Friday, September 18, 2015

The Battle For Last Place Resumes Tonight!

GAME RECAP: No Game Played Yesterday
Phillies took the time to reflect on the tough season and the possibility of losing 100 games for the first time since 1961. Hopefully they also spent a few moments looking for a new manager and GM.

  • Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco and first baseman Ryan Howard are injured, but both expect to play again this season. Franco definitely won't be back in time to face the Braves. Howard probably won't, either. Franco is recovering from a broken left wrist in Clearwater, Fla. Howard is still hobbling because of a bruised left knee.
  • The Braves snapped a 12-game home losing streak Tuesday with a victory over the Blue Jays. The Elias Sports Bureau said only five teams since 1969 had lost more than 12 consecutive games at home, the last being the 2002 Mets, who lost 15 consecutive games at Shea Stadiuim.

Phillies left-hander Adam Morgan gets the opportunity to pitch at home Friday night in the series opener against the Braves at Turner Field. Morgan is 5-6 with a 4.60 ERA in 14 starts in his rookie season, including a 4.50 ERA in two starts against the Braves. Morgan grew up in nearby Marietta, Ga., about 30 minutes north of Turner Field. He pitched at Turner Field on July 3, allowing two runs in seven innings. The Phillies will face right-hander William Perez (5-6, 5.36 ERA). He earned the win against the Phillies on Sept. 7, when he allowed two runs in seven innings at Citizens Bank Park.


No Leg Lamps Here – It has been a heck of a year for the Phillies' farm system. recently ranked Philadelphia's organization No. 7 in baseball after it finished last season in the bottom 10. A big reason is the influx of talent from multiple trades since December. But another reason is that some of the Phillies' recent Draft picks have developed as expected or better than expected. on Thursday named two of the Phillies' recent Draft picks -- righty Aaron Nola and catcher Andrew Knapp -- the Phillies' top pitching and hitting prospects of 2015, respectively. Nola entered the season as the No. 2 prospect in the system, behind only shortstop J.P. Crawford, currently the club's top prospect. But Nola has lived up to the hype. The Phillies selected him with the seventh overall pick in the 2014 Draft and said at the time that he was the most Major League-ready pitcher in the Draft. He made the big leagues a little less than a year later. Nola went 7-3 with a 1.88 ERA in 12 starts with Double-A Reading. He went 3-1 with a 3.58 ERA in six starts with Triple-A Lehigh Valley before making his big league debut on July 21. Nola is 6-2 with a 4.11 ERA in 11 starts with the Phillies. He should be a solid piece of the rotation for years to come. The Phillies selected Knapp, the club's No. 17 prospect, in the second round of the 2013 Draft. He posted a .710 OPS in 404 plate appearances last season with Class A Lakewood and Class A Advanced Clearwater after undergoing Tommy John surgery in October 2013. He hit .262 with 14 doubles, three triples, two home runs, 28 RBIs and a .725 OPS in 63 games with Clearwater this season before being promoted to Reading. And his season in Reading is why Knapp earned Hitter of the Year honors. Knapp, a switch-hitter, has hit .360 with 21 doubles, two triples, 11 homers, 56 RBIs and a 1.050 OPS in 55 games with Reading, which is in the Eastern League Championship Series. Despite the fact that Knapp has spent about a half-season with Reading, it would not be a surprise to see him open next season in Triple-A and even make the big leagues before the end of 2016.

Reading Is Rolling – Double-A Reading moved to within one game of claiming the Eastern League title Thursday, dispatching Bowie, 9-3, in Game 3 of the best-of-five championship series. A slew of Phillies top prospects contributed in the win, as starting pitcher Jake Thompson took care of business on the mound while outfielder Nick Williams, shortstop J.P. Crawford and catcher Andrew Knapp supported his effort with strong performances at the plate. Fresh off the best start of his career -- a three-hit shutout against Binghamton in the Eastern League semifinals -- Thompson, the Phillies' No. 2 prospect (No. 55 overall), picked up the win with seven innings of one-run ball, carrying a no-hit bid into the fifth inning before surrendering a single to Garabez Rosa to open the frame. The 21-year-old right-hander scattered four hits and three walks in the outing and struck out five, throwing 65 of his 97 pitches for strikes. Thompson has dealt for the Fightin Phils since coming over from Texas in the Cole Hamels blockbuster, going 7-1 with a 1.48 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 47/16 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 61 innings spanning nine starts (including the postseason). During the regular season, the 2012 second-rounder was 11-7 with a 3.73 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 42 walks (2.9 BB/9) and 112 strikeouts (7.6 K/9) in 132 2/3 innings (24 starts) between Double-A Frisco and Reading. No. 1 prospect (No. 5 overall) Crawford got the scoring started with a sacrifice fly in the third inning and finished the game 2-for-3 with a run scored and a walk. The 20-year-old shortstop has now hit safely in all six Eastern League playoff games, and he's batting .476 (10-for-21) with six runs in that span. Crawford's prospect stock continued to rise this season thanks to another impressive showing at a pair of advanced levels. Specifically, the 2013 first-rounder posted a .288/.380/.414 batting line with six home runs, 35 extra-base hits and 68 runs scored in 107 regular-season games between Class A Advanced Clearwater and Reading. He also stole 12 bases in 16 attempts and accrued more walks (63) than strikeouts (54). No. 3 prospect (No. 59 overall) Williams -- acquired from Texas along with Thompson in the Hamels deal -- also had a big game for the Fightin Phils, going 2-for-6 with a home run, two runs scored and two RBIs. The left-handed-hitting outfielder connected on a solo shot to open the fifth inning -- his third home run of the postseason -- and he also delivered an RBI single in his next trip to the plate as part of Reading's five-run sixth inning. The 22-year-old took a huge step forward this season during his first extended stay in Double-A, batting .303/.354/.491 with 17 home runs, 26 doubles, six triples and 55 RBIs over 119 regular-season games between Frisco and Reading. At the root of Williams' success was a vastly improved strikeout rate, as he fanned just 18.8 percent of the time this season after posting a 28.8-percent whiff rate in 2014. No. 17 prospect Knapp also had a hand in Reading's victory, hitting a double in four at-bats while driving in a pair of runs to improve his series' RBI total to five. The 23-year-old, switch-hitting catcher quietly enjoyed a breakthrough campaign, batting .308/.385/.491 with 13 homers, 35 doubles and 84 RBIs in 118 games between Clearwater and Reading. The California product is batting .261 with an .812 OPS in the postseason.

The Phillies have returned to their lackluster ways and regained their grip on last place in the NL East with a record of 56-91. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and bipolar performances this season, this could still end up being the worst team in franchise history… at least that is something to hope for this year! All time, the Phillies are 46-57-1 on this day.

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