The Bat of Rixon Wingrove and the Arm of Fernando Lozano Standout in the Threshers Doubleheader Split

With a third of the 2021 season in the book, the Clearwater Threseher stand with a record of 20 wins and 20 loses after yesterday’s split with the Dunedin Blue Jays.  

The .500 season so far could not have been possible without the power bat of Rixon Wingrove and the finesse arm of Fernando Lozano. 

Wingrove has homered in four of his last six games and after last night he has homered in his last three games in a row. His five homers on the season are now tied for second in home runs in the league.

Lozano pitched four strong inning in relief in the second game to pick up his third win of the season. His three wins now leads the Threshers staff, all in relief.

A seldom uses third string catcher, Freddy Francisco showed that he can hit the ball hard as he hit a double into the gap in left in a rare start in the second game.

In the first game, the Threshers lost 3-2 but came so close. Wingrove homered in the third inning. Later with a runner on third in the sixth inning he drove a drive that was caught at the base of the wall in right. His “no doubt about it” homer in the second game help give the Threshers the 4-1 win.

Though Lozano’s fastball sat at only 89 mph, he kept the Blue Jays batters off balance with a good off speed pitch. He struck out five and induced weak contact in picking up the win.

The Threshers take on the Blue Jays Saturday night, we will all be watching to see if bid Rix Wingrove can extend his consecutive game home run streak alive.

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Watching the Clearwater Threshers as if I Were Dave Dombrowski

For the second straight night, the Phillies team President Dave Dombrowski was sitting up in the seats behind home plate at TD Ballpark in Dunedin Florida. He was watching the Clearwater Threshers and the Dunedin Blue Jays battle in Low A ball action.

Let’s play Dombrowski for a moment and consider what he might have seen last night that could help him make decisions that could lead to major league Phillies players over the next several years.

Three players stood out for the Threshers: first baseman Rixon Wingrove age 21, center fielder Yhoswar Garcia, age 19 and starting pitcher Victor Vargas, age 20.

Rixon Wingrove Crossing the Plate After his Home Run

We watched future major league power hitting first baseman Rixon Wingrove, he hit three line drives to right. The first one was a two-run homer, then he followed up with two hard hit singles. He even stole a base! In his last five games Rix has gone 7 for 20 with a double, two homers and six RBIs. His slash line for those five game is .350/.409/700 for an OPS of 1.109.

Next, we were watching the best center fielder the Philies might have in the minor league system in Yhoswar Garcia. He made the best catch in center field I have ever seen. He climbed the wall to bring in a 400 ft. blast to dead center. The catch was so ridiculously good that the two umpires, at the request of the Blue Jays, made him show them the ball which they took from him after he brought the ball into the Threshers dugout because it was the third out. For good measure, Yhoswar scored on Wingrove’s homer and knocked in the Threshers third run with a single to give them a short lived 3-1 lead. After his first six games, the 19 year-old is hitting .280 and is 7 for 7 in stolen bases.

Finally, we had to be impressd with starting pitcher Victor Vargas. After giving up a home run in the first inning, he went on to shutdown the Blue Jays over the next five innings of the game, striking out seven in his longest outing of the season.

Finally, I would be pleased with my international scouting department because the three top prospects last night came from three different countries: Australia, Venezuela and Columbia.

Though the Threshers would go on and lose 6-3 to the Blue Jays, we would consider last night a good night of baseball for the Phillies organization. We found three major league prospects all the way down at the Low A level. Now, all they have to do is keep it up!

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Rojas, Gutierrez and Wingrove Come Up Big as Clearwater Threshers Become the Only Phillies Farm Team Over .500

Phillies Team President Dave Dombrowski was sitting up behind home plate last night in Dunedin as the Clearwater Threshers downed the Dunedin Blue Jays for the 9-7 win.

By the end of the night, Clearewater was the only Phillies team with a record over .500 at 19-18. Dombrowski had to take some satisfaction as the Threshers played a “get’em on, get’em over and get’em in” text book game for the win.

The Threshers never trailed in the game and scored just enough to runs to hold off the pesky Blue Jays who kept coming back to make it a game. Finally, relievers J.P. Woodward and Tyler Burch would shut them down over the final three innings to preserve the win.

Mick Abel

Starter Mick Abel was given a 5-0 lead after the first two Threshers at bats. The Phillies 2020 No. 1 had to disappoint Dombrowski. He threw 67 pitches but lasted only 2.2 innings allowing three runs on three hits and four walks. He could not command his mid-90s fastball.

It was the top five in the lineup that drove the Threshers to the win. Yhoswar Garcia, Luis Garcia, Johan Rojas, Abrahan Guttierrez and Rixon Wingrove combined to rack up six runs score, seven hits and drove-in seven runs in the game.

Y. Garcia and Rojas each stole two bases.

Rojas singled, Gutierrez and Wingrove doubled to each drive-in two runs. These three are the leaders on the season of active Threshers players in RBIs.

Watch below the Threshers RBI hits by Y Garcia, Rojas, Guttierrez and Wingrove and two strikeouts by Woodward.

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Grenny Cumana’s Back in Town and Venezuelan Prospects Are Playing Key Roles With the Clearwater Threshers This Season

Baseball Betsy’s favorite Venezuelan is back at the Phillies Carpenter Complex awaiting assignment and ready to play. We have been fans of Grenny Cumana since he first played with the GCL Phillies back in 2014.

Grenny is on a long list of Phillies organizational players from that country over the years. He last played for the Reading and Lehigh Valley in 2019. We watched him hit a game-winning playoff home run for the Clearwater Threshers in 2018. He was an Eastern League All Star outfielder in 2019.

The Threshers have several outstanding Venezuelans on the team this season. Four of them have caught our attention after the first six weeks of Clearwater’s Low A season. They are catchers Abrahan Gutierrez and Juan Aparicio, outfielder Yhoswar Garcia and pitcher Rafael Marcano.

After a slow start in May, Aparicio has been hot at the plate in June. So far this month, he is hitting .324 (11 for 34) with an .861 OPS including a two-run homer and a DH three run homer last week. On the other hand, Gutierrez started quickly with the bat but has tailed off somewhat in recent games but is still hitting .290 with one homer in 100 at bats this season.

Another exciting player is 19 year old outfielder Yhoswar Garcia. He was 5 for 5 in stolen bases after six games. His triple last week was one of the most exciting triple we have ever watched as he launched himself with a head first slide into third base.

One of the best pitchers we have watched this season has been Marcano. He has put up amazing numbers in seven appearances pitching to a 1.13 ERA striking out 33 in 24 innings. Those numbers include a five inning start where he retired all 15 batters he faced striking out eight.

The Threshers are well-stocked with quality Venezeulan players at the minor league level this season. Hopefully we will see some of them break through to the major league level sooner than later.

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Clearwater Threshers Get Offensive Help From Rixon Wingrove, Yhoswar Garcia and Carlos De La Cruz

Going into Sunday’s action, the Clearwater Threshers’ pitchers lead the league with the lowest staff ERA of 3.53 but they Threshers are in the bottom half of the ten team league hitting only .226.

That might be changing after last night’s game with the Tampa Tarpons. Big power hitting, Rixon Wingrove finally hit his second homer of the season. It was a two-run blast to right over the Phillies World Championship sign.

Speedster Yhoswar Garcia has already left a positive impression stealing bases. Saturday night, he lined a ball down the right field line and turned the hit, which is usually a double for any one else, into an RBI triple. The Threshers as a team have hit only four triples in the first 34 games of the season, last in the league.

Corner outfielder Carlos De La Cruz, repeating low A, finally hit a line drive single for a RBI. If he can start doing that more often, the Threshers will have solved some of their offensive woes!

Though the Threshers gave up a 4-0 lead and lost 5-4 on Saturday night, if Wingrove, Garcia and De La Cruz can continue to generate offense, they will stay over .500 and play more interesting baseball.

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Clearwater Threshers’ Left-handed Pitcher Rafael Marcano is the Best They Have at the A Ball Level

Coming off a five-inning perfect game is hard to improve upon but Clearwater Threshers’ Rafael Marcano still did rather well in his next start. He went the final four innings of last night’s game against the Tampa Tarpons and allowed 3 hits and one run.

Most importantly Marcano finished strong striking out three of the final four batters he faced. He relied on mostly on 79-80 mph curve balls to set up a 92-94 mph fastballs for the strikeouts.

Marcano has been someone special in his seven appearances this season. He has been alternating between starting and coming in later in games in the so-called piggyback system of the Phillies minor league pitching development program.

His improvement from 2019 where he last pitched in the Gulf Coast league has been dramatic. In his last three most recent appearances for the Threshers, he has pitched 13 inning allowing only 5 hits, 1 run, walked 2 and struck out 16.

The 21 year-old lefty has put himself in a position to be called up to a higher level soon. He is now in his third season pitching in the Phillies system. He is looking like the best left handed pitcher they have at the A ball level.

Below, we show video of the last four batters Marcano faced to end the eighth inning and in the ninth inning.

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We Watched the Two Best 19 year-old Phillies Prospects, Mick Abel and Yhoswar Garcia, Play On Back-to-Back Nights in Clearwater

The Phillies might have two of the best 19 year-old players in baseball. We watched 2020 first round pick Mick Abel pitch in Wednesday’s game and top international free agent Yhoswar Garcia make his A ball debut last night both against the Tampa Tarpons.

Abel was strong in the first inning of his start striking out two of the batters he faced. He struggled in the second inning and was removed on a pitch count limitation that the Phillies have imposed for all of their low A ball pitchers.

Abel has made seven starts this season but has pitched only 19 innings. He has averaged only 52 pitches per outing striking out 26.

The video below shows Abel’s two first inning strikeouts in his start against Tampa. The pitch speed and description appeared on the auxiliary scoreboard on the first base side at BayCare Ballpark in Clearwater.

Garcia made his minor league debut in right field last night with a splash. He hit an infield single to the third base side of the mound line which he beat out. He then proceeded to steal second and third bases. In the fourth inning, he walked, stole second and third bases again then scored on a base hit. Watch his infield single and four stolen bases below.

We have been impressed with both Abel and Garcia. They have the skill sets to eventually be difference makers at the MLB level. It will be must see baseball to watch them develop this season with the Clearwater Threshers.

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It’s Been a Long, Tough Road for the Phillies’ Luke Williams-But No One Can Deny What He Has Accomplished in the Last Two Weeks

The Phillies’ newest star, Luke Williams, has paid the price and finally has been given an opportunity to show what he can do at the highest level of his profession. His walk-off home run in his first start in the major leagues last night was an opportunity he earned the hard way. It was done through perseverance and hard work.

Williams has toiled for seven years in the Phillies’ farm system never being given a chance to make the major league roster-until last night. We wrote a blog about Luke and Alec Bohm when both of them were playing for Reading back in 2019. He out-performed Bohm at the time but was never placed on the Phillies 40-man roster until two days ago.

It was exciting for us sitting behind home plate last night watching a Clearwater Threshers game, while following what was happening up in Citizens Bank Park. It is what makes following minor league baseball rewarding-when we see someone we have followed from the beginning doing something special at the highest level of baseball.

We try to give the benefit of the doubt to young players who only needed a chance to show what they can do. Luke Williams was one of them. We stayed up late or early what ever the case was to watch him play back in January when he and several other Phillies prospects were playing for the Adelaide Giants in the Australian Baseball League.

Then, it was on to the Phillies major league camp in spring training, the trip to AAA for the first time in Allentown, the Olympics qualifier in South Florida. Finally, to the Show in Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday night. It has not been an easy road for Williams in the last six months, let alone the prior six years in the Phillies organization.

The following blogs were posted during Luke’s time with Team USA:

All of the hard work that Luke Williams has put in over the years, it all paid off last night:

In his post-game interview, pitcher Zach Eflin referred to the Team USA member as “Captain America”. Baseball Betsy took the idea and made it a reality.

It is a great thing to see him get the chance to show what he can do, do it and then get the recognition he deserves. He was even the “Dan Patrick Show Play of the Day” this morning. Welcome to the Show, Luke, welcome to the Show.

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Bryson Stott Homers in His First Two at Bats in Reading and Clearwater’s Abrahan Gutierrez is the Top Hitting Catcher in the Phillies Minor League System

What a way to introduce yourself to the fans of your new team. Bryson Stott homered in his first two at bats last night. It was his first appearance in Reading after his call up from Jersey Shore.

Stott now has seven homers on the season to lead the entire Phillies minor league system. He hit five homers Lakewood to start the season.

Last night was the start of the second quarter of minor league baseball. Stott looks like the Reading ball park suits him just fine. A left handed bat who hits to all field homered to left and center last night. He could put up some big long ball numbers if he stays in Reading.

Down in Clearwater, catcher Abrahan Gutierrez doubled to drive-in the first run in the Threshers 2-1 win over the Tampa Tarpons. He went 2 for 4 in the game and threw out a runner trying to steal third base.

Gutierrez is now hitting .315 with a .831 OPS to lead the Threshers among active players all catchers in the Phillies minor league system. He has a real chance to be a starting major league catcher.

Look for Stott and Gutierrez to move up to the next level even later this season. Stott looks to be the Phillies shortstop of the future. We believe Gutierrez along with Logan O’Hoppe have the highest upside of the Phillies minor league catching prospects.

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Top Phillies Prospects Logan O’Hoppe and Jhailyn Ortiz Go Deep Sunday and Have Big Series for Jersey Shore to Start the Month of June

The new minor league season is based on 20 weeks of six-game series against the same team. The fifth week was just completed on Sunday and two Phillies prospects with Jersey Shore had a series against the Brooklyn Cyclones to remember.

Catcher Logan O’Hoppe and right fielder Jhailyn Ortiz both took off in June. O’Hoppe hit .500 going 9 for 18. Ortiz hit .348 going 8 for 23.

O’Hoppe hit .211 in May but raised his average to .270 for the season. Ortiz hit .235 in May but raised his average for the season to .259 after just the first week in June.

In Sunday’s game, the BlueClaws hit five home runs with each hitting one long ball a piece. For the season O’Hoppe now has four homers and Ortiz five.

This coming week will be the tale of the tape. Can they keep up their dramatic hitting after slow starts start in May?

In our opinion O’Hoppe is the Phillies catcher of the future and Ortiz could fill the void in left field after Andrew McCutchen’s contract is up.

O’Hoppe reminds me of the Giants catcher Buster Posey. His swing on his home run Sunday was a classic power stroke.

The BlueClaws play-by play announcer said during the Sunday game that Phillies Assistant General Manager Terry Ryan told him Ortiz has the ability to play all the outfield positions. Ortiz looked right at home in right field catching balls he went back on, hit right at him and charging one hit in front of him.

Look for O’Hoppe and Ortiz to move up to Reading in the second half of the minor league season, if they can put up big offensive numbers in June!

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