June 1st is the official start of the rainy season down here in the Tampa Bay area. Right on schedule about six inches of rain was dumped here on Saturday night after months of dry weather. The Threshers did get in an inning and half against the Blue Jays at Brighthouse Field. But it was good news for Aaron Altherr for he has a double in the bank when the suspended game resumes this Saturday night as the first game of a doubleheader, of course weather permitting.
Other changes than the weather are coming too. The seemingly never ending spring training finally ends on Wednesday when extended spring training games will be ended after a game against the arch rival Blue Jays. So with rain pending for Wednesday, I made a special trip to the Carpenter Complex to see what likely might be the final spring training game of any kind for the 2013 baseball season. Yea!
As I was coming into the Complex on Monday Yankee rehabber, big 6′ 7″, 265 lbs. Michael Pineda, was just leaving. He was being shuttled back to the Steinbrenner Complex across the causeway. He had started the game and I was told dominated the Phillies extenders. No surprise there since he was a key pick up from the Seattle Mariners last year. I stopped by the Yankees side of the backstop fence on Ashburn Field where by buddy Feliberto Sanchez was watching, serving as the foul ball boy for the game, and he was all excited. He told me that Pineda was from his hometown in the Dominican Republic.
After Pineda left the game the Phillies bats came to life as right fielder Dylan Cozens sent a line drive for a base hit to center and third baseman Zach Green square one up and almost got it out to right center but had to settle for an extra base hit as the gulf wind knocked it down. These guys along with the likes of Andrew Pullin who made some nice plays around second base will soon be moving on up probably to Williamsport. All of them will hopefully be finally freed from the Carpenter Complex where they have been sequestered since signing with the Phillies after the 2012 June Draft.
On Thursday evening the 2013 First Year Draft will begin. The Phillies will draft No. 16, the highest since drafting pitcher Gavin Floyd as their top pick in 2001. They also drafted Ryan Howard in the fifth round that year. After the 40 rounds are completed, the signings begin and the Carpenter Complex will come alive again with a new group of prospects for us to project.
Right now a lot of uncertainty exists among the players remaining at the complex. Rosters for the Williamsport Crosscutters must be readied for the June 17th opener in State College and the GCL Phillies lid lifter at high noon on June 21. I asked Feliberto if he knows where he will be assigned. He did not know, only saying he is scheduled to pitch on Wednesday in the final extended spring game of the season. But I reminded him that rain is in the forecast so he should be ready for anything. He said he throws a 92-93 fastball with a slider, change up and a sinker. The couple of times I saw him pitch, all he needs is a little more command and he will have a great future in the Phillies system.
We will be watching closely who the Phillies draft and sign. General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said on the Phillies telecast last night that they are looking for bats. We all know the Phillies need offense at the major league level but with Lehigh Valley and Reading having the highest ERAs in the International and Eastern Leagues the organization needs pitching as well.
With the Clearwater Threshers the only team over .500 in the Phillies organization from top to bottom, with over one third of the minor league season complete, the Phillies need to score big with prospects in the upcoming draft. They have no excuses this time since they did not make the post season last year and will be drafting higher than in recent seasons. Let’s hope the changes in the air will be better baseball weather and the signing of high quality draft picks that will help most teams in the Phillies organization to get back over .500.