Archive for February, 2011

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.


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.


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

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. 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.

Minor League Spring Training Schedule

Friday, February 4th, 2011

One of our Twitter followers asked us for this yesterday and with the help of our buddies at the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, here is the 2011 minor league spring training schedule.

The first games are played on March 14th and they’ll go six days a week until Saturday, April 2nd. Then the Lehigh, Reading, and Lakewood clubs head north on the 3rd or 4th. Lehigh and Reading play each other on the 5th, while the BlueClaws will play an exhibition game against Monmouth University to benefit BlueClaws Charities.

Most of the games, as you can see, are against the Blue Jays, Yankees, Tigers, or the Pirates, due to proximity.

In the BlueClaws case, only the Yankees (Charleston) and Pirates (West Virginia) have teams in the South Atlantic League. But in Clearwater’s case, they’ll see those teams all spring…and then all summer.

So start the countdown. First minor league spring training game in 38 days!

Road to Lakewood: The Infield

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

road-to-lakewood-viridianOver the next few weeks, we’re going to preview different units on what could be the 2011 BlueClaws. Today’s our first look, and we’ll start with the infielders. Obviously not everyone on this list will be here (16 players listed), 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.

Cameron Rupp
: A 3rd round pick from the University of Texas last year, Rupp spent the season with Williamsport and hit five home runs. Baseball America ranks him 30th in the system and mentions his “unquestioned strength that generates raw power.” The likely starter.

Jim Klocke: a 36th round pick last year from SE Missouri State, Klocke was the first of the 2010 draft class to reach Lakewood last year and was with the BlueClaws for a few weeks at the end of the regular season and for the playoffs. He hit .275 with a home run and 16 RBIs in 95 ABs with Williamsport.

Marlon Mitchell: A 27th round pick in 2009, Mitchell has spent the last two years with the GCL Phillies, where last year he bumped his average up 61 points to .273. A former switch hitter, he now hits exclusively from the left side. He’ll be 20 for the entire season so it’s possible he’s the everyday catcher for Williamsport. Here is a Q&A with Mitchell from Spring Training 2010 in MyPhillyPress.

First Baseman
Kelly Dugan: As we’ll see, the Phillies have another vast group of young outfielders that could theoretically be with the BlueClaws this year, Dugan being one of them. However, Baseball America, in their write-up of Dugan (he was ranked 28th in the system), notes that he’s spent some time at first base in Instructional League and could at least play some 1B this year. The Phillies to pick (2nd round) in 2009, Dugan played last year at Williamsport (and rehabbed an infection with the GCL Phillies going 19-33). A Pepperdine commit, his dad directed Happy Gilmore and Adam Sandler, Kevin James and Chris Rock were at his signing party.

Chris Duffy: A 26th round pick of the Phillies last year (out of the University of Central Florida), he hit .272-6-32 with the GCL Phillies.

Patrick Murray: Hit .313-2-26 with the GCL Phillies last year, splitting time with Duffy at first base. Murray was drafted by the Brewers (31st rd 05) and the Phillies (45th rd 06) before they got him again last year in the 34th round (out of Lewis & Clark State, a JUCO power).

Jeff Cusick: An 18th round pick out of UC-Irvine (same school as 2010 BlueClaw and fellow 2010 draftee Eric Pettis), he hit .233-1-12 with Williamsport as their regular first baseman.

Middle Infielders
Cesar Hernandez: A speedy product who started his career in the Phillies Venezuela academy, he had his best season so far as the starting second baseman with Williamsport in 2010. He hit .325 and stole 32 bases for the Crosscutters with an OPS of almost .800.

Edgar Duran: Another product out of the Venezuela academy, Duran is entering his 4th season as a pro and looking to clean up some things in the field and continue to progress at the plate. He hit .235 in 71 games as the regular shortstop in Williamsport in 2010.

Stephen Malcolm: An 8th round pick in 2010 (San Joaquin Delta College), he made an impact right away helping the GCL Phillies win the 2010 league title. He played 27 games at shortstop after he signed last June, and hit .253 with 7 stolen bases.

Matthew Payton: Another 2010 draft pick (Western Kentucky, 27th rd), he played 41 games at second base for the GCL Phillies in 2010. In his first season as a pro, he showed great promise defensively, and hit .228 with 10 RBI’s. Great article here from the Bowling Green Daily News.

Nerio Rios: At just 19 years old, he is entering his third year as a pro. He played 30 games at shortstop last year with the GCL Phillies, and hit .248.

Third Baseman
Aaron Altherr: Reports are indicating Altherr will be moved from the OF to third base in 2011. A 9th round pick in 2009, he hit .297 combined between the GCL Phillies and Williamsport, and stole 15 bases while driving in 25 runs. Baseball America ranks him 10th in the system (third behind Jesse Biddle-8th and Domingo Santana-9th of potential BlueClaws). Chuck LaMar said the following about Altherr last year:

“He started out in extended spring this year. Outstanding athlete who just needed, like all of them, to continue to play our game and get at-bats. I just saw him along with Benny [Looper] and Marti [Wolever] and the group and he’s going to be the next name that surfaces that the folks who follow us closely may not have heard of. Next year, when he goes to Lakewood, they’re going to start to hear about him. Not only keep an eye on him. I don’t know how low you can pick rotisserie guys, but I’d get him in my farm system somewhere.”

Carlos Alonso: The regular 3B for Williamsport last year, Alonso played at Delaware and was a 32nd round selection. He hit .389 with 20 HRs last year at UDel and .265 with 3 HRs with the Crosscutters.