Yes, another two weeks and it will all be over for about 40 or so guys many of whom have been in spring training since the end of February. They have trained enough and spring will soon fade into summer. You can only play the Yankees, Blue Jays and Pirates so many times.
Ironically extended spring training games for the Phillies end June 4th, one day before the start of the 2014 North American Amateur Draft. So its time to get the Extenders assigned to real teams, either the Williamsport Crosscutters starting play June 13th or the GCL Phillies starting play at high noon on June 20th .
On Friday we watched the two Phillies and the Blue Jays extended teams do battle at the Englebert complex in Dunedin. Little that we saw was new. Now a left fielder, Herlis Rodriquez lined a base hit to right and made a great sliding catch in foul territory deep down the left field line. But he does something like that just about every game. Why he is not a starting outfielder on a full season team somewhere remains one of the great mysteries of spring training.
With Feliberto Sanchez on the bump, I took to counting pitches to stay focused. I had him at 78 pitchers after five inning. I told him two runs and five innings pitched is a quality start in my mind. His fastball sat a 90-91 early when we checked on the gun. He looks ready for the Williamsport rotation.
Cord Sandberg was in center but he has struggled a bit all spring squaring up the ball. A good drag bunter and excellent defensive outfielder, all he needs to do is square up some pitches every once in a while to be a lock as a major league prospect.
Middle infielder, 18 year old, Grenny Cumana has been one of my favorite spring players. He hits the ball hard and comes through in the clutch with the big hits. He has a strong arm but his glove is his weak spot. At only 5′ 5 ” he is major league material. Think Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve.
It was knuckle balls on display Friday with the Phillies bullpen coach Rod Nichols son Chris throwing them for an inning in relief in Friday’s game and former major league pitcher Frank Viola Jr watching his son Frank Viola III start and throwing them for the Blue Jays on Saturday at the Carpenter Complex. Both knuckle balls are works in progress. Both guys no doubt hoping to be the next R.A. Dickey.
The Phillies have several good Latin catching prospects in extended spring. I have been impressed with Gregori Rivero, Jesus Posso, switch-hitting Wilson Garcia and Wilber Torres. Wilson and Wilber are not to be confused with Lakewood’s left-handed first baseman Wilmer Oberto. Rivero has a strong arm, a good bat, and nice foot speed. We already know that Posso can play after three games with the Threshers in an emergency role earlier in the season where he had a homer and double and showed a strong arm behind the plate.
A guy who seems to know how to pitch is lean lanky right-hander Lewis Alezones. With the lack of quality pitching in the Phillies organization, opportunities are wide open for starting pitchers to move up quickly in the organization. In a recent start Alezones showed good off speed stuff and should be effective at either the GCL or New-York Penn levels.
On Friday afternoon I stayed especially to watch Manuel Chavez pitch the final inning of one of the games. The minor league department seems determined to make him a late inning left handed reliever. He was a starter in the Venezuelan Summer League last year where he went 9-0. He was move to relief in winter ball in Mexico. He did record a strike out but was his hard in another at bat after walking a batter in Friday’s game.
Big international signing corner infielder Luis Encarnacion and outfielder Jose Pujols and Freddy Zorrilia have occasionally hit some long balls but by and large I did not see much o power on display. I have seen only a few players who could be considered major league prospects. But most of these guys are young and some are still growing into their bodies. They are maybe late bloomers with break out seasons still ahead of them once they learn to hit the breaking balls and lay off pitches out of the strike zone.
We can only hope the Draft will bring in some new Philles prospects that we can project as major league locks. Drafting 7th each round based on the Phillies 2013 record, the Front Office will have the opportunity to get better prospects than in previous drafts when they picked way down in draft order.
Starting June 5th we will be told yet again about a fresh crop of can’t miss prospects who will be heading into the Carpenter Complex over the first several weeks of June to replenish the farm system. The Phillies Front Office and its scouting department will have no excuses this time picking as high as are in the Draft! Or will they?