This week we saw two more Instruct games against the Pirates at Bright House Field on Thursday and Friday at Dunedin against the Blue Jays. We have highlighted several of the players who I have been following this season and updated their progress in these two games before Instructs come to an end this coming Friday.
Grenny Cumana has been one of my favorite players to watch. He has the tools to be an everyday major league infielder some day. He played mostly at shortstop in the Gulf Coast League but has been splitting his time between short and second in Instructs. He is blocked at short in the future by J.P. Crawford who has not played in instruct games but has been working on infield drills with infield coordinator Chris Truby on the back fields.
In Thursday’s game Cumana looked more than at home at second base. He turned a 5-4-3 double play easily. SEE HERE. With the bat he showed he can drive the ball as he hit a long fly ball to the track in left. SEE HERE. The 5′ 5″ Cumana who turns 19 years-old in November is in the great tradition of small Venezuelan middle infielders such as 5′ 9″ Omar Vizquel and the 5′ 6″ Jose Altuve.
Another young player, 17 year-old Luis Encarnacion is a player in search of a position. Originally a third baseman he is now playing some first base and was in left field in Friday’s game. He showed an average arm in the one throw he made from left. He will continue to grow into his body and be a power hitter someday. He did get a base hit through the hole in the game against the Blue Jays. SEE HIS BASE HIT HERE.
One of the interesting events of the summer was watching the four pitchers who were signed as free agents from tryout camps after the June draft. They were the last signees by then chief amateur scout Marti Wolever before he was recently let go by the Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. The most impressive of the group has been left-hander Josh Taylor. Taylor was dominating in the final week of the Gulf Coast League going 2-0 in three games in relief pitching. He pitched 9.1 shutout innings striking out 13. He pitched two shutout innings against the Pirates with his fastball sitting at 92 on Thursday. SEE HERE.
Lakewood should have strong starting pitching next year led by David Whitehead. He was a New York-Penn League All-Star this season with Williamport. He is showing “swing and miss” stuff in Instructs with a 90 mph fastball setting up his big slider. SEE HERE.
Another pitcher who looks to get a spot in the Lakewood rotation is 19 year-old Elniery Garcia. He has been one the most improved pitchers in Instructs. In his last two outings he has struck out 6 in 4.2 innings. On Friday against the Blue Jays he had a called and a swinging strikeout in 2.2 innings. HERE and HERE. Even when the hitters did put the ball in play Garcia induced soft contact. SEE HERE. He has one of the top breaking balls at instructs and is working on a sinking fastball which sits at 90-91.
Florida Instructs are entering their final week. The Phillies break camp on Friday. The Arizona Fall League opens Tuesday and the seven Phillies who will play there have already left for Scottsdale Arizona. We saw AFL bound pitchers Adam Morgan, Colton Murray and Nefi Ogando and center fielder Roman Quinn and catcher Logan Moore get some work in at Instructs.
Other players will head for home to work out over the winter or even play in winter ball. One of the Instructs Dominican players told me he will be making the trek to the Phillies Dominican Academy which is four hours from his home to workout over the winter months to get ready for next season.
Next season’s minor league camp will be big to see how these guys have developed in an organization in need of quick improvement at just about all positions up and down the organization. Opportunities for rapid advancement are there for all of them to take.