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  • Writer's pictureSteve Potter

11/12/2020 : Staying Ready and Motivated ( Part Four )

My youngest son Nolan gave me an assignment ... he wanted me to ask a few of our Phillies organization players the question shown below ... this is the last in a series of articles, If ya missed the first three parts here are the links

Part One : ( ) - featured : Darick Hall, Ben Brown, Kendall Simmons, Connor Brogdon and Damon Jones

Part Two : ( ) - featured : Hunter Markwardt, Guarner Dipre, Nicoly Pina, Gunner Mayer, Keaton Greenwalt and Mitchell Edwards

Part Three : ( - featured : DJ Stewart, Herbert Iser, Jonathan Hennigan, Josh Tols, Connor Hinchliffe and Braden Zarbnisky

“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 final set of responses I’ve gathered :

Ben Pelletier - OF ( 22 yrs old - 2015 34th round draft selection ) - he’s a native of Canada and competed in 2019 at Lakewood. Ben has always shown a powerful swing and also is very athletic ... he can play all three outfield positions. 2020 was likely going to be a split between Lakewood/Clearwater ... this spring could produce the same split assignment but with Lakewood destined to become the High A affiliate it will be in reverse order.

“Hey! ... I am doing as much as I can just like I was in a normal season off -season, for sure it’s different from every other year but it is what it is and we cant control that! I am focusing on everything. Whether it’s for hitting, throwing or strength training I am trying to understand and control my body movements to make everything easier.

I do have access to a house gym and batting cages, but the rest in closed, it’s been closed for 2 months already because of COVID and the second wave that’s here. Its a little hard to find a spot to train completely but I’m doing all I can”

DJ Jefferson - RHP ( 19 yrs old - signed as an Amateur Free Agent 7/2/19 ) - he spent the 2019 season in the GCL and showed a power arm that turned heads. The Las Vegas resident was back in Clearwater this October for Fall Instructs ... he should get a serious look for a full season assignment this spring.

“Pitching is just as much mental as it is physical. I’ve been blessed with the physical gifts to play baseball at a high level ... but so have a lot of guys. The thing that separates one from the group is the ability to handle adversity. That comes from keeping level headed and doing the right things rather than the easy things.

Too many get caught up in the glamor of being a pro baseball player but don’t put in the effort it takes to get to the highest level. You have to dedicate yourself, hit the gym everyday and develop a mental toughness ... that’s what separates you. Baseball is my sole focus, I love the game and I want to be great ... simple as that. If you allow yourself to lose focus then you put yourself in a position to fail. I intend to do everything I can to continually put myself in a position to succeed.”

Cesar Rodriquez - C/1B ( 19 yrs old - signed as an Amateur Free Agent 7/2/17 ) - he spent both the 2019 season in Clearwater in the GCL playing primarily first base for the Phillies East squad. Cesar was one of the Venezuelan players who spent the entire 2020 summer in Clearwater after spring camp closed due to an inability to get back home. He also participated in 2020 Fall Instructs. A very engaging young man who’s confidence continues to grow each time I watch him play.

“Well, working on the team work plan, focusing on my weaknesses to make them stronger. I keep in daily contact with the team's coaches and receive information and direction, hard work helps me improve. Taking my work to the next level is the desire and passion I have for baseball.”

Johan Rojas - OF ( 20 yrs old - signed as an Amateur Free Agent 1/18/18 ) - he played in both the GCL and NYPL in 2019 and led both leagues in triples. Johan plays with a passion that’s evident he loves the game and he has all the tools in the baseball skillset to excel. This past spring he appeared in multiple big league spring training games and was certainly destined for a full season assignment ... he participated in 2020 Fall Instructs and continued to impress.

“I always keep my mind focused on a couple things, work hard and smart. I push

myself every day. Once I arrived at the Dominican Republic Academy I came to work to achieve my dream. I will not take a vacation until I retire from the major leagues. I am determined to achieve my dream which is to play in the big leagues and stay in the MLB for many years. To help my team and my teammates”

Rixon Wingrove - 1B ( 20 yrs old - signed as an Amateur Free Agent 4/20/18 ) - he had an outstanding season in 2019 playing for Phillies West in the GCL. The power hitting left handed batter plays all out and it’s evident he truly has fun doing so. He’s got an engaging and energetic personality ... we love watching his aggressiveness on the base paths ... the big fella thinks he’s Roman Quinn 🤓. 2020 was very likely going to be his first full season assignment ... he’ll get the chance to play winter ball again this year in his native Australia and we are eager to see him again this spring in training camp. He can play ... displays excellent bat control ( really good ability to take the outside pitch the other way ).

“Hey mate, I’ve used this time to really try and get in shape and make sure when the time comes I’ll be ready to perform to the best of my ability, it’s been good to have an off season because I usually play winter ball after the year but I really do miss the game.

My main focus other then getting my body right has been becoming the best well rounded athlete I can on both sides of the ball. Offensively I’ve been working on my pitch recognition, improving my bat speed and trying to shorten my movements. Been doing a lot of agility and spring work to be a better base runner and defender. Trying to make sure I can get that extra 90 all the time and making sure I have the reactions and the range to make that play that the team needs. I’m excited and getting ready playing some games at the moment leading into the ABL ( Australian Baseball League ).”

Tyler Burch - RHP ( 23 yrs old - signed as an Amateur Free Agent 6/12/19 ) - he began his pro career in 2019 in the GCL before being promoted to Williamsport to finish the season. Tyler has big arm capabilities, he’s fun to watch as he also knows how to pitch and has the repertoire to stay as a starting pitcher. 2020 was very likely to be a full season assignment ... He’s headed to Australia to make up for lost time, am looking forward to seeing him in Clearwater for 2021 spring training.

“This off season I have been coaching and training at my former college in Lewiston, Idaho. I’ve focused on improving the efficiency of my mechanics and to gain more velocity on my fastball and slider. I am excited to be given the opportunity to go play in Australia and to prepare myself for the 2021 season.”

Luke Leftwich - RHP ( 26 yrs old - 2015 7th round draft selection ) - he’s coming off a strong showing at Reading in 2019 which earned him a promotion to Lehigh Valley. Luke incurred an arm injury and finished the year with the rehab crew at the Complex in Clearwater. He was in 2020 ST camp early and working towards getting back on the mound. He would likely have been assigned to Lehigh Valley to begin the year. A winter ball opportunity now allows him to pitch for the Melbourne team in Australia.

“Well this offseason I’m heading to Australia so that I can get some competitive innings in. But otherwise it’s a lot of strength training as well as daily mechanics work.”

Henri Lartigue - C ( 25 yrs old - 2016 7th round draft selection ) - he spent the entire spring ( till camp was cancelled ) with the big league team in spring camp. Henri was also selected to participate in the summer Alternate Training Camp in Allentown. The 2020 season would have likely seen him with an assignment at the AAA level, 2021 is projected to be the same ... another fella we root for 👍⚾️.

“Trying to imagine this off-season is the same as any other. Can’t play the what if game. Trying to continue to progress in all facets and let the chips fall as they may.”

Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️

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