When the Phillies take the field next week, it will mark the 70th consecutive year of spring training in Clearwater. They replaced the Cleveland Indians in Clearwater in 1947. Clearwater population then was around 15,000.
The very first team to hold spring training in Clearwater were the Brooklyn Robins (Dodgers). While training in Winter Haven, FL, in 1936, the Phillies played Brooklyn in Clearwater that year. Thanks to Bob Warrington, there’s a photo from that game at Clearwater Athletic Field:
Phillies manager in 1947 was Ben Chapman. He provided a classic quote after a 13-1 licking by the Tigers in their first game on March 11. “I don’t intend to take any more 13-1 lickings. We’re playing every game as if it counted in the standings. This is not a try-out camp and it’s not a resting place for worn out ball players. I’ve already separated the sheep from the goats and the goats are on the way out.”
When did Brooklyn train in Clearwater? What was the name of the field? Where was it located? Answers to these questions and much more can be found at http://www.phillies.com/alumni.
Scouting Season Underway
Johnny Almaraz, Director, Amateur Scouting, and his staff recently met to begin preparing for the June draft when the Phillies have the very first selection. Each area scout presented his top 15 prospects. That list will shrink over time.
Phillies had several scouts at the Compton Urban Youth Academy showcase in Los Angeles the other weekend. College programs have begun practices and scrimmages. Their seasons begin February 19.
Manned with game schedules, radar guns, lap tops and GPSs, the amateur scouts will be busy between now and the draft.
According to several reports, the draft is strong in college pitching this year.
For the group of pro scouts, their seasons are also beginning as the Phillies will cover every camp in Florida and Arizona.
Spring Training Memories
Chris Wheeler (PR, 1972-82; broadcaster 1983-2013; club ambassador, 2014-)
“My first trip to Clearwater was in February, 1972, first spring training and staying at the Ft. Harrison Hotel. Everyone lived there including the players. It was a tremendous bonding experience with the media present every afternoon in the ‘cheese room.’
“The first looks at the Complex and Jack Russell Stadium were almost a spiritual experience to a baseball nut who had only heard about those shrines through newspapers, photos and occasional black and white video.
“My most memorable experience was sitting with Larry Shenk in the hotel coffee shop for breakfast when he told me we were trading Rick Wise for Steve Carlton. We both knew it was going to be an unpopular move. It was. The rest is Phillies and baseball history. My first exhibition game also was memorable. Shortly before the game Larry said the PA announcer didn’t show up and asked me, ‘Have you ever done the PA and if I would do it today?’ I had never done any such work but I instantly replied yes. Except for two years when I was part of the TV team, I’ve been the PA announcer for every Clearwater home game since then.
“What do I like about spring training? Everything. Even back in the days when you worked long hours in PR. Now I have a chance to be around baseball, play golf and enjoy one of the prettiest locations in the country. What do I dislike about spring training? Easy. The day we leave town. It always goes too fast.”
On Friday, the Phillies equipment truck will be loaded at Citizens Bank Park. Two days later it will be unloaded at Bright House Field in Clearwater. Among the trunks and boxes are dozens of hats the Phillies will wear this spring. Pretty cool.
Who’s First at First?
The Phillies were established in 1883 so guess who has played the most games at first base? Pretty easy guess. Now, who’s third on the list? Shockingly surprising. Check out the story at http://www.phillies.com/alumni.
Paul Swydan, Fangraphs.com: “It’s highly unlikely that the Phillies will be a good team in 2016. But they have a solid mix of players who should make for an entertaining brand of baseball, and the franchise has done a great deal to turn things around in the last year. They have very few old and fading veterans, a healthy dose of players who are not only exciting, but as Corinne Landrey recently pointed out, are excited for each other. They even have an interesting reclamation project in Peter Bourjos. It won’t all be wine and roses — let’s not speak of the bullpen — but it is the type of team that you can dream on, and that’s exciting.”
Jim Callis has written a story about the best tools among the top 100 MLBPipeline prospects. Strongest arm goes to catcher Jorge Alfaro:
“Some evaluators rate Alfaro’s pure arm strength as an 80, though it doesn’t always play to that level because he’s not a clean receiver and his footwork can get sloppy. He threw out just 29 percent of base stealers last year and has erased just 27 percent as a pro, but no catcher can record sub-1.8-second pop times (mitt to glove at second base) as easily.”
Here It Is!
The book provides insight into a potpourri of faces, places, events, and personalities in Phillies history. One of the many historic performance features is about Jimmy Rollins passing Mike Schmidt as the franchise’s all-time hits leader.
Countdown to spring training now is down to two weeks from today. In their 70th spring training in Clearwater, the Phillies have the finest set-up in Florida with Carpenter Complex and next door Bright House Field. Both are located between Route 19 and Old Coachman Road.
One of the many daily drills is PFP, pitchers fielding practice. There’s a vintage photo on http://www.phillies.com/alumni of Tommy Qualters covering first base during PFP in 1956 at Clearwater Athletic Field. Even though Jack Russell Stadium was in its second year, the Phillies held a rookie mini-camp prior to spring training that year at the old ballpark.
On the same webpage is an interesting story on Glenn Wilson by Paul Hagen. Wilson confides to Hagen that he had some serious problems while playing for the Phillies. Strange as “Glen-bo” was one of the fun guys to be around.
Another New Arm
So who is this fella? A big dude, 245 pounds on a 6-foor-3 frame. Has been strictly a reliever with the Cubs and Mariners on a limited basis. In nine minor league seasons, he started and relieved. His last start was 2012. He was originally signed by Seattle out of Venezuela, traded to the Cubs and then claimed on waivers by the Pirates on December 23. He features a four-seam fastball, an average of 92 mph.
By my count, he’s pitcher #37 in camp. He’ll be in Clearwater instead of Bradenton and Biddle will be in Bradenton instead of Clearwater. Pronunciation: yo-AIR-vees meh-DEE-nah.
There are a lot of components needed when building a championship club. Pitching, defense, power are three obvious ones. Not to be slighted are the positions up the middle: catcher-shortstop-second base-centerfield.
We’ve looked back at the Phillies championship clubs of 1915, 1950, 1983, 1993, 2008 and 2009 and their up-the-middle players.
Now, it’s time to look ahead. Dusting off the crystal, what’s the future core?
A year ago at this time, this position appeared to be thin in the Phillies organization. But, Cameron Rupp, 27, stepped up and took over the starting job in the majors. He can catch and throw and has power. Coming off Tommy John surgery, 24-year-old Andrew Knapp took off last season to become a definite prospect. A switch-hitter, Knapp needs to continue improving behind the plate. The Cole Hamels trade brought 22-year-old Jorge Alfaro (pictured) to the Phillies organization. A power bat and power arm, Alfaro is ranked 3rd among the MLBPipeline list of top 10 catchers; among top 100 prospects, 96th. Down the road is Deivi Grullon, who turns 20 on February 17. He played in low-A ball last summer and is a polished receiver. Not to be overlooked are Gabriel Lino, who was in AAA ball last year as a 22-year-old and left-handed hitting Logan Moore, 25, whose dad, Brad, once pitched for the Phillies.
Freddy Galvis, 26, will be there again in 2016. Coming soon will be 22-year-old J.P. Crawford (pictured) who split last season between Clearwater and Reading. On MLBPipeline’s top 100 players, he’s ranked fifth. Among their top 10 shortstops, second, the number he wore at Reading. Generations of Phillies fans have seen long-term excellence from Larry Bowa and Jimmy Rollins. Crawford should be the next generation shortstop. The system also includes another defensive whiz, Malquin Canelo, 21, who played for Lakewood and Clearwater. Even younger is 18-year-old Arquimedes Gamboa out of Venezuela who made his pro debut with the Gulf Coast League Phillies.
Cesar Hernandez, 25, (pictured) will be back again this season. He’ll have to battle to keep this job as Freddy could move to second when Crawford arrives. Then there’s 21-year-old Scott Kingery who went from the University of Arizona to Lakewood last summer. He’s projected as a fast track player to the majors. Among MLBPipeline’s top 10 second basemen, Scott came in at #10. 23-year-old Josh Tobias, a 10th-round pick last summer out of the University of Florida, led Williamsport in hitting. He’s a switch-hitter.
Line ‘em up. Incumbent is Odubel Herrera, the 24-year-old hitting machine who turned in an impressive rookie season in ’15. It was his first full season playing this position.
25-year-old Aaron Altherr can excel defensively at all three outfield positions but will probably settle in right field. Nick Williams, 22, is another product of the Hamels trade. He has all the tools and played center at Reading. Tyler Goeddel, the 23-year-old selected in the Rule 5 draft, has the tools to play anywhere in the outfield. Then there’s 22-year-old Roman Quinn (pictured), a base-stealer and lead-off type hitter. A converted shortstop, he has a strong arm. Among the MLBPipeline’s top 100 prospects, Williams ranked 64th and Quinn 99th. In case you are wondering, Herrera and Williams bat left, Altherr and Goeddel, right and Quinn is a switch-hitter. Centerfield should be fun to watch.
ICYMI: The Phillies have seven players among the MLBPipeline’s top 100, most of any of the 30 big league teams. In addition to Alfaro, Crawford, Williams and Quinn, OF Cornelius Randolph (84), RHS Mark Appel (70) and RHS Jake Thompson (55).
Four of the seven came via trades. Randolph was their first-round selection last summer.
Another New Arm
His big league career exists of brief moments in each of the last three seasons, 27 total games, 22.1 innings, 20 hits, 5 walks, 23 strikeouts, 0-1, 3.63 ERA. The 6-foot-4 lefty was a minor league All-Star in 2011-12.
Some interesting notes about Bobby: He was drafted by the White Sox out of high school (2005), the Diamondacks out of junior college (2007) and signed with Seattle after the Mariners drafted him in the eighth round (2008) out of the University of New Mexico . . . He’s been claimed on waivers four times, Padres (4/2/14), Pirates (8/24/14), Angels (12/23/15) and Phillies (1/29/16) . . . He never put on an Angels uniform . . . While in high school, he climbed the San Gabriel mountains . . . His favorite food: chicken and dumplings . . . College major: accounting.
Three more weeks until pitchers and catchers take the field to begin the Phillies’ 70th spring training in Clearwater. Pete Mackanin will greet 36 pitchers and seven catchers and put them through their first workout at Carpenter Complex on February 18.
MLBPipeline’s list of top 10 minor league shortstop prospects lists J. P. Crawford second. Jim Callis wrote:
“Several teams regret passing on Carl Crawford’s cousin in the 2013 Draft, when he somehow lasted 16 picks despite projecting as an all-around shortstop who undoubtedly would stick at the position. Though Crawford has just average speed, he has tremendous range to go with soft hands and a strong arm, and he’s also a mature hitter who controls the strike zone and owns some gap power.”
ICYMI Jorge Alfaro was listed #3 among catching prospects and Mike Kingery, #10 at second base.
Larry Bowa is being inducted into the Sacramento Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday . . . Chairman David Montgomery will be honored with the Ed Snider Lifetime Distinguished Humanitarian Award at the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association Dinner being on Monday at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cherry Hill, NJ.
The Champions of Philadelphia: The Greatest Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, and Flyers Teams Ever. By Rich Westcott. Foreword by Pat Williams. Skyhorse Publishing. Just published.
Legends of the Philadelphia Phillies: Steve Carlton, Tug McGraw, Mike Schmidt and Other Phillies Stars. By Bob Gordon. February 2016
The Fightin’ Phillies: 100 Years of Philadelphia Baseball from the Whiz Kids to the Misfits. By Larry Shenk. Foreword by Larry Andersen. Triumph Books. April 2016.
Herb Pennock: Baseball’s Faultless Pitcher. By Keith Craig. April 2016.
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.
Have received some inquiries regarding Pete Rose and the Phillies Wall of Fame. The questions arose after the Cincinnati Reds announced Pete is being inducted into their Hall of Fame this summer.
Being banned from baseball, teams were barred from honoring him. Last month Commissioner Rob Manfred didn’t lift the ban but stated Pete could be honored. However, the Commissioner needed to approve any such plans.
In early January of every year, a group of Phillies executives meet to review candidates for the Wall of Fame ballot. We are now in the process of finalizing the 12 former Phillies for the ballot. Pete is not one of the 12.
Fans will again get to vote on phillies.com during spring training. Details will be forthcoming. The top five consensus selections by the fans will then be presented to a Special Wall of Fame Selection Committee that will chose the winner. The committee is composed of Phillies executives, local and national baseball writers, broadcasters and baseball historians. The announcement of the winner will be made in late spring training.
Come next January, the group will meet again to determine the 2017 ballot. I would imagine Pete’s name will come up for discussion.
Coneheadless, if there is such a word, LA will be making another appearance as a guest instructor in spring training before returning to the radio booth. Other Alumni who’ll be guest instructors include Charlie Manuel, Matt Stairs, Dave Hollins, Jim Kaat, Greg Luzinski, Mike Schmidt, Roy Halladay.
Who Will It Be?
New http://www.phillies.com/alumni feature story is about anniversary moments tied to 2016. Check ‘em out.
Noticed an interesting pattern in the story. Ed Delahanty hit four home runs in a game for the Phillies in 1896. 40 years later, Chuck Klein did it. 40 years later, Mike Schmidt did it. So, 40 years later brings us to 2016. So, who will hit four in game this season? Cesar Hernandez?
Rule 5 draftee OF Tyler Goeddel has an older brother (Erik) who is a relief pitcher with the Mets. Erik, 27, was a 24th round selection out of UCLA in 2010. Tyler, 23, was the Rays’ first-round pick in 2011. They have never faced each other.
RHP Mark Appel and Eagles TE Zach Ertz attended the same high school (Monte Visa, Danville, CA) and played their respective sports at Stanford University.
1,979. That’s how many players have worn a Phillies uniform since 1883, the ball club’s first season. Will someone be #2,000 this season? Dennis Orlandini, an ardent Phillies follower, alerted us of that possibility. He also said 1B Earl Torgeson became #1,000 in 1953.
Alphabetically the all-time roster goes from 2B-3B Ed Abbaticcio (1897-1898) to 1B Jon Zuber (1996; 1998). The most common name, Miller, 14 of ‘em. Longest, Al Hollingsworth (LHP, 1938-39)
I’ve taken you through eight chapters of my new book, The Fightin’ Phillies: 100 Years of Philadelphia Baseball from the Whiz Kids to the Misfits. Somehow, I missed Chapter 5. Must have been a senior citizens mental burp. Triumph Books is the publisher of the book which is scheduled for an April 1 unveiling. Larry Andersen wrote the foreword.
Unbreakable Records is Chapter 5. It deals with hitting, pitching and defensive records set by Phillies players in a single season, records that will never be broken. Never is a dangerous thing to say but there are a flock of Phillies records that won’t ever be broken. Here’ one: 2B Emil (Dutch) Verban had 573 plate appearances in 1947 and struck out just eight times. Yep, eight strikeouts. Not a typo.
Yep, that Larry Andersen, who later turned into a man with many faces.
63 So Far
That’s how many players will be in spring training that begins in Clearwater in five weeks. With a lot of free agents still looking for jobs and weeks before practice starts, Matt Klentak may well increase that number.
Most often the list of non-roster players contains veterans who’ll be in triple-A. A sprinkling of prospects may be included. This year, the Phillies will have a flock of their top prospects in camp: RHS Mark Appel, SS J. P. Crawford, RHS Zach Eflin, C Andrew Knapp, C Gabriel Lino, C Logan Moore, 1B Brock Stassi, RHS Jake Thompson and CF Nick Williams.
Frank Coppenbarger, Director of Team Travel and Clubhouse Services, says he has 65 lockers in the Bright House Field clubhouse and that six more are being constructed just in case.
Former Phillies John Kruk and Curt Schilling are being replaced on ESPN’s Sunday Night crew by Aaron Boone and Jessica Mendoza, former Olympic softball player. Kruk returns to Baseball Tonight and Schilling, Monday Night Baseball.
Pete Mackanin and some of his players will be around next week for various appearances including banquets in Allentown, Reading, Lakewood and Williamsport.
For a complete schedule visit http://www.phillies.com/events.
Strength up–the-middle catcher, shortstop-second base and center field–is key on championship teams. Late last year, we examined players at these positions on Phillies pennant winners: 1915, 1950, 1980 and 1983. This week, the 1993 National League champions, team that had more nicknames, mostly unflattering, “throwbacks”, “misfits”, “rejects”, “outlaws”, “wild”, “crazy”. A book about the 1993 team was properly entitled, “Beards, Biceps and Bellies.”
C Darren Daulton, SS Kevin Stocker, 2B Mickey Morandini, CF Lenny Dykstra.
Daulton was drafted in the 15th round in 1980 as a skinny catcher out of Arkansas City (KN) High School. Listed on scouting reports as 150 pounds. Developed into a three-time All-Star who played 14 seasons with the Phillies are the longest tenure for a catcher in the team’s modern history. He had two 100-RBI seasons, a record for a Phillies catcher. Recognized as the team leader of the 1993 NL pennant-winners; led club with 105 RBI while belting 24 homers. Set two defensive club records that season, most putouts, 981 (1993) and double plays, 19. Darren played in 1,109 Phillies games, remarkable since he was on the disabled list eight times and underwent nine knee surgeries. In addition, he had a fractured right clavicle, a broken right hand and an incomplete tear of his left rotator cuff. Ended his career with the Florida Marlins, 1997 World Champions.
Juan Bell began the season as the shortstop. Mariano Duncan, Kim Batiste and Joe Millette also played there. The roulette stopped on July 7 when Stocker, a 23-year-old switch-hitter, made his major league debut in a 20-inning win over the Dodgers at the Vet. The second-round selection out of the University of Washington in 1991 played the final 70 games at shortstop. The rookie hit .324 and was solid on defense.
Morandini was a shortstop drafted by the Phillies in the fifth round in 1988 out of Indiana University. The left-handed hitter was moved to second base after his first pro season in 1989. He made his pro debut the following September. Mickey developed into a solid second baseman and an All-Star in 1995. During the championship season, he hit .247 and led the club with nine triples. Defensively, he made only five errors in 928 innings.
Dykstra was acquired from the Mets in the middle of the 1989 season, his fourth in the majors. Tough as nails, he developed into a tremendously productive centerfielder. During the championship season, he hit .305, had a .420 on-base percentage, collected 44 doubles, 19 home runs, 37 stolen bases and led the league with 194 hits, 143 runs and 123 walks. During the World Series, .348, 9 runs, 8 hits, 4 homers, 8 RBI and 4 steals. Lenny finished second to Barry Bonds in MVP voting. He was an All-Star in 1994 and 1995.
While the 1993 team produced no Rawlings Gold Glove winners, the “misfits” thrived on offense, leading the league in at-bats (5,685), runs scored (877), hits (1,555), doubles (297), walks (665), on-base percentage (.351) and total bases (2,422). They also became the first Phillies team to reach 3 million in attendance. They remain among the most popular teams in club history.
Next Thursday: the 2008-09 Phillies under Charlie Manuel.
Come February 18, the Phillies will launch their 70th consecutive spring training in Clearwater, FL.
Their first spring camp took place at Clearwater Athletic Field. More about how they landed in Clearwater in 1947 and information on that old ballpark will be coming in future blogs. Sorry to keep you in suspense.
Thanks to baseball author and historian, Rich Westcott, for sharing the photo of Clearwater Athletic Field.
Kids in Town
Two more days of the annual Phillies Prospect Education Program remain at Citizens Bank Park.
Participating this year are OF Nick Williams, C Andrew Knapp, RHS Nick Thompson, RHR Edubray Ramos, RHR Jimmy Cordero, OF Tyler Goeddel, RHS Mark Appel, RHS Ricardo Pinto and RHS Alec Asher.
They’ve met and heard from Andy MacPhail, Matt Klentak, other Phillies executives, the communications department and the clubhouse crew. All but Asher got their first glimpse of the place where. Thursday will be a media training day.
Free Agent Phillies
Sixteen former Phillies are among the free agents looking to land a spot on someone’s roster:
Jimmy Rollins, Domonic Brown, John Mayberry Jr., Delmon Young, Marlon Byrd, Jeff Francoeur, Grady Sizemore, Shane Victorino, Chad Billingsley, Joe Blanton, Aaron Harang, Cliff Lee, Randy Wolf, Antonio Bastardo, Cesar Jimenez and Jerome Williams.
Behind the Scenes is the final chapter of my new book coming out April 1 (no foolin’).
Who handles National Anthem singers at the Phillies? Who is Video Dan and what does he do? Who sees every pitch of every game on a TV monitor? What’s the life of the bullpen guard in Clearwater? Who oversees the Citizens Bank Park landscaping? Who takes care of uniforms, hotels, transportation and player ticket requests? What’s the favorite Philadelphia food of visiting players? How does Scott Franzke prepare for a broadcast? What’s Dan Baker’s daily game routine? Where does the Phanatic live? Who is the general manager of facilities for Spectra and what does she do?
Plus a day in the life of the Reading Fightin’ Phils manager, what goes on in extended spring training, the Phillies rehab program, roles of an amateur scout and pro scout and a visit to Bull’s BBQ.
The Fightin’ Phillies: 100 Years of Philadelphia Baseball from the Whiz Kids to the Misfits is the title of the book to be published by Triumph Books (triumphbooks.com). Thanks to Larry Andersen who penned the foreword. It is very humorous, as you well might imagine.