Bryce Harper’s Simulated Game Also Showcased Rodolfo Duran and Logan O’Hoppe As The Phillies Top Catching Prospects

Thursday was an interesting day on the back fields of Phillies baseball.  Certainly more interesting than watching the Phillies getting shutout by the Yankees across the way in Spectrum Field.

A Bryce Harper simulated game took place on Robin Roberts Field just before the start of the big league Grapefruit League game over on Spectrum Field. The Harper game did not disappoint.  Harper drove the first pitch, off of minor league pitcher Gustavo Armas, over the left field fence. With the wind blowing in from right field, Harper knew it would be difficult to hit the ball out to his pull side, so he just went the other way.

Bryce Harper Hits a Homer to Left Center on the first pitch of the day

In addition to Armas, Harper faced minor leaguer pitchers Alejandro Requena, Jose Taveras, Addison Russ and Trevor Bettencourt. No lefties. Still, it was a fun exercise to get Harper ready for his debut as the Phillies DH in Saturday’s game against the Blue Jays.

Bryce Harper shakes hands with pitcher Addison Russ

What interested me also were the catchers the Phillies assigned to Harper’s simulate game. Two of the catchers were Rodolfo Duran who caught Requena and Logan O’Hoppe who caught Taveras.  These two are quickly emerging as two of the Phillies top catching prospects. Colby Finch also caught.

Watch HERE, Harper’s at bats when the battery was Requena and Duran and then when the battery was Taveras and O’Hoppe,  HERE.  Look at how they both framed pitches.  We will hear a lot about these two young catchers in future seasons at the highest level.

With Harper signing a 13-year Phillies contract and the outstanding skill sets of young Duran and  O’Hoppe, the right-field and catcher positions would appear be in good hands for many years over the next decade.

 

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Posted in 2019, March | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Logan O’Hoppe Is a Top Phillies Catching Prospect Especially After Watching Today’s Minor League BP

I spent the morning at the Carpenter Complex watching the workouts of the Phillies minor league system. One player who caught my attention was catcher Logan O’Hoppe. No matter he just turned 19-years-old and was a 23rd round draft pick last June. This guy just looks like he is a top prospect.

O’Hoppe is listed at 6’2″ 185 lbs. from Long Island New York. He looks like a Buster Posey type to me. That would work. Remember the Phillies have control of J.T. Realmuto for only the next two seasons.

Mitchell Edwards, Logan O’Hoppe and Bruce Wang

An organization can never have enough catching. In today’s workout O’Hoppe was matched up in a hitting group with Mitchell Edwards from Australia and Bruce Wang from mainland China.Hard to believe but these three guys might be the best young catchers in three different continents, North America, Australia and Asia.

Watch video from today of each of them taking batting practice. O’Hoppe HERE, Edwards, HERE and Wang HERE.

I do not know if the three will wind up on the same team this season though they were kept together in workouts today. They would seem to fit in the New York-Penn League with Williamsport.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in 2019, March | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Phillies Minor League “Catchers and Pitchers” Bullpen Sessions Show They Are Loaded With Good Young Catchers

Spent Monday morning trying to watch Phillies minor league “pitchers and catchers” bullpens. Very difficult because they are hidden behind the mesh of the “7 Mounds” bullpen. The talk around camp was the Phillies have so much depth in minor league catching they will have to carry at least three catchers on all the full season teams.

The Phillies have such a large catching stock inventory that the catchers had to lineup to wait their turn to catch bullpens. In the photo below we have, left to right, Lenin Rodriguez, Mitch Edwards, Logan O’Hoppe and Rafael Marchan All of them are baseball age 21 or under. Several of them put up outstanding numbers in 2019.

Lenin Rodriguez, Mitch Edwards, Logan O’Hoppe, Rafael Marchan

Switch-hitting Edwards finished up the Australian Baseball League hitting .321 with an .824 OPS. O’Hoppe hit .367 with a .943 OPS throwing out 9 of 18 base stealing attempts in the Gulf Coast League. The switch-hitting Marchan hit .301 with a .705 OPS at Williamsport.

Mitch Edwards, Abraham Gutierrez, Logan O’Hoppe, Rafael Marchan

Several other young Phillies catchers were waiting their turn to catch a bullpen. Last season Abraham Gutierrez hit .315 with a .769 OPS in the Gulf Coast League. Left-handed hitting Bruce Wang became just the fourth player signed by a MLB organization out of mainland China. He backed up Edwards in the ABL and went 4 for 10 in his debut.

Bruce Wang

Mitch Edwards

 

I did not even mention my favorite young catcher, 21-year-old Rodolfo Duran.  All he did was hit 21 home runs for Lakewood last season including three homers, catching a no-hitter and throwing out 4 of 6 base stealing attempts  in six playoff games.

So if you are coming down to the Carpenter Complex for the minor league spring training games from March 13th-29th, don’t forget to check out the depth of the 21 and under catchers in the Phillies minor league system.

 

 

 

 

 

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Phillies GM Matt Klentak Talks Bryce Harper With Jim Bowden on MLB radio

Two GM’s talking baseball Sunday morning on MLB radio was fascinating. Listening to former GM Jim Bowden talk about the Phillies deals with GM Matt Klentak was the most interesting baseball conversation I have heard in a long time.

What I most remember from the conversation was Bowden’s observation after the interview concluded.  He basically said that Manny Machado is what he is, a great player but Harper has the upside to get even better than he is. If Harper is able to make adjustments to his swing and stays healthy will be the keys to his success. Bowden also added that it is 50/50 that he will be productive in the back end of his contract citing Joey Votto and Robinson Cano who have been productive and Pujols and Griffey both of whom declined late into their long term contracts.

Then, I checked the twitter feed on Harper and saw his first batting practice at Spectrum Field. Watch HERE.

The Harper press conference yesterday was one of the best that I have watched in baseball. Harper was composed and thoughtful. He sounded like a real clubhouse leader. Watch HERE.

An interesting part of the press conference was how he came about wearing the No. 3.  He was a Yankees fan as a youngster and would want to wear No. 7 for Mickey Mantle but deferred to Maikel Franco, the current Phillies player wearing No. 7. Harper took No.3 because of family tradition, a number worn by his father and brother.

I have a different take. No. 3 was worn by the Yankees Babe Ruth when numbers were first used in the major leagues in the early 1930’s. Ruth played 15 years for the Yankees and was considered the greatest player of all time. Harper is under contract to the Phillies for 13 years.  With Bowden predicting a tremendous up side for Bryce, No. 3 will someday be retired by the Phillies as a number of one of its greatest players in team history. See my Hartland model of Babe Ruth with his No. 3 and Harper first wearing No.3 at Saturday’s press conference below:

Brice Harper from yesterday’s press conference (Photo courtesy of MLB)

My Hartland Babe Ruth statue

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Phillies Scott Kingery, Austin Davis and Edgar Garcia Could Play Keys Roles In 2019

Baseball Betsy was outside in front of our house at 4:18 ET this afternoon taking pictures of the Phillies plane bringing Bryce Harper to Clearwater. But he can’t do it alone.  Yesterday, we watched several players a few blocks from out house who might play key rolls in the team fortunes of the Phillies this season. Three players caught our attentions in the Phillies 11-5 win over the Toronto Blue Jays at Dunedin Stadium: Scott Kingery, Austin Davis and Edgar Garcia.

Bryce Harper’s in the Phillies team jet as it passes over our home in Dunedin on the way to St. Pete airport.

(You can read Betsy’s story HERE.)

Kingery had a big game at second base and looks more and more like the Phillies second baseman of the future. He went 2 for 3 including a walk and a double. He scored a run and drove in a run. His one out was a hard hit line drive which was caught in the left- center field gap. He looked like a nature in the leadoff spot in the game. Watch HERE.

Scott Kingery

Two relievers stood out, lefty Austin Davis and right-hander Edgar Garcia. They each pitched two shutout innings in relief. Davis struck out three and Garcia struck out two.  Both of them threw mostly fastballs sitting at 93-94 mph on the the Dunedin Stadium radar gun. We watched both of them pitch for the Clearwater Threshers two years ago in the Florida State League. Garcia’s fastball back then was topping at only at 92 mph.  He has put on added size and now has a major league fastball to go with his top-of-the-line slider. See HERE.

Edgar Garcia

Both Kingery and Garcia have matured physically. Scott looks ready to be an everyday Phillies second baseman and big Austin Davis looks ready to pitch a full season out of the pen with the Phillies.

 

 

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Wow, What a Day In Phillies Baseball. The Phillies Now Have Three Left-handed Power Bats!

Today, we had a decision to make. Since it was a Phillies split squad day. We wanted to watch Dylan Cozens whose bat has been ripping the ball in so far in spring training games and we also wanted to watch Darick Hall, who likely would be making his major league spring training debut. The problem was, Cozens was in the starting lineup against the Toronto Blue Jays four blocks from our home in Dunedin. It turned out that Hall would be playing four miles away at Spectrum Field in Clearwater.

Cozens and Hall were the two top left-handed power hitters in the Phillies system until today.  We decided to walk to Dunedin Stadium to watch Cozens play against the Blue Jays. He did not disappoint. Batting fifth in the order, he lined a frozen rope down the right field line over the .336 ft sign for a three run homer to give the Phillies a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Watch HERE.  The Phillies never looked back in winning the game 11-5.

Dylan Cozens smashes a homer

Cozens would go on a get a base hit in the his next at bat and finished up with two walks in his final two at bats. He now is hitting 6 for 7 in spring training games with two homers, two double and four walks. He is hitting an unbelievable .857 with an unheard of 2.909 OPS after the first week of spring training games. More importantly, perhaps, he is not striking out as he was prone to do in previous seasons.

I thought the way Cozens is hitting and what appeared the Phillies need for a left-handed power bat, he had a chance to make the Phillies opening day roster. It appeared that Bryce Harper was going to sign elsewhere and gave Dylan a great chance.

Then late in the game in Dunedin, noise started to erupt from down the left field line from Phillies fans and it turned out word was spreading in the stands that Bryce Harper was going to sign with the Phillies. Sure enough, the buzz of the crowd was right.  Harper was going to be a Phillie. The chance for Cozens to make the 25-man major league roster, despite his .857 spring training batting average, would be a long shot at best.

Then, after all the Harper excitement, we heard that the Phillies came from behind to tie the Orioles 5-5 on bullet home run by Darick Hall in the bottom of the ninth at Spectrum Field. Watch HERE. We knew Hall could do it and wondered why he was not invited to the major league camp.  Last week, we spent time watching him put on long ball shows in batting practice in the minor league camp. On Thursday afternoon, he showed which camp he belongs in.

Before today, the the Phillies were in need of left-handed power bats.  All of the sudden they found three of them today in about a three hour stretch.

 

 

 

Posted in 2019, February | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Dylan Cozens Story This Season Could Be Special For The Phillies

One of the top stories about Phillies spring training this season is not just the Bryce Harper story. Something will give one way or the other very soon with him and the Phillies. Another interesting story is out there about another left-handed hitting right fielder, Dylan Cozens. He has been impressive so far in the Phillies camp. Dylan is starting his eighth season in the Phillies organization. Only last season did he make a brief MLB debut.

In Sunday’s game, Cozens hit one of the longest home runs in the history of Joker-Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, spring training home of the Detroit Tigers. In the first three games of spring training, he has gone 4 for 5 with two doubles to go along with his tape measure home run and a stolen base. Cozens might be on his way to something special this season. See where his tape measure home run landed in Sunday’s game below:

Dylan Cozens’ home run marked by arrow (Photo courtesy of Phillies Twitter)

The Phillies did not play Cozens in Monday’s spring training game but he told Phillies TV field reporter Gregg Murphy that he came in at a bulked up 270 lbs. to start the 2018 Phillies spring training. He changed his off-season workout routine this winter to be more explosive. It has worked so far. He is now listed at 235 lbs. on the Phillies 40-man 2019 roster and he looks slimmed down and ready to go in the early action, see below:

Dylan Cozens after his home run (Photo courtesy of Phillies Twitter)

If Harper does not sign with the Phillies, they just might have a Plan B with Dylan Cozens in right field.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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