Most of spring training is somewhat repetitive and boring. Doing the same thing over and over again such as throwing bullpens and PFP’s for pitchers and coaches batting practice and fielding practice for the position players are the norms day after day. Those coaches soft toss at a speed that makes me even want to grab a bat.
But when it comes to live batting practice, it’s a different story. It’s hitter vs. pitcher when he is throwing some of his best stuff. Nothing beats watching a swing and miss power fast ball or a sharp breaking Giles-type slider from a pitcher on the mound or a batter squaring one up and driving it on the line or far and deep.
Even the coaches take notice when it’s time for live pitcher’s batting practice. Still the all knowing pitching coaches tell what they want to see and the hitting coaches and Front Office types queue up behind the batting cage to watch as the catcher put down the signal. For me it’s the highlight of the day. Can the hitter best the pitcher?
Each pitcher after warming up in the adjacent bullpen throws 20-25 pitches from the mound. For me, it is the best way to measure what stuff a pitcher has and can the hitter barrel up his best pitches Of course the pitcher and hitters are working on different techniques as they get coached up during the session but it is as close to game-type action you can get at this point of spring training in both the major and minor league camps.
All the attention given to live batting practice make actually watching it from behind the fences difficult. However, I did manage to get an nice session on video of Carlos Alonso vs. Austin Wright which best shows the intensity of live BP. Notice all the coaches watching from behind the pitching screen and batting cage and even walking by as these two battle. After fouling off several pitches Alonso does manage to line a Wright pitch just inside the left field line. See Here.
As you know I like to follow the minor league camp. The camp’s official start is next week, March 5th, when all pitchers and catchers are required to report. Betsy has notice on their tweeter feeds that they are ready to go. However, some of them have been in Clearwater working out since January to get an early start to the season.
I have been watching the minor league camp since the major league camp opened Thursday, a week ago. Every afternoon at 1:30 these guys have been reporting to the Carlton and Roberts backfields after the major league workouts have ended for the day.
The Phillies had invited about 20 pitchers to camp at that point and more pitchers have reported this week. The hitters in camp for live batting practice have been Carlos Alonso, Tyler Henson, Jiandido Tromp, Roman Quinn and Cord Sandberg. Other position players who have arrived in camp early to join them have been Zach Green, Cameron Perkins, Carlos Tocci, Art Charles, Rhys Hoskins and Brock Stassi. Minor league catchers in camp I have noticed have been Andrew Knapp, Corey Bass, Joel Fisher and Logan Moore. Knapp and Moore have been catching some live batting practice in the major league camp in the morning as well.
The major league spring training games start on Sunday with Phillies taking on the University of Tampa. The official start of the Grapefruit League is Tuesday at Bright House against the Yankees. The minor league spring training games start on March 17th but I would expect intrasquad games in the meantime when all the minor leaguers report.