Archive for November, 2011

Back to Work

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

radcliffe-sodLast year, BlueClaws groundskeeper Ryan Radcliffe oversaw the installation of a completely new playing surface at FirstEnergy Park, with about 95,000 square feet of new sod laid down in November and December.

But every year, he goes back to work laying down additional sod in various areas of the field.

“We were re-sodding the worn-out areas from the season,” he said yesterday. “These are really where the second baseman and shortstop stand, where the grass and dirt meet, where the first baseman and third baseman stand when they play in, and in front of the mound. The areas in front of the mound we re-sod during the season as well.”

All told, it was about 250 square feet of sod laid down yesterday, before is started pouring. That works out to only .27% of the entire field, but of course those are areas that take a beating on a daily basis.

If you want to read about the entire installation process from last year, click here for the FirstEnergy Park category, and scroll down to the bottom of this page and the page prior.

Labor Peace

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

We heard, ad nauseam, throughout the summer about the NFL lockout. We heard, ad nauseam, over the last few months about the NBA lockout. Both of those deals got signed.

Baseball seems to have it down cold. They got their big labor deal done with so little fanfare that unless you were paying attention, you probably missed it.

And now…wait for it…the minor league baseball umpires have reached labor peace with MiLB. They agreed to a five-year extension that will take them through the 2016 season. You may remember the strike at the outset of the 2006 season.

“It will allow us to manage the costs associated with our umpire program in an effective manner and will help maintain our industry as an attractive form of affordable family entertainment,” said Tim Purpura executive vice president of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues.

Meet Mickey Morandini

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

We had a chance to talk with new BlueClaws manager Mickey Morandini last night, the day after he was named the 10th manager in BlueClaws history for this new BlueClaws Blog Q&A.

Morandini managed Williamsport last year to a 43-33 record and they just missed making the playoffs, getting knocked out in the last week.

What was it like getting back to managing this past year? I always wanted to get into it (professional managing). I have three boys and I wanted to let them grow up a bit before I got back on the travel scene. I coached high school for four years and liked working with the kids. We had a great year last year, this year I’m looking forward to working with Legger (Greg Legg) and Les (Lancaster). I’m just looking forward to moving up the ranks and coming to Lakewood.

How was working with the young pros rather than high school players? It’s a little different. They’re more polished up here, but you still have to have a lot of patience. It was the first year in pro ball for a lot of them. I had a real good group of kids last year and I would assume we’ll have a lot of those same kids this year.

What players stood out for you? Kyrell Hudson made some real big strides. He and Aaron Altherr both had real good years. Maikel Franco was our 3b for most of the year and Kelly Dugan had a real good year too. Our pitching staff carried us. We led the league in ERA with Williamsport and hopefully a lot of those guys will make the jump.

How did you end up back with the Phillies in this role? I had talked to Ruben (Amaro) and they offered me a job a few years after I retired but I wasn’t ready to jump back into it. I wanted to see my boys grow up a little bit. they said there was an opening coming into last year. I talked it over with my family and I jumped back in. I love teaching, the Phillie way, and I had a great time.

You mentioned the “Phillie Way,” what does that entail? It’s just basically how to play the game. I had to do the little things to survive at the big league level. I’m not a guy that likes to rely on the three run HR. I like to teach bunting, hit and runs, good defense. If you do the little things, you always have a chance to win.

What do you remember about your time playing with Legger (Scranton in 1990-91): It was my first year in AAA. He was more towards the end of his career. We got along very well and were kind of similar players. He was really intelligent and taught me a lot as a young player. I kind of formed a bond with him back in the day and we’ve remained good friends.

Did you guys turn some double plays? We did turn some. He played a lot of third and a little short. We turned a few.

The Houston BlueClaws

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

lakewoodastrosMaybe you’ll be getting an Astros hat in a few years. Four of the Astros top six prospects per Baseball America are former BlueClaws, which makes sense as the teams have made big deadline deals in each of the past two seasons.

Here is the full story from Baseball America.

1. Jonathan Singleton (2010): Singleton joined the BlueClaws and promptly homered in his first at bat (which is the May 13th nugget on your BlueClaws calendar), and would go on to hit 14 last year as Lakewood won the SAL title. This year, he hit a combined 13 HRs as a 19 year-old between Clearwater and Lancaster (where he also hit .333 after the July 29th trade). BA says he is the best 1B prospect in the minors and could be a .300-30 HR guy in the big leagues.

2. Jarred Cosart (2010): Cosart’s 2010 with the BlueClaws was interrupted due to a late-June injury but not before he went 7-3 and fanned 77 in 71 innings. This year, he went 9-8, 3.92 with Clearwater and got to play in the Futures Game that he missed the year before due to the injury. After the trade, he went straight to Double-A with Houston at 21 and went 1-2, 4.71. He and Singleton will probably be reunited there this year.

4. Jonathan Villar (2010): Villar hit .272 with 38 steals with Lakewood last year before being traded in the Roy Oswalt trade (on Goonies Night). This year, he hit .238 split between Lcancaster and AA Corpus Christi. BA calls him the second toolsiest shortstop in the minors.

6. Domingo Santana (2010-11): Santana played half of last year with Lakewood and then was here this year through August 16th, when he was named as the player-to-be-named later in the Pence trade. With Lakewood, he hit seven HRs in 350 ABs and hit .269 this year. After the deal he went to Lexington where in 68 at bats, he hit 5 HRs and .382! Lancaster, their Hi-A spot, is considered the best hitters park in the minors.

Josh Zeid, with Lakewood in 2010 and also in the Pence trade this summer, wasn’t listed here but is likely in the 11-20 spot. The Prospect Handbook, which comes out in January, goes 30 deep per team.

Our pal Eric Jarinko, the media guru for Greenville, Tweeted a link to this article last night about the limits on draft spending in the new CBA and how it could impact teams trying to sign players “over slot” late in the draft. This article focused on Greenville OF Brandon Jacobs, who had a scholarship to play football at Auburn, but his case isn’t unique. Domonic Brown had a scholarship to play football at Miami before signing with the Phillies in 2006.

From the article (Providence Journal):

According to the collective bargaining agreement unveiled at a joint press conference in New York on Tuesday, teams will be penalized severely if the aggregate money they pay draft picks — their “signing bonus pool” — exceeds their assigned value.

A team that exceeds the pool by up to 5 percent will be taxed 75 percent of the overage. A team that exceeds the pool by 5-10 percent will be taxed 75 percent of the overage and lose a first-round pick. A team that exceeds the pool by 10-15 percent will be taxed 100 percent of the overage and lose a first- and second-round pick. A team that exceeds the pool by 15 percent or more will be taxed 100 percent of the overage and lose first-round picks in back-to-back drafts.

The new agreement will not, in any way, limit the amount of money teams can pay individual players. But every dollar spent on a tough-to-sign player will take away from the dollars available to sign other tough-to-sign players, effectively limiting the amount of talent each team can draft.

It will be worth following during the next draft and sign cycle – from June through mid-August.

We’ll have an interview with new BC manager Mickey Morandini later today.

Lakewood’s New Manager: Mickey Morandini

Monday, November 21st, 2011

morandiniintrofullThe Phillies announced the coaching staffs today for their minor league affiliates and Lakewood will have a new manager in 2012: Mickey Morandini.

Morandini managed Williamsport last year to a 45-33 record in his first year in the system. Lakewood’s manager from 2011, Chris Truby, will head to Clearwater.

Below is the full release.

LAKEWOOD, NJ – Former Phillies second baseman Mickey Morandini will manage the BlueClaws in 2012, it was announced by the Phillies on Monday. Morandini is joined on the staff by hitting coach Greg Legg and pitching coach Les Lancaster.

Morandini hit .268 over 11 big league seasons, nine of them with Philadelphia. He was the starting second baseman on the club that advanced to the 1993 World Series and an All-Star in 1995.

Most recently, Morandini managed Williamsport in 2011, leading the Crosscutters to a record of 43-33 with a number of players that should be with the BlueClaws in 2012. Morandini had been an instructor at spring training the two previous years and served as the head baseball coach at Valparaiso High School in Indiana.

He becomes the 10th manager in BlueClaws history, replacing Chris Truby, who will move up to manage Hi-A Clearwater in 2012.

Legg returns for his sixth season with Lakewood and fifth consecutive after serving as the first manager in team history in 2001. Legg has been Lakewood’s hitting coach since 2008. Last year, he was the winner of the John Vukovich Award, presented by the Phillies in honor of his 30 years of service to the Philadelphia organization.

Lancaster went 41-28 over seven Major League seasons, five with the Cubs, from 1987-1993. He served as a pitching coach for the Gulf Coast League Phillies in 2011, his first season in the organization.

Ryne Sandberg returns for his second season with Triple- A Leghigh Valley.


Valle, Diekman Added to 40-Man Roster

Friday, November 18th, 2011

diekmanvallefullTwo former BlueClaws, Jacob Diekman and Sebastian Valle, were among four players added to the Phillies 40-man roster earlier today. Phillippe Aumont and Tyson Gillies join Diekman and Valle on the 40-man roster, bringing the total to 39.

Diekman, a left-handed pitcher from Nebraska, spent parts of 2008, 2009, and 2010 with Lakewood. In 2009, he had a sub-2 ERA in the second half after switching from overhand to side-arm, and had a 1.90 ERA in 21 games before a 2010 promotion to Clearwater. He spent this year with Reading, where he had a 3.05 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 65 innings. In the Arizona Fall League, he allowed one run in 11 innings with 14 strikeouts.

Valle, a catcher from Mexico, spent half of 2009 and all of 2010 with Lakewood, where he was a part of teams that won two consecutive South Atlantic League championships. He led the BlueClaws in home runs (16) in 2010 and his three-run home run in Game Four of the SAL Championship Series put Lakewood ahead for good in the clincher over Greenville. Last week, he was ranked the 3rd best prospect in the system per Baseball America.

Below – from the Phillies press release:

Aumont, 22, posted a 2-5 record with seven saves in nine opportunities and a 2.68 ERA in 43 combined games for double-A Reading and triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2011. Between both clubs, the 6-foot-7 reliever recorded 78 strikeouts in 53.2 innings and held opponents to a .216 batting average. The Phillies Minor League Pitcher of the Week for April 7-17 of this year, Aumont was acquired via trade from the Mariners in 2009. He was a first-round selection (11th overall) of Seattle in the 2007 draft. Following the season, Aumont was named the fifth-best prospect in the Phillies minor league system by Baseball America.

Gillies, 23, appeared in only three regular season games for Clearwater in 2011 due to injuries. After the season, he played for Scottsdale in the Arizona Fall League. Gillies, acquired by the Phillies along with Aumont in a 2009 trade with Seattle, was a 25th round selection of the Mariners in the 2006 draft.


More on the Rule 5 Draft:

Eligibility: Players drafted or signed at age 19 or older are exempt for three years. Players drafted or signed at age 18 or younger are exempt four years. The exemptions were extended a year back in 2006. Everyone else not on the 40-man roster is eligible to be selected.

If Selected: A selected player must be kept on the 25-man active roster of his new team for the entire season, and be active for 90-days (as opposed to on the disabled list). If the player is not on the 25-man roster for the whole year, he must be offered back to his original team for half the $50,000 selection price.

Two former BlueClaws who were eligible and not protected were Jiwan James and Tyler Cloyd. They could be selected in the draft, which occurs in three weeks at the Winter Meetings.

Darin Ruf Talks AFL

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

The fine folks at sat down with 2010 BlueClaws first baseman Darin Ruf for this interview. Ruf, drafted out of Creighton in the 2009 draft, spent the first month of the 2010 season with Lakewood before being promoted to Clearwater when Jonathan Singleton was sent up to Lakewood.

In Ruf’s last game with Lakewood, he only went 5-5 with a triple and a home run, to finish at .330 in 32 games. This year with Clearwater, he hit .308 including .320 in the second half of the season.

He talks about his season with Clearwater, his time in the AFL, umpiring one summer during college, and much more. Enjoy.

Week Six in the Arizona Fall League

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

They are winding down play in the Arizona Fall League with just a few more days left this year.

Previously: Intro PostWeek OneWeek Two, Week Three, Week Four, Week Five

Anthony Gose (2009): Gose has hit safely in his last six games, going 8-24 over the stretch to raise his average to .261-3-19. He also has added seven stolen bases in nine attempts in what has been a very productive fall for Gose. He’ll probably be in Triple-A Las Vegas next year.

Josh Zeid (2010): Zeid is finishing strong, he threw two perfect innings in his last outing on Monday and has allowed five ER in his last 14 innings after allowing five in his first 17. Zeid has 19 strikeouts in his last 17 innings.

Below are the former BlueClaws with the Phillies prospects with Scottsdale.

Darin Ruf (2010): Ruf is 3-10 since we last spoke and did film a video for, which we’ll post here shortly. He’s at .234-3-13 so far in Arizona.

Tyler Cloyd (2009): Cloyd pitched two really good games since our last update…Last Thursday, he gave up a run on four hits in five innings, and then yesterday, in his final appearance, he threw four innings and allowed just two unearned runs for Scottsdale. His final line: 1-4, 4.35 ERA, 31 IP, 37 H, 7 BB, 27 K.

Jake Diekman (2008-10): He finally gave up an earned run on Friday, his first allowed in the AFL. He’s thrown 10.1 innings, allowing one ER, and has 10 strikeouts.
BJ Rosenberg (2009): It looks like BJ’s game action is over, as he hasn’t appeared since October 29th. He ends up allowing four runs earned, five total, in seven innings.
Colby Shreve (2010-11): The only 2011 BlueClaw in Arizona, Shreve hasn’t pitched since November 8th. He’s allowed six earned runs in 9.2 innings.

Viewable BlueClaws Ticket Brochure

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

ticketbrochureMany of you will soon be receiving the BlueClaws 2012 ticket brochure in the mail. Many of you will get one here at the park or elsewhere. If you want to get a copy, you can certainly get one. But if you want to read one right from your home computer, you can do that too.

The BlueClaws 2012 Ticket & Group Brochure is available for you to view online by clicking here.

Note – we don’t have the same cool background music that we have for the media guide (click here).

This is also the debut of our new slogan – Sand, Sun, & Serious Fun.

The brochure includes information about ticket packages, group outings, using the ballpark, and much more. It’s a good read.

Week Five in Arizona

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

The Arizona Fall League is into its second half of their six week season, so let’s check in on the progress of some of the former BlueClaws that are down in the sport’s top winter league.

Previously: Intro PostWeek OneWeek Two, Week Three, Week Four

Anthony Gose (2009): Gose struck out in his lone AB during the Rising Stars Game on Saturday and went 2-5 with an RBI last night. He’s at .253 with 3 HRs and 15 RBIs in the fall.

Josh Zeid (2010): After a bit of a slow start, Zeid has allowed five ER in his last 11 innings though he gave up a run on five hits in just two innings in his last outing on Tuesday. He’s allowed 10 ER in 14 innings with 17 strikeouts over the fall.

Below are the former BlueClaws with the Phillies prospects with Scottsdale.

Darin Ruf (2010): In his first action in six days, Ruf went 2-2 last night for Scottsdale and is 10 for his last 25 overall. Through 17 games, he’s hitting .250 with 3 HRs and 13 RBIs.

Tyler Cloyd (2009): Cloyd has gone four innings in his last two starts, allowing two runs on the 28th and three runs on November 2nd. He’s got 20 strikeouts in 22 innings in Arizona so far.

Jake Diekman (2008-10): He gave up two hits and a walk in the Rising Stars Game on Saturday but no runs and Diekman still has not allowed an earned run in the AFL. On 11/2 he did allow his first hit an an unearned run but otherwise has been flawless: 9.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R/0 ER, 5 BB, 10 K.
BJ Rosenberg (2009): Last pitched on October 29th and has allowed four ER in seven innings.
Colby Shreve (2010-11): Shreve pitched Tuesday and allowed a hit and no runs in 2/3 of an inning. So far in Arizona he has allowed six ER in 9.2 innings pitched.

Baseball America Phillies Top Ten

Friday, November 4th, 2011

Baseball America released their annual Phillies top ten prospects list this morning with nine of the players on the list having played with the BlueClaws at one point in their careers and six of them having won championships with the BlueClaws.

1. Trevor May (2009-10): May won two titles with Lakewood, was named the Phillies Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2011 when he fanned 208 hitters with Clearwater.

2. Jesse Biddle (2011): The Phillies first round pick in 2010 had the best ERA in the Sally League in the 2nd half of this season and finished 7-8, 2.98 with 124 strikeouts in 133 innings.

3. Sebastian Valle (2009-10): Played the first half of 2009 with Lakewood and returned for the playoffs but had a starring role in 2010, including hitting the game-winning home run in the championship clincher. This year, Valle hit .284 with 5 home runs with Clearwater.

4. Jonathan Pettibone (2010): He had a 2.3 ERA with Lakewood from mid-June on last year as one of their steadiest pitchers on the championship team. This year with Clearwater, Pettibone picked up where he left off, pitching to a 2.96 ERA despite a 10-11 record.

5. Phillippe Aumont: Aumont was acquired in the December, 2009 Cliff Lee trade. He had a 2.7 ERA splitting the season between Reading and Lehigh Valley and will have a chance to make the big league bullpen out of spring training.

6. Freddy Galvis (2008): The slick-fielding shortstop had his best offensive season this year, hitting .273 with Reading and .298 with Lehigh Valley. He will probably start 2011 in Lehigh Valley again but with Jimmy Rollins a free agent, he would be considered a top internal candidate if Rollins departs.

7. Justin De Fratus (2009): De Fratus has blossomed since moving full-time to the bullpen in the last two years and made his big league debut in September. He went from Clearwater to Reading in 2010 and Reading to Lehigh Valley in 2011. He’ll have every chance to be in the Phillies Opening Day bullpen next year.

8. Brody Colvin (2010): Colvin thrived with Lakewood in 2010, pitching to a 3.39 ERA (low 2s after mid-May) but had a 4.71 ERA with Clearwater this year. He was passed on this list by May and Pettibone from their placing last year.

9. Jiwan James (2010): Lakewood’s every-day centerfielder on the 2010 championship team, James went to Clearwater this year and had a solid season, hitting .268 with 31 stolen bases. He’ll go to Reading in 2012.

10. Maikel Franco (2011): Just 18 for most of the season, Franco played with Williamsport and joined the BlueClaws for three weeks in August.

Domonic Brown had been the top prospect each of the last three years, but is no longer eligible. Carlos Carrasco was the top prospect on this list the two years before that.

Diekman, Gose to Rising Stars Game

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

diekmanblogTwo former BlueClaws, Jacob Diekman and Anthony Gose, will play in the Arizona Fall League’s Rising Stars Game, it was announced on Tuesday. Gose and Diekman were teammates with the BlueClaws in 2009 on the team that won the South Atlantic League title.

The Rising Stars game, for the best prospects in the Arizona Fall League, takes place on Saturday night and can be viewed on MLB Network at 7 pm Eastern (5 pm local).

Diekman has been sensational in the AFL, having thrown 7.1 scoreless and hitless innings. Opposing hitters are 0-22 against him.

This follows a season spent with Double-A Reading in which he struck out 83 hitters in 65 innings and held lefties to a .099 batting average (9-91).

Here is a ClawCast from July of 2009 with then BlueCalws manager Dusty Wathan in talking about Diekman dropping down and becoming a sidearmer after he had an ERA over 7 in the first half of that season.

“The plan was to drop him down to get lefties but he didn’t lose velocity and he’s been able to get righties out too…If you have a guy throwing 90 mph from the side with a curveball that he can throw for a strike. You don’t see that every day.”

Gose, meanwhile, who was traded at the deadline last year, first to Houston and then to Toronto five minutes later, helped AA New Hampshire to the Eastern League title this year. In the Fall League, his first trip there, he is batting .250 with three home runs and six stolen bases. Gose led the Eastern League in steals this year after leading the Florida State League last year and the South Atlantic League the year before that.

Here are the full rosters for the Rising Stars Game, which include Bryce Harper (Nationals) and Mike Trout (Angels) as the offensive headliners and Gerrit Cole (Pirates), the first pick in the 2011 draft.

The winning team gets a cash prize, which is unique.

Week Four in the Arizona Fall League

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

The Arizona Fall League is into its second half of their six week season, so let’s check in on the progress of

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some of the former BlueClaws that are down in the sport’s top winter league.

Previously: Intro Post, Week One, Week Two, Week Three

Anthony Gose (2009): Gose had a tough week since our last update, going 2-17 with seven strikeouts, but has still had a strong fall. He has 13 RBIs and six stolen bases in 20 games to go with his .250 batting average.

Josh Zeid (2010): Zeid had his best week last week, throwing a scoreless inning on Wednesday and again on Monday. He’s struck out 12 in 10 innings but has allowed seven runs on 13 hits.

Below are the former BlueClaws with the Phillies prospects with Scottsdale.

Darin Ruf (2010): Ruf hit another home run, his 3rd, last Thursday, and went 5-12 over the last week. He’s at .216 so far with three home runs and 11 RBIs.

Tyler Cloyd (2009): Cloyd made his fifth start of the fall on Friday night and earned the win, allowing two runs over four innings. He’s fanned 16 hitters in 16 innings but is 1-2, 5.50 so far.

Jake Diekman (2008-10): Diekman continues to dominate, throwing two more hitless innings, one on Wednesday and one on Monday. He has not allowed a hit in 7.1 innings (scoreless) so far, and has nine strikeouts to go along with five walks. Can’t do much better than that.
BJ Rosenberg (2009): Rosenberg gave up two runs, one earned, over two innings last week, and struck out two in one inning on Monday. He’s allowed five runs, four earned, on eight hits in seven innings so far.
Colby Shreve (2010-11): Shreve gave up a run in two innings last week, throwing a scoreless inning on Tuesday. One of the least experienced players in the AFL, Shreve has allowed four earned runs in eight innings in the AFL so far.