Archive for November, 2010

Prospect Season

Monday, November 29th, 2010

It’s getting close to one of our favorite times of the year, when Baseball America releases their annual prospect ranking from the Phillies farm system. This year’s ranking will be released on December 13th (two weeks from today). Here is their top ten schedule, with the AL East and Central having already been announced.

What will the Phillies list look like? You can imagine it will have a distinct BlueClaws feel to it. Domonic Brown, who had 65 ABs with the Phillies, is still rookie-eligible so he will be on the list, and is the certain #1 (will be his 3rd straight). Rookie eligiblity: less than 130 ABs and 45 days on the 25-man roster (excludes September with 40-man limit…he had 34 days total).

Behind Brown, I would think it would be Jarred Cosart, Brody Colvin and Jonathan Singleton, all members of the 2010 BlueClaws, in some order.

As usual, members of the media (myself included) voted in a survey conducted by Mike Drago in the Reading Eagle. Click here for the results.

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Quiet Day on the Field

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Because of the freezing cold overnight temperatures, they’ll need to let the field thaw out a bit as they continue to laser-grade and then work on the irrigation before the sod is laid down.

It will look like a baseball field (and not a beach volleyball court) probably beginning Wednesday.

Wednesday Field Update

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

field-update-112410

There’s still a lot of sand that needs to be spread around the whole field. Here’s an update of the rest of the process.

You can see in the picture above, a new layer of sand has been spread across the entire outfield and infield, but not in foul territory outside the infield (the darker sand).

new-field-1124-2They are filling that in now as I type this (1:38 pm on Wednesday).

Once that is done, they will till the entire field, mixing the new sand in with the old sand to eliminate any “layers” and ensure proper drainage.

From there, they’ll laser grade the entire thing (click here for more on this), put down some fertilizer, and then on probably Monday, begin bringing in the new sod, about 90,000 square feet worth.

It will be green in no time.

Check our Facebook page photos section for updated galleries.

Here Comes the Sand & Math Fun

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

sandGet ready for the first BlueClaws Beach Volleyball Tournament to be held this weekend at FirstEnergy Park!*

* Just kidding

Tuesday and Wednesday, about 600 tons of sand will be brought up from Hammonton, NJ and Tuckahoe Turf Farms to FirstEnergy Park.

This sand will cover the field’s 90,000 square feet and add about one inch of height (on average) to the already 10 inches of sand that has been below the surface for 10 years.

The sand comes in big dumptrucks which each hold about 25 tons.

Once it’s all here, it will be spread evenly across the field and then tilled, to mesh it in with the current sand and eliminate any layers that may develop.

It will then be laser-graded (as shown here) before the fertilizer is laid down and then the sod itself should be here by Monday.

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Math Fun

600 tons of sand = 1 inch of depth over this 90,000 square foot field.

This means that, over the 11 inches of sand, FirstEnergy Park has in total roughly 6,600 tons of sand.

This is enough to fill 66 volleyball courts according to VolleyballUSA.com.

From Chris Truby

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

truby-headshotHad a chance to speak Monday with new BlueClaws manager Chris Truby, who has been promoted to Lakewood from short-season Williamsport for the 2011 season.

What was your reaction when you heard you were coming to Lakewood?
Obviously excited. It’s a place that from what I understand everyone has rave reviews about and it’s a step up, a progression in my career. You want to get to the point where you move up into a full season and going to Lakewood, where they’ve won two championships in a row and get the fan support that they do is exciting.

When did you decide that you wanted to get into coaching/managing?
I think towards the end of my playing career. When I was in there for the last few years, it’s something that I was looking into and hopeful of going through. In the off-season, I give lessons and work with kids. It’s what I do. I love baseball and I like coaching so it was the natural progression which you hope to have.

What have you heard about Lakewood from others in the organization?
Talking to Dusty [Wathan] and Mark [Parent], it’s a great place to play, you play in a nice stadium. The travel is a little bit different, but that comes with the territory. Everyone that I’ve talked to has had nothing but good things to say. I’m looking forward to getting up there and experiencing it for myself.

What can fans expect to see from a Chris Truby managed team?
All I can guarantee and expect is that we are going to be prepared. The guys are going to come to the field every day ready to work. They’re going to get their work in and they’re going to play hard. We don’t know who’s coming, but the group I had last year all busted their butts and played hard. The group from 2009 was the same way. That’s all you can expect, be ready to work, come to the ballpark and prepare themselves and they’re ready to play.

What managers or players did you look up to from your playing career that might influence the way you manage?
I looked at a lot of different players. I came through as a player and worked with a lot of good manangers and good coahces. You take something from everyone that you’ve had experience with, the Manny Actas, who instilled a great work ethic, Jim Pankovits. There are a number of managers that I’ve had that influence how you prepare yourself as a player and as a manager.

One of your players from last year, Cesar Hernandez, was added to the Phillies 40-man roster last week. What does he bring to the table?
He was one of the best players in the league. Talent wise, he can run, he can swing the bat. He was the best in the league defensively. He stole bases, hit for average, played good defense. He’s got some tools. He’s younger and he’s got ability. He was a big part of the club we had last year, obviously.

Print Pieces

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Some articles today on the new hires around the Phillies farm system. First locally, Tony Graham of the Asbury Park Press talked to Chris Truby, new BlueClaws manager (click here for full article).

“I’m stepping into a situation where they’ve been used to winning, which is good,” Truby said. “Hopefully we can carry on that tradition.

“You get there and hopefully the players realize what they’re walking into, the expectation level of not just what just we have as a development staff in terms of getting better, but to be able to produce a product on the field.”

2010 BlueClaws manager Mark Parent is off to Double-A Reading. He spoke to Mike Drago of the Reading Eagle (click here for full article).

“My style doesn’t change,” said the former big league catcher, who took low Class A Lakewood to the South Atlantic League championship last season.

“When I’m communicating with players and running a game, I try to run it just like I would if I was a major league guy,” said Parent. “I treat them like grown men and I expect them to act like grown men.”

The Phillies announced last week that Ryne Sandberg would manage Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He and Parent were teammates with the Cubs in 1994.

Meanwhile, Mickey Morandini, former Phillies second baseman who the Phillies had been calling for the last nine years, will manage Williamsport this year after serving as a high school coach in Indiana. He’s excited to be back, as he tells the Williamsport Sun-Gazzette (click here for full article).

“Absolutely, I played there for almost nine years and I bleed Phillies red,” Morandini said. “I love the organization and know people in the organization and still do the Phillies camps and hang out with the guys I played with, so I’m thrilled to be back with the organization.”

The best part about that article is the picture of Morandini signing a baseball for Bill Clinton.

Truby to Manage BlueClaws in 2011

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

The Phillies announced today that Chris Truby will manage the BlueClaws in 2011. The 36-year old has been with Williamsport each of the last two seasons, leading the Crosscutters to an 85-67 record over the two campaigns.

2010 manager Mark Parent heads to Reading while 2009 manager Dusty Wathan stays with Clearwater.

The BlueClaws also return hitting coach Greg Legg and pitching coach Steve Schrenk.

The entire release from the Phillies is below the fold, with more to come on our end here in a few minutes.

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Field Installation Update

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Here is a quick update with the help of a few pictures (you can click on any of these pictures to enlarge them).

field-laid-down-sod-112210

As groundskeeper Ryan Radcliffe noted in our first interview on the subject, the actual depth of the new field will be about three inches below where the old sod was located. From the picture above, the black mark circled on the wood measurement is the point where the new sod will be laid down. They will fill the rest in with sand (a lot of sand actually).

field-new-warning-track-112210

From the picture above, the pink line represents the original point of the warning track. Over the 10 years, the grass has gradually pushed the warning track outward (towards the dugout or OF wall). They will fill in the space and re-expand the warning track.

laser-grade-112210

They have started the process of laser-grading the entire field. In the near-ground, the base laser is set atop the pitcher’s mound. It has been pre-programmed with the correct grade of the field. In the background, there is another laser (also circled) attached to the back of the tractor. The two synch-up to grade the field at the correct angle.

field-grading-2-112210

As you can see from the circled area, this part of the field is currently too high, which is why that sand is being dragged to an area where the field is too low. Unlike…

field-grading-3-112210

And as you can see from this picture, this part of the field is currently low, which is why no sand is being scooped up. When they bring in the sand beginning tomorrow, this will be one area that gets filled in.

Hope that makes sense for you.

Phillies Add Five to 40-Man Roster

Friday, November 19th, 2010

Five players (Justin De Fratus BC ’09, Matt Rizzotti ’08, Freddy Galvis ’08, Harold Garcia ’09, and Cesar Hernandez) were added to the 40-man roster today by the Phillies.

Congrats to these five players, who will now receive an invite to spring training and are protected from being selected in the Rule-5 Draft, which occurs at the Winter Meetings.

De Fratus and Rizzotti you figured were locks to be selected and Garcia earned his spot too with a great year spanning both Clearwater and Reading. All three will likely play for Lehigh Valley next year.

Galvis, a slick fielder, isn’t a huge surprise to be added, since it isn’t unfathomable seeing a big league team keep him on their 25-man roster for the whole year (as you would need to do if you select a player in the Rule-5) just for his defensive ability.

Hernandez, who has not played above Williamsport, is a well-regarded switch hitter who hit over .300 last year. He could be with the BlueClaws to open 2011.

Full Phillies release below:

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Wrapping up the Arizona Fall League

Friday, November 19th, 2010

Mesa, the club with Phillies prospects, did not advance to the Arizona Fall League Championship Game (which you can watch on MLB Network tomorrow night).

Now that their AFL season is complete, let’s take a look back at these player and what could be in store during 2011.

Offensive Players
Tim Kennelly,
UTL: .293 (12-41), 4 RBIs, 3 BB, 7 Ks
- Probably to Reading, useful because he can play so many positions
John Mayberry, OF: 0-2 and injured
- Hurt on Opening Day, will be in big league camp and probably in Lehigh Valley’s OF
Matt Rizzotti, 1B: .333 (21-63), 12 RBIs, 22 BB, 15 Ks
- Really a great six weeks for him, though he did miss some time with injury. Note the +7 walks to strikeouts. Probably Lehigh Valley’s first baseman

Pitchers
Tyson Brummett:
1-1, 3.79, 19 IP, 13 K, 2 BB
- A very solid fall for Brummett, who pitched in Reading this year and will likely be in Lehigh Valley’s rotation.
Justin De Fratus: 0-0, 0.00, 7 IP, 3 H, 11 K, 3 BB
- Great fall capped a great year for De Fratus, who is a lock to be on the 40-man roster next year, has a shot to make the big league bullpen and at worst will be in Lehigh Valley.
Jacob Diekman: 0-0, 2.945, 3.2 IP, 14 H, 4 BB, 3 K
- He was a late addition to the Arizona Fall League roster and struggled. Clearwater or Reading for Diekman next year
Chris Kissock: 1-0, 2.38, 11.1 IP, 11 H, 2 BB, 5 K
- Solid fall for Kissock, who pitched for Clearwater and a bit for Reading this year. He probably returns to Reading in 2011.
BJ Rosenberg: 0-1, 8.53, 12.2 IP, 18 H, 8 BB, 10 K
- It was a weird year for BJ, who battled injuries on and off. He obviously didn’t have the best fall but was still working his way back. He probably starts 2011 in Reading.
Josh Zeid: 3-0, 3.86, 14 IP, 11 H, 1 BB, 12 K
- A very good fall for Zeid, who pitched with the BlueClaws in 2010, and finished his time with Mesa the way he finished his time with the BlueClaws. The Phillies have had older (four-year) college pitchers skip levels before (BJ Rosenberg skipped Clearwater in August of 2009 and Michael Schwimer skipped Lakewood at the start of 2009) and certainly Zeid jumping straight to Reading would seem to be a possibility.

Michael Taylor was the other former BlueClaw in Arizona. He hit .278 with 2 HRs and 15 RBIs, though his two home runs were the first two games that he played.

Bryce Harper to Hagerstown? And Lakewood?

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Washington Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said in today’s Washington Post that 2010 top overall pick Bryce Harper could well be assigned to Hagerstown to open the 2011 season, which means a few potential trips to FirstEnergy Park to play the BlueClaws.

Hagerstown will be in Lakewood for three series this year:

  • May 13-16
  • June 12-15
  • July 4-6

“I would assume [Harper] starts in Hagerstown,” Rizzo said. “That could change. If the minor league season opened today, it would be Hagerstown. I think he needs to start in a comfortable position for him and succeed and move on.”

Harper is hitting .323 in 31 at bats in the Arizona Fall League.

Josh Zeid, 2010 BlueClaws pitcher, faced Harper in his first pro at bat:

You got to face top pick Bryce Harper in his first pro at bat, how was the circus? Well it was different. He’s going to be very, very good. He’s young. You can tell maybe by the things he says and acts. He’s got one of the best arms I’ve ever seen. So he comes up and everyone was chirping to each other. They all had their cameras out. My teammates had bets about what he was going to do, most thought he was going to pop up. He wasn’t taking, I wasn’t going to waste a pitch obviously. He would have hit it a mile if it was 2 mph slower, but he popped up to short.

New Field Installation Update With Ryan Radcliffe

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

field-grass-removal-1117-upstairsAs you can see from the picture on the right, they’re making some progress with the installation of the new playing surface. What step are we up to in the process (click here for an interview with groundskeeper Ryan Radcliffe about the full step-by-step installation)?

We sat down with Ryan earlier to catch up. Click here for a photo gallery from phase two (phase one).

What has been done on the field in the last week?
First, all of the irrigation heads were taken out, so we don’t break them with the heavy machinery.

Once that was done, they marked out (with spray paint), the existing infield and existing warning track. Then, they took a small sod-cutter (18 inches wide) and cut out essentially a border around the infield and warning track.

field-grass-removal-1117-2Then today (Wednesday), it looks like they’ve brought in the heavy machinery? (see picture, click to enlarge)
Yes. The machine on the left tills the grass and shoots it up a conveyor belt into the trailer. Right now, they’re going down to a depth of two inches, but they will go back over everything another inch to get to original rootzone.

How long will this take?
Probably until Friday or Saturday to get around the field twice.

Note: How much fills up into one trailer? See the picture below.

field-grass-removal-1117-3

Ryno Returns

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Ryne Sandberg is back in the Phillies organization, as he will manage the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in 2011. He replaces Dave Huppert, the only manager in Lehigh Valley history (2008-2010, 184-247).

Here is an article by Tyler Kepner in the NY Times.

(Dallas Green) had just resigned as Phillies manager to run the Cubs, and he knew his old team’s way of thinking. Over and over, Green said, he told his old boss, Paul Owens, that the Phillies had nowhere to play Sandberg.

“They had to get rid of Bowa, and we just held out until we got what we wanted,” Green said Monday. “I knew I had the only available big-league shortstop that could play on a championship-caliber club at that time, in DeJesus.

“They kept throwing other guys at us, because they knew what kind of ballplayer Ryno was; they weren’t dumb. But I kept pounding the fact that they were never going to use him, and they knew I knew their system as well as they did.”

Here is another good article, this from Bill Conlin in the Philadelphia Daily News.

Uncle Hughie convinced The Pope that Sandberg would never be much more than a utility player with the Phillies . . .

I can picture Dallas Green putting down the phone after the trade was finalized and bellowing, “Yessssssssssssss!”

But now, Bowa was blocking Sandberg once more. However, Green was intent on changing the Cubs’ smug, happy-to-be-selling-out-and-finishing-third culture. He needed to play Sandberg in 1982. So, he released veteran third baseman Ken Reitz. Ryne had an excellent rookie year at third.

In the offseason, Dallas acquired veteran third baseman Ron Cey and Sandberg found his permanent home at second base.

And Dallas Green and unindicted co-conspirator Hugh Alexander took their rightful place alongside Bonnie and Clyde, Butch and Sundance, the James Brothers and other rollicking duos who committed daylight robbery.

Hopefully Sandberg can win on Opening Day (April 7th vs Scranton). Should he pull this off, Lehigh Valley would have a winning record for the first time in franchise history. The Phillies Triple-A affiliate has not had a winning record since May 24th, 2007 when the Ottawa Lynx were 22-21.

On a side note, Lehigh Valley opened franchise existence by going 0-11, 2-20 and 4-28.

Sorry for the lack of blogging here the last few days. We’re back for good.

Arizona Fall League Update

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Here are a few day’s worth of updates from down in the Arizona Fall League, with the Phillies representatives playing for Mesa.

Monday: In an 8-3 loss to Scottsdale, Matt Rizzotti, the only Phillies farmhand to play, had a rough day, going 0-5 with three strikeouts.

Tuesday: Rizzotti and Tim Kennelly each went 1-3 on Tuesday as Mesa scored six runs in the 9th inning to beat Surprise. BJ Rosenberg gave up three runs in the 8th inning and Chris Kissock threw a shutout 9th inning to earn the win. Pirates prospect Andrew Lambo hit a walk-off grand slam.

Wednesday: Rizzotti was the only Phillies farmhand to play, coming in the game in the 7th inning and walking in his only two plate appearances.

Thursday: Rizzotti went 2-3, raising his average to .377, while Kennelly went 1-4 and played RF in a 6-5 loss to Surprise. Tyson Brummett threw three shutout innings to start the game and Jacob Diekman gave up a run in the 9th inning.

Michael Taylor is batting .271-2-15 playing for Scottsdale.

The regular season runs through next Thursday (11/18).