What a start to the spring training series for the Phillies organization. They get beat on Sunday by a D-2 college team on a grand slam and on Tuesday they open the Grapefruit League getting tied by the Yankees on a three-run homer by a hitter who played in the high A Florida State League last season.
For Yankee fans it was a lot of fun watching their farm system prospects play the Phillies for the most part. Young guys signed and developed by the Yankees dominated their lineup. Many of them we watch over the last several seasons playing against the Clearwater Threshers in the FSL.
What about the Phillies? All of the Phillies non-roster invitees in the major league camp are mostly six year free agents released by other organizations. Some released more than once in their careers. These guys may have once been prospects but are now little more than aging organizational fillers.
The Phillies did play some young guys who came up through the organization such as catcher Cameron Rupp and Aaron Altherr but we had to watch the likes of old veterans like Andres Blanco, Cord Phelps, Jeff Francoeur and Koyie Hill as they came into the game off the bench.
All of the many minor league Yankee prospects who came off the bench Tuesday came up through their system: outfielders Jake Cave, Slade Heathcoat, Aaron Judge, Mason Williams, infielders Greg Bird, Rob Refsnyder, Cito Culver, and catcher John Ryan Murphy. Several of them played in the Arizona Fall League against Roman Quinn.
We got to see pitch the Yankees No. 2, 2014 draft pick Jacob Lindgren pitch Tuesday. I have yet to see the Phillies No.1 picks pitcher Aaron Nola from 2015 or J.P. Crawford from 2014 anywhere yet. The young pitchers acquired in the Rollins and Byrd deals are just reporting to the minor league camp.
It not that Phillies minor league prospects who were signed and developed by the Phillies are not around. They just are hard to find. They have not been invited to the major league camp. Guys like pitcher Colin Kleven, infielder Carlos Alonso and centerfielder Roman Quinn are here but can only be found on the backfields of the Carpenter Complex taking fielder practice and participating in live batting practice.
Kleven actually was invited to Bright House Field for Sunday’s game against the University of Tampa. He stood in the Phillies bullpen in uniform but did not pitch.
Quinn was one of the top rated young players in the prestigious Arizona Fall League and Alonso has been hitting the ball hard in live batting practice but to watch them you need find a map to Robin Roberts and Steve Carlton Fields where you might find them sometime after noon each day in the minor league camp.
It’s not that they can’t play. In one of the last games of the 2014 Florida State League season, Kleven struck out Tampa Yankees’ Aaron Judge, See Here. It was Judge who hit the game tying three-run homer in the top of the ninth in Tuesday’s game.
Alonso in 2013 won a minor league gold glove for his play at second base for the Clearwater Threshers while Rob Refsnyder was at second base for the Tampa Yankees. Alonso has never received an invite to the major league Phillies spring camp or appeared in a Grapefruit League game.
For Yankees fans in attendance at Tuesday’s game they had a chance to see the best of the Yankee farm system play and watched them bring the team back to force a nine inning 5-5 tie. For those of us who follow the Phillies farm system, we must head to the back fields of the Carpenter Complex to see some of their top prospects hoping beyond hope they might get a chance to actually play in a Grapefruit league game this spring training. It is a clear difference in player development philosophy between the Yankees and the Phillies.
This song goes out to Colin Kelvin, Roman Quinn and Carlos Alonso: