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  • Writer's pictureSteve Potter

11/27/23 : Annual Phillies Minor League Player Notes - Infielders - Part Six

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 of as listed below.

Today we focus on group six of the infielders.

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

Link to previous infielders articles :

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

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 -

The following players will be discussed in future articles :

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 sixth article in the 2023 series on infielders  ⚾️🤓.

2B,3B - Nikau Pouaka-Grego - 19 years old - signed as an international free agent 1/17/22 - Christchurch, New Zealand

2023 Stats :  did not play in any games - spent the year with injury rehab team at the complex in Clearwater.

2023 Notes :   Nikau is a very personable and likable young man, we chatted with him just about every time we were at the complex this year, also have previously met his parents and granddad, really cool folks.  He had major knee surgery in 2022 and has worked diligently to rehab.  Before breaking for the off-season he was taking ground balls during infield and batting practice in the cages.  Was a full participant in High Performance Camp and and is building stamina and strength for next season when he should return to game action.  When we previously saw him play he showed that he can flat out swing the bat - a left hand hitter who has the ability to drive the ball out of the yard, during the 2022 FCL season he hit three homers on the expansive backfields and posted a .301 batting average with an OBP of .424 in 125 plate appearances.  The eye-hand coordination and bat to ball skills stood out, has quick hands and good baseball instincts.  Power will seemingly further develop as he grows into his body.  Isn’t the quickest afoot but when ya square it up consistently that’s not an absolute need.  Excited to see him return to action.

Nikau’s reflections :  “This seasons biggest personal takeaway for me would be … Working as hard as I did with my rehab, getting back to being game ready.  Learning a lot from the veteran and big league guys is something that I am very appreciative of. The family we made in rehab made getting through it a lot easier.  My off-season plans going into the 2024 season are to get as strong as possible and fine tune a few things to help set me up for a successful affiliate ball season.”

2024 Projection :  may start the year in extended spring training but a roster spot with Clearwater seems possible.

SS,2B,3B - Marco Soto  - 19 years old - signed as an international free agent - 2/2/21 - Maturin, Venezuela

2023 Stats :   posted a .252/.315/.339 slash line in 130 plate appearances with 7 doubles, a home run, 13 RBIs and 7 walks for the FCL Phillies. Defensively played mostly at shortstop - .982 fielding percentage in 109 chances, also played second base - .969 fielding percentage in 32 chances and third base -  .933 fielding percentage in 15 chances.

2023 Notes :  switch hitter who was brought stateside for extended spring training in April from the Dominican Academy to participate in the summer FCL season (began in June).   Can swing the bat, squares the ball up, strong bat to ball skills.  Is an enthusiastic player who’s smart, has a winning attitude.  Made big progress defensively this summer with fielding mechanics and throwing.  Was part of the 2022 Phillies White Dominican Summer League championship team.

FCL Manager Shawn Williams :  “He can hit, really worked hard all year and improved a lot on defense.  Played shortstop really well, it’s important for players who can play multiple positions to handle shortstop.  He just hits, two strike hits, drives in runners in scoring position.  Another young man who’s exciting to see how he continues to improve.  It’s what I love about this level (FCL) because it’s exciting to see how they grow and improve each year.”

2024 Projection :  in the mix for a Clearwater roster spot else returns for another FCL season.

3B,1B - Ty Penner  - 23 years old - signed as an un-drafted free agent - 8/1/22 - University of British Columbia, Canada

2023 Stats :  played in 24 games with the FCL Phillies and Clearwater Threshers.  Posted a .211/.365/.289 slash line with 3 doubles, a home run and 5 RBIs - drew 16 walks.  Defensively played in 21 games at third base and had a .912 fielding percentage in 34 chances.

2023 Notes :  spent a large part of the season on the IL and working with the complex rehab team.  Was activated with the FCL Phillies on 6/26/23, promoted to the Clearwater Threshers on 8/1/23.   He’s got good size (6’4”), in BP sessions at the complex we’ve seen that his swing is consistently on a level plain and covers the plate, looks to have good bat to ball skills and pull side power.  Injury riddled year was a set back, hopefully is now able to continue in game action.

2024 Projection :  in the mix for a Clearwater Threshers roster spot.

UTL - Esteban Quiroz  - 31 years old - acquired from Chicago Cubs in trade for cash considerations - 3/23/23

2023 Stats :  hit .231/.348/.354 in 96 games (388 plate appearances) for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs with 19 doubles, 7 home runs and 59 RBIs, he drew 57 walks.  Defensively played third base - .982 fielding percentage in 114 chances and second base - .968 fielding percentage in 190 chances.  Pitched in three games in blowouts.

2023 Notes :  nicknamed “Pony” he quickly became a popular teammate after coming over to the organization from the Cubs.  Had appeared in 40 major league games with Chicago in 2022.  He’s a very patient hitter who gives a professional AB each time, works the count and will take his walks.  Solid baseball player all around, strong competitor.  Is playing winter ball in his native country of Mexico for Algodoneros de Guasave in the Pacific League.

2024 Projection :  a return to Lehigh Valley seems likely.

3B,1B - Felix Reyes  - 22 years old - signed as an international free agent 2/22/20 - Bani, Dominican Republic

2023 Stats :  played in 77 games between Clearwater and Jersey Shore posting a .263/.307/.407 slash line with 9 doubles, a triple, 10 home runs and 68 RBIs, drew 18 walks.  Was an RBI machine for Clearwater posting 62 in 67 games.  He hit .500 in the playoffs for Jersey Shore going 4 for 8 with a double and triple, was intentionally walked in the last playoff game because he was swinging the bat so well.  Defensively played third base - .952 fielding percentage in 83 chances and first base - .974 fielding percentage in 235 chances.

2023 Notes :  began the season in extended spring training, was promoted to Clearwater on 5/3/23 and to Jersey Shore on 8/25/23.  On September 3rd hit a grand slam walk off home run for Jersey Shore that was vital in keeping their playoff chances alive.  Felix is a right handed hitter with enormous strength and power, when he connects the ball goes a very long way.  We’ve seen him play now three seasons after he first arrived at Carpenter Complex in 2021.  He’s a big fella at 6’4” and before this spring he played defensively at either first base or in an outfield corner.  Foot speed is a challenge however in extended spring training this year we saw him make multiple athletic plays at shortstop where he was filling in.  It would be a mistake to label him as a “DH type” because of that, he transitioned to third base nicely this summer, has a decent arm and quick instincts.  It’s that sound when a powerful hitter squares the ball up that gets ya off your feet to see how far it went that remains the intrigue, Felix has that capability, it’s something we noted the past two years in backfield FCL play and it came to light even more this summer. The challenge ahead is maintaining consistency, can’t teach the power and strength he possesses.  He’s also a favorite amongst his teammates, upbeat and a great attitude.

Felix’s reflections :  “Every day, every moment you learn something new, I learned mostly to enjoy the game.  In the 2024 season, continue working hard on whatever you are working on.”

FCL Manager Shawn Williams :  “Played some shortstop in extended spring.  Has good hands and arm, we figured it could only help him to get a few innings there and it did, made some very athletic plays.  Always has a smile, great personality.  Loves the game, so refreshing to watch someone like that play.  He can hit, has power and bat to ball skills.  Big body, can play both corners and the outfield.”

2024 Projection :  a return to Jersey Shore to continue the climb.

Off-Season Notes :

LHP Ben Bowden has signed a minor league contract with the Atlanta Braves, he was a free agent after playing last season with Lehigh Valley.  LHP Jakob Hernandez has signed a minor league contract with the Baltimore Orioles, he was a free agent after playing last season with Lehigh Valley, Jakob had TJ surgery and will miss the brunt of the 2024 season.

Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️

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