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  • Writer's pictureSteve Potter

11/10/2020 : Staying Ready and Motivated ( Part Two )

My youngest son Nolan gave me an assignment ... he wanted me to ask a few of our Phillies organization players the question shown below ... I’ll present this in a series of articles ( at least two more after this ) since I’ve gotten multiple responses ( 24 players to date ). If ya missed part one here’s the link ( )

“What are you doing on your own this off season to continue to develop your career. What is your focus and how do you think it gets you to the next level and beyond ? “

Here are the second set of responses I’ve gathered :

Hunter Markwardt - OF ( 23 yrs old - 2019 13th round draft selection ) - After being drafted in the 2019 draft he was assigned to Williamsport and was off to a very good start before suffering a season ending injury when colliding with the outfield wall tracking a ball down. 2020 seemed destined to be a full season team assignment.

“What’s up!! I think with such a long layoff, I’ve really tried to focus on my body more than anything. The baseball side is something that comes naturally and I’ll get to ramp up the closer we get to a season. Strength and injury prevention are something that require constant improvement as well as maintenance. Trying to transform my body is one thing that I’ve been able to control over this hiatus and will benefit me through my career and beyond that. I’ve had coaches tell me that the biggest difference in minor league and big league guys is how they train in the weight room to prepare for a 162 game season. So I think being able to push myself to that level as a minor leaguer has been the best thing for me over this time and after that it just comes down to fine tuning the part of the game that I’ve been doing my whole life the last few months of this hopefully final stretch of offseason. “

Guarner Dipre - IF ( 20 yrs old - signed as an Amateur Free Agent 5/8/18 )- he’s coming off a strong 2019 season in the GCL and was likely slated for a full season assignment in 2020 ... with the season canceled an invite to Fall Instructs came instead where he spent a good amount of time adjusting to a relatively new position - third base.

“Good evening, I'm working on the details that I have to improve, such as my body, staying healthy, defense,hitting,mobility and my concentration in the field. All of those things will help me to perform better. Personally my main focus is to be a consistent player. I think being consistent is key to moving up and achieving my goals.”

Nicoly Pina - RHP ( 21 yrs old - signed as an Amateur Free Agent 5/3/18 ) - he had a very strong 2019 season in the GCL as a closer. The hard thrower always caught our attention each time he took the mound ... he was one of those fellas everyone stopped what they were doing to watch. 2020 has presented some injury challenges however he’s hopefully beyond that and set to receive a full season assignment in 2021.

“Right now I am focused on getting healthy. Then I plan to work more on my breaking pitches, that will take me to the next levels that I want to get to and then beyond.”

Gunner Mayer - RHP ( 20 yrs old - 2019 5th round draft selection )- after being drafted in the 2019 draft he spent the summer in the GCL however didn’t see a lot of action due to some nagging injuries. 2020 would have been his first full season as a pro ... was invited to Fall Instructs and had a good camp. Will push for a full season roster spot this spring.

“Hi Steve, I need to be and keeping my arm, body, and mind healthy. I really focus on giving 100% of whatever I’ve got that day whether it’s 100%, 90% or even 70%, give 100% of that.”

Keaton Greenwalt - OF ( 22 yrs old - 2019 20th round draft selection ) - he was drafted in 2019 and played his first season as the primary center fielder for the GCL West team. 2020 was seemingly slated to be a full season assignment.

“Hey Mr. Potter, thanks for reaching out! During an offseason like this, it is easy to forget the little things that make you successful. It is important for me to stay motivated and positive, I feel like it is hard not to get discouraged during these times. I’m very fortunate to have the facilities of my former college nearby so I can train and keep improving. When spring training gets here, I want to be prepared and hit the ground running. It’s also beneficial having a coaching staff that wants to help as much as they can.

My primary focus is being versatile and developing every single part of the game to be as well-rounded as possible. Whenever I get my chance, I will be ready to take it based off the work I am putting in now.

The worst part of this pandemic has been having to miss my first full year of pro ball. The goal is to make it to the big leagues, but it’s challenging when I can’t play or practice in front of the people who need to see me. Having to sit at home puts a strain on the mental aspect, it amplifies the fact that this is a high stakes job and I am in a situation where I’m not able to do that job. But like I said, having a place to train and lift that didn’t shut down was very beneficial for my continued development.”

Mitchell Edwards - C ( 21 yrs old - signed as an Amateur Free Agent 6/8/18 )- in his second pro season in 2019 ( and first full season ) he moved from the GCL to Williamsport ... in fact that happened during the same week that his dad was visiting Clearwater from Australia ... I remember it distinctly because Mr. Edwards and I chatted about how he could adjust his travel arrangements to get to PA from FLA 🤦‍♂️🤓 ... he gladly did so since Mitch had been promoted. 2020 would seemingly have been a full season assignment ... Mitchell plays in the winter Australian league for Adelaide so he will get to play this year ...

“Luckily here in my hometown of Canberra we have avoided the worst of COVID-19 which has meant our lives have been much more normal than most. I have access to indoor batting tunnels that I use six days a week. My sixty seven year old grandfather throws me BP and is in my opinion the best bp thrower in Australia (no joke 👍). I have a rather extensive home gym which has allowed me to train six days a week.

Although the minor league season was suspended, it has given me the chance to fine tune the necessary areas to take me to the next level. For me, the main areas of focus have been: hitting (building a swing that can hold up for the whole season and won’t break down), strength (who doesn’t want more strength 🤓), flexibility (to limit the risk of injury) and arm strength (I love throwing out runners).

Even though we haven’t played a professional game in over six months I feel the best I’ve felt in my lifetime and am beyond excited for spring training 2021. Looking forward to show off all my hard work.”

Part three of the series will be posted tomorrow ... included in that group are DJ Stewart, Herbert Iser, Jonathan Hennigan, Josh Tols, Connor Hinchliffe and Braden Zarbinski.

Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️

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