Baseball Betsy and I thought about driving down to Bradenton to watch young pitcher Zach Eflin make his Phillies debut but as it turned out wisely instead we stayed back in Clearwater. The major league team has become very difficult to watch as the 18-4 loss to the Pirates on Monday indicated. The team is simply made up of too many post prime veterans who clearly can’t play the game very well! That’s why we root for minor league guys such as Eflin who offer hope for a better future at the MLB level someday.
The best team on Monday in the Phillies organization was the AA team. They played on Schmidt Field at the Carpenter Complex where we wound up. They hammered their Yankee counterparts 10-4. Centerfielder Roman Quinn had two hits including a bunt single. Willians Astudillo showed what a major league hitter should be like. He had a sacrifice fly rbi and a rbi single. First baseman Art Charles hit a tape measure home run to right and second baseman Carlos Alonso hit a grand slam to left. Even third baseman Harold Martinez went deep to left and added a double. They played small ball and big ball all in the same game. Now that made for a good baseball game!
It’s becoming clearer each day down here in spring training that the Phillies will not be competitive in the National League East. The starting pitching is lacking depth once you get passed Cole Hamels and David Buchanan. The offense is anemic with little apparent power and the defense is suspect. The 2015 season is shaping up more and more as a washout at the major league level. The only hope will be a minor league system that can develop future major league talent.
I must say one of the most impressive players I have seen this spring has been Willians Astudillo. It was good to see him rewarded on Monday by playing with the AA team. On Saturday I saw him homer and double in a game against the Blue Jays. I have no doubt he could be double jumped and hit at the AA level after playing last year with low A Lakewood where he almost won a league batting title. But I expect him to be at Clearwater in a utility role this season. He can catch, play the infield and outfield corners and DH. But watching him the last couple of days in the minor league camp games I have also come to greatly respect his baseball intelligence as one of the best they have in that category.
One of the great mysteries of the Phillies organization is why Carlos Alonso has not been given a chance to play in a major league spring training game? We watched him win the Rawling Gold Glove award for the best defensive second baseman in all the minor leagues in 2013 with the Clearwater Threshers. Then only to see him relegated to splitting time with the now released Albert Cartwright at second base last season with the Reading Phightin Phillies. At second base in Monday’s game he had eight assists and one putout to be involved in 9 of the 27 Yankee outs in the game. At the bat he had the grand slam and an earlier single. In Sunday’s intrasquad game he had two doubles. What more does he have to do to prove to the Phillies to get a shot at AAA or the MLB?
It is not that the Phillies Front Office is not watching Astudillo and Alonso. Both high up personal guys Benny Looper and Joe Jordan were on the observation deck Monday at the complex watching all the action. It will be interesting to what moves they make.
We could go one and one about unsung players in the Phillies organization but no two players are more unsung than Willians Astudillo and Carlos Alonso. I have had the great pleasure of watching them perform at exceptionally high levels in the last several games. It is these type of fundamentally sound players who the Phillies need to build around if they ever hope to return to contention in the National League East.