The old saying, “its always darkest before the dawn” could apply to the Phillies yesterday. The team hit rock bottom in another excruciating defeat this time at the hands of the Washington Nationals to fall to a season high eight games under .500 and 6 1/2 games off the pace in the NL East race.
Manager Ryne Sandberg called a team meeting before last night’s game and bench coach Larry Bowe when on a sport talk radio and ripped several players including Domonic Brown for not doing what is expected of them. All to no avail in last night’s game.
Maybe they should invite Reading’s Manager Dusty Wathan to come in and give a pep talk to the guys. All the Fightin Phils have done so far is go 18-2 in one run games. The team has scored fewer runs than any other team in the Eastern League The reason they have won is timely hitting and strong relief pitching.
But there is hope for the future. The three of the guys who have been responsible for Reading’s amazing record have left for AAA. Closer Ken Giles went up after the first month of the season. Just last night Cameron Perkins made his AAA debut in right field and Tyler Knigge debuted in relief for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Perkins can flat out hit the baseball. His recent three-run homer showed that power is coming. When it does Perk will be ready for the Show. Knigge pitched 21 score less innings out of the pen for Reading in May.
Down at AA, Hoby Milner finally started getting some strikeouts and had a no-no going after five innings before the rains came against the Nat’s farm team in Harrisburg. All Hoby needed was a two run homer by Carlos Alonso in the first inning to secure the win.
Alonso, the 2013 minor league Gold Glove second baseman, was at his normal position last night and he responded by going 4 for 5 with two doubles to go along with the long ball. With the declining skill set of Chase Utley at the major league level over the last month or so one wonders how is holding up physically, Carlos needs to play more at second base to be ready just in case Utley breaks down and he needs to move up.
But the really big story for the Phillies future will be tomorrow night’s amateur draft where the team will be drafting 7th overall. They will have four shots at some of the top 112 amateur players in North American and Puerto Rico. They can not afford to miss on any of them.
If past history is any indication the Phillies will draft 40 players and sign about 30 of them equally divided between pitchers and position players. Recent stories indicate they may be looking for more college-type players who will more ready to help the big club sooner than toolsy high school players who will be years away from ever seeing Citizen Bank Park if at all if past history is any indication
The Phillies clearly need help right now. Expecting to find it right now out of the 2014 draft class is a bit much to expect. Only Cody Asche from the 2011 draft class made the Phillies 25 man roster in 2013. He was a fourth round, 151st pick overall. Last night’s starter David Buchanan and reliever Mario Hollands have come out of the 2010 draft class.
It is going to take at least two years to reap the benefits of this year’s draft. But the need is so great we can hope with the seventh pick tomorrow night the Phillies will draft an impact player who can help the major league club as soon as possible.
It’s interesting to note that Giles, Perkins, Knigge, Milner, Alonso, Asche, Buchanan and Hollands mentioned above are all former college drafted players and have helped or are on the brink of helping the Phillies soon at the major league level.
Both top mock draft boards, John Manuel for Baseball American and Jim Callis for MLB.com, have the Phillies drafting LSU’s starting pitcher Aaron Nola in the first round. By tomorrow night shortly after 7 o’clock we will know for sure.