Dylan Cozens hit one around 400 ft. for a double off the ledge to the right of the batter’s eye in center. Andrew Knapp stroked one onto the berm in right center to circle the bases. Starter Colin Kleven looked sharp in his three innings of work. Last night it looked like the Phillies high A farm team, the Clearwater Threshers, looks ready for the 2015 Florida State League lid lifter on Thursday night at Bright House Field.
Unlike last season when the Threshers finished 40 games under .500, this team looks ready to compete. They are loaded with the Baseball Ross 2015 Phillies minor league spring training All-Stars. Outfielders Dylan Cozens and Aaron Brown along with shortstop J. P. Crawford and catcher Andrew Knapp were the best they have at their positions in the Phillies minor league system in spring training games. Willians Astudillo put on a hitting clinic in spring training. Crawford will start the season on the disabled list but is expected back soon.
Not far behind them will be Mitch Walding at third, Zach Green at first and Andrew Pullin who has moved to left from second base last season with Lakewood. Two other position players interest me, Astudillo and Chase Harris. Astudillo finished second in hitting for Lakewood in the South Atlantic league and will see action at first base, designated hitter and catch a few games. Outfielder Harris has been one of the most unheralded performers in spring training games with his hustle and pop.
The starting five pitchers could be some of the best in the league. Lefties Matt Imhoff was the Phillies second draft pick of the Phillies in the 2014 draft and Brandon Leibrandt was an eight round pick but has some of the best stuff on the staff. He was one of the few Phillies minor league starters who averaged better than a strikeout an inning. The third starter David Whitehead was a New York-Penn League All-Star for Williamsport last year. Miguel Nunez was one of the best pitchers in the FSL over the last six weeks of the season last year and Colin Kleven was a strikeout artist last August for the Threshers racking up more than a strikeout an inning in his starts in the last month of the FSL season.
Saving what could be the best for last, Edubray Ramos and Ulises Joaquin will be two of the top shutdown closers in the Florida State League. Last season they went a combined 26 for 30 in save opportunities.
Under veteran, manager Greg Legg, who returns to Clearwater from Lakewood, the Threshers have much of the cream of the crop of the Phillies farm system’s prospects. All the power and pitching should make for an interesting season at least until the June 20th, FSL All-Star game when the Phillies historically start moving up its best players to AA.
CSNphilly’s Jim Salisbury, who writes for Baseball American, has a good run down on the 2015 Phillies prospects, Read Here.
Baseball Betsy’s photos below from last night’s game show Cozens’ swing on his double which went off the center field padded ledge, Kleven’s power delivery, Harris going the other way for a triple and Joaquin under the lights throwing a strike to close it down.