Last season in the Venezuelan Summer League the Phillies young prospect left-hander Manuel Chavez went 9-0 in 14 starts. Then he joined the his hometown team, Mexicali, in the off season Mexican Pacific League as a reliever where he was successful in getting left-handed hitters out.
He has been tough against left-handed hitters both as a starter and as a reliever last season. In his 14 starts last summer he gave up only 14 singles and no extra base hits to left-handed hitters. In the MPL last Fall as a left-handed specialist he did not give up any runs when facing left handed hitters.
It is somewhat surprising but the Phillies appear to be developing the 20 year old Chavez as a left-handed specialist rather than a starter. In today’s game against the Canadian Jr. National Team pitching for Group 5, he came in and pitched out of the stretch in the eight inning. He did strike out two batters, one was a left-handed hitter and gave up a double in facing four batters. Video HERE and HERE.
When you circle all the left-handed relievers on the 2014 Phillies Spring Training Minor League Work Group Sheet, the list is a bit thin or in the case of Group 3 nonexistent. It would not be surprising to see Chavez move up quickly in the system as a left-handed arm out of the pen at some level this season.
I spent the afternoon on Wednesday watching all nine innings of the Canadians vs. the Group Five Phillies on Schmidt Field. Few of the Phillies in the game have played outside of the Dominican and Venezuelan Summer Leagues other than Fall Instructs last year. Of the starting lineup only right fielder Jose Pujols and left fielder Cord Sandberg played last year in Clearwater with the GCL Phillies. And third baseman Luis Encarnacion was a high dollar free agent signing in August who was at Instructs in September.
The most impressive players for the Phillies though today were two pitchers, Chavez and starting pitcher Ricardo Pinto. Pinto pitched two clean innings striking out three. The 20 year old Venezuelan pitched in the VSL last season and in 14 starts went 3-5 with a 2.86 ERA. The sloppy game by both sides ended in a 2-2 tie as the Phillies tied it up with the help of several fielding lapses by the Canadians in the bottom of the ninth.
Cord Sandberg times a pitch at the plate.
Jose Pujols gets one of his two hits in the game.
Third baseman Luis Encarnacion had three singles in the game but committed a throwing error as he threw the ball over the head of the first baseman on a charge play.