Saving the best for last in Clearwater. That is what I call Phillies Instructs. Not many fans were in the stands but for Baseball Betsy and I and our friends it was the best of times in following minor league baseball. It was the perfect way to end the Florida baseball season. And for some young prospects I could even project which present and former major leaguers they reminded me of.
We looked to see how these top young prospects developed. Some of them we saw in the early days of the minor league camp this spring. Others were the top players drafted back in June and the guys headed to the Arizona Fall League just before they left for the desert. And finally four of the final free agent pitchers that the former Phillies chief amateur scout signed over the summer.
We like to follow the games with video. Also we like to enjoy the games with our friends so we do not follow every pitch but it is especially rewarding when we get a video that captures what we conside a key moment in a player’s development.
My favorite video was “the catch”. Centerfielder Carlos Duran came out of nowhere to lay out and catch what seemed to be a gap extra base hit in left center. It happened about the time of the great outfield defense of the Royals in the ALDS and Duran’s catch reminded me of Lorenzo Cain’s play in center field. SEE HERE. Also Duran showed he can hit also by going the other way for a base hit in one of his at bats. SEE HERE.
Game in and game out Grenny Cumana was the most exciting player on the field when he played second base. He made turning the double play and ranging either way at second look so easy. But it was his bat that really impressed me. When he leveled off and hit one high and deep to left I thought it was gone off the bat but the wind held it up just enough. This was my second favorite video. The ball fell in at the base of the wall for a double. SEE HERE.
Then, Grenny would come up and beat out an infield hit or go with the pitch and drive the ball the other way to right for a base hit. It did not take much to see him have the skill set to play at the highest level someday. SEE HERE. I have no doubt he can become the next Jose Altuve at second base someday.
Our third best video came off the bat of Rhys Hoskins. He was hitting the ball all over Bright House Field for most of the three weeks of games. Doubles down the left and right field line, to base hits up the middle all were impressive. But it was his long home run that appeared to catch the bullpen side of the Tike Bar roof that was a favorite of ours. SEE HERE. He is the right handed power bat of the future the Phillies need.
We were able to catch a couple of hard hit balls by Andrew Knapp. One was a ground rule double that short hopped over the 401 ft. sign in center right handed SEE HERE and then in a later game he lined a base hit up the middle left handed SEE HERE. He is the Phiiles catcher of the future.
Our fifth favorite video was the triple by outfielder Aaron Brown. He hit a ball into the gap in right center. Brown seemed to shift it into another gear as he round the bases and headed to third. SEE HERE.
Watching Willians Astudillo was always a treat to watch. We saw him play left field, third base, first base and catch during instruct games. But it was his bat that caught our attention. When he hit this double he made it look so easy putting the ball in play. SEE HERE. He reminded me of a young Johnny Bench at the same 6’1″ height and build.
We always liked to watch Elniery Garcia. The lefty was working on a sinking fastball and was successful in inducing double play balls SEE HERE but his best pitch was his big curve ball. SEE HERE. When he can throw in the low 90’s he is all but unhittable keeping hitters guessing on his change up, curve, sinker and fastball. With his breaking pitch he made me think of a young Ron Guidry.
We were excited to see Adam Morgan back on the mound after a long lay off because of shoulder problems. In an intrasquad game he was on a 40 pitch count. He was dominating in his first inning breaking a bat with his stuff. SEE HERE. If he can pick up some velocity he will be back. He is now in the Arizona Fall League building up arm strenght for next season.
We did see David Whitehead on the mound in a couple of outings. He impressed us with his slider that he got strike outs on. SEE HERE. With his fastball sitting at 90 he has a bright future ahead of him as a starter.
The tenth player videos we selected was of Josh Taylor. The 21 year-old undrafted, free agent, lefty pitched in one game we saw and looked sharp with a strikeout SEE HERE and inducing a double play ball SEE HERE. He will be known as one of last players signed by former chief amateur scout Marti Wolever. Marti was at instruct one Wednesday afternoon. It turned out that was the last time we saw of him. We read about his contract not being renewed on that Friday and he was gone. We wish him well in his new endeavors.
Well, that’s it for Instructs. We will be following the Arizona Fall League and the offseason leagues this month and into November. It will be interesting to see the make-up of the 40 man roster and see what happens at Rule Five draft at the end of the winter meetings December 11th in San Diego.
All we know is that the Phillies have some excellent prospects down on the Farm that we captured in videos during three weeks of instruct games in late September to early October. And we were fortunate enough to watch them play.