Archive for February, 2011

Road to Lakewood: Starting Pitchers

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to preview different units on what could be the 2011 BlueClaws. Today’s our third look, the starting pitchers. Obviously not everyone on this list will be here (we listed 11), and some will be here in the bullpen, but these are a few of the guys we’ll look for when the spring training games start.

Note: The Road to Lakewood is presented by Viridian Energy. Click here for information about how you can “Go Green” and save money on your electric bill. It’s fast, it’s easy, and you save, all with Viridian Energy…Power with Purpose.

Previously in this Series: Road to Lakewood, The Infield, Road to Lakewood: The Outfield.

Starting Pitchers (in alphabetical order)
Jesse Biddle: Jesse’s story is one straight out of a Disney movie. A hometown kid from Mount Airy, PA, the Phillies drafted him 27th overall in the 1st round in the 2010 Amateur Draft. He signed quickly and went to the Gulf Coast League and pitches well. He got bumped up to Williamsport (very rare for a high school draft pick to get to Williamsport in their rookie year), and again he pitched well. Here is a BlueClaws.com article on Biddle from the Winter Tour earlier this month, and another from Phillies.com. He was a combined 4-1 with a 3.92 ERA in 12 starts last season between the Gulf Coast League Phillies and Williamsport. Baseball America has him 8th in the system. Considering we’ve seen a number of second-year pros open with the BlueClaws (Jason Knapp, Anthony Gose, Brody Colvin for example), he has a good shot. He said at the Winter Tour his first goal was to start here.

David Buchanan: David was a 7th Round Pick by the Phillies in last June’s MLB Amateur Draft out of Georgia State University. He started all 13 game he pitched in with Williamsport last season, and went 3-1 with a 4.21 ERA. A native of Peachtree City, GA, David pitched for two years at Chipola Junior College in Florida before finishing his college career after one year with Georgia State. Here is an article from Georgia State’s Athletics website after he signed with the Phillies. The article notes that he was the highest drafted GSU player, behind Scott Youngbauer (10th rd, 2000). Youngbauer is also a former BlueClaw (2001-2002). A The 6’3”, 190 pound right-hander, Buchanan throws a mid 90’s fastball to go along with a curveball.

Lendy Castillo: A 21-year old from the Dominican Republic, he pitched quite well last year for the GCL Phillies (3-1, 2.22). He struck out 51 in 44 innings and opponents hit .212 off him. Moved into the rotation for the final month, he’ll have to earn a spot but that was a very promising US debut.

Garett Claypool: An 11th round pick from UCLA, Claypool went 3-3, 3.18 with Williamsport last year, 12 starts and four relief appearances. Like others, his bullpen outings could certainly have been related to a heavy workload from the spring season, which for UCLA lasted into the College World Series. Was a 32nd round pick in 2009 by Oakland. He gave up three runs in 1/3 of an inning in his final appearance, raising his ERA from 2.41.

Percival Garner: 2nd round pick of the Phillies last year from Ball State, where he went to play QB for now Michigan coach Brady Hoke. He switched his focus to baseball (wisely, obviously) after being ranked the top pitching prospect in the Great Lakes summer collegiate league in 2009. He made just two appearances with Williamsport last year (he was shut down for precautionary reasons), but touches 96 with his fastball. Baseball America has him 21st in the system.

Nick Hernandez: One who you wouldn’t think would be here except for a loaded Clearwater rotation (Jarred Cosart, Brody Colvin, Jonathan Pettibone, Trevor May, Colby Shreve). He was 3-1, 1.61 with the BlueClaws, including taking a no-hitter into the 8th inning on May 16th at Greensboro. That was his final appearance of the season, however. He was with the BlueClaws (inactive) during the playoffs and said he felt great, 100%. I would be surprised if he’s with the BlueClaws when the season opens, and the only reason its even a consideration is the Clearwater potential rotation. But again, I think he’s pitched his last game as a BlueClaw.

Mario Hollands: A hard throwing (see a trend?) left-hander, Mario is another 2010 Philadelphia draft pick. Chosen in the 10th round out of UC Santa Barbara, Mario is a California native. PresidioSports.com did a nice write up on Hollands after the Phillies selected him last June. The 6’5”, 205 pound lefty hopes to build upon his first taste of pro ball at the end of last year where he went 4-4 with a 4.57 ERA in 14 starts with Williamsport. He throws 5 pitches: a four seam fastball which tops out around 91 mph, two seam fastball, curveball, slider, and a changeup.

Craig Fritsch: The Phillies plucked him in the 16th round last June out of Baylor University. He was an 8th round pick by the Detroit Tigers in 2009, but decided to stay in school. A 6’5”, 190 pound right hander, he finished 2-0 with a 4.38 ERA in 16 games (7 starts) with Williamsport. Faded at the end (8 ER in last 3 IP), raising his ERA from 2.65. Three-time Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Role. Not sure exactly what the Phillies plans are for him, as in starter or reliever. Certainly possible (likely?) that his relief appearances were related to a heavy workload from the long college season.

Ervis Manzanillo: A 21-year old lefty from Venezuela, Manzanillo split 2010 between the GCL Phillies (3-0, 2.16 in seven starts) and Williamsport (1-2, 6.29 in six starts). Seems like a big difference, but basically in the Penn-League he just started walking guys. With the Crosscutters, he only allowed 19 hits in 24 innings, to go along with 23 strikeouts, very good numbers. However, he walked 18, compared to 11 (in 33 IP) with the GCL Phillies. Don’t know much else about him beyond that, but certainly you can put him in the mix.

Eric Pettis: Almost immediately after being drafted by Philadelphia in the 35th round out of UC Irvine last June, he was thrust into the starting rotation for Williamsport. He started 5 games, pitched in 20 games total and finished the regular season a dazzling 8-0 with a 1.37 ERA (67 Ks and 7 BBs in 59 IP). Williamsport got knocked out on the last day (Sunday before Labor Day), and on the bus home, Chris Truby told Pettis he was coming to Lakewood for their playoffs, and he appeared in three of the seven playoff games. Here is a great interview with Eric over at PhuturePhillies.com and one with BlueClaws Blog in which he talks about Tweeting. His 2011 is kind of a mystery. He could be in Lakewood’s rotation or bullpen (he pitched in the pen to limit his innings), or he could be in Clearwater’s bullpen too. Considering how dominant he was with Williamsport, it wouldn’t be shocking if he skipped Lakewood this year.

Julio Rodriguez: On the surface, he shouldn’t be back here. From the time he re-joined the BlueClaws in July (he was here for a few weeks in early June) through the end of the season, his line was as follows: 39 IP, 3 ER, 19 H, 11 BB, 68 K. He could not pitch better. However, when Clearwater’s rotation could conceivably be: Jarred Cosart, Brody Colvin, Jonathan Pettibone, Trevor May, Colby Shreve (plus Matt Way, maybe Nick Hernandez too), Julio could be here for a few months at the start of 2011. He was an 8th round pick by the Phillies in 2008 out of his native Puerto Rico. Check out this nice read on Julio written a few weeks ago by Jay Floyd at PhoulBallz. Rodriguez also pitched over the winter for Puerto Rico in qualifying for the Pan-American games, and he went 3-1 with a 2.00 ERA in 11 games for the Gigantes of the Puerto Rican Winter League. Baseball America has him 25th in the system.

Brown Readies for 2011

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Domonic Brown, a BlueClaw in 2008, has been the Phillies top ranked prospect for the last three years, and this season has his first chance to win an Opening Day starting spot. With Jayson Werth having signed with the Nationals, Brown will compete with John Mayberry and Ben Francisco for the now-vacant right fielder’s job.

Ryan Lawrence, in today’s Delaware County Times, talks with Brown about his opportunity and his winter, which included a short 2-29 stint in the Dominican Winter League.

“I’m not a guy to make excuses; I just went down there and played bad,” said Brown, who believes bad habits began while trying to transition into a bench player for the Phillies after being an everyday player in Reading and Lehigh Valley.

“I wanted to come in and work on my swing because I know I had a lot of kinks there that weren’t there before,” Brown said. “So coming off the bench, it kind of messed me up a little bit with my swing and what I was used to doing every day.”

Same article, found this very interesting…Greg Gross talks about adjustments to Brown’s swing:

It’s not that far removed from where he was at the start of last spring and pretty much through the minor leagues with Reading and Lehigh Valley. We noticed that he got really upright, straight up and down. His hands were a whole lot higher than they had been. We went back through tapes during the mini-camp in January, showed him just his setup … his setup last spring, his setup during the year and what he was at the end of the year. He had a month from then till now to try and get back to where he was at the start of last season.

I would think we see Domonic Brown in right field on Opening Day. Educated guess.

Former BlueClaw Back With Phillies

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

The Phillies have claimed 2007 BlueClaw Brian Schlitter off waivers from the Yankees. Schlitter, drafted in the 16th round of the 2007 draft from the College of Charleston, was the first of his draft class to reach Lakewood, where he had a 3.51 ERA in 17 games.

The next year, while pitching for Clearwater, he was traded to the Cubs for big league reliever Scott Eyre, who helped the Phillies win the World Series title that year.

He was called up to the Cubs in June, becoming the 33rd former BlueClaw to reach the big leagues.

The Cubs cut him in January, and the Yankees claimed him on waivers. He was on their 40-man roster until yesterday, when he was waived when the Yankees signed Andruw Jones.

Now, it’s all come full circle for Schlitter, who is on his third team of 2011.

UPDATE (5:22): Gregg from Phuture Philz noted the following, an excellent point:

Ryne Sandberg managed Schlitter at AAA Iowa City last season.

Just Found This

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

It’s a BlueClaws jersey signed by Def Leppard. They played here in 2005.

def-leppard

Top left: Rick Savage
Mid left: Vivian Campbell
Bot left: Rick Allen
Top right: Joe Elliot
Bot right: Phil Collen

New Contest

Monday, February 14th, 2011

This for the boy and girl scouts of the Jersey Shore. Neat concept actually. Scouts can design the patches the BlueClaws give out to scouts at the annual Scout Nights each summer.

The BlueClaws will accept submissions until March 5th, at which point voting will occur on the BlueClaws Facebook page.

Full details about the contest here. Below, find 10 years of BlueClaws scout patches.

scout-patches

Happy Pitchers & Catchers Report Day

Monday, February 14th, 2011

spring-training-logo1Now we can really get baseball season rolling. Pitchers and catchers have reported to Spring Training, including several former BlueClaws.

With the help of Phillies.com:

On the 40-Man Roster: Pitchers

  • Antonio Bastardo (2007)
  • Justin De Fratus (2009)
  • Cole Hamels (2003)
  • Kyle Kendrick (2004-06)
  • Scott Mathieson (2004)
  • Drew Naylor (2008)
  • **Brian Schlitter (2007)
  • Vance Worley (2008)
  • Mike Zagurski (2006)

On the 40-Man Roster: Position Players

  • Carlos Ruiz (2001)
  • Freddy Galvis (2008)
  • Harold Garcia (2009)
  • Ryan Howard (2002)
  • Matt Rizzotti (2008)
  • Domonic Brown (2008)

Non-Roster Invitees

  • RHP Michael Stutes (2008)
  • C Tuffy Gosewisch (2007)
  • C Joel Naughton (2007-08)

Plus, IF Cesar Hernandez, who was with Williamsport last year, could be Lakewood’s 2B in 2011.

Not including Hernandez, that’s 17 in Phillies camp that have played with the BlueClaws.

** UPDATE: With Brian Schlitter returning, that brings the total to 18.

Dave Murphy in the Daily News on Kendrick and Worley, both of whom figured to battle for the 5th starter’s job before the Phillies signed Cliff Lee.

Such is life for a young player on a big-market team. You think you have a job. Then you have no idea. And you don’t even have the satisfaction of convincing yourself that your bosses messed up. Put Kendrick and Worley in charge of the Phillies’ offseason strategy, and what could they have said? No thanks, Cliff, we’d rather give the kids an opportunity?

Paul Hagen says the Phillies are confident, but a long way from their goal.

Brad Lidge found out [about Cliff Lee] in a text from centerfielder Shane Victorino. As word spread, his phone began to ring.

“All my friends started calling and saying, ‘You’re not going to lose a game all year,’ ” the closer said yesterday at Bright House Field on the eve of the most eagerly anticipated first official workout for pitchers and catchers in franchise history.

Lidge rightly laughed out loud at the notion. The very idea is both absurd and a legitimate reflection of the off-the-charts level of excitement that surrounds this team.

Happy baseball season.

Did You Know?

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

Did you know that former BlueClaw Michael Bourn and Carl Crawford were Little League teammates in Houston?

Peter Abraham in today’s Boston Globe has the story.

HOUSTON — Ray Bourn wasn’t one of those Little League coaches who considered it a successful day if all the kids had fun. He wanted to win.

So after his Mt. Zion Angels won the first game of a district tournament in 1990, Bourn stuck around to scout the two teams playing in the same bracket. That was when he spotted Carl Crawford for the first time.

Crawford was a 9-year-old first baseman, a player so precociously talented that he was supposed to be on a team with older boys that day. Instead, he stuck with a team sponsored by the Salvation Army that was culled from residents of Houston’s gritty Fifth Ward.

“He had one hit and then another,’’ Bourn said. “I stuck around and kept watching and he had a hit the third time he came up. I loved how he swung the bat. I’ll never forget that day.’’

Ray is Michael’s dad, and then-coach. Read the rest of it. Really cool story.

Sunday Links & Coffee

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

Baseball season is officially here. How do we know? Because all the news stories say “CLEARWATER -” or “TAMPA -” in the dateline. With that said, with your Sunday morning coffee (and sausage links), a look around the baseball world. Here we go:

  • Matt Gelb in the Inquirer asks five Phillies questions that will define the season. The first one: Will Domonic Brown win the starting job?
  • Bob Brookover in the Inquirer has five Phillies minor leaguers to watch. Included: Jonathan Singleton, Jesse Biddle, and Harold Garcia.
  • Paul Hagen in the Daily News with a spring training preview. The Phillies kicked off the most successful epoch in their largely undistinguished franchise history by winning the National League East title in 2007. Return with us now to those glorious days of yesteryear when the projected starters going into spring training were … Brett Myers, Freddy Garcia, Jon Lieber, Cole Hamels, Jamie Moyer and Adam Eaton…This didn’t exactly move the baseball poets to compose paeans celebrating what was in store.
  • Bill Conlin in the Daily News writes “Beach ball has never been so glorious.”Neither Rome nor Clearwater Beach was built in a day.

    Tampa Bayside Clearwater is hard by U.S. 19, where Bright House Field and the Carpenter Minor League Complex form its western border. Sparkling Clearwater Beach hunkers against the Gulf of Mexico. Forget about Mr. In-Between, the urban sprawl.

    Clearwater Beach and the ballpark complex have become as much a part of Phillies Nation between pitchers and catchers reporting and the late-March exodus to Citizens Bank Park as the Jersey Shore is to ball-fan summers.

  • Jayson Stark with the top stories heading into spring training includes a Phillies story. Whatever happened to the theory that no big-time pitchers would ever want to pitch in Citizens Bank Park, huh? The Phillies are turning that one into a bigger myth than Charlie Sheen’s “laugh-induced abdominal pain.”
  • Not a Phillies story but maybe the biggest in baseball heading into the season…Tom Verducci of SI on the obstacles in front of Albert Pujols and the Cardinals trying to get a deal done.
  • Bill Madden in the NY Daily News with an excellent rundown of leading spring storylines, starting with the Yankees, Red Sox and Cardinals.
  • Did you know former BlueClaw Michael Bourn and Carl Crawford were on the same Little League team? Peter Abraham has the story in the Boston Globe.

There you go. We’ll make this a Sunday staple on the blog leading into the season.

Caption Contest

Friday, February 11th, 2011

phanaticzeidThought this was kind of funny. We did a Caption Contest on Facebook yesterday, where fans had to come up with a caption of a picture (see right) and the best one would win Opening Day tickets. Here are some of the ones that our Facebook fans came up with.

Winner: After the “Superbowl” blunder, everyone thinks they have a shot during this years National Anthem open tryouts- Steve Foster

And some of the others:

Chuck. Chuck. It’s Marvin – your cousin, Marvin BERRY. You know that new sound you’re looking for? Well, listen to this.

Dude, we are so awesome at Rockband! I bet we could be real rock stars!

I know times are tough, but I never thought I’d be reduced to this”, Elton John thought to himself as he struggled into his oversized green suit.

Here’s what’s not coming up on Glee

Its phillie joel and elton claw

Bach to Bruuuuce

Here is the full string. Enjoy.

Road to Lakewood: The Outfield

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to preview different units on what could be the 2011 BlueClaws. Today’s our second look, the outfielders. Obviously not everyone on this list will be here (we’ve listed seven), but these are a few of the guys we’ll look for when the spring training games start.

Note: The Road to Lakewood is presented by Viridian Energy. Click here for information about how you can “Go Green” and save money on your electric bill. It’s fast, it’s easy, and you save, all with Viridian Energy…Power with Purpose.

Previously in this Series: Road to Lakewood, The Infield.

Outfielders (in no particular order)
Zach Collier: Zach, a supplemental first-rounder in 2008, split 2009 between Lakewood and Williamsport, hitting .221 with 20 stolen bases as an 18-year old. Last year, he had hand surgery and missed the entire season. He just turned 20 (in September) and we’d expect him back with the BlueClaws.

Gauntlett Eldemire: The Phillies took the outfielder in the 6th round out of the University of Ohio, where he led the league in on-base percentage and was second in the league in slugging percentage. However, Eldemire did not play at all last year (after the draft, he played his college season) because of a wrist injury suffered when he was hit by a pitch in April. Here is an interview with Eldemire from Phuture Phillies. Because of a large number of potential outfielders and the fact he did not play last summer, it’s possible he starts in extended and joins Lakewood later on, but that could certainly change with a big spring.

Miguel Alvarez: A 21-year old from Santo Domingo, Alvarez burst onto the scene last year with Williamsport, hitting .329 in 258 at bats (and playing all three outfield positions). That’s 69 points higher than he hit in the GCL in 2009 and 41 points higher than he hit in 2008, his final season in the Dominican Summer League. He stole 32 bases in 2008 and 13 last year despite reaching base 15 times more, so he found it tougher to read the pitchers. That said, in the NYPL, most of the pitchers were 22-23 year olds just drafted out of college, so last year was certainly a big season for Alvarez.

Domingo Santana: Baseball America has had Santana among the top 10 Phillies prospects each of the last two years. In 2010, he opened the season with Lakewood at age 17, becoming the youngest player in team history (nine months younger than Freddy Galvis on Opening Day 2008). If he opens with Lakewood this year, he’ll be among the youngest players in the league again. His high point with Lakewood last year was a 14th inning home run at 11:56 pm on April 23rd to end a 14-inning game. He hit .182 with Lakewood and .237 with Williamsport, with 8 combined home runs, as the youngest player in each league.

Geancarlo Mendez: Don’t know much about Mendez, a 21-year old from the Dominican Republic. He hit .264-6-40 with the GCL Phillies and played a few games in Williamsport at the end of the season. He’s also useful defensively. In three years (two in DSL), he’s played 64 games at first, 42 at second, and 51 in the outfield (where he played last year).

Anthony Hewitt: A first-round pick in 2008, Hewitt was with Lakewood last year and hit .202 with 11 HRs. According to this report in the Philadelphia Inquirer from September, he could be back here this season.

Drew Rundle: A 23-year old from San Diego, he was a 14th round pick of the Cubs in 2006 and the Phillies signed him in August. He played the last month with Williamsport, going 12-46.

That’s a bunch of OFs right there, but don’t forget about two other players: Aaron Altherr and Kelly Dugan. Both well regarded players spent last year primarily in the outfield. We listed them with the infielders (Altherr at third and Dugan at first) based on reports that they would move in this year. But we certainly wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if either of those two guys also spent time in what figures to be a crowded outfield.

The Truck and Fun With Numbers

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Last week, the Phillies loaded up their truck and brought it down to Florida, preparing for Spring Training (pitchers and catchers report on Monday). On that truck: sunflower seeds, cups, helmets, baseballs, and more. Let’s take a look.

12 Cases of Sunflower Seeds

  • According to this, there are 210 grams of seeds in the largest bag of David’s sunflower seeds. According to this, one seed weighs 1/11th of a gram. So, that means each bag contains about 2,300 sunflower seeds.
  • Let’s say 24 bags in a case, that’s 662,400 seeds on their way down to Clearwater for Spring Training.
  • If you put them one inch apart, it would stretch for 10.5 miles, or from the South Street Seaport to Columbus Circle, and back.

300 Helmets

  • We calculated the volume of a cylinder with a radius of 4.5 inches and a height of 6 inches. The volume of a batting helmet is about 381 cubic inches, or just 1.65 gallons. 300 batting helmets then, would be 495 gallons (or about $1,727.55 worth of milk at $3.49 per gallon).

1,200 Bats

  • Assuming the average length of a bat is 33 inches long, that’s 3,300 feet worth of bats heading to Clearwater.
  • If you put them end to end, you could get around the 360-degree concourse at FirstEnergy Park twice, or up and down the Empire State Building and back up to the 65th floor.
  • If the average weight of a bat is 30 ounces, then collectively they weigh 2,260 pounds, the equivalent of 2,284 bobblehead dolls, or one Volkswagen Beetle.

150 Pairs of Batting Gloves

  • That’s only a year and a half for Willie Mays Hayes.
  • This is as good a time as any to relay a cool story about Ken “The Hawk” Harrelson and the birth of the batting glove:  Harrelson and teammate Ted Bowsfield played golf in the afternoon against a twosome including former White Sox infielder Sammy Esposito. “In those days, the minimum salary was $6,000, and I was making more playing golf and pool than I was making playing baseball,” Harrelson said. “When you are making $6,000 and spending $30,000, you have to supplement your income.

    “We went out and played and went right from the golf course to the ballpark. I get to the ballpark and look at the lineup card, and I’m in there, hitting third.”

    According to Harrelson, the Yankees had switched from the scheduled right-handed starter to Whitey Ford, the left-handed Hall of Fame-bound hurler. Harrelson began to take batting practice when he noticed a blister forming on his left hand from the 27 holes of golf.

    Realizing the golf glove was in his pants pocket, Harrelson put it on to get some protection for the blister. Thus, the batting glove was unofficially born.

10,000-12 oz Cups

15,000 Baseballs

  • Each baseball has 370 yards of wool yarn inside, so we’re looking at about 3,153 miles of yarn inside 15 baseballs.
  • Or, from Lakewood, to Clearwater, back to Lakewood, and down to Jacksonville.
  • Each baseball has 88 inches of red thread used for the stitching (aka 20.8 miles worth).
  • Or, 275-400 foot home runs (6.5 years at 40 per year)

200 Fleeces

  • Why? The average low temperature in (Fort Myers, best we could find) is 59 degrees!

Daily News on Jesse Biddle

Sunday, February 6th, 2011

Here’s one article we missed last week in the aftermath of the Winter Tour: Dave Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News on Jesse Biddle, which you can read here.

“He’s everything you could ask of a young, first-round pick,” Phillies assistant general manager Chuck LaMar said. “He showed physical ability and the potential of three pitches: fastball, curveball and change. He attacked the strike zone and competed very well for a kid in his first year. He was impressive off the field as well. He handled himself very professionally. He was very mature. There’s a little extra pressure, not just because he was a first-round pick but because he’s from the Philly area.”

Biddle has remained in the Philly area this offseason, training at a facility in Chestnut Hill, where each workout concluded with him running home. Now, of course, he is dodging snowbanks and ice puddles.

“It’s getting tough to run outside,” he admitted with a laugh.

Full article.

Truck Day

Sunday, February 6th, 2011

Friday was truck day, with the Phillies packing up and sending everything down to Spring Training, which opens on February 14th. What exactly is “everything?”

That list includes 15 cases of gum (regular and sugarless), 12 cases of sunflower seeds, 20 coolers and a half pallet of POWERade mix, 250 batting practice tops, 300 helmets, 350 pair of shorts, 450 pair of socks, 600 pairs of pants, 600 hats, 200 fleeces, 1,200 bats, 2,000 T-shirts, 10,000 12 oz. cups, 15,000 baseballs and 150 pairs of batting gloves.

Phillies.com has the full story. (Deb Rinaldi photo)

Trentonian: Biddle Video

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Our buddy Josh Norris at the Trentonian recorded Jesse Biddle’s media session on Tuesday night at the Winter Tour. You can view it below. You can read Josh’s blog here.