It was a big win today over at the Yankee minor league complex next to Raymond James Stadium as the GCL Phillies put it to the Yankees No. 1 team 9-7. The win put Roly de Armas’s boys a half game up on the GCL Pirates in the torrid race for the first place playoff spot in the Northwest division of the Gulf Coast League. The four division winners will play against one another in one game semi-finals with the top team playing the fourth place team and two meeting three for the right to play in the Gulf Coast League’s best of three championship series beginning the end of the month.
Next up for the GCL Phillies is a home and home series with the second place Pirates starting tomorrow at Pirate City in Bradenton and a return match with them on Thursday in Clearwater with the Phillies rehabbing Roy Halladay returning to the mound for the first time since his surgery back in May.
Our good buddy Feliberto Sanchez was the scheduled starter on Thursday but will make way for the rehabbing Halladay. Sanchez will likely come on in relief. In the 19 year-old’s last start on Friday, he had a six inning, one hit, no run outing against the Blue Jays. He threw only 71 pitches relying on spotting a 93 mph fastball with an effective curve and slider. It will hard for Doc to match Sanchez’s effort but we can only hope. Halladay is expected to be limited to a 70 pitch count.
Baseball Betsy and I are making every effort to make it to the big game tomorrow in Bradenton. We hope to see one of our favorite pitchers big 6’8″ Ranfi Casimiro takes the mound. The tall, lean, 20 year old Dominican right-hander sports a 94 mph fastball and has the potential to pitch a big game for the GCL Phillies.
Baseball Betsy and I have had the opportunity to get to know several of the players including Latin players Sanchez, Casimiro and injured lefty pitcher Rivar Angulo. They are quite impressive young men who are well representing the Phillies organization.
The GCL Phillies lead the league in home runs and slugging percent and have relied on a high powered offense led by first baseman Wilmer Oberto and shortstop J.P Crawford to score and drive in runs. Outfielder Herlis Rodriguez hitting .395 in his last ten games and catcher Deivi Grullon hitting .355 in his last ten have sparked the offense. Outfielders Nick Ferdinand, Jose Pujols, Cord Sandberg along with second baseman Robinson Torres and third baseman Jan Hernandez have homered at key stages of recent games as well.
The GCL Phillies started slowly and were as much as nine games under .500 during the first month of the season. They have battled back and have a chance to go to .500 for the season in the game tomorrow against the Pirates. Yes, it is a battle for first place in the division but no team in the division is at .500. as they also play four other teams in the Northwest division during the regular season.
Needless to say it has been a lot of fun to watch GCL baseball this season. As they come down the stretch they are the most likely team in Phillies system stateside with a chance to play in the post season. They have 16 games left in the season before the end of the season on August 29th. But the season will not be over for most of these future major league prospects on the GCL team even if they do not make the short post season. They will get about 15 days off and then return for the start of the Florida Instructional League in mid September for another month of learning baseball and working their way up the Phillies chain.