It was an intrasquad camp day on Wednesday and Baseball Betsy and I were a bit late getting to the Carpenter Complex. On our approach to the fields we saw something no fan wants to see, an ambulance with its lights flashing next to Ashburn Field. Inside was outfielder Sam Hiciano. We would learn that he had just broken his ankle in a slide at second base. Yesterday, he had surgery at a local hospital.
The Phillies lost a 21 year old right-handed hitting outfield prospect. The Phillies minor league system does not have a lot of young right handed hitting bats in the outfield. Jiandido Tromp is about the only one at the A ball level still standing. Even right handed hitting outfielder Jose Pujols in out of uniform with an arm injury. Later on Wednesday, I looked to the outfield in one of the games and saw Aaron Brown, Herlis Rodriquez and Dylan Cozens. Include outfielders Andrew Pullin and Cord Sandburg and all of them hit left-handed. So the loss of Sam Hiciano is a major loss to the left-right balance that a team wants in its batting order.
Jesse Biddle took to the mound yesterday against the Pirates AA team. He looked good for four innings but tired in the fifth. He had thrown about 40 pitches through the first four but all of the sudden he lost his command in the top of the fifth. He was up in the zone and walked two batters before he came out with a 2-0 count with two outs in the fifth. It looked precautionary as he was seen walking around behind the home plate screen shortly afterwards though the trainer did come out to the mound when he was taken out. Overall in 4.2 innings Jesse gave up a run on on three hits and struck out two. His best pitch was when he froze a Pirate batter in fourth inning on his signature curve ball for a called third strike. That’s the Jesse I know. Below are several of Betsy’s pics from yesterday:
It was long ball time yesterday as Maikel Franco hit a long homer to left center in the AAA game on Ashburn Field. He would later double. Franco has been impressive in the AAA games. It was the second home run I have seen him hit since being sent down. Gustavo Pierre acquired from the Blue Jays in the John Mayberry Jr. trade last season went deep in the AA game. Also it was the second time I have seen him go deep in the spring training games. Franco has alternated between first and third in the AAA games and Pierre looks to be the everyday third baseman for Reading.
One of the catchers who is getting attention from the minor league department is Joel Fisher. A 23rd round draft pick last year from Michigan State he is having a fine camp. He homered in Wednesday’s A ball level intrasquad game and was rewarded in yesterday’s AAA game by getting to catch the last three innings in relief of starting catcher John Hester. He singled up the middle in the one at bat I saw. I wonder who he is rooting for in Saturday’s Final Four NCAA basketball tournament?
Both starter Chad Billingsley and Adam Morgan pitched well in the AAA game. Billingsley looks soon ready to soon join the Phillies rotation and Morgan will be important member of the Lehigh Valley starting staff. Along with Severino Gonzalez and Maikel Franco the Lehigh Valley fans will actually see three or four Phillies prospects signed and developed by them. On yesterday’s AAA roster they were the only three who fit that description. The rest of the Lehigh Valley squad will be made up of players who were free agents let go from other MLB organizations.
Today, I am looking forward to watching Miguel Nunez make his spring training game debut against the Blue Jays. He has been pitching live batting practice working on his slider. He had a strong finish with the Threshers last season and was on of the top pitchers in the Florida State league over the last six weeks of the season.
Saturday morning everyone will be up early as the Phillies break minor league camp with final intrasquad games in the morning. The boys of summer have received assignments to the four minor league teams or extended spring training to start the 2015 minor league season this morning. So lets get this party started! as Pink would have it!