By far the most interesting Work Group of the four in the Phillies minor league camp is No. 2 as they have been designated. On the schedule that is the high A team which would be the likely squad of the Clearwater Threshers made up mostly from last year’s Lakewood BlueClaws. Gregg Legg, veteran manager from last season’s BlueClaw team is managing the Work Group. He will manage the Threshers this season. Lakewood did not have a very good 2014 season but in this spring training they seem like a different team with the bat.
Around the infield yesterday they had Mitch Walding at third, J.P. Crawford at short, Jesmuel Valentin at second and Zach Green at first. In the outfield Andrew Pullin was in left, Carlos Tocci in center and Dylan Cozens in right. Andrew Knapp was the designated hitter. Only Knapp played college ball and all of them range in age from 19 to their early twenties. Valentin was the only one not drafted by the Phillies. He was acquired in the Roberto Hernandez trade last season from the Dodgers. Sometime we forget how young these guys are in age. So far this spring they have been the where the Phillies stars of tomorrow have been playing in camp.
They did pound the ball yesterday in a spring training game against the Blue Jays high A spring team in a 5-1 win. The hitting was lead by Zach Green who had three hits including a long triple to right center and a single to left, See single HERE, and Mitch Walding who homered over the right centerfield fence at the Blue Jays minor league complex in Dunedin.
Ben Lively went three inning to start the game and picked up the win. Watch Lively induce a broken bat double play HERE. He struck out four in three innings of work. Watch a strikeout HERE. Acquired in the Marlon Byrd deal over the winter from the Reds he has been projected to start the season in the Reading rotation.
One of the best at bats was by the left handed hitting Pullin. In the first two inning experience Blue Jays left-hander Matt Boyd, who was one of the top pitchers in the Florida State League last season before being called up to AA, struck out the first three left handed hitting bats he faced, Crawford, Cozens and Walding. Pullin would be the first left handed bat to hit Boyd by lining a bullet by the first baseman down the right field line to finally get to him.
After nearly a week of game action in the Phillies minor league camp, Zach Green has been the one guy who has stood out to me. We watched Green play both strong defense at third and square up several pitches in last Saturday’s game against the Canadian Junior National team in addition to his hitting in yesterday’s game. He seems like a man without a position though. With Walding holding down third it looks like Green will be seeing more time at first base this season. Still it’s a nice problem to have.
With two more weeks to go in minor league spring training games and if you are coming down to Clearwater to see some good baseball, your best bet would be to catch the games where these guys are playing. You won’t be disappointed.