Clutch Hitting by Rixon Wingrove, Baron Radcliff and Pitching Resulted in a 2-1 Thresher’s Win Over the Dunedin Blue Jays

Never pitch to Rixon Wingrove in “close and late” games. He is known as “Mr Walk-off” for his late inning heroics in the Australian Baseball League. We watched him walk-off single earlier in the Clearwater Threshers’ season. He did his thing last night again. This time, against the Dunedin Blue Jays.

It wasn’t a walk-off but it was a clutch, frozen rope, Wingrove base hit in the top of the eight inning that set up the Threshers first run in the game. Rix scored the winning run in the inning on a Baron Ratcliff sacrifice fly which resulted in the 2-1 win.

The Blue Jays held a 1-0 lead going into the top of the eighth inning. The Threshers had only one hit in the previous 14 innings against Jays pitching after a seven inning no-hitter pitched against them the night before.

To start the eighth inning, Kendall Simmons was hit by a pitch and advanced to third base on the Wingrove base hit. Kendall scored the first run on a wild pitch which advanced Wingrove to third.

Another story in the game was the three Phillies pitchers who allowed only one run and struck out 15.

Matt Russell, showing a 94 mph fastball, made his first start going four shutout innings striking out five with no walks. He had pitched eight games in relief after signing a free agent contract with the Phillies back in July.

Rodolfo Sanchez pitched the next four innings allowing only one run on three hits striking out eight and walking one. He got his first win of the season. His fastball sat at 93 MPH.

An eight round 2021 draft pick Jason Ruffcorn pitch the ninth to get the save striking out two. His fastball was sitting at 92 mph on the scoreboard.

It was good baseball all around with good pitching and timely hitting in the 2-1 Threshers win. If I had a choice for a batter in any “close and late” game, it would be big Rix Wingrove every time. Last night he showed once again he is “clutch” when the game is on the line.

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Watching the Phillies Low A Talent Playing for the Clearwater Threshers Starting the Final Series of the Season

We walked down the street a few blocks from our home in Dunedin FL to watch the start of the final series of the season for the Phillies Low A Clearwater Threshers. They won the first game of a twin bill by 6-3 over the Blue Jays farm team but lost the second game on a seven inning no-hitter, 3-0.

In the first game, it took until the fifth inning for the Threshers to score runs. They put up five runs in the inning on a bases loaded walk by center fielder Ethan Wilson, an RBI base hit by second baseman Jamari Baylor, a two-run single by shortstop Casey Martin and a hard hit single down the right field line by Jared Carr.

The Threshers added an insurance run in the seventh inning on a sacrifice fly by Carr after Wilson had doubled to the base of the center field wall and another base hit by Baylor.

We have been particularly impressed by Carr playing in left who now has 16 RBIs since being taken in this summer’s draft in the 13th round. He is hitting .286 with a .884 OPS in 91 at bats.

Left handed closer, Jared Wetherbee looks like a real prospect. He was a college free agent signing over the summer and retired all three right handed batters he faced for the save in the seventh inning. He was throwing a 90 mph fast ball and a late breaking 12 to 6 curve ball.

The Phillies have some interesting talent at Low A but as the second game showed, better pitching can shut them all down.

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Reading Fightin Phils Show How to Win a Close Game and Finding Hidden Gems in the Phillies Farm System

My hero is Reading Fightin Phils Manager Shawn Williams. Last night his team showed how to make a two-run, third inning hold up as the R-Phils downed the Mets farmhands in Binghamton, NY by a 2-1 score.

On the other hand, the Phillies could not make a first inning lead off homer by an Oduble Herrera stand up in another humiliating defeat to a below .500 team.

After the Phillies’ loss, I started looking for help for a better future somewhere in the Phillies system. I had to go all the way down to the FCL League where yesterday morning two players emerged as interesting alternatives, someday in the future, to the nonsense we are seeing at the major league level. Of course it will take a while but as Phillies fans, we live on hope.

Nothing beats a 2-1 win as the Fightin Phils proved last night. The winning formula was simple: shut down starting pitching, a timely hit, a great catch and shutdown relief.

Starter Francisco Morales pitched one of his best games of career throwing five shutout innings striking out nine to improve his awful record to 4-13. Simon Muzziotti debuted in AA with a two-run double to drive in the two runs needed. Grenny Cumana scored the winning run after getting HBP and made a clutch catch charging in from right field in the ninth inning while Brian Marconi was picking up his 14th save in 15 opportunities this season.

Grenny Cumana makes a great catch (Photo courtesy of MiLB.TV)

After the Phillies defeat I started searching the Phillies Farm system for help not now but in future seasons. I seemed to have found something but I had to go all the way to the Florida Complex League.

There, I found two interesting players who played earlier yesterday. One is 19 year-old infielder Alexieis Azuaje is hitting .400 (1.350 OPS) and blasted his fourth homer in 40 at bats this season. The other is Anthony Quirion, a 23 year-old catcher who hit his second home runs and a triple in only 16 at bats this season. He is hitting .313 (1.263 OPS).

Azuaje is already having a season to remember. In his only prior season back in 2019, in the DSL, he hit only .281 with five homers in 181 at bats and split his playing time between short and second. He is playing almost equally between third, second and shortstop this season.

Quirion is a little old for Complex League play but he is still 10 years younger than that “33 year-old rookie” Chris Coste who would later help lead the Phillies to a World Series win.

The Phillies just signed Quirion back in July as a free agent out of Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. He is a native of Sherbrooke, Quebec. To read more about him click HERE. Though he has been catching, it sounds like could play the infield corners as well.

I am an eternal optimist about Phillies baseball especially yestereday after watching the Reading Fightin Phils exciting 2-1 win and discovering the likes of Alexieis Azuaje and Anthony Quirion deep in the Phillies Farm System.

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The Phillies Are Basically a Two Player MLB Team, Bryce Harper and Zack Wheeler, But They Have MLB Prospects Finishing Strong

Nothing makes it clearer that the Phillies are nothing more than a two player team: than the Phillies website. It highlights that Bryce Harper leads the hitters in batting average, runs, home runs, RBIs and stolen bases and that Zack Wheeler leads the pitchers in wins, ERA, Strikeouts and WHIP.

First home run at first at bat of 2021

The team’s website keeps a running tally of these categories each day. It’s a sad commentary of just how unbalanced the Phillies roster is. It’s been like Harper and Wheeler are the only guys on the roster that produce on a regular basis.

One of my favorite memories of an unbalanced MLB roster growing up was when a story ran about the Chicago Cubs of the 1950’s. It was titled “Ernie Banks and 8 other guys”. The Cubs never won a pennant back then. Yet, they had one of the best players in baseball. It reminds me of the Phillies current situation. They will most likely go ten straight seasons without making the playoffs after this season, even with two of the best players in baseball.

The final week of the minor league season starts today. Several Phillies farmhands have shown that they have a chance to join Harper and Wheeler to give some balance to the Phillies MLB roster-hopefully sooner than later. We have watched about a hundred Phillies minor league games this season in person with the Threshers and on MiLB.TV with the other three full season teams. Below is what we have seen to give us hope for a better future.

The Phillies minor league teams are lacking balance in talent as well. None of them will finish above .500. It looks like the four teams combined will finish the season 50 games under .500 by the end of the season on Sunday.

Still several Phillies prospects have impressed us this season. They are locks for future MLB stardom particularly catcher/DH Logan O’Hoppe and outfielder Johan Rojas. O’Hoppe is hitting .406 (13 for 36) with three homers at AA Reading. Rojas is hitting .366 (15 for 41) with three homers at High A Jersey City.

The jury is still out on middle infielders Bryson Stott and Luis Garcia. Stott hit .400 in August at AA but has cooled off since going 2 for 16 in his most recently. Garcia shows flashes of brilliance and keeps getting stronger hitting .324 in September games at High A.

Of this year’s draft class, 13th round pick, left handed hitting, outfielder Jared Carr has stood out at Low A. In September so far, he has hit .344,(11 for 32) with 2 homers, 7 RBIs, 4 for 5 in steals and walked 5 times for a solid .995 OPS.

Recent first round Phillies draft picks Mick Abel and Andy Painter look promising on the mound. Abel threw a couple of five-inning no-hit games for the Threshers earlier in the season before being shutdown. Painter has struck out seven in four innings of shutout pitching in three recent Complex League games.

We have been most impressed with the Phillies fifth round draft pick from the 2021 Draft, Griff McGarry. He has struck out 39 in 20.2 innings of work divided between High and Low A.

The Phillies do seem to have some minor league talent that will at some point be ready for action in the big leagues. They need more than just Bryce Harper and Zack Wheeler if they want to break their long drought of not playing post season baseball!

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Phillies Farm Teams Continue To Struggle to Win Games But Help Is On The Way!

The Phillies full season farm teams have struggled all season long to win games. Right now they are a combined 52 games below .500. Not one of them has a winning record. With only about ten games remaining for each of the four teams, it’s highly likely not one of them will have a winning record this season.

Last night, the Low A Clearwater Threshers did manage to win the second game of a doubleheader. They defeated the Pirates farm team from Bradenton, 5-3. The Marauders are 25 games over .500 and have the second best record in the League.

The game was decided by help from newcomers to the Phillies organization. They were second round draft pick Ethan Wilson who hit a two-run single and free agent infielder Freylin Minyety who drove in another run.

A run was scored by outfielder Jared Carr, a 13th round draft pick on a wild pitch. Carr has already scored 16 runs, stole five bases and hit four homers in first 24 games. He has been very dynamic.

Lefty reliever, free agent Jared Wetherbee, came on in the last inning to get the save on 13 pitches to strike out the sided swinging.

Tonight is a must see game in Lakewood NJ where Griff McGarry, takes to the mound for the High A Jersey Shore BlueClaws in his second start. In McGarry’s first start last week, he pitched a five-inning, two hit shutout with nine strikeouts to the get the win. He was the Phillies fifth round pick in this year’s draft.

It has been a long season for us watching the Phillies minor leaguers play but fresh help is clearly on the way!

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Logan O’Hoppe Has “Turned It On” in September With His Game Winning Three-Run Homer for Reading’s Ninth Inning Win

Bryce Harper told Zack Wheeler he is “about to turn it on”. Harper may not have turned it on just yet, but Reading’s catcher Logan O’Hoppe has. Last night, he hit a three-run homer with two outs in the top of the ninth inning to give the Fightin Phils a 5-2 win in Hartford CT.

O’Hoppe has simply been demolishing the Yard Goats’ pitching in the series. In the three September games, he has gone 8 for 13 (.615 batting average) with two homers and four RBIs. In his seven games since his call up to AA Logan is hitting .448 in 29 at bats with three homers.

O’Hoppe has been so impressive in this series that in last night’s game one of the Hartford announcers on MiLB.TV said Logan reminded him of Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk. We have always used Buster Posey as our O’Hoppe comp.

O’Hoppe took a 92 mph fastball on the outer half of the plate and hit it into the left field seats about 380 ft. away. Earlier, he had two singles.

Clearly, O’Hoppe is major league ready right now! He has heard the clarion call of Bryce Harper to “turn it on” in September and he is doing it for Reading.

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The Phillies Still Have Time to Keep Moving O’Hoppe and McGarry On Up In the Chain!

Move Logan O’Hoppe up to AA. No problem. The catcher goes 10 for 25 for Reading with two homers and a double in six games. Move pitcher Griff McGarry up to High A. No problem. He pitches a two hit, five inning shutout striking out nine with no walks in his High A debut.

It’s good to see the Phillies moving up prospects, so why stop now? Two more weeks remain in the minor league season. O’Hoppe and McGarry still need to be challenged.

O’Hoppe is dominating AA pitching and he has not even batted in Reading’s hitter friendly home ball park. His home runs have come high over the Maine Monster in Portland, ME and going the other way for a home run into the second deck in right in Hartford, CT.

We can not wait to see what Logan will do in First Energy Stadium in Reading. In another at bat, the 37 ft. high Maine Monster in left took away a home run from him when he had to settle for a single off the top of it. Then, it took a second outfield deck in Hartford to keep his homer from disappearing into the night there.

Last night, O’Hoppe hit three line drive singles in Hartford to raise his average to .417 with a 1.148 OPS. He is simply not being challenged even at AA!

Last night, the Phillies fifth round draft pick, Griff McGarry pitched a gem against a bunch of Orioles farmhands in Aberdeen, MD. The game was streamed on MiLB.TV but the Orioles apparently could only afford, the as they listed it, “natural sound audio only” meaning the PA announcer’s voice in the background.

McGarry appeared to have a mid-90’s fastball and low to mid 80’s off speed pitches. Five of his strikeout were on called strike “threes”. He spotted his fastball on the corners all night long. Four of his called strike outs were on corner fast balls. He got stronger as the game went on, retiring the last ten batters he faced striking out six of them.

His big problem early at Virginia in college were too many walks but he walked none in last night’s game. He pitched like he did in the College World Series where he had a no-hitter going for seven innings against the eventual Series winner Mississippi State. He is what the Phillies so need, “a big game pitcher”!

It would be neat, if O’Hoppe and McGarry would be the starting battery at AAA in the final game of the season for Lehigh Valley!

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Phillies Prospects We Will Be Watching Closely In September

Up until this year, the minor league regular season ended on Labor Day. Since the 2021 season started a month late, 17 regular season games will be played during September with the regular season now ending on September 19th.

Bryce Harper said it was time “to turn it on” in August. He did. Last month he hit .337, with a 1.219 OPS, 10 homers and 22 XBH. For Phillies minor league players who want any chance to play in the major leagues someday, they need “to turn it on” in September as Harper did in August.

Right now, the hottest hitter in the Phillies system in no longer Bryson Stott. It is Logan O’Hoppe. He is finding no problem hitting in AA. Last night in the first game of a doubleheader, he went 2 for 3. His single in the fourth inning set up the first run. Then, he hit a 94 mph, letter high, fastball into the second deck in right in the sixth inning. That homer was icing on the cake in the 2-0 win over the Hartford Yard Goats.

Logan O’Hoppe homered to right on the above pitch (photo courtesy of MiLB.Tv)

O’Hoppe is taking to the easy life in AA for the Reading Fightin Phils. He has gone 7 for 19 with a double and two home runs in his first five AA games for a .368 batting average and an 1.137 OPS.

Below, I have listed my top position player and pitcher by minor league levels that interested me the most this season. I have seen them all play this season either in person or on MiLB.TV.

Low A, Clearwater Threshers: Position player, middle infielder, Luis Garcia. Pitcher, Andrew Baker.

Garcia made his High A debut last night with Jersey Shore going 2 for 4. He ended up in Low A going 22 for 46 ( .478 BA) in his last 11 games with 4 doubles, 2 triples, 4 homers and 14 RBIs. If he is for real, he should be starting next season at AA.

RHP, Baker was an 11th round ( 325th overall) draft pick in the 2021 Draft. Can’t figure out why he lasted that long. In five appearances (one start) he has pitched 8.2 innings walking 7 and striking out 14. Opponents are hitting .103 against him and he has allowed 3 earned runs. His got his strikeouts on a 95-97 mph fastball which sets up his slider.

In Baker’s most recent appearance since the above was written, he had a hiccup against Lakeland where he walked all six batters he faced throwing only three strikes in 27 pitches. Needless to say its back to the drawing board for Baker.

High A, Jersey Shore BlueClaws: Position player, catcher/first baseman/DH, Vito Friscia. Pitcher, Tyler McKay.

Friscia might be one the last players ever drafted in the 40th round (1,200th overall). Now the draft is limited to only 20 rounds. He is sorta like Hall of Famer Mike Piazza who was the last pick in the 1988 draft in the 62nd round (1,396 overall). Friscia hit .308 (.913 OPS) for the BlueClaws in August. Piazza’s lifetime MLB batting average is .308. Vito also caught one game at AAA in August hitting a double in three at bats. For some reason he did not play last night?

In two of his last three August starts, McKay has thrown two shutouts, a six-inning perfect game and a seven-inning five-hitter. Can’t do much better than that. He was a 16th round pick in the 2018 draft. Not overpowering but good breaking stuff. In his two shutout games he struck out nine and walked only one.

AA Reading Fightin Phils: Position player, catcher/DH, Logan O’Hoppe. Pitcher, Kyle Dohy

O’Hoppe is one of the top power hitters in the Phillies minor league system. He has hit 15 homers, 13 in high A and 2 in AA. He is hitting .272 with an OPS of .800 overall this season. Logan showed his power in five games at AA hitting a single high off the Maine Monster and a home run over it in four games in Portland. Last night in Hartford CT. He hit a tape measure home run into the seats in the second deck in right field. Also, the Phillies have used him in 25 games for Jersey Shore as a DH this season.

LHP Kyle Dohy has pitched effectively out of the Reading bullpen in August. He went 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA. He has struck out 20 in 10.2 innings in the month. In his last outing he struck out four of the five batters he faced. He struggled at AAA and has been forgotten about by the Phillies Front Office after being sent down to AA to start June. Last night, he got the save in the second game of a Reading doubleheader sweep.

At AAA Lehigh Valley it is former impactful major leaguers who need to put their games back together. Position player third baseman Alec Bohm has been a major disappointment this season with the Phillies. He did not even play last night in AAA. Not only was his fielding lacking but he has shown limited power. He has still not homered in 25 at bats with Lehigh Valley.

Seranthony Dominguez is attempting a comeback out of the pen. He has struggled as he rehabbed his way back up the Phillies minor league system. Last night he may have turned the corner striking out the side in his one inning of work. Prior to last night, in 10 innings he had allowed 15 earned runs on 15 hits. His return from Tommy John’s surgery has not gone well for the most part. We can only hope Dominguez will continue to turn his season around in September.

It still remains to be seen if the Phillies can win a playoff spot. If they can’t, they need to be looking to the 2022 season and beyond to see if the team can ever develop prospects in its minor league system to grow into a playoff caliber team.

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Bryson Stott and Luis Garcia Are the Future of the Phillies Middle Infield

The Phillies have two interesting middle infielders in their minor league system. The problem is one plays at AA and the other at Low A. They both should be in the same lineup some where soon.

Bryson Stott is hitting .420 (42 for 100) in 25 games in August for Reading and Luis Garcia is hitting .463 (19 for 41) with hits in his last 10 games for Clearwater. They are the potential future middle infielders for the Phillies for many years to come.

It is time the Phillies farm system starts producing players for major league roster. Rightfully, team President Dave Dombrowski has reassigned two weeks ago the Assistant General Manager with minor league oversight and the Farm Director.

Let’s start with playing the young players together now. Yes, Stott will be 24 years old on October 10th and and Garcia will be 21 years old on October 1st but ability not age is how talent should be judged.

Of course player control in important. Garcia has been in the Phillies system longer signing as an 17 year-old international free agent in 2018 and Stott was the team’s first round draft pick in 2019.

Both have shown in the month of August that they have the potential be impactful major league players. Sooner than later they should be playing on the same team in minor league system to find out just how good they will can playing together!

At the major league level the current Phillies middle infield of Didi Gregorius at short and Jean Segura at second are playing at baseball age 31. They are not the future. Bryson Stott and Luis Garcia are the future!

Both Stott and Garcia should be playing together in September. The Reading Fightin Phils have 17 games remaining in September. Just enough time to see what the Phillies have with Stott and Garcia playing “up the middle” in the same lineup.

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The Vegas Boys, Harper and Stott Battle Each Other for the Mythical “Phillies Organization Player of August” Title While O’Hoppe and Dohy Show They Belong in MLB

A real battle has brewed for the Phillies Organization Player of the Month. Two guys from Las Vegas, Bryce Harper and Bryson Stott are having an August to remember. Logan O’Hoppe made a dramatic debut for Reading while one of his battery mates, Kyle Dohy, looks ready to move up with him.

In the month of August little differences exists between the stats of Harper and Stott except one is doing it in the “Bigs” while the other is dominating at AA.

Just take a look at the August numbers, first for Harper and the second for Stott:

AB, 108/100; Runs, 21/19; Hits, 26/42; 2B, 9/9; 3B, 1/1; HR, 9/5; RBIs, 21/18; BB, 19/9; Ks, 19/21; BA, .310/.420, OBP, .444./.453; SLG .762/.680; OPS, 1.206/1.135.

Harper’s 1.206 leads in OPS but Stott’s .420 batting average tops Harper’s BA.

Harper has two more games left in August, Monday and Tuesday in Washington while Stott has one game left in the month in Hartford Conn.

O’Hoppe finally got the call to Reading last week and he did not disappoint. He went 4 for 13 with a double and a homers in three starts behind the plate. The Fightin Phils won all three games.

One of O’Hoppe singles was off the 37 ft. high Maine Monster in left. It would likely have been a homer in most parks except for the one in Portland Me.

His home run on Sunday was a majestic shot over the Monster. His homer was listed at a distance of 388 ft. with an exit velocity of 106 mph. Watch it below:

Left handed reliever Kyle Dohy came on in yesterday’s game to get a strikeout in the bottom of the seventh inning and picked up three more strikeouts in the eight in his 1.1 innings of work to set up the win.

Soon, we see Bryson Stott, Logan O’Hoppe and Kyle Dohy joining Bryce Harper in a Phillies major league uniform.

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