Last night we watched the most amazing comeback in major league playoff history when the Cardinal came back from down 6-0 early and 7-5 in the top of the ninth to win 9-7 over the Nationals. It was a game for the ages. Former catcher, who caught 218 games in the minor leagues before becoming a relief pitcher, the St. Louis closer Jason Mott retired the Nats in order in the bottom of the ninth for the win and Cards moved on to face the Giants in NLCS.
Yesterday morning the Instructs fan gang including Baseball Betsy and I watched at Ashburn Field another minor league catcher who has caught 169 games, Tim Kennelly, as he continues his work to make the same transition to a power arm reliever just like Jason Motte has done. In the final Instructs game of the season Kennelly came on in the sixth and seventh innings to show what probably was a mid to high 90’s fastball just like Motte. TK racked up two strike outs, gave up one hit, no runs but he did walk one Blue Jays Instruct and hit another. But we could see the progress. He only pitched 8.2 innings this season with Reading and Clearwater striking out 11 in making his pitching debut after seven and half seasons in the Phillies system as a super sub playing every position except shortstop.
The 30 year old Mott turned to pitching about the same age as the 25 year old Kennelly and is now the closer for Cards. TK has similar stuff as Mott. When he was throwing his fastball down at the knees and on the corners of the plate he was unhittable yesterday. His off speed stuff is still a work in progress but it took Mott two years before he made it to the Bigs. In any event none of the hitters squared up TK yesterday and after finishing his two innings he receive a big hand shake from the Phillies minor league pitching coordinator Gorm Heimueller who was watching closely from behind the home plate screen.
Yesterday was the final game in the three week Instruct season. The Phillies went down 5-2 to the Blue Jays. The line up was loaded with mostly young players from the GCL, the Domincan and Venezuela Summer Leagues. Deiber Olivera was at second, Carlos Tocci DH, Samuel Hiciano in left, Freddy Zorrilla in right, Olvy Marte in center and Jose Mayorga catching. Of these guys only Olivera and Marte had base hits. Larry Greene was the second DH, and Zach Green at third were both held hitless. Chace Numata came on late in the game to catch and lined a base hit.
The hitting stars of the game were first baseman Cameron Perkins who squared up two line drive base hits up the middle and shortstop Angelo Mora. Mora doubled in his first at bat and batting left handed dropped the barrel of the bat on a pitch and drove it far and deep over the right field fence for a two run homer in his final at bat. Mora was one of the most impressive hitters at Instructs and is someone to watch next season probably playing second base at Lakewood. On the mound Kevin Walter started and pitched three innings giving up three runs on five hits. Jonathan Musser came on and pitched two innings giving up two runs on three hits. Kennelly pitched the 7th and 8th innings and Delvy Francisco who likely will close for Lakewood struck out the Blue Jays in the ninth getting earning a Heimueller handshake also as he the departed for the clubhouse.
As Instructs came to and end yesterday so did the baseball season at Clearwater. One diehard fan said pitchers and catchers report he estimates on February 16th and he can’t wait. In the meantime GM Ruben Amaro Jr. and most of his assistants had moved on and we not seen at the game yesterday. One would expect they have moved on to scout the Arizona Fall League and the Venezuelan Winter League in preparation of the winter meetings in December.
It was an odd season. For the first time since the 2006 season no Phillies playoff games took place. Last night was strange not seeing the Phils in the NLDS. Clearly many holes remain to be filled on the major league roster but with likes of the players we saw in Instructs like outfielders, Larry Greene, Carlos Tocci and Dylan Cozens; a shortstop like Roman Quinn; a second baseman like Angelo Mora and with Tim Kennelly coming out of the bullpen hope springs eternal in a few years that some of these guys we saw in Instructs this year will be leading the Phillies back into the post season.