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  • Writer's pictureSteve Potter

11/22/23 : Annual Phillies Minor League Player Notes - Infielders - Part One

Last off-season I started a different writing venture - rather than producing a hard copy version of what was an annual Phillies Minor League Digest I went with a new approach and posted a series of articles on the webpage instead.  A large portion of the digest was my player notes - views that are not entirely built upon seasonal or short term stats - while I referenced them I relied more upon my observations and feedback from players and coaches.

This off-season we continue the series  “Annual Phillies Minor League Player Notes”  with profiles presented in groupings by defensive positions.  I intend to offer notes on every stateside player I watched perform this past season that finished the 2023 season with the organization.  I can attest that I actually watched most every Phillies minor league game each evening, attended practices and interacted with a vast amount of players, coaches, scouts and front office folks.  Recently I sent a couple questions to the players - asked them what was their  biggest personal takeaway from the 2023 season and what they are focusing on this off-season to prepare for 2024.  Where I have responses I will include them in the notes.  Also where I’m able I will include feedback from coaches and player development leadership.

The initial set of twenty articles were on the pitchers - if you missed them here’s a link to article 20, it contains within it links to the other 19 pitcher’s articles -

The second set was four articles on the catchers - if you missed them here’s a link to article 4, it contains within it links to the other 3 catcher’s articles -

We now present notes on infielders in eight groups as listed below.

Today we focus on group one of the infielders.

Group One :  Keaton Anthony, Zach Arnold, Pierce Bennett, William Bergolla, Erick Brito

The following players will be discussed in future articles :

Group Two :  Chad Castillo, Kody Clemens, Oliver Dunn, Drew Ellis, Trent Farquhar

Group Three :  Wilfredo Flores, Diego Gonzalez, Jim Haley,  Darick Hall, Lou Helmig

Group Four :  Otto Kemp, Scott Kingery, Dakota Kotowski, Matt Kroon, Casey Martin

Group Five :  Pedro Martinez, Aidan Miller, Freylin Minyety,  Cole Moore, Nick Podkul

Group Six :  Nikau Pouaka-Grego, Marco Soto, Ty Penner, Esteban Quiroz, Felix Reyes

Group Seven :  Bryan Rincon, Devin Saltiban, Jehisbert Sevilla, Kendall Simmons, Madison Stokes

Group Eight :  Will Toffey,  Nick Ward, Bryson Ware, Weston Wilson, Rixon Wingrove

So we continue - the first article in the 2023 series on infielders  ⚾️🤓.

1B - Keaton Anthony  - 22 years old - signed as an un-drafted free agent 7/18/23 - University of Iowa

2023 Stats :  played in 14 regular season games with the FCL Phillies and Clearwater Threshers (nine with FCL and five with Clearwater) and posted a cumulative .302/.455/.465 slash line with a double, two home runs and nine RBIs, walked six times.  Hit his first professional home run on the backfields in an FCL game against the Yankees on 7/31/23, hit his second in an FCL game on 8/22/23 against the Blue Jays, both were no doubters.  Defensively had a .958 fielding percentage in 72 chances at first base.

2023 Notes :  in the brief times we’ve seen him to date has shown the ability to drive the baseball with authority.  Is a right handed hitter with a powerful swing path, he’s quick and has little wasted effort in his approach.  In BP’s we’ve watched he seems to be able to hit to all fields with ease.  Defensively will need work to become proficient at first base but has athleticism to adapt.  Big fella at 6’4”, I told him at the complex that the way he is built and drives the ball reminded me of Dave Kingman - he didn’t know who that was and asked it that was a compliment, when I said yes he thanked me - damn I’m old 🤪.

Keaton’s reflections :  “Just a great learning experience, learned more about the game and understanding everything.

Being around everyone and getting an everyday routine to prepare for going forward.  Getting stronger and faster for 2024.”

2024 Projection :   opening day roster assignment with the Threshers seems likely.

3B,SS - Zach Arnold  - 22 years old - drafted in 14th round of the 2023 draft from the University of Houston

2023 Stats :  hit .293/.376/.415 in 94 plate appearances with the low A level Clearwater Threshers with two doubles, a triple, two home runs and eleven RBIs, drew ten walks and stole eight bases in eight attempts.  Prior to that in 14 plate appearances with the FCL Phillies had two doubles, a triple and five RBIs. Defensively saw action at second base, shortstop (where he played in college) and third base.

2023 Notes :  we met Zach at the complex shortly after he signed, talked about his familiarity with Clearwater since he played there in the American Athletic Conference collegiate championship tournament for Houston.  Could tell early on that he was a bit more advanced than others in the draft group in regards to readiness and approach, can and did play multiple infield positions.  He was assigned to the Threshers on 8/4/23 after appearing in just four FCL games.  Has good reactions and instincts  defensively from what we witnessed in infield drills.  Offensively has a quick hands and very good bat to ball skills along with a patient approach - will work counts, also has pop.  During his last collegiate season he reached base in 32 consecutive games.  He initially played two years at LSU, transferred to Houston.  Just looks like a smart ball player who knows what it takes to win, reminds me a bit of Cody Asche with the exception that Zach is a right handed hitter.

Zach’s reflections :   “To have fun with it!  My plans are to improve my game in each part.  Will be at the complex most of the off-season.”

2024 Projection :  could return to Clearwater to open the season with the draft group but can bump up quickly.

2B,OF - Pierce Bennett  - 22 years old - drafted in 20th round of the 2023 draft from Wake Forest University

2023 Stats :  played in eight games with the FCL Phillies and posted a .400 OBP (four singles, double, six walks) in 30 plate appearances with five RBIs.  Defensively played second base in seven games (1.000 fielding percentage in 34 chances) and right field in one - 1.000 fielding percentage in three chances.

2023 Notes :  right handed compact swing, was noted for bat to ball skills in college, doesn’t strike out much.  He struck out just three times in his first 30 pro plate appearances.  Saw him in a few games at second base, good mechanics in drills and in the limited game action we witnessed.  Played right field for Wake Forest quite a bit, defensive versatility is a good thing to possess as a pro baseball player.

2024 Projection :  will likely compete in spring camp for an opening day roster spot with the Threshers

2B,SS - William Bergolla  - 19 years old - signed as an international free agent 1/15/22 - Valencia, Venezuela

2023 Stats :  hit .452 (19 for 42), posted a .521 OBP and a 1.045 OPS in extended spring training.  Transferred to the Clearwater Threshers in June and posted a respectable .255 batting average with a .351 OPS in 228 plate appearances with two doubles, two triples, twenty RBIs and thirty walks.  Defensively played both second base (.985 fielding percentage in 131 chances) and shortstop (.961 fielding percentage in 77 chances).

2023 Notes :  came stateside for extended spring camp and was excellent which earned a promotion to the Clearwater Threshers on 6/6/23.  He has very quick hands which generates bat speed, lines the ball sharply, projects to hit with some power, a matter of physical maturity and adjustments to contact point.  He’s a battler who puts up a good AB each time, tough out.  Bat to ball skills are outstanding as reflected by only 20 strikeouts in 228 career plate appearances to date.  Baseball IQ and instincts are readily apparent when ya watch him in game action, knows how to read and react to different game situations.  Has smooth defensive skills, can play both second base and shortstop.  Played at the low A level as an 18 year old and performed well, that’s a statement in itself.  The young man also has a welcoming smile and personality, a great attitude and is a popular teammate.

2024 Projection :   likely returns to Clearwater for a full season, could push to Jersey Shore before season’s end.

SS,2B - Erick Brito - 21 years old - signed as an international free agent 11/29/18 - Ciudad Guayana, Venezuela

2023 Stats :  Played in 109 games combined with Clearwater and Jersey Shore.  Hit .278/.350/.261 in 164 plate appearances for Clearwater with two doubles, two triples, two home runs and 20 RBIs, stole 14 bases in 17 attempts.  At Jersey Shore hit .208/.310/.259 in 233 plate appearances with six doubles, two triples and 25 RBIs, stole 15 bases in 20 attempts.  Defensively played both second base and shortstop.  Had a .969 fielding percentage as a shortstop in 228 chances and a .989 fielding percentage in 177 chances at second base.

2023 Notes :  has made a steady progression in his pro career playing initially in the Dominican Summer League for two seasons before advancing to Clearwater in 2022 where he was the primary shortstop.  This year began at Clearwater as the primary second baseman, was promoted to Jersey Shore on 6/13/23 and played mostly shortstop thereafter for the BlueClaws.  We have seen him play all four infield spots and the outfield before, has shown good defensive skills and has made some spectacular plays as well, good range and decent arm wherever he plays.  Offensively has shown some pop, will generally give a good plate appearance each time, battles and has delivered some key hits.   He’s the cousin of former Phillies infielder Danny Brito and shares the engaging Brito family smile.

2024 Projection :  a return to start the season with Jersey Shore seems likely.

Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️

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