Over the last several seasons Baseball Betsy and I have traveled to the back fields of the Phillies farm system as much as possible. Its been fun to watch Derrick Mitchell, Tyson Gillies and Jiwan James play the outfield. For those of us who like to see speed and defense these three offer the best you can find just about anywhere.
Two years ago we saw Mitchell play right field early in the Florida State League season and then later at the end of the Clearwater season in center. He first caught my eye when he smoothly chased down three fly balls for all three put outs in the same inning in the first time we saw him. Then he made the best catch I ever saw late in the season that year when he showed great athleticism by bringing back a fly ball headed for the visitor’s bullpen at Bright house by running toward the wall and jumping in stride to reach up over the padded wall in left center to bring back a certain home run ball. Last season in Reading we saw Mitch turn and with his back to the infield field snatch a high drive hit over his head just in front of the batters eye in center. The catch reminded me of the famous Willie Mays catch in the 54 World series, only Mitchell’s glove was up as opposed to the over the shoulder basket catch of Mays.
You can see this catch by clicking HERE
Because of injuries few of us have seen Tyson Gillies play the field. I was one of the few to see Tyson play last year when I went over to Tampa for game to see him play just before he was shut down for the season. Where I have seen him play has been in spring training camp two years ago and just recently in the mini camp. And he is worth watching in the filed. I remember back then a fly ball was hit to right during a camp game at Schmidt Field. Out of no where Gillies came running full stride over from center to haul down the fly ball hit in front of Domonic Brown who was standing still in right. Gillies did not stop running until he got to the right field foul line. At last month’s mini camp Tyson put on a quite a show by making routine over the shoulder basket catches as he shagged fly balls during batting practice.
We saw Jiwan James in the Lakewood playoffs two seasons ago and last season during June during a home stand in Clearwater. His strong arm and ability to lay out to chase down fly balls in center leaves very little ground for the left and right fielders to cover.
It would be interesting to see all of them play in the same outfield some day. That would be my dream outfield. All three of them throw and run with the best of them in the minor leagues. Any ball hit in the air would have a hard time getting through the gaps or even getting out of the park if it were hit near the wall. They all play center field so they can play any where in the outfield. Gillies since he is on the 40 man roster will be in the major league camp and Mitchell and James will eventually arrive in Clearwater when the minor league camp opens in early March. It should be like watching a high light reel watching them play the outfield in spring training.