Ours Friends, Phillies Minor League Pitchers Colin Kleven, Ranfi Casimiro and Elniery Garcia Came Up Big In Recent Games

It’s been a great seven days or so of Phillies minor league baseball for us.  The last Clearwater Threshers’ game I attended was a Florida State League, first half, northern division clincher last Wednesday at Bright House Field.  It ended with us watching a Tuesday night game in MiLB-TV with  Reading winning in New Britain Conn .

In both cases it was our good friend Colin Kleven on the bump.  In between it was a lot of winning Lakewood BlueClaws baseball that we watched in Hickory, N.C. with two other good friends Ranfi Casimiro and Elniery Garcia toeing the rubber picking up wins.

To us, following Phillies minor league baseball is much more than just winning and losing or even developing future major league players.   We feel lucky enough to get to know a few of the guys personally.  That makes it even more rewarding when they have good games and in Colin’s case moves on up and position himself for a major league call-up.

Colin Kleven

Colin Kleven

We were all set to follow Kleven pitch for Team Canada in the Pan-Am games baseball tournament starting July 11th in suburban Toronto.  We thought it was a great chance for Colin to show off what we already have seen, his outstanding stuff.

He came up big when he struck out six in a row and seven of the first ten batters he faced in the FSL clinching, first half championship game in Wednesday and low and behold he got called up to Reading just in time for Tuesday’s game in New Britain, Conn.  In the Threshers game his fastball topped at 97 mph on the scoreboard after a strikeout.   With the kind of stuff Colin has shown, he will not now be pitching for Team Canada in mid July but hopefully by September, the Philadelphia Phillies.

We got back to our home in the Tampa Bay area on Monday from our road trip to Hickory N.C. just in time to watch Mark Leiter Jr. pitch his third start for Reading after spending the first two months of the season with the Threshers.  We watched him take a shutout into the bottom of the seventh of a  scheduled seventh inning game.  He gave up a homer but retired the next batter to pick up a complete game win.  In his three AA starts Mark is now 1-2  with an excellent 2.18 ERA.

Kleven make his AA debut on MiLB-TV, Tuesday night and he did not disappoint.  He pounded the strike zone and walked no batters.  He gave up only three hits and a run in six inning of work to pick up the win.  He needed only 79 pitches to get the job done.  Colon showed great command using all of his pitches including one of his four strikeouts on a called third strike slider painting the outside corner of the plate.

As I earlier blogged, Casimiro and Garcia were outstanding in picking up wins in the Friday and Sunday games when we were in the stands in Hickory.   In the two starts we have seen each of them pitch on road this season they are a combined 3-0.

Casimiro was ahead when he was taken out in his start back in early May in Savannah, Georgia but the game was tied up later before the BlueClaws managed to win the game.

Ranfi Casimiro

Ranfi Casimiro

In the two Garcia road starts when we were in the stands, he has pitched 13 innings, giving up three runs, 12 hits, four walks and 10 strikeouts, winning both games for a 2.07 ERA.

Elniery Garcia

Elniery Garcia

The BlueClaws are 6-0 in the six road games we have watched them play this season.  In the Savannah series they had Carlos Tocci in center, Rhys Hoskins at first and Malquin Canelo at short in the lineup.  They have all been moved up to the Clearwater Threshers.

In the three games last weekend they had second round draft picks Scott Kingery at second and fourth round pick Kyle Martin at first or DHing and moved Herlis Rodriquez to center.

It’s been a good week for our friends in the Phillies farm system.  Colin Kleven picked up two wins at two different levels on his way to the majors. Mark Leiter Jr. winning his first game at AA.  Ranfi Casimiro and Elniery Garcia continue to be road warriors on the mound, each winning a game.  It just does not get any better than that for Baseball Betsy and me!
















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Lakewood’s Elniery Garcia pitches Seven Shutout Innings Leading the Way To A 9-0 Win Over Hickory In SAL Action

Lakewood BlueClaws Elniery Garcia had little trouble in picking up the win in seven shutout innings as he pickup his fifth win of the season in defeating the Hickory Crawdads 9-0 on Sunday.  He goes to a record of 5-6 this season.

Elniery Garcia

Elniery Garcia

Baseball Betsy and I completed our three game trip to Hickory, North Carolina to watch the BlueClaws and they won all three game we attended. Sunday’s game they dominated, paced by two hits and a RBI by left fielder Cord Sandberg, See HERE, and two hits and two RBIs by first baseman Kyle Martin,  See HERE.

But it was the work of Lakewood’s starter Garcia that shutdown the ‘Dads over seven innings on four hits.  The 20-year old lefty induced two double play ground balls.   Overall he struck out four and walked one. See HERE, HERE, HERE.  He kept the ball on the ground by forcing eight ground outs to only three pop fly outs.  Lefty reliever Joey DeNato came on and pitched shutout ball over the final two innings.

Garcia had some of his best stuff of the season with his 91-93 fastball and a devastating curve ball in the mid-70’s that resulted in three of his strikeouts.

Elniery Garcia

Elniery Garcia

We knew early on Garcia would have a good game.  He looked sharp in the bullpen warming up before the game.

Elniery Garcia

Elniery Garcia

After Elinery was done he flipped the ball up to us and then signed it after the game.

Family picture

Elniery Garcia, Ross, Betsy and Ranfi Casimiro


Elniery Garcia signed ball


We have seen the BlueClaws play six games so far this season.  They have won all six, winning three in Savannah back during the first week of May and now three more in Hickory while Baseball Betsy and I were in attendance.  We hope to see them again in July as they make another trip into the South visiting Rome, Georgia and Kannapolis, North Carolina.  They always play good baseball when they know we are in the stands.









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Lakewood BlueClaws Win Again In Hickory Paced By Timely Hitting and Strong Arms Of The Bullpen

Baseball Betsy and I were treated to another great game of baseball Saturday night in Hickory N.C. by the Lakewood BlueClaws.   The first half northern division champions Crawdads were no match for the BlueClaws as they rallied from behind to win 6-3 with three runs in the eighth and one in the ninth.

This season we have attended five BlueClaws games and they won them all.  Back in the first week in May when they won three in a row while we were in Savannah Ga. They were a different team then who relied on the bats of Carlos Tocci and Rhys Hoskins.

Now they have a more balanced attack that can score in many ways.  Last night it was the long balls of shortstop Emmanuel Marreno early and DH Kyle Martin late,  see Martin’s 9th inning homer HERE.  They also scored on  timely base hits by catcher Joel Fisher in the third, SEE HERE, and recent addition Scott Kingery two-run RBI single in the eight SEE HERE.  Centerfielder Herlis Rodriguez doubled to also drive in a run in the eighth inning. SEE Here.

In addition to timely hitting it was shutdown pitching out of the pen which was key to the 6-3 come from behind win.  After Chris Oliver gave up three runs in a five inning start, Manny Martinez, Austin Davis (SEE HERE) and Matt Hockenberry (SEE HERE) shutdown the Crawdads on one hit over the final four innings. Martinez picked of the win, Davis the hold and Hockenberry his seventh save of the season.

Lakewood celebrates their win over Hickory

Lakewood celebrates their win over Hickory

We are in Hickory for one more game before we head back to the Tampa Bay area as lefty Elniery Garcia takes to the mound for the BlueClaws in today’s action.






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Lakewood Wins First Game of the Second Half Thanks To A Grand Slam by Cord Sandberg and Strong Pitching

It was a long 12 hour drive from the Tampa Bay area to Hickory N.C. but Baseball Betsy and I made it and so far we are glad we did.  The Lakewood BlueClaw defeated the defending first half South Atlantic League northern division champions Hickory Crawdads 6-3 in the second game of their five game series to open the second half.

Lakewood was paced by a grand slam in the third inning just inside the right field foul pole by Cord Sandberg.  See Here.  He would finish going three for four and a triple short of the cycle.  He is off to a torrid start in the series going 6 for 8 in the first two games. See His double HERE.

Cord Sandberg

Cord Sandberg

Recent fourth round draft pick Kyle Martin would add an RBI double as well.  See HERE.

Kyle Martin

Kyle Martin

Centerfielder Herlis Rodriquez doubled, See Here, and walked in the game to bring his batting average to .311 and his OPS to third in the league at .842.

Herlis Rodriguez smacks a double

Herlis Rodriguez smacks a double

It was the strong pitching of the BlueClaws that held the first half champs at bay.  Starter Ranfi Casimiro went five and struck out the side in the second and would get a fourth strikeout in the fourth inning to garner his third win of the season.  See HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE.

Ranfi Casimiro

Ranfi Casimiro

Alexis Rivero would come on in the eight and ninth innings to pitch shutout baseball to record his seventh save of the year.  The hard throwing reliever lit up the Crawdads scoreboard speed gun with 97 and 98 mph fastballs.  He struck out the final batter on low heat at 98 mph on the outside corner for a called strike three.  See Here.

Alexis Rivero

Alexis Rivero

Timely hitting and good pitching usually mean victory and so it was in the win for the Lakewood BlueClaws last night in, as they say here, northwestern North Carolina.





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Clearwater Threshers Colin Kleven Showed Today He Is A “big game” Pitcher

It was a “big game”.  The last game of the first half of the Florida State League. Two teams, the Daytona Tortugas and Clearwater Threshers,  tied for first place playing each other.  The winner qualifies for the post season playoffs.  The loser has to go back and needs to win the second half or gets some breaks to make the playoffs.

For the Threshers, it was Colin Kleven on the mound and was he ever ready for the “big game”.  In the first three innings the tall Canadian right hander struck out seven.  His fastball was sitting at 95-96 mph and topped out at 97 mph.  He was at his best.

Kleven tired in the sixth inning after giving up his only run on a homer to left.  He was taken out by manager Greg Legg with the Threshers holding a 3-1 lead in the seven inning scheduled second game of a doubleheader.   Though giving up another solo home run, Ulises Joaquin came on and pitched 1.1 innings to pick up his seventh save of the season and secured the win for first place in the first half of the northern division of the Florida State League for the Threshers.

Kleven won his fifth game in eight decisions and lower his ERA  to 2.89 to end the first half strong.   The first week of July he will head to North Carolina to join Team Canada for a three-game exhibition series to prepare for the Pan-Am games to be played in the Toronto, Ontario area starting July 11th.

Seven countries will compete in a round-robin baseball tournament of the Games where Kleven will represent his county as one of the best starting pitchers who will appear. Only players not on major league teams’ 40-man rosters are eligible.

The 24-year old from Kamloops, British Columbia is opening eyes of other major league teams.  He pitched in the FSL All-Star game on Saturday night.  Kleven will be a free agent after this season and any pitcher who can throw in the mid to high 90’s in a game with qualifying for the post season on the line will be a valued pitcher by any of the other 29 major league teams even if the Phillies are yet to give him a chance at AA or AAA.


Below are the video of the third strikes of seven strikeouts of Colin Kleven in Wednesday’s Florida State League playoff clinching game against the Daytona at Bright House Field.

See First strikeout HERE.  Second strikeout HERE. Third strikeout HERE. Fourth strikeout HERE. Fifth Strikeout HERE. Sixth strikeout HERE.  Seventh strikeout HERE.

By picking up the win, giving up only one run in 5.2 innings and striking out eight on Wednesday, Colin Kleven showed he is a “big game” pitcher.  One has to believe, as much as in demand quality starting pitching is, some major league team will notice this and give Kleven a chance on the mound at the highest level of baseball someday, somewhere soon.







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A Look Into The Phillies Future With Ricardo Pinto, Edubray Ramos and Ulises Joaquin

Last night at Bright House Field the future of the Phillies was on display.  With three games to go in the first half, it was a must win for the Clearwater Threshers against the first place Daytona Tortugas.  The Threshers won 4-3 to stave off elimination for first place in the Northern division of the Florida State League.  Two games remain tonight and tomorrow at noon against the Tortugas.

The Threshers won with just enough hitting and defense but it was the pitching which stood out last night.  Making his first FSL start Ricardo Pinto went 6.1 innings striking out 7 for the win.  Edubray Ramos came on for a 1.1 innings, struck out two for the hold and Ulises Joaquin came on in the ninth, striking out two for the save.  Combined they struck out 11 walked only one to hold the first place Cincinnati farm team to only three runs and eight hits.

Centerfielder Carlos Tocci and first baseman Willians Astudillo had three hits each and Andrew Knapp added two doubles.  Andrew Pullin, Angelo Mora and Tocci each knocked in a run. Tocci made a great running catch by laying out in centerfield.  Still, it was the pitching that won it for the Threshers and kept them in the hunt for first place.

After getting call up from Lakewood in the South Atlantic League Pinto was dominating in his 6.1 innings of work allowing two runs on six hits.  His fastball was sitting at 94 mph and three of his seven strikeout game his off speed breaking pitches.  See five of his strikeouts Here, Here, Here, Here, and Here.

After being forced to wait out a 17 minutes delay because of three of the light towers going out, Pinto tired and was relieved by Ramos.  He was outstanding using his fastball which topped out at 97 mph and a sharp breaking curve ball.  See Here, Here.

Joaquin came in the ninth though touched up for a run he struck out two for his sixth save of the season.  See Here, Here.

Someday soon we will see Ricardo Pinto in the Phillies starting major league rotation and Edubray Ramos and Ulises Joaquin coming out of the pen to shut down the opposition at Citizens Bank Park.




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Clearwater Threshers Aaron Brown Is Becoming A Difference Maker But Is He The Next Mike Trout

Well, probably not the next Mike Trout.  But if the last two games are any indication,  Aaron Brown has adapted well to right field for the Clearwater Threshers.  Since Carlos Tocci has taken over his former position in center, Brown has played extremely well in right field.

In three games in right Brown has already tracked down eight fly balls and has thrown out two baserunners, one at second Wednesday night and last night a runner at home. Both outfield assists helped set up his two walk off hits, a homer in the 11th inning Wednesday and last night, a single in the bottom of the ninth.  Both were for come from behind wins over the St. Lucie Mets.

Brown was spectacular last night including his walk off single to right, he went two for three with two RBI’s, two runs scored, two walks and a stolen base.  In the field he threw a runner out at the plate which eventually set up his walk off single with a drawn in infield in the ninth for the 9-8 win.

It’s interesting to note that Brown is built somewhat similar to the 6’2″ 235 lbs. Trout.  Though they hit from different sides of the plate, they compare in physical stature. Brown is only 10.5 months younger than Trout.  But while Trout played centerfield at High A as an 18-year old , Brown is now playing at A+ as a right fielder who turns 23-years old on Saturday.  One is from the East Coast who plays on the West Coast and the other is from the West Coast and plays on the East Coast.

At High A, Trout slashed at .306/.388/.434 in 50 games back in 2010, while Brown is slashing at .249/.317/.420 in 49 games.  Each of them have hit four homers at High A. Brown has driven in 23 runs so far this season and Trout drove in 19 runs back in the Cali. League.

So far Brown’s move to right field has helped him up his play.  Whether or not it will last and measure up closer to his doppelganger Mike Trout remains to be seen.

Aaron Brown

Aaron Brown

Los Angeles Angels' Mike Trout hits a home run in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Friday, Sept. 26, 2014, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout hits a home run in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Friday, Sept. 26, 2014, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)






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