The Phillies minor league spring training schedule said today was “in camp/break day”. This is usually a relaxed setting since all the players received their assignments on Friday. The guys are looking forward to start the minor league season late next week. So we were up early this morning to see one of the most fascinating days of the minor league baseball season.
We wanted to see the Phillies minor league guys before camp broke up and say one final good bye to those guys going north. The teams went through one final workout before heading off to their respective destinations. Lehigh Valley, Reading and Lakewood headed north and the Threshers guys headed down the left field line on Ashburn Field to the clubhouse at Bright House Field.
It was an interesting morning. Just as we arrive, a little after 9:00 a.m., we saw Maikel Franco continue his torrid hitting in the minor league games as lined a home run in the last intrasquad game of the season. He lined the pitch over the left field fence on Ashburn Field. Then, we had to jump in the car and take one player back to the hotel to borrow a windbreaker jacket just before the bus left for the airport. You see its still cold in Lakewood where he was headed.
We watched young 20-year old lefty Elniery Garcia and college lefty Brandon Leibrandt pitch one final session of live batting practice on Roberts field. While watching them we had a nice conversion with one of the most interesting guys in camp, Franklyn Kilome. The 19-year old Kilome has not been assigned to any team yet but seems ready to jump into any rotation if needed.
Don’t be fooled by Kilome’s modest aw shucks style. He is really saying “you have not seen anything yet!” You see the young right-hander made three appearances and recorded three shutout innings each time in the minor league camp games including two against the Yankees farmhands. Franklyn topped out at 97 in camp game as he said, “even on the Phillies gun”. And nothing is wrong with nine shutout of work when he gave up only four hits.
Then, I had a nice talk with one of the Threshers closers for the upcoming season, Ulises Joaquin. He will join with Edubray Ramos might form one of the best closing tandems in the Florida State League. Joaquin finished last season with the Threshers where he converted 8 of 9 save opportunities after starting the season with Lakewood saving 8 of 9 opportunities there as well.
We gave Adam Morgan words of encouragement as he headed off to catch the IronPigs bus headed to the airport. I project him to be in the Phillies starting rotation as the season progresses and told him we will following him on MiLB-TV to start the season.
I gave a shout out to Joel Fisher for a great minor league camp. The catcher was drafted out of the Michigan State last year. He has opened eyes with his bat as he hit the ball hard and we watched him go deep a couple of times in the spring training games. I congratulated Deivy Grullon on his long home run yesterday against the Blue Jays as he waited for the Lakewood bus to head to the airport. The catching position has been one of the most productive long ball spots of all positions in the camp games this spring.
We gave words of encouragement to Dylan Cozens who we will be watching in Clearwater this season. He should put up some interesting numbers playing at Bright House Field. The ball certainly carries better there than it does in Lakewood. Talking about long balls, I told Art Charles as he went by that the power alley to right at Reading will be just what he needs. Art led the Threshers in homers last season with 19 including 12 at Bright House. Cozens hit 16 last season at Lakewood including eight at home. Look for Cozens to have a big season and hit well over 20 long balls in the Florida State League.
If you have followed this blog you know I am a big fan of both Colin Kleven and Miguel Nunez from last year with the Threshers. We watched them pitch in the final spring training game of the season against the Blue Jays on Friday. Both were impressive. Nunez has not pitch much in camp games while working on his slider in live batting practice sessions. He looked sharp yesterday in his four innings of work. Kleven was equally strong striking out four in his four innings of work as he continues to average a strikeout an inning that he started the last month of the 2014 season.
Nunez and Kleven will pitch as the fourth and fifth starters in the Threshers rotation this year. They will provide a veteran presence for for the Threshers. Both Nunez and Kleven should be pitching at Reading this year but have been held back by the new starting pitching of Eflin, Windle and Lively, all acquired in the the Rollins and Byrd deals over the winter.
Baseball Betsy remains one of the most popular fans at the minor league camp games. Player after player stopped by to say “Hello” or “Hola” as the minor league camp broke up, including Alexis Rivero, Deivy Grullon, Carlos Alonso, Roman Quinn, Feliberto Sanchez, Elniery Garcia, Ranfi Casimiro, Herlis Rodriquez, Grenny Camana, Adam Morgan, Jesse Biddle, Dylan Cozens, Miguel Nunez, Venn Biter, J.P. Crawford and Art Charles of the players who I can recall. Some of them are her Facebook friends, others have been subjects of her photos, blogging or videoed on the Baseball Betsy youtube channel. They all showed their appreciation of her work before they went their way.
All and all it was a great month of the minor league spring training camp baseball. We watched a lot of good guys who now will embark for another year on their journey to make it to the major leagues. Baseball Betsy and I thank them all for allowing us to have the opportunity to watch them along the way of their journey.