Over the next few weeks, we’re going to preview different units on what could be the 2011 BlueClaws. Today’s our third look, the starting pitchers. Obviously not everyone on this list will be here (we listed 11), and some will be here in the bullpen, but these are a few of the guys we’ll look for when the spring training games start.
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Previously in this Series: Road to Lakewood, The Infield, Road to Lakewood: The Outfield.
Starting Pitchers (in alphabetical order)
Jesse Biddle: Jesse’s story is one straight out of a Disney movie. A hometown kid from Mount Airy, PA, the Phillies drafted him 27th overall in the 1st round in the 2010 Amateur Draft. He signed quickly and went to the Gulf Coast League and pitches well. He got bumped up to Williamsport (very rare for a high school draft pick to get to Williamsport in their rookie year), and again he pitched well. Here is a BlueClaws.com article on Biddle from the Winter Tour earlier this month, and another from Phillies.com. He was a combined 4-1 with a 3.92 ERA in 12 starts last season between the Gulf Coast League Phillies and Williamsport. Baseball America has him 8th in the system. Considering we’ve seen a number of second-year pros open with the BlueClaws (Jason Knapp, Anthony Gose, Brody Colvin for example), he has a good shot. He said at the Winter Tour his first goal was to start here.
David Buchanan: David was a 7th Round Pick by the Phillies in last June’s MLB Amateur Draft out of Georgia State University. He started all 13 game he pitched in with Williamsport last season, and went 3-1 with a 4.21 ERA. A native of Peachtree City, GA, David pitched for two years at Chipola Junior College in Florida before finishing his college career after one year with Georgia State. Here is an article from Georgia State’s Athletics website after he signed with the Phillies. The article notes that he was the highest drafted GSU player, behind Scott Youngbauer (10th rd, 2000). Youngbauer is also a former BlueClaw (2001-2002). A The 6’3”, 190 pound right-hander, Buchanan throws a mid 90’s fastball to go along with a curveball.
Lendy Castillo: A 21-year old from the Dominican Republic, he pitched quite well last year for the GCL Phillies (3-1, 2.22). He struck out 51 in 44 innings and opponents hit .212 off him. Moved into the rotation for the final month, he’ll have to earn a spot but that was a very promising US debut.
Garett Claypool: An 11th round pick from UCLA, Claypool went 3-3, 3.18 with Williamsport last year, 12 starts and four relief appearances. Like others, his bullpen outings could certainly have been related to a heavy workload from the spring season, which for UCLA lasted into the College World Series. Was a 32nd round pick in 2009 by Oakland. He gave up three runs in 1/3 of an inning in his final appearance, raising his ERA from 2.41.
Percival Garner: 2nd round pick of the Phillies last year from Ball State, where he went to play QB for now Michigan coach Brady Hoke. He switched his focus to baseball (wisely, obviously) after being ranked the top pitching prospect in the Great Lakes summer collegiate league in 2009. He made just two appearances with Williamsport last year (he was shut down for precautionary reasons), but touches 96 with his fastball. Baseball America has him 21st in the system.
Nick Hernandez: One who you wouldn’t think would be here except for a loaded Clearwater rotation (Jarred Cosart, Brody Colvin, Jonathan Pettibone, Trevor May, Colby Shreve). He was 3-1, 1.61 with the BlueClaws, including taking a no-hitter into the 8th inning on May 16th at Greensboro. That was his final appearance of the season, however. He was with the BlueClaws (inactive) during the playoffs and said he felt great, 100%. I would be surprised if he’s with the BlueClaws when the season opens, and the only reason its even a consideration is the Clearwater potential rotation. But again, I think he’s pitched his last game as a BlueClaw.
Mario Hollands: A hard throwing (see a trend?) left-hander, Mario is another 2010 Philadelphia draft pick. Chosen in the 10th round out of UC Santa Barbara, Mario is a California native. PresidioSports.com did a nice write up on Hollands after the Phillies selected him last June. The 6’5”, 205 pound lefty hopes to build upon his first taste of pro ball at the end of last year where he went 4-4 with a 4.57 ERA in 14 starts with Williamsport. He throws 5 pitches: a four seam fastball which tops out around 91 mph, two seam fastball, curveball, slider, and a changeup.
Craig Fritsch: The Phillies plucked him in the 16th round last June out of Baylor University. He was an 8th round pick by the Detroit Tigers in 2009, but decided to stay in school. A 6’5”, 190 pound right hander, he finished 2-0 with a 4.38 ERA in 16 games (7 starts) with Williamsport. Faded at the end (8 ER in last 3 IP), raising his ERA from 2.65. Three-time Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Role. Not sure exactly what the Phillies plans are for him, as in starter or reliever. Certainly possible (likely?) that his relief appearances were related to a heavy workload from the long college season.
Ervis Manzanillo: A 21-year old lefty from Venezuela, Manzanillo split 2010 between the GCL Phillies (3-0, 2.16 in seven starts) and Williamsport (1-2, 6.29 in six starts). Seems like a big difference, but basically in the Penn-League he just started walking guys. With the Crosscutters, he only allowed 19 hits in 24 innings, to go along with 23 strikeouts, very good numbers. However, he walked 18, compared to 11 (in 33 IP) with the GCL Phillies. Don’t know much else about him beyond that, but certainly you can put him in the mix.
Eric Pettis: Almost immediately after being drafted by Philadelphia in the 35th round out of UC Irvine last June, he was thrust into the starting rotation for Williamsport. He started 5 games, pitched in 20 games total and finished the regular season a dazzling 8-0 with a 1.37 ERA (67 Ks and 7 BBs in 59 IP). Williamsport got knocked out on the last day (Sunday before Labor Day), and on the bus home, Chris Truby told Pettis he was coming to Lakewood for their playoffs, and he appeared in three of the seven playoff games. Here is a great interview with Eric over at PhuturePhillies.com and one with BlueClaws Blog in which he talks about Tweeting. His 2011 is kind of a mystery. He could be in Lakewood’s rotation or bullpen (he pitched in the pen to limit his innings), or he could be in Clearwater’s bullpen too. Considering how dominant he was with Williamsport, it wouldn’t be shocking if he skipped Lakewood this year.
Julio Rodriguez: On the surface, he shouldn’t be back here. From the time he re-joined the BlueClaws in July (he was here for a few weeks in early June) through the end of the season, his line was as follows: 39 IP, 3 ER, 19 H, 11 BB, 68 K. He could not pitch better. However, when Clearwater’s rotation could conceivably be: Jarred Cosart, Brody Colvin, Jonathan Pettibone, Trevor May, Colby Shreve (plus Matt Way, maybe Nick Hernandez too), Julio could be here for a few months at the start of 2011. He was an 8th round pick by the Phillies in 2008 out of his native Puerto Rico. Check out this nice read on Julio written a few weeks ago by Jay Floyd at PhoulBallz. Rodriguez also pitched over the winter for Puerto Rico in qualifying for the Pan-American games, and he went 3-1 with a 2.00 ERA in 11 games for the Gigantes of the Puerto Rican Winter League. Baseball America has him 25th in the system.