Yes we finally got to hear the Crack of the Bat in “real” action this week as the Philadelphia Phillies started Grapefruit League action on Friday. There was not much other news this past week so we will dive right in to some notes on the Non-Roster Invitees (NRI) starting with the RHPs. But first some injury news regarding one of the NRI’s, and the early word on the opening day starter
First Phillies Injury of ST:
IF Will Middlebrooks apparently fractured his left fibula, in the eighth inning of Saturday afternoon’s 9-6 win over the Baltimore Orioles at Spectrum Field, after running into LF Andrew Pullin chasing down a pop fly.
“A ton of hard work leads up to that moment, giving everything he has on that play, which is what we ask from our players to do,” Manager Gabe Kapler said. “The promise we make to fans in Philadelphia is that we’re going to play like that. We’re going to sacrifice our bodies for that kind of moment in a spring-training game. That’s exactly what he did. It’s really tough. I felt for Will in that moment. We’re all pulling really hard.”
After arriving at the ballpark in a cast and on crutches on Sunday, Middlebrooks vowed to be back:
“The game is getting younger every day,” Middlebrooks said. “I’ll be 30 this year. Unfortunately, that’s not prime anymore. You look in this clubhouse and everybody is 23, 24 years old. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t cross my mind. But the small window of time I’ve spent here with this staff and training staff, I think I’ll be just fine. If it takes two months, if it takes four or five months, I don’t know how long it’s going to take yet. I’m not counting myself out. I plan on playing this year.”
As I noted in my post on 01/08/18, Middlebrooks, 29, who has a .663 OPS in 1,234 PA, in parts of six seasons with the San Diego Padres, Milwaukee Brewers, Texas Rangers and the Boston Red Sox where he earned a WS ring in 2013, was part of a crowded IF in camp, but he could be a good guy to stash at AAA Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs in case of injury or trades. Only time and further examinations will tell if that will ever happen.
Kapler Announces Phillies Opening Day Starter:
Multiple tweets from Phillies beat writers noted that Kapler has anointed RHP Aaron Nola the opening day starter on March 26th in Atlanta. Of course this led to the inevitable barrage of Jake Arrieta tweets.
“He’s our guy,” Kapler said, following a 8-3 loss to the Yankees in a Grapefruit League game at Spectrum Field. “He is the man. He’s earned it. He’s unequivocally the right choice. He’s an absolute gamer, grinder and a stud, and we’re proud to have him on our roster.”
Beato, only made one appearance for the Phillies in 2017, .2 in, with one K, but he did have 33 saves in 35 opps with Triple-A Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. Overall he was 1-3 with a 2.75 ERA. In 55.2 in pitched, Beato held opponents to a .202 BA, giving up 17 R – all earned – on 41 H, 4 HR. He gave up 21 BB vs 44 K.
In Saturday’s ST home opener he gave up a HR, but also had a K in a full inning of work. He will be among the many RHP relievers looking for a spot in the back end of the pen, and could eventually be a closer or set-up possibility in the future, but probably not this season.
Enyel De Los Santos:
De Los Santos was acquired in the trade of SS Freddy Galvis to the San Diego Padres on 12/15/17. He was the # 13 prospect for the Padres at the time and is now ranked as the #9 prospect in the Phillies system.
De Los Santos, 22, averaged 8.3 K and 2.9 BB per 9 innings, on the way to a 10-6, 3.78 ERA, 1.193 WHIP line in 26 appearances (24 starts) at AA San Antonio. His 93-95-mph range FB, has sometimes been clocked as high as 97. He is known so far as a ground ball pitcher, certainly a plus for pitching at CBP, and projects as a back of the rotation guy.
Against U of Tampa on Thursday he gave up 2 singles with one out, but induced a DP to end the inning with no runs.
Eshelman, who came over with four other pitchers, from the Houston Astros in the trade for Ken Giles, is the #22 ranked Phillies prospect. He is known for his ability to throw strikes. In college he had 0.4 BB per nine innings, and last year in Lehigh Valley, and AA Reading Fightin’s, he only walked 18 batters. Maybe more impressive, he spread that out to no more than one in his 23 starts.
“I think that’s more of — you can throw a strike with any pitch in any count,” Eshelman said. “Having confidence in every one of my pitches — like when I’m behind the count, I can get an even count again. I like that mentality and, also, I can throw a ball when I want to. I can start a ball in the strike zone and let it go out of the zone. … think throwing your pitch in the hitter’s count is a big thing for me.”
Since he can eat innings. last year he averaged 6 innings, 85 pitches per start, with a standout spring, he has a chance to make this rotation, or maybe a long man out of the pen, especially if they do not bring in anybody else.
J. D. Hammer:
Hammer was acquired near the trade deadline last year in the deal that sent Pat Neshek to the Colorado Rockies. He has yet to make it out of A, where last year he was 6-2 with an impressive 1.87 ERA in 48 appearances, 57.2 innings. 14 of those were save opps, of which he converted all but one. While Philies PA guy Dan Baker, may not approve, J. D. is pretty much camp fodder as he is a few seasons away from the Bigs.
As I noted last week Hutchison, while he made his MLB debut in 2012, only has 82 appearances, so if he wins the battle for one of the last rotation spots, they control him for 3 years of arbitration. In the last two seasons in AAA, he posted a 3.57 ERA in 297 1/3 innings with 7.9 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 and 0.9 HR/9.
Hutchison gave up an earned run on 1 H and 1 BB in 2 full innings yesterday. So far I have seen nothing that will give him a leg up on anybody else in that hunt, but it is early, and they certainly could stash him in the minors for a while.
There is not a lot more I can say about K-Rod than I did in my post on 1/29. He is certainly one of the more intriguing pitching stories to follow this spring, as if he can regain 75% of what he was in the past, he can be a huge addition to the back end of what promises to be a much used bull pen with this young starting staff. There has been talk of eight men out there, and that the closer role will not be written in stone. He got his spring off to a good start with a BB and K, with no runs, in one full inning of work on Friday.
We will cover the LHP NRIs next week, along with any other developments as ST moves into it’s first full week of games.