Yesterday was an interesting day at the Complex and then later across the bay at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. Not so much on Ashburn Field where Ryan Howard and Laynce Nix continued to rehab with the team which will make up the Williamsport Crosscutters. They were playing in an extended spring training game against the Yankees likely Staten Island team of the NY-Penn League. What was more interesting to me was what was taking place over on Carlton Field where Gulf Coast League Manager, Roly De Armas was doing a running commentary for a simulated intra-squad game.
Roly divided up his team into eight aside with the Latins facing the Anglos. The players set up the defense with four infielders and four outfielders while the other team hit. Hitting coach Kevin Jordan sat on a chair down the third base line and kept score and made rulings on the hits. Roly’s job was to put the balls into the pitching machine on the mound and keep things going. They did not run the bases. The Anglos were helped by the addition of high draft picks Dylan Cozens (Round 2, 77th overall) and Christopher Serritella (Round 4, 158th overall). They are two big left-handed power hitters. While I was there the Anglos jumped out to a quick 7-1 lead. All eyes were on Cozens and Serritella. Cozens drove the ball hard mostly to left while Serritella drilled several shots to right including several long foul balls down the line. The big debate was whether or not to award Cozens on one of his at bats a triple or double down the left field line. When they took the field Cozens went to right and Serritella manned the first base area.
The old saying is “you only get one chance to make a first impression”. I was impressed even if the two did not hit off of live pitching. The 6’3″ Serritella and the 6’6″ Cozens both look like they could play tight end at the Tampa Bay Bucs OTA’s going on at the same time across the Causeway. Tall, lean and athletic they looked like they are ready to bring some power to a Phillies lineup down the road. Serritella is a college guy who is four years older than the 18 year old high school guy Cozens. So look for Serritella to maybe start at Williamsport while Cozens starts with the GCL when the NY-Penn and Gulf Coast Leagues open on Monday.
Williamsport should have an interesting team. From the guys on the field yesterday it looks like Logan Moore, who started the season at Lakewood and Chace Numata will be the catchers. Brock Stassi was at first. Tyler Greene who started the season also with Lakewood was at second. High draft pick from last year Roman Quinn was at short and Mitch Walding was at third. The Phillies top draft pick from 2011 Larry Greene patrolled in left. Yan Olmo was in center with Heris Rodriguez in right.
Last night Baseball Betsy and I made it over the Causeway to George Steinbrenner Field to watch the Threshers take on the Tampa Yankees. The Threshers received strong pitching from left-handed starter Mario Holland for five innings and a solid two innings of relief from Chris Kissock who is making the move to a side arm delivery out of the pen. The Treshers jumped out to a big lead helped by the bat of Anthony Hewitt who homered, doubled and singled to drive in four runs in the game. Cody Ache drove in the final run with a line drive, RBI base hit to right that had to impress General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and the minor league guys who were in the stands watching the Threshers who held on for the 8-5 win.
Tonight’s game is the last game for the Threshers before the All Star break. The Thresher’s will be represented at the game by pitchers Jesse Biddle, Austin Wright and Tyler Knigge. Pitcher Adam Morgan was also selected but is on the disabled list. The Threshers position players selected are catcher Cameron Rupp, third baseman Cody Asche, and outfielder Pete Lavin.
In the past after the FSL All Star game the Phillies have promoted players to AA. Having watched about 25 Thresher games this season and knowing the needs of the organization potential players to be promoted for the second half could be Cody Ashe who is currently second of active players in the FSL with a .329 batting average and reliever Tyler Knigge. The Phillies needs at third are well documented and Asche has earned a promotion. The need for right handed relievers in the system is also apparent especially at the major league level where the Phillies have struggled out of the pen. Tyler Knigge has given up only three earned run in 34 innings of relief for the Threshers. He is 3-1 with five saves. Now he needs to show what he can do at AA.
It is very interesting watching the stars of tomorrow play today as they say. Let’s hope Ryan Howard, Laynce Nix and Chase Utley get healthy and go back to where they belong with the Phillies. Minor league baseball should be about the players of the future. It’s about watching the development of the likes of Cozens, Serritella, Aches and Knigge into major league players someday To me this is where the excitement is, not about rehabbing major league players.