JoJo Romero, McKenzie Mills and Kyle Young Are Phillies Left-handed Starters Of The Future

It has been along time since a left-hander has started a game for the Phillies.  No lefty  started a game for the Phillies in 2017. Now a reliever, Adam Morgan was the last lefty to start a game in September of 2016. As things stand right now the team still has no lefty starter on its 40-man roster for the 2018 season.

The Phillies have a long history of left-handed starters from Curt Simmons of the Whiz Kids days to Chris Short in the 1960’s to Steve Carlton in the 80’s and Cole Hamels most recently, the Phillies have had some of the best southpaw starters in baseballs. But not now.

So today was a special day at the Carpenter Complex for the Phillies as they paraded out  three left-handers in an intra-squad game on Ashburn Field. They were Jo Jo Romano, McKenzie Mills and  Kyle Young.  They all could be in the running to break the long stretch of exclusive right-handed starters on the major league team.

The 21-year-old Romero, a fourth round draft pick in 2016 is the favorite.  In a season and half in the Phillies system he has a 12-5 record in 33 starts after stops in Williamsport in 2016 and Lakewood and Clearwater in 2017.  He did nothing to change his front runner status today by striking out the side in his first inning of work.  Watch HERE.

Mills is 22-years-old and was acquired from the Washington Nationals last season in the Howie Kendrick deal. He had a breakout season with Hagerstown in the SAL with a 12-2 record where struck out 118 in 104,2 innings. He struck out one is his first inning of work. Watch his first inning HERE.

Kyle Young

The 20-year-old Young was drafted in the 22nd round of the 2016 draft.  He is listed at 6’10” but looks taller. He had a big season with Williamsport in 2017 going 7-2 in 13 starts with a 2.77. striking out 72 in 65 innings.  He struck out two in his one inning of work in today’s game.  Watch HERE.

The Phillies do have left-handed starters on the way.  The only question is when will they arrive on the 25-man roster.  Today on a back field in Clearwater in an inter squad game was a preview of who they might be.









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Grapefruit, Exhibition and Intrasquad Games Kept All the Phillies And Fans Busy This Afternoon

The likely Phillies starting lineup was kept back on Ashburn Field late in the morning taking batting practice (se pictures of batting practice on Betsy’s blog HERE.) while likely major league bench and AAA players were over at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa.  They defeated the Yankees 7-6. Read HERE.

Two intrasquad games matching in one game players from AAA and AA and in the other game made up of A ball  level players from last season and a few rookies took place this afternoon on Ashburn and Schmidt Fields at the Carpenter Complex.

Over 200 players of the Phillies organization are now in camp playing to make an impression on the Phillies coaches and front office staff watching them.

At the same time, a select team of the top Phillies minor league talent took on the Villanova Wildcats who are traveling around Florida in an exhibition game at Spectrum Field.  The young Phillies pulled out a 5-1 win.


Read about the game HERE.

We were at the intrasquad games at the Carpenter Complex.

The highlight of the A ball level game was young phenom Carlos De la Cruz hitting a long home run to left off of Jose Taveras on Schmidt Field.

Carlos De La Cruz hits a homer off of Jose Taveras. Look closely to see the ball go into a tree just over the left arm of De La Cruz


In the game on Ashburn Field made up of players likely to play in AAA and AA, it was a RBI hit by Wilson Garcia off of Franklyn Kilome that stood out early in the game.  Watch HERE.

With the return of catcher Edgar Cabral from the major league camp, Willy returned from catching where he was working out to his first base position where he played last season for the Clearwater Threshers.

Later in the game Reading’s first baseman from last season, Kyle Martin, hit a line drive double down the right field line but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple.  Watch HERE.

Right fielder Jan Hernandez drove in the winning run on Ashburn Field late in the game with a long sacrifice fly to left. Watch HERE.

All in all it was the busiest day of Phillies spring training so far from the top to bottom of the Phillies organization.  It was a challenge for us fans to try to keep up with all the action!








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Phillies Recent No. 1 Draft Picks Cornelius Randolph, Mickey Moniak and Adam Haseley Need To Start Producing

The Phillies need to hit on their most recent first round draft picks and on an international signing.  So far, the jury is still out on Cornelius Randolph (2015), Mickey Moniak (2016) and Adam Haseley (2017) first round picks.  All of them are outfielders and bat left-handed. Randolph played mostly in left, Moniak in center and Haseley in center and some in left.

Randolph’s OPS in the Florida State League was .740 (12th of 44 qualifying hitters in the FSL). In the major leagues a .740 OPS would have place him 108th of 144 qualifying players in 2017.

Mickey Moniak and Jose Pujols

Moniak had an OPS of .625 in the South Atlantic League last year placing him 53rd of 64 qualifying players.  Lakewood’s first baseman Darick Hall led the SAL with an .872 OPS. Hall had a better OPS than did Ryan Howard with Lakewood in 2002 when he had a .828 OPS.

Adam Haseley in spring training BP

In 58 games in 2017 primarily in the NY-Penn League but also games in the GCL and SAL, Haseley had a .761 OPS  combined after becoming the Phillies first round draft pick in June of 2017. Watch him take a recent spring training batting practice HERE.

The Phillies seem to be reserving right field for an international signing from July 2015, the right-handed hitting Jhailyn Ortiz, who had a .961 OPS in 47 games in the half season NY-Penn League last year. He would have been first in the League in OPS had he had enough at bats to qualify.  So the 2018 season will be very important for the 19-year-old and the Phillies.

If you are coming to spring training, visit the minor league camp to check out Randolph, Moniak, Haseley and Ortiz. They are important to the Phillies future.  Three weeks of minor league spring training games start on Tuesday, March 13th against the teams of the Toronto Blue Jays.








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Can Jan Hernandez Break Into Right-field Prospect Contention For The Phillies?

One of the highlights of last season was watching Jan Hernandez make the move from third base to right field for the Clearwater Threshers.

Jan Hernandez in spring training BP

He just made to many errors to stick at third base.  He committed 17 errors at third base for a .835 field percent in 46 games.

Something had to be done and he was moved to right field and it appeared everything was falling into to place.  He even started to hit .

Jan had the best month of his career slashing at .293/.333/.556 in July. He hit six homers in the month. He did not commit an error in right field and racked up five outfield assists with his strong arm  He looked like he was on his way to the Show.

But it was not to be over the final five weeks of the season. He had to share time in right with Jose Pujols and he quickly fell off, hitting only .113 in August.  He did not take well to coaching first base when he was not in the lineup.

Hernandez turned only 23-years-old back in January. So after five years in the Phillies organization he appears to be getting another chance this season as a right fielder.

Cornelius Randolph

Reading could have a lot of power in the outfield with Cornelius Randolph in left and Hernandez in right. Randolph hit 13 homers and Hernandez hit 16 homers, second most in the FSL, last season for Clearwater where the ball does not carry much in the hot and humid summers of the Florida State League.

Watch Hernandez HERE and Randolph HERE in coaches’ batting practice today on Roberts Field. Who knows Randolph and Hernandez could the opening day corner outfielders for Reading.

Another guy who keeps moving up the Phillies prospect list is newly designated catcher Wilson Garcia. Today Willy was taking it deep to right in BP on Roberts and was seen catching the bullpen of Jo Jo Romero who is the top left-handed starter prospect in the system.  Watch HERE and HERE.

Who knows, Romero and Garcia could be the opening day battery for Reading.





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Jose Taveras, Deivi Grullon, Seranthony Dominguez, Willy Garcia and Darick Hall Look Ready To Start The Season

It was a good weekend for us watching Phillies spring training baseball.  Some of the guys we have followed since their Gulf Coast League days came up big and a couple of our friends from last year’s Clearwater Threshers team are back in town.

‘Mr. Strikeout’, Jose Taveras, finally found his K pitch.  He struck out three in only 1.2 innings in relief Saturday against the Orioles.  Jose led all Phillies minor league pitchers in strikeouts the last two seasons.  He likely will start the season with Lehigh Valley.

Catcher Deivi Grullon made his debut with the Phillies as pinch hitter in the same game and lined a rbi double to the wall in left. Watch HERE. He likely will start out with Reading.

On Sunday against the Blue Jays, Seranthony Dominguez pitched out of a tight jam in the eight inning in relief of Jake Thompson and went on to get his first win in a Phillies uniform. Watch HERE.  He now has pitched four innings in four appearances in spring training game and has yet to be charged with an earned run.  He looks to close for Reading at least to start the season.

Matt Hockenberry coaches up the pitchers on the first day of minor league spring training.

Earlier on Sunday we watched the minor league teams workout at the Carpenter Complex. It was good to see some of our friends though in different roles:  Last year’s Clearwater reliever Matt Hockenberry is now a pitching coach and Clearwater’s first baseman from last season, Wilson Garcia, is now back catching and looks ready to go.

Wilson Garcia back at catcher

I am a big fan of Willy.  He finished strong as first baseman with the Threshers hitting .351 over his final ten games and hit .343 (.902 OPS) in August of last season.  But more importantly, he can hit the ball long and far as a left-handed bat.  Though a switch-hitter, he hit all of his 13 home runs last season left-handed.  That tied him for second most, with Cornelius Randolph, among all left-handed bats in the Florida State League.  There are not too many left-handed hitting catchers around and last season he caught only one game.

On the other hand nothing seems to change with first baseman Darick Hall.  The left-handed power bat led the Sally league in home runs in 2017. He hit three home runs in the first week of spring training last season. He put on show in batting practice on Sunday going deep to right field even into the teeth of the wind on Carlton Field.  Watch HERE.

All the boys are now “back in town”.  The first series of minor league spring games begin next Tuesday, March 13, against the teams of the Blue Jays organization.  So let’s get this party started!




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Scott Kingery Is Becoming This Year’s Spring Training Kris Bryant

With Scott Kingery’s third home run in 12 at bats yesterday, he now has gone 5 for 12 in his first 12 at bats in spring training. He is tied for second in home runs so far in all of major league spring training   Watch HERE.

Rhys Hoskins and Scott Kingery in spring training 2017 were sent back down to the minor league camp to start last season.

No matter how well  Kingery does, he will not be on the opening day Phillies 25-man roster.  He turns 24 years-old on April 29th and has shown he is major league ready!

You might ask then why not?  Under the MLB  collective bargaining agreement, if the Phillies can keep him down on the farm for a few more games in April they will get another year of control before he can become a free agent.

Just asked the Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant. He was invited to spring training by the Cubs in 2015. In 40 at-bats, he hit nine home runs, which led all players. He had a .425 with a .477 on-base percentage and a 1.175 slugging percentage.  Bryant needed to play 12 days in the minors before being promoted to the majors, the Cubs then received another year of club control.

Bryant now going to fight this kind of actions by MLB by hoping to become the new Cubs player representative. Read HERE.

Scott Kingery deserves to be on the Phillies opening day 25-man roster but arcane rules   in the current collective bargaining agreement makes it beneficial for the Phillies to keep him down on the Farm to start the season.  It sure looks like Kingery will become the Kris Bryant of 2018 spring training.



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Aaron Altherr, Roman Quinn and Seranthony Dominguez Are Standout Stars In Phillies 6-4 Loss To The Yankees

Could the Phillies be “tanking” spring training?  Don’t think so!  But today they lost for the sixth time in the first seven games of Grapefruit League action.

Against the New York Yankees, a Phillies starter was knocked out in the second inning for the third straight game.  They rallied but came up on the short end of a 6-4 game with starter Nick Pivetti lasting only 1.1 innings to take the loss.  He joined starter Jared Eichhoff who took the loss after 1.1 innings Tuesday against the Tigers and Vince Velasquez who lasted 1.2 innings to get charged with the loss in Wednesday’s game against the Blue Jays.

In today’s game. the Phillies tried something new.  In the second half of the games they had four catchers in the lineup at one time.  They had Matt McBride in left, Nick Rickles at first base, Cameron Rupp was the DH and Andrew Knapp actually doing the catching.

Even centerfielder Roman Quinn got into the act.  He had not played shortstop since 2014 but there he was in the sixth inning.  He had one chance and only a great sco0p by Rickles at first saved Quinn from a throwing error. See his interview HERE.

We do have good news to report. Three players stood out in the game.  Aaron Altherr hit his first home run of the spring by going deep for the first Phillies run. He has gone 4 for 9 this spring. Watch his homer HERE.

Quinn did get two at bats and walked both times.  He scored the Phillies fourth and final run in the eight inning on a McBride double to the base of the wall in left.  He leads the Phillies in runs scored with four and walks with three so far.

Still the best story of the spring remains the pitching of Seranthony Dominguez. Most of us expects him to close for Reading to start the season.  He faced only one batter in the sixth inning in relief of Zach Eflin.  struck out Yankees minor leaguer Jake Cave on four pitchers using a 96 mph fastball for a swinging strike two and a 89 mph sinker for a swinging  strike three.

In his three appearances this spring, Dominguez has faced nine batters striking out six of them in 2.1 innings of shutout relief.

Seranthony Dominguez uses an 89 mph sinker to get a four pitch strikeout against the Yankees (Photo Courtesy of NBCSN Philadelphia)

The Yankees are now 6-1 under new manager Aaron Boone while the Phillies fall to 1-6 under its new manager Gabe Kapler.







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