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  • Writer's pictureSteve Potter

1/29/23 : High Performance Camp notes

Carpenter Complex High Performance Camp Two ended on Friday completing a three week run.  While we were unable to attend the last week due to personal reasons we were able to observe multiple batting practices, bullpen sessions and fielding drills the previous two weeks.  There were a few things that caught our attention.

New Minor League Director of Hitting Luke Murton hit the ground running - he seems like a very good teacher and take charge type.  The batting practice sessions we watched were structured with well communicated objectives for each round - situational hitting has always been emphasized in the BP sessions I’ve watched over the years however these seemed a little different - if objectives weren’t met players did the round over, competition introduced amongst the groups gave the sessions energy and bounce - players responded - learning is best when it is fun - great start for coach Murton and his troops.

Hao Yu Lee is just an impressive baseball player.  The 19 year old plays with a competitive fire ( as witnessed by a scowl we saw in one of the competitive BP sessions where what he thought was a hit was deemed an out by the “hitting judge” 🤓).  This kid can flat out rake - he seemingly squares up everything in BP sessions and hits it hard.  Defensively he’s versatile in the infield - prefers shortstop but from our observations he has the baseball smarts and instincts to adapt to either second or third base.  Good hands - range is likely limited as he’s got a big man’s build - thick body.  When ya watch his overall game if ya don’t see the potential projection of a big leaguer then you’re blind - kid can play.

Kendall Simmons & Carlos De La Cruz both had good camps - I see good things this summer for each young man.  Shorter swings coupled with the hand quickness and power capabilities they each possess bode well for their future.  They are power hitters and strikeouts will inevitably be part of their games however limiting them by incorporating situational hitting ( perhaps shortening stride in adverse counts ) could introduce more production.  The new hitting lab being constructed in the Montgomery Building will further help the analysts and coaches identify both strengths and weaknesses and work towards peak performance.   It all starts with core talent though and both Kendall and Carlos have that - they put on rocket shows during HP Camp.

The “Charlie Hustle” Award for the camp goes to outfielder Cade Fergus - busts on every fly ball while shagging BP - to me that’s reflective of a great work ethic - fast as all get out also - showed a good stroke in the cage as well.

A couple young catchers impressed with their work ethic, acumen and hitting sessions - both Jordan Dissin & Gustavo Sosa look like players - both have very strong arms and powerful swings - if I didn’t know better Jordan’s swing in BP made me think it was Logan O’Hoppe in the cage - very similar stance and mechanics.  I enjoyed the banter between these two when they were catching pens as they compared notes on pitchers they were receiving - the catcher is the field general - was really cool how into the learning of each pitcher’s deliveries they were - good stuff.

The group of players in camp up from the Dominican Academy impressed.  Third baseman Aroon Escobar ( 18 yrs old ) has easy power delivered from a strong frame and build.  The ball jumped off his bat, defensively he seemed very comfortable at multiple infield positions - good technique - well schooled.  Juan Villavicencio ( 18 yrs old ) is super quick defensively - was fun watching him get after it in drills.  William Bergolla ( 18 yrs old ) and Nolan Beltran ( 18 yrs old ) both are solidly built young men and showed line drive hitting skills and infield defensive versatility - we see big upside with both.  Outfielders Manolfi Jimenez ( 18 yrs old ) and Jerffson Pena ( 19 yrs old ) showed power, bat to ball skills and speed - Pena has a gun for a throwing arm as well, recurring theme but both have very athletic frames and builds - I’d say the nutritional program is paying dividends 👍.  Perhaps the most impressive youngster from the academy was RHP Enrique Segura ( 18 yrs old ) whom we saw throw a bullpen session in person for the first time - has an Aaron Nola replicative delivery and stuff was hot - we’ve watched him on video before and liked what we saw - seeing him in person strengthened that opinion.   

It was fun and valuable ( at least to me ) to watch a few bullpen sessions during the camp from behind the catchers - I’m an old pitcher and get a kick out of seeing spin, break, rise, movement and velocity.  While bullpen sessions don’t always translate to game success they are indicative of “stuff” and I enjoy watching.  Without my ace photographer Mark Wylie available I spent more time than I like taking photos but wanted to share some of those shots with folks.   The pitching side of the Phillies Minor League  Player Development initiative is very deep - more than just the big three that most talk about.  We were excited to see rehab hurlers back on the hill continuing their way back as well as fellas on the rise like RH Andrew Baker, RH Billy Sullivan, RH Tommy McCollum, RH Jayden Estanista, LH Tristan Garnett and RH Cam Wynne whom we think are on the verge of big things - it was also great to see how LH Mavis Graves has grown within the program in just a short time and the uptick in his stuff.  And there’s more - RHer’s Alex McFarlane & Orion Kerkering are on our radar as well - both threw well in camp.

Sorry if too long winded - I’ve been sidelined for a bit and will likely be on the DL for a few more days - minor league mini camp and major league spring training are fast approaching so hopefully will be able to be back in observer’s mode by then at the least.

Just one more note - it’s easy to be a pessimist when observing player development or for that matter most anything - fact is that most players don’t reach the highest level however I choose to focus on positives and strengths and highlight those - success begins with believing ya can achieve - haven’t met a person yet who succeeded when they didn’t think they could.  It doesn’t mean that I don’t notice the weaknesses when I watch but what point is it to belabor that in my writing, coaches see more than what I see and address them accordingly - to me the public mantra of “keeping it real” is egotistical BS from those who can’t find it within themselves to acknowledge upside - enough said - maybe it’s the medication talking but just wanted to get that off me chest 🧐🥸.

Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️

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