Will the Phillies be Forced to Move on From J.T. Realmuto?

It is becoming apparent that J.T Realmuto wants to be and deservedly so the highest paid catcher in baseball. So the Phillies better be prepared to pay up or lose him after this season to free agency! Read HERE.

The Phillies are on the horns of a dilemma. They might need to get prepared to pivot away from Realmuto, an important building block of the future and groom an heir apparent. We spent much of the winter and spring training figuring out who just might replace J.T. if he does not re-sign with the Phillies.

Of the other catching veterans in spring training camp, we were impressed with Christian Bethancourt. The most impressive young catcher was Logan O’Hoppe from his play in the Australian Baseball League. Yes, we did watch several of the 3:30 am Eastern Time starts of the Adelaide Giants this winter.

The 28 year-old Bethancourt might not be a long term solution, should Realmuto leave in free agency next year. Last season, he did hit .255 (.718 OPS) with 10 homers combined playing in Korea and the Dominican Winter League. His last significant playing time in MLB was with San Diego back in 2016 when he hit .228 (.633 OPS) with 6 homers in 191 at bats. He only threw out 6 of 22 base stealers in 2016 MLB action but has a 45 percent caught stealing percent in recent AAA years. This spring Bethancourt went 4 for 15 with 3 homers. His 1.161 OPS was a tick higher than Realmuto’s spring OPS which was at 1.147 in 23 at bats. They each had 5 RBIs.

Zack Wheeler

A Phillies young minor league catcher we were most been impressed with last season was Logan O’Hoppe. Though he dressed for several major league spring training games, he did not play. The best MLB Baseball Betsy video we could get was of O’Hoppe warming up Zack Wheeler in the last spring training game of the season at Spectrum Field before the Covid-19 shutdown.

 

O’Hoppe stood out in the Australian Baseball League where he was voted on to the ABL Players’ Choice Team of the Year as the catcher. As quoted in the Adelaide Giants press release announcing the award, Logan was praised “for his his athleticism, throwing accuracy and baseball brain which contributed to making him the complete package. Through 28 games he hit .258 with a .483 slugging percentage, and collected 23 hits, 17 runs, five home runs and 18 RBI.” Also Logan went 5 for 14 with three RBIs in five ABL playoff games.

Logan O’Hoppe, ABL Players’ Choice Team of the Year as the catcher. (Photo courtesy of AdelaideGiants.com.au)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in 2020, April | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spencer Howard and Damon Jones Are the Best Starting Pitching Prospects the Phillies Have

Spencer Howard looking good in a Phillies uniform

 

RHP Spencer Howard and LHP Damon Jones showed last season they are the best starting pitching prospects the Phillies have. The team has not been good at developing major league starting pitching but that might change soon with them in the mix!

Howard impressed us in the one inning he pitched in a Grapefruit League game and striking out the final batter he faced. Jones was dominating in his two innings of spring games. In two appearances, he pitched three innings combined and did not give up a hit or run striking out five.

Last season Howard pitched at Clearwater (1.29 ERA), Reading (2.35 ERA) and in the Arizona Fall League( 2.11 ERA). Including an Eastern League playoff game (1.29 ERA), he pitched in 97 innings striking out 125 in those leagues.  Jones pitched at Clearwater (1.29 ERA), Reading (0.82ERA) and Lehigh Valley (6.62 ERA). He pitched in 114.1 innings and struck out 152 but his 59 walks were a problem.

We were fortunate enough to watch each of them pitch an 11 strikeout game in Clearwater last season. They will likely be in the starting rotation to begin the season with AAA Lehigh Valley.

The Phillies will have starting pitching depth at AAA this season with Howard and Jones!

 

Posted in 2020, April | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

In 2019 Connor Seabold and Ethan Lindow Moved Up To The Top Levels Of Phillies Starting Pitching Prospects

We saw them each pitch only once in the 2019 season for Clearwater but both RHP Connor Seabold and LHP Ethan Lindow impressed us. Seabold moved quickly up to Reading. He finished up the season in the Arizona Fall League where he dominated. Lindow came up from Lakewood for three starts to end the season with the Threshers.

Seabold was one of the top pitchers in the AFL before being shut down for the last two weeks of the season. After going 4-2 with a 2.25 for Reading in seven starts, he went on to pitch to the second lowest 1.06 ERA of starters in 17 innings in the AFL. He allowed only 7 hits, walked only 3 and struck out 22.

Seabold had the lowest WHIP of all starting pitchers in the AFL at 0.59. He turned 24-years old in January and was a 3rd round draft pick out of Cal. State Fullerton in 2017.

 

Lindow will pitch at baseball age 21 in 2020.  He was a 5th round draft pick in 2017. In 2019 for Lakewood he pitched to a 2.66 ERA for a 5-2 record. He struck out 103 in 94.2 innings and had an amazing 0.98 WHIP. For the Threshers in three starts he had a 1.69 ERA striking out 16 and walking only 2 in 16 innings.

We were disappointed that Seabold and Lindow did not get opportunities to pitch in Grapefruit League games. They showed last season that they are two of the best starting pitchers the Phillies have in the minor system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in 2020, March | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Breaking Ball Specialists Colton Eastman and Ethan Evanko Impressed Us Last Season In The Clearwater Threshers Starting Rotation

We continue our series of starting pitchers who impressed us last season for the Clearwater Threshers. Though they may be betters suited to relief than starting pitching.

RHP Colton Eastman and LHP Ethan Evanko came out of college in 2018 into the Phillies system. Eastman was a third round draft pick out of Cal State Fullerton and Evanko was a free agent signing out of Grand Canyon College.

Both of them pitched well last season with Clearwater. Eastman made 12 starts with the Threshers before finishing the season with Reading. Evanko move from the bullpen to the starting rotation for his last nine appearances for the Threshers where he pitched to a 1.58 ERA in 51.1 innings. He was shutdown for the remainder of last season after his final start  on July 4th.

Eastman pitch to a 3.71 in 24 games including 19 starts and 128.2 innings combined last season. He pitched in five games for Lakewood, 13 games for Clearwater and 6 games for Reading.

It will be interesting to see where they will be assigned to the start the 2020 season. They are hard throwers. Eastman relies on the breaking ball as hit out pitch while Evanko is tough on left handed hitters with his breaking ball. Since Eastman will turn 24 years-old in August and Evanko will turn 25 years-old in June they should move quickly up the Phillies system this season.

 

 

Posted in 2020, March | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Back To The Future: Top 2019 Phillies Starting Pitching Prospects With the Clearwater Threshers

We were fortunate to watch a strong group of starting pitchers for the Clearwater Threshers over last season. The staff was under constant change with injuries and call-ups but clearly we saw some of the best starting pitching prospects that the Phillies farm system could offer.

Now with the COVID-19 epidemic rules causing a delay in the 2019 season, we decided to go back into our archives and show videos of eight pitchers who started in at least one game for the Threshers last season. We believe they all have a chance to pitch in the major leagues at some point in the future.

It will be a lot of contests for starters and relief pitching spots. In the recently cancelled spring training, the Phillies had 154 pitchers report to either the major or minor league camps. Of that total 114 of them were just starting to work out in the minor league camp before spring training was postponed on Friday, March 13th.

Over our next four blogs, we will take a look at two of the 2019Threshers starters in each post. We have selected four right-handed and four left-handed starters who impressed us and we will post a strikeout video from one of their starts last season.

The four blogs will cover the following tandems: Spencer Howard/Damon Jones, Connor Seabold/Ethan Lindow, Colton Eastman/Ethan Evanko and Kyle Glogski/Kyle Young.

Our first right-left tandem post is on Kyle Glogski and Kyle Young. Glogoski started 11 games for the Threshers and pitched to a 2-2 record, 1.88 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and struck out 45 in 52.2 innings. Young started 4 games for the Threshers before he was shutdown and pitched to a 1-3 record, 4.29 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and struck out 25 in 21 innings. He is recovering currently from Tommy John surgery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in 2020, March | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Phillies Minor League Centerfielder Simon Muzziotti is a Can’t Miss Prospect

Each year we try to identify Phillies can’t miss prospects. In the 2019 season, we counted Simon Muzziotti as one of them. In 2019, he showed us he is developing into a five-tool major league prospect.

His .287 batting average and led the Clearwater Threshers last season. He also led the Threshers in hits and was second in doubles, stolen bases, runs, total bases and OPS of batters with over 300 at bats.

He started the season as a slap hitter who had hit only one home run in his previous 644 at bats in his minor league career. After the 2019 season, he will go down as one of a handful of guys who hit a home run in each of the Phillies spring training fields in team history in Clearwater, Jack Russell Stadium which served as the home field of the Dunedin Blue Jays last season, and the Phillies current Spectrum Field.

In a March 4th posting of a story by Jim Salisbury for Baseball America, Muzziotti was praised by Farm Director, Josh Bonifay.

“He’s a very good-looking player, a natural center fielder, and he has a strong understanding of the game,”  Bonifay said.

Salisbury said in his post, “In the field, Muzziotti impresses with his breaks, ability to run good routes and his above-average throwing arm”. “He has drawn some comparisons to fellow Venezuelan outfielder Ender Inciarte”.

“Muzziotti weighed just 159 pounds when he signed with Boston. He’s up to 190 pounds at 6-foot-1 now and he continues to add strength as he puts himself on the map with the Phillies.”

Muzziotti made a couple appearances in Phillies Grapefruit games and went 3 for 3 in one of the games against his former team that first signed him, the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox was ruled to have violated international signing procedures and lost his signing. The Phillies then came in and signed him back in 2016.

Below is a brief video of Muzziotti batting in minor league spring training earlier in March:

Muzziotti likely will be the starting centerfielder for the Reading Fightin Phils when ever minor league baseball starts this season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in 2020, March | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

How Will the Phillies Use Spencer Howard? They Can’t Get to the Post Season Without Him

Good news on the COVID-19 front from down here in the Tampa Bay Area! It’s been reported from Saturday night to Sunday morning only one new case was confirmed in Pinellas County, spring training home county of the Phillies. This is a very densely populated county, plus it is loaded with out of town tourists. It’s somewhat good news that the virus spread is hopefully stabilizing down here and we can spend a little more time talking about baseball.

Spencer Howard

The big story now in the Phillies organization is what to do with Spencer Howard. Read HERE.  He is without a doubt one of the top young pitchers in baseball to have never pitched in the major leagues.

Howard brings to mind John Smoltz. He was one of the best pitchers in Atlanta Braves history for his work as both starter and reliever in his Hall of Fame career. As a starter, he won over 200 games and as a reliever he picked up 154 saves in a 21 year-career.

Howard showed us in the final Grapefruit League game of the spring training, he might have the unique ability to start and relieve. He has started 50 games including three in the post season in his Phillies minor-league league career. They include two, no-hit appearances but he has never pitched in relief.

In what is likely the last Grapefruit League home game of the season, we watched Howard pitch in the eight inning to make his first major league spring training appearance of his career. He did give up two singles but still he was protecting a 5-1 lead over the Twins with two outs.

Then, he struck out the final Twins’ batter for the third out by painting the outside corner of the plate with a high 90’s fastball for a called strike three. That one pitch told us that he has the skill and composure of a late inning, major league set-up reliever or closer if needed.

 

Whether as a starter or a reliever, we are convinced the Phillies will not make it to the post season without a major contribution from Spencer Howard, be it as a starter or reliever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in 2020, March | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment