Yesterday was unique in my many years of following Phillies baseball. Baseball Betsy and I watched on MLB-TV Roy Halladay win his 202nd major league game in the Phillies win over the Arizona Diamondbacks. Our guest who was watching the game with us at the time was the GCL Phillies 18 year old closer, Ricky Bielski. Only ten days before he picked up a save in a game started by Halladay who pitched six innings in a no decision rehab start in that GCL game at Robin Roberts Field in Clearwater.
Residing in the Clearwater area gives us a unique perspective in following the Phillies. We can watch the major league team and the AAA and AA teams on the internet just about any time we want but it is the twenty year old something players who play for the high A Clearwater Threshers and the mostly teenagers who play for the GCL Phillies that we watch in person. Also because of the Phillies rehab facilities at the Carpenter Complex it is common to see major league players walking by each day or playing in rehab games for the GCL team or the Threshers.
We can see just by talking to and watching the young players in these games that they follow the veterans closely during these rehab games. Bielski said he was honored to play in the same game as Roy Halladay and we watched GCL starting pitchers closely charting the game from behind the home plate screen learning from a major league perfect game and Cy Young pitcher such as Roy Halladay. No doubt they hope someday they will pitch in the major leagues and join Roy Halladay in the history of major players.
Because of the more informal nature of the GCL games which are played mostly on the back field minor league complexes of the major league teams, we can get to know the young players. We have traveled to Willie Stargell Field at Pirate City, Al Kaline Field at Tigertown, the Braves Field Three at Wide World of Sports at Disney and the Blue Jays Englebert Complex in addition to the Carpenter Complex to watch the GCL Phillies this season.
We have gotten to know some of the GCL players personally such as pitchers Feliberto Sanchez, Ranfi Casimiro, Rivar Angulo in addition to Ricky Bielski and found them to be not only good ball players but outstanding persons. One of the high lights of my GCL season was talking baseball at a couple of GCL games with J. P. Crawford’s dad, Larry, when he was in town to see J.P. play. We also got know some of the parents, grandparents and relatives of other players who make trips or stop by to see the GCL games. It gives us a unique vantage point to share in the hopes and dreams of these young athletes as they start out on their baseball careers.
The GCL season ends on Thursday and the Threshers finish up this Sunday. It been a good baseball season for us and we will have more to say about it once the season is over. But so far it has been very satisfying from our perspective. This is our second season living full time in the Clearwater area and Cody Asche is the first player to make it to make it to the majors while we have been here. It’s like he made the Show on our watch. We watched him hit .349 in the first half of the FSL season last year. But sitting in our living room on Sunday watching Roy Halladay win for the Phillies with Ricky Bielski, who had picked up a save only ten days before in a Halladay start, was also something special for both of us.