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  • Writer's pictureSteve Potter

1/25/24 : High Performance Camp - Day Fourteen

Sometimes folks don’t realize how a small acknowledgment or taking a few minutes of time can impact others.  Yesterday at the complex we chatted with a gentleman from Michigan who was there with his mom, he was pushing her in a wheelchair.   They asked if Kyle was around.  Assuming they meant Kyle Schwarber (and they did) I told them that it was a minor league camp and that Mr. Schwarber wouldn’t likely be there till mid February when big leaguers were scheduled to arrive.  They proceeded to tell me over and again how Kyle (as they referred to him in a first name manner in glowing terms) had stopped to chat with her last year in the very spot we were talking and how he made such a fuss over her nickname of “Lefty” making them feel special and important.   It was obvious that likely small amount of time that he invested with them had made a lasting and heartfelt impression.

Each day I’m at the complex I both observe and have people interactions.  It’s not always the players, coaches or the Phillies personnel.  Often times it’s the folks who come inside to get a glimpse of professional baseball, to perhaps have a ball or card signed or simply just to say hello to anyone in the baseball world and be acknowledged in like kind.  We often get caught up in our own enterprise and forget that a simple hello can go a long way in brightening the day.  I look at each day as an opportunity to do so for others and by perhaps accomplishing that it’s a brighter day for myself as well.  All it takes is a few minutes to make an impact - just sayin - costs nothing to be kind.  Of course I’m just an ordinary Joe - In the baseball world of the complex a person in a baseball uniform or associated with the team doing so makes an even bigger impression - that’s good stuff!   Thank you Kyle on behalf of the two folks from Michigan for making them feel special.

Today’s Camp Activities :

Pitchers Gunner Mayer, Jean Cabrera, George Klassen, Jake Eddington, Brandon Beckel, Casey Steward, Cam Brown, Ethan Chenault, Wen Hui Pan and Alex Rao each threw bullpen sessions.

Ethan Chenault hides the ball really well in his delivery - looks like it comes out of his shoulder area and on a downward slope.  Cam Brown continues to impress me the way the ball comes out of his hand and it’s jump.  Casey Steward also impressed, good pop.

Pickoff and throws to bases drills for pitchers, continued fielding practice for position players along with offensive prep sessions in the indoor cages.  All players continued their strength and conditioning training.

Player Spotlight :

I’ve long touted the abilities of Johan Rojas and my belief that he’s going to be a significant contributor at the major league level.  When we initially saw him play on the backfields it was easy to project his skill level.  There’s another young Dominican outfielder that now has many folks (including me) equally excited from initial observations last season.   Raylin Heredia has a different type of skill set than Johan yet he’s also one we project as having a major league impact in a few years.  The twenty year old (he won’t be 21 till November) is someone we see as developing power but also having the ability to hit for a high average, he’s an outstanding thrower defensively - can truly see him as a future big league contributor in right field.  Here’s my notes on him from last season.  What was cool the other day was that when Johan was here practicing bunting the player alongside him watching and listening in on the instruction was Raylin - good stuff!

Raylin Heredia - 20 years old - signed as an international free agent - 2/2/21 - Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

2023 Stats :  right handed hitter who had a .326/.415/.532 slash line with a .947 OPS in 164 plate appearances with the FCL Phillies - 9 doubles, 4 triples, 4 home runs and 25 RBIs, walked 17 times and stole 7 bases in 10 attempts. He was promoted to Clearwater on 8/14/23 - the then 19 year old standout left the backfields as one of the Florida Complex League leaders - 5th in hits (46), 7th in runs (30), 1st in triples, 5th in batting average, 8th in OBP, 4th in slugging and 4th in OPS.  As a Thresher hit .288/.342/.409 in 73 plate appearances with 3 doubles, a triple, home run, 9 RBIs, 6 walks and 4 stolen bases, was not caught.  Defensively played primarily right field - .928 fielding percentage in 69 chances with 5 assists, also played over 100 innings in center field.

2023 Notes :  we first saw him play on DSL video feeds during the 2022 post season, he was the playoff MVP for Phillies White in their championship run.  It became quickly even more evident in extended spring training that Raylin had great tools to work with when he had three doubles, a triple and home run along with eight RBIs in fourteen games played. Won the organization player of the month in June - .377/.443/.639 in 15 games with a 1.082 OPS.  Consistently hit the baseball hard every time we saw him play, great bat speed.  Can seemingly get his bat on any pitch.  Plays with confidence, poise and passion.  Very appreciative of the opportunities given to him.  He’s got multiple tools, strong arm, power bat, bat to ball, speed, good instincts and range defensively.  Exciting player.

Raylin’s reflections : “Hi, in answer to the question, my greatest learning was that there will always be bad moments but I can't lower my head, I have to keep trying at every opportunity that comes my way; I'm focusing on improving my zone control and eliminating strikeouts more 👊🏽”

FCL Manager Shawn Williams :  “He's extremely talented, was a huge part of our season and offense.  Did really well leading off.  Plays a very good outfield - can play all three spots.  And then went over and obviously did really well with the Threshers with their end-of-the-year run and into the playoffs.  For me he's really exciting because tool-wise he's got it all.  He can hit, hit for power, can really throw and defend.  He’s a young kid that's got a very high ceiling and just looking forward to seeing him keep going and playing, keep getting better.”

Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️

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