It’s been a great seven days or so of Phillies minor league baseball for us. The last Clearwater Threshers’ game I attended was a Florida State League, first half, northern division clincher last Wednesday at Bright House Field. It ended with us watching a Tuesday night game in MiLB-TV with Reading winning in New Britain Conn .
In both cases it was our good friend Colin Kleven on the bump. In between it was a lot of winning Lakewood BlueClaws baseball that we watched in Hickory, N.C. with two other good friends Ranfi Casimiro and Elniery Garcia toeing the rubber picking up wins.
To us, following Phillies minor league baseball is much more than just winning and losing or even developing future major league players. We feel lucky enough to get to know a few of the guys personally. That makes it even more rewarding when they have good games and in Colin’s case moves on up and position himself for a major league call-up.
We were all set to follow Kleven pitch for Team Canada in the Pan-Am games baseball tournament starting July 11th in suburban Toronto. We thought it was a great chance for Colin to show off what we already have seen, his outstanding stuff.
He came up big when he struck out six in a row and seven of the first ten batters he faced in the FSL clinching, first half championship game in Wednesday and low and behold he got called up to Reading just in time for Tuesday’s game in New Britain, Conn. In the Threshers game his fastball topped at 97 mph on the scoreboard after a strikeout. With the kind of stuff Colin has shown, he will not now be pitching for Team Canada in mid July but hopefully by September, the Philadelphia Phillies.
We got back to our home in the Tampa Bay area on Monday from our road trip to Hickory N.C. just in time to watch Mark Leiter Jr. pitch his third start for Reading after spending the first two months of the season with the Threshers. We watched him take a shutout into the bottom of the seventh of a scheduled seventh inning game. He gave up a homer but retired the next batter to pick up a complete game win. In his three AA starts Mark is now 1-2 with an excellent 2.18 ERA.
Kleven make his AA debut on MiLB-TV, Tuesday night and he did not disappoint. He pounded the strike zone and walked no batters. He gave up only three hits and a run in six inning of work to pick up the win. He needed only 79 pitches to get the job done. Colon showed great command using all of his pitches including one of his four strikeouts on a called third strike slider painting the outside corner of the plate.
As I earlier blogged, Casimiro and Garcia were outstanding in picking up wins in the Friday and Sunday games when we were in the stands in Hickory. In the two starts we have seen each of them pitch on road this season they are a combined 3-0.
Casimiro was ahead when he was taken out in his start back in early May in Savannah, Georgia but the game was tied up later before the BlueClaws managed to win the game.
In the two Garcia road starts when we were in the stands, he has pitched 13 innings, giving up three runs, 12 hits, four walks and 10 strikeouts, winning both games for a 2.07 ERA.
The BlueClaws are 6-0 in the six road games we have watched them play this season. In the Savannah series they had Carlos Tocci in center, Rhys Hoskins at first and Malquin Canelo at short in the lineup. They have all been moved up to the Clearwater Threshers.
In the three games last weekend they had second round draft picks Scott Kingery at second and fourth round pick Kyle Martin at first or DHing and moved Herlis Rodriquez to center.
It’s been a good week for our friends in the Phillies farm system. Colin Kleven picked up two wins at two different levels on his way to the majors. Mark Leiter Jr. winning his first game at AA. Ranfi Casimiro and Elniery Garcia continue to be road warriors on the mound, each winning a game. It just does not get any better than that for Baseball Betsy and me!