Archive for September, 2011

#39 On the Way: Justin De Fratus

Saturday, September 17th, 2011

Lehigh Valley’s season ended (with a 4-1 loss to Columbus) at approximately 9:57 last night. At 10:00, my phone buzzed with an email from the Phillies, a press release announcing that they had called up five players from Lehigh Valley:

The Phillies recalled outfielder Domonic Brown and right-hander Justin DeFratus and selected the contracts of catcher Erik Kratz, left-hander Joe Savery and outfielder Brandon Moss from from triple-A Lehigh Valley, Senior Vice President and General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. announced tonight.

Domonic Brown and Justin De Fratus are in there, two former BlueClaws. Brown has already been up of course, but De Fratus…#39.

The BlueClaws are very excited for De Fratus, who, when he gets into a game, will not only be the 39th former BlueClaw to appear in a big league game, but the first from the championship club of 2009.

De Fratus, who is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet, Tweeted this:

This is the best day of my life. Just got called up to the Major Leagues.

Congrats to Justin and the other four players.

Also, Ryne Sandberg, the Lehigh Valley manager, will also join the Phillies as an additional coach. As Paul Hagen notes:

When Ryne Sandberg was hired to manage Triple A Lehigh Valley last offseason, some handicappers installed him as Charlie Manuel’s heir apparent.

Now that the onetime Phillies farmhand who became a Hall of Famer after being traded to the Cubs before the 1982 season has taken an IronPigs franchise that never spent a day above .500 to the finals of the International League playoffs, it’s fair to wonder if he still will be around when Manuel decides to call it quits.

That’s a long way off and there’s a lot of baseball left, but it’s something to keep in mind.

Two of Justin’s 2009 teammates, Anthony Gose and Travis d’Arnaud, won awards from the Blue Jays, and they are both one win away from an Eastern League title after a 5-3 win last night in Richmond.

We’re playing in a mini golf tournament today but we’ll have more later.

Two ’09 Claws Named to Baseball America All-Star Team

Friday, September 16th, 2011

maydarnaudfullTwo 2009 BlueClaws teammates, Travis d’Arnaud and Trevor May, were named to the Baseball America Minor League All-Star Second Team today.

May, who won the Owens Award as the best minor league pitcher in the Phillies organization, went 10-8, 3.63 with Clearwater this year and struck out 208 hitters to become the first Phillies farmhand with at least 180 strikeouts in a single season since Mark Davis had 185 for Reading in 1980.

d’Arnaud, who was traded to the Blue Jays in the Roy Halladay deal, is spending (New Hampshire isn’t done yet; they are 1-1 in the Eastern League Championship Series going to Richmond tonight) hit .311 with 21 home runs and 78 RBIs this year for New Hampshire.

He hit 13 home runs with the BlueClaws in 2009 as the everyday catcher. Said manager Dusty Wathan: When a catcher struggles at the plate, sometimes they take it on the field, but he never did that in the entire first half. And he was outstanding in the second half (he hit .305 in the second half that year).

May and d’Arnaud were batterymates as well that year, when May went 4-1, 2.56 with Lakewood. May’s two postseason starts, both with d’Arnaud catching: 6 IP,2 H, 0 R in a game two clinching win over Kannapolis and 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R in game three against Greenville (left with a lead, took the loss and Lakewood would clinch the next night behind Korey Noles).

The only two 2011 Sally Leaguers were 2nd team OF Bryce Harper (Hagerstown) and 1st team SS Jurickson Profar (Hickory).

Today in the Morning Call

Friday, September 16th, 2011

The Morning Call and the Reading Eagle do a wonderful job covering the upper levels in the Phillies system as the Asbury Park Press does here in Lakewood.

With Lehigh having lost last night, 6-2 to Columbus, to put the Clippers one game from the title, we’ll take a look the MC this morning.

Here’s Jeff Schuler’s game story which starts out with a zinger:

The IronPigs made Joe Martinez look like Pedro Martinez Thursday night, and the Columbus right-hander put Lehigh Valley on the brink of elimination in the Governors’ Cup finals.

And this…Steve Degler of Service Electric Cable is a great guy, and has come down here to do a feature on some BlueClaws players each of the last two summers. He does games on tv for Lehigh Valley, but if there is a deciding game five tomorrow night, he won’t be there, as he’ll be doing the Lehigh University (who thumped our buddies up at Monmouth on September 3rd 49-24) game.

Having been in the Coca-Cola Park booth for three seasons now after serving as the radio voice of the Reading Phillies, Degler can appreciate how far the IronPigs have come.

“It has really been great to watch the change, not only on the field but to see how the fans have reacted,” Degler said. “The atmosphere for the first two playoff games against Pawtucket was unbelievable. Those fans were into the game from the first pitch all the way until the end.

He’ll have that phone on all night.

Fun With Numbers: Kids Eat Free

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

kidseatfreefullOver 15,000 kids were able to eat for free at Sunday and Monday BlueClaws home games in 2011, thanks to ShopRite.

As part of the program, which returns in 2012, children ages 12 and under get to eat for free at every Sunday and Monday BlueClaws home game. They receive a voucher good for a hot dog, bag of chips, and a soda.

So what exactly does 15,442 mean? Let’s take a look.

15,442 Hot Dogs laid out end to end:

  • Would stretch for 1.71 miles
  • In a line would require just over five laps of the FirstEnergy Park concourse
  • Would stretch from home plate to centerfield and back to home plate 11 times
  • After you hit your 11 home runs, you could round the bases 25 times
  • 3.5 trips up and down the Empire State building
  • Half of the Constitutional Walking Tour in Philadelphia
  • 4 trips, front point to back point, of the USS Enterprise
  • The length of 92 Blue Whales, the world’s largest animal
  • If Joey Chestnut, who ate 62 hot dogs in 10 minutes to win the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest this year, ate at that same rate, it would take him 1 day, 17 hours, and 30 minutes to eat 15,442 hot dogs.

15,442 Bags of Chips:

  • At 21 chips per bag, that’s 324,282 potato chips
  • The equivalent of 1.83 Volkswagen Beetles
  • The equivalent of 6,037 bobblehead dolls
  • There are 1.5 potatoes in every bag of chips, so that’s 23,613 potatoes. Since Idaho produces 6 billion potatoes each year, that’s as many potatoes as are produced in 2 minutes and 4 seconds.

15,442 Cups of Soda:

  • 1,447.7 gallons
  • Enough to fill the 100-gallon gas tank of 14 18-wheelers
  • At one drop per ounce, and one drop per second, it would take 2 days, 3 hours, 28 minutes, and 24 seconds.
  • If taken in water, it’s enough to water the average lawn for 11 hours and 16 minutes
  • If taken in water, it’s enough to shower for 723 hours

Can’t beat that right?

BA on 2006 Draft

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Jim Callis of Baseball America took a quick look back at the 2006 MLB Draft, of course five years later, to analyze after-the-fact and the Phillies ranked 9th with the following comments:

9. Phillies
Better days await Kyle Drabek (1), Domonic Brown (20); Drabek helped get Roy Halladay.

Here are the list of Phillies picks.

Notables other than Drabek and Brown are Adrian Cardenas (1s), who is up in AAA with the A’s (might he get a call-up after Sacramento finishes their post-season?) and Jason Donald. Cardenas was in the Joe Blanton trade in July of 2008 and Donald of course was in the Cliff Lee trade in July of 2009.

15th round pick Riley Cooper had made to Philly, but as a WR with the Eagles.

Herman Demmink is now the strength & conditioning coach for Tennessee’s baseball team.

Let’s Go Pigs!

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

The Lehigh Valley IronPigs, born in 2008, did not have a winning record at any point in franchise history, until Opening Day 2011, when they defeated Scranton 7-2.

Tonight, five months and 145 games later, they open the Governors Cup (International League Championship Series) looking to bring home a title for the Phillies organization for the 6th straight year (06 – Lakewood, 07 – Clearwater, 08 – Phillies, GCL Phillies, 09 – Lakewood, 10 – Lakewood, GCL Phillies).

Jeff Schuler of the Morning Call has a story today on Rod Nichols, the IronPigs pitching coach and the first pitching coach in BlueClaws history (2001). That year, Greg Legg was the manager and Jeff Manto, the team’s second manager, was the hitting coach.

Nichols tutored four future big league pitchers that year: Yoel Hernandez, Taylor Buchholz, Robinson Tejeda and Eude Brito.

“He’s by far the favorite pitching coach I’ve ever had the chance to play for, and 90 percent of the guys would probably say the same thing about him,” said Scott Mathieson, who will start Tuesday night’s opener at Huntington Park. “Rod’s the guy. He’ll never say anything about it, but he’s helped a lot of guys succeed. I know he helped Madson out a lot, working on him being a closer, and Myers wanted to come down here and work with him a few years ago when things weren’t going too well.”

Nichols has a knack for staying positive no matter how things are going on the field, for boosting the confidence of his pupils.

“Confidence is a big part of pitching, and Rod has a good rapport with his guys,” Sandberg said. “The conversations work both ways with him. … He provides a lot of positive reinforcement.”

Columbus hosts games 1 and 2 tonight and tomorrow while Lehigh Valley will host games 3-4-5 beginning Thursday night (obviously four and five are if necessary).

Here is a preview courtesy of our buddies Matt Provence and Jon Schaeffer with the Pigs.

Let’s Go Pigs!

2012 Schedule Breakdown

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Only 206 days until Opening Day! Get psyched. Let’s do a little breakdown on the schedule for next year, which you can look at by clicking here, looking at promotional days, opponents, and more.

By Days of the Week
Kids Eat Free Sunday and Monday: 19 (ten Sundays and ten Mondays)
Senior Day Tuesday: 10
Dollar Dog Wednesday: 9
Thirsty Thursday: 10 (including Opening Day)
Fireworks Friday: 11 (plus fireworks shows on May 27, July 3, September 2)
Saturday: 11

By opponent?

  • Asheville (Rockies) come to Lakewood April 24-27, their first visit since 2007. The BlueClaws have made trips to Asheville each of the last four years and got no-hit there in 2008. You may remember the 2010 opener when Lakewood scored eight runs in the first inning of the first game in Asheville.
  • Greenville (Red Sox) come in for a three game series (April 28-30), a re-match of the 2009 and 2010 Championship Series, each won by the BlueClaws. Also, Lakewood will open the season in Greenville (April 5-8), their only visit to the Sally League’s mini-Fenway.
  • Charleston (Yankees) do not make a visit in to Lakewood next year and the BlueClaws will play just three games against the RiverDogs, in Charleston between May 2 and 4.
  • Savannah (Mets) come to Lakewood between May 14-17 and again between July 14 and 17 and the BlueClaws will play four games down there, May 5-8.
  • The BlueClaws make their first visit to Augusta since 2007 between August 13-15 (three days in 107 degree heat is better than four?)
  • Lexington (Astros) makes a 12 hour ride for a three-game series between June 5-7.
  • Yes, they’re in our division: that goes to Hickory – the BlueClaws and Crawdads played four times in the regular season in 2010, eight in 2011, and will play eight times in 2012, four in each park.

Old Reliables

  • Delmarva: 22 (9 home/13 road)
  • Greensboro: 22 (11 home/road)
  • Hagerstown: 25 (13 home/12 road – with the last meeting on July 26th, so 25 of the first 104 games of the year are against the Suns)
  • West Virginia: 19 (12 home/7 road)

So there we go, a breakdown of the 2012 schedule.

Reading Ousted, Lehigh Moves On

Monday, September 12th, 2011

In case you missed this over the weekend…on Saturday, Lehigh Valley finished off Pawtucket in a three-game sweep with a 3-1 win in Rhode Island.

Here is the Lehigh story from the Morning Call.

“To get the momentum at our place and come up here to a place that hasn’t been too friendly to us this year and wrap it up, that’s great,” IronPigs manager Ryne Sandberg said.

Brian Bass went all nine for Lehigh Valley. “I told Rod [Nichols, the IronPigs’ pitching coach] I won’t come out,” Bass said with a smile. “He said he’d give me three hitters — I guess I needed four — but that’s all right. I got through it.”

And here is the Reading story from the Republican-Herald.

“We’ve been resilient all season,” Reading manager Mark Parent said. “We just ran out of time tonight. It’s been a fun year, though.”

Reading forced the late-inning tie with a run in the seventh on Michael Spidale’s two-out RBI single that scored Tim Kennelly.

Cisco entered in the eighth to record the final two outs before coming back in the

ninth. Cisco gave up a leadoff double to Mike McDade, who was 3-for-4 on the night, before the one-out homer to Perales.

“It’s in those spots where one mistake can cost you, and it cost us tonight,” Parent said. “(Perales) hit a back-door breaking ball out.

“Cisco has been a great guy to have all year and he’s been the most reliable pitcher we’ve had. He’s been tremendous.”

Lehigh Valley plays Columbus (Indians) in the International League Championship Series beginning Tuesday in Columbus. Lehigh Valley hosts games 3-4-5.

If you were wondering about Columbus (roster here), all of the players that the Phillies sent in the original Cliff Lee deal in 2009 (Marson, Carrasco, Donald) are in the big leagues (except of course Jason Knapp who is injured).

However, the Clippers do have…Nick Johnson! He is batting .201.

Former Claws Galvis, May Win Paul Owens Award

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

LAKEWOOD, NJ – Congratulations to former BlueClaws RHP Trevor May (09-10) and SS Freddy Galvis (08), named winners of the annual Paul Owens Award for the best pitcher and player, respectively, in the Phillies minor league system for 2011.

May, a 4th round pick in 2008 from Kelso, Washington, went 4-1, 2.56 with Lakewood in 2009 and after starting 2010 with Clearwater, he returned to the BlueClaws and went 7-3, 2.91.

May also helped the BlueClaws win South Atlantic League Championships in each of his two seasons with Lakewood, allowing just one earned run over 22.2 playoff innings covering four starts.

This year with Clearwater, went 10-8 with a 3.63 ERA in 27 games. He struck out 208 batters in 151.1 innings (12.37 SO/9.0 IP), third-most in all of minor league baseball, and held opposing hitters to a .221 average. May is the first Phillies minor leaguer with at least 180 strikeouts in a single season since Mark Davis had 185 for Reading in 1980.

He entered the year as the 4th ranked prospect in the system per Baseball America.

Galvis, a 21 year old from Punto Fijo, Venezuela and considered an outstanding defensive shortstop, was the South Atlantic League post-season All-Star shortstop with Lakewood in 2008. He hit .238 with 3 HRs and 42 RBIs with the BlueClaws that year.

This year, he hit a combined .278 with 28 doubles, five triples, eight home runs, 43 RBI, 23 stolen bases and 78 runs in 137 games between double-A Reading and triple-A Lehigh Valley this season. The switch-hitter was selected as an Eastern League midseason All-Star before being promoted to Lehigh Valley on August 2, where he batted .321 in his first 29 games for the IronPigs en route to being named Phillies Minor League Player of the Month for August.

“We’re very happy with the seasons that both Freddy and Trevor had,” said Phillies assistant general manager Benny Looper. “At only 21 years old, Freddy rose to the challenge of triple-A ball and improved his batting average. His defense was right where we expected it to be and his instincts on a baseball field are tremendous for a player of his age. Trevor’s strikeout totals in the Florida State League were very indicative of his progression in our minor league system. Both young men have very bright futures.”

Instituted in 1986, the award is named for the late Paul Owens, who spent 48 years in the Phillies organization as a scout, farm director, general manager, manager and senior advisor.

The Phillies contributed to this story

– BlueClaws –

A Thank You Letter From Chris Truby

Monday, September 5th, 2011

BlueClaws manager Chris Truby wanted to write this thank you letter to all BlueClaws fans out there for their great support here in 2011.

BlueClaws fans,

I just wanted to write this as a thank you to all of the great fans in Lakewood that we saw at the park this year.

Our players, coaches, our friends and our families are very grateful for all of the support we received throughout the year from the fans and the BlueClaws front office. I’ve been in professional baseball for almost 20 years and this is truly right there with any place I’ve ever played or coached.

The support that the fans gave to our team was phenomenal, from those cold nasty days in April right through the last game of the year on a perfect August evening.

Getting off the bus tired and then having 7,000 fans and a great ballpark atmosphere that night is not something that every player gets to experience in their minor league careers. I told our players throughout the season to be sure to enjoy that and remember it as they continue up the ladder.

I had a wonderful time this summer here in Lakewood, and as I said earlier, this was one of my most enjoyable seasons in baseball. I hope to see you again, whether it be in spring training or again here in 2012.

Thanks again for a great summer and thanks for your tremendous support.

See you at the ballpark,

Chris Truby

Manager, Lakewood BlueClaws

The Final Game

Monday, September 5th, 2011

tarphagerstownOne to go in 2011 and it will determine if the BlueClaws, who enter at 68-68, finish with a winning or losing record this year. LHP Austin Wright, who has 30 strikeouts in his last 19 innings and fanned 10 over five shutout innings, is on the mound for Lakewood today, pending that big white thing on the ground.

Here are today’s game notes.

Need a Win…The BlueClaws need a win today to clinch a winning record for the 6th straight year…The BlueClaws had a winning record in 2004 and then from 2006 through 2010…It would be the seventh winning record in their 11th seasons of play…The BlueClaws, with Thursday’s win, locked up a winning record for the 11th half in their last 12, dating to the first half of the 2006 season.

In Labor…The BlueClaws are 4-2 on Labor Day over the last six years, including winning in each of the 2009 and 2010 seasons.

House of Horrors…The BlueClaws are 3-9 at Municipal Stadium in Hagerstown this year, losing three of four in April and June and three of the first four games of this series…The BlueClaws also went 3-9 in Greensboro’s NewBridge Bank Park this year, including a four-game sweep between August 10 and 13.

Sallymanders…In the Northern Division, Hickory (first-half champions) clinches the second half title with a win over Greenville OR a Kannapolis loss to Greensboro…IF Hickory wins the second half, Greensboro will be in the post-season with the next-best overall record…In the Southern Division, Savannah is the first half champion and will clinch the second half title with a win (in one of their two games vs Lexington) OR a loss by Augusta…If Savannah wins the division, then Greenville will make the playoffs with the next-best overall record.

Chance for Two Affiliates

Sunday, September 4th, 2011

While Williamsport, Lakewood and Clearwater have been eliminated from playoff consideration (first time for Trevor May and Brian Gump among others that they will not win a ring – Gump has three in two years), both Reading and Lehigh Valley can clinch playoff spots today.

Reading – Here is their game preview story, but the short version is this: they lead New Britain by one game with two to play and advance to the playoffs with a win today and a loss by New Britain.

Lehigh Valley – No such game preview story but they have a one-game lead in the International League wild card race. They clinch with a win today and a loss by Gwinett. Note that if they tie, they will actually host a playoff tie-breaker game on Tuesday.

Two to Go: Sunday Preview

Sunday, September 4th, 2011

ruppfullUnfortunately, just two games left in the 2011 BlueClaws season, tonight and tomorrow afternoon in Hagerstown…Lakewood has lost 6-5 decisions each of the last two nights and still need one win in the last two games to clinch a winning record for the sixth straight season.

LHP Ervis Manzanillo opposes RHP AJ Cole, the Nationals’ 4th ranked prospect per Baseball America tonight. Here

Rupp-er-ific…Cameron Rupp has driven in nine runs over the last three games after driving in 34 runs over his first 91 games this year…Rupp’s five RBI game on Saturday was a career high and included his 4th home run of the season (first since July 29th)…Rupp is batting .323 in the second half after hitting .219 in the first half…He is the 4th BlueClaw to have a 5 RBI game this year (Batts, Mendez, Murphy – Murphy has a 6 RBI game). are the game notes.

Finish Strong…Anthony Hewitt is 19-55 (.345) since August 16th, when his average bottomed out at .227…Since then, he has raised his average to .242.

House of Horrors…The BlueClaws are 3-8 at Municipal Stadium in Hagerstown this year, losing three of four in April and June and two of the first three games of this series…The only park where the BlueClaws have a worse record is NewBridge Bank Park in Greensboro, where the BlueClaws went 3-9 in 2011, including a four-game sweep between August 10 and 13.

Three More – Saturday Game Preview

Saturday, September 3rd, 2011

bonillablog22Sadly, there are just three games left in the BlueClaws 2011 season, with the first of those three coming tonight in Hagerstown. RHP Lisalberto Bonilla makes his final start of the season for Lakewood tonight against LHP Matt Grace.

Click here for today’s game notes.

House of Horrors…The BlueClaws are 3-7 at Municipal Stadium in Hagerstown this year, losing three of four in April and June and splitting the first two games of the current series…The only park where the BlueClaws have a worse record is NewBridge Bank Park in Greensboro, where the BlueClaws went 3-9 in 2011, including a four-game sweep between August 10 and 13.

Pick a Winner…With Thursday’s win, the BlueClaws have clinched a winning record for the 11th half in the last 12…They had a winning record for 10 straight halves snapped in the first half this year, when they went 33-35…The BlueClaws have had a winning record in each of the last five seasons and will extend that to six with one win in their final three games.

Billy Ball…OF Bill Rice is 30-90 since August 6th with eight multi-hit games in that stretch…He has led off and played left field for Lakewood every day since August 10th (22 games).