Saturday morning is always the best time of the baseball week for us. We live almost half way between two minor league complexes and three blocks from Dunedin Stadium. As fans of minor league baseball we can’t have it any better than that. Most Saturday mornings we make our way to either to the Toronto Blue Jays complex at the Englebert Complex or the Phillies Carpenter Complex to watch the stars of tomorrow play.
Last year the Blue Jays said they were “95% certain that they would be leaving the Dunedin area in a few years to join with the Houston Astros in the Palm Beach Garden area on the east coast of Florida to spring train. It turns out that problems arose on the move and the buzz Saturday morning at the Carpenter Complex was that the Astros will be leaving the Kissimmee training complex near Orlando to head to Vero Beach Fl. They would spring train at the old Dodgertown facilities there in the future. Hopefully that will leave the Blue Jays in Dunedin.
As always two Blue Jays and Phillies teams played each other in extended spring games and good young talent was on display. I was particularly impress with former high Phillies draft pick Mitch Gueller who pitched three strong innings. Aaron Altherr continued to hit and made a start centerfield as he rounds into shape rehabbing wrist injury before returning to action soon. Likely he will either continue rehabbing with the Threshers or head to an already strong Reading team. On the same Roberts Field, after a base hit by shortstop Grenny Cumana, Jiandido Tromp hit one out to left for a two run homer. Defensively, Trey Williams continues to improve at first base as he made a nice scoop on a throw from short.
On the Ashburn Field, I was somewhat surprised to see the big international signing from last year Luis Encarnacion at first base. He has been struggling defensively at third but there is no question he can hit a baseball long and far. He should be interesting to watch in the Gulf Coast League this season. I already project him to hit more than the league leading six home runs that were hit by several players last year in the GCL. Another player who can barrel a ball at the plate is Jesus Posse who is listed as a catcher but has been playing some first base and DHing as well.
Finally, it is always good to stay until the games are over. Two left handed relief pitchers caught my eye for the Phillies late in the game on Ashburn. The first one, Francibel Alejo, pitched for three seasons in the Dominican Summer League. He struck out two in an inning of relief as did next up Chris O’Hare who finished up the game. O’Hare you might remember is under suspension for violating MiLB drug policies. See Here. He had an excellent slider yesterday which appears to be his out pitch. See Here. As we have seen recently on the AL East minor league teams of the Blue Jays and Yankees in the Florida State League, a team can never have enough left handed pitching.