The workouts for the 2014 Phillies baseball season have officially started for the Phillies. Baseball Betsy and I hopped into the old Jeep this morning and headed over to the Carpenter Complex to see the start of the pitchers and catchers workouts.
As always, I like to focus on the young guys, especially the ones who are making their first appearances in the major league camp. Newcomers like pitchers Mario Hollands, David Buchanan, Jesse Biddle and Ken Giles spent most the time doing pitchers fielding practice drills and throwing bullpens. Though none of these pitchers will open the season with the Phillies, they have to take some satisfaction that General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is always looking for pitching depth.
Amaro, who seemed to be every where this morning, released swing man free agent Chad Gaudin for failing his physical. He pitched for the Giants last season. That was good news for the likes of pitchers Brian Rosenberg and Ethan Martin giving one of them a chance to make the team out of spring training. Like Gaudin, they had either started or relieved last season in the major leagues. Even an impressive spring training would put lefty Mario Hollands into the swing man mix. He both started and relieved last season in the minors and put up strong numbers in winter ball as a starter.
Hopefully, starters David Buchanan and Jesse Biddle will get a chance to pitch in some major league spring games. Buchanan finished strong last year in AAA with the IronPigs and Biddle was brilliant in last year’s minor league camp. He carried it over to the first month of the AA season with Reading where he struck out 16 in seven innings in a game against the Harrisburg Senators in late April. Later Jesse would struggled with an illness and a foot injury the rest of the season but he looks poised for a great start again this season, only now against some major league hitters.
My favorite relief pitcher going through PFPs this morning was Ken Giles. He has closer stuff as he continues to work on his control. We have watched him pitch the last two years with the Clearwater Threshers. One of the highlights of those two seasons was watching him pitch when the Threshers would play in Dunedin against the Blue Jays to see him light up the scoreboard with double zeros with his 100 mph fastball. The Bright house scoreboard has no pitch speed radar gun readings. When the scoreboard was installed many years ago in Dunedin, the legend goes that no pitcher in the Florida State League ever had the stuff and velocity that Giles possesses to merit a third digit on the board. Also Giles was dominating in the Arizona Fall League where he struck out 18 in 11.1 innings of work including two strike outs in one inning of work in the league’s All-Star game.
This morning we also saw other players working to get back on the Phillies radar screen. Prodigal son Lou Marson returned as a free agent. He was last seen in a Phillies uniform in the 2009 World Series year as a September call-up and post-season non-roster emergency catcher in the bullpen. This morning he was getting in some batting practice on Ashburn Field in addition to working with PFP. Another catcher Sebastian Valle was taken off the 40 man roster after a subpar year at AA. However his most whose recent at bat was a grand slam hit last Saturday night in helping Mexico win the Caribbean Series. All of the sudden this morning the Phillies staff seemed very interested in watching every swing Valle took on Schmidt Field to see if the 23 year old still has it as a major league prospect after his strong season in winter ball.
The 2014 baseball season got off to a chilly start this morning under partly cloudy skies, a strong wind out of the northwest and temperatures in the high 50’s. But you can be sure the season will heat up when the full team reports on February 18th. My favorite game of the spring is the Phillies inter-squad game on Feb. 25th; the day before the Grapefruit League opens. In this game you get to see most of the major league camp players in action all in one game. It’s truly a showcase for the top Phillies talent who will likely play at the major league level sometime during the 2014 season.
Ken Giles has the stuff to be a big time major league closer as he gets his work out in during the first day of pitchers and catchers at the Carpenter Complex.
The Phillies are looking for a swing man who can both start and relieve. Mario Hollands did that role last year at the minor league level. Here Cliff Lee, Ethan Martin, David Buchanan and Jesse Biddle are having a good time watching Mario go through his workout on Roberts Field.
Jesse Biddle is poised to have a big year. Here Jesse is going through a simulated move as he prepares for the new season as Luis Garcia, Brad Lincoln, Mario Hollands and Cliff Lee await their turns on the bump at Roberts Field.
Lou Marson is back and looks to be the likely third string catcher behind Carlos Ruiz and Wil Nieves in the Phillies system.
It’s hard to watch the pitchers bullpens as the area between Schmidt and Roberts Fields is off limits to bloggers without press credentials. But here Baseball Betsy is able to get a photo glimpse of Jesse Biddle’s bullpen in this morning’s workout. Like the Biddle look!
Sebastian Valle looks bigger and stronger than ever entering the 2014 season as he does a catching drill on Carlton Field.
David Buchanan finished strong at AAA last season and could provide starting pitching depth later in the season for the Phillies if the need arises. Luis Garcia, Jesse Biddle, Brad Lincoln and Mario Hollands await their turns after David in a simulation drill at Roberts Field.
The Phillies on field and front office brass kept a close eye on Sebastian Valle in this morning’s catchers batting practice on Schmidt Field. Even Valle seemed to know he was being closely watched after his outstanding work behind the plate and hitting two homers including a grand slam this past Saturday in the final game of the Caribbean Series. His Mexico team won the five country team tournament in Venezuela.