Who Needs To Worry About J.T. Realmuto When the Phillies Are Developing Catchers Logan O’Hoppe and Mitch Edwards For The Future

The arbitration saga of whether J.T. Realmuto will be awarded the $ 12.4 million contract that he wants for the upcoming season or the $10 million that the Phillies are offering him to catch for them in 2020 goes on. Read HERE

The Phillies can control him for only one more season without a contract extension.  However, why worry when the Phillies have two young catchers, Logan O’Keefe and Mitch Edwards, ready to take over behind the plate for the Phillies in a few years.

On Friday night, O’Keefe was catching down under and went 2 for 3 with a three-run homer.  Saturday night it was Edwards turn to go behind the plate and all he did was go 3 for 5 with 2 RBIs in an 8-6 win for the Adelaide Giants over the Melbourne Aces in the Australia Baseball League action.

These two young twenty-year-old catchers represent the future of the Phillies.  It is these guys that will provide the foundation for the next decade as the Phillies move from a .500 MLB team to annual contenders in the N.L. East.

The ABL season is soon over with next weekend bringing an end to the regular season. Right now the Giants have clinched a spot in the playoffs.  They hold only a one game lead with five game remaining over the second place Perth Heat for first place in the Southwest division.

If Adelaide can finish strong and win in the playoffs, it will be because of two of the top Phillies minor league catching prospects, Mitch Edwards and Logan O’Hoppe, driving in runs and calling the pitches in the ABL.

 

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Catcher Logan O’Hoppe Keeps Rising On The Phillies Prospect List

A second big game with the bat in the Australian Baseball League for catcher Logan O’Hoppe took place Friday night.  O’Hoppe’s Adelaide Giants played against the Melbourne Aces. He blasted a three run-homer.

Back on December 6th, Logan hit two home runs in one game including a grand slam and drove in a total of seven runs . In just these two ABL games he has racked up 10 RBIs.  This is the kind of potential the soon to be 20-year old has.  It’s just a matter of time, after he becomes a little  more consistent with the bat, that he will be the No. 1 catching prospect in the Phillies system.

Logan O’Hoppe (photo courtesy of ABL.com)

Logan O’Hoppe (photo courtesy of ABL.com)

The ABL season has only six more games remaining in the regular season.  The Giants are just one game from clinching a playoff berth so O’Hoppe might have at least a best-of three playoff series to play as well.

On the season in 23 ABL games, O’Hoppe is hitting .268 with four homers and 16 RBIs.  However, in those two games mentioned above, he went 5 for 9 with three homers and ten RBIs combined.  This is a reflection of the potential he has to a big impact bat in the middle of a major league lineup someday sooner than later.

 

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Who We Will Be Watching Most Closely Among the Latest Invitees To Phillies Major League Spring Training Camp

We have been attending Phillies spring training on a regular basis for the last decade. To us it is a most interesting time because just about all of the organization’s players are on full review for us diehard fans to see. The Phillies just finished inviting 15 additional non 40-man roster players to the major league camp. Read HERE.

Five of the new invitees will get most of our attention. Certainly starting pitcher Spencer Howard and reliever Connor Brogdon should have been added last season as September call-ups to the major league roster, but were not! Of the position players just invited we will be watching most closely include first baseman Darick Hall, middle infielder Nick Maton and super-sub Luke Williams.

Since pitching a nine-inning, no-hitter in the September 2018 South Atlantic League Playoffs, Howard has been one of the best starting pitchers in minor league baseball. Last season we watch him pitch a five-inning no-no in one game and a 11 strikeout performance in 5.2 innings in another game for Clearwater. He would go on and pitch a two-hit 7 inning game, striking out 12 for Reading in the Eastern League playoffs. He finished up in the Arizona Fall League where some of the best young talent in baseball hit only .137 against him in six starts. Overall last season he struck out 121 in 92.2 innings.

The other pitcher we thought should have been pitching in the major leagues last September was reliever Brogdon. All he did was go 2-0 with two saves allowing only four hits and one run in his last 12 relief appearances at AAA for Lehigh Valley. We watched him pitch for Clearwater to start last season.

It’s good to see Hall finally get an invite to the major league camp. He was overlooked last spring training only coming over from the minor league camp for a handful of late inning ST appearances. We know he can hit major league pitching. He hit a mammoth, centerfield, home run for Reading off of a Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino in the Eastern League playoffs last season. Severino was rehabbing at the time with Trenton.   Certainly the Phillies need more production at first base where Rhys Hoskins hit only .165 over the last two months in 2019. Watch Hall HERE.

Darick Hall Homers vs Luis Severino (Photo courtesy of MiLB.tv)

Maton reminds me of another Chase Utley. They both have a similar build, hit from the left side and played in the Florida State League at baseball age 22. Utley hit .257 with a .747 OPS in 2001 and Maton hit .274 with a .738 OPS in 2019, both for Clearwater. As a middle infielder, Maton has played mostly at shortstop.

Williams is interesting. He falls into the category of a “super sub”. We have watched him play every position but catcher and pitcher at the minor league level. He does have some pop. Only losing a tenth home run of the season to rain in 2018, or he would have had double digits in home runs the last two season. Last season for Reading, he stole 30 bases in 39 attempts. He was third in doubles and runs scored and fourth in stolen bases in the Eastern League last season. He would make an ideal 26th man on the active MLB roster.

The Phillies major league camp in Clearwater opens February 11th for catchers and pitchers and February 16th for everyone else. The first spring training game is February 22nd against the Tigers in Lakeland and the first home spring training home game is a split squad game February 23. Should be an interesting spring training.

 

 

 

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Phillies Prospects Learning How To Play “Walk-off” Baseball Down Under In the Australian Baseball League

Nothing beats a walk-0ff win but three of them in a four game series has to be unusual, especially in a battle against the two team with the best records in the Australian Baseball League.

Over the weekend the Phillies prospects played key roles in the first-place Adelaide Giants winning three of the four game series against the second-place the Perth Heat. The amazing fact was that the Giants won all three games in walk-off fashion. They have owned  their last at bat most game this season at home.

The Giants have six walk-off wins and are 13-3 in 16 home games. Plus, they won two other home games by scoring winning runs in what turned out to be their last at bat in the bottom of the eight inning in each game.

Overall, they have a 19-9 record of all games played good enough for a three-game lead and the best record overall in the ABL. Because of the wild fires in the country, a four-game series in Canberra was cancelled two weeks ago, with two additional wins and losses credited to each team to give the Giants a 22-11 overall record.

In Friday night’s walk-off, Mitch Edward singled a runner to third and the winning run was driven in by a sac fly RBI by Rix Wingrove in the bottom of the ninth.

Saturday afternoon in the ninth inning of the first game of a doubleheader, catcher Logan O’Hoppe walked, moved to second on a sac bunt by Wingrove, then moved to third on a hit by Ben Aklinski and scored a base hit by a since traded Phillies prospect, Curtis Mead.  Watch below.

The Giants walked off Sunday’s game on a two-run base hit which scored Mead who had walked to lead off the bottom of the ninth.

In 81 home games the Phillies had only seven walk-off wins in 2019. After Sunday’s win, the Adelaide Giants already have six walk-offs in only 16 home games. You can watch the video HERE, be sure to scroll down to the Phillies’ entry.

Who would have thought learning how to play walk-off baseball is one important reason to play development baseball in Australia?

Also, the Phillies announced their non-roster invitees to the major league camp today. Read HERE.

 

 

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Walk-off Wingate Delivers Yet Again As Phillies Prospects Come through To Keep the Adelaide Giants in First Place in ABL Action

Rixon “Walkoff” Wingrove delivered a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth for the 3-2 win in the battle of the best teams in the Australian Baseball League Friday night in Adelaide.

Wingrove has now hit three walk-offs as he propelled the Adelaide Giants to the best record at 17-8 in the ABL. The Giants now lead the team they bested, the Perth Heat, by two games in the battle for first place in the Southwest division. You can read an account of the game HERE.

Wingrove leads the Giants in RBIs with 18 in 25 games. The big, 6’5″, left-handed hitting first baseman also led the Gulf Coast League in RBIs last summer. He is hitting .308 with 15 RBIs in 26 at bats with runners in scoring position in the ABL. He hit .339 with RISP in the GCL. Rix might be the most productive teenage hitting first baseman in baseball. He will not turn 20-years-old until May 23rd.

Rix also was important in the second Giants run of the game when he came around to score after hitting a double in the third inning.

Phillies prospect Jose Taveras started his first game in the ABL. He went three innings allowing two runs and three hits with a strikeout. Another Phillies prospect, catcher Mitch Edward, singled into the hole at short to load the bases to set up Wingrove’s walk-off sacrifice fly.

Wingrove is making a strong case to start the upcoming season with Lakewood in the SAL. Big Rix is definitely one to watch in the upcoming Phillies minor league spring training.

 

 

 

 

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The Perfect Game and No-Hit Batteries of Larsen and Berra and Howard and Duran Span My Baseball History

I was home sick from first grade and watched Don Larsen pitch his perfect game on TV in Game Five of the 1956 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers. I do not remember much from that game but I do remember his battery mate Yogi Berra jumping into Larsen’s arms after the third out in the ninth inning.

Don Larsen and Yogi Berra Perfect Game

Some 62 years later, I watched on MiLB-TV Phillies top pitching prospect Spencer Howard throw a no-hitter for Lakewood in the South Atlantic League 2018 playoffs and the iconic picture of him and his catcher Rodolfo Duran in a triumphant embrace after the final out. These two games almost  bookended my baseball watching career. It took Larsen 97 pitches for his perfect game and Howard took 103 pitches for his no-hitter.

Spencer Howard and Rodolfo Duran Celebrate after Howard’s No-Hitter. (Photo courtesy of the Lakewood BlueClaws)

Larsen passed away on January 1st at 90 years of age. For the first time since his perfect game, I watch the game again Saturday afternoon on MLB-TV with Mel Allen and Vin Scully doing the play-by-play. It was riveting TV. Some 15 of the participants in the game including the broadcasters are in the Hall of Fame but not Don Larsen. Except for that one game, Larsen in 15 major league seasons, was a rather ordinary pitcher with an 81-91 career record.

Since then, I have watched on TV other “no-no’s” including Jim Bunnings Father’s Day no-hitter in 1964 and Roy Halladay’s perfect game during the regular season and playoff no-hitter both in 2010. The only no-hitter I saw in person was last year at Spectrum Field when the Clearwater Threshers’ Kyle Glogoski, Tyler Carr and Keylan Killgore combined for a nine inning no-hitter. Read HERE.

Nothing is more exciting in baseball than watching a Perfect Game or no-hitter, no matter at what level of baseball!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We Know What The 2020 Phillies MLB Roster Will Mostly Look Like But What About The 2023 Roster

I like to follow Phillies prospects. Never had much time for old-timers games. To understand what will happen in the future, we must understand what is going in the farm system.

This is why I like to watch minor league player development baseball. It helps to predict what likely will happen to a major league team in the future. A team can not win just by  throwing big money contracts at free agents from other organizations or making trades alone, though it helps. Teams must be strong in drafting North American high school and college players in addition to signing international free agents. Then, the team needs solid player development.

Looking into the future here’s how Baseball America projected the Phillies 2023 lineup back in November of 2019, with 2023 ages in parentheses. Read HERE

Catcher: J.T. Realmuto (32)
First Base: Rhys Hoskins (30)
Second Base: Jean Segura (33)
Third Base: Alec Bohm (26)
Shortstop: Bryson Stott (25)
Left Field: Adam Haseley (27)
Center Field: Scott Kingery (29)
Right Field: Bryce Harper (30)

No. 1 Starter: Aaron Nola (30)
No. 2 Starter: Spencer Howard (26)
No. 3 Starter: Zack Wheeler (33)
No. 4 Starter: Vince Velasquez (31)
No. 5 Starter: Zach Eflin (29)
Closer: Francisco Morales (23)

Each year we watch many Phillies minor league games either in person or on MiLB-TV and the Phillies on MLB-TV from our catbird seat in the Tampa Bay area.

Here is our 2023 projected Phillies lineup with 2023 baseball ages:

Catcher: J.T. Realmuto (32).  J.T. has only one year left of team control. He is the best catcher in baseball. If the Phillies can’t sign him for 2021, they have two good young catchers in Rodolfo Duran and Logan O’Hoppe waiting in the wings who would be ready to take over at some point.

First Base: Rhys Hoskins (30). Hoskins was a major disappointment in 2019. He hit well under .200 in the last two months. Alec Bohm could be the first baseman sooner than later if Hoskins continues to struggle in 2020.

Second Base: Kendall Simmons (23). Simmons impressed at Williamsport in the half season New York-Penn League for Williamsport. A big right-handed power bat, he hit 12 homers in only 151 at bats. Who knows what he could have done in a full season league.

Williamsport’s All Stars- Corbin Williams, Bryson Stott, Logan O’Hoppe and Kendall Simmons (Photo courtesy of MiLB.com)

Shortstop: Luis Garcia (22). The switch-hitting Garcia struggled at Lakewood hitting under .200 and the manager was fired at the end of the season. Garcia should have played at Williamsport with Stott and Simmons in the infield last season.

Luis Garcia

Third Base: Bryson Stott (24). A left-handed power bat, Stott hit five homers in 157 at bats with Williamsport after the Phillies made him their No. 1 draft pick last season.

Left Field: Scott Kingery (29). Scotty can play just about anywhere. We will put him in left field but Adam Haseley can always be moved over there too.

Center Field: Simon Muzziotti (24). We are big Muzzy fans. He showed us all the tools last season in Clearwater while we watched including home runs at Jack Russell Stadium and Spectrum Field in Clearwater. He will only get better.

Simon Muzziotti

Right Field: Bryce Harper (30). Bryce and Stott will supply power from the left side for the next decade.

No. 1 Starter: Zack Wheeler (33). The Phillies have bet a lot of money on Wheeler. He needs to be the ace with the stuff he has.

No. 2 Starter: Spencer Howard (26). Howard has No. 1 stuff similar to Wheeler’s stuff.  These two are the keys to winning the big games in the best of seven post season series.

Spencer Howard hits 99

No. 3 Starter: Aaron Nola (30).  The Phillies need a third starter to win a World Series.  Nola should be the No. 3 but the Phillies went winless in his last seven starts in 2019 when it really mattered to get into the playoffs. He came up small. He needs to turn it around!

No. 4 Starter: Zach Eflin (29). We like Eflin. The Phillies pitching coach did him no favors last season and was fired. We predict Eflin will have a big year under new pitching coach Bryan Price who knows what he is doing!

Phillies lefty starter of the future Ethan Lindow starting for the Threshers last season

No. 5 Starter: Ethan Lindow (24). By 2023, Lindow will be one of the top young left-handed starters in the National League. As we posted in a recent blog the Phillies are strong in lefty starters at the minor league levels. The Phillies have a number of lefty starting prospects in the minors. They fired its senior minor league pitching coach at Lehigh Valley after Damon Jones struggled there after dominating in Clearwater and Reading last season.

Connor Brogdon could he be the Phillies closer of the future?

Closer:  Connor Brogdon (28) Brogdon has closer stuff. He showed it at AAA last season allowing only four hits and one earned run in his last ten relief appearances striking out 15 for Lehigh Valley. He won two and saved another two of those games. For some reason, the Phillies Front Office refused to give him a September call-up.

Phillies minor league spring training should be interesting this season. We will be watching in particular for the Phillies infield of the future in Stott, Garcia and Simmons.  Watching Spencer Howard trying to break into the Phillies starting rotation. Also, watching all the minor league left handed starting pitching prospects seeking to position themselves to become the next Cole Hamels and finally getting one of them in a postion to break into the Phillies starting rotation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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