Baseball Betsy and I have not been able to get to see the GCL Phillies play recently. We have been busy traveling to see the Eastern League All Star game and a regular season game in Reading and watching the Clearwater Threshers games. With the Thresher on the road, a Saturday morning GCL game beckoned and we were there to see the GCL Phillies take on the GCL Yankees at Carlton Field.
Nothing much happened for the first two- thirds of the game. One of the young Yankees went deep and the rookie Phillies match them with a run in the sixth inning. It was hot and humid as usual here. An unannounced crowd that I estimated at 12 or 13 fans were on hand but the game did not cost anything and it turned out to be very interesting in the end. I followed the game on my cell phone thanks to the guy up in the booth behind home plate who kept up dating the MiLB web cite scoreboard. Carlton Field has no scoreboard and unlike the GCL Phillies, the Yankees had no names on the back of their jerseys.
The fans were diehards as we were. One older guy had his Baseball Register on his lap and was following the game protected from the sun by an umbrella. Another fan kept wondering where the rehabbing Phillies were. He could see Freddy Galvis walking around with a girdle type device wrapped around his mid section and Lisalverto Bonilla with his thumb injury but complained that he could not find Mike Stutes, David Herndon or Drew Naylor anywhere. Other fans looked like family and friends of the players or the usual autograph seeker who we always see hoping to get something signed. So much for GCL fandom.
But what Baseball Betsy and I also saw in the eight and ninth innings of Saturday morning’s game was more interesting. We saw a young 16 year old Phillies center-fielder Carlos Tocci loop a base hit over second base to center to drive in what turned out to be the winning run in the bottom of the eight and then he worked the back end of a double steal which resulted in a steal of home plate which scored the third run of the inning to give the GCLers a 3-1 lead over the Yankees going into the ninth inning.
In the top of the ninth the best reliever the GCL Phillies have Keivi Rojas continued his work. He came on to get a strike out for the third out in the top of the eight. Rojas finished off the Yankees by striking out the side in the ninth to get the win. The 19 year old Rojas displayed an amazing late breaking pitch that the young Yankees could not touch as he struck out all four batters he faced in the game.
It was rewarding to watch a 16 year old center-fielder get a clutch hit and run the bases to figure in two runs to set up the win and a 19 year old reliever simply dominate the other team to get the final four outs in the game on strikeouts. Clearly these two young Venezuelans Carlos Tocci and Keivi Rojas are players to watch as they move up the Phillies chain. They make it rewarding to watch Gulf Coast League games even on a hot, sultry Saturday morning in Clearwater. See the final strike of Rojas ninth inning strikeouts HERE, HERE and HERE