RHP Tyler Viza, a 32nd round pick of the Phillies last year from Phoenix, AZ, gets the nod for the BlueClaws in tomorrow night’s home opener at FirstEnergy Park. We sat down with Tyler for a preview.
You can listen to the interview below:
RHP Tyler Viza, a 32nd round pick of the Phillies last year from Phoenix, AZ, gets the nod for the BlueClaws in tomorrow night’s home opener at FirstEnergy Park. We sat down with Tyler for a preview.
You can listen to the interview below:
On the eve of the 2014 season, we sat down with BlueClaws manager Greg Legg for our first Gold Coast Cadillac Manager’s Report of the year.
You can listen to the full interview by clicking here, and we have some snippets below.
There’s more in there and you can listen to the whole thing here.
Gold Coast Cadillac is the #1 Cadillac dealer on the east coast. A 12-time Cadillac Dealer of the Year, check them out on Route 35 in Oakhurst or online at GoldCoastCadillac.com.
At the Phillies Winter at Woodlake Country Club in January, we talked with Phillies Director of Player Development Joe Jordan about some potential 2014 BlueClaws players. It’s a perfect time, with Spring Training underway, to break out this interview and talk some baseball.
Joe, whats your excitement level heading into another baseball season?
Well, I’m excited for the third year, you know third year being a farm director. We’ve got a new staff situation here with Greg Legg taking over as manager, lef Lancaster coming back as pitching coach, Lino Connell coming back as the guy responsible for the hitters so I’m excited in that regard for those guys and again I like the players that we feel like are coming here at this point before we go to spring training.
Let me ask you first about JP Crawford. The BlueClaws themselves go back to 2001 and he was the first high school draft pick to make it to Low A in the year he was drafted since the BlueClaws came into existence so obviously that says something about his development and how he was ready to play right from day one.
Well yeah no question, obviously we felt good about how he did in the Gulf Coast League and really we had an opportunity to keep his season going and just decided to get him up here and dip his toes in a little bit, a full season league, fully expect him to start here this coming year, hopefully he’ll come in and have a good spring training and we can do that. This will be a good level and good challenge for him to play this year.
BlueClaws RHP Shane Watson will answer questions from fans later this week as part of a Fan Q&A session.
Watson, the 40th overall pick in the 2012 draft (supplemental first round choice), is 1-1, 3.68 over his first four starts. Most recently, he threw five scoreless innings on Sunday against Savannah, earning his first win.
He is the 12th ranked prospect in the organization per Baseball America and is just 19 years old, turning 20 on August 13th.
To submit a question – Please email radio at blueclaws.com to submit a question. We will take the best ones and do the interview later this week. Please leave your name and hometown.
As we mentioned in our previous post, we had some other comments from Jesse Biddle that didn’t quite make the story and wanted to share with you here.
On his off-season work…I’ve thrown a bullpen once a week for the last six or so weeks. I’m getting there. More and more game ready, closer to where I want to be, but I’m light years from where I need to be in May, June, July.
When he turned his season around in May (2012) - One of the things that happened was I started to throw a slider, which is something I was throwing in high school. That helped me with all my other pitches, and I felt a lot more comfortable with all my other pitches.
Ready for Double-A…Hopefully if the Phillies believe I’m ready for AA coming out of Spring Training and they put me there, the way it works is it seems they take the best hitters from Hi-A and put them in AA and you face the best of the best. I just have to really focus and bring my A-game every time and I can’t take a pitch off. Everyone says the biggest jump is from A ball to AA so it’s something that I’m really excited about, to see if you’re ready or not. We’ll see.
What he’s heard about Reading’s FirstEnergy Stadium…I’ve heard from pitchers that the wind blows out and the park isn’t very big, but the way I see it is if I keep the ball down and throw the pitches where I want, they can’t hit too many out. They’ll still have to get a hold of it to get it out. Unless I’m pitching against Darin Ruf, I can’t worry about it too much.
About Ruf and his major run last year (20 HRs in August), do the players on other teams in the system follow that and get into that?…We did. A guy hits 20 home runs in a month…that doesn’t happen very often. Especially for a guy like Ruf who you hear nothing but nice things about. For him to be able to ride that wave into the big leagues is a great opportunity and something that we were all rooting for.
Most interesting thing he did in the off-season…I just went to the inauguration. I had an amazing time there. One of my friends goes to George Washington and is in the ROTC program. He has a lot of connections and works on a few congressional campaigns, and got us some tickets. We were pretty close to the front. It was a great experience and something that I”ll remember for the rest of my life.
More on the inauguration…It’s not something you see every day. Watching on tv is great, but it’s nothing like in person. You can’t really understand having 800,000 people in the same area. The Phillies parade was a million people but it’s on a long stretch of Broad Street. So to have this many people crammed into one area is very overwhelming, but everyone was extremlely happy. You didn’t realize how cold you were.
You can listen to the interview by clicking here or by listening below.
Or, take a look at some article snippets…
How spring training and his off-season are different now that he has a year in the system (Jordan came to the Phillies from the Orioles following the 2011 season)…I talk about it all the time. It’s going to be a lot different and more enjoyable. I don’t have 170 players or a complete staff to get to know. I want to go down and concentrate on the job and the players. It’s going to make all the difference in the world for me. I can give my staff more of what they need and not trying to learn everyone’s name.
On Jesse Biddle - No one had a better year, developmentally, than him. At the end of the year he’s throwing four pitches at Hi-A as a young pitcher. His command was good and no one had a better year. But when you get to know him and see him work, there are reasons why he’s successful. He has as much pride as anyone. It’s very important for him to one day pitch for the Philadelphia Phillies, we all know that. As far as this year is concerned, he’s scheduled to go to Reading and I’m excited to see how he handles the challenge.
Do you agree that the jump from Hi-A to AA, which Biddle will make this year, is the biggest in Minor League Baseball? I do agree with that. The strike zone is smaller and the hitters are more patient. For me it’s definitely the first real separator they run into.
On Jonathan Pettibone (2010 BlueClaw) and the strides he made in 2012 – Last winter at this time, he was the player that was as accurately described to me by the staff as anyone. He was a pitcher. He doesn’t throw the ball 95 mph but he was going to throw it where he wanted to and use his change-up. He was exactly as they said. I love his consistency, and that’s going to allow him to be a good major league pitcher. His year was phenomenal. When he went to AAA he didn’t miss a step.
There’s a lot more below the fold, including on some potential 2013 BlueClaws.
This off-season was a special one for 2012 BlueClaws outfielder Kelly Dugan – he got to enjoy his first “white Christmas.”
“Our family went up to Yosemite with my girlfriend and best friend. They had never seen snow before,” said Dugan. “You don’t get a white Christmas in LA.”
Now that the holidays have passed, however, the only white Dugan will be seeing is a baseball. He’s spent the last few months, and will spend the next month, diligently preparing for the baseball season that will begin when he reports to Clearwater for Spring Training next month.
“Being able to spend time with family is great, but one of the best parts of the off-season is being able to spend so much time in the gym and working on my craft,” he said. “That part makes you feel confident heading into a long year.”
Dugan took about a month off but beginning in October, got back in the weight room and has been hitting with former Dodger Reggie Smith at his facility five minutes from the Dugan residence.
A couple of weeks ago, Baseball America released their annual Phillies Top Ten prospect rankings. As we’ve done in years past, we went deeper into those rankings by talking to Matt Forman, the Baseball America writer who compiled them.
As a refresher, 2011 BlueClaws LHP Jesse Biddle topped the list, and likely 2013 BlueClaws SS Roman Quinn was second on the list.
You can follow Matt on Twitter here. Onto the Q&A:
Q: What were the biggest strides Jesse Biddle made over the past season?
Jesse Biddle, the Phillies’ No. 1 prospect entering 2013, has had an incremental climb throughout his young professional career. Really, and the Phillies’ brass has said this multiple times, he has done everything — and more — that’s been asked of him since his signed as their first-round pick in 2010. Last year, Biddle took significant strides in a number of areas. In terms of stuff, Biddle better pitched to both sides of the plate with his fastball. His changeup developed into a swing-and-miss offering. He gained consistency with his curveball, especially in controlling its knee-buckling depth. He also added a slider and a two-seam fastball to his arsenal. All the while, in terms of statistics, Biddle cut his walk rate, improved his whiff rate and bettered his groundball-to-flyball ratio — all positive indicators. When the stats and stuff align, that’s a good sign for any pitching prospect. If Biddle continues progressing the way he has, he could out-perform his projected mid-rotation starter upside.
Q: Roman Quinn ranked #2 on the list and in the write-up you said he was a legit 80-speed on the 20-80 scouting scale. In general, how rare is that 80 designation?
Extremely rare — 80-grade tools are not offered liberally. The 20-80 scouting scale is based on the mathematical normal distribution curve, where 50 is Major League average and every 10-point differential falls one standard deviation from the mean. By literal definition, then, Roman Quinn’s speed should roughly rate among the top 0.1 percent of players — but the system isn’t quite that scientific. That is, probably between 15 and 20 percent of big leaguers have “average” or 50-grade speed, because players slow down (age, size) and speed isn’t as big a part of the game as it once was, though that’s changing. Regardless, Quinn is on the short list of the fastest players in the minor leagues — arguably the fastest player not named Billy Hamilton, of Cincinnati’s system. Quinn’s speed is game-changing, impacting play in the field, at the plate and on the bases.
Q: Quinn was listed in the middle of the pack in the 2012 ratings. What stood out about his 2012 performance and were you surprised about his jump?
I’d say I was somewhat surprised by Quinn’s jump, but not totally shocked. Quinn barely missed the Top 10 last year, coming in at No. 11 on the pre-2012 list after being selected in the second round of the draft, and that ranking was at least partially influenced by the fact that he signed late and made his professional debut in instructional league, so we were largely relying on his amateur reports. In instructs, he impressed observers with his first-step quickness, but he had just committed to switch-hitting and playing shortstop full-time. Really, that’s what stood out about his 2012 performance — his development on the infield dirt, where scouts seem encouraged he’ll be able to stay, and his improvement hitting left-handed. He’s got a plus arm and good actions at short, and he could be a solid-average hitter from both sides.
To your original question: Quinn was the New York-Penn League’s No. 3 prospect, and when I started the reporting/researching process for this list, I expected him to fall somewhere in the middle of Top 10. But quickly, Quinn received consideration for the list’s No. 1 spot, and it wasn’t necessarily an easy decision to go with Biddle over Quinn. Ultimately, Quinn has a higher ceiling, but Biddle is the safer bet to reach his ceiling after spending his age-20 season pitching for high Class A Clearwater.
Q: Jonathan Pettibone was here in Lakewood in 2010 on a staff that had Brody Colvin, Jarred Cosart, Trevor May, and Julio Rodriguez and he always seemed to get lost in the shuffle. Obviously he had a tremendous season and beat all of those guys to Triple-A (save Cosart who was an injury fill-in there with Houston). Did his move and year surprise people and what’s his projection going forward?
You’re right about Jonathan Pettibone being overlooked among the “Baby Aces” rotation that pitched in Lakewood in 2010 and Clearwater for half of 2011. That’s likely because Pettibone doesn’t have (and didn’t have) the pure stuff of Colvin, Cosart and May, and he hasn’t posted (and didn’t post) the outrageous strikeout totals of Rodriguez. But Pettibone has the best pitchability among that group, and that’s why he has progressed more quickly through the minor leagues.
I’d say Pettibone’s 2012 was marginally unexpected, at least in the sense that I didn’t anticipate he’d make seven starts for Triple-A Lehigh Valley last year, and I don’t think many others would’ve made that prediction. But Pettibone entered the year as the system’s No. 4 prospect, and he’ll enter next year occupying the same spot. So the more surprising jump happened two seasons ago, but it was encouraging to see him have another strong season.
Pettibone’s projection: a mid-rotation, innings-eater, probably as a No. 3 or No. 4 starter. Some scouts still worry about his lack of a swing-and-miss pitch. For his solid stuff and advanced command/control, Pettibone has never missed many bats, though his strikeout rate bumped up at Lehigh Valley. That said, Pettibone likely will be given a chance to compete for the Phillies’ fifth starter spot in spring training, and either way he could see time in Philadelphia at some point in 2013.
There’s a lot more below the fold…
We had a chance to talk with 2010 BlueClaws RHP Jonathan Pettibone (follow him on Twitter @Jon_Pettibone) for a pre-spring training Q&A that you can read below.
Pettibone went 8-6, 3.49 with Lakewood in 2010 (2.41 ERA in the second half) and helped the BlueClaws win their second of two straight Sally League titles. Last year, he went 10-11 with Clearwater but only because of a lack of run support. He had a sparkling ERA of just 2.96, 5th best in the Florida State League. Baseball America ranked him 4th in the system, his highest ranking.
How would you assess your season last year? It seemed like you picked up right where you left off? It was the main goal going in, first making Clearwater, and staying healthy, that was a big key for me, but also just doing like I did in 2010 and continuing to attack the hitters and throw all three pitchers for strikes and let my defense do the work.
Were the hitters a lot different, a lot better, at that level? They’re more patient and they won’t chase your out pitch, slider in the dirt or whatever it is. For me, not being a strikeout pitcher, I kind of just went after hitters and made them put the ball in play and get the out from there.
So as you prepare to make the next jump to Double-A, what would you say would be the most important thing for you to do? It’s really just keeping the same approach. I would say I’ve gone after it harder in the weight room and running. For one, they’re going to expect a bunch of innings (he threw 161 last year, 131.1 in 2010), so I’m preparing myself to stay healthy and get through another full season. I’m excited for the new challenge. We’ve heard that’s the biggest jump (Hi-A to AA), and plus I get to hit.
Did you hit in high school? Early in HS I did, but later on just pitched.
Are you excited to hit? Right now I’m kind of scared (chuckle), but once I get a little comfortable, I’ll be ok.
What’s your offseason throwing plan been like? I picked up a baseball in mid-December and light tossed from there. Then I started throwing bullpens about two weeks ago.
What’s the workout regimen been like? At the end of the year, Shawn (Fscani – Phillies minor league strength and conditioning coordinator) gives us a pretty solid program. I’ll throw in a few of my own workouts but I stay on pace on what they want from me each week. The calendar helps guide you to where you need to be leading up to the end of February..
Two of your teammates, Jonathan Singleton and Jarred Cosart, were traded at the deadline. What was that like? It was different. We kind of had an idea it might be coming, at least someone from our team. It was a little easier because of that. But Cosart was my roommate on the road. We were down in Palm Beach, we got the call and then he left the next morning.
What’s your favorite thing to do in the offseason? Play a lot of golf – I play in the season too.
How have you hit them? Let’s not talk about that (laughter). Not that well lately. I’m about a bogey golfer.
Favorite part of your time in Lakewood? Winning the championship, of course. The whole year in general. Winning both halves, but to top it off on the championship, that was the best.
What’s your typical day like in the offseason? Now I’m pretty busy with throwing, running, hitting, lifting. But before, I enjoyed family and friends that I hadn’t seen in awhile, golfing, and a little ping pong.
Your dad played in the big leagues. Has he talked to you about what to expect as you move up? We haven’t really gotten to that point, but the majority of his career was in the minors. I talked to him a lot after my starts on how I feel or how things are going. But we really haven’t crossed the path of what to expect moving up.
You’ve been moving up a lot of the offseason prospect rankings lately. Is that something you pay attention to? I don’t pay attention to it but of course I hear about it. It’s something I try not to get too involved in. I’m not complaining though.
Twitter. How’d you get involved? Last spring training, a bunch of guys, (Jarred) Cosart, (Jiwan) James, were talking about it. And I gave in. I’m not as bad as Jiwan though (laughter).
Thanks to Jon for a few minutes and we wish him best of luck this season.
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.”
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
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.
(continued below the fold)
We had a chance to catch up with 2010-11 BlueClaws RHP Colby Shreve earlier this week for a new interview in which he talks about his time in Lakewood, his time in the Arizona Fall League this year, his plans for the offseason, and much more.
Shreve, a 6th round pick in 2008, missed that year and 2009 after having elbow surgery, but joined the BlueClaws in April of 2010. He stayed the duration of that year and settled into a relief role with the BlueClaws in 2011 before an August promotion to Clearwater.
On Arizona Fall League: It was good. It was a bit humbling, as you have the best minor league hitters down there but it was a good experience to know what it takes to play at the AA or AAA level. I met a lot of new guys from different organizations and see how the Red Sox or Angels or Nationals run their organizations.
What was the biggest thing you took out of your experience there? For whatever reason, when I got down there, maybe it was subconsciously, I started walking a lot of guys. A lot more than I usually did. During the year my K/BB ratio was pretty good but it fell off down there. Throwing strikes is #1 on the to-do list. Half of my earned runs reached base on walks. It was a hard lesson on what not to do. You fall behind those guys, at 2-0, 2-1, they’re going to mash it somewhere.
What was the call-up to Clearwater from Lakewood like? It went real good. I got up there, and the hitters were a little more disciplined and if you throw it over the plate it will get hit harder but it wasn’t as big a jump as I thought it would be. Towards the end, I gave up a few earned runs but I felt good about how I pitched down there.
What do you plan on doing throwing-wise in the off-season? I think they want us to throw about five or six bullpen sessions. It’s worked very well for me in the past. I’ll start tossing at the end of the month. They have a really good off-season program for us. We’ll progress in the bullpens and go down 5 or 6 in.
Do you have any goals as you head into the 2012 season? I never want to go in expecting to go somewhere. We have a ton of really talented guys and a lot are right on the edge. Where you end up when the season starts depends on how you go into spring training and how you play there.
Favorite experience with Lakewood? Definitely winning the title last year, that was a lot of fun. We had a great team too, a lot of great guys.
Shreve also mentioned his AFL teammate, Bryce Harper. Both are from the Las Vegas area and worked out with the same physical therapist in the last offseason.
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.