It was one of those interesting Saturday morning Gulf Coast League games that true baseball fans love. This time the game was played on Richie Ashburn Field at the Carpenter Complex. The GCL Phillies won it 3-1 against the GCL Braves thanks from timely offense by shortstop Grenny Cumana and dominating starting and closing pitching.
As is becoming more and more the case, it is all about the pitching for the GCL Phillies. Starter Lewis Alezones relying on ground balls and a big curve ball pitched four innings giving up no runs or hits and struck out four. SEE HIS FINAL STRIKE OUT HERE. Edubray Ramos came on in the ninth and pitched a clean inning striking out two to get his fourth save.
But you do need to score some runs and that’s where Cumana comes into the story in this morning’s game. Here’s how he did it. With two out in the fifth inning, he singled in Jake Sweaney who had doubled, then steals second and scores from second on an infield throwing error on a Tommy Joseph infield grounder. He drove in what turned out to be the winning run and scored tack on run. He just makes things happen.
Pitching-wise Ramos is quickly becoming the top closer in the GCL. He is now four for four in save opportunities to take over the lead in the GCL. He arrived back on June 21st from the Venezuelan Summer League and has been impressive since then striking out 13 and walking 5 in 9.1 innings. In seven games he has given up only one earned run.
Today, the 21 year old right-hander was dominating with his breaking pitch in striking out GCL Braves Luke Dykstra, SEE HERE, to lead off the ninth and getting his second strike out on fastball to end the game, SEE HERE. Luke Dykstra was the seventh round draft pick of the Braves in 2014 Draft and is the son of former Phillies Lenny Dykstra.
Yesterday was the last day major league teams could sign players from the June draft. The Phillies signed 27 of their first 28 picks including 17 pitchers. The rosters have been in a state of flux since then as the draftees have been moved up and down the Phillies A ball level teams, the Threshers, BlueClaws, Crosscutters and many of them started out with the GCL Phillies but have since moved up. First round pick Aaron Nola now with the Threshers is expected to move up to Reading soon.
Now that the GCL Phillies pitching roster is stabilizing, a five man starting rotation has come into its own this week.. In the last five starts the starting pitching has been outstanding. Opening day ace Luis Morales has joined with Franklyn Kilome, rehabbing Nic Hanson, the only Phillies high school draftee Sam McWilliams and this morning’s starter Lewis Alezones to pitch a combined 20 innings giving up only 14 hits, 2 earned runs, 2 walks and 18 strike outs over the last five games.
While the rest of the higher up Phillies minor league teams struggle to win and are in a state of general chaos from never ending roster moves, excitement is now building at the lowest levels of the system. Last night we watched on MiLB-TV Williamsport’s first baseman Rhys Hoskins hit his third homer of the year, a long 400 ft. plus home run high over the wall in right center on Staten Island. His long ball seemed headed across the water to lower Manhatten.
Hoskins drive against the Yankees helped the Crosscutters win a 6-3 game. And this morning we saw some great starting and closing pitching for a GCL Phillies 3-1 win over the GCL Braves.
Though the rest of the Phillies farm system teams are struggling to win and are way under .500 for the most part and playing out the string for the 2014 season, the Cutters and the GCL Phillies are now above .500 and still in the wild card hunt in the the NY-Penn and Gulf Coast Leagues. Yes everybody, the Phillies farm system is still worth watching even if it is at the lowest levels of the organization.