You never know who you will see in extended spring training games. Baseball Betsey and I were up early this Memorial Day morning to catch the Phillies extended spring training games at the Carpenter Complex fields. Actually, we were there to see our young friend, 19 year old Feliberto Sanchez pitch in his effort to make the Gulf Coast Phillies roster. He had been injured and he told us he was going to be facing the Yankees this morning. But I wondered if even he knew exactly which Yankees he would be facing.
When we arrived we did not see Feliberto at first but Baseball Betsy spotted him and he told her he would be working the fifth inning in the game on Roberts Field. He was pitching with the lower level of the two extended spring teams which was playing on Roberts Field. Most of the guys on this field are Phillies prospects from the Domincan Republic, as is Sanchez, or from Venezuela. To my surprise it turned out that the Yankee had stacked their lineup in this game with rehabbing major league starters Kevin Youkilis at third and Mark Teixeira at first.
The big question to me was young Feliberto Sanchez, in perhaps his most important outing of his spring, up for the challenge. Since he would not be pitching for the first four innings, I went over to the other game on Ashburn Field where the more established Phillies players in extended spring, likely destined for Williamsport in the NY-Penn League, were playing their Yankee counterparts. While over there, I watched catcher Gabe Lino line a two run home over the left field fence and rehabbing a pitcher from the Clearwater Threshers, Ethan Stewart, looking good in his outing. But Ethan did not have to face Youk and Tex.
But it was Feliberto Sanchez I wanted to see pitch. So back over to Roberts Field I went. There the young right-hander was finally warming up for the top of the fifth. Baseball Betsy moved up to get some pictures of him and I positioned myself behind the home plate screen to see how he would do. The first batter was no problem; a pop out to third base. Feliberto showed a nice smooth delivery with a 90 mph fastball and a 78 mph breaking pitch on the radar gun behind home plate.
Then Sanchez had to face the heart of the Yankee major league lineup in Youkilis and Teixeira. The home plate umpire called two strikes on Youk as Sanchez was painting the outside corner of the plate. Youk was clearly looking for something he could drive, center in. But under no circumstance would Sanchez give in or would this rookie ump call out Youk looking on two pitches that looked to me as strike threes on the outside corner of the plate. Youkilis Walks in this video. Youk walked and then Tex followed up on a base hit to left. Teixeira’s hit is in this video.
Feliberto came back with a strike out on the next hitter. He then gave up a double down the third base line scoring Youk from second. He ended the inning with a called third strike for his second strike out of the inning. Feliberto’s line in the inning was a run on two hits, a walk and two strike outs. Had he not faced two major leaguer hitters, his pitching line would have been probably even better. In any event Feliberto Sanchez survived the fifth inning facing much of the heart of the Yankees major league lineup rehabbing in the game and came out of it giving up only a run.
It will be interesting to see if Feliberto Sanchez did enough on this Memorial Day morning and subsequent outings to win a look in the Gulf Coast League when it starts next month. Baseball Betsy and I had to hustle back to make a noon picnic among our neighbors in Dunedin. In any event it was just another day at the minor league complex this morning but a lot was riding on the line for our young friend from the Dominican Republic. In our opinion he passed the test under very challenging circumstances.