Today I hustled over to Englebert Complex where the Blue Jays train to see one of the last games before the Phillies Instruct camp breaks up on Friday. The top management of the team were there along with several of their top scouts. General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. was in constant motion watching the early action while new Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg stood stoically leaning against the last row of the bleachers on the Phillies third base dugout side.
But what I was watching for was the play of a little middle infielder Grenny Cumana. Grenny had a good season with the Phillies farm team in the Venezuelan Summer League where he hit .410 in his last ten games there. Just like pitcher Severino Gonzalez who caught my attention this summer with the Clearwater Thresher on first impression, so has Grenny.
October means Baseball is in a state of transition. The playoffs progress at the major league level. At the minor league level the Florida Instructional League sees only two more games for the Phillies instructs. Seven top Phillies minor leaguers have headed to Arizona and after two games there, five of them have played with mixed results in the Arizona Fall League where some of the top rated North American minor league players are now assigned. Other players are getting ready to play winter ball in Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. The VWL starts tomorrow night.
Amaro and Sandberg did not stay long at today’s game. They were there for only for the first half of the game and departed after watching DH Tommy Joseph drive a long fly ball which was caught at the base of the fence in left. They must decided what to do with Joseph who has struggled with post concussion symptoms from his catching early in the season and has played sparingly this season spending most of the season on the disabled list. A decision must be made if he is to stay on the 40 man roster and protected from the Rule Five Draft. That long drive to left may have help them make a decision on Joseph.
The buzz around instruct camp though has been about a young 17 year-old middle infielder, Venezuelan Grenny Cumana. He is all of 5’5″ and is listed at a broad shouldered 143 lbs. He reminds me of a young Jimmy Rollins when I first saw Jimmy play in the Eastern league back in the day. Though Grenny may not have the foot speed of Rollins the ball just jumps off his bat in the games I have seen him play in Instructs.
In today’s game they started Grenny at second with J.P. Crawford at short to give them two strong young teenage middle infield prospects. Third baseman Zach Green and first baseman Art Charles give them pop on the corners with Green continuing to drive the ball to deep left in several at bats in the games I have seen him play and Art Charles who had doubled to left center in an earlier game turned on one today and drove a line drive double down the line in right.
Out in the desert in AFL action after two games, center fielder Aaron Altherr went 2 for 3 with two RBIs in the first game but what impressed me was that he worked a bases loaded walk. Kenny Giles game on pitched a scoreless 7th inning striking out two. In the second game today Cameron Rupp batted clean up and went two for four but pitchers Mike Nesseth and Austin Wright were ineffective in relief. Outfielder Kelly Dugan and pitcher Kyle Simon have yet to play.
With only two Instruct games tomorrow and Friday remaining, I plan to focus on the strong infield play of Green, Crawford and Charles while keeping a special eye on Grenny Cumana. So far it has been the play of these four infielders which has stood out in instruct action. To me Grenny Cumana has been the surprise player of Instructs and a guy to watch for next season at second in the Phillies minor league system.