Two short weeks now until your Philadelphia Phillies begin the 2017 campaign in Cincinnati, so this weeks ICYMI Monday will feature the opening day starter, a switch pitching debut, a plethora of player demotions, and finishing up our non-roster invitee spotlights with the outfield.
Phillies Name Jeremy Hellickson as Opening Day Starter:
In 21st century fashion, the Phillies officially named RHP Jeremy Hellickson as the first Phillie pitcher to start B2B opening days since Roy Halladay started three in a row from 2010-12.
“He opened up for us last year and he had a real good year for us,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said yesterday. “I have a lot of confidence in him. I think he earned the right after last year.”
In his typical humble way Jeremy commented “It definitely matters. There’s another guy on our staff that probably deserved it a little more than me, in my opinion. That’s Eick (Jerad Eickhoff). What he did last year was pretty remarkable for his first full year. I would love to have seen him get it. It would have been awesome but I see plenty of opening-day starts for him in the future.”
While not naming the rest of his rotation Mackanin pretty much relegated RHPs Vince Velasquez and Aaron Nola to the back end. He noted that he needs to watch each players workloads -“I do, especially with Velasquez and Nola at four or five, whichever way they go,” Mackanin said. “We just have to be careful with both of them. We don’t want to baby them, per se. But it’s a nice rotation when you have those two guys at the end of it.”
Switch Pitching Adventure:
Pat Venditte, the switch-pitcher debuted for the Phillies on Friday. He threw five warm-up pitches with his left hand and then tossed five with his right hand. He proceeded to K the side. Starting as a RHP, to face righthanded hitter Jon Berti. Venditte then switched glove hands for lefthander Rowdy Tellez. And reversed again to strike out Juan Graterol. While these are not exactly professional hitters it was still a good start for Venditte who had this to say afterwards:
“This isn’t my first time moving to another team, but when you get to a new team, you definitely want to start on the right foot and go out there and fill up the strike zone,” said Venditte. “I think I was able to do that and was very pleased with my first showing.”
It got a bit jovial after that when he was asked:
“You want to get off on the right foot. Can you get off on the left foot also?”
Venditte paused to smile. “That’s a good one,” he said. “I’ve heard a lot, but that’s the first time I ever heard that one.”
Mackanin commented with his typically dry wit:
“I liked the way he threw. He mixed it up from both sides. I guess he’s going to go in and ice both his arms now.”
“It was good to see him,” Mackanin added. “It’s really special. It’s really fun to watch. I guess he’s in the mix right now. It’s unusual. It’s a lot of fun to watch. If he’s effective — I mean, he’s pitched in the big leagues before — and if he continues to be effective, he’s in the mix.”
Venditte also pitched .2 In on Sunday, 3 batters going R/L/R, sac fly, BB, then a K to end the 8th inning, in a blowout L for the Phillies. See below for the last two batters.
Prediction: Since he was not around for my coverage of non-roster pitchers earlier, I will add a guess now. It appears that with the 40 man roster crunch, Venditte very well may start the season with the AAA Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, especially if they decide to keep Brock Stassi as a bench guy to back up Tommy Joseph at 1B and play some in the OF, as he is also not on the 40 man roster.
Tuesday saw three more reassignments, RHPs Mark Appel, Ricardo Pinto, and Nick Pivetta. Of those three, Appel has shown the most promise so far, and could be up later this season if they need another starter or late season call-up.
Friday was the busiest day, as the Phillies whittled the Big League ST camp down to 44; 17 RHP, four LHP, one switch-pitcher in Venditte, five C, nine IFs and eight OF.
While each of the first three guys mentioned were disappointed, none were surprised by the moves.
“They told me they want to get me ready,” Crawford said. “They want me to start playing a lot more innings with a lot more at-bats. So I think I can do that down there and just get ready for the season.”
“Definitely, I feel like I can compete with all of these guys,” he said. “I just can’t wait to get going for the season. I’m not really thinking about [being promoted]. I just have to go out there every day and get better. If they call me up, they call me up. I’m not worried about that.”
Alfaro, who opened some eyes with his play for Columbia in the WBC, had this to say: “It’s always hard to hear those kinds of words, getting sent down. But it is what it is. You just have to go out there and keep playing hard, keep doing what you’re doing and keep playing 100 percent all the time.”
“I’m trying not to think of the big leagues,” said Williams. “I just want to go out and play hard. This spring made me feel like I can play here. Whenever that time is, I have no idea. [But] going through this spring made me truly believe I can play here.”
Perkins, 26, was picked by the Phillies in the sixth round of the June 2012 draft. He advanced to AAA in 2014, where he played 74 games before being demoted to AA Reading Fightins. It took him a full year to get back to AAA where in 117 games he batted .292 with 20 2B, four 3B, eight HR and 47 RBI. He showed some versatility playing all three OF positions en route to being named an International League mid-season All-Star.
Prediction: As noted above he has been sent to MiLB training camp. Though he has shown some nice offense in ST, 25 AB, 9 H, 1 HR, 6 RBI, .360 AVG, .448 OBP, 1.008 OPS, he will most likely head back to AAA.
Pullin, 23, was named the Phillies MiLB player of the month in July last season, on his way to leading all Phillies MiLB players with a .322 BA in 82 games between A Clearwater Threshers and AA. He was picked a round ahead of Perkins in 2012. Hitting from the left side of the plate, he showed some power last season with 21 2B, 2 3B, 14 HR, .522 SLG, .885 OPS.
Prediction: Like Perkins he has already been sent to MiLB camp, and will most likely continue his career at AA.
Next week we will note any other cuts the Phillies make, as well as making predictions for what 25 players the Phillies will take north.
PattisonAve.Com is still looking for writers to help cover the Phillies in 2017 and going forward. If you think you have the write stuff to do game recaps or feature stories before, during, and after the season please message me on twitter or Facebook.
I will end this week with a hearty #GOUSA! as they enter the Championship round of the WBC with a game against Japan on Tuesday night at 9:00 PM EDT in Los Angeles, after beating the DR 6-3 on Saturday night. The winner will play the Netherlands or Puerto Rico who will meet in the other Semi-Final on Monday. The Final will be on Wednesday night.
Though I was born a few blocks from what was to be the NY Worlds Fair/Shea Stadium/Forrest Hills Complex, my parents saved me from being a NY fan by moving to Elkins Park in 1955, when I was 6 months old. I have been living and dying w/ Philly sports teams ever since. Now over 60 , I bring an older, but hopefully not stodgy, spin to this blog. By day I am a mild mannered controller/IT guy for a family business, but by night you will either find me @ CBP at least 17 games a season, and most other nights yelling at my tv as if they can hear me. Though I attend many other local sports, my main love has always been baseball, and my focus here is the Phillies, but will also cover Temple Football, and be a part of the team covering the Philadelphia Union.