likely being dealt to a contender, and Dominic Brown’s disappointing play, a guy like Tomas would be welcomed into the Phillies’ outfield with open arms. Not only would he bring some excitement to a team in desperate need of some, but he could become a player that the Phillies can begin to rebuild their team around.

If in fact he does not land in Philadelphia, the team and the fan base could potentially be missing out on some exciting raw talent.

Here’s hoping he lands with the Phillies, and gives both the team and fans some hope for the future.

Check out some highlights.

 

UPDATE:

Earlier today, ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark tweeted that one MLB executive said to bet the mortgage on the Phillies because “they want to do something big.”

However, another report by MLB.com’s Paul Hagan suggests that the Phillies’ are “backing off” Tomas due to concerns about his defense.

A deal for Tomas could potentially be in the $100 million range, but do the questions marks about his defense lower his value? The guy surely has big-bat potential, but what about his glove?

All we can do at this point is sit back and wait. Perhaps Tomas will end up with the Phillies after the smoke clears, or maybe not. Despite the defense, I would personally love to see this kid’s bat in the lineup on an everyday basis.

 

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Howard Dealing with Sad Situation

Posted by Pat Gallen, Wed, November 19, 2014 06:42 PM Comments: 20

You’ve likely already read the report from David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News, so there isn’t any factual additions to that story. But I will add a few thoughts…

Piggybacking what Jim Salisbury has written – and he knows Howard a lot better than I do – this is a terrible situation.

No matter how much money a person makes, or if they’re part of the public eye, it doesn’t make a story like this any easier to read, as some have stated to me on social media.

It was easy to crush Howard for his play the last two seasons. His play, and body, are in full decline. This addition to the story of Ryan Howard makes sense.  Aside from the injuries, you could tell that something was off about Howard this year, especially when he asked the media if they’d like to switch places with him. “Of course,” I thought to myself. I absolutely would change places with the Big Piece. Big house, nice-looking wife, great family, and a major league player. Upon hearing the details of the fracturing of his family, I change that stance.

It’s a tough situation that many people go through, but few as public as Howard. It’s not about how much money he’s may have lost, or the endorsements that were possibly lost because of his family’s behavior. It’s about the relationships lost here that are the worst part.

Sometimes the story extends beyond the baseball field. That’s unfortunate for Ryan Howard, coming at the worst possible time in his career, compounding all of the other issues in front of him. Can he recover from this? It’s certainly much different than a knee or achilles. Only time will tell.

 

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Phillies announce 2015 developmental coaching staffs

Posted by Jay Floyd, Wed, November 19, 2014 08:00 AM Comments: 0

On Tuesday, the Phillies released their planned 2015 coaching staffs for their minor league affiliates.

The Triple-A level will maintain the same group with Dave Brundage staying on as manager, Ray Burris and Sal Rende returning as pitching coach and hitting coach respectively along with Mickey Morandini coming back as bench coach.

Dusty Nerris

Dusty Wathan, image- Jay Floyd

Reading skipper Dusty Wathan will return for his fourth year with the team. Pitching coach Dave Lundquist will also be back at the Double-A level, while hitting coach Frank Cacciatore, who previously worked with the Reading team from 2008-2013 and with Clearwater in 2014, will make his return to Reading.

Class A Advanced Clearwater will have a new manager, as Greg Legg has been promoted after holding the same position with Class A Lakewood last season. 2014 Reading hitting coach Rob Ducey will work with the Threshers next year, while Steve Schrenk, who previously coached in Clearwater in 2007-2008, will be back as pitching coach after working in the Gulf Coast League last year.

Lakewood’s skipper will be Shawn Williams, who has one season as a pro manager under his belt after being hired for that gig with short-season A level Williamsport last season. Williams is the son of former big league skipper Jimy Williams. Former Phillies hurler Aaron Fultz will return to Lakewood as pitching coach after previously holding that position in 2013 and working in Williamsport last season. Nelson Prada, who managed Clearwater last season, will fill the spot of hitting coach with the BlueClaws next year. Continue reading Phillies announce 2015 developmental coaching staffs

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Phillies Scouting Red Sox System For Possible Hamels Deal

Posted by Pat Egan, Tue, November 18, 2014 07:42 PM Comments: 27

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Fox Sports Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Phillies are doing background work on several players in the Boston Red Sox system. Catcher Christian Vazquez, outfielder Mookie Betts, and pitcher Matt Barnes are mentioned by name. The Red Sox are on Hamels no-trade list that was recently updated. Rosenthal theorizes that Hamels would likely require the Red Sox to pick up his 2019 option for $20 million dollars.

Cole Hamels to the Red Sox rumors is nothing new. The two teams have scouted each others system extensively in the past few months. Rosenthal suggests that the Red Sox are reluctant to part with Betts, and catchers Vazquez and Blake Swihart. The odds that the Red Sox truly do not want to part with BOTH of their catching prospects is likely slim, as the reports of them wanting to keep all these players is likely a bargaining tactic.

A deal for Hamels will likely hinge on who winds up with free agent starter Jon Lester. The Red Sox are reportedly interested in bringing Lester back to Boston, but if he chooses to sign elsewhere you would have to think that Hamel would become the Red Sox number one target.

The Phillies trading of Cole Hamels seems imminent. The front office is looking to rebuild this team, and Hamels would help do that with the package of prospects that he would command. If/when the Phillies decide to deal the 2008 World Series MVP they need to make sure they get a decent return. The Phillies haven’t had much luck in recent memory trading proven talent for prospects. Curt Schilling, Scott Rolen, Cliff Lee, Hunter Pence are a few names that come to mind. The trading of Cole Hamels could help shape the franchise for years to come, or keep the Phillies right were they are now; Dead last.

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Phillies Arizona Fall League Rundown

Posted by Jay Floyd, Tue, November 18, 2014 05:30 PM Comments: 0

The Arizona Fall League wrapped up play last week, with the team that Phillies’ players were assigned to, the Scottsdale Scorpions, finishing with a league-worst 12-20 record. The team was also made up of representatives from the Yankees, Pirates, Mets and Giants.

Seven Phillies players took part and spent time battling against other organizations’ best young prospects. Below is a rundown of each of those Phils competitors’ AFL efforts with details on what to expect from each individual going forward.

Centerfielder Roman Quinn posted a .250 batting average with two triples, two home runs, nine RBI and a league leading 14 stolen bases in 24 games. His .720 OPS was just a bit higher than the .713 mark he posted in 88 games with Class A Advanced Clearwater this year. The 21-year-old was the Phillies’ 2nd round draft choice in 2011. He underwent surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon last off-season but returned to action this year without any negative impact to his highly regarded speed. Expect Quinn to continue to rise through the developmental ranks at a steady pace. Already proving that he can compete with AFL competition, which includes loads of Double-A level (and beyond) talent, the five-foot-ten 170-pounder should see action with Reading next season.

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Adam Morgan with Reading in 2012, image- Jay Floyd

Lefty pitcher Adam Morgan posted a 1-2 record along with a 6.61 ERA in six games (five starts). In 16 1/3 innings with the Scorpions, the 24-year-old struck out 11 and walked three. Morgan spent the 2014 regular season recovering from shoulder surgery he underwent last winter. He was rising quickly through the minors before he was sidelined, posting a 4.04 ERA in 16 starts for Triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2013 just two years after being the Phils’ 3rd round draft pick. The six-foot-one 195-pounder should return to the IronPigs’ rotation to start next season.

Righty reliever Nefi Ogando had a 1-0 record with three saves and a 3.07 ERA in 12 AFL appearances. Ogando, who was acquired from Boston in a trade for John McDonald last year, struck out 15 and walked four in 14 2/3 innings with the Scorpions. The 25-year-old put together a 5-1 record with seven saves, a 6.27 ERA and a 9.16 K/9 mark in 48 games with Reading this year. Ogando has the potential to see some big league time next year, as his fastball can reach triple-digits and misses plenty of bats. His coaches like the flashes of dominance he was able to show in the Eastern League last year. Continue reading Phillies Arizona Fall League Rundown

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On A.J. Burnett Going To The Pirates

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Tue, November 18, 2014 03:15 PM Comments: 5

A.J. Burnett didn’t have the best time in his one-year stint with the Phillies. After a start on April 11 against the Marlins, he was diagnosed with an inguinal hernia–or, in other words, a part of his abdomen was bulging or protruding where it should not have been. The injury is not the type to fix itself with rest, and Burnett elected to pitch through the pain, rather than have surgery.

The result, at least in my opinion, was a decidedly sub-par A.J. Burnett pitching for the Phillies. His ERA was more than a full run above what he posted in 2013. His K% was down, BB% was up, and his velocity was nearly a full MPH lower on average than in 2013. He relied on his slider much more than he has in the past, and neglected his fastball.

Still, made 34 starts, which was tied for most in the NL and tied for a career high. He tossed 213.2 innings, which was good for 7th in the NL, and the 2nd most of his career. He threw 3472 pitches–2nd in the NL and also 2nd most of his career.

My point here is that he fought through his hernia injury and gave the Phillies all he could. What did he get in return? A whole lotta criticism from fans and media alike. Now, I understand that it’s fair to criticize his performance. He didn’t have a good year. But that criticism should also come with praise for what he gave the Phils. Had he elected to do the surgery, the Phils would’ve had a really tough time filling his spot in the rotation. The entire dynamic of the season would’ve been different. We may not have seen Jerome Williams. We might have been stuck with Sean O’Sullivan and another minor leaguer in the rotation.

During the season Burnett hinted at not wanting to pitch in 2015. When that decision had to be made, however, he decided that he did want to pitch. Just not for the Phillies. He declined his player option–which was a cool $12.75 million. He then signed a contract with the Pirates for $8.5 million–more than $4 million left on the table. He lost out on 1/3 of what he would’ve made with the Phillies to get the heck out of Philadelphia. He clearly did not enjoy his time here, and the outlook of another bad season in 2015 could not have been too appealing to him. With the Pirates, he has a shot to compete for a playoff spot next year, and I think he will be happier than he was here. And I can’t blame him.

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Phils sign free agent Araujo thanks to Amaro’s sibling sponsor

Posted by Jay Floyd, Mon, November 17, 2014 07:00 AM Comments: 13

Late last week the Phillies signed minor league free agent Elvis Araujo to a big league contract and it was partly a relationship in the team’s front office that helped get the deal rolling.

Araujo, a six-foot-six 215 pound lefty has previously pitched in the Cleveland organization, tallying a 22-14 record with 11 saves and a 3.87 ERA in 102 games (57 starts) in his five-year professional career.

Last year, the 23-year-old, who regularly reaches the upper 90′s with his fastball, split his season between Class A Advanced Carolina and Double-A Akron, posting a 3.42 ERA and a 9.0 K/9 mark in his first season working exclusively as a reliever.

Pitching for Zulia in the Venezuela Winter League, where his teammates include 2014 Phillies contributors Freddy Galvis and Aaron Altherr, Araujo has a 2-0 record with 11 strike outs, three walks and no runs allowed in 8 1/3 innings over seven appearances.

Another Phillies tie with the Zulia club is the team’s assistance general manager Luis Amaro, the brother of Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.  According to Luis, who played in the Phils’ developmental ranks, he advised his sibling to keep an eye on the talented young pitcher.

“I told my brother Ruben some names to look out for and one of them was Araujo,” Amaro stated via e-mail.  “The Phillies did their due diligence in sending scouts to evaluate him.” Continue reading Phils sign free agent Araujo thanks to Amaro’s sibling sponsor

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Phillies sign OF Francoeur, more to minor league deals

Posted by Jay Floyd, Thu, November 13, 2014 02:24 PM Comments: 12

It was announced on Thursday that the Phillies and outfielder Jeff Francoeur have agreed to terms on a minor league contract. The agreement includes an invitation to spring training.

Last season for Triple-A El Paso in the Padres organization, Francoeur tallied a .289 batting average with 15 homers and 69 RBI in 115 games. In 10 big league games with San Diego in 2014, the six-foot-four 220-pounder went 2-for-24 (.083 avg). Francoeur, who has also played with Atlanta, Kansas City, Texas, San Francisco and the Mets, possesses a .262/.305/.417 slash line in parts of 10 seasons in the majors.

Francoeur grabbed headlines early last season after he was the target of a lengthy prank by his El Paso teammates, who convinced the 30-year-old that a member of the roster, hurler Jorge Reyes, was deaf.

In 2005, as a member of the Braves, Francoeur finished third in National League rookie of the year voting behind Phils first baseman Ryan Howard and Houston outfielder Willy Taveras.

Additionally, the Phils will bring back infielders Andres Blanco and Russ Canzler. The 30-year-old Blanco split time with Triple-A Lehigh Valley and the Phils last year, posting a .277 average with a home run and three RBI in 25 games with the big league club. Canzler, 28, spent time last season with Double-A Reading and Lehigh Valley, sporting a combined .275 average with 13 homers and 58 RBI in 112 games.

Backstop John Hester, outfielder Xavier Paul as well as utility man Chase d’Arnaud, brother of former Phillies first round draft choice Travis d’Arnaud, were also inked by the Phillies.

With the addition of a veteran outfielder like Francoeur, along with the previously announced acquisitions of outfielders Brian Bogusevic and Darin Mastroianni, fans may wonder what the Phils intend to do with names like former top pick Zach Collier and longtime on-the-verge-of-a-breakout prospect Leandro Castro. Both youngsters have failed to prove themselves worthy of a big league call up in recent years, showing inconsistency at the plate while other outfield prospects like Cameron Perkins and Kelly Dugan have displayed more promise.

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2014 Player Reviews: Jonathan Pettibone & Sean O’Sullivan

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Thu, November 13, 2014 12:05 PM Comments: 0

Both Jonathan Pettibone and Sean O’Sullivan saw little action for the Phils in 2014. Pettibone made two starts in April–a five inning, two run performance against the Marlins and a four inning, eight run outing against the Rockies.

He was then sent down to make room for Cole Hamels to join the rotation, but shortly thereafter he was placed on the DL with shoulder issues. After being examined by Dr. James Andrews, we learned that Pettibone had a small tear of the labrum in his shoulder. Since then, there has been little information released regarding the righty. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told reporters that Pettibone may not be ready for Opening Day in 2015.

O’Sullivan, on the other hand, appeared in only three games for the Phillies, but for other reasons. He began the year in Triple-A Lehigh Valley, and didn’t make his first start for the Phils until June 28 against the Braves. After allowing four runs over 5.2 innings, he was sent back down. His next start came when the Phillies traded Roberto Hernandez, and they needed an emergency start. He allowed five runs over six innings, and again was designated for assignment and sent to the IronPigs a few days later.

They called him up once more, and he made a relief appearance–one shutout inning–against the Pirates on September 10. Following the season, the Phillies released O’Sullivan.

Grade: Pettibone C, O’Sullivan D-

Pettibone was injured for the majority of the year, so I can’t bring myself to give him a bad grade. He gets a C. O’Sullivan was never really a factor for the big club, but when he was in, he was bad. He gets a D-.

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