Archive for the 'Q&As' Category

Q&A: Josh Norris of Baseball America

Monday, February 1st, 2016

Several weeks ago, Baseball America released their annual Phillies Top Ten Prospects listings, which you can view here. In conjunction with that list, we spoke to Josh Norris of Baseball America. Josh was in charge of the Phillies rankings this year. You can read our conversation below.

  1. The Phillies were obviously able to re-tool their entire system in a relatively short period of time through several trades of established big league players. How does the system now compare with others in terms of overall top-end talent and depth?

The system is much-improved, for sure. Crawford is a Top 10 prospect in the game, and Williams and Thompson are in consideration for the Top 100 prospects as well.  That’s a good start. Andrew Knapp made one of the biggest jumps in recent memory with his run through Reading, Cornelius Randolph put together an excellent start to his professional career and the Top 10 rounds out with a pair of lottery tickets in Franklyn Kilome and Adonis Medina. It’s a much deeper system than it was a year ago.


Giles Recalls Lakewood, Readies for Season

Friday, January 23rd, 2015



Ken Giles’ rapid ascent through the Phillies system and into the Rookie of the Year race came as a surprise to many, but not to those that saw him and his 100 mph fastballs with the BlueClaws in 2012. Giles came back to Lakewood on Wednesday for the annual Phillies Winter Banquet and recalled his time with the BlueClaws three years ago.

“The fan experience stands out. It’s one of those things you couldn’t really describe in words,” he said. “It’s so special to me that this is where I started to be a professional baseball player. I soaked in every moment of it, I enjoyed myself, and I never had a point where I was stressing out about anything.”

Giles went 3-3 with a 3.61 ERA with the BlueClaws in 2012, making six starts among his 29 appearances and striking out 86 hitters in 67 innings pitched. He only threw 25 innings with Clearwater in 2013, but returned from injury to pitch in the Arizona Fall League, something that Giles considers a turning point in his career.

“That was the biggest point in my career, because I had to learn the different side of baseball and how to come back stronger, better, and smarter,” he said. “That helped me going into the AFL and I brought that into the next spring training too. All my pitching mechanics clicked when I came back from the injury.”

Giles was called in to Lehigh Valley manager Dave Brundage’s office after a game in June, like had happened several times before.

“You’re going to Cincinnati,” Brundage told him.

Giles didn’t realize the Phillies were in Cincinnati and asked if he’d been traded. He hadn’t. He’d been called up, and after debuting on June 12th, became the  61st player to go From The Shore, To The Show (the total list is now 67).

With the Phillies, Giles went 3-1 with a 1.18 ERA and struck out 64 hitters in 45.2 innings pitched and he’s ready for bigger things in 2015 in a bullpen with Jake Diekman and Jonathan Papelbon (if he doesn’t get traded).

“We’re going to be a hard bullpen to face. People are going to say ‘O man we have to face this bullpen,’ kind of like the Royals.  The starter didn’t go long, but they only needed him to go six, because they have the 7-8-9 guy. They have to score runs early.”

Who’s the toughest guy he’s faced? “Definitely Giancarlo Stanton (of the Marlins). He’s just got great bat ability, can hit hard throwers, and if you make a mistake, he’s going to make you pay.”

What did he learn with his first few months with the Phillies? “Be yourself. That’s not trying to showboat or anything, but being yourself. That’s all I did when I got brought up. I’m not going to change who I am, and I’ll be myself around the clubhouse. Once I cross those white lines, I have to be who I am.”

Now, he’s a reliever the National League will have to contend with for many years to come.

Get To Know: New BlueClaws Manager Shawn Williams

Thursday, November 20th, 2014


The announcement was made on Tuesday that Shawn Williams will manage the BlueClaws in 2015, coming from Williamsport where he managed the Crosscutters last year.

You can read the press release here and you can read the story in the Asbury Park Press here.

We had a chance to talk to Williams on Tuesday, and we have some quotes below.

On coming to Lakewood: I cannot wait to get up there. I’ve heard nothing but great things. I played in the South Atlantic League with Columbus (Georgia in 2008) but we didn’t play Lakewood. I’ve heard the stadium is an exciting place to play and have heard great things about the area and the fans. Legger (Greg Legg) told me how awesome it is.

Being a first-time manager last year: It was awesome. I learned a lot from Nelson Prada (who managed Williamsport in 2013 when Williams was a player/coach) and Roly de Armas (GCL Phillies manager) in extended spring training. Doug Mansolino (field coordinator) and Andy Tracy (hitting coordinator) have helped me along the way and the amount of knowledge you learn is priceless for me.

When he figured out he wanted to manage: It was always something I wanted to do down the road, but I didn’t know when it was going to happen. I asked my brother (Brady) who manages with the Rays (Double-A Montgomery last year) and he said I’d know when it was time. I was a player two years ago and they offered me the chance to start coaching and it was something I couldn’t turn down.

Hardest part of managing: It’s a combination of everything. Knowing the personalities of your players and getting the most out of them, during the every-day work that we do and making sure you don’t overwork them. The in-game stuff – learning when to hit and run and when to bunt – is the hardest to learn but a lot of that is knowing your players and what they can and can’t do.

Advice he’s received from his father Jimy, who managed the Blue Jays, Red Sox, and Astros: He gives me advice pretty much daily. I talk to him almost every day. He listens to the games, and he definitely has some insight for me, and asks questions about why we did this and that. Probably the best thing is when he comes up and visits and critiques how I coach third base, and I definitely use my dad as much as I can.

Experiences as a kid while his dad was a big league coach and manager: I don’t really remember Toronto but I remember Atlanta and especially Boston. We’d go there during the summers, go on a few road trips, and being around those players was a great learning experience, finding out what you’re supposed to do on a daily basis and how to conduct yourself.

Note: We also asked Williams about some of the players he had last year in Williamsport that could be BlueClaws in 2015. Look for that in the coming days.

Interview: Quinn Shining In Arizona Fall League

Friday, November 7th, 2014


Roman Quinn’s 2014 season started on the disabled list but it’s ending in the All-Star game of the prestigious Arizona Fall League, as the 2013 BlueClaw continues to thrive against some of the top prospects in baseball.

“I think I’ve stacked up pretty well,” he said on Thursday from Arizona. “I’m working on getting better every day. It’s great being out here and I’m learning a lot from the older guys. They’re giving me some great advice.”

Through games of November 6th, Quinn was leading the league in stolen bases (13 in 15 attempts), tied for the lead in runs scored (18) and tied for the league lead in walks (15). Because of his ability to walk, 15 in 92 plate appearances (16.3%), his on-base percentage is .370 and it’s given him ample opportunity to utilize his best tool, his speed. That this improved walk rate (he was just under 9% with Clearwater this year, has come against some of the best pitching prospects in the game, is all the more impressive. Quinn, who was a right-handed hitter growing up, began switch-hitting in 2012 while with Williamsport in the NY-Penn League and attributes his improved patience and plate discipline to the increased amount of reps he’s accumulated from the left side.

“It’s definitely something I wanted to work on. I figure it all came together from the reps I got and seeing more pitches and getting more at bats from the left side,” he said. “That [plate discipline and pitch selection] was the last part to come around from the left side.”


Talking Hitting With Andy Tracy

Monday, August 25th, 2014


Andy Tracy is the Phillies Minor League hitting coordinator and is responsible for all of the hitters in the Phillies minor league system. He spent the weekend with the BlueClaws at FirstEnergy Park and we sat down with him to talk about some of the hitters you’ve seen with the BlueClaws this year, a few that have played with the BlueClaws in the past, and a few that will play with the BlueClaws in the future.

Meet Aaron Brown, Off to Sharp Start With BlueClaws

Sunday, August 17th, 2014


Aaron Brown joined the BlueClaws on Thursday from Williamsport, and has seven hits over his first three games with Lakewood. We sat down with Brown, the Phillies third round pick this year from Pepperdine.

The outfielder has played two games in right field and one game in center with Lakewood. He played centerfield with Williamsport and at Pepperdine, where he was also an accomplished pitcher, going 13-1 with a sub-2 ERA this season.

We talked with Brown about the draft process, if he preferred pitching or hitting, and much more.

(The interview was done on Friday after his first game with the BlueClaws.)

Meet BlueClaws IF Drew Stankiewicz

Friday, August 8th, 2014


It’s not often that a 21 year old rookie has been around professional clubhouses for 10+ years, but that’s the case with BlueClaws infielder Drew Stankiewicz.

We sat down with Drew, whose father Andy played seven years in the big leagues including several seasons with the Yankees. Andy later managed in the Yankees system and is now the head coach at Grand Canyon University

Drew Stantkiewicz began his season with Williamsport before joining the BlueClaws for a week at the end of June. He then went back to Williamsport, where he hit .390 in July and re-joined Lakewood on July 30th, meeting the team in Delmarva.

Listen to the interview below. Stankiewicz talks about getting drafted (11th round this year out of Arizona State), his time as a kid in clubhouses with his father, some of the big leaguers that took him under their wing, and more.

Legg Recalls Boll Weevils

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014


With the BlueClaws taking on Kannapolis this week, we thought it was a good time to talk to BlueClaws manager Greg Legg about the year he managed in Kannapolis – 2000, the season before the BlueClaws came into existence.

Legg managed the Piedmont Boll Weevils, who played in Kannapolis in the same stadium used by the Intimidators today (they became the Intimidators in 2001, their first year with the White Sox).

The 2000 Boll Weevils were a great team – they won 90 of their 137 games, six more wins than the BlueClaws have ever accumulated in a season. Led by Marlon Byrd, Brett Myers and Ryan Madson, the team made the playoffs and lost in the first round of the post-season, two games to one to Delmarva (Erik Bedard beat them 1-0 in the series-deciding game).

Click here to view the team stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and listen to the interview below.

Meet Joe DeNato, BlueClaws LHP Drafted This Year From Indiana

Thursday, July 17th, 2014


The BlueClaws current roster has three current-year draftees – 2nd rd pick Matt Imhof, 9th rd pick Matt Hockenberry, and now 19th rd pick Joe DeNato.

DeNato was drafted by the Phillies in the 19th round of the 2014 draft from Indiana and was the first player the Phillies drafted out of IU since 1999. He’s also the first Hoosier to ever play for Lakewood, though a notable IU grad managed the BlueClaws the last two years – Mickey Morandini.

A San Diego native, DeNato gave up four runs in 11.1 innings with 15 strikeouts with Williamsport and tossed two scoreless innings in his BlueClaws debut.

We sat down with DeNato before Thursday’s game in Hickory.

From Philadelphia to the Phillies Minor Leagues, Meet Matt Hockenberry

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014


After a four-year career at Temple in Philadelphia, Matt Hockenberry was drafted by the Phillies in the 9th round in June. In less than two months, he’s gone from the Owls to the BlueClaws.

Tuesday night against Hagerstown, he came into a 2-1 game in the 9th inning and got the last three outs to earn his first professional save.

He talks about the last two months, his time at Temple, moving forward with the Phillies, and more.

Meet Scott Harris

Monday, June 30th, 2014

Scott Harris was drafted by the Phillies in the 27th round of this year’s draft, and entering Monday night, had made two appearances with Lakewood and one with the GCL Phillies.

The former Buena Vista University (Iowa) left-hander retired all 7 hitters he faced on Friday against West Virginia and sat down for an interview prior to Monday’s game.

Knapp On The Way Back

Saturday, June 28th, 2014

BlueClaws catcher Andrew Knapp is on the way back after having Tommy John Surgery in the fall. The Phillies 2013 second round pick out of the University of California joined the BlueClaws on June 2nd and after starting 5-29, he is 17-50. He hit his second BlueClaws home run on Friday in West Virginia.

We caught up with Knapp on Saturday.

Checking In With Andy Abad

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

An interview with Phillies OF/Baserunning Coordinator Andy Abad before Saturday’s game. He talks about developing the young outfielders, honing their baserunning craft, and teaching agression.

Checking In With Tyler Viza

Friday, May 16th, 2014

An interview with BlueClaws pitcher Tyler Viza.