Bright House Field is becoming more alive as spring training rapidly approaches. The playing field is a beautiful green. The blue sky is sprinkled with some thin clouds. Temperature: 78.
Frank Coppenbarger and his crew have the clubhouse ready. Red uniform tops are hanging in 63 lockers, starting with # 4 (Eric Bruntlett) and ending with #87 (Anthony Hewitt).
Main entrance to the clubhouse features a large World Series logo. Pretty cool.
Generally at this time of the year, the flu bug and common colds infect many people.
There’s another epidemic this year, the itch. Chase said the word last month, so did Shane and Charlie.
What is the itch?
Simple answer: can’t wait for spring training to start.
A handful of players are here at Bright House Field working out on their own. Kyle Kendrick was throwing off the mound at 9:30 this morning to new bullpen catcher Tim Gradoville.
Friday, pitchers and catchers report for physicals. Saturday morning, they take to the fields at Carpenter Field for the first time. Next Tuesday, infielders and outfielders join the daily drills.
Fans in the Phillies universe are also hit by the itch bug. They can’t wait.
Season ticket sales back north are up. Ticket sales for spring training games at Bright House Field are up over 20,000 from this time a year ago.
The itch is an annual phenomenon. Winning the World Series has made everyone itchier.
(Fourth in an eight-part series on young prospects in the Phillies minor league season, relief pitchers. Next: catchers)
Bergh, Ryan . . .B-T: R-R . . . 6-4, 250 . . . 23 . . . Reddick, FL . . . Selected in the 26th round, 2008, out of Old Dominion U.; signed by Paul Murphy . . . First-year pro . . . Made pro debut with Gulf Coast League Phillies, 3-1, 0.64, 9 SV, 20 G; 26 SO, 4 BB, 28.1 IP; allowed 2 ER, 0 in the first 18 IP.
Scouting Report: “Deceptive sidearm, ¾ delivery. Strike thrower. Good sinking fast ball. Adequate change and slider. Durable arm.”
Bisenius, Joe . . . B-T: R-R . . . 6-4, 205 . . . 26 . . . Sioux City, IA . . . Selected in 12th round, 2004, out of Oklahoma City U.; signed by Paul Scott . . . Five-year pro . . . Split season between Reading and Lehigh Valley; combined 3-5, 4.06 ERA, 43 G.
Scouting Report: “Above average fast ball. His out-pitch is a power curve; at times unhittable. Command and control not consistent.”
Escalona, Sergio . . . B-T: L-L . . . 6-0, 170 . . . 24 . . . El Tocuyo, Lara, VZ . . . Signed as an amateur free agent, 5/25/04, by Jesus Mendez . . . Five-year pro . . . Began season at Lakewood (5-1, 2.43, 28 G) before promotion to Reading (0-1, 2.22, 15 G); combined 5-2, 3.00, 43 G, 3 SV, 89 SO in 69 IP . . . Pitched in Arizona Fall League, 1-0, 6.14, 12 G, 15 SO, 14.1 IP and Venezuela Winter League, 0-0, 0.00 , 3 G.
Scouting Report: “Sneaky quick fast ball. Curve is a plus pitch. Change someday will be a viable pitch against RH hitters. Works hard to improve his deficiencies. Has the tools to pitch in the majors.”
German, Matt . . . B-T: L-L . . . 6-0, 190 . . . 24 . . . Maricopa, AZ . . . Attended Northern Illinois U. . . . Signed as an amateur free agent, 5/28/07, by Bob Szmkowski . . . Two-year pro . . . Spent season at Clearwater, 3-2, 3.68, 44 G, 6 SV, 64 SO in 58.2 IP; opponents batted .213; allowed 1 or fewer ER in 37 of 44 outings . . . FSL in-season All-Star.
Scouting Report: “Ability to throw a quality slider in any count with deception. Fast ball will play higher than the velocity shows when he uses it in slider counts and pitches backwards.”
Kissock, Chris . . . B-T: R-R . . . 6-4, 188 . . . 23 . . . Fruitvale, British Columbia . . . Selected in 9th round, 2007, out of Lewis-Clark State College; signed by Dave Ryles . . . Two-year pro . . . Spent season at Lakewood, 4-6, 4.37, 38 G (7 GS) . . . Pitched in Hawaiian Winter League, 1-0, 1.69, 12 H, 23 SO, 21.1 IP; opponents batted .122.
Scouting Report: “Tall and thin, will grow and become a strong reliever with resiliency. Aggressive with sinking fast ball; potential for an above average fast ball. Slider getting tighter.”
Overholt, Pat . . . B-T: R-R . . . 6-0, 190 . . . 24 . . . Sandy UT . . . Selected in 22nd round, 2005, out of Santa Clara U.; signed by Joey Davis . . . Four-year pro . . . Became closer for first time at Reading, 3-8, 5.86 ERA, 49 G, 10 SV; 73 SO in 78.1 IP.
Scouting Report: “Power slider has depth and bite. At times it is a plus pitch. Fast ball can be above average. Lacks command and control. Needs innings.”
Schwimer, Michael . . . B-T: R-R . . . 6-8, 240 . . . 22 . . . Alexandria, VA . . . Selected in 14th round, 2008, out of U. of Virginia; signed by Paul Murphy . . . Made pro debut at Williamsport, 0-2, 1.96, 22 G, 8 SV, 62 SO in 41.1 IP; ended season with 11.2 scoreless innings streak.
Scouting Report: “Big and strong physical reliever. Hitters feel like he is on top of them. Fast ball at times has life. Slider, when right, has late bite with good angle. Slider has a chance to be his strikeout pitch.”
Simon, Jared . . . B-T: R-R . . . 6-1, 185 . . . 24 . . . Valley Center, KS . . . Signed as a non-drafted free agent, 9/14/07, after pitching in Independent Frontier League . . . Two-year pro . . . Spent season at Lakewood, 6-3, 3.56 ERA, 55 G, 30 SV; didn’t allow an ER in 20 consecutive appearances, 7/13-8/1.
Scouting Report: “Throws a lot of strikes with sinking fastball. Slider is improving.”
Sterner, Zack . . . B-T, R-R . . . 6-1, 180 . . . 23 . . . Athens, TN . . . Selected in 17th round, 2007, out of Tennessee Wesleyan; signed by Mike Stauffer . . . Two-year pro . . . Spent season at Lakewood, 10-2, 1.48, 29 g; ERA is fourth lowest in Lakewood history; held LHH to .150 average; did not allow an ERA in 21 of his 28 appearances.
Scouting Report: “Thin frame, will get stronger. Very aggressive with four pitches. Mixes pitches well. Believe he can compete anywhere. Needs innings.”
Walls, Sam . . . B-T: R-R . . . 5-11, 195 . . . 25 . . . Kearneysville, WV . . . Selected in 10th round, 2006, out of North Carolina State U.; signed by Roy Tanner . . . Three-year pro . . . Split season between Clearwater and Reading; combined 3-4, 3.29, 63 G, 14 SV . . . Phillies minor league pitcher of the month (May) . . . Was on DL with right shoulder inflammation, 8/24; missed all of 2007 with shoulder injury.
Scouting Report: “Live fast ball. Cutter/slider can be a solid pitch. Change has some depth. Command and control need to be honed. Has guts and a plus fastball.”
Phillies Insider is taking a short break as it is time to migrate to Clearwater. Will resume posting next week with more inside looks at Future Phillies and other brilliant or boring topics.
It won’t be long until a bunch of Phillies will spring into action for the 63rd year of spring training in Clearwater, FL. Everyone knows the names on the World Champions.
It won’t be long until another bunch of Phillies will spring into action. Many of these names are not household names. This group is the team’s 11-man pro scouting staff, a group that expanded under Ruben Amaro Jr.’s direction this winter.
Mike Ondo, Professional Scouting Coordinator, is the ring-leader, point guard, assignment editor or director. His role is to organize the expanded staff.
“We will cover every pro league, from the majors down to the low-A, full-season clubs during the season,” explains Ondo. “In addition, we will cover ever major league spring training camp. We’ve just completed winter ball coverage, three scouts in each of the Venezuela, Dominican and Mexico Leagues and one person in Puerto Rico.
“Once the short-season clubs begin playing (mid-June until end of August), some of our amateur scouting staff will swing over and follow those clubs. The goal is to scout every professional player,” Ondo added.
Amaro is constantly searching for ways to improve the club. He has weekly conference calls with his staff and the pro scouts, gathering information. Those calls will soon feature updates from the Florida and Arizona spring training camps.
During spring training, Charley Kerfeld will work out of Clearwater and scout teams in western Florida; Gordon Lakey, Del Unser, Jim Fregosi Jr., Dean Joungewaard and Jerry Lafferty will be in Arizona. In addition to Kerfeld, Florida coverage will include Howie Freiling, Hank King, Jon Mercurio, Sonny Bowers and Roy Tanner. Each will be assigned three or four clubs.
Craig Colbert, the new advance scout, will spend early spring training with the Phillies getting familiar with those players. In mid-March, he’ll start following the clubs the Phillies will be facing in early April, Atlanta, Colorado and Washington, meaning his life will be Florida-Arizona-Florida.
During the regular season, Kerfeld will be Amaro’s chief roamer in the majors and minors, Lakey will see all major league clubs; Fregosi, NL teams/minors; Freiling, AL teams/minors with Bowers, Jongewaard, Unser, Mercurio, King, Lafferty and Tanner spending time with various minor league clubs.
Weekly reports are filed via computer within a week after seeing their clubs. Those reports arrive on Ondo’s PC in his Citizens Bank Park office. He, in turn, provides e-copies to Amaro’s staff.
All this information comes in handy during trade talks, potential waiver claims, signings of released players and the Rule 5 draft.
In December of 2004, the Phillies selected a player in the winter Rule 5 draft because they had good scouting reports from the minors and winter ball on a speedy outfielder. Say hello to Shane Victorino, one of the many stars on the World Champs.