Memorial Day weekend is about at the one-third mark of the 140 game minor league season. Now the minor leagues gets serious as the Draft gets going next week. Then, the All-Star games and the never ending swarm of international free agent signings times take place. Don’t forget too that minor league directors start making their moves from releases to promotions to finish out the 2018 season.
This weekend we watched a lot of Phillies AAA and AA baseball and listened to the Lakewood BluClaws games as they tied for second place in the Sally League. Several players caught our attention: Jan Hernandez, Zach Green and Deivi Grullon for Reading and Jhailyn Ortiz and Kyle Dohy for Lakewood.
Jan Hernandez is having to one of the biggest breakout seasons of any player we can ever recall in the Phillies system. Now in his sixth season in the Phillies system, he looks like a totally different player from when we first saw him back in his GCL in 2013 and even last year with the Threshers.
Hernandez was a former career .200 hitting strikeout machine playing third base in his first four and half seasons. Now Jan has the sixth highest batting average in the Eastern League at .331 playing in the right field and yesterday in center this season with Reading.
In this weekend series against Portland, Jan went 10 for 20 and had a five game series cycle with a double, triple and two home runs including a grand slam yesterday. He drove in 11 runs in the series to lead Reading in winning four of the games. His grand slam was a picture of beauty as he dropped the barrel head on a pitch down and in and drove it over the Maine Monster.
All of the sudden Zach Green is healthy and is now hitting .301 after the Memorial Day weekend. Both new to Green. Zach has hit in eight straight games and went 7 for 21 in the weekend series with two homers. His two homers put him in fifth place with 10 in the all of AA. In May, he is hitting .337 with a 1.067 OPS. Now in his seventh season in the Phillies system, the 24-year-old has earned a chance to play the corner infield positions at AAA this season.
Catcher Deivi Grullon is having a month of May to remember. He only played in the first and last games of the Portland series. All Deivi did was go 5 for 10 with two home runs. Yesterday, he cleared the Monster with room to spare. The Portland play-by-play guy said the ball was over 50 feet in the air when it went over the 37 ft. wall in left. Grullon is now hitting .391 with 6 home runs in only 17 games in May. Now in his sixth season in the Phillies system, he too needs a look-see at AAA.
If Hernandez, Green and Grullon can keep up the pace they all will force the Phillies to add them to the 4o-man roster because they are all Rule Five eligible.
Lakewood has finally caught Delmarva in the SAL Northern Division by winning four of five game series to tie them for second place in the first half. Jhailyn Ortiz had a solid weekend. After going 0 for 4 in the first game, he went on and hit 7 for 17 with a homer in the five-game series. Ortiz has now hit .318 in his last ten games. Maybe not quite ready to get the call to Clearwater but progress for the big international signing free agent from three years ago.
Yesterday, lefty Kyle Dohy came out of the pen for Lakewood and struck out all four batters he faced. In his last ten relief appearances he has struck out 25 in his last 13.2 innings. For the season he leads the Sally League in strikeouts by a reliever with 48 K’s in only 26 innings. Any lefty, who can strikeout almost two batter an inning with command and control, deserves to move on up sooner than later!
Let’s hope the rain holds off tonight so we can watch Bailey Falter take the mound with his 4-0 record and 1.62 ERA for Clearwater against Fort Myers.