It was a beautiful day for baseball in Clearwater. Maybe that was the reason the Threshers and the Tampa Yankees went 12 innings before the Yanks finally pulled out a 2-1 win Wednesday afternoon. The real early story line of the Threshers season continues to be the three strong left handed starters Adam Morgan, Jesse Biddle and Austin Wright. Today it was Morgan’s turn. Making his second appearance of the season he went six innings striking out nine and walking none. He held the Yankees to only four hits and a run. With his 4.2 innings of work on opening night in Dunedin, Morgan now has struck out 15 in 10.2 innings of work to lead all pitchers in the Florida State League in strikeouts in the early going.
Morgan had good control and used his low to mid 90’s fastball to set up his curve and change up. He mixed speeds effectively. It appeared to me that six of his nine strike outs were on off speed pitchers. Eight were swing and miss strike threes. The only run he gave up was in the fourth on a double and a single. Thresher’s center fielder Pete Lavin lined a home run to right in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game at 1-1 but that was all the runs they could muster. Morgan left after six innings with a no decision.
The Threshers have little offense especially on a day like today when their best hitter catcher Cameron Rupp did not play. The Phillies organization must have some requirement that the starting catcher must rest at least one game through the five man rotation and the day after a night game. Rupp did look good though coaching first base for the first three innings but his bat was needed in a weak hitting lineup. Though only playing in four of the Threshers first six games Rupp leads the team in RBIs with six while hitting .357. On days he is not catching he would make an excellent designated hitter but that is not the Phillies way. Of the 13 position players on the Thresher’s team Rupp appears to be the only one who is a lock to play in the major leagues one day. Of the pitchers “the southpaws three” in the rotation also will pitch in the big leagues some day.
Baseball Betsy and I have made all six Thresher’s game this season. I think we need a break from this team. The team has fallen to two wins and four losses in that span. I think I have a good feel for the kind of season it will be but at the minor league level it is important to focus on the development of individual players not on the team’s record. I would not be surprised if at some point this season if Morgan, Wright and Rupp move up a level to Reading especially if injuries at AA happen. Unlike Jesse Biddle all three have played college baseball. The Phillies moved Michael Stutes and Vance Worley who were also college pitchers quickly up the organization’s ladder. They will likely do the same with these college guys they have with the Threshers. Also at the next level in AA at Reading, that rotation has no southpaw starters. Another factor to consider is if Cole Hamels is not re-signed at the major league level the Phillies will be looking for left handed starting pitching to fill the void.
We will be taking a game or two off from Thresher baseball to watch the Reading Phillies who will be on MiLB-TV as they travel to Harrisburg for a four game weekend series starting on Thursday night. I am particularly interested is seeing catcher Sebastian Valle who is ranked above Cameron Rupp as the Phillies catcher of the future. Having watched Valle since his day with Lakewood and last year in Clearwater I see Rupp challenging him as the heir apparent to Carlos Ruiz as the Phillies every day catcher in the future. The one catching prospect that does not make it will likely wind up as trade material.
The other challenge I will be watching for with Reading will be how the three “baby aces” are doing for Reading. The “baby aces” Trevor May, Jonathan Pettibone and Julio Rodriguez make up three of the five starters for Reading however the other two starters David Buchanan and Tyler Cloyd have out pitched the much ballyhooed so called “aces” in the early going. I will take Clearwater’s “southpaws three” over Reading’s right handed “baby aces” so far in the early going. The problem with young pitching is you just never know how quickly their development will take place but I have been very impress with the “southpaws three” in Clearwater so far.