Jack Buck’s radio call of Kurt Gibson World Series home run back in 1988 is probably one of the most memorable calls ever. His “I don’t believe what I just saw” is forever etched in our baseball memory. For us Phillies fans, its Ritchie Ashburn’s “hard to believe, Harry” calls to game changing plays when doing play-by-play with Harry Kalas that will always be with us.
With the end of the minor league playoffs, Instructs and the Arizona Fall League, five Phillies prospects among others gave us several of those “hard to believe, Harry” moments which were why we were glad we went to the games or watched them on MiLB.TV.
No. 1. Our favorite “hard to believe” moment was a line drive home run hit by the first round draft pick, Bryson Stott. We have watched a lot of baseball at Spectrum Field in Clearwater since coming down back in 2012 but never saw a ball hit as hard as Stott’s homer. It was a frozen rope, he lined over the 1980/2008 World Championship billboard in right field. The ball cleared Spectrum Field and likely landed in the retention pond beyond the wall.
No. 2. It does not get any better than watching Spencer Howard pitch in the post season. In three post season appearances, two in the 2018 South Atlantic League and one in the Eastern League this year, Howard pitched a combined 21 playoff innings allowing only 5 hits, two run, walked 3 but struck out 27. We watched him on MiLB.TV pitch seven innings of one-run, two hit-baseball for Reading in the Eastern League playoffs back in September. He is a “big game” pitcher. He needs to be in the Phillies 2020 starting rotation especially since in 2019 the Phillies lost the last 7 games of the season started by its current No. 1 pitcher.
We watched Howard pitch in the Arizona Fall League this season where he struck out 27 in 21.1 inning in six starts. His fastball topped at 98 mph and his curve ball was breaking at 78 mph, a 20 mph swing in his pitch selection.
The pictures below are from a recent AFL strikeout which shows Howard’s curve ball coming in just above the letters, dropping to the belt as it approaches home plate, then to the knees while crossing the plate and is caught below the knees after the batter swings over the pitch for strike three. This is the stuff of a major league No. 1 starter!
No.3. Though Reading was swept in the Eastern league playoff series, we will never forget Darick Hall’s line drive homer over the centerfield wall in Trenton off of major league pitcher Luis Severino. Severino was rehabbing at the time and would start for the Yankees in the American League post season. All Darick did in 2019 was lead the Eastern League in runs scored, doubles and total bases. He came in second in the league in homers, fourth in RBIs, slugging, OPS and fifth in walks. He now has over 65o at bats in two seasons in the Eastern League. It’s time for him to move on up! Let’s hope that Hall gets an invite to the Phillies 2020 major league spring training camp in February which he was denied last season. He has earned it! It won’t hurt new manager Joe Girardi to give Rhys Hoskins some completion at first base after his struggles last season.. Watch HERE.
No 4. Watching Phillies Instruct games is always a lot of fun attempting to find major league prospects. We watched lefty Erik Miller strikeout-the-side in his one inning Instruct start against the Blue Jays. Miller was a fourth round draft pick out of Stanford in June. He put up some interesting numbers pitching 36 innings combined striking out 52 for the GCL Phillies, Williamsport and Lakewood. The Phillies need a young left handed starter and Miller looks like he is one to watch to continue to work himself up the organization ladder next season.
No. 5. Wilfredo Flores can hit. He showed it last season in the Gulf Coast League where he hit .342. However, it was a play he made while playing third base in the last Instructs game of the season that we will remember. He fielded a ball hit behind the bag. Then threw the ball so low and hard that it hit the grass behind the pitcher’s mound and bounced from there on one hop to first base to get the runner. We never never saw a throw like the Flores one and might never again.
Other Instruct players who impressed us were infielder Edgar Made and first baseman Rixon Wingrove, as did pitchers Jack Perkins and DJ Jefferson. Made finish third and Wingrove finished tenth in hitting in the Gulf Coast League. Rix led the GCL in RBIs last season hitting .339 with a 1.025 OPS with runners in scoring position. In the games we saw, Perkins struck out four in a two inning start and Jefferson struck out three in two games of one inning relief work.