1/30/22 : Just Sayin 🤷♂️
In times past much of team organized off season minor league training consisted of gathering selected players to “Fall Instructs” for a four to six week camp held at team complexes usually concurrently with other teams in the October/November time frame. The idea to hold them concurrent was to allow the various organizations to play games against one another akin to spring training. That concept has subsided in recent years with many teams now choosing to rather train their players in isolation and even at different dates on the calendar.
The Orioles ,for example, hold a multi week camp in January in Sarasota. The Cubs went a step further this off-season choosing to house selected players from November thru February near their training site in Mesa, AZ and holding a continuous camp consisting of multiple elements ; mental, strength, nutrition, team spirit, teamwork and baseball skills. While other organizations have players disperse after fall instructs and ultimately work with their own selected personal trainers the Cubs approach ensures at least an ongoing baseline for young players selected for this off-season experience that is taught by Cubs personnel in a manner the organization oversees itself. “The Cubs are covering full housing, food, and other costs for around 30 of their top prospects from November through February.” For more insight on the program here is a link to an article from Cubs Insider. https://www.cubsinsider.com/2022/01/24/cubs-hoping-new-offseason-training-program-in-mesa-further-boosts-development-process/
It’s not necessarily a new concept. The Rays, Astros, Dodgers and Cardinals have had extended off season training camps for many years albeit not to the extent the Cubs went to this year. The Phillies in years past have had multiple camps in addition to Fall Instructs during the off-season in Clearwater including isolated strength and conditioning camps and speed and agility. They will hold a pre spring training mini camp beginning mid February for selected players. Fall Instructs Camp this year was four weeks and a few games were played against the Blue Jays fall contingent in October. Baseball is a copycat industry like many others and if the Cubs approach shows measurable results one can expect other teams to follow suit. For what it’s worth the Phillies I believe have had internal discussions for awhile now about holding more extended off season training - I for one would appreciate that approach if I were allowed to observe and report upon it 🤓. As we used to say “It’s all part of it”.
Another trend in the minor leagues this coming season is the re-introduction of bench coaches. With the primary focus in the minors being player development and most managers also performing the job of third base coach during games the management of the game itself often is less intensive. With a Bench Coach on staff to assist and handle game management another set of eyes can sharpen the overall focus. It was more prevalent in 2019 but staffs were reduced by many clubs in 2020 due to the lost season and bench coaches were often not re-hired for 2021. This year it seems organizations are making a concerted effort to bring the position back. That includes the Phillies who will have bench coaches at all four full season locations. In fact there will be quite a few changes in the Phillies player development staffing - by my count there are at least eighteen new hires to date. In addition at least a dozen returning individuals will be in new role assignments for the coming season. I believe that there are still a few positions to be filled before the team announces the 2022 staff.
The Phillies recently had a group of minor leaguers spend a few weeks in Washington state at the Driveline facilities. One of the neat experiences they had was getting the opportunity to train with reigning American League MVP Shohei Ohtani who is a Driveline client. Pretty cool experience for the young fellas, a few got to stand in the box against Ohtani for live BP sessions.
As of today the Complex remains closed to the public, there are a few minor leaguers already in town working out, primarily players on rehab assignments. More rehab players will arrive next Sunday and the mini camp begins the week after that. Hopefully the major leaguers will be set to a schedule by then as well with a new CBA in tow - at this point I’m not holding my breath for that. However until the Complex re-opens to the public there’s not anything fans can see as access to view is limited to outside the fences. Not worth the trip at this point for most.
That’s a wrap for this segment - as always Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️