Today is a rainy day in the Tampa Bay region but yesterday was interesting in the Phillies minor league camp with the release of the Work Group List (you can see it HERE) and the first day of pitchers throwing live batting practice.
The most interesting group to me is Group 3. On Schmidt Field yesterday morning we were able to watch the top three power hitters in the Phillies minor league system currently in camp: left-handed hitting Dylan Cozens and Art Charles and right-handed hitter Zach Green. Cozens won hands down lining the ball hard all over the field and taking one out to deep right center in coach’s batting practice when I was watching, Charles hit the ball hard as well but Green seemed to get under most of his fly ball hits.
The fourth power hitter in Group Three is a big 6’3″ 220 lbs. left-handed hitting outfielder named Hilton Richardson. The 25 year old has not played in two seasons after being released by the Braves. He also went deep to right and he does merit keeping an eye on.
In the afternoon session live pitchers batting practice took place for the first time in the minor league camp at the fields of the Carpenter Complex. We focused on Groups 3 and 4 who were on Schmidt and Ashburn Fields. At this time these guys make up the early stages of the Clearwater Threshers and Lakewood BlueClaws teams. But with 58 players still in the major league camp and up to 175 in the minor league camp many player transactions and outright releases will be taking place very shortly.
Group 1 is comprised of the older players fighting for the AAA Lehigh Valley roster spots and Group 2 represents the early Reading roster. Mostly the youngster from the DSL, VSL and the GCL Phillies comprise Group 5 players who were dispatched to the far back fields of the DiMaggio Complex yesterday.
We spoke to one of the pitchers we knew from last season. He told Baseball Betsy and I that the pitching coaches, now under the direction of new minor league pitching coordinator Carlos Arroyo, have changed his arm slot to a more overhand delivery. He claims that this has enabled him to throw 94-96 mph in his early bullpen sessions. He was scheduled to throw his first live batting practice today but the weather likely will delayed his outing.
Live BP for each Group consisted of a pitcher throwing about 20 pitches in each of two simulated innings to the hitters. The were watched closely from behind the mound by a pitching coach. Jesen Therrien and Feliberto Sanchez with battery mate Jake Sweaney were the first two pitchers to alternate on Schmidt Field and Alejandro Arteaga and Ranfi Casimiro with Chad Carman catching did the same on Ashburn Field. These guys comprised the starting staff for the GCL Phillies last season.
In addition to BP in the morning and live pitchers throwing batting practice in the afternoon we were able to watch Roman Quinn, who is on the disabled list with an achilles injury, go through his rehab work. Roman was one of the most impressive players in last year’s minor league camp but he will likely start the season in extended spring training which starts soon after the minor league camp breaks to start the regular season.
The minor league spring training games start on March 11th with AAA and AA and the A+ and low A teams alternating between home and away games with their counterparts in the Yankee, Blue Jay and Pirates camps. Last season the Phillies played always interesting intrasquad games with AAA vs. AA and high A vs. low A the day before the start of the minor league spring training games.