Archive for January, 2012

Seven ‘Claws in MLB Top 100

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

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MLB.com put out their annual top 100 prospect listing (link here) and there are seven former BlueClaws on the list, all from the last three years, and six of those players helped the BlueClaws win at least one South Atlantic League title.

Below, find bios and notes on these players:

25. Travis d’Arnaud, Catcher, Blue Jays – MLB Says – The Blue Jays got d’Arnaud in the Roy Halladay deal and he has steadily improved into one of the better all-around catching prospects. Agile and fairly athletic, he also has an above-average arm, giving him all he needs to be a fine defensive catcher, especially as he learns more of the nuances of the craft. He has excellent makeup and leadership skills. His excellent bat speed should continue to allow him to hit for average and power, which really started happening in 2011. If things continue to progress, he could give J.P. Arencibia a run for his money in Toronto soon.

With Lakewood – He hit .255 – 13 – 71 in 2009, helping the BlueClaws to the Sally League title, before being included in the Roy Halladay trade that December. This year, with AA New Hampshire, he was the Eastern League MVP and won another championship with OF Anthony Gose.

44. Jonathan Singleton, First Baseman, Astros – MLB Says – Singleton has a special bat from the left side of the plate. He should hit for plenty of average, and the power started to come in 2011, with much more on the way. He has a good game plan at the plate with excellent discipline. The Phillies moved him to left field to avoid the Ryan Howard roadblock but put him back at first after a while, where he is much more comfortable defensively. The trade to Houston in the Hunter Pence deal erases that issue.

With Lakewood – He hit .290 – 14 – 77 after joining the BlueClaws from extended spring training on May 13th of 2010. He homered in his first at bat, hit two on the day the BlueClaws clinched the first-half title, and hit cleanup on Lakewood’s second straight championship team. He was traded to Houston in the Hunter Pence trade in July of 2011.

54. Trevor May, Starting Pitcher, Phillies – MLB Says – May is starting to develop into a more complete pitcher and not just a thrower. The fastball is up to 95 mph and it has plenty of sink. May has no trouble maintaining velocity deep into his starts. He complements his fastball with an above-average curve and a changeup that shows glimpses of being above-average as well. While he still walks a good number of hitters, he lowered his walk rate considerably and showed better overall command.

With Lakewood – He went 4-1, 2.56 in 2009 and returned on July 4th, 2010 to go 7-3, 2.91 down the stretch and was the workhorse starter on two different BlueClaws championship teams. This year, he was third in the minors with 208 strikeouts while pitching for Clearwater.

57. Anthony Gose, Outfielder, Blue Jays – MLB Says – Gose is an exciting player to watch thanks to his considerable tools. The best one, of course, is his plus plus speed, which he uses to be a major basestealing threat and to be an outstanding defensive center fielder. He also has one of the best outfield arms in the Minors as a former high-school pitcher who could dial it up into the mid-90s. He did draw more walks in 2011 and started turning his raw power into production, but his strikeout rate is still too high, especially if he’s going to be a top-of-the-order catalyst.

With Lakewood – He set the franchise stolen base record with 76 in 2009, stole 45 in the Florida State League in 2010 and 70 more this year with New Hampshire. Gose hit over .400 in the 2009 Sally League postseason at Lakewood’s leadoff hitter and catalyst. He was traded to Houston in the 2010 Roy Oswalt trade and was immediately flipped to the Blue Jays where he was re-united with Travis d’Arnaud.

61. Jarred Cosart, Starting Pitcher, Astros – MLB Says – Cosart shook off the injury bug that hampered him in 2009 and 2010 to have a fully healthy 2011 season, albeit one interrupted by the trade. He has electric stuff, with a plus fastball that touches the upper 90s. His curve, while inconsistent at times, can be nasty, and he’ll even show glimpses of an excellent changeup. He’s lean and projectable.

With Lakewood – Went 7-3, 3.79 in the first half of 2010 with Lakewood before getting hurt, though he did help the BlueClaws to a first-half title. The hard-thrower was traded to the Astros in the Hunter Pence trade at the deadline in 2011.

78. Jesse Biddle, Starting Pitcher, Phillies – MLB Says – A strong and durable southpaw, Biddle has the makings of three above-average to plus pitches in his arsenal. He’s shown the ability to run his fastball in the low 90s. He has a changeup that could be plus when all is said and done, and although his curve is inconsistent, it’s tighter and has a harder break than when he was in high school. He needs to improve his command, not rare for such a young arm, but he did lower his walk rate in the second half of 2011.

With Lakewood – Biddle had a 1.97 ERA after the all-star break and went 7-8, 2.98 on the year, his first full season after being drafted the previous June. He was also named the South Atlantic League All-Star Left-Handed Pitcher at the conclusion of the season.

80. Brody Colvin, Starting Pitcher, Phillies – MLB Says – Despite the rough 2011 season, Colvin still has pure stuff, and a projectable pitcher’s body, that would be the envy of many a pitching prospect. His fastball is plus at times, up into the mid-90s with good sink that generates ground balls. Both his curve and his changeup have the chance to be very good secondary pitches, and he’s shown a better feel for the offspeed pitch in the past then many his age. His command suffered in 2011, something that will have to improve for him to move forward.

With Lakewood – He was 6-8 with the BlueClaws in 2010 but had an ERA of just 3.38 and was the only Lakewood starter to make every turn that year. His ERA after May 15th was below 2.50.

Looking at Two 2009 BlueClaws

Monday, January 30th, 2012

MLB.com and MiLB.com have two features posted from the last week on a pair of 2009 BlueClaws teammates, now re-united with the BlueJays – C Travis d’Arnaud and OF Anthony Gose.

First, d’Arnaud. Here is a Q&A done with MiLB.com.

MiLB.com: Fast forward to December 2009, and you were included in the trade between the Phillies and Blue Jays for Roy Halladay. What went through your head when you found out about the deal?

d’Arnaud: I was shocked, because I was actually on the golf course with a few of my buddies, and I was getting texts from my friends hearing I’d been traded on ESPN. I didn’t know anything about it. Then I got a call from my agent saying I’d been traded for Roy Halladay. I was excited, shocked and honored. I can’t believe I was even considered in a trade for an outstanding pitcher like Halladay — one of the best pitchers, if not the best, in the game today.

Gose, meanwhile, was featured in this video interview:

Some Winter Tour Leftovers

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Just cleaning out the notebook with some leftover quotes from the Winter Tour last Wednesday.

Mickey Morandini
“Lakewood is such a great environment. I know the players really enjoy playing in front of big crowds which we have here and I’m really looking forward to Opening Day.”

“I love everything about coaching. I love teaching the kids and I love seeing them grow into better and better players. I’ve been friends with Ruben for a while and now with my kids being older it made sense for me to start getting back into the game of baseball.”

“I’d love to manage in the bigs, but right now my job is to send Charlie the most polished players I can send him. People ask me what type of manager are you? I’ll say that I’m patient, and will be able to give the kids plenty of time to develop. The most gratifying part for me is to see the kids in April and see how much they’ve gotten better by September.”

Ruben Amaro
“We are very fortunate to have the support of all the people in this room and I applaud all of you for your support.”

“I believe Jimmy (Rollins) is the most consistent shortstop in baseball…If things didn’t work out with Jimmy we were ready for Freddy Galvis, who may still get an opportunity to play Major League Baseball this year.”

“We like to shoot for a guy that may be more high risk/high reward type of player than most teams.”

You see some photos of the event on Facebook here.

Also within the next week or so we’ll start with our position by position looks at guys that might be with the BlueClaws in 2012.

Some Winter Tour Media

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Here are a couple of stories from the Winter Tour last night in Lakewood.

Mike McGarry of the Press of Atlantic City talked to Mickey Morandini and Jesse Biddle.

Morandini thought of becoming a coach or manager right after his retirement, but he had three young sons.

“When I retired, I told my wife I wanted to manage one day, but I had a 7-year-old, 4-year-old and 1-year-old,” he said. “I didn’t have time to go back on the road.”

Now, his boys are 17, 14 and 11, leaving him time to pursue a second baseball career.

(snip)

Biddle said Morandini is easy to get to know.

“He’s a really, really good baseball guy,” Biddle said. “He played the game the right way, so he can coach the game the right way.”

Biddle might have to sneak a favor from Morandini during the season. Biddle’s father, David, probably wouldn’t mind an autograph from his favorite player.

“I don’t know what the ethics are on that,” Biddle said with a laugh, “but my dad would be thrilled.”

Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Daily News talked to Charlie Manuel and Ruben Amaro about some of the spots open in the Phillies bullpen.

“If I was coming to spring training and I was a candidate for our bullpen,” Manuel said last night at the Phillies Winter Caravan, “I’d be hyped-up about making the team.”

Manuel offered the stories of Michael Stutes and Antonio Bastardo, key relievers from last season, who “came out of nowhere” and “were like icing on the cake.” He also mentioned how important it is for those two to continue progressing this season to prove that their reliability in 2011 was more than beginner’s luck.

(snip)

“Right now, we’re focusing on that low-hanging fruit, guys who haven’t signed yet, some guys who have some experience,” Amaro said. “We’re likely, probably not going to do a major-league deal, but it’s possible under the right circumstance. We do have some space on the roster. As far as our payroll’s concerned, we’re up against it, very close to being maxed out right now. We’ll see how it goes when we get closer to spring.”

Here is a Philly.com video talking to Manuel and Amaro. Look for some additional media later on and we’ll link it up here.

Charlie Manuel Discusses Phillies’ Upcoming Season

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was one of the guests at the Phillies Winter Tour stop in Lakewood last night. We had a chance to talk with Manuel, who last year became the Phillies all time winningest manager and will enter his 8th season at the helm this year.

“I look back and it’s going by too quick- it has all gone by too fast. Time just seems like it flies by especially when you get a little age on you. I’ve been in the game all my life, and I’ve been very fortunate with the talent I was able to work with and very fortunate to get back to the big leagues as a manager.”

“We had a great season last year that ended in a tough way. It was special and then all of a sudden it seemed like we were out. Our goal every year ever since we won was to get back to the World Series and win it. I was talking to Halladay and a few of our players and we still feel like we’re ready to go [in Spring Training] and get started.”

“I’ve been around Jimmy [Thome] for about the first 15 years of his career. When I look at him-for him to hit 600 home runs- I’d sit around and talk to [Cleveland Indians General Manager] John Hart and [Assistant General Manager] Danny O’Dowd about what he’s going to do and I’d say that he was going to hit close to 500 home runs. Everything about his career has been great and as good of a player he is, he might be a better person. Thome is a guy who can walk through our clubhouse and have a positive impact.”

Jesse Biddle Sits Down at Phillies Winter Tour

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Earlier tonight, Adam Giardino sat down with 2011 BlueClaws LHP Jesse Biddle, the South Atlantic League All-Star left-handed pitcher, for an interview at the Phillies Winter Tour event in Lakewood.


“I think going into my second full season I have a better understanding of what I need to do and where I need to be at. I had a tough first month in Lakewood this season and my first goal is to not have that happen. Whatever level I’m at, I want to be able to come out of the gate ready to go and not go through that first slump.”

“I need to improve upon every pitch, which, everyone can improve on something. I think the thing I wanted to improve upon was using my body more—getting a little bit more out of my legs and my core.”

“I want to tell you that I’m going to be in Redding and that I’m going to be successful there [by the end of the 2012 season]. Growing up as a fan of the Phillies, that’s where you know the guys are going to make that next jump and that’s where you can find out how good you really are.”

“Mentally, I think the biggest jump you make is going from your first season to your second season. Before your first season you have no idea what’s going on. By the time you come out of your first season you feel like a seasoned veteran.”

The Handbook Has Arrived

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

handbookblogThis is always one of the books I am most eager-to-open each year – the Baseball America Prospect Handbook, which you can order online through Baseball America. They release their top ten prospects each year and in the fall we did a Q&A with Matt Forman, who handed the Phillies list. Today, however, we go from 1-10, all the way up to 30.

11-20: 11 – Roman Quinn, SS (2nd round pick in 2011); 12 – Lisalberto Bonilla, RHP (2011 BlueClaw); 13 – Carlos Tocci, OF (16 year old signed with Phillies on August 23rd, his birthday); 14 – Cesar Hernandez, 2B (Played last year with Clearwater after skipping Lakewood); 15 – Aaron Altherr, OF (split last year between Lakewood and Williamsport and could be back with the BlueClaws); 16 – Ervis Manzanillo, LHP (2011 BlueClaw); 17 – Julio Rodriguez, RHP (2010 BlueClaw heads to Reading this year); 18 – Kyrell Hudson (3rd round pick in 2009 could open with Lakewood this year); 19 – Harold Garcia, 2B (2009 BlueClaw missed most of last year with torn ACL but could open this year with Lehigh Valley); 20 – Larry Greene, OF (Phillies supplemental first-round pick in 2011).

21-30: 21 – Perci Garner, RHP (2nd round pick in 2010 likely joins Lakewood this year); 22 – Austin Hyatt, RHP (2009 BlueClaw heads to Lehigh Valley this year); 23 – Mitchell Walding, SS (Phillies 5th round pick in 2011); 24 – Leandro Castro, OF (2009-10 BlueClaw); 25 – Joe Savery, LHP (made Phillies debut in September, never played here); 26 – Austin Wright, LHP (2011 8th round pick went 1-2, 2.67 in seven BlueClaws starts); 27 – Zach Collier, OF (played here in 2009 and 11); 28 – JC Ramirez, RHP (acquired in Cliff Lee trade from Seattle); 29 – Adam Morgan, LHP (3rd round pick in 2011 from Alabama went 3-3, 2.01 with Williamsport); 30 – Michael Schwimer, RHP (made Phillies debut in September).

(Yes, my desk is a little messy. Yes, that’s my Atlantic-10 Tournament pamphlet – Go Fordham! Yes, that’s my Big Brown bobblehead doll).

Winter Tour Questions

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

We will be interviewing all of the guests tomorrow night at the Winter Tour (details of the event here – I’m posting this early afternoon on Tuesday and you have to reserve your spot by Wednesday at 9 am).

Those interviews will be posted here and on Facebook, Twitter, etc and we’ll have a few stories, some pictures, etc. It should be a great night.

We’d like, of course, some of the questions for the guests to come from you. Submit them here in the comments section, send us an email (radio at blueclaws.com), or on Twitter. Just leave your first name and hometown if you don’t mind.

Guests: Charlie Manuel (Phillies manager), Ruben Amaro (Phillies GM), Jesse Biddle (2011 BlueClaws pitcher and top prospect), Mickey Morandini (former Phillies 2B and new BlueClaws manager), Steve Noworyta (Phillies assistant director of minor league operations).

Thanks and we hope to get a number of great questions!

Geoff Brown on WOBM-AM

Friday, January 20th, 2012

If you missed BlueClaws GM Geoff Brown on this morning with Kevin Williams on WOBM-AM 1160/1310 (the radio home of the BlueClaws!), you can listen to the interview by clicking here (save link as and then you can listen on your computer or drag it into iTunes and listen on your iPod).

They talk about the upcoming season but primarily about the Phillies Winter Tour event coming to Lakewood on Wednesday (details here).

Or click below to listen:

Update: Correct audio file – I had linked the promo podcast from the previous post.

ClawCast: 2012 Promo Schedule With Hal Hansen

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

The BlueClaws released the first round of 2012 promotions earlier today. Click here for the full story and click here to download a pdf version of the schedule from BlueClaws.com.

We wanted to sit down and get a behind-the-scenes look at the process and the promo schedule so  we recorded this ClawCast with BlueClaws Director of Promotions Hal Hansen.

Click here to download the file (save link as and then you can listen on your computer or drag it into iTunes and listen on your iPod).

Some of our favorites?
June 5th’s Carl Spackler Bucket Hats
July 28th’s BruceClaws Night
July 29th’s ET 30th Anniversary Celebration

Top Left-Handed Pitching Prospects

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Jesse Biddle checks in at #9 on this list from MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo.
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e>9. Jesse Biddle, Phillies: Getting to pitch in your own backyard can be a blessing and a curse. Sure, you’re close to home, but the pressure of playing for your hometown team can be detrimental. Biddle, the Philly-area kid who was taken by his team in the first round in 2010, handled it with aplomb. Strong and durable, Biddle shook off a rough first month to pitch extremely well in full-season ball for the remainder of the year, finishing among the leaders in ERA and strikeouts. As with many young pitchers, there’s still work to be done with his command, but he has the chance to have three above-average to plus pitches when all is said and done. He’ll pitch all of the upcoming season at age 20 while making the move up to the Florida State League.

Biddle will be a guest at the Winter Tour stop in Lakewood on Wednesday of next week (January 25th). Details here.

Checking In With Tyler Knigge

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

How did you wind down from the season? My brother and I drove back across the country and we went sightseeing, went to the NFL opener at Lambeau Field, went to Mount Rushmore. We took six or seven days to drive across the country and get the mind off the season and prepare for the next season. After I got home, I settled for two or three weeks and get right into the offseason program.

Where did you get the Packers tickets? I got them off NFL Ticket Exchange – we were in the end zone when Rodgers threw the first TD pass of the season. We are hardcore Packers fans. That was a first for me, and we had a chance driving back to get there. I knew I had to stop.

(We didn’t know he was a huge Packers fan or we wouldn’t have called the day after this)

What’s your day-to-day routine this offseason? I ended up getting a job with Goodwill Working Solutions – I’m a participant adviser. People that are on benefits through the government, if they meet the qualifications, they get referred to us and we help people find jobs. I started my baseball work in October 12th and work out Monday, Wednesday, Friday with a personal trainer at 5:30 am and work out until I have to go to work at 8. Work 8-5 M-F and after work I do my baseball specific stuff – throwing, stretching, long tossing. I recently started the bullpens, and then after I’ll go back tot eh gym and then go running.

When did you start throwing? I started throwing December 1st, after Christmas its become every day, and I threw my 3rd bullpen yesterday.

Is this offseason, your second since being drafted, a lot different than your first? Absolutely. Last year, I went to instructional league and I did the workout program, but didn’t have a job last offseason. I did some hunting and fishing like we like to do in Idaho. This year, its become more baseball – I feel I have something to prove and I want to show everyone what I can do and that requires a lot more work in the offseason.

How much do the Phillies shape your program? They give us an offseason workout book. My trainer and I sat down and put up a goal setting program and we do our workouts. Every month or so we try to hit a specific goal and it comes out of the book the Phillies put together.

When are you heading down to Florida? I fly out from Spokane on February 13th. The reason, when I reported last year, I flew out March 3rd, it was snowing and I landed out in 75 degree weather. I want to get there early to prepare myself the correct way. In spring training, it takes a week to get the arm loose. This year I’m going in fully prepared.

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Schrenk’s Calvary In Mix For Playoff Spot

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Good luck to Steve Schrenk, who BlueClaws fans know was the pitching coach here in 2005-06, and 2010-11. Schrenk is now managing the Canberra Calvary in the Australian Baseball League.

After missing the playoffs in his first year (the 2010-11 season), they are in the mix to the end this year. With five games left, the Calvary are 18-22, in a three-way tie for third place, one game out of second, and one game ahead of sixth place. The top four teams will qualify for the post-season.

Perth, at 30-10, have an 11 game lead and have already clinched first place. They’re led by former BlueClaw and Australian native Tim Kennelly, who is 3rd in the league hitting .369 and tops in the league with 36 RBIs.

Canberra, who has won six of their last 10 games, will have Mike McGuire, the 2010 Lakewood closer who made a few appearances for the BlueClaws in 2011, pitch one of the last five games. McGuire is 4-4 and 4th in the league with a 2.92 ERA.

Melbourne has Brad Harman, an infielder on the 2006 BlueClaws team that Schrenk was a coach for. He’s batting .283 with a league leading 11 home runs.

Here is a pretty good rundown from the Canberra site. Go Calvary!

Watch Out for Ladders

Friday, January 13th, 2012

Today is Friday the 13th, and we’d like to wish everyone a Happy Friday the 13th. This day has always been good to the BlueClaws, as the team is 7-2 all-time on Friday the 13th.

The BlueClaws will actually play two Friday the 13th games this year, one in April against Hagerstown and anothyer in July against Hickory, both at FirstEnergy Park.

Here’s the BlueClaws history on Friday the 13th:

  • 2001: April, W 1-0 vs Hickory (11)…Two future big leaguers, Yoel Hernandez, six, and Eude Brito, three, helped pitch the shutout.
  • 2003: June, L 7-5 vs Delmarva…Led 5-1 but gave up six runs in the eighth inning.
  • 2004: August, W 7-3 and 11-0 vs Greensboro…Michael Buorn went 4-8 over the double-header and Randy Ruiz hit a home run in game two.
  • 2005: May, W 10-4 at Delmarva…Jason Jaramillo went 4-4.
  • 2007: April, W 9-5 at Hickory…’Claws pound out 14 hits including two from Quintin Berry, Adrian Cardenas, Tuffy Gosewisch, and three from Jay Miller.
  • 2008: June, W 4-0 at DEL…six shutout innings from Chance Chapman.
  • 2010: August, W 10-0 vs DEL…Trevor May threw seven shutout innings, Leandro Castro drove in three and Stephen Batts hit a home run.
  • 2011: May, L 4-3 vs HAG…8,217 fans were here to see the Bryce Harper and Jesse Biddle struck him out in the first inning. However, Hagerstown scored four in the second before holding on for a 4-3 win.

April 13th, July 13th, both at 7:05. See you then.

Boo.