Frank Coppenbarger, Director of Team Travel and Clubhouse Services, has sent the following e-mail:
“A warm thought….the equipment truck to Clearwater will load and depart CBP on the morning of Friday, February 12. It will arrive in Clearwater and be unloaded on Sunday morning, February 14.”
OF David Lough, a 30-year-old left-handed hitting outfielder, signed a minor league contract with an invitation to the major league camp. He’s the 64th player who will be in uniform next month at Bright House Field. He’s a .255 career hitter in the majors which includes stints with the Royals and Orioles.
Lough (pronounced LOW) can play all three outfield positions and will most likely be inventory in AAA.
MLBPipeline.com is listing the top 10 minor league prospects by position. Jorge Alfaro is ranked third among catchers and Mike Kingery, 10th among second basemen.
Strength up–the-middle catcher, shortstop-second base and center field–is key on championship teams. Starting in October, we’ve examined players at those positions on Phillies pennant winners: 1915, 1950, 1980, 1983 and 1993.
This week, the focus is on the guys that produced five consecutive division titles, one World Series win and one WS loss, specifically the 2008-09 Phillies of Charlie Manuel. The team was strong up the middle but had many other stars.
C—Carlos Ruiz, SS Jimmy Rollins, 2B Chase Utley, CF Shane Victorino. Each will eventually be inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame.
Ruiz was signed in 1998 for $8,000 out of Panama as an infielder. The Phillies moved him behind the plate. Having to learn a new position as well as the English language, Chooch spent seven-plus seasons in the minors before reaching the big leagues in May of 2006. He replaced Mike Lieberthal as the regular catcher the next season and held that status until last season. He excelled at handling a pitching staff and is the only catcher in National League history to catch four no-hitters. Chooch was an All-Star in 2012. He enters the 2016 season catching 982 games, fourth most in team history. His 46 postseason games are the most.
Rollins was a second-round pick by the Phillies out of Encinal High School in Oakland, CA, in 1996. Four years later he reached the big leagues, getting a triple as his first hit. His last hit as a Phillie was also a triple in 2014. In between he performed and put up numbers unmatched by any Phillies shortstop: one Silver Slugger, three All-Star teams, four Gold Gloves, the 2006 National League Most Valuable Player. In the end, he had the most-at-bats, hits and doubles in Phillies history while ranking second in four other offensive categories. Defensively, he was as consistent as they come. He was the table-setter, their vocal voice and a player who excelled in pressure games.
Utley was originally drafted by his hometown Dodgers in the second round in 1997, opted for college (UCLA) and was drafted by the Phillies in the first round three years later. He spent three years in the minors before making his major league debut. His first major league hit was a grand slam. He became the everyday second baseman in 2005 through 2014. Combing power, defense, all-out hustle and heady play he was the game’s premier second baseman. He was a six-time All-Star and four-time Silver Slugger. He left the Phillies as their greatest second baseman ever in nearly every category.
Victorino was originally drafted in the sixth round by the Dodgers in 1999, selected in the Rule 5 draft by the Padres in 2003 and returned to LA and then selected in the Rule 5 draft by the Phillies after the 2004 season. Shane didn’t make opening day Phillies roster in 2005 but LA passed on taking him back. The Phillies sent him to Scranton and brought him to the big leagues late that season. After being the everyday right fielder in 2007, he moved to center where he starred until traded in 2011. He was a two-time All-Star and won three Gold Gloves.
So, which championship club was the strongest up-the-middle?
Next: the future.