February 2009

Team USA

A fan showed up at 2 a.m. today to make sure he could get a standing room ticket for the sold out game this afternoon between the Rays and Phillies at Bright House Field.

Pat Burrell was an early arrival.  Strange to see him in another uniform. He’s the DH for the Rays. 

Don Fehr held his annual meeting with the Phillies players and the clubhouse was closed starting at 8:30.

Team USA
Davey Johnson’s World Baseball Classic’s team will work out at Bright House Field at 12:30 p.m. on Monday.  The practice session is open to the fans (no charge).  Gates open at 11:30 a.m.

Mike Schmidt will be the third base coach for Team USA.  “Little pressure giving signs.  I never looked for signs when I played,” he laughed.

Camp Notes
Pat Gillick threw out the first ball . . . Phillies have added two “B” games against the Blue Jays, Monday (10 a.m.) and Friday (2 p.m.) at Carpenter Field.  . . . Charlie Manuel and Joe Maddon are being honored at the annual Clearwater For Youth Banquet tonight . . . In case you haven’t noticed, Todd Zolecki is posting the Phillies starting lineup early in his Zo Zone blog.  That will carry throughout the season . . . 8 a.m. bus tomorrow for a trip to Orlando to play the Braves . . . Condolences to Gary Matthews, whose mother, Catherine, died Thursday in Atlanta.  Gary will not be in the TV booth today.

Game with Rays Sold Out

Buses left at 8 a.m. today for a 56-mile trip south to Sarasota and an afternoon game with the Reds.  32 players are on the trip.  As you’re aware by now, Adam Eaton has been released, lowering the camp number to 63.

Don Fehr, head of the players’ union, will be here tomorrow at 8:30, meeting with the players for a couple of hours.  He meets every club in spring training. 

Game tomorrow against the Rays is sold out.  500 standing room tickets will go on sale at 9 a.m. tomorrow at Bright House Field.  Temperature is supposed to climb to 77 degrees.  That’s 30 degrees higher than the last official game between the two clubs, World Series Game #5 at Citizens Bank Park.  The 47-degree temperature at game time went downhill from there and as everyone recalls, the night ended in a suspended game because of rain.  No rain forecast for tomorrow in Clearwater!

Pat Burrell will be here as the Rays’ DH.  Making the trip was his call and Pat wanted to be here.  I’m sure he’ll get an ovation from both sides’ fans.

Game will be televised in Philly area on Comcast SportsNet and nationally on the MLB Network.  Game can also be seen and heard on mlb.com.

When you come to a game at Bright House Field, bring your transistor radios.  Fans will now be able to hear the Phillies broadcasts on 1630 AM.  A new service for our fans.

Quote of the Day
“My helmet was rattling.  It was the loudest place I’ve ever been at one point in my career, for sure.”

The quote came from Eric Hinske, who made the last out in last fall’s World Series when he fanned against Brad Lidge.  Hinske is in the Pirates camp this spring.

Future Phillies VIII

(Last in an eight-part series about young prospects in the Phillies minor league system, outfielders).

Berry, Quintin . . . B-T: L-L . . . 6-0, 175 . . . 23 . . . Resides: San Diego, CA . . . Selected in 5th round, 2006; signed by Darrell Connor . . . Three-year pro . . . Spent season at Clearwater, .272, 134 G, 139 H, 24 2B, 43 RBI, 51 SB . . . Phillies minor league player of the month (July) . . . Led FSL in stolen bases; led SAL in SB in ’07 (55) . . . FSL post-season All-Star . . . Hit .311 in the AFL.

Scouting Report: “Very good bunter.  Plus speed as witnessed by his stolen base totals the last two years.  Swing much improved, still needs to get shorter.”

Brown, Dominic . . . B-T: L-L . . . 6-5, 200 . . . 21 . . . Lithonia, GA . . . Selected in 20th round, 2006, out of Redan (GA) HS; signed by Chip Lawrence . . . Three-year pro . . . Spent season at Lakewood, .291, 114 G, 77 R, 129 H, 23 2B, 9 HR, 54 RBI, 22 SB . . . Led club in H, R, SB . . . Hit .389, tops in the Hawiian Winter League . . . Ranked as best prospect in Phillies minor league system by Baseball America.

Scouting Report: “Wiry-strong, athletic frame.  Excellent athlete.  Live drive stroke. Good bat speed.  Hitting tools are ahead of his power.  Plus power potential.  Plus throwing arm.”

Castro, Leonardo . . .  B-T: R-R . . . 5-11, 185 . . . 19 . . . La Romana, DR . . . Signed as an amateur free agent, 3/7/07, by Wil Tejeda . . . Two-year pro . . . Spent season with Gulf Coast League Phillies, .298, 44 G, 3 HR, 19 RBI.

Scouting Report: “Very young.  Shows some pop and pretty good idea of strike zone.  Really did well against LHP.  Needs to play.”

Collier, Zach . . . B-T: L-L . . . 6-2, 190 . . . 18 . . . Carson City, CA . . . Selected between 1st and 2nd round, 2008; signed by Darrell Connor . . . First-year pro . . . Made pro debut with Gulf Coast League Phillies, .271, 37 G, 9 2B, 19 RBI, 5 SB . . . Ranked as 8th best prospect in Phillies minor league system by Baseball America.

Scouting Report: “Very impressive hitter for his age.  Has some juice in his bat. A tick below an average thrower.  Played all 3 outfield positions.  Runs well.  Great makeup.  Great future, just needs lots of playing time.”

De Los Santos, Vladimir . . . B-T: R-R . . . 6-1, 176 . . . 22 . . . Santo Domingo, DR . . . Signed as an amateur free agent, 3/15/05, by Wil Tejada . . . Four-year pro . . . Played for Gulf Coast League Phillies, .251, 51 G, 11 2B, 10 HR, 45 RBI.

Scouting Report: “Led club in homers. Nearly half of his hits were for extra bases.  Shows power potential.  Moved to first base in FIL.”

Gose, Anthony . . . B-T: L-L . . . 6-0, 183 . . . 18 . . . Bellflower, CA . . . Selected in 2nd round, 2008, out of high school; signed by Tim Kissner . . . First-year pro . . . Made pro debut with Gulf Coast League Phillies, .256, 11 G, 3 SB.

Scouting Report: “Injuries limited him to 11 games.  Proto-type center fielder.  Another excellent athlete with good makeup.  Like Collier, he needs lots of playing time.”

Mayberry, John . . . B-T: R-R . . . 6-6, 230 . . . 25 . . . Overland Park, KS . . . Acquired from Texas Rangers, 11/30/08, for OF Greg Golson . . . Four-year pro . . . Played at Frisco (21 G) and Oklahoma City (114 G); combined .264, 38 2B, 7 3B, 20 HR, 71 RBI, 10 SB.

Scouting Report: “Very good athlete.  Tremendous power.  Ball really jumps off his bat.  Can lift the ball.  Plays the corner positions.  Good acquisition.”

Milner, Gus . . . B-T: R-R . . . 6-5, 245 . . . 24 . . . Olathe, KS . . . Selected in 14th round, 2006, out of U. of Kansas; signed by Jerry Lafferty . . . Three-year pro . . . Spent season at Clearwater, .261, 74 R, 21 2B, 7 3B, 6 HR, 53 RBI, 22 SB.

Scouting Report: “Big man who moves very well.  Gets good jumps in the outfield and covers a lot of ground.  Works hard.  Swing has improved.  Ball jumps off his bat.  Needs to refine his offensive skills.”

Myers, D’Arby . . . B-T: R-R . . . 6-3, 170 . . . 20 . . . Los Angeles, CA . . . Selected in 4th round, 2006, out of Westchester HS; signed by Tim Kissner . . . Three-year pro . . . Played at Lakewood (64 G) and Williamsport (50 G); combined .219, 20 2B, 25 RBI, 17 SB.

Scouting Report: “Plus running speed and improved arm in the outfield.  Struggles against RHP but is very young.  Needs plenty of at-bats and playing time.  Another very good athlete.”

Slayden, Jeremy . . . B-T: L-R . . . 6-0, 205 . . . 26 . . . Murfreesboro, TN . . . Selected in 8th round, 2005, out of Georgia Tech; signed by Chip Lawrence . . . Four-year pro . . . Spent season at Reading, .298, 131 G, 72 R, 144 H, 33 2B, 17 HR, 81 RBI.

Scouting Report: “Has some pull power.  Very aggressive at the plate. Will make a pitcher pay for a mistake pitch.”

Susdorf, Steven . . . B-T: L-L . . . 6-0, 195 . . . 22 . . . Newall, CA . . . Selected in 19th round, 2008, out of Fresno State U., College World Series champions; signed by Joey Davis . . . First-year pro . . . Played for Williamsport (48 G) and Lakewood (2 G); combined .295, 13 2B, 5 HR, 35 RBI.

Scouting Report: “College kid making an adjustment to pro ball.  Aggressive at the plate.  Shows some pop.  Played some first base but will play the outfield.”

Taylor, Michael . . . B-T: R-R . . . 6-6, 250 . . . 23 . . . Apopka, FL . . . Selected in 5th round, 2007, out of Stanford U.; signed by Joey Davis . . . Two-year pro . . . Split season between Lakewood (.361, 67 G) and Clearwater (.329, 65 G); combined .346, 76 R, 170 H, 39 2B, 19 HR, 88 RBI, 15 SB . . . SAL in-season All-Star . . . Phillies minor league player of the month twice (April and August) . . . Played in Hawaii Winter League . . . Led Phillies minor leaguers in AVG, H, TB, 2B, RBI . . . Ranked as 6th best prospect in Phillies minor league system by Baseball America.

Scouting Report: “Big, strong athlete.  Solid average to plus raw power.  Can drive the ball out of any part of the park.  Excellent worker.  Has a plan in BP and works on it daily.  Profiles as a corner outfielder.”

First Clearwater Game

For two-plus weeks, it has been quiet at Bright House Field.  That changed today with the first Grapefruit League game in the six-year-old ballpark.  Gates opened at 10:35 a.m. for the 1 o’clock afternoon game.

Music is blaring on the PA system and you can hear the buzz of fans.  Weather is a picture-perfect Clearwater day.

Today’s schedule for the players:
**9:30 a.m., exercise, Bright House Field
**9:50 a.m., Pitchers long toss, Ashburn Field; position players, BHF.
**10:00 a.m., infield fundamentals, BHF and Ashburn.
**10:15 a.m., batting practice, BHF and Ashburn.
**12:52 p.m., player introductions.
**1:05 p.m., play ball.

Camp Notes
Bunch of Major League scouts are here today, a ritual at all spring games.  Two Phillies Alumni are among the batch of scouts, Jim Fregosi (Braves) and Lee Elia (Dodgers) . . . WIP AM radio show will be live from BHF again the next two mornings (5:30 Friday, 8 on Saturday morning). Angelo and company get to see the sun rise over the right field wall, a pretty picture.  (The sunrise is pretty; Angelo?) . . . Phillies are in Sarasota (Reds) tomorrow and then return to Clearwater to face the Rays on Saturday, the first meeting since the World Series . . . NL Teams are using the DH for home games during the early portion of the spring schedule.

Play Ball

32 players boarded 2 busses at 9:30 a.m. for the 1-hour, 5-minute journey south to Bradenton and the start of the Grapefruit League season this afternoon.

The other 32 players were in uniform at the same hour for a workout at Bright House Field: bunting for pitchers, pitchers’ fielding practice, affectionately known as PFP, batting practice and more bunting.

There was a familiar #12 shagging fly balls in left field during BP: Mickey Morandini.  The former Phillies second baseman (1900-97; 2000) is making his debut as a guest instructor for the next 15 days.  He’ll spend time in the big league camp and then move to the minor league camp next door at Carpenter Field for a few days next week. 

Charlie Manual and Joe Maddon were saluted at last night’s Governor’s Baseball Banquet at Tropicana Field.  The banquet tables were set up on the artificial turf in right field.  Two Phillies tables were about 20 feet from where Chase Utley’s two-run homer landed in Game # 1 of the World Series.  “Kind of got us started,” beamed Charlie. 

When Charlie spoke, he mentioned it was much quieter than the last time he was in the domed stadium.  “I’m glad you left your cowbells at home,” he laughed.

Camp Notes
First Clearwater game is tomorrow, 1:05 against the Blue Jays . . . Don’t forget, you can listen to spring training games on the internet (keep the volume low so your boss doesn’t get upset) . . . Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard will throw out the first ball . . . Philly radio station WIP will be on the air live from Bright House Field the next three days: 5:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. tomorrow and Friday and 8:00 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Saturday.  Angelo Cataldi, Rhea Hughes and Joe Waechter are here.

Blog Ranking
Todd Zolecki’s blog, The Zo Zone, moved into second place among MLBlogs for the period of Feb. 17-23.  Great to see that fans have welcomed Todd with such enthusiasm.

Todd first posted today at 10:29 a.m. from the Press Box in Bradenton.  More will come from him later.

Special Ceremony
Infielder John Kennedy, the first African-American to wear a Phillies uniform (1957), died in 1998.  His remains lay in an unmarked grave in historic Evergreen Cemetery in Jacksonville.

Florida State Senator Tony Hill (Jacksonville) and Dr. Wes Singletary, a historian, led a drive to have a marker placed at the grave site.  Scott Harward of Ocala Marble and Granite constructed and donated the marker which was dedicated yesterday morning.  Tazena Kennedy, Kennedy’s daughter, joined the commemoration.

Jacksonville is Brett Myers’ hometown. His dad, Phil, represented the Phillies at the event.  Phil presented Tazena with a Phillies jersey (Kennedy, 8) on behalf of Brett.

Phase I Ends

From my experiences, spring training is three Phases: I, can’t wait to get started; II, let’s start the games; III, let’s get out of here and start the regular season.

Players went through a shortened workout today (11:50 a.m. ending) so that many of them and the staff can play in the annual golf tournament.   It is a fun event that is followed by the Grapefruit League schedule, a time to make decisions on which 25 players will go north.

Decision-making begins tomorrow with a 1:05 game in Bradenton against the Pirates.  Scott Franzke and Larry Andersen will broadcast the game on WPHT 1210 AM and phillies.com.

The bulletin board in the center of the Phillies clubhouse has been a source of the daily schedule.  It is still the hub of information, but that information is a bit different:

**9:30 a.m. Wednesday, two buses for Bradenton depart.  Those not on the travel roster are required to be in uniform at that time for a workout at Bright House Field.

**Travel roster: if your name is highlighted in green, congratulations, you need to be on the bus.  32 players were “greened”, 11 being pitchers. 

**Starting lineup: also posted on the board.  Todd Zolecki will post in his The Zo Zone blog.

Frank Coppenbarger, the talented director of travel and clubhouse services, is the one who arranges the busses, among his many chores.  He’ll have two for every Florida road game. 

He sat down with a calculator and schedule and figured out the Phillies will use 222 buses starting tomorrow and through the regular season.  Approximate cost per bus is $500.00.

Camp Notes
ESPN TV, ESPN.com, USA TODAY and MLB Productions were here today . . . Also taking orders for the season: Louisville Sluggers and Nike . . . Gates open at 10:35 a.m. for Thursday’s first game at Bright House Field (Blue Jays, 1:05).


Day 10

Workout day #10 began at 9:00 a.m. with all players and coaches on the Schmidt Field for a discussion about defense with runners on first and third base.  These fundamental drills may seem very basic but over the course of the season, proper execution plays a significant difference in the number of games won or lost.

Remainder of the schedule was much the same, with batting practice taking up most of the time.  Fans love to watch BP. 

When the rest of the team was finished on the fields, third baseman Anthony Hewitt went to the half-field to continue work on fielding drills.  Coach Sam Perlozzo and Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt worked with him on positioning of his glove, feet, etc.  One of the drills is fielding ground balls while on his knees, just using his glove.  A teenager in camp is getting schooled by a Hall of Famer!  Pretty cool.

Workout tomorrow will be shorter because of the team’s annual golf tournament. 

Charlie Manuel and some of the club officials will attend the Florida Governor’s Baseball Banquet tomorrow night at Tropicana Field.  Schmidt and fellow Hall of Famer Robin Roberts will also attend.

The Grapefruit League schedule begins on Wednesday with the Phillies in Bradenton for a 1:05 afternoon game against the Pirates.  All but one Phillies Florida games will be broadcast.  Twenty will on MLB.com.

Opening day in Clearwater is 1:05 on Thursday afternoon against the Blue Jays.  Tickets remain for this game.  Bright House Field gates open at 10:35 a.m.

Part VII of Future Phillies was posted here this a.m.  Next and last part will be young outfield prospects in the Phillies minor league system.  It will be posted later in the week.

Future Phillies VII

(Part seven in an eight-part series on young Phillies prospects, middle infielders.  Last part: outfielders).

SS Donald, Jason . . . B-R, T-R . . . 6-1, 195 . . . Age 24 . . . Resides: Clovis, CA . . . Selected in 3rd round, 2006, out of U. of Arizona; signed by Therron Brockish . . . Three-year pro . . In-season and post-season EL All-Star with Reading Phillies, .307, 92 G, 19 2B, 14 HR, 54 RBI . . . Starting shortstop for USA in All-Star Futures Game at Yankee Stadium . . . Leading hitter (.381) for USA team that won a Bronze Medal in the Summer Olympics . . . Finished second in the AFL with a .407 average; played short, third and second for Mesa club . . . Selected to the AFL All-Prospect Team . . . Received the 2008 Dernell Stenson Award for character and leadership in the AFL . . .  Ranked as Phillies 4th best prospect in Phillies minor league system by Baseball America.

Scouting Report: “Heady ballplayer with excellent makeup.  Puts bat on the ball to all fields.  Will show some occasional power. Steady player. Primarily a shortstop, but played second and third in AFL.”

SS Galvis, Freddy . . . B-T: S-R . . . 5-10, 168 . . . 19 . . .  Punto Fijo, VZ . . . Signed as an amateur free agent, 7/2/06, by Jesus Mendez . . . Two-year pro . . . SAL post-season All-Star with Lakewood, .238, 127 H, 12 2B, 3HR, 42 RBI, 58 SB.

Scouting Report: “An amazing fielder.  Can’t put a number on how many runs he saved. Very good instincts for his age.  Physically needs to get stronger.  Bat needs work but he is very young.”

2B Garcia, Harold . . . B-T: S-R . . . 5-11, 188 . . . 22 . . . Maracaibo, Zulia, VZ . . . Signed as an amateur free agent, 9/4/04, by Jesus Mendez . . . Four-year pro . . . Spent summer with champion Gulf Coast League Phillies, .299, 50 G, 12 2B, 5 3B, 5 HR, 21 RBI, 17 SB.

Scouting Report: “Fell under .300 on last day.  Hard-nosed, aggressive player.  Above average runner.  Made improvement defensively throughout the season.”

SS Hanzawa, Troy . . . B-T: R-R . . . 5-9, 144 . . . 23 . . . Wahiawa, HI . . . Selected in 16th round, 2008, out of San Diego State U.; signed by Darrell Connor . . . First-year pro . . . Debut at Williamsport, .297, 75 G, 19 2B, 31 RBI . . . In-season NYP League All-Star.

Scouting Report: “Very solid defensive player.  Handles the bat well.  Shows a little pop.”

2B-SS Harman, Brad . . . B-T: R-R . . .  6-1, 175 . . . 23 . . . Melbourne, Australia . . . Signed as an amateur free agent, 3/4/03, by Kevin Hooker . . . Five-year pro . . . Spent season in Reading, .210, 117 G, 16 2B, 17 HR, 56 RBI . . . Also appeared in 6 games with the Phillies (.100).

Scouting Report: “Shows good bat speed.  Has power potential.  Struggled most of the season at-bat.  Needs work on approach to hitting.”

SS Hernandez, Fidel . . . B-T: R-R . . . 5-11, 180 . . . 23 . . . Puerto Ordaz, Boliver, AZ . . . Signed as an amateur free agent, 3/12/03, by Jesus Mendez . . . Six-year pro . . . Spent season at Clearwater, .256, 125 G, 22 2B, 38 RBI.

Scouting Report: “Plus arm, although erratic at times.  Makes contact as a hitter but needs to continue working on that phase of his game.”

2B Mitchell, Derrick . . . B-T: R-R . . . 6-2, 185 . . . 22 . . . Paw Paw, MI . . . Selected in 23rd round, 2005, out of Paw Paw HS; signed by Bob Szymkowski . . . Spent season at Lakewood, .252, 115 G, 32 2B, 11 HR, 62 RBI.

Scouting Report: “Has some pop in his bat.  Making the adjustment to second base.  Needs to continue making adjustments at the plate.

Day 9

Fundamentals (pick-offs and run-down plays), batting practice and infield drills were the key parts of Day 9 at Carpenter Field today. 

During BP, a group of pitchers practiced sliding under the watchful eyes of Davey Lopes.  Sometimes this exercise can bring some humor.  Fortunately, there were no injuries.

Catchers ended their day at Bright House Field catching pop ups.  Coaches preferred the background of a ballpark as to the open spaces of Carpenter Field.

Two more days of Carpenter Field and then the 34-game spring training schedule begins, Florida portion.  First game is Wednesday afternoon at Bradenton (Pirates).  As Todd Zolecki reported in The Zo Zone blog yesterday, Jamie Moyer and Joe Blanton will be the first two pitchers against the Pirates.  It will be sort of a home game for Jamie who lives in Bradenton and commutes daily to Clearwater.  Scott Eyre has the same commute.

First Bright House Field game is Thursday afternoon (Blue Jays).  Workers spent the day positioning vinyl advertising billboards on the green outfield walls. 

One of the advertisements on the scoreboard is the St. Petersburg Times.  Strangely, there hasn’t been one word in the Times sports section about the Phillies.  Today marks the fifth consecutive shutout.  If you want to follow the Phillies, bring your computers to Florida and check out phillies.com.  Zolecki will keep you well informed.  Scott Palmer will also have some interesting video features.

Camp Notes
A nutritionist will speak to the players at 8:30 tomorrow morning . . . The annual team golf tournament will take place Tuesday afternoon.  Best to watch the comedy channel as opposed to the golf channel . . . Jimmy Rollins (Nike and Dick’s Sporting Goods), Cole Hamels (New Era) and Mike Schmidt (Turtle Wax) have been involved in commercial shoots . . . Radio stations from the Philadelphia market will be visiting camp and going live from Clearwater.  Will keep you posted.

Day 8

The World Series Trophy Tour continued with an appearance at Carpenter Field at 10 a.m. today and then the opening ceremonies at the Countryside Little League in early afternoon. 

Trophy returns to Philly tomorrow and visits Phoenix, AZ, for Teva Pharmaceuticals and Dallas, TX, for Southwest Airlines, two of the club’s major sponsors, next week.

The Trophy was part of a successful Phan Fest last night at Bright House Field.  The event raised $15,604.  Proceeds will be divided between Clearwater For Youth, Clearwater Little League and Hospice of Florida Suncoast.

14 different pitchers (Groups 1-2) threw batting practice that lasted 45 minutes.  Hitters then got to hit against coaches.  When pitchers throw BP, it is referred to as “live” BP.  What does that make coaches’ BP? “semi-live”? Certainly, not “deceased” BP.

Team USA
Final USA squad for the World Baseball Classic will be announced on Tuesday.

That team, managed by Davey Johnson, a former Phil, will report to Clearwater on March 1 and work out at Bright House Field at 12:30 on Monday, April 2 (Phillies are playing Toronto in Dunedin that afternoon).  USA practice session will be open to fans.  No admission charge.  Bright House Field gates will open at 12 noon.

When the Japan WBC team worked out in Toyko earlier this week, it drew 37,000 fans.  WOW!

Camp Notes
Charlie Manuel and Rich Dubee met with the media after the workout (1 p.m.) for about 15 minutes.  It is a daily happening.  Todd Zolekci will cover the comments made by Charlie and Dubee . . . More media visitors: New York Daily News, New York Times, Spike TV . . . Rawlings Sporting Goods reps were here this morning to take glove and bat orders . . . Sunday’s schedule is much the same with BP around 11:20 a.m.