Archive for the 'Phillies' Category

Phillies Hire Almaraz to Amateur Scouting Director Post

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

From the Phillies:

The Phillies have hired Johnny Almaraz as the organization’s Director of Amateur Scouting, Benny Looper, Assistant General Manager, Player Personnel announced today.

Almaraz, 49, had spent the last eight seasons (2007-14) with the Atlanta Braves, where he was the director of Latin American operations (2007-09) and more recently the director of international scouting and operations (2010-14).  In his role he oversaw scouting operations for the club outside the United States and Canada, supervised all operations at the Braves’ Dominican Baseball Academy and managed a staff of nearly 20 international scouts.  During his time with the Braves, Almaraz signed, among others, right-hander Julio Teheran and catcher Christian Bethancourt.

Prior to working for the Braves, Almaraz spent 16 years with the Cincinnati Reds in various roles including director of player personnel and director of player development.  As a scout, he was credited with signing a number of future major league players including right-hander Johnny Cueto, outfielder Adam Dunn, catcher Paul Bako and left-hander B.J. Ryan.

“We couldn’t be happier to add someone of Johnny’s caliber to our baseball operations staff,” said Looper.  “He has established a reputation for being able to identify future major league talent and brings a great deal of experience to the Phillies.”

Almaraz pitched for two years in the Reds’ minor league system after being selected in the 14th round of the 1988 draft out of Southwest Texas State University.

You can read more on Almaraz’s appointment from Ryan Lawrence at Philly.com here.

2013 A Year to Remember For Pettibone

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

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(Editor’s Note – We’ll have some content from Wednesday’s Phillies Winter Banquet held at Woodlake Country Club that will be rolled out here over the next few days.)

Previously - Our talk with Ryne Sandberg. Our talk with Darin Ruf.

Jonathan Pettibone had made three starts with Triple-A Lehigh Valley when he got “the call” that he had been waiting for his whole life. He was going to the big leagues.

2013 was a special season for the former Phillies 3rd round pick, who made his big league debut on April 22nd, allowing two runs in 5.1 innings against Pittsburgh (he got a no-decision).

“It’s your dream since you were a little boy,” he recalled last week at the Phillies Winter Banquet. “I got to call my dad and my mom and they were able to come out and see me debut the next day.”

He said while he was excited for the call, “I still had to face the Pittsburgh Pirates the next night. You want to celebrate, but really you celebrate your goal and get ready.”

The transition, while obviously significant, was something that Pettibone was prepared for, with help.

“That was my first spring training in big league camp,” he said. And meeting Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels for the first time and watching them in their daily routines was a big help. Then, getting into the same routines as them, you can learn a lot about getting ready for each game you have to start.”

Pettibone made 18 starts with the Phillies and went 5-4 with a 4.04 ERA before a July 28th injury shelved him for the remainder of the season. That injury, a shoulder strain, has been a focus for Pettibone.

“Right now,” he said. “Staying healthy is the most important thing. That put a damper on last season so I think going into camp healthy and staying healthy for 162 games would be huge.”

Fully healthy now, he’s been throwing since December 1st and began on the mound late last week.

Drafted in 2008, Pettibone made major strides with the BlueClaws in 2010. After a 5.29 ERA in the first half, Pettibone had a 2.41 ERA in the second half and won series-clinchers in both rounds of the post-season as the BlueClaws won their second straight SAL title.

“That was my first full season and coming into it I guess I was a little naive, not fully knowing what to expect,” he said. “But around the midway point of the season I turned it around and it took off from there. That whole experience, the first full season, capping it off with the championship, it was great.”

Ruf Remembers Lakewood As He Readies For Season

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

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(Editor’s Note – We’ll have some content from Wednesday’s Phillies Winter Banquet held at Woodlake Country Club that will be rolled out here over the next few days.)

Previously - Our talk with Ryne Sandberg.

Darin Ruf remembers the last game he played as a BlueClaw. May 12th, 2010 at Greenville and he went 5-5 with a home run.

“I had the worst BP that day off Gorm Heimueller, the pitching coordinator at the time,” he said. “I couldn’t hit a ball square to save my life. Then I went 5-5. Mark Parent called me to his office after the game and told me I got promoted.”

Going 5-5 not only was a great way to finish his time with the BlueClaws, but it also moved his average up 30 points to .330. He finished with four home runs and 17 RBIs in 32 games. Not a bad month for a player drafted in the 20th round the year before from Creighton.

Jonathan Singleton came up the next day and homered in his first at bat and the BlueClaws would go on to win their second straight championship while Ruf spent the rest of 2010 and all of 2011 with Clearwater.

Ruf turned enough heads that he earned a chance to play in the prestigious Arizona Fall League in 2011, and was on a team that included, among others, Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Will Middlebrooks, and Jean Segura.

“We were on one of the worst teams in the league too. You scratch your head and wonder why we didn’t win every game,” he joked. “It was a great learning experience being around some of the guys and to pick up things from seeing how they work. I’m never going to be as athletic as them so I have to pick up some little things to do well.”

He made the next step in 2012, moving to Double-A Reading. After hitting an impressive 18 home runs through July, he more than doubled-down in August, hitting 20 and finishing with 38, most in the minors that year.

“It was incredible,” he said. “It’s every baseball player’s dream to stay locked in as long as I was. To be able to do that at peak performance, and capture that, it was incredible.”

After the Reading season ended, he was promoted to Philadelphia, where he made history on September 25th (at least to us). In hitting his first big league home run in the same game where both Carlos Ruiz and Domonic Brown went deep, it was the first time three BlueClaws alumni homered in the same big league game.

He ended up playing in 12 games for the Phillies that year, going 12-33 with 3 home runs.

“It’s a different situation seeing guys like Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, guys you grew up watching,” he said. “I remember when they came over talking to us at minor league camp. But personality wise, they take you in as part of the family. Having that core group of guys that know how to win and guys you can learn from is so important.”

Now, after a year split between Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia, he’s ready for spring training and a fight for at bats. Ruf went to Clearwater on January 12th to get ready (before a quick venture north for a week on the banquet circuit) for what he hopes is his first complete season in the big leagues.

Sandberg Ready For First Spring Training as Big League Manager

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

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(Editor’s Note – We’ll have some content from Wednesday’s Phillies Winter Banquet held at Woodlake Country Club that will be rolled out here over the next few days. We’ll start with our chat with Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg.)

Ryne Sandberg was playing winter ball in Venezuela when he found out he was leaving the Phillies. He had been traded to the Cubs with Larry Bowa in exchange for Ivan DeJesus following the 1981 season.

“At the time I was bit surprised because Larry Bowa was a shortstop and I was a shortstop at the time,” he said at the annual Phillies Winter Banquet at Woodlake Country Club. “But I was going to a place where I was going to get to play a lot at 22. I went to spring training and started my major league career.”

It’s all come full circle for Sandberg in the last 23 years. His boss now of course is Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. His manager in winter ball when he found out he was traded? Ruben Amaro, Sr.

Sandberg, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005 after a stellar 17-year career, will lead the Phillies at spring training for the first time starting next month. It’s the first time he’ll be a big league manager at spring training (after serving as interim manager for the Phillies over the last six weeks of last season), but it’s something he’s prepared for since his retirement.

“The smartest thing I did was go to spring training with the Cubs to serve as a guest instructor, which I did for nine years,” he said. In 2007, he started out as manager for the Cubs Midwest League affiliate in Peoria and was with the Cubs for four years before joining the Phillies again with Lehigh Valley in 2011.

“I was able to learn my style of managing while actually managing games,” he noted. “Then last year at the big league level as the third base coach and as the interim manager I was able to give the guys a feel of what I’m all about. I think being with these guys will go a long way entering the season.”

He’ll also make a point to make the younger players on the team feel as comfortable with the big league environment as he can.

“Larry Bowa [who will serve as Sandberg’s bench coach] helped me in that route both on the field and off the field,” Sandberg said. “We’d go to lunch and he made me feel I belonged. ‘I’m talking to Larry Bowa about who’s pitching today.’ Then once you’re comfortable, your natural tools will take over.”

He had to leave the Phillies to get his shot as a big league player, but now he’s come back to the Phillies to get his shot at managing, and Ryne Sandberg could not be more excited.

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One other thing Sandberg talked about that we wanted to mention here was the different chances players have to break into the game now compared to back then. Sandberg:

Triple-A is now different. It’s more 6 year free agents and a handful of prospects. Now, if you have a prospect at Double-A, he can make the jump straight to the big leagues. Then, you had to graduate Triple-A to get to the big leagues. Back then, you had to have a good Triple-A season and go to spring training and maybe break in. I think the movement of players now allows the players to go from Double-A to the big leagues but back then you had guys that played together for 10 years.

Five Former BlueClaws Invited to Spring Training

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

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From the Phillies release…

The Phillies have invited five additional players to major league spring training as non-roster invitees, the club announced today.

  • Jesse Biddle, LHP – In 27 starts with double-A Reading last season, Biddle went 5-14 with a 3.64 ERA and 154 strikeouts in 138.1 innings.  Despite battling whooping cough for the majority of the 2013 season, the Philadelphia native finished tied for first in the Eastern League in starts (27), tied for second in complete games (2), third in strikeouts and ninth in ERA.  He was also selected as an Eastern League midseason All-Star and earned the win for the U.S. Team in the MLB Futures Game at Citi Field in July.  On April 22 at Harrisburg, the 22-year-old took a perfect game into the 7thinning and struck out a career-high 16 batters.  After the season, he was named the second-best prospect in the Philliesminor league system by Baseball America.  Biddle was originally selected by the Phillies in the first round (27th overall) of the June 2010 draft from Germantown Friends School (Pa.).
  • Maikel Franco, 3B – The 2013 Paul Owens Award winner as the best player in the Phillies minor league system, Franco batted a combined .320 with 31 home runs and 103 RBI in 134 games between single-A Clearwater and double-A Reading last season.  He led all of Minor League Baseball with 308 total bases last year while finishing tied for second in extra-base hits (70), fourth in hits (173), tied for seventh in home runs and tied for eighth in RBI.   In 2013, the 21-year-old infielder was selected to the World roster for the MLB Futures Game, as well as the Florida State League midseason All-Star team, and was named Phillies Minor League Player of the Month for June and Player of the Week twice.  Following the season, he was named the top prospect in the Phillies minor league system by Baseball America.  In 388 career minor league games, Franco has batted .281 with 98 doubles, 50 home runs and 260 RBI.  He was originally signed by the Phillies as an amateur free agent out of Azua, Dominican Republic, in January of 2010.
  • Ken Giles, RHP – Limited to just 24 games due to injury last season, Giles, 23, went 2-2 with six saves and a 6.31 ERA with single-A Clearwater.  The Albuquerque, N.M., native also pitched for Peoria in the Arizona Fall League, where he was selected as an AFL All-Star after holding opponents scoreless in nine of his 10 relief appearances and striking out 16 in 10.1 innings.  Armed with a fastball which touches 100 mph, Giles has compiled 152 strikeouts in 112.1 career innings (12.18 SO/9.0 IP) over three minor league seasons between the Gulf Coast League Phillies, Lakewood BlueClaws and Clearwater.  Giles was originally selected by the Phillies in the seventh round of the June 2011 draft out of Yavapai College in Arizona.
  • Mario Hollands, LHP – In 2013, Hollands went 7-3 with a 2.86 ERA in 27 games (20 starts) between single-A Clearwater and double-A Reading.  He struck out 114 batters while walking just 32 in 132.0 innings.  The 25-year-old was named Phillies Minor League Pitcher of the Month in June after going 2-1 with a 1.00 ERA in four starts.  In four minor league seasons with the Phillies organization, Hollands has compiled a 24-22 record and 3.93 ERA in 96 games (67 starts).  The Oakland, Calif., native was originally selected by the Phillies in the 10th round of the June 2010 draft out of UC Santa Barbara.
  • Sebastian Valle, C – Valle began 2013 playing for Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic before spending the regular season with double-A Reading, where he hit .203 with 15 doubles, 12 home runs and 41 RBI in 98 games.  Following the season, he also appeared in 46 games with Caneros de los Mochis in the Mexican Winter League where he batted .304 with 11 extra-base hits and 15 RBI.  In parts of seven seasons in the Phillies minor league system, the 23-year-old has a .258 career average with 132 doubles, 61 home runs and 311 RBI in 608 games.  He was originally signed by the Phillies as an amateur free agent in October of 2006.

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Biddle, a 2010 first-round pick of the Phillies, was with the BlueClaws in 2011 and an on the SAL post-season All-Star team. Franco was with the BlueClaws for a few weeks in 2011 and all of 2012. Giles was with Lakewood for most of 2012. Hollands was the Opening Day starter in 2011 and here for part of 2012. Valle was here for half of 2009 and all of the 2010. He hit the game-winning home run in the SAL Championship Series clincher against Greenville in 2010.

Marson Back With Phillies

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

2006 BlueClaws catcher Lou Marson was among four players invited to spring training yesterday by the Phillies, joining OF Tony Gwynn Jr., RHP Sean O’Sullivan, and OF Dave Sappelt.

Marson, of course, was the starting catcher on the BlueClaws team that won the 2006 South Atlantic League title. He was originally drafted the Phillies in the 4th round of the 2004 draft out of high school in Scottsdale, Arizona.

He made his big league debut with the Phillies in 2008 and was traded to the Indians (with Jason Knapp, Carlos Carrasco, and Jason Donald) for Cliff Lee at the trade deadline in 2009. Marson has been with the Indians since, but this year was limited to just 12 games (between the big league club, AA Akron and AAA Columbus) by injury.

(Yes, that’s Pablo Sandoval tagging Marson out on the right in the 2006 SAL Championship Series against the Giants affiliate, Augusta)

The full Phillies release is below the fold.

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Dugan, Altherr Added to 40-Man Roster

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

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We would like to congratulate former BlueClaws Kelly Dugan and Aaron Altherr, who were each added to the Phillies 40-man roster on Wednesday and will get to now participate in big league Spring Training.

Wednesday was the deadline to add players to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from the Rule-5 Draft, which takes place on Thursday of Winter Meetings week, this year on December 12th in Orlando.

Dugan was with the BlueClaws in 2012 and hit .300 with 12 home runs (including over .350 in the second half of that season). This year, he opened the season with Clearwater, hitting .318 with 10 home runs before a July 4th to Reading. In his first taste of Double-A, he hit .264 with 10 more home runs in 56 games. He was a 2nd round pick of the Phillies in 2009.

Altherr played a season and a half with Lakewood, starting 2011 here and playing with the BlueClaws all of 2012 with Dugan. After hitting .211 in 2011, he hit .252 with 8 home runs and 25 stolen bases in 2012. This year with Clearwater, he had his best season as a pro, hitting .275 with 12 home runs and 23 stolen bases. He was a 9th round pick of the Phillies in 2009.

Both players signed at age 18 or younger, meaning they had five years before they needed to be placed on the 40-man as Rule-5 protected. Players who signed at age 19 or older (college draftees) have four years.

The Phillies also added catcher Tommy Joseph, acquired from the Giants last year as part of the Hunter Pence trade, and LHP Rob Rasmussen, who was acquired from the Dodgers on August 31st in exchange for Michael Young.

Castro Gets Spring Training Invite

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Leandro Castro, with the BlueClaws in both 2009 and 2010, received a non-roster invite to Spring Training today by the Phillies.

He re-signed with the organization after briefly being a minor league free agent.

Castro first came to the BlueClaws in the first half of 2009, but played sparingly as a 19-year old, and finished that season with Williamsport. In 2010, he was an everyday player on the BlueClaws SAL Championship team, hitting .257 with 10 home runs and 22 stolen bases.

He hit 10 more home runs with Clearwater in 2011 and Reading in 2012. This year, Castro hit .256 with 8 home runs and 20 stolen bases with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He can play all three outfield positions.

RHP Shawn Camp, LHP Cesar Jimenez, and OF Clete Thomas also received non-roster invites.

The next big day for prospects is coming up when teams need to protect players from the Rule-5 draft by adding them to the 40-man roster. Players who signed at age 18 or younger with four or fewer years experience are exempt (ie high school draftees taken in 2010 or later) or players who signed at age 19 or younger with three or fewer years of experience are exempt (ie college draftees taken in 2011 or later).

Wrapping Up Halladay’s Appearance

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Here is video of Roy Halladay talking after last night’s game at FirstEnergy Park.

And here are some photos from his appearance last night.

Brown Homers, Goes 3-5 in Rehab Appearance

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Phillies OF Domonic Brown went 3-5 with a home run and 2 RBIs rehabbing with the BlueClaws tonight in Hagerstown, though he grounded out with the bases loaded to end the game in an 8-4 defeat. We talked to Brown afterwards. You can listen to the comments in full here.

  • On his night – “Felt pretty good in the box. Really just trying to see some good pitches and I had some good swings.”
  • On the home run: “The first pitch was away and the next pitch was down. I was looking for something to drive in a hitter’s count – just trying to drop the head on it.”
  • On his return: “They’re telling me to play tomorrow (nine innings with Reading in Harrisburg) and then back to Phlily the next day. If everything goes well I should be back Wednesday.”
  • With Greg Legg (BlueClaws hitting coach who managed Brown in Williamsport in 2007 and was his hitting coach in Lakewood in 2008): “It was great to see Legger again. We had some tough times with him. He gets after it. If you don’t play hard, he doesn’t like it. It’s good to be back with him.”
  • What did you learn from Legger? “One speed – play hard. That’s the philosphy a lot of the Phillies guys preach. Play hard. If you don’t, they’re going to run you out.”

The BlueClaws lost the game 8-4, their 6th straight loss. Jonathan Musser takes the mound tomorrow night with a first pitch of 7:05.

Domonic Brown Opens Rehab With BlueClaws Tonight

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Domonic Brown will put on a BlueClaws uniform tonight for the first time since 2008 when he begins a MLB rehab assignment tonight in Hagerstown.

Brown, who played with the BlueClaws in 2008, has been on the concussion disabled list since an injury on July 23rd.

This year with the Phillies, he is hitting .271 with 24 home runs and 69 RBIs. His 24 HRs rank 4th in the National League, just three behind league leader Pedro Alvarez of the Pirates.

As of 4:14 pm we are waiting to see if he will be the DH or the left fielder tonight for the BlueClaws.

UPDATE: Brown will bat 3rd and play left field.

Brown, drafted by the Phillies in the 20th round in 2006, hit .291 with 9 HRs and 54 RBIs with the BlueClaws in 2008.

He is the first player to rehab with the BlueClaws on the road since Joe Blanton threw a 1-2-3 inning in Hagerstown on September 2nd, 2011.

#50: Pettibone to Make Debut Monday

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

Before the season, we looked at several players that could become the 50th Shore to the Show player. We focused on two – Mets C Travis d’Arnaud and Phillies RHP Jonathan Pettibone. It looks like Pettibone will in fact become #50.

d’Arnaud is out with a broken foot, but it would have been Pettibone anyway. He will be activated by the Phillies on Monday and make his debut in place of the injured John Lannan.

“He’s got stuff,” Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “He hasn’t pitched great this year yet, but his stuff has been good. His command hasn’t been great, but he’s been up to 92 to 94, 91 to 94 [m.p.h.]. He’s got good stuff and hopefully he has enough weapons and guile to pitch well for us.”

Pettibone was a 3rd round pick of the Phillies in 2008. After one year in the GCL and one in Williamsport, he debuted with the BlueClaws in 2010, going 8-6, 3.49. Perhaps nobody on the BlueClaws improved more over the year than Pettibone did. he had an ERA of 5.51 in the first half and 2.41 in the second half, improving his K/BB ratio from 1.4 to 2.8.

Here is the full Shore to the Show list of the 10 players who debuted last year.

40 Freddy Galvis 4/5/2012 2008 Philadelphia
41 Lendy Castillo 4/9/2012 2011 Chicago Cubs
42 Adrian Cardenas 5/7/2012 2007 Chicago Cubs
43 Jake Diekman 5/15/2012 2008-10 Philadelphia
44 Quintin Berry 5/23/2012 2007 Detroit
45 BJ Rosenberg 6/9/2012 2009 Philadelphia
46 Anthony Gose 7/17/2012 2009 Toronto
47 Tyler Cloyd 8/29/2012 2009 Philadelphia
48 Darin Ruf 9/14/2012 2010 Philadelphia
49 Tyson Brummett 10/3/2012 2008 Philadelphia

We’ll add to that tomorrow night.

The Phillies and Nebraska

Friday, March 15th, 2013

I thought this was a good article by Matt Gelb about the Phillies and their players from Nebraska. Click here to read.

Several former BlueClaws are mentioned, including Darin Ruf, Tyler Cloyd, and Jake Diekman.

Why Nebraska? Scouting director Marti Wolever used to live there, for one:

“It’s a big advantage to scouting the area where your boss lives,” said Dave Seifert, the Phillies’ Midwest-area scout. “The few days he’s home, he’s going to get out and see that area’s guys. That’s a huge advantage. I don’t know any other scouting directors that live in Omaha.”

Seifert’s coverage area spanned nine states in 2012. He said he spent four weekends from last March to May in Nebraska. The reason is Wolever; if Seifert can recommend a player Wolever has seen even just once, he may be more inclined to use a late-round pick on that name.

Unrelated to this article, but related to Ruf – He is believed to be the only BlueClaw to play for a Jesuit school (Creighton). We mention this because the recently elected new Pope is the first-ever Jesuit Pope. That’s your fun fact of the day.

Today’s The Big Day

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

Happy Pitchers and Catchers Report Day!

Many Phillies are already in camp, but today is official report day for Phillies pitchers and catchers. Position players report later this week.

Todd Zolecki has a rundown of some of the camp position battles, including what he projects could be two former BlueClaws, Darin Ruf and Domonic Brown, batting it out for one outfield spot. In the bullpen, Jake Diekman, Mike Stutes, Justin De Fratus, and BJ Rosenberg, all former BlueClaws, will be competing for spots.

Minor leaguers report in a few weeks, and I’ll post the minor league spring training schedule later this morning.

We also forgot to post about Michael Bourn going to the Indians. Bourn was a 2004 BlueClaw who stole 57 bases, the 3rd highest single-season total in franchise history. We wish him the best of luck.

More and more lately, we’ve heard about the importance of draft picks. The Mets were reportedly careful about pursuing Bourn because they might have to give up their first round pick (11th overall). What made the Indians a fit? File this away when projecting where free agents end up next winter. From the Plain Dealer:

The Tribe went into the off-season knowing they had to upgrade the outfield. They displayed initial interest in Bourn, but he was way out of their price range. Instead, they pursued Shane Victorino and Swisher, while Bourn’s price dropped because most of the high-profile teams interested in him didn’t want to part with their No. 1 draft pick as compensation.

The Tribe’s No. 1 pick was protected because it finished with one of the 10 worst records in the big leagues last year. They’d already lost their No. 2 pick by signing Swisher, which meant the most they could lose in signing Bourn was a pick between the second and third rounds that came their way through last year’s competitive-balance lottery.

They were in a unique position, and the Dolan family gave Antonetti the green light to go for it.

We wish Bourn the best of luck.