Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Speaking Of Phillies Pitchers…


Loaded AAA Rotation – The Phillies could have one of the most intriguing Triple-A rotations in 2016. Nobody knows what will happen in Spring Training, but on paper, the favorites to make the Phillies' rotation are Jeremy Hellickson, Charlie Morton, Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff and Vincent Velasquez. That could put three of their top pitching prospects in Lehigh Valley in right-handers Mark Appel, Jake Thompson and Zach Eflin. The Phillies acquired each in a trade. Philadelphia got Appel on Saturday in the Ken Giles trade with Houston. It acquired Thompson in the Cole Hamels trade with Texas in July. And the Phils nabbed Elfin in the Jimmy Rollins trade with the Dodgers in December 2014. Appel, 24, is getting plenty of buzz in Philadelphia because he just arrived and because he is a former No. 1 pick and is ranked 43rd in's Top 100 Prospects list. He has excellent stuff, but his Minor League results have not backed that up. Appel has a 5.12 ERA in 54 appearances (53 starts) in the Minors, including a 4.48 ERA in 12 starts last season with Triple-A Fresno. But his repertoire is why some still think Appel can be a front-line starter. "We still believe in the player's talent," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said Monday. "We still believe in his makeup and his competitiveness. We believe Mark Appel is going to fit right in with what we're trying to do. I would expect he'll be in Major League camp and have the ability to showcase himself there and hopefully make a contribution in 2016 and for a long time. The biggest thing that we still believe in is that Mark Appel has great stuff. He's had great stuff since he was at Stanford, and he still does. Players develop at different rates. And there are different factors for that for everybody." Perhaps Appel leaving his hometown of Houston, where he had the pressure to succeed as the first overall pick in the 2013 Draft, will help him. "I think that's certainly a possibility," Klentak said. "I don't know the person all that well yet. I spoke with him on Saturday, and he seems like a terrific kid. I was really excited, and more importantly, he was really excited. I think there's something to that. Expectations in this game are real, and pressures in this game are real, and sometimes there are good reasons for it and sometimes not. "Sometimes, a change of scenery can really help players. Now we have to do our part [in] helping him change that scenery as well. It's not a matter of just changing uniforms. We are going to have to put him in a good environment and help him do things that will have him reach his ceiling, as we would do with any player. I do think what is encouraging to us is the physical stuff that allowed him to be drafted 1-1 is still there, and that's what's exciting to us."

Minor Staff Update – The Phillies announced their player development staff for 2016 on Tuesday. There are no significant changes, with every manager returning. That includes Dave Brundage (Triple-A Lehigh Valley), Dusty Wathan (Double-A Reading), Greg Legg (Class A Advanced Clearwater), Shawn Williams (Class A Lakewood), Pat Borders (Class A Short-Season Williamsport) and Roly deArmas (Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Phillies). The coordinator staff also remains intact: Doug Mansolino (field), Andy Tracy (hitting/assistant field), Rafael Chaves (pitching), Chris Truby (infield), Andy Abad (outfield/baserunning), Ernie Whitt (catching), Joe Rauch (athletic training/rehab) and Jason Meredith (strength & conditioning). Ray Burris will be the rehab pitching coach, and Carlos Arroyo remains the roving pitching coach. Here is a look at the rest of the staff: Lehigh Valley: Sal Rende returns as a coach. David Lundquist is the new pitching coach. Reading: Frank Cacciatore will be Wathan's coach, while Steve Schrenk joins the staff as pitching coach. Clearwater: Rob Ducey will be a coach. Aaron Fultz is the pitching coach. Lakewood: Nelson Prada will be the coach, and Brian Sweeney will be the pitching coach. Williamsport: Hector Berrios will be the pitching coach. Former Phillies assistant hitting coach John Mizerock will be a new coach for Williamsport. Mizerock will coach at Lehigh Valley until Williamsport's season begins in June. GCL Phillies: Rafael DeLima and Eddie Dennis will coach. Hector Mercado rejoined the organization as the pitching coach. Mercado, a left-hander, pitched parts of the 2002 and '03 seasons for the Phillies.

What Could Have Been – There's no shortage of ways for friends and family members to exchange gifts during the holiday season: Secret Santa, that thing where everyone grabs a string and pulls at the same time to get a small present out of the same box... Well, back on Dec. 16, 2009, four MLB teams decided to do a Yankee Swap that ironically didn't involve the Yankees. The Phillies, Blue Jays, Mariners and A's came to terms on an epic nine-player trade that featured seven top prospects, $6 million, two AL Cy Young Award-winning pitchers and a partridge in a pear tree. Here's how it looked. Phillies got: Roy Halladay, Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies, Juan Ramirez and $6 million. Blue Jays got: Kyle Drabek, Brett Wallace and Travis d'Arnaud. Mariners got: Cliff Lee. A's got: Michael Taylor (not that Michael Taylor). The Mariners flipped Lee to the Rangers at the Trade Deadline in 2010, which meant that Lee pitched in and lost two consecutive World Series for two different teams ('09 Phillies, '10 Rangers). Halladay threw a perfect game and a postseason no-hitter for the 2010 Phillies, but the team lost to the Giants in the NLCS. Your browser does not support iframes.  After the 2010 season, Lee -- a free agent -- signed back with the Phillies to join Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels in a highly touted rotation. The Phils lost the fofllowing year's NLDS to the Cardinals in five games and have not been back to the postseason since. Lee is looking to make an MLB comeback in 2016.

The Phillies finally put an end to the season finishing in last place in the NL East with a record of 63-99. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and bipolar performances, this has ended up being one of the worst seasons in franchise history! However, at least Ryan Madson got another ring this year.

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