Phillies organization baseball games of one type or another seem to be always taking place on the fields of the Carpenter Complex or BrightHouse in Clearwater. Getting up early for Saturday morning games takes an extra effort. It does seem like it might be just same stuff, different day. So what, if we take Saturday morning off from a baseball game. But it is something different to see the sun rising from the east rather than it sitting high overhead or setting in the west. And we just might miss something special on the field.
So Baseball Betsy and I grabbed a quick breakfast on the way and we were off to the Complex on this Florida picture perfect Saturday morning. Not many fans or even scouts show up for the Saturday morning games but as always super Phillies fan Walter was there and Phillies coordinator Mike Compton as always was there too to greet us with a big smile and say “hello”. We made sure to sit with our backs to the rising sun on Ashburn Field to watch an extended spring training game against the Toronto Blue Jays.
At our last Saturday morning game which started at nine o’clock on minor league camp get away day we had to watch a silhouette of starting pitcher Seth Rosin on Schmidt Field as we shaded our eyes from the rising morning sun. The warm Florida sun that day was perfectly outlining his 6’5 frame on the mound. It was the first time I had paid extra attention to Rosin after being acquired in the Hunter Pence trade last year and he made it worth our while to get up early and watch the big right-hander. He use his fastball and off speed pitches to rack up some quick strike outs in the final intrasquad camp game of the season. Not to our surprise Seth has gotten off to a great start for Reading with an 1.80 ERA in his first two starts for them.
I was sorta hoping for a similar type of Saturday morning performance from one or two of the Phillies extenders such as we saw from Seth and we were not disappointed. Dylan Cozens has always been one of my favorite players to watch from the 2012 draft class. We watched him come up big in many games last year in the Gulf Coast League, the Fall Instructional League and in the minor league camp games this spring. I was surprised that he was still stuck in Clearwater in extended spring training and not assigned to Lakewood to start the season. “Cuz” as he is called and Art Charles hitting back to back in Group Four camp games this spring put on several shows with the bat that were not quickly forgotten at least by me.
While Charles had struggled before getting three hits on Sunday for Lakewood, every time I saw Cozens DH in the extended games until Saturday he had a hard time putting the ball into play. You see he was not playing his customary right field so rehabbing Delmon Young could get in his playing time in right field. Even GM Ruben Amaro made a special trip to the Ashburn observation table high up behind home plate on Ashburn this past Thursday to study every move of Young at the bat, on the bases and in right field. But Delmon was given Saturday morning off so Cozens had a chance to play the field in right. He responded by hitting the ball hard in the two at bats I saw driving the ball hard off the pitcher’s ankle in one at bat and squaring up the ball for a line drive out to left center in his other at bat.
The really big story though to me was the work of the second of three Phillies pitchers in the game, Jonathan Musser. He was a 21st round draft pick in the 2010 draft but on this Saturday morning he pitched the best two innings I have seen pitched this spring even going back to the minor league camp games. It was totally unexpected by me. Musser had put up pedestrian numbers in his two previous years in the Phillies organization with a 2-4 record and a 6.91 ERA at Williamsport last year. But this Saturday morning he looked like a major league prospect. Relying on a big 12 to five curve ball and great command of all his pitches he struck out five in two scoreless innings. The Blue Jay extenders, including a guy with the name Thon on his back, could not touch him. He got a “good outing” shout out from me and a relieved “thank you” back from him as he walked by us when he headed to the clubhouse after completing his work.
It’s the likes of Seth Rosin, Dylan Cozens and Jonathan Musser that cause us to get up bright and early for Saturday morning baseball. We would not have wanted to miss their performances because you never know what you might see at Saturday morning baseball games in Clearwater.