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  • Writer's pictureSteve Potter

11/11/2020 : Staying Ready and Motivated ( Part Three)

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 one more after this ) since I’ve gotten multiple responses ( 24 players to date ). If ya missed the first two parts here are the links

“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 third set of responses I’ve gathered :

DJ Stewart - IF ( 21 yrs old - 2017 39th round selection ) - he spent the 2019 season at Williamsport learning a couple new defensive positions in left field and first base. 2020 was seemingly slated for a move to full season play.

“I work on everything as much as I possibly can in order to make myself as complete of a player as I believe my potential will allow. Hitting, fielding, and lifting on a consistent basis with the intent of pushing past my previous goals. My daily challenge is to surpass both the individual and the player I was the day before. Always pushing for what is ahead which as driven me for as long as I can remember. This is what I feel will asisst me to the next levels.”

Herbert Iser - C ( 22 yrs old - 2019 23rd round selection ) - he split his first season between the GCL and Williamsport albeit the majority of the time was with the Crosscutters. Herbert participated in 2020 Fall Instructs and played both Catcher and First Base. He finished camp strong with a double in the last game I saw him play in versus the Blue Jays. 2021 will bring a full season assignment for the lefty hitter.

“My focus is to be the same person everyday, so basically be as consistent as I can because I know I have the talent and tools to play this game at the highest level for a long time. In catching I’m working on everything but mainly receiving and blocking, and on hitting I am working on making consistent contact. I train in a facility in Houston called 3k sports.”

Jonathan Hennigan - LHP ( 26 yrs old - 2016 21st round selection ) - he spent the 2019 season starting at Clearwater ( 14 games ) and finishing at Reading ( 31 games) in a very solid season. Jonathan has the distinction of recording the final out in 2020 big league spring training before play was halted. 2021 should put him on the AAA roster and on the verge of the big leagues. He will head to Australia for winter baseball.

“I think the biggest thing for me is to continue to stay on top of my mechanics. Not playing in a game for a full season takes away a lot of reps on and off the mound. I had to treat every Bullpen and every live AB like it was game seven of the World Series so I just didn’t go through the motion and get into a bad habit.

The biggest thing is keeping the faith and trusting God’s plan for me. Now it’s just performing. Being in the moment and controlling what I can. If I do that then I think I can play for a while.”

Josh Tols - LHP ( 31 yrs old - signed as an Amateur Free Agent 2/9/18 ) - he spent the majority of 2019 at the AAA level with the Iron Pigs as a reliever. This off season he’s competing back home in Australia for the Melbourne Aces which is also the team he pitched for during the 2019 ABL season. Josh should compete again this coming spring for a bullpen slot at the AAA level with an eye on the show.

“My focus this year has definitely been strength and conditioning. The 2020 season allowed me to take some time away from baseball and focus on getting healthy and building a stronger foundation. I was able to go to Cressey Sports Performance ( CSP ) for six weeks and gain a better understanding of my body and movements and identify areas that I need to work on in order to maximize my potential. Since leaving the U.S. I have continued with the CSP programs and hope that I can go into the 2021 season healthy and ready.

Right now I am preparing for the Australian Baseball League ( ABL ) season which is set to start on December 18. I’m working out five days a week and playing catch six days a week while throwing bullpens and live at bats two to three times a week. I’m excited to get some innings under my belt.”

Connor Hinchliffe - RHP ( 24 yrs old - signed as an Amateur Free Agent 6/12/19 ) - he’s a local Philly guy from Pottsville and the LaSalle University program. In 2019 he spent the summer with the GCL West squad ... he only converted to pitching full time during his senior year of college and has dedicated himself to refining his craft, recently moving out west to Kent, Washington to train full time at Driveline.

“This year has put quite an emphasis on your career being in your own hands. For months I was taking advantage of anything necessary to get my work in at home during isolation. Now it is a bit easier. During the fall I had a facility to myself in Philadelphia. Now I have relocated to work and train at Driveline so I definitely have the resources here to be successful. The most important thing I’ve done in my own since COVID hit was continue to further my knowledge of the game. I think that had helped me tremendously.

My focus going forward is to take this time to become a better pitcher and help the Phillies organization win, at any level. Where I play this year is out of my hands but becoming a better, well rounded pitcher is and that is what I am striving for.”

Braden Zarbnisky - RHP (23 yrs old - signed as an Amatuer Free Agent 7/22/20) - his first taste of pro baseball came this October at Fall Instructs. We were fortunate enough to see him pitch on a couple of occasions, big arm capabilities. He should compete this coming spring for a full season slot.

“On my own I’m just doing everything I can to stay in shape and keep my body healthy. Whether that be changes in my diet or working out more! Im also doing many things to help develop the mental aspect of my game as well. My focus is just on trying to get better each day in some aspect of baseball. I think if I just take it day by day and not try to fix everything at once it will definitely allow for more success.”

Tomorrow’s final article in the series will feature responses from Ben Pelletier, DJ Jefferson, Cesar Rodriquez, Johan Rojas, Rixon Wingrove and Tyler Burch.

Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️

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