June 2008

Two-for-two

Outside the room, there was a baseball game going on.  Inside the Draft Room, the focus was on the college and high school players available.

The one TV in the room was tuned in to ESPN2 to follow the draft.  A speaker phone in the middle of the large table blurred out the selections seconds before it was announced on TV.

Marti Wolever, Director of Scouting, was the man in charge.  Much of his morning was spent on the phone.  During the first round, he mainly stood and watched as names were removed from the boards.  Twice he left the room as his cell phone rang.

A little more than an hour into the draft, Billy Moore (Western Supervisor) changed his lap top to phillies.com.  “Final score, 5-0, Phillies,” Moore reported.  A cheer went up from the room.

Throughout the eight days of preparing for the draft and reviewing players over and over again, Marti and his crew speculated they would have a chance to get one of two high school players, Anthony Hewitt or Zach Collier. 

When it came to the 24th pick in the first round, Marti went for Hewitt.  Another cheer went up in the room.

The Phillies had the fourth selection in the compensation round that followed and Collier was still on the board. When the Twins, Diamondbacks and Mets made other choices, Marti raised both arms in the air and another cheer burst out.  Collier was a Phillie.

Following this pick, Wolever met with the media in the Press Dining Room.  After that, the media got to speak with Hewitt via telephone in the Media Relations Workroom.

Seven different Phillies scouts saw Hewitt over the course of this high school season and last summer.  In addition, they had a private workout at his school in the spring and then invited him to Citizens Bank Park this past Monday.  Pat Gillick and Ruben Amaro also got to see him in a work out, which included several shots into the seats.  One was a drive deep to right-center.  Milt Thompson then took Hewitt into the batting cages and worked with him on a couple of minor things.

Counting Gillick and Amaro, 10 different Phillies scouts turned in reports on Collier, who will turn 18 in September. 

At the end of the first round, 12 of the 15 top college position players on the Phillies board were gone and eight of the first 10 college pitchers as many teams went for more experienced players.  The Phillies chose a pair of high school players with high ceilings.  It may take a while for them to reach Citizens Bank Park but both have the potential to be offensive machines.  Athletic players with tools was the goal.

 

Defense Overlooked?

Tonight’s Lineup
Rollins, ss; Victorino, rf; Utley, 2b; Howard, 1b; Burrell, lf; Jenkins, rf; Feliz, 3b; Coste, c; Myers, p.

Adam Gets “Em
Adam Eaton’s third consecutive solid outing and the reliable bullpen keyed last night’s win while Manuel’s V-8 Machine produced only three runs.  It was the fourth time this year we have won when scoring fewer than four runs.

Pat Burrell supplied the power with the game-deciding home run.  Chase Utley saw his home run streak end at five consecutive games but his RBI streak extended to nine straight games, one shy of the “modern era” club record shared by 3B Pinky Whitney (1931) and Bobby Abreu (2005).

Thanks SABR member Trent McCotter who sent in longer Phillies streaks: 13, Nap Lajoie (1899); 12, Tuck Tanner (1894) and Sam Thompson (1895) and 11, twice by Ed Delahanty (1894 and 1900).

Overlooked in all the comments about Manuel’s V-8 Machine has been the defense, especially at third base.  Pedro Feliz has started some key double plays during this home stand.  His defense is certainly a plus.

Draft Countdown
1 more day until the First-Year Player draft.

The eight magnetic boards are full of blue (college) and red (high school) names.  Scouting Director Marti Wolever, who will make the selections, sits at one end of the huge rectangular table in Draft Room.  Facing him are three boards listing the top prospects: college pitchers, college position players and a high school board (pitchers/position players). 

To his right are three boards that break down other players by position.  Once the draft is well underway, names from those boards will be selected to fill certain needs in our organization.  Every organization needs players to fill rosters.  But, there are occasions where a low draft will make it to the majors (Darren Daulton, 25th round).

As a player’s name will be called tomorrow afternoon, Dallas Green will remove the name from the board, thus giving Marti an idea of what is left and where the Phillies rank the players.

Who will be there when we make our first selection (24th) ?  No one knows for sure.  It appears as if the first 12-15 selections are somewhat predictable but after that, anything can happen.

Marti and his crew spent the day reviewing potential 24th selections.  Candidates have been discussed and discussed in the last week but more discussion took place.  Sometimes, opinions can become heated, which is fine.  Different people will see different players under different circumstances which create different opinions.  It is part of the process.

Between now and the 2 o’clock start tomorrow afternoon, Marti and his crew will reach out to our scouts for last-minute information, changes in opinions, etc.  It becomes a bit laborious but it is vital.

This Date
In Phillies history…..
1964    LHP Sandy Koufax no-hits the Phillies, 3-0, at Connie Mack Stadium.
1993    LHPTerry Mulholland fans 14 and doesn’t walk anyone but loses, 2-1, to Rockies.

 

Chasing Records

Tonight’s Lineup
Rollins, ss; Victorino, cf; Utley,2b; Howard, 1b; Burrell, lf; Jenkins, rf; Feliz, 3b; Ruiz, c; Eaton, p.

Chasing History
Home run for the fifth straight game, RBI for eighth straight game, three hits, two dazzling diving catches and one bone-jarring collision with an enemy catcher.

All in a night’s work for Chase Utley, who is also editing the Phillies record book.

The club record for homering in consecutive games is five, shared by Dick Allen (1969), Mike Schmidt (1979), Bobby Abreu (2005) and Chase, twice this season.  In those streaks, Allen and Abreu hit five homers, Schmidt, 7 and Utley had 6 in his April 17-18-29-20-21 streak.  He’s currently riding 5 in 5.

The club record for most consecutive games with an RBI is 10, shared by Pinky Whitney (1931) and Bobby Abreu (2005).  Three others have done it nine times: Whitney (1928), Don Hurst (1932) and Ryan Howard (2006, twice).

Draft Countdown
2 more days until the First-Year Player Draft.

2008 version of the draft begins at 2 on Thursday afternoon.  First day will end around 9 p.m.  Day two is Friday, 11:30 a.m. start until the final round is completed.

First round has 5 minutes between selections while the compensation round has 1 minute between selections.  Phillies first selection is estimated at 4:10 p.m.; compensation selection, estimated at 4:58 p.m.

Phillies Selections
 Round  Overall selection
 First   24
 Compensation 34 (Compensation for SF signing Rowand)
 Second   51 (Compensation for SF signing Rowand)
 Second  71
 Third  102
 Third  110 (Compensation for not signing their 3rd rounder last year, P Brandon Workman)
 Fourth  136
 Fifth  166 (24h selection in each succeeding round)

Media Coverage
 ESPN2, Thursday, 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.
 MLB.com, every round, both days

Lakewood Stars
RHP Drew Naylor, C Joel Naughton, OF Michael Taylor, DH Michael Durant have been named to the Northern Division team that will oppose the Southern Division in the South Atlanta League All-Star Game on June 17 in Greensboro, NC.

This Date
In Phillies history…..
1930    Phillies release RHP Grover Cleveland Alexander.
1972    Paul Owens, Director of the Minor League System, replaces John Quinn as General Manager.
1978    Davey Johnson becomes first pinch-hitter in major league history to hit two grand slam home runs in one season.  This one came in the ninth inning and gave the Phillies a 5-1 win over theDodgers at Veterans Stadium.  First one came April 30 with the score tied in the fifth inning of an 11-4 win over the Padres, also at the Vet.

 

Goosebump City

Tonight’s Lineup
Rollins, ss; Victorino, cf; Utley, 2b; Howard, 1b; Burrell, lf; Jenkins, rf; Feliz, 3b; Coste, c; Kendrick, p.

Goosebump City
Plenty of goosebumps at Citizens Bank Park yesterday as the Phillies came from behind to reel in  the Marlins and regain first place.

Jamie Moyer kept his composure after the 4-run third inning and kept his team in the game until Manuel’s V-8 Machine came through again.  (Speaking of V-8, that’s Victorino’s nickname because he wears number 8).

Not all 8 cylinders in the machine clicked. But enough did.  Chase Utley went yard for the fourth straight game.  Another one tonight and he ties the club record which he tied earlier this season.

Geoff Jenkins, 0-for-9 as a pinch hitter, tied the game with his pinch homer in the sixth.  A low ball hitter, Manual noticed that Doug Waechter was a low-ball pitcher during his warm-up tosses and the move paid off.  Then, Pat Burrell came through with the game-winner, a two-out, broken-bat, two-run double in the seventh. 

Tom Gordon and Brad Lidge took over from there. 

When Jenkins took over in right field after his pinch blast, he got a standing ovation from the fans in that area.  When Burrell was lifted for a pinch runner after his clutch double, he got a standing-o.

“Lieby” Touched
When Mike Lieberthal was introduced pre-game as retiring from baseball as a Phillie, he, too, got a standing-o.

While it wasn’t noticeable from the stands, there were tears in his eyes.  It just goes to show the fans appreciated his 13 years in pinstripes.  Several fans held up signs.  That was cool.

“I was really touched,” he said afterwards.

He walked into the clubhouse around 11:30 and hugged the players who once we his teammates.  He also signed a Reading Phillies minor league contract which will be filed with Major League Baseball.  The last line of his career lists that fact.  He was on the Dodgers a year ago but he wanted to end as a Phillie.

Two more years and Lieberthal will be eligible for the Phillies Wall of Fame.  He should be a shoe-in.

Historic Home Run
Ken Griffey Jr. comes to town for four games, sitting on 599 career homers.   Only five players in major league history have reached the 600 level.

In the long history of baseball in Philadelphia, the Phillies since 1883 and the Athletics from 1901-54, none of the 600 were hit against either team.

Jimmie Foxx, then of the Red Sox, hit his 500th against his original team, the A’s, 9/24/40 at Shibe Park.  At the time, Foxx was the second player to reach 500, joining Babe Ruth.

Ticket sales have been very active for tonight’s game.  It had been the smallest advance sale of the four days.

Draft Countdown
3 more days until the First-Year Player Draft.

Following a weekend of meetings, the eight magnetic boards are virtually filled with names of players the Phillies may select.

Yesterday, Marti Wolever and his crew worked throughout the game.  In baseball, you need to grind out wins and that’s what the Phillies did down on the field.  Up in the Draft Room on the Hall of Fame Club level, the crew was in a grind out mode of operation.  They could hear the crowd roar but they were oblivious to what was happening.  They didn’t even have the game on TV.

Over the next couple of days, they will refine the candidates, checking with area scouts to get up dates on the players and their health or signability.  Perhaps a scout saw a certain player and he wants to elevate the status of that particular prospect.  Or, it could go the other way.

Area scouts start the entire process.  Then other eyes are brought in, scouting supervisors, regional supervisors, Marti, Mike Arbuckle, Rob Holiday, Chuck LaMar, Ruben Amaro Jr. and even Pat Gillick.  The more eyes and ears the better.

 

 

 

Rubber Game

Today’s Lineup
Rollins, ss; Victorino, cf; Utley, 2b; Howard, 1b; Burrell, lf; Feliz, 3b; Coste, c; Taguchi, rf; Moyer, p.

Offense Stymied
Manuel’s V-8 Machine was stymied last night by Ricky Nolasco. Cole Hamels had command problems and the Marlins took advantage.  The Phillies lead the majors in homers and the Marlins are second.

All it means is the series comes down to the rubber game this afternoon.  Winner gets two-of-three.  Jamie Moyer is 7-0 in his career against the Marlins, 4 coming last year.

Chase Utley not only leads the majors with 19 homers but with the most off left-handed pitchers, 10.  Amazing, by an amazing player.  Shouldn’t be surprised.  The late Gene Mauch once said, “Exceptional players do exceptional things.”

Historic Milestone
Ken Griffey Jr. hit his 599th home run yesterday.  He has one more game at home this afternoon and then four in the next four days at Citizens Bank Park.  In his career, he has four homers against the Phillies, a low number because he spent so many seasons in Seattle.

Tickets are available for tomorrow night. Could be an historic night.  Has anyone ever hit #600 in Philadelphia?  We’ll have more on that tomorrow.

Countdown to the Draft
4 more days to baseball’s annual First-Year Player Draft.

Every draft is different.  Some years, the depth is in college hitters. Other years, college arms.

The depth in this year’s draft is high school pitchers and position players, college relief pitchers and college first basemen.  On the slim side: college starting pitchers, college outfielders and high school catchers.

College players, by virtue of playing at that level, are on a faster track to reach the majors.  A high schooler with outstanding tools is worth waiting for. 

When asked which level the Phillies will take, Scouting Director Marti Wolever flashed that big smile of his, “A college player or a high school player.”

The Phillies have the 24th selection in the first round.  During their discussions this week as they reviewed each and every player, Marti would ask, “Is he someone we would take at 24?” 

This Date
In Phillies history…….
1969    Dick Allen homers in fifth straight game, a 12-4 loss to the Dodgers at Connie Mack Stadium.
1995 Phillies set NL record for most games into a season without losing two in a row (33), breaking 1907 Chicago Cubs record.  Phils lose next two at San Francisco.
2005 Chase Utley hits game-winning, pinch-hit grand slam with 2 out in the 8th for 10-6 win over Giants.

 

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