Yesterday, marked the end of the Florida portion of Phillies spring training. The minor league teams do not break camp until Saturday when Lehigh Valley, Reading and Lakewood teams head north, the Threshers walk over to Bright House and the Extended Spring team stays put at the Complex.
Waiting outside the Bright House clubhouse were four big luxury buses ready to take the Phillies and 26 select AAA and AA level minor league players north to play in the Future games tonight in Reading and Saturday at Citizens Bank Park.
Yes, another spring training is all but in the books. For Baseball Besty and me yesterday symbolized what spring training is all about. We watched three innings of last year’s Cy Young winning Houston’s Dallas Keuchel completely dominate the hapless Phillies batters at Bright House. He would go on and pitch seven innings of two-hit, shutout, six strikeout baseball.
Then, we had enough of the major leaguers, picked up our Threshers season tickets for the year at the box office and walked over to the Carpenter Complex to watch our main interest, the intra squad games of the Phillies farm system. On the way out we passed and Betsy made small talk with highly touted, sport jacketed, top prospect, J.P. Crawford, as he prepared to head to the buses for the trip north.
We arrived at Roberts Field just in time to see line-drive base hits by Phillies prospects Rhys Hoskins and Jorge Alfaro. They soon left the intra-squad game to get ready and walk over to the awaiting buses to take them on their way to the Show.
We really came to see the youngsters in the minor league camp. Few of them will make the big leagues but it is alway great to see if any of them have major league tools to eventually some day make it.
Baseball Betsy focused on a newcomer in camp, pitcher Jeff Singer. He is a favorite of hers and he did not disappoint. Several of the coaches were watching his every delivery on the mound from behind the backstop at Carlton Field and were overheard to say “wow” after a particularly crisp fastball which was preceded by two excellent change-ups.
Another favorite of both of us is Jose Taveras. The big right-hander has had a strong camp after pitching last season for Williamsport in the half-season NY-Penn League. Taveras has sort of bookended the minor league camp. His first outing to open camp a month ago was striking out the side in his one inning of work against the Canadian National Junior team made up of 16-18 year olds.
Yesterday, Taveras retired in order three veterans with major league experience who just returned from the Phillies major league camp: David Lough, Darnell Sweeney and Ryan Jackson, striking out Sweeney. Watch HERE, HERE and HERE.
So, in a few hours yesterday afternoon all of what makes spring training so special came before our eyes: watching the best pitcher in the game; living with the dreams of aspiring young players hoping for just a chance to move up and making small talk with a future major league star on his way to the “Show”.