Ben Pelletier and Bryce Harper: An Evening of Walk-off Home Runs

Nothing beats a walk-off home run. The home crowd goes wild. Gator-Aid flies over the heads of the team at home plate and everyone goes home happy. Have two of them hit  with-in an hour of each and one be a grand slam, that is something special we will never forget. This is what happened last night for Phillies fans.

Ben Pelletier

Over in Lakewood for the BlueClaws, Ben Pelletier, who has struggled most the season, hit a two-run, walk-off, two run homer with two out in the bottom of the ninth for a 3-2 win over the Delmarva Shorebirds in the Sally League. Watch HERE. Less than an hour later, we watched Bryce Harper hit a walk-off grand slam for a 7-5 win with one out in the ninth inning over the Chicago Cubs. Watch Harper’s HERE.

We have been following Ben Pelletier ever since he signed with the Phillies back in July of 2015 as a 16-year-old, drafted in the 34 round out of Quebec. He turns only 21 on August 22. He started slowly this season, hitting under .200 most of the season until August. So far this month, Ben is hitting .324 with two homers and an OPS of .998. That’s the Ben we knew coming up in the Phillies system.

Bryce Harper First Home Run as a Phillie in Spring Training

Bryce Harper also got off to a slow start with the Phillies after signing his big free agent contract. He too has come to life in August with a high of 7 home runs and OPS of 1.033 already in the month.

Someday, we could see a Phillies outfield that has Ben Pelletier in left and Bryce Harper in right. In any event, we will never forget the night they both hit “walk-off” long balls.

 

 

 

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When Will We Know How Good Williamsport Crosscutters Starter, Erik Miller Is ?

The Phillies have a unique process of developing pitchers. Their starters are on tight pitch counts no matter how well they pitch. Last night in Auburn, New York was no exception. The Williamsport starter, lefty Erik Miller, pitched only four innings even though he was pitching a shutout. He had strikeouts in each of his four innings and struck out seven overall including four, all swinging, in his final inning. One strikeout in the fourth inning was registered on a wild pitch. His pitch count was only 62 in the game.

Erik Miller (Photo courtesy of MiLB.com)

The 21-year-old who is listed at 6’5″, 240 lbs., was the Phillies fourth round pick, 120th overall, out of Stanford in the June Draft. Watch a Draft video HERE.  He is being brought along slowly with what appears to be a 65 pitch limit per start. Read about Miller pitching in the NCAA regional finals, game six, HERE.

Miller has put up amazing numbers in his limited outings in the Phillies organization. Clearly putting up better numbers than he had at Stanford. In his last two starts for the Crosscutters, he pitched four shutout innings each time. In those two games, he has permitted only four hits, walked three and struck out 14 in the combined eight innings.  On the season for the Crosscutters he has allowed two runs in 20 innings for a 0.90 ERA, striking out 29.

The Phillies have long struggled to develop major league quality starting pitchers, especially left handers.  We can only guess how good Miller will be.  We know he can strike out four in the fourth inning as he did against Auburn. We hope he will be allowed to come out to pitch a five inning start before the minor league season ends. Though it is going to be hard for him to strikeout five in a fifth inning but he has the stuff to do it!

 

 

 

 

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Reading’s Luke Williams, Williamsport’s Bryson Stott and Logan Simmons Finishing Strong In August

Reading’s Luke Williams is turning into Mr. August. After his first ten games of this month, he is hitting .357 after going 3 for 5 with a run scored, double, RBI and a stolen base last night. He has hit in 12 straight games.

Williams was in right field last night but he has started in positions all over the field in the last two seasons except for pitching and catching. Luke just turned 23 years-old and is coming into his own as a super sub. Luke will be Rule 5 eligible in the December draft. It will be interesting to see if the Phillies add him to their 40-man roster.

The Phillies first round draft pick this year, Bryson Stott is putting it all together for Williamsport this month, too.  He is hitting .405 in his last ten games. He went 2 for 5 last night with a double and triple with two runs driven in.

Luke Williams’ sweet spot for his 9th homer of the season for Clearwater in 2018

Not to be outdone last night,Williamsport’s second baseman, Logan Simmons, went 2 for 5 with a double and triple, two RBIs and two runs scored. In his last ten games, Logan is hitting .333. In the 12 games he has played in August, he has a 1.195 OPS with 4 homers and 13 RBIs.

Williams, Stott and Simmons are three players to closely follow in the final three weeks of the minor league season. They are special players who are finishing the season very strong!

 

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Will Prospects Bohm, Stott and Simmons Ever Play Together in a Phillies MLB Infield?

The early prospect line is in on Reading’s third baseman Alec Bohm, Williamsport’s shortstop Bryson Stott and second baseman Logan Simmons. The morning line says they  might hit with power but can they all field at a major league level?

The Phillies No. 1 picks in the last two drafts, Bohm and Stott hit .308 with 4 homers and .400 with 3 homers respectively in their last ten games.  A 6th round pick in the 2018 draft, Simmons hit .290 with 3 homers in his last ten games.

Alec Bohm’s days playing at third might be numbered

Fielding is a different story. Bohm has struggled defensively at third for Reading. He has committed  7 errors in 81 chances in 32 start for a .914 fielding percent. That will not get it done at the MLB level! Stott is yet to commit an error in 77 chances in 21 games at shortstop for Williamsport. Simmons has committed only one error in 69 chances for a .986 fielding percent in 17 games at second base for Williamsport.

The recent Phillies player development requirement has players starting at multiple positions. This season, Bohm has started 7 games at first. Stott made his debut last night at third base in addition to starting an earlier game at second. Simmons has started 11 games at third and 6 at short so far this season.

Bohm seems to be a future first baseman. In his games at first base for Reading he has yet to be charged with an error in 46 chances. Overall at first base, including his time this season with Lakewood and Clearwater, he has been charged with only one error at first in 147 chances for a .993 fielding percent.

The Phillies would appear to have a decision to make sooner than later on Bohm, whether or not to give him even more playing time at first or keep him primarily at third. Of course, that might mean eventually trading Bohm or current Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins.

If Bohm, Stott and Simmons would ever play together in the same Phillies infield, it is more likely than not, it would be Bohm at first, Simmons at second and Stott at short. Though no doubt the Phillies hope that their former middle infielder of the future, Luis Garcia, can get over the Mendoza Line hitting and cut down on his errors fielding with Lakewood.

 

 

 

 

 

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Phillies Prospects Bryson Stott and Kendall Simmons Did Some Very Special Things Today in Williamsport

It just does not get any better that this-sitting down on a late Sunday afternoon to follow the Williamsport game on the internet and be rewarded with some of the best four opening innings of baseball of any game I have ever followed.

Bryson Stott makes his first start start of the season at second base after playing at shortstop. He homers in the first inning with two outs to give Williamsport a quick 1-0 lead over State College.  It was his fourth homer in his 26th game for the Crosscutters.

Kendall Simmons in spring training

In the second inning with the bases loaded, Kendall Simmons, who moved over to shortstop, hits a grand slam to get the Crosscutters out to a 7-0 lead. For Simmons it was his ninth homer of the season and his seventh long ball in his last 13 games.  He has hit the nine homers in only 113 at bats. The NY-Penn league home run leader has ten homers in 184 at bats.

Then comes the fourth inning and the two Crosscutters’ sluggers are not done.  Simmons works a 3-2 count for a walk. Up next, Stott hits his second home run of the game and fifth of the season for the Crosscutters to give them a 9-1 lead after just four innings. Read HERE.

We can only dream of the day when Stott and Simmons play in the middle of the Phillies infield and combine to drive in seven runs with three homers in the first, four innings of a MLB game.

Hopefully, these two guys will get a chance to show what they can do at a higher level in the Phillies system before the minor league season ends. They have earned the right to move on up!

 

 

 

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Luke Williams Outperforming Alec Bohm As Reading Heads Towards the Post-Season

We never get tired of reading about Alec Bohm but did you know Luke Williams has outperformed even the great Bohm?  While Alec did go deep in yesterday’s game, going 2 for 4, Luke also homered and was only a triple short of the cycle. They combined to lead Reading to an 8-6 win over Altoona and extended their lead in the EL East to 5 games with 21 games left to play in the second half.

Luke Williams

In the last 29 games since the EL All-Star break, Williams is hitting .319 with a .907 OPS while Bohm is hitting .262 with an OPS of .849. Both of them have turned it up in August with Williams hitting .344 and Bohm hitting .367. Currently, Williams is has a ten game hitting steak by going 14 for 43 with two homers and 11 runs scored. In Bohm’s last ten games, he has gone 12 for 39 with five homers and 8 runs scored.

Alec Bohm

Williams and Bohm have another thing in common they are all but the same age. Williams turned 23 years-old on August 10th and Bohm did the same on August 3rd. The big difference was Williams was signed out of high school.  He is in his fifth year in the Phillies system after signing out of high school in 2015. He will be Rule 5 eligible this December. Bohm is only in his second year after the Phillies made him their first round draft pick in 2018 out of Wichita State.

Williams has started at every position this season for Reading but pitcher and catcher.  Last night he was in center field. He has hit in every spot in the lineup except third and fourth.  His best spot is leading off. Batting No. 1, he is hitting .296 with an .869 OPS. in 152 at bats. Bohm has played mostly at third base but has player some at first and has been a DH this season at Lakewood, Clearwater and Reading.

Williams has become a true five-tool player. His homer in yesterday’s game was his ninth of the season. He has stolen 23 bases and his ability to play seven of the nine positions in the field makes him valuable to any major league team should the Phillies not protect him in Rule Five.

The good news is that both Williams and Bohm are finishing strong with the bat for Reading. It will be must see baseball if Reading can make it to the Eastern League playoffs led by Williams and Bohm!

 

 

 

 

 

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Two Phillies Prospect Questions May Have Been Answered In Last Night’s Games

Two Phillies prospect questions may have been answered last night: Can Spencer Howard and Erik Miller provide balance to a future Phillies rotation? Will Williamsport’s keystone combination of  Bryson Stott and Kendall Simmons add balance to a future batting order?

August 9th, 2019 might turn out to have been an important date in Phillies history. On this date, two starting pitchers in its farm system, Howard and Miller, pitched shutouts. At the same time, two minor league middle infielders went a combined 5 for 9, each with a double and a two out RBI.  Then later, we watched Bryce Harper hit two of the longest home runs of the season to drive in four runs for the Phillies.

Spencer Howard in Spring Training

We can envisage, hopefully sooner than later, RHP Howard and LHP Miller teaming up as a left-right balance in the Phillies starting rotation. Last night for Reading, Howard pitched a six-inning shutout, allowing only three hits, walking none and striking out eight. For Williamsport, Miller pitched a four-inning shutout allowing three hits, striking out seven and showing great command walking only one.

Balance in the batting order comes into play with left-handed hitting shortstop, Bryson Stott, and right-handed hitting second baseman, Kendall Simmons, for the Crosscutters. Stott is hitting hitting .333 with one homer in his last ten games. Not to be outdone, Simmons is hitting .375 with four homers in his last ten games.

Kendall Simmons in Spring Training

Just think at some point in the next decade, Bryce Harper hitting over 400 ft. homers backed up by Spencer Howard and Erik Miller racking up strikeouts on the mound. With Bryson Stott and Kendall Simmons fielding balls hit up the middle and joining Harper in hitting them out of the park, Phillies fans will have a lot to look forward to over the next decade.

 

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