The exhibition season kicks off on Sunday when the University of Tampa challenges the Phillies in the first spring training game of the season. Last season the Spartans, a Division II team, downed the Phillies 6-2 in a rare win by a college team against a major league team in recent memory. Read HERE.
This time the Phillies are taking the game a little more seriously with starting pitchers Jeremy Hellickson and Aaron Nola expected to each pitch an inning. The Phillies are expected to also have several of their top prospects in the lineup including J.P. Crawford and Roman Quinn.
So far in the Phillies major league camp we have watched some of the best prospects take batting practice and pitch in live batting practice but it will be their first game of spring training.
So far 23-year-old reliever Edubray Ramos has been one of the most impressive young pitchers in camp. He has been on the fast track moving from the rookie GCL Phillies in 2014 to the High A Clearwater Threshers and AA Reading Phightin Phils in 2015. With a mid-90’s fastball and a sharp breaking curve Ramos struck out 65 in 69.2 innings last season. Then he then went on to strikeout the only two batters he faced in the Arizona Fall League Stars game. On Friday, he had Cesar Hernandez swinging and missing in live batting practice. Watch HERE.
Of the young starters in camp Jake Thompson and Vincent Velasquez have been the most impressive. Thompson has a lot of movement on his slider Watch HERE. Velasquez throws with mid-90’s velocity with a sharp movement on his breaking pitch. Watch HERE. Both Thompson and Velasquez pitched live batting practice on Saturday. I would not be surprised to see both of them in the Phillies rotation by mid-season and Hellickson and Morton traded at some point in the season
We expect to see the 2016 Phillies team do better against the University of Tampa on Sunday than did the the 2015 team. The Grapefruit League finally opens on Tuesday against the Blue Jays at Bright House.