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Clearwater Bound

Reader Skip (Memory Lane) Clayton pointed out Richie Ashburn’s batting title was omitted from the anniversary moments to be remembered in 2015.  He was right.

So, here’s to Whitey’s title 60 years ago.

He finished with a .338 average, easily beating Willie Mays’ .319.  Going into the final day of the season (September 25), Ashburn led Mays, .342-.319.  The final day was a double-header between the Phillies and Giants at the Polo Grounds. Ashburn went 0-7, Mays 4-8.

Three years later Ashburn won his second title, .350 to Mays’ .346.  It’s the last Phillies batting champion.

Ashburn.Bat.Rack

Check out many more memorable moment anniversaries at http://www.phillies.com/alumni.

Alumni Birthdays
Tuesday: LHP Matt Beech (43), RHP Brad Brink (50) . . . Wednesday: RHP Mike Krukow (63) . . . Thursday: INF Ramon Aviles (63) . . . Friday: RHP Brandon Duckworth (39), RHP Frank Sullivan (85) . . . Sunday: 1B Francisco Melendez (51), INF Ted Kazanski (81) . . . Monday: 3B Rick Schu (53), C Bob Uecker (80).

Phun Fact
Jim Thome hit 101 home runs for the Phillies and one against them. He hit the last home run at the Vet and his 400th at Citizens Bank Park.  His last Phillies homer was the 13th walk-off home run of his career, an MLB record.

Reds v Phillies

Next Post
Heading for Clearwater so the next post will be January 27. Spring training #52 coming up.

Young Prospects In Town

Four days of the Phillies Prospect Program got underway today.  New RHP Ben Lively has joined RHP Aaron Nola, SS JP Crawford, CF Roman Quinn, LHP Tim Windle, RHP Zach Eflin, LHP Joely Rodriguez, RHP Severino Gonzalez, RHP Neifi Ogando, and OF Cameron Perkins.  Lively actually replaced Hector Neris who is remaining in winter ball, 0 runs, 18 innings over 20 appearances in the Dominican League.

Lively, Windle, Eflin and Rodriguez were all acquired in trades this winter.  This week will be their official welcome. By being in the program, they’ll now know some faces when spring training begins next month in Clearwater, easing the anxiety of walking into a new clubhouse.  They also get to see Citizens Bank Park and where they hope to have their own locker someday.

Among the guest speakers are Pat Gillick, Ben Davis, Charlie Manuel, Anthony Gargano, Jim Salisbury, Jayson Stark and Dickie Noles.  Others who will participate include Joe Jordan, Mike Ondo, Bonnie Clark, Dave Buck, Ruben Amaro Jr., Ryne Sandberg, Frank Coppenbarger, Scott Sheridan and Shawn Fscani.

Tomorrow the group will tour the MLB Network Studio in north Jersey.  Friday morning starts with a breakfast gathering of season ticket holders followed by a leadership roundtable discussion involving Larry Andersen, Larry Bowa, Mickey Morandini, Dave Hollins and Darrel Daulton from the 1993 NL champions.

Comment Corner
A couple of blogs ago reader Jim Peyton inquired as to which roster Joely has been placed.

Joely has been added to the 40-man winter roster.

Alumni Birthdays
Wednesday: RHP Paul Fletcher (48), INF Derrell Thomas (64), INF Ron Clark (72) . . . Thursday: RHP Wayne Gomes (42) . . . Saturday: C Tyler Houston (44), 2B Denny Doyle (72) . . . Sunday: C Mike Lieberthal (43), INF Billy Grabarkewitz (69), CH Chuck Cottier (79) . . . Monday: RHP Amaury Telemaco (41), RHP Jeff Juden (44), CH Brad Mills (58).

Phun Fact
During Phillies career, Robin Roberts won 20 games or more six straight seasons starting in 1950 and worked over 300 innings each of those seasons. Even more amazing, he completed 272 of his 472 starts.

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Congrats Hall of Famers

Congratulations to the new Half of Famers.  Certainly some quality inductees come July in Cooperstown, NY.  Should be another great weekend for baseball.

Pedro ended his brilliant career pitching in nine games with the Phillies in 2009, 5-1 record.  It will be interesting to see which cap he chooses for his HOF plaque.  Probably Boston where he won 117 of his 219 career games.

The Lehigh Valley IronPigs sent out a neat tweet last night: “We assume his plaque will have him in an IronPigs cap but nothing confirmed at this point.” Pedro pitched in one game for them in 2009 before joining the Phillies.

Pedro wore #45 for most of his career, including the Phillies. While the Phillies retire uniform numbers of their players who are Hall of Famers, that will not be the case with Pedro.  He’s in the category of numerous other Hall of Famers who wore a Phillies uniform.  To name a few, Eppa Rixey, Davey Bancroft, Casey Stengel, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez.  They all earned their spurs with other clubs.

Did You Know?
Pedro’s post season record: 14 starts: 6-4, 3.46, 96.1 innings, 96 strikeouts.

Cole Hamels: 13 starts, 7-4, 3.09, 81.2 innings, 77 strikeouts.

Trip Time
Phillies Phancation departs for Riivera Maya, Mexico, on Sunday and returns Friday.  Justin DeFratus, Tommy Greene, Greg Luzinski, Scott Palmer and the Phanatic will be on the trip with fans.

Prospect Program
Next week, Tuesday through Friday, the team’s annual program for young players will take place at Citizens Bank Park.

Group this year includes Aaron Nola, JP Crawford, Roman Quinn, Tim Windle, Zach Eflin, Hector Neris, Joely Rodriguez, Severino Gonzalez, Neifi Ogando, and Cameron Perkins.

Alumni Updates
There’s a vintage photo from the 1950s of Phillies broadcaster Gene Kelly and four players on http://www.phillies.com/alumni.

Mike Lieberthal has caught the most games in Phillies history.  Who’s second?
Find out at http://www.phillies.com/alumni.

This Date
January 11, 1960
After 12 years in a Phillies uniform and a club-record 2,217 hits, OF Richie Ashburn is traded to Chicago Cubs for INF Al Dark, 3B Jim Woods and RHP John Buzhardt[SL1].  Ashburn played two years with the Cubs, 1963 with the Mets and retired.

AshburnR

E-Mail of the Day
Frank Coppenbarger, Director Team Travel and Clubhouse Services: “The equipment truck to Clearwater will be loaded and depart on the morning of Friday, February 13.  It will be unloaded at 8 a.m. on Sunday, February 15.”

[SL1]

Happy New Year

Happy New Year.  And, it is a happy one.  The biggest collapse in Philadelphia sports history no longer belongs to the 1964 Phillies.  Instead, the 2014 Eagles.

Happy Birthday to…….
January 2: RHP Garrett Stephenson (43), C Jim Essian (64) . . . January 3: C Darren Daulton (53) . . . January 4: LHP Ken Reynolds (68), Charlie Manuel (71) . . . January 5: LHP Danny Jackson (53), C John Russell (54), OF Milt Thompson (56), OF Bobby Dernier (58) . . . Today: 2B Marlon Anderson (41), SS Ruben Amaro Sr. (79) . . . Wednesday: RHP Ray Semproch (74) . . . Thursday: INF Randy Ready (55) . . .
Friday: INF Ivan DeJesus (62) . . . Sunday: RHP Ben Rivera (47), RHP Donn Pall (53)
Monday: OF Reggie Taylor (38).

A belated Happy Birthday to Charlie Manuel, who’s celebrated on Sunday.  Here’s a picture from the day he was signed as the Phillies 51st manager following the 2004 season.

Manuel hire 2004

Trivia Time
Who was on the mound for the final out when the Phillies clinched the NL East in 1993?
The date:  September 28.  The scene: Three Rivers Stadium.  The score: Phillies 10, Pirates 7.  The winning pitcher:  Bobby Thigpen (3-1).

No, Bobby isn’t the answer.  Clue: the answer will turn 53 this Sunday: Donn Pall.  The last out was a 3-1 grounder: John Kruk to Pall, setting off a celebration.

Alumni Dates
**Wall of Fame balloting will take place on this website later this month.

**Alumni Day in Clearwater will be Saturday, March 21, at Bright House Field (Blue Jays).

**Alumni Weekend at Citizens Bank Park will be July 31-August 1-2.

Warm Thoughts
Individual spring training tickets go on sale Thursday (Jan. 8).  First workout for pitchers and catchers is February 19.

Phun Fact
The Phillies first wore uniform numbers starting in 1932.  #1 that season was center-fielder George (Kiddo) Davis.  The highest number: 30 by right-handed pitcher Ad Liska. Most numbers worn?  Seven by infielder Granny Hamner (1, 2, 6, 17, 29, 33, 37) and Hall of Fame outfielder Chuck Klein (1, 3, 8, 26, 29, 32, 36).

 

 

 

 

Another Young Arm Added

RHP Lively

The remake continues and the parade of pitchers does the same.

Another young arm is now in Phillies pinstripes with today’s trade of Marlon Byrd to the Reds for RHP Ben Lively, who was their #6 prospect and minor league Player Of The Year.  Within minutes of the trade announcement, Lively sent the following tweet:

“Gonna miss all my boys from at the Reds, crazy how fast this game can change! Really excited to start a new chapter with the Phillies.”

He was drafted in the 26th round by Cleveland in 2010, went to Central Florida University and was selected by the Reds in the fourth round two summers ago.  After 0-4 in his first pro season, he was 13-7 between A and AA in 2014.

From the Cincinnati Reds minor league All-Stars story:

Right-handed starting pitcher — Ben Lively, Bakersfield (13 games), Pensacola (13 games): Lively was a fourth-round pick last year, and his 2014 campaign rocketed him to the No. 6 spot on MLB.com’s rankings of the Reds system. The 22-year-old Florida native came out and dominated in the California League, putting up a 0.74 ERA through his first eight starts there. He struck out 10 in back-to-back April games, and whiffed 95 in 75 innings there.

“Obviously, Bakersfield, and the whole league, favors hitters. He neutralized opponents’ lineups and mixed his pitches well,” Reds director of player development Jeff Graupe said. “Any time you put up an ERA in the ones for the better part of two months, you go beyond what everyone could hope for, especially since we challenged him to go right into the Cal League and spend the whole year there.”

Lively forced a promotion, though. After making the big jump to Pensacola (AA), he had a 3.88 ERA and piled up 76 strikeouts in 72 innings. He walked 52 over the course of the whole season.

Since the season ended, the Phillies have acquired, in addition to Lively:
LHP Elvis Araujo (free agent), 23-year-old reliever
LHP Joely Rodriguez (trade), 23-year old starter
LHP Andy Oliver (Rule 5), 27-year-old reliever
LHP Tom Windle (trade), 22-year-old starter
RHP Zach Elfin (trade), 20-year-old starter

Building for the future is the theme.

 

Happy Holidays

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Thanks, J-Roll

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He was the leader, the table-setter, the lead-off hitter.  Now, he became the lead-off hitter in the rebuilding of the Phillies.  Officially, the greatest era in Phillies history came to an end with the trade of J-Roll to the Dodgers.

A generation of Phillies fans grew up with Rollins.  The longest tenured double play combination of Rollins and Chase Utley has ended, a major-league record 1,187 games.  They will never be forgotten.

Larry Bowa played in the first game at Veterans Stadium and helped build a World Championship club.  J-Roll did the same at Citizens Bank Park.

Alumni Weekend will take place in August 1-2.  While the return of many Alumni will create excitement, none will match the buzz when Rollins returns to Citizens Bank Park for the first time, August 4-5-6.  Tickets to individual games will go on sale starting February 19.  There will be a rush then for Rollins’ return.  TV ratings will soar when the Phillies play in Los Angeles on July 6-7-8-9, Rollins’ first series against his old club.

Someday, he’ll return and be inducted into the Wall of Fame.  Citizens Bank Park will be jumping that night. Whether he gets a plaque in Cooperstown remains to be seen.  But, he’s making a case for one.

Rollins leaves having the most hits and doubles in franchise history.  Pretty heavy stuff.  He’s as dominant in as many of the Phillies career hitting leaders as Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, the greatest player in Phillies history.  Is J-Roll #2?  Just think, both Schmidt and Rollins were drafted in the second round.

As a young prospect in the Phillies minor league system, Lee Elia, an instructor then, told Rollins he needs to learn to play a “little man’s game.”  Not surprising, Rollins responded, “I’m not a little man.”

5-foot-8 may not qualify as a “big” man.  But, Rollins put up big numbers, won big awards and contributed big in the community.  And, he came out with the statement that “we are the team to beat”, a big, bold comment.  But, he was right.

Jimmy, a big thanks for all the excitement you brought us.

J.P. Heads List

 

Baseball America has published the Phillies top 10 prospects.  Three of the 10 were drafted this past summer, # 2, 6 and 7.

1. J.P. Crawford, ss, left-handed hitter, turns 20 next month

JP_bat_nqew6u8i_y9a48p0f[1]
2. Aaron Nola, rhp, LSU product, 21 years old
3. Maikel Franco, 3b/1b, power bat; 22 years old
4. Roman Quinn, of, switch-hitting speedster; age: 21
5. Carlos Tocci, of, just 19 years of age; 6th on this list a year ago
6. Aaron Brown, of, 22-year-old lefty swinger from Pepperdine
7. Matt Imhof, lhp, 21-year-old, 6-foot-5 lefty from Cal Poly
8. Jesmuel Valentin, 2b, 20-year-old switch-hitter acquired from Dodgers
9. Yoel Mecias, lhp, 21-year-old bouncing back from 2013 Tommy John surgery
10. Franklyn Kilome, rhp, 19-year-old, 6-foot-6 who made pro debut in 2014

Sticking with the same publication, J.J. Cooper has written a story about the Rule 5 draft, including a scouting report and odds at sticking with their new teams.  Here are his comments about INF/OF Odubel Herrera and LHP Andy Oliver:

Herrera Scouting Report: Originally signed out of Venezuela for $160,000, Herrera does two things well: he can hit and he has plus speed. After his stock dropped in 2013, Herrera bounced back in 2014, winning the Texas League batting title as a 22-year-old, batting .321/.373/.402 in 96 games. Herrera has good bat speed and a simple swing that helps him hit line drives to all fields. He doesn’t have much power though, hitting just two home runs with a swing that isn’t geared for loft. He’s played well this winter in the Venezuelan League, batting .374/.421/.565 with four home runs in 42 games, ranking first in the league in batting average, second in OBP and third in slugging. The question on Herrera is where he’s going to play. He improved his defense at second base in 2014, and managers voted him the TL’s Best Defensive Second Baseman in the BA Best Tools survey. He’s spent time in left field and this winter has been playing center, which is where the rebuilding Phillies plan to use him in spring training. A lefthanded hitter with a thick 5-foot-11, 200-pound frame, Herrera could become a player along the lines of Cubs infielder Luis Valbuena.
Chances To Stick: 50-50.
Oliver Scouting Report: Oliver signed with the Tigers for $1.495 million as a second-round pick in 2009, then reached the big league in 2010. He’s never been able to put it all together, struggling to throw strikes or discover a usable breaking ball, with the Tigers shipping him to the Pirates after the 2012 season for catcher Ramon Cabrera. Moved to the bullpen full time in 2014, Oliver still has a big fastball from the left side, sitting 92-96 mph. He struck out 12 batters per nine innings, but he also walked 6.6 per nine, just about in line with his career mark in the minors. Now 27, its unlikely Oliver will be able to suddenly figure out his control and secondary stuff.
Chances To Stick: Extremely Low.

Alumni Birthdays
The rest of this month
16: LHP Tom Gorman (57), OF Adolfo Phillips (73) . . . 19: OF Russell Branyan (39), 2B Tony Taylor (79) . . . 20: OF Oscar Gamble (65) . . . 21: RHP Roger McDowell (54) . . . 22: RHP Michael Jackson (50), OF Glen Wilson (56), OF Lonnie Smith (59), LHP Steve Carlton (70) . . . 23: RHP Brad Lidge (38) . . . 24: RHP Kevin Millwood (40) . . . 25: 2B Manny Trillo (64), RHP Jack Hamilton (76) . . . 26: OF Ron Stone (54) . . . 27: OF Tom Marsh (49), OF Byron Brown (72) . . . 29: INF Tomas Perez (41) . . . 31: OF Sil Campusano (49)

Phun Fact
Babe Ruth made his first ever World Series appearance as a pinch-hitter for the Boston Red Sox in the ninth inning of Game #1, October 1, 1915, against the Phillies at Baker Bowl. Ironically, Ruth, playing for the Boston Braves, ended his career against the Phillies at Baker Bowl, May 30, 1935.  In each case, he grounded out to first base.

 

2 New Phillies

Back before Thanksgiving, all 30 major league clubs needed to file their 40-man winter rosters.  Players with six years of pro experience not on those rosters were then eligible for the Rule 5 draft.

Mike Ondo, Director, Professional Scouting, circulated the list of eligible Rule 5 players to all Phillies scouts.  A homework assignment, if you will.

Teams that make Rule 5 selections pay $50,000. That player must remain on a team’s 25-man roster all season or be offered back to his original club for $25,000.

With two open spots on the 40-man roster, the Phillies drafted two players, a 22-year-old infielder-outfielder, Odubel Herrera from the Texas organization and lefty reliever Andy Oliver, 27, taken from the Pittsburgh organization.

Herrera, a left-handed batter from Vanezuela, hit .315 between Myrtle Beach (A, Carolina League) and Frisco (AA, Texas League).  He was selected to the in-season Texas League All-Star team and again to the postseason team.  In six minor league seasons, he’s compiled a .294 average.  He doesn’t hit for much power, 98 career doubles, 27 triples, 12 homers and 128 stolen bases.

 

He’s played second base, shortstop, left field and center field. Jayson Stark tweeted he’ll be tried in center.

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Oliver was a second-round Detroit pick in 2009.  He pitched briefly for the Tigers in the majors, 0-5 in 2010-11.  He was traded to the Pirates after the 2012 season and pitched the last two seasons in Indianapolis (AAA). He was a starter in 2013, 5-4, 4.05 ERA, 112 walks, 138 strikeouts and 124 innings.

He moved to the bullpen in 2014 and was lights out, 3-4, 2.53, 13 saves with 85 strikeouts in 64 innings.  He was an in-season AAA All-Star.

One thing is certain, both will be given plenty of exposure in spring training.

Rule 5 Draft

Annual Rule 5 draft will take place on Thursday morning, the final day of the winter meetings. Phillies roster is at 38, two under the 40-man limit for the off-season.  Look for the Phillies to make one or two selections on Thursday.

Over the years the Phillies have had success in this draft.  Among those who made an impact are C Clay Dalrymple (drafted in 1959), RHP Jack Baldshun (1960), 3B Dave Hollins (1989) and
OF Shane Victorino (2004).  Shane was selected by the Padres in 2002 and returned to the Dodgers. Phillies took him two years later. LHP Michael Mimbs (1994) won nine games in 1995 but went 3-12 in next two seasons.

Many were selected by the Phillies but never wore a pinstripe uniform in the majors.  Among those are INF Ed Crosby (1973), RHP Jay Tibbs (1983), LHP Jeff Tabaka (1988), LHP Travis Blackley (2007).

So Close
Golden Era committee announced on Monday that no one from the 10-player ballot would be inducted into the Hall of Fame next July.  Dick Allen and Tony Oliva missed by one vote; Jim Kaat, by two.  That’s tough to take.  No votes would be easier to digest.

Silver lining: Golden Era committee convenes in three years and Allen, Oliva and Kaat will again get another chance.

Tidbits
Johnny Almaraz, new Director, Amateur Scouting, has been traveling to visit with the staff and see players who were finishing their fall season . . . The MLB Rookie Career Development Program will take place January 8-11 in Leesburg, VA . . . The Phillies Career Development Program follows, January 13-16.

Alumni Birthdays
Today: OF Del Unser (70), LHP Darold Knowles (73) . . . Wednesday: 1B Jon Zuber (45), CH Doc Edwards (78) . . . Thursday: 1B Andy Tracy (41), RHP Bob Sebra (53) . . . Saturday: RHP Fergie Jenkins (72) . . . Monday: RHP Mike Proly (64), RHP Stan Bahnsen (70).

Who Are These Guys?
In Phillies history there have been a handful of position players who played only one game for them in the majors.  Find out who they are at http://www.phillies.com/alumni.

Phun Fact
The Phanatic Team completed 740 appearances in fiscal year of 2014.

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