It was a nice Sunday afternoon at St. Peterburg’s Walter Fuller Baseball Complex with the wind blowing in and rain not too far off in the Gulf of Mexico. The Phillies picked a mix squad of minor leaguers to face the Canadian National Junior Team. They were in town for international spring training sponsored by the city of St. Pete.
The Phillies won the game 6-2. The team was managed by Phillies minor league catching instructor Ernie Whitt. He also serves as manager of the Canadian National team.
But the important thing was which Phillies stood out in the game. Several players who played last season for Williamsport caught our attention.
On offense, left-handed hitting first baseman Brendon Hayden hit a two-run double late in the game to drive in two runs. Watch HERE. Hayden was a 16th round pick in the 2015 draft and hit .291 at Williamsport.
Another left-handed bat, second baseman Josh Tobias hit one of the hardest drives I have seen in all of spring training. He gapped a triple to right-center. The line drive barely gained any altitude in the strong wind blowing in from right. The 23-year old is someone to keep an eye on at second base. He was a 10th round draft pick out of the University of Florida in the 2015 draft and then put up good numbers in Williamsport hitting .321.
On the mound the Phillies brought nine pitchers to the game and each worked an inning. Far and away the most impressive were two right handers, Jose Taveras and Ismael Cabrera. Both struck out the side in their one inning of work. Watch a Taveras strikeout HERE and a Cabrera strikeout HERE. from Sunday’s game.
At Williamsport last season, the 22- year old Taveras went 7-4 in 13 starts, striking out 59 in 62.2 innings. The 21-year old Cabrera did not give up a run in three innings with the Crosscutters. He also pitched 16 innings giving up only one earned run for the GCL Phillies in the Gulf Coast League last season.
The minor league spring training games start on Tuesday with the Phillies AAA and AA teams opening agains the Blue Jays on the fields of the Carpenter Complex. The Phils high A and low A teams take on the their counterparts at the Blue Jays minor league facility in Dunedin. All games start at 1:00 p.m. and continue until the minor league camp breaks April 2nd. The games are the best value in baseball. There is no admission.