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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.

AdamMorgan

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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2014 Player Reviews: Cole Hamels

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Wed, November 12, 2014 12:00 PM Comments: 6

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Back in February, we learned that Cole Hamels was dealing with biceps tendinitis over the winter, and was behind his recovery schedule. We were told that he wouldn’t be ready for Opening Day. In March, he suffered a setback, telling reporters that he wasn’t in pain, but was fatigued. He was placed on the 15-day DL on March 27 (retroactive to March 21). After a handful of rehab starts, he was finally cleared to join the team in L.A.

He began his 2014 season with a six inning, two run outing against the Dodgers. His next start, however, didn’t go as well. The Mets tagged Hamels for six runs over 4.2 innings. Then he allowed five runs over six innings against the Blue Jays. He was 0-2 with a 7.02 ERA in those three starts. It wasn’t looking good.

But then he settled into the Cole Hamels that we all know. Over his next 27 starts, he posted a 2.06 ERA. His changeup was as good as ever, and he seemed to get stronger as the year went on. He went over 100 pitches 17 times, and allowed more than three earned runs in an outing just three times.

His best Game Score in a start was against the Padres on June 11. He threw eight shutout innings, while allowing five hits, one walk, and struck out 11 batters. His worst was that second start of the year against the Mets. He was the starting pitcher in a combined no-hitter against the Braves, and finished the season with the 5th-lowest ERA in the NL.

He was the subject of several trade rumors leading up to and at the deadline, but the Phillies did not move him.

Grade: A

Hamels was fantastic in 2014. Aside from an injury that delayed his season debut, he was as consistent as we’ve seen him in a Phillies uniform. He didn’t have many wins, but that has very little to do with how well he pitched. It was a career year for Hamels, and he was easily the Phillies best player in 2014.

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Royals Interested In Howard

Posted by Pat Egan, Tue, November 11, 2014 03:44 PM Comments: 18

Bob Nightengale of USA Today wrote Monday night that the Kansas City Royals have had internal discussions about possibly acquiring Phillies first basemen Ryan Howard. The Royals would see Howard as a fit to replace Billy Butler as the teams designated hitter. Howard is owed $60 million dollars and the Phillies will likely have to eat most of that money.

While the report that the Phillies may have found a taker for Howard is exciting to some, Jim Salisbury of Comcast Sports Net says its not even close. Salisbury cites a source that says the Royals interest in Howard is way overblown and that “teams discuss every player this time of year.”

Its no secret that the Phillies are actively looking to move the 2006 NL MVP who has likely played his last game ever in Phillies pinstripes. A Howard trade is not a matter of “if” but “when” at this point.

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Biddle headed home from PR with elbow soreness

Posted by Jay Floyd, Tue, November 11, 2014 03:25 PM Comments: 1

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. announced to reporters on Tuesday that top pitching prospect Jesse Biddle had experienced elbow soreness and would be headed to Philadelphia for evaluation.

The six-foot-five 220-pound lefty allowed seven earned runs on seven hits in 2 1/3 innings in his most recent outing for Mayaguez in the Puerto Rican/Roberto Clemente League on Saturday.  In his only other outing in the fall/winter league, Biddle was charged with two earned runs in three innings of work on October 31st.

Biddle, a Philadelphia native, missed considerable time during the regular season this year, as he was sidelined with a concussion while pitching for Double-A Reading.  This year Biddle sported a 5-10 record along with a 4.58 ERA and an 8.75 K/9 mark in 19 minor league starts (16 with Reading).  He struck out seven and walked four in 5 1/2 total innings.

The concern surrounding Biddle’s progress shouldn’t be too high, while the injuries have piled up.  Recent projections did not have had Biddle as a big league contributor next year and, at age 23, there is still plenty of time to get the youngster healthy and back in form.

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Report: Rollins Blocked Deal to Mets

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Tue, November 11, 2014 02:30 PM Comments: 7

Here is some news out of left field: Adam Rubin of ESPN reports that Jimmy Rollins blocked a deal that would have sent it him to the Mets. While the timeline of the deal exploration is unclear, it likely was within the last year or so, as Rubin’s article cites the Mets need for a shortstop. Rollins reportedly blocked the proposed deal.

Rollins has one more year left as part of the three-year extension, plus a fourth year option, he signed following the 2011 season. Per FanGraphs, Rollins has been worth $49.6 million over the last three seasons while making only $33 million.

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Phillies Ink Three Minor League Free Agents

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Tue, November 11, 2014 12:29 PM Comments: 0

According to Matt Eddy of Baseball America, the Phillies have signed three free agents to minor league deals. The Phillies will add outfielder Brian Bogusevic, a 30-year old veteran outfielder who is a career .236 Major League hitter. Bogusevic spent last season at Triple-A New Orleans where he hit .260/.349/.411 with six homers.

Joining Bogusevic among the Phillies outfield depth is Darin Mastroianni. Mastroianni, 29, began his career with the Twins before being selected off waivers by the Blue Jays prior to the 2012 season. Midway through the 2014 season, the Twins selected Mastroianni, a career .212 hitter at the Major League level back from Toronto.

Finally, in a bit of some old news, the Phillies finalized their deal with catcher John Hester. Hester, 31, has been a pretty solid hitter at the Triple-A level (.278/.344/.449) but has struggled at the Major League level with Arizona and LAA (.216/.294/.351).

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