1/1/22 - Spring Training Invite Possibilities
January is usually a fun month for us as in times past it’s when the minor leaguers who chose to participate in the Clearwater Co-Op program with the Phillies would arrive as well as early “pre-camp” players who came in to escape cold weather and get a jump on the season. Pre-Covid we would see 20 to 30 or so fellas at the complex during the month. They would workout in gear without names so it was a bit of a challenge to determine who was who - especially the new guys. There’s also Phantasy Camp in January and we would go to watch that - I am actually a five time participant before I got lazy and out of shape 🤦♂️. Since Covid is still rearing it’s ugly self it’s not likely that the Complex is open to the public for January activities this year - hope that changes soon concurrent with the virus subsiding 🤞. Also doesn’t appear the Co-Op program has re-started this year either.
Last spring due to Covid protocols the Phillies introduced a more formalized concept of “mini camp” as an extension of big league spring training in addition to the regular process of non-roster invitations. If you remember it was a way to further break the spring training gathering into distinctive workout groups as Covid concerns required limited personnel per training session. It made for longer days for the coaching staff albeit more minor league managers and coaches were included to cover each day.
During Pre Covid spring training years there were about 65 to 70 or so players included in big league spring training, with the additions to the 40 man roster being designated as “non-roster invitees” - free agent players signed during the off season to minor league contracts and in-house returning minor leaguers being rewarded and considered for potential top level promotions either out of camp or during the summer.
In both the 2019 and 2020 spring camps I remember that there was also an additional group of minor leaguers brought in concurrently or shortly thereafter that worked out separately from the big leaguers, usually daily in the afternoons after big league camp activities had concluded. Us diehards would sit thru and observe the full day of workouts we were able to see. These players also formed the pool for the daily “call up” considerations for Grapefruit League games, the late inning position fill-ins or pitchers needed to complete innings when big league camp pitchers ran into unexpected trouble. That workout group was largely pitchers and could be as large as an additional 20 to 30 players. The camp was called “Minor League Mini Camp” and was a precursor to the full blown minor league spring training when the balance of minor leaguers arrived.
Last season when MLB assumed governance of the minor leagues there were formalized total roster limits imposed. During the off-season each team is limited to 190 minor league contracts ( excluding Dominican Academy players ) and 40 major league roster slots. Those restrictions include spring training. Once spring training concludes and the stateside major and minor league seasons get underway the minor league roster limit is reduced to 180 players but then also includes 14 slots occupied on the big league 40 man roster by minor league designees. Therefore the full roster size ( excluding Dominican Academy players ) goes from a maximum of 230 ( 190 minor leaguers and 40 big league roster slots ) to 206 ( 180 minor leaguers - including 14 big league roster slots and the 26 active major league players ). It makes for anxious days for players as spring training draws to conclusion since multiple releases are likely required. Note that players placed on the 60 day extended injured list are not counted towards the roster limits.
Don’t know how camp invitations or mini camp extensions will be handled this spring assuming that a labor agreement can be reached - perhaps that’s a big assumption in itself 😫. But just in case there is labor peace I thought I’d list some candidates to receive either “non-roster” or “mini-camp” invitations this coming spring. These are players not on the 40 man roster - those fellas are automatically included in big league spring camp.
By the way you will never hear me utter the phrase about a player that they are “not considered a prospect”. From my perspective that’s a lazy and lame description. I tell all players that as long as they wear the uniform the opportunity for promotion is within reach. Their performance will dictate how high they climb the ladder - some may encounter more obstacles to hurdle than others but they should never discount the chance to make it to the top. I won’t ever discourage desire to succeed but rather will always encourage and support it - believing is a huge part of the equation therefore every player to me is a “prospect”.
Here’s some of the fellas we may see in early spring workouts in addition to the 40 man squad - again, if the MLB and MLBPA can come to an agreement on how to split the money pot.
Minor League Free Agents signed this off-season :
Cam Bedrosian, RHP – made a total of 26 major league appearances last season between the Phillies, Cincinnati Reds and Oakland Athletics. He combined for a 5.04 ERA and had 23 strikeouts in 25.0 innings pitched. For the Phillies, Bedrosian held opposing hitters to a .211 batting average and posted a 4.35 ERA in 11 appearances. He is the son of former Phillies Cy Young Award winner, Steve Bedrosian.
Andrew Bellatti, RHP – Originally selected by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 12th round of the June 2009 draft, appeared in three games last season for the Miami Marlins. In 30 combined appearances between double and triple-A the 30-year-old right-hander combined for a 1.36 ERA with 42 strikeouts to 12 walks in 33.0 innings pitched. Features a FB,Slider and Changeup with the heater generally sitting 93-94 mph.
Tyler Cyr, RHP – Cyr, 28, is a veteran of six minor league seasons in which he has posted a 2.99 ERA over 179 games. He has struck out 289 of the 1,024 batters he has faced (28.2%) and has allowed only 10 home runs in 240.2 career minor league innings. He’s got a big arm - FB generally sits 96-97 mph, has touched 99 and his off speed deliveries are a slider, cutter and occasional change up.
Joe Gatto, RHP – Gatto, 26, was originally selected in the second round of the June 2014 draft by the Los Angeles Angels. He pitched in the Texas Rangers organization last season and appeared in 35 games between double and triple A. In those 35 appearances, he posted a 3.32 ERA with a 29.2% strikeout rate and 8.1% walk rate. Born in Voorhees, N.J., Gatto is a graduate of Augustine College Preparatory School in Richland, N.J. Throws a FB ( 91-94 mph ), power curve and changeup.
Michael Kelly, RHP – Originally selected by the San Diego Padres in the compensation round (48th overall) of the June 2011 draft, Kelly, 29, pitched in the Houston Astros minor league system in 2021 and made 41 combined appearances between double and triple-A. Between both levels, he posted a 2.70 ERA. Throws a FB ( 92-94 mph ), slider and curve ball.
Jake Newberry, RHP – Newberry, 27, has pitched parts of four major league seasons for the Kansas City Royals, posting a 4.84 ERA over 65 appearances with 69 strikeouts in 70.2 innings pitched. He has 255 career minor league appearances over nine seasons. Features a power slider as a put away pitch, FB generally in the 92-93 mph range.
RHP Matt Seelinger - selected in minor league rule 5 draft from the SF Giants - was the 28th round draft choice of the Pirates in the 2017 draft out of SUNY Farmingdale. He was 3-1 with a 3.07 ERA and 1.51 WHIP at the AA level in 2021 in 36 games ( 41 IP ) with 64 K’s and 31 walks. He’s been traded twice in his career - once in 2018 to the Rays and again in 2019 to the Giants. Matt is from Long Island, NY which is an area the Phillies have selected quite a few players from in the regular draft and as amateur free agents, reportedly has a low to mid-90s fastball and a big break curveball.
Returning Minor Leaguers :
LH Jeff Singer - reliever - played winter ball in Mexico this off-season - 2.51 ERA in 14 games ( 14 1/3 IP ) - have always liked his “gunslinger” approach and moxy - very deceptive “long arm” delivery - fastball generally in the 90-93 range with change-up and slider as secondaries. We first saw him in 2016 on the backfields as a higher velo thrower - has since developed into a pitcher who trusts his full repertoire.
LH Kyle Dohy - reliever - he’s already secured a big league camp invitation. Kyle finished the ‘21 season with the Phillies. Has strikeout stuff, when command and control are handled he’s a major league bullpen option who can excel.
LH Nick Lackney - reliever who had a strong 2021 season performing at all four full season minor league levels - he’s goes right after the hitters - Nick features a sinker generally in the 91-93 mph range, a hard slider and a change up - pitches off his fast ball with command being key to produce ground ball outs.
LH Erubiel Armenta ( 21 years old ) - reliever - exciting arm - mid to high 90’s velo capabilities - deceptive delivery - big frame - only 21 years old - pitched at three levels in 2021 ( Clearwater/Jersey Shore/Reading ) - 49 K’s in just 23 IP - has the goods to eventually work in the show.
LH Josh Hendrickson - starter - pitched at three levels in 2021 ( Jersey Shore/Reading/Lehigh Valley ) - had the most consistent season of any Phillies minor league starter. Josh has a big frame and uses it for an extended delivery. He’s not a hard thrower by todays standards but knows how to pitch ( location, change speeds, spin ) which gives his team a chance every time he’s on the bump.
LH Jonathan Hennigan - reliever - participated in 2021 big league spring training. He had an up and down summer with Reading, posted strong numbers in both June and August in 16 of his 32 season appearances but four outings in the other months inflated his season ERA … in 28 of his 32 appearances ERA was 2.52 … in the four outings mentioned he gave up 20 runs in 2 2/3 IP. Jonathan has big league skills, has to find consistency and harness control.
LH Zach Warren - reliever - spent the majority of the ‘21 season at Reading with a brief two game appearance with Lehigh Valley. In 39 appearances ( 45 2/3 IP ) posted a 4.34 ERA with 72 K’s and 37 BB. Was consistently good with Reading - in 37 games posted a 2.64 ERA and 1.40 WHIP. Features a fastball, curve/slider, change up mix with swooping vertical movement and spin on the curve/slider. In years past the heater was mid nineties and above however now generally sits in the 92-94 mph range with better control, velocity is there if needed.
LH Brian Marconi - had an outstanding ‘21 season at Reading and earned league all-star honors as the loop’s top reliever. Brian pitched at three levels during the summer ( Jersey Shore, Reading & Lehigh Valley ) but excelled at the AA level posting a 2.24 ERA in 34 appearances ( 43 2/3 IP - 56 K’s, 21 BB, 15 saves ). He’s not a high velocity hurler ( FB generally in the 90-92 range ) but has a delivery release point that induces swings and misses, also throws a plus curve ball.
LH Rafael Marcano ( 21 yrs old ) - starter - was a key part of the ‘21 piggyback rotation with the Clearwater Threshers. He pitched in 20 games ( 57 IP ) and posted a 3.63 ERA with 72 K’s. Using a three pitch mix ( FB, Curve & Changeup ) with the heater generally sitting 92-94 mph ( flashes on occasion at 95 ) - he’s very comparable in style, delivery, competitiveness and demeanor to Ranger Suarez when he was a young minor leaguer.
LH Ethan Lindow - starter - broke ‘21 camp with Reading but struggled to find consistency and was transferred to Jersey Shore on June 8th where he put up decent numbers - 3.21 ERA in 12 games ( 67 1/3 IP ) … had an outstanding month of July posting a 1.55 ERA in 29 IP with 24 K’s and only 5 walks. He didn’t yield a run in his last three July starts ( 18 IP ). When he’s going well Ethan is the ultimate control and command hurler who has strikeout stuff, very strong secondary offerings. Velocity generally sits lower nineties - the movement on his deliveries is very good. Was the winner of the 2019 Paul Owens Award.
LH Erik Miller - 2021 was a frustrating year physically for the talented hurler, shoulder issues sidelined him from participating in big league spring training and lingered throughout the summer. He was limited to 5 games ( 12 2/3 IP ) with the FCL Phillies, Clearwater and Jersey Shore. When he’s healthy the fastball posts as high as 98 mph and generally sits between 93 to 95. He throws both a sinker and four seam fastball with a curve, slider and change up as secondaries. We saw him pitch in Fall Instructs – finished strong in the Arizona Fall League with two scoreless innings in his last appearance – pitched in six AFL games overall – 10 IP – 12 K’s.
RH Mike Adams - reliever - coming off a good 2021 season with LHV - both multi inning and back end capabilities - Pitched in 44 games ( 47 2/3 IP ) - posted a respectable 3.65 ERA in 30 games at the AAA level. He’s capable of mid to high 90’s with the fastball, is working on secondaries as offsets and put away pitches.
RH Griff McGarry - starter - 2021 draftee who has impressed early - We saw Griff pitch a couple of times in Fall Instructs after he pitched in eight games with Clearwater and Jersey Shore ( 24 1/3 IP - 2.96 ERA - 43 K’s - 14 walks ) … fastball is in the 93-97 ( sinker & four seamer ) range with life, also throws a change-up, curve and slider. Can be a quick riser, stuff is upper level ready.
RH Cristian Hernandez ( 21 years old ) - starter - Cristian had a strong 2021 season as part of the Clearwater Threshers rotation. He recorded 94 K’s in 75 2/3 IP ( 11.18 K/9 ) and posted a 3.57 ERA in 20 games. He has a three pitch mix with the fastball sitting 94-95 and a curve and changeup.
RH Carlo Reyes - reliever - pitched successfully at three levels in 2021 ( Clearwater, Jersey Shore & Reading ) compiling 60 innings in 35 games. He posted a cumulative 2.40 ERA and 1.15 WHIP with 82 K’s and just 23 walks. Featuring four pitches ( FB- sinker/four seamer, Curve & Changeup ) with the four seamer ranging 92-95 mph and sinker 90-93 mph - gets great movement on each - primary secondary is the curve. He was in Fall Instructs to continue refining his change up.
RH Andrew Schultz - reliever - spent the 2021 summer with the Complex rehab team working back from Tommy John surgery. He was back on the mound in Fall Instructs and was popping the glove in the 97-99 mph range, he also showed command of secondary offerings. Could move quickly this summer, short arm delivery ball jumps on the hitters.
RH Blake Brown - reliever - has shown the capability to register his fastball in the triple digits and sit consistently in the mid to upper 90’s. He had a strong ‘21 season for Jersey Shore posting a 3.15 ERA in 33 games ( 40 IP ) with 58 K’s and 34 walks. We also have seen him throw in Fall Instructs both in ‘20 and ‘21. Finished the season with a promotion to Reading.
RH Adam Leverett - starter - had a very solid ‘21 season accumulating 85 1/3 innings at three levels ( Jersey Shore, Reading & Lehigh Valley ). He’s a command and control pitcher who can also produce strikeouts with a four pitch mix. Fastball generally sits in the 90-93 range and secondaries have good spin and movement. He knows how to pitch and generally attacks hitters with minimal free passes.
RH Tyler Phillips - starter - signed off waivers last season from Rangers. He’s got a four pitch mix ( FB, Change, Curve, Slider ) and is generally known as a command hurler who gets a lot of ground balls. The fastball generally is in the 91-93 mph range but can touch mid nineties. He was suffering thru some injury issues when acquired this summer by the Phillies and didn’t get the chance to show his full repertoire. We saw him pitch twice, seems to have more upside with the change up, good fade and deception in what we saw. He also seems to know how to read hitters and induce soft contact. Was released due to roster needs but re-signed as a free agent.
RH Jack Perkins - starter - 2021 was a strong year for Mr. Perkins, it was the first season he hurled over 100 innings as he made 23 game appearances ( 20 starts ) between Jersey Shore, Reading and Lehigh Valley. The month of July was his best - posted a 3.67 ERA in five games ( 27 IP ) with a 1.37 WHIP. FB, Curve, Slider, Change-up mix - FB generally in the 91-93 range with the secondaries capable of swings and misses, he won’t beat himself, throws strikes and primarily pitches to contact.
RH Billy Sullivan - reliever - high level velo and movement - upper nineties stuff and a quirky delivery to boot that hides the baseball from hitters. In his first pro season in 2021 reached the AA level - appeared in 20 games ( 23 2/3 IP ) with Jersey Shore and Reading and posted a combined 2.66 ERA and 1.10 WHIP with 35 K’s and 13 Walks. Shut down at three different intervals during the summer which was perhaps precautionary, he had TJ surgery in college so better safe than sorry. Has big league stuff - further harnessing of control/command needed - is a hard worker so we have faith he’s gonna get there.
RH Mark Appel - starter/reliever - started the 2021 season with Reading and finished with Lehigh Valley - pitched in 23 games ( 71 1/3 IP ) and while velocity was consistently in mid nineties, command and control were issues ( 6.18 BB/9 ). At season’s end he had moved from the starting rotation to the bullpen. Considering the retirement layoff he went thru didn’t pitch badly.
RH Colton Eastman - starter - suffered a broken finger attempting to bunt in a Reading game on June 11th. He returned to action on August 14th and pitched very well ( 2.70 ERA in 4 games - 10 IP ) earning a promotion to Lehigh Valley on September 7th where he continued to pitch well ( 3.00 ERA in 4 starts - 21 IP ). He’s shown very good command and control in his career to date with a four pitch mix, solid starter with fastball sitting low nineties. Strike thrower with FB generally in the 90-93 mph range, solid secondaries.
RH Braden Zarbnisky - reliever - rose thru the system quickly in his first year of play in 2021 … pitched at three levels ( Jersey Shore, Reading & Lehigh Valley ) accumulating 49 1/3 IP over 30 games ( 51 K’s & 13 BB ) posting a 1.05 WHIP. Fastball, curve and change up are in the mix with the fastball generally in the 93-94 mph range and flashing upwards of 95-96 - good movement on all deliveries, gets after it and throws strikes.
RH Dominic Pipkin - starter - pitched the 2021 season at Jersey Shore, possesses the ability to bring the heater consistently in the mid to upper nineties which coupled with a progressing curve and changeup is certainly a big league profile - in his two starts on 6/27 and 7/3 in which he tossed a combined eleven scoreless frames ( 6 H, 0 BB, 10 K’s ) we saw what might come at higher levels. Needs to harness command/control as most power pitchers do but has the goods to climb the ladder.
RH Andrew Brown - reliever - had the best stretch of his career with Jersey Shore from 6/1/21 to 8/11/21 appearing in 16 games ( 32 IP ) and posting a 1.96 ERA during that time. Andrew was registering in the mid 90’s with the fastball and was effectively commanding both the heater and off speed deliveries.
RH Tyler McKay - starter - began the year with Jersey Shore as a piggyback rotation member but went on the IL on June 12th with shoulder impingement syndrome. He returned in mid July and pitched well in nine games ( 32 2/3 IP - 3.30 ERA ) thru August including tossing six perfect innings on August 14th against Hudson Valley. He’s got a power arsenal, mid nineties fastball capabilities.
Logan O’Hoppe ( 21 years old ) - had an outstanding 2021 season playing at three levels ( Jersey Shore, Reading and Lehigh Valley ) with the majority of the summer at Jersey Shore … 17 home runs, 58 RBIs, 19 doubles and an overall batting average of .270 in 393 AB’s. Great leadership skills, strong arm and mechanics defensively … participated in the Arizona Fall League and earned a spot in the All-Star game - sure looks to be on path to the big leagues.
Nick Matera - He had become the primary catcher for Reading after having a strong ‘21 minor league spring camp but suffered a knee injury in June and didn’t return to game action till August with a rehab assignment in the FCL. He played in 40 games altogether ( FCL, Clearwater, Jersey Shore & Reading ) and finished the year in Fall Instructs to garner more AB’s - hit a grand slam home run in Instructs during the last week of play. Solid defender behind the dish who has a game presence, strong arm and good receiving skills. At the plate we’ve seen the ability to hit the ball hard and out of the park.
Vito Friscia - very solid 2021 campaign primarily with Jersey Shore ( .265 average, 14 doubles, 3 triples, 7 home runs and 40 RBIs ) posting a .378 on base percentage which was the second best mark in the minor league organization ( for those with at least 315 plate appearances ). He finished the year playing for the Italian National team in the European Championships. Vito makes consistent hard contact, played mostly at 1B but is a capable catcher - take charge type of player.
1B Darick Hall - Darick had a strong 2021 spring training and alternate site camp but then got off to a very frustrating start to the regular season. Things picked up in July for the slugging first baseman when he posted a .314 average in 70 AB’s and subsequently in the months that followed produced numbers akin to what we’ve seen throughout his career. ( .280 BA after 7/1/21 with 10 home runs and 45 RBIs in 225 AB’s ). He’s always been a steady run producer, no one has more RBIs in the Phillies minor league system in the past five seasons. Is also a strong defender at first base. If given a true look in spring camp could earn a role as a DH/1B and occasional LF’er - power bats aren’t easy to find.
UTL Dalton Guthrie - had a very good 2021 season for Reading and Lehigh Valley. He had a torrid month of July when he posted a .354/.393/.506 slash line in 79 AB’s including hitting 12 doubles. Went on the injured list on 7/28 and didn’t return to action till 8/28 which cost him a lot of momentum. He hit .303 in 33 September AB’s with Reading on the rehab trail and finished the year with LHV. Played all three outfield spots and 2B, SS and 3B during the summer.
UTL Madison Stokes - had a very solid ‘21 season with Reading. Versatile defender who played all four infield spots plus the two outfield corners during the season. Offensively had 20 doubles, 2 triples, 11 home runs and 40 RBIs in 94 games ( 342 AB’s ). He hit .318 in June in 88 and with 6 homers and 17 RBIs. Solid all around player who’s intelligent and team oriented, winning demeanor who won’t back away from challenges.
1B/3B DJ Stewart - had a break through year in regards to power numbers, playing time and run production. He appeared in 94 games with Clearwater and Jersey Shore compiling 358 AB’s and hit 13 doubles, 3 triples and 14 home runs. He drove in 63 runs. A torrid month of May with Clearwater ( .353 in 68 AB’s ) earned him a promotion to Jersey Shore where he remained a lineup regular. Defensively can play 1B,3B and LF - very strong young man who generates high velocity bat speed, can hit the ball a ton. Doesn’t strike out at a high rate, puts the ball in play.
2B Daniel Brito - was having the best season of his career when it was abruptly ended with a medical incident in early August. Now working his way back in what some have anticipated as a long process yet hopeful for a full recovery. He hit .295 in 275 AB’s at for Reading and Lehigh Valley during the ‘21 season. Daniel has begun doing baseball drills - would love to see him back early at the complex to continue his progression.
SS Jamari Baylor ( 21 years old ) - has very quick hands as a hitter and drives the ball with authority, hit 5 home runs in 2021 FCL play on the expansive backfields before moving up to Clearwater at the beginning of September to finish the season. He’s an exciting hitter to watch, works hard defensively, we saw him make plays in Fall Instructs at shortstop which were both very athletic and wide ranging, excellent arm, footwork is key to expanding capabilities at shortstop.
Johan Rojas ( 21 years old ) - a solid ‘21 season for the very talented multi tool player … 18 doubles, 4 triples, 11 home runs, 52 RBIs and 34 stolen bases in 96 games ( FCL, Clearwater & Jersey Shore ) - 381 AB’s. He also came to Fall Instructs for a couple weeks where we saw him finish the season. Has all the tools to advance to the majors and excel when he gets there.
Matt Kroon - broke minor league camp with Reading but went on the injured list with a shoulder injury in mid May, he didn’t return to action till mid July and eventually worked his way back to Reading after rehab stints with the FCL and Jersey Shore squads. He was outstanding in August and September as the Fightin’s lead off hitter posting a .304 batting average ( 38 for 125 ) with 5 home runs and 18 RBIs He finished the year with an overall average of .285 in 193 AB’s … defensively he converted to the outfield after beginning his pro career as an infielder and was Reading’s regular center fielder after returning from the injury.
Scott Kingery - it was a lost year in 2021 for Scott as his play was limited, underwent shoulder surgery after being placed on the injured list on July 1st. We still remember “ the best player on the field “ when he played at Reading in 2017, still believe he can get back to that form.
Hunter Markwardt - speed is a huge asset for Hunter, he’s a smart player who has plus wheels that he uses both offensively and defensively. The 2021 season had it’s challenges as he landed on the IL in June with what was expected to be a short stint but was caught in the Covid team issues at Clearwater during his rehab assignment and didn’t return to action till a month later with Jersey Shore. He had a great month of May between Clearwater and Jersey Shore hitting at a .320 clip in 75 AB’s. Played at three levels during the summer, FCL, Clearwater and Jersey Shore … stole 20 bases in 22 attempts. Has the ability to get on base at a high percentage, puts the ball in play … makes consistent contact and but has shown some pop as well. A throwback type player.