I like football lingo such as “two a days”, the PUP list, and OTAs. Little more pizazz than workouts, disabled lists and mini camps of baseball. This past week I put my self through what was my version of a minor league baseball fan’s “two a days” which consisted of games at the Carpenter Complex to see the rookies of the GCL Phillies by noon then back at Bright House by seven in the evening to watch the Florida State League Clearwater Threshers.
It all pays off in the end like it did Saturday morning when word comes down that the Thresher’s third baseman and the Florida State League’s leading hitter Cody Asche gets the call up to Reading. Or left handed pitcher Mario Hollands, a few days earlier, gets a win for Reading after pitching effectively for Clearwater after only a short stay since coming up from Lakewood. We first met Mario at an autograph session before a game in Williamsport back in 2010.
It’s not easy doing baseball “two a days” but it is rewarding when the likes of Asche and Hollands do well at the next level on their way to the show. It is not easy watching all nine innings of the GCL Phillies who played three games this week at the Complex including opening day of the GCL season on Monday. Or even watching the Threshers who played every night at Bright House this week. The noon heat and humidity at the Complex are not fun to battle but the time can be rewarding. When you park in the lot behind the right field fence at Ashburn Fielded wall look for lost baseballs in the grass from batting practice because you might find some. Make sure you stay hydrated and can find shade under an overhang from the Paul Owens Training Center and you will survive. Do not expect the GCL Phillies to win. Because they won’t. They are the only team in the 14 member league yet to win a game afer the first week of action. Look instead at the young talent on the field. If you look hard you might project some major league talent many years into the future. Remember this is where Domonic Brown started and he is now in his seventh season still trying to stick permanently on the Phillies 25 man major league roster. Patience is a virtue here.
If you do two a days, you will see Willians Astudillo catching for the GCL Phillies. When I looked quickly over to the bench one time I thought I saw Chooch Ruiz sitting over there. No, it was just Willians and it must have been the heat but he does sorta look like Chooch. Hope for the future revolves around the likes of high draft pick Dylan Cozens. A tall thin lefty who needs work on his fielding and throwing playing right field but can drive the ball hard especially to left field when at bat. Is Cameron Perkins playing third or first today? He is another tall, but right handed hitter who drove the ball hard a couple of times this week but popped up a lot too. Then there are intriguing young teenage outfielders like Johnathan Knight who had a couple of hits in the first game he started and struck out all four time he played in the next game both on the road but I have yet to see him play at the Complex and recent draft pick Steven Golden who looks like he can play. Then there are the pitchers. Tall 6′ 8″ starter Ranfi Casimiro who throws hard and looks promising and reliever Yacksel Rios who displayed a late break slider that the Yankees GCL team had trouble handling on Friday. And finally I stood next to the parents of young Aussie catcher Liam Bedford. Liam spent most the time as a bullpen catcher but did get into the last two innings of the Yankees game on Friday and stung a hard ground ball out to third in his only plate appearance.
On to Bright House each evening for the second game of the two a days. The heat and humidity is just as great at night as it was in the afternoon but at least you can sit. And one game I even got a free voucher for a drink at the Tiki Bar. Did that beer taste good! I always look forward to watch future major leaguers Jesse Biddle and Cody Asche play for the Threshers. Jesse had another strong start this week. He was given to a two run lead on rehabbing Chase Utley’s home run but Jesse made one bad pitch and he was unable to complete what I think is the most important inning for a starter, the shutdown inning. Before you knew it the game was tied at 2-2. Asche is like a hitting machine grinding out base hit after base hit. He puts the ball in play usually on the ground or with line drives but rarely if ever does he pop up. He uses the entire field which has enabled him to hit .349 for the season. Friday night Cody was riding the pines in the Clearwater dugout for the game and I was perplexed. Then the word came down on a Cody tweet Saturday morning that he was headed to Bowie Md. to continue his march to the major leagues to play for the Reading Phillies. A nice birthday present for Cody who turns 22 on June 30th.
That ended my week of two a days on a good note. The Phillies need a third baseman in the future and Cody could be the one. In his last Threshers game on Thursday night he got his customary two hits, stole a base and made a nice bare handed charging pick up and throw at third. Over the week he ground a ball down the third base line for a hit, smashed several hits to center and drove a ball over the right fielder’s head all to help him grab the FSL batting lead among active players by Thursday night. He has more hits than any other player in the FSL. As circumstances would have it Baseball Betsy and I will see Cody play in AA in the first game after the Eastern League All Star game next month as we travel north. We will be only briefly AA fans before returning to high A, but unlike us, we have no doubt about it that Cody has seen the last of high A baseball.