I was frustrated by recent articles about the Phillies discussing previous trades and how they are panning out for the respective teams. This is all well and good and can provide some interesting conversations. But I do not like going back to the past. Quite frankly it bores me. Sure learn from past mistakes but do not dwell on them and definitely don’t repeat them. As “Satchel” Paige once said “Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.” I like to live for the future.
That why I like to talk about the future. The last several days were something special to me. I saw a tape measure home run by Maikel Franco, one of three he hit in recent games. Watched via the internet lefty ace Jesse Biddle strike out ten more batters, listened over the internet to first baseman Art Charles hit a three run homer, and watched in person Kelly Dugan hit a line drive home run and Dylan Cozens throw a strike to the plate on the plate from right field to cut down the runner. This is what I like to talk about because it is like living in the future right now and not getting distracted by arguments of the past. Stay focused on the future. I don’t want to get distracted by something gaining on me
Jesse Biddle has reached a new plateau in pitching excellence. Last year Baseball Betsy and I watched him pitch three dominating games for the Clearwater Threshers. But they were not back to back and they were somewhat spread out over the season. What Jesse is now doing now for Reading is showing a great consistency of excellence. In his last two starts he has pitched 13 shutout innings striking out 26 and giving up only two hits. What he has done with his fastball command and his change up and curve ball off speed pitches is rare at any level. However, doing it in back to back starts against teams that had already faced him earlier in the month was unprecedented. They knew what Jesse was going to throw them but they still could not hit him.
I have already written much about the Clearwater Threshers third baseman Maikel Franco. He had a weekend to remember with two home runs and a double to drive in seven runs Friday night and then hit a two run home run Sunday afternoon to take the RBI with 25 this month in the Florida State League. The 20 year old Franco has a chance to be someone special at third base both with the bat and the glove. He does bring me back to my youth as he reminds of great Phillies of the past at third, Dick “Richie” Allen with the bat and Mike Schmidt with his strong and accurate arm at third.
Yesterday, late morning and early afternoon, I decided to do some work while at the same time listening to the Lakewood BluClaws doubleheader on the internet from Asheville North Carolina. Needless to say I was not listening for the outcomes of the games but how Lakewood’s first-baseman Art Charles was doing. His big left-handed swing impressed me with several long home runs and extra base hits that I saw him hit on Schmidt Field in minor league camp games back in March. Big Art has not slowed down his power in the South Atlantic League. In the first game he hit a three run homer over the centerfield fence. However in the next inning he hurt his wrist in a collision at first base. Art finished the inning but had to leave the game and did not play in the second game. Charles was acquired in the Michael Schwimer trade. It might rank one day as one of General Manager Ruben Amaro’s better deals.
Later yesterday evening we headed over to Brighthouse to see the Threshers battle the Ft. Myers Miracle, the best team in high A baseball. In the bottom of the eight inning with the Threshers up 3-2, right-fielder Kelly Dugan lined a home run over the right field fence that landed in front of the big Oakley billboard sign in front of the walk way. To me it was a no doubt about it tack on home run to give the Threshers some breathing room in the top of the ninth. But an error at shortstop eventually resulted in three unearned runs and the Miracle pulled one off defeating the Threshers 5-4. Dugan has impressed me in his three games back from a back injury with his ability to hit from the left-side of the plate and drive the ball hard to all fields.
While at the Threshers game I talked to super fan Walter who updated me about the extended spring game against the Yankees over at the Complex that took place earlier in the day. He reported that Dylan Cozens had another strong game this time as the DH for the Phillies extenders. He had a couple of base hits and stole some bases in the game. On Saturday morning we saw Dylan’s arm in action as he threw a strike on the fly from straight away right field to nail the Blue Jays runner trying to score from third on a sac. fly. Still I find it hard to believe that Cozens is not playing right field for Lakewood rather than spending his time in extended spring training games. The highlight of the minor league camp in March was watching left-handed power hitters Charles and Cozens bat back to back and watching Cozens line a home run over the left centerfield fence out toward busy Rt. 19 at Schmidt Field.
So watching minor league baseball players is not so much about the past ones who got away or even so much winning and losing the games. Yesterday all the Phillies minor league teams lost though Walter thought the extended team had the Yankees tied up when even he had to leave. It’s about how certain players play the game and projecting them into the future. From what I saw and heard just over the last several days Phillies prospects Biddle, Franco, Charles, Dugan and Cozens all showed the tool sets that will play well in the major leagues some day.