If you follow our blog you know Baseball Betsy and I spend much of out time blogging about young prospects in the Phillies organization. Some of them we get to know. We live with their ups and downs. Their successes and failures. We go to the games of instructs in the Fall, the minor league games in spring training then extended spring games and finally the half season Gulf Coast League. When they get assigned to the full season leagues such as the South Atlantic League we follow them when we can in person and we are always there for them.
This weekend was an ideal time to follow two of our boys, Ranfi Casimiro and Elniery Garcia. They were the starting pitchers on Friday night and Sunday afternoon for the Phillies low A team Lakewood BlueClaws against the Mets’ Savannah Sand Gnats. So off to the games we went. It was as close to our home in the Clearwater area that the Sally League has a team. It was only a seven hour drive and then we also we enjoyed learning about Savannah and its long history.
When we arrive at “historic” Grayson Stadium on Friday we immediately came across Ranfi Casimiro lying on the massage table getting a workout from the team’s physical therapist in the hallway at the old historic venue. Looking upside down at us we quickly said “hola” to the tall 6’8″ right–hander and a big smile broke across his face. We knew he was ready. He would go on and pitch five innings of two-hit ball and left after 80 pitches and a 1-0 lead. Though he did not get the win, the BlueClaws won the game 2-1.
Sunday afternoon we followed the same routine. When we arrive there Elniery Garcia lying on the “historic” hallway table getting his message and we quickly let him know we were there for him and an up-side-down smile broke across his face as well. Like Casimiro, we have followed Garcia since they were in the starting rotation of the GCL Phillies two summers ago. The 20-year old left-hander had sort of a breakout in Fall Instructs when he was told by the minor league director in one start that he threw like a major leaguer pitcher. He could not wait to tell us that day at Bright House Field.
Garcia has unique stuff but as most young pitcher he has ups and downs. When his curve ball is working and his velocity sits in the low 90’s he is at his best. At Instructs the Phillies pitching coaches had him watching video tapes of the great Dodgers left hander Clayton Kershaw. As Vin Scully says “he is the best they have”. For two inning on Sunday Elniery Garcia was “the best the Phillies” had. Doing his best Kershaw impression four of his first six outs were by two called and two swinging strikeouts. Watch Garcia’s first four strikeouts Here, Here, Here and Here.
Garcia would throw 82 pitches over six innings striking out six giving up eight hits, three walks and three runs to earn a quality start and his second win of the season in the 6-4 Lakewood win. In his last four innings he would strikeout only two as he tired a bit and needed to rely on his sinker which he worked on in Instructs to induce two ground ball double plays in the third and fourth innings.
Well, Garcia is not yet a Kershaw. He may never be. He still has a ways to go and he is built more like a young Pedro Martinez but that would not be bad either. Right? Development baseball is all about watching these young prospects mature. We go to these games to project stars of the future who play today. That’s why we’re glad we went to the weekend games in Savannah. We saw some outstanding baseball last weekend and it was an experience we won’t soon forget.
I’d like to thank Elniery Garcia, Ranfi Casimiro and especially Baseball Betsy all above plus the rest of the minor league players in the Phillies organization who have made this Blog possible over the last three years. This morning the Blog had its 100,000th page view. I thank all of you who have viewed those pages and hope it has help you better understand the minor league players of the Phillies organization.