Baseball Betsy and I went over to the Blue Jays minor league complex yesterday to watch the Phillies play the final game of the 2014 extended spring training. We have been impressed with the team the Phillies are assembling to play in Williamsport. Wow can they hit! The pitching is coming along and the defense particularly in parts of the outfield and middle infield should be the best in the league.
The most impressive hitter over the last week or so has been first baseman Trey Williams. He has been scorching the ball. We have seen him homer and hit three doubles. Even his outs have been hit hard. “Big Cat”, as we heard one of the one coaches refer to him as, was the star of the late extended spring games.
At the other corner infield position is third baseman Jan Hernandez. He can power the ball but his fielding is still developing. Up the middle Malquin Canelo at short is a lean, lanky prospect who has major league potential both with the bat and in the field. At second, Olvy Marte gives them some left handed pop but Robinson Torres looks to get playing time in the infield as well.
The outfield could be something special if they go with left-handed bats and arms Herlis Rodriquez and Cord Sandberg in left and center. They were two of the hottest bats in extended spring games and are two of the best defensive outfielders in the Phillies organization. In right Jose Pujols will hit with power but his defensive skills are still a work in progress. Nick Ferdinand who has one of the best outfield arms in the Phillies system and has some pop with the bat will be a DH and corner outfielder.
Behind the plate Jesus Posso already proved himself in a couple of games with the high A Clearwater Threshers where we saw him homer and double in games with the Threshers. He also showed a strong arm at the time. Wilson Garcia caught yesterday’s game as Posso may have a tired arm.
The starting pitchers should be interesting. We watched Alejandro Arteaga pitch six strong innings yesterday. He started the season in Lakewood but struggled. Last week we blogged about the outstanding game that lefty Denton Keys pitched. Ricardo Pinto has impressed us in the several starts we have seen him throw. Former high draft pick from 2012 Mitch Gueller along with Feliberto Sanchez, last season’s opening day GCL Phillies starter, look to round out the starting staff.
Out of the bullpen it looks like veteran sidearmer Manny Martinez and Delvy Francisco will likely be the closers with Rick Bielski, Matt Southard and lefty Elinery Garcia setting them up. Reliever Chris Nichols is working on the knuckle ball. We have watched him be up and down in several appearances with the pitch as he tries to induce “soft contact”.
At the Carpenter Complex on Wednesday in a game against the Pirates we were able to talk briefly with the iconic baseball manager and 2008 Phillies World Series bench coach Jimy Williams, the father of Williamsport’s manager Shawn Williams. His son is making his managing debut along with pitching coach and former Phillie Aaron Fultz with the Crosscutters.
On Tuesday these guys will board a plane and head north to get the season started next Friday in Williamsport. Having watched these guys since the beginning of March, I have no doubt they will be providing some interesting, exciting baseball for the fans up north. They sure made our last three months of watching them in Florida fun and worthwhile.
Below extended spring’s hottest hitter Trey Williams gets ready to square up another pitch. Thursday was the last day he will be seen in a Phillies game uniform for a while as he and the team will head to Williamsport for Crosscutters uniforms to start the NY-Penn League season next Friday.
Below Rick Bielski fires a pitch after coming into the game in a set up role yesterday at the Blue Jays complex.