The opening of the Phillies minor league spring training games start on Tuesday May 12th. The Phillies open with the Toronto Blue Jays. The AAA and AA games will take place at the Carpenter Complex while the two A teams travel a couple of miles up the road to the Jays’s Englebert Complex. Reports indicate that Jesse Biddle will be the opening day starter for the AAA team weather permitting.
Sunday was intra squad day with the teams squaring off against one another at the Complex. It was a beautiful day for baseball and Baseball Betsy and I focused on the AAA vs. AA game on Ashburn Field. The game ended in a walk off tie as the AAA team scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth to avoid defeat thanks in part to three walks including the bases loaded walk off base on balls by AA pitcher Hector Neris and timely hits in the inning by Leandro Castro and Derrick Mitchell.
Here’s what I observed from the three hour scrimmage:
Ethan Martin:. We arrived at the complex early to watch AAA starter Ethan Martin warmup with starting AAA catcher Shawn Williams who was relieved by catcher Kevin Quaranto. Martin has major league stuff if he can command it. He pitched four innings and struck out three but also walked three and gave up two runs. He was followed by hard throwers Brandon Erbe and Juan Morillo with Austin Hyatt pitching the ninth.
Juan Sosa: A reliever last season for the Threshers but it looks like he will be starting this season. He went the first three innings giving up only a run in the first inning. Sosa was followed by lefties Brendan Lafferty and Corey Young; then righties Garett Claypool and Hector Neri for the AA team.
Jiwan James: He was the most impressive AAA player with two hits, a walk and scored two runs. He also ran down two long drives in center as he played the entire game.
Josh Ludy: Keep an eye on the starting catcher for the AA team. I saw him in Instructs last Fall and now on Sunday as the starting catcher. His build reminded me of a right handed hitting Yogi Berra. And not to my surprise he was wearing Yogi’s No. 8. He lined a single up the middle to drive in a run. John Hill came on to take Ludy’s place later in the game.
Brendan Lafferty: A lean lanky lefty with a herky-jerky motion was the most impressive pitcher I never heard of. He came on to pitch two clean innings striking out the last two batter he faced after coming on in relief of Sosa. He kept his fastball at the knees and had an off speed pitch which had a big downward break.
Maikel Franco: Was anxious to see the highly touted third baseman who started for the AA team. But in his two plate appearances he walked twice and did not get any fielding chances. Edgar Duran was at short and Albert Cartwright held down second for the AA team. Harold Martinez was at first.
Austin Hyatt: Looks like they are putting Hyatt back in the bullpen. He came on in the ninth to pitch for the AAA team. I remember watching Hyatt close an Instructs game several years ago at Brighthouse after Jake Diekman, who was then just learning a side arm release point set up the eight against the Tigers Instructs that day.
Derrick Mitchell: With runners on first and second and the AAA trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth, Mitchell smashed a single so hard to left that the runner on second was held up at third to set up the walk off base on balls to tie up the game. Mitch looks ready to have a big season. Steve Susdorf and Leandro Castro spllit the leftfield duties for the AAA team.
Aaron Altherr: Aaron looks strong in his upper body and poised to have a big season probably with the Threshers in center field. With Kelly Dugan who had two hits in right and Gauntlett Eldemire who had a single playing in left for the AA team, they all will probably end up with the Threshers. Clearwater should have one of the better outfields in the Florida State League.
Troy Hanzawa: Looks like Troy will be fighting for a middle infield utility position along with Carlos Alonzo this season. Last year Baseball Betsy and I watched Hanzawa in the Eastern League All Star game in Reading at shortstop and we watched Alonzo who played just about every where in Clearwater. Hanzawa started at second base for the AAA team while journeyman Matt Tolbert played shortstop. Tyler Henson held down third for the AAA team. Cody Overbeck and Jim Murphy split time at first.
As expected at this point in the spring camp a lot of changes will filter down as the Phillies have assigned more players to the minor league complex such as third baseman Cody Asche, utility infielder Michael Martinez, catcher Tommy Joseph, outfielder Zach Collier, pitchers Adam Morgan and Jonathan Pettibone among others. It will be interesting to see how all the player movement shakes out and roster set up during the minor league spring training games which end on Friday, March 29th.