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Minor League Notes and Quotes: Fightins & IronPigs Updates

Posted by Jay Floyd, Wed, April 02, 2014 08:00 AM Comments: 3

-Both the Triple-A Lehigh Valley and Double-A Reading coaching staffs openly addressed an organization-wide focus on small ball prior to both clubs opening their seasons.  The directive, handed down by new Phils skipper Ryne Sandberg, will have the entire Phillies system playing a more aggressive style of baseball.

Dusty Wathan, Image- Jay Floyd

“I think we’re going to utilize a National League style of baseball dating back to the 70′s a little bit.  You’ll see some triples, some hit-and-run and some bunting.  I think it’s kind of an organizational philosophy since Ryne has taken over.  You’re going to see it implemented not only at the big league level, but at the minor league level.  It’s something we really stress, is base running, being aggressive, taking extra bases, sacrifice bunting, hitting and running.  So, you’re going to see a very aggressive game and it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch,” Reading manager Dusty Wathan said on Tuesday.

“I guess it’s just a little more attention to detail, doing the little things and, you know, we never really got away from it, but the home run was a big part of the game not too long ago.  So, we’re trying to get back to the stolen bases, the bunts, the hit and runs, you know, the little things that’ll help you win ball games,” Lehigh Valley bench coach Mickey Morandini stated.

-Wathan expressed confidence that last year’s Paul Owens Award winner Severino Gonzalez has the stuff to compete at the Double-A level, citing a mature frame of mind, describing a situation in spring training where the 20-year-old changed from the windup to pitching from the stretch on his own, in order to find his rhythm.

On the youngster with great control, Wathan added, “(Severino) can make the ball go both ways, up and down.  He changes speeds, his change up’s come a long way, so I absolutely think he can (compete in the Eastern League) and I think we’re in a good situation with him, because you can teach a guy to throw balls.  It’s more difficult to teach a guy to throw strikes.” Continue reading Minor League Notes and Quotes: Fightins & IronPigs Updates

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Prospect Nation 2014: #1 3B Maikel Franco

Posted by Jay Floyd, Thu, March 20, 2014 07:00 AM Comments: 8

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Maikel Franco (center) keeps things loose with teammates, Image- Jay Floyd

Since he arrived in North America, third baseman Maikel Franco has put his skills with the bat on display.  An outstanding offensive campaign last year made him the buzz name in the Phillies’ organization and has landed him in the top spot among the club’s promising crop of upcoming prospects.

Signed as an amateur free agent by the Phillies in 2010, Franco would make his professional debut with the rookie level  Gulf Coast League Phillies that same year.  As a 17-year-old, he posted respectable numbers, with a line of .222/.292/.330 in 51 games.

A year later, the righty hitting Franco began the season in extended spring training and later competed with the Class A short-season Williamsport Crosscutters.  Franco looked great against New York-Penn League competition, posting a .274/.339/.389 line while driving in 28 runs in 42 games before earning a promotion to Class A Lakewood.

In the South Atlantic League, at the age of 18, the baby-faced Franco struggled quite a bit. In 17 contests for the BlueClaws, Franco went 8-for-67 (.123 avg) and racked up an awful .349 OPS. The Phillies realized Franco was over-matched and that he was growing discouraged, so he was re-assigned back to Williamsport, where he finished the season by batting .333 with seven extra-base hits and 10 RBI over his final 13 games with the Crosscutters. Continue reading Prospect Nation 2014: #1 3B Maikel Franco

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Prospect Nation 2014: #2 LHP Jesse Biddle

Posted by Jay Floyd, Sun, March 16, 2014 06:00 PM Comments: 3

Jesse Biddle, Image- Jay Floyd

In recent years, Jesse Biddle has become the prospect that Phillies fans have heard the most about.  This year though, the hometown kid may go from highly touted prospect to major league rookie and the stuff that Philadelphia faithful have heard will be on display at the top level of the sport every five days.

Upon signing his first pro contract, Biddle quickly made his minor league debut, beginning his journey toward donning the uniform of the team he cheered on from the seats of Citizens Bank Park all throughout his teenage years. The graduate of Germantown Friends School in Philadelphia combined to post a 4-1 record with a 3.92 ERA and a .241 batting average against in 12 starts with the rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies and the short-season Class A Williamsport Crosscutters in 2010.

The following year, Biddle became an All-Star in the Class A South Atlantic League as a member of the Lakewood BlueClaws. As the team’s most dependable starter through much of the season, Biddle posted a 7-8 record with a 2.98 ERA in 25 games (24 starts) and notched 124 strike outs in 133 innings pitched. Also, he held opponents to a .219 batting average.

In 2012, Biddle had a very good season, representing the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers in the Florida State League All-Star Game.  That season he sported a 10-6 record with a 3.22 ERA, a 9.53 K/9 mark and a .237 batting average against.

He followed that up with another All-Star campaign in 2013 for Double-A Reading. Continue reading Prospect Nation 2014: #2 LHP Jesse Biddle

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Jesse’s Journal, Vol. 3: Still positive after being reassigned to minors

Posted by Jay Floyd, Fri, March 14, 2014 01:15 PM Comments: 0

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Jesse Biddle, Image- Jay Floyd

We continue on with our running series of interviews with top Phils pitching prospect Jesse Biddle, whose time with the big league team in spring training came to a close last week when he was reassigned to the minors.

Biddle, who was the Phils’ top draft choice (27th overall) in 2010, represented the organization in the MLB All-Star Futures Game last year. Now, Biddle is setting his sights on a 2014 big league debut and has tried to absorb as much as he can in order to get better each day.

In Grapefruit League action, Biddle allowed four earned runs in three innings over two appearances.  After his first spring start this week, Biddle provided his thoughts on several topics including the type of feedback he was given upon being sent down, his feelings on his time in big league camp, who he learned from and much more.

Read ahead for the latest from Jesse.

Sharing his thoughts on being reassigned to minor league spring training last week…

I was just really happy that I was able to compete at that level and take part in a big league spring training and get my first one under my belt, but I’ve got more coming up.  The fact is, you know, there are a lot of guys in front of me on the depth chart as a starter that have to get ready for their season with the Phillies and I was told from the beginning that I wasn’t going to break camp with the team, so it’s just nice to be able to go back down to minor league camp and get my innings in and get my work in every day. 

On if there was any displeasure with the timing and if he thought he would stay with the big league club longer…

I mean, the fact is that they were only letting me go one or two innings because that’s how many innings they had available for me or some of the other guys, so I’m not necessarily displeased with the timing, in a weird way.  The sooner they sent me down, the earlier I’d be able to get my work in and get me back up there. Continue reading Jesse’s Journal, Vol. 3: Still positive after being reassigned to minors

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Prospect Nation 2014: #3 SS J.P. Crawford

Posted by Jay Floyd, Thu, March 13, 2014 03:15 PM Comments: 0

JP Crawford, Image- Jay Floyd

Equipped with big-time athleticism, a strong baseball IQ and all the right on-field tools, J.P. Crawford joined the Phillies system last year and quickly proved to be among the organization’s best prospects. Drafted in the opening round of last year’s amateur draft, Crawford looked sharp and put himself on the map as a fast rising talent in baseball.

Last year, Crawford posted great numbers at Lakewood High School in California, batting .432 in 25 games during his senior season and he stands as the school’s all-time leader in hits and runs scored at a school that also produced former Phillies 1st round draft choice Travis d’Arnaud.

Upon signing his first pro contract and making his minor league debut as an 18-year-old with the rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies, Crawford was very impressive. He lead the GCL in batting for a considerable stretch and posted a .345 average with a homer, 19 RBI and 12 stolen bases through 39 games. To wrap up the regular season, the youngster was promoted two levels up to Class A full season Lakewood.

In the South Atlantic League, Crawford handled the jump quite well enough for a kid that was playing high school ball just three months earlier. Continue reading Prospect Nation 2014: #3 SS J.P. Crawford

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Minor League Injury Notes: Numata, Walding, James

Posted by Jay Floyd, Mon, March 10, 2014 03:08 PM Comments: 0

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Chace Numata, Image- Jay Floyd

Just a few quick notes on some injuries throughout minor league camp…

Catcher Chace Numata confirmed with me today that he will miss at least a few months following a fractured hamate and surgery to repair triangular fibrocartilage in his left wrist.  The 21-year-old Hawaiian was a South Atlantic League All-Star for Class A Lakewood last season, posting a .231/.307/.305 line in 94 contests.

Third baseman Mitch Walding is on the shelf as he continues to deal with the rib issue that shortened his season last summer.  Walding was dealing with a misdiagnosed fracture when he suffered a more severe break while getting off the couch in the Lakewood locker room last August.  Walding told me today that he is scheduled for surgery to fully remove the rib and is likely to miss at least six weeks.  The 21-year-old was the Phils’ 5th round draft pick in 2011.

Outfielder Jiwan James, who missed a considerable portion of last season following knee surgery, is out of action once again with a knee issue.  The limitation is precautionary, according to a source.  James, who is a month shy of turning 25, sported a .260/.301/.322 line in 36 contests with Class A Advanced Clearwater last season.

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Prospect Nation 2014: #4 2B/OF Cesar Hernandez

Posted by Jay Floyd, Mon, March 10, 2014 07:05 AM Comments: 4

Cesar Hernandez, Image- Jay Floyd

Signed by the Phillies as an amateur free agent at the age of 16 in 2006, Cesar Hernandez swiftly proved himself as a capable prospect that had quite a future in baseball. Last year, the young Venezuelan was honored as a Triple-A All-Star and made his big league debut. This year, he’ll be doing everything in his power to earn another chance to compete at the top level of the sport.

Hernandez, a switch-hitter, made his professional debut with the Phillies’ Venezuelan Summer League team in 2007. In two seasons there, he tallied a .296 batting average with three home runs and 45 RBI in 114 games. He followed that effort with a campaign in which he batted .267 with five doubles and a triple in 41 games for the rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies in 2009.

The following season, with the short-season Class A Williamsport Crosscutters, Hernandez was voted as the Most Valuable Player of the club by his teammates and was a New York-Penn League All-Star. Overall that season, Hernandez sported an impressive .325/.390/.392 line with 13 doubles and two triples in 65 games and placed second in the New York-Penn League in stolen bases, with 32. Continue reading Prospect Nation 2014: #4 2B/OF Cesar Hernandez

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Prospect Nation 2014: #5 OF Kelly Dugan

Posted by Jay Floyd, Fri, March 07, 2014 07:00 AM Comments: 1

Kelly Dugan, Image- Jay Floyd

It took Kelly Dugan about four years to show and prove why he was once the Phillies’ top draft choice (2nd round, 2009).  An excellent campaign in 2013 has many believing that the young outfielder could be close to helping the team at the big league level.

Much hype surrounded Kelly upon being drafted to the Phillies, as an image of him on the set of his director father Dennis Dugan’s film Grown Ups, with many of Hollywood’s comedy elite, made the rounds.  In the years that followed, Dugan dealt with a series of injury concerns that kept the 6-foot-3-inch 195-pounder from fully establishing himself as a potential rising star.

Dugan would debut with the Gulf Coast League Phillies in 2009, after signing his first professional contract, posting a .233 average with eight doubles, a triple and eight RBI in 45 games.  The following year, with the GCL team and short-season Class A Williamsport, Dugan sported a .366 average with a homer and eight RBI in 28 combined games.  He missed roughly two months of action that year after he was hit in the leg with a batted ball during batting practice in June and later developed a staph infection that required draining.

In 2011, Dugan returned to Williamsport and represented the club in the New York-Penn League All-Star Game.  With the Crosscutters, in 47 games, he sported a .284 batting average along with two home runs and 21 RBI. Continue reading Prospect Nation 2014: #5 OF Kelly Dugan

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Prospect Nation 2014: #6 RHP Ethan Martin

Posted by Jay Floyd, Mon, March 03, 2014 07:30 AM Comments: 0

Ethan Martin, Image- Jay Floyd

After a season in which Ethan Martin made his big league debut, the Phillies entered spring training with hopes that the young righty hurler would show enough in camp to prove they could rely on him as a contributor this year.  After experiencing discomfort in his throwing shoulder recently, not only where he’ll pitch this season, but also how much he’ll be able to pitch is unclear.

Diagnosed with a strained capsule and a strained triceps, the 24-year-old Martin has been shut down.  Ordered to rest for three weeks, the Georgia native will be re-evaluated following the down time.  Several months back, the Phils’ 2012 top draft selection Shane Watson, another right-handed pitcher, was diagnosed with a similar capsule injury and prescribed rest as well.  Watson required surgery to repair the issue when rehab did not have great results.

Originally selected by Los Angeles in the 1st round (15th overall) in the 2008 amateur draft out of Stephens County High School (GA), when scouts weren’t sure if he would proceed as a pitcher or a third baseman in his career, Martin had not posted great numbers in the minors prior to 2012.  He was acquired in the trade that sent Shane Victorino to the Dodgers. Continue reading Prospect Nation 2014: #6 RHP Ethan Martin

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Jesse’s Journal, Vol 2: Getting Veteran Advice, Compliments From Halladay

Posted by Jay Floyd, Fri, February 28, 2014 07:30 AM Comments: 7

Jesse Biddle, Image- Jay Floyd

With the spring exhibition season underway, top Phillies pitching prospect Jesse Biddle took time this week to share his thoughts from inside big league spring training.

Biddle, who was the Phils’ top draft choice (27th overall) in 2010, represented the organization in the MLB All-Star Futures Game last year.  Now, in his first time in big league camp, Biddle looks to leave a solid impression on coaches and team brass as he targets a Major League  debut this year.

This week, Biddle pitched against his Phillies teammates, as they competed in an intrasquad game.  The outing wasn’t very successful for the 22-year-old, but he took some positives out of surrendering hits to the likes of Ryan Howard, Ben Revere, Kevin Frandsen and others, while showing that he’s capable of competing at this level but striking out Marlon Byrd and Cody Asche.

Biddle talked about the silver lining of a rough appearance, Phillies spring instructor Larry Andersen, being complimented by Roy Halladay and much more.  Read ahead for our latest exclusive entry from Jesse.

On pitching against veteran players in the Phillies’ intrasquad game this week-

“The experience was great.  It was a pretty awesome moment.  You had a guy like Ben Revere leading off, uh, Chooch batting second.  That’s a really cool lineup and we have a lot of really good talent, obviously.  It’s nice to be able to compete against those guys.  Numbers wise, I gave up a few singles and some hits, but I was really happy with my ability to throw strikes and attack the zone.  I left a couple pitches up to some really, really good hitters and that’s what happens, so it’s just a learning process.”

On the feedback that some of the opposition in that game shared with him-

“I got some feedback from Ryan Howard and Kevin Frandsen, among some others guys, and, you know, they were just talking to me about some little mechanical things that they saw, that they were able to pick up on some different pitches.  The kind of stuff that, you know, you have to learn those things and learn those little nuances that help you become a big league pitcher. Continue reading Jesse’s Journal, Vol 2: Getting Veteran Advice, Compliments From Halladay

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