What a way to end the 2013 season at the Carpenter Complex. Two games taking place at the same time on a beautiful Friday morning with the temperature at 79 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. By noon both games were over bringing an end to the 2013 edition of the Florida Instructional League. But the best was the final hit of the season by my choice for the Phillies 2013 Instruct Player of the Year, Art Charles. He lined a home run at Ashburn Field that hit off a handicap parking sign well beyond the right field fence.
Charles’ bullseye startled a fan who had left early to go to his car. The ball caromed off the metal sign. I saw the blast from the third base side of the infield and it was a no doubt about it line drive squred up by the big left-handed hitting first baseman that put an nice cap on the final game of the season at the Carpenter Complex. Charles had a great Instructs. In addition to his homer today I saw him hit three doubles in earlier games. Art Charles could be one of those players next season like Cody Asche in 2012 and Maikel Franco and Kelly Dugan this year who start the season in the Florida State League but by mid season find their way to Reading and the Eastern League.
Art Charles was not the only player who had a good three weeks of Instruct games. Zach Green caught my eye as well. The big third baseman drilled a base hit today and hit several long fly balls in games I saw him play. The ball jumped off his bat much like it did with Williamsport where he won the New York-Penn League Player of the Year and was the top offensive threat in the league. Between Art Charles and Zach Green the infield corner positions were the strengths of the Phillies in Instruct games. Middle infielders J.P. Crawford and Malquin Canelo at short and Grenny Cumana at second impressed as well.
Two outfielders were impressive too. Dylan Cozens and Larry Greene provided long ball power. Cozens hit one over both fences in right field at Brighthouse in an early game and had a clutch single to drive in a run in another game. In this morning’s game he showed his five tool skill set by stealing a base. Cozens played more in left field after playing much of his time with Williamsport this season in right. Greene showed some pop earlier in the weeks by pulling a long home run out of Englebert Field, the minor league complex of the Blue Jays. He looked like he was finding his power stroke in several games.
Another guy who showed the Phillies did not make a mistake in signing was young 17 year old catcher Deivi Grullon. He threw bullets to second to controlled the running game as threw out runner after runner trying to steal second. He showed a quick bat by singling this morning down the left field line. It will be interesting to see if he gets the nod to go to full season Lakewood to start next season or goes to extended spring training before going to Williamsport.
It hard to judge the pitching in Instructs since they only work an inning or two every outing but it was good to see Colin Kleven pitch a strong inning this morning with a strike out after missing most the season with back problems. Our good buddy Feliberto Sanchez pitched two strong innings yesterday against the Pirates picking up a couple of strike outs and told me he is going to a winter ball mini-camp back in the Dominican. The best left-hander in Instructs was Denton Keys. He was the only one in camp and showed a good slider. Jessen Therrien who struggled at times in the Gulf Coast League also pitched strong in his several instruct outings.
We did get a chance to see in the first week of Instructs games the seven players who would later leave for the Arizona Fall League. Position players Aaron Altherr, Cameron Rupp and Kelly Dugan took many at bats. For an unknown reason Cameron Perkins has replaced Dugan on the roster of the Peoria Javelinas in the AFL. Perkins was not at Instructs. On the pitching side Kenny Giles is continuing his lights out pitching that we saw in Instructs. He picked up a save today. In his two AFL outings he has struck out five in two inning of work. With the Phillies need for bullpen help its a no brainer that he gets his first invite to the major league camp next spring.
We will be following Phillies playing winter ball. Last night the Venezuelan Winter League started its season. Big Jim Murphy doubled in his VWL debut for Aragua. I look forward to seeing what Maikel Franco does in the Dominican League which starts on October 18th.
Somewhere in the world baseball is always being played but we look forward already to the Hot Stove League, the winter meetings and the moves of the Phillies Front Office which will bring them back into playoff contention next season.