August is the last month of the minor league season. It is the judgement month. What to do with the several hundred of players under control of a major league club. All players, no matter what level, are attempting to finish strong to impress the Front Office for a job next season.
For the Phillies, last night four players put their names in the hat for next season. Starting pitcher Jose Tarveras, outfielders Simon Muzziotti, Jhailyn Ortiz and infielder Dalton Guthrie.
Taveras is the first Phillies minor league pitcher in my memory who is going in the wrong direction. He has been on the Reading to Allentown shuttle this season after reporting from extended spring training back in May. Then last night, he jumped off the plane from up North and showed up as the Clearwater Threshers starter. He is just fighting for a job next season and pitched well enough to get the win allowing only one run and six hits in seven innings. He had not pitched in the FSL since the first half of the 2017 season.
Simon Muzziotti continues to impress me. Now that he is driving the ball deep, he just might be a five-tool major league player in the making. I keep forgetting Simon is playing only at baseball age 20. Last night, I yelled out encouragement to the guy I call Muzzy and he answered me on the next pitch with a line drive home run on to the berm in right. Going into next season, he will be the heir apparent to the centerfield job in Reading.
The talent is there. It’s just a matter of getting it out of Jhailyn Ortiz. Right now he is marred in a deep hitting slump. After appearing to be developing into a strong bat. He put up almost identical numbers in May and June with 12 homers and 37 RBIs combined. It has gotten so bad he is struggling even to hit the ball out the of infield so far in August going 1 for 21 with no homers and 1 RBI.
Jhailyn Ortiz’ defense has not suffered though after being moved to centerfield. He threw a seed from center to get a runner attempting to advance to third base last night. It still looks like a second season in Clearwater is in order for Ortiz but with a new hitting coach! Remember, the Phillies Front Office did not renew the contract of last year’s Threshers hitting coach who helped turned around the careers at the plate of the likes of Luke Williams, Jose Pujols and Mickey Moniak in 2018.
One of the hottest hitters in the Threshers lineup is infielder Dalton Guthrie. He hit .262 in July and is finishing strong hitting .368 in August. Last night he drilled a home run to left to contribute to the 5-1 Threshers win. His best position is second base but has played at third and short this season. Look for Guthrie to put up big numbers in Reading next season.
With 25 games remaining in the minor league season, all players can control their own destinies by finishing the 2019 season “strong”!