11/9/2020 : Staying Ready and Motivated ( Part One of Three )
Now that the election binge watching is past us ( hopefully 🤦♂️ ) ... back to baseball 🤓. 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 three articles since I’ve gotten multiple responses ( over 20 players at this point ).
“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 first set of responses I’ve gathered :
Darick Hall - 1B ( 25 yrs old - 2016 14th round selection )- he was in 2020 big league Spring Training Camp and likely would have played the season in Allentown as a member of the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.
“Ever since we went back home from Spring Training I have not stopped working with purpose and intent. Without playing this year I’ve had the rare opportunity to sit back and really assess my game.
I have focused to improve my swing and to gain more quickness also in the field and base paths. In my back yard I have a cage that I built with a pitching machine in it. I’ve been hitting with a few local college kids.
Generally I’m always been pleased with my defense but there is more in the tank. My goal is to win a gold glove. I want to be my best in all aspects of the game, one way is by challenging myself in the weight room and an emphasis on diet and recovery. Also by studying and applying adjustments to my swing that I believe will give me an edge when we get to play again.
Specifically working on being able to adjust my swing path and add quickness to increase the power I have. My goal is to be a complete hitter. I have also worked on my mental game. What to focus on, how to stay in the moment and to put myself in the best situations possible to be successful.
Not being able to play added to the chip on my shoulder to prove myself to doubters. This down time may become the reason why I get to big leagues and stick there. With adversity comes great gains. This time has been a challenge. I know what to do to get my chance in the upcoming years to be a big leaguer and that is to pursue excellence in all things. I cannot be anything short of excellent in all aspects. I have always been a focused and hard working Individual but now I know I have to take my game to another level. The hardest part of the mountain isn’t the first three quarters of it, it’s the last quarter. It’s clear to me that I have to take everything I do to a higher level to achieve that last quarter.”
Ben Brown - RHP ( 21 yrs old - 2017 33rd round selection ) - he had Tommy John surgery in 2019 and spent the majority of that season in rehab after pitching for Single A Lakewood ... was on schedule to return mid summer 2020 - participated and returned to the mound in 2020 Fall Instructs.
“I’m doing a lot of strength and movement training and investing into my nutrition and recovery plans. As far as things on the baseball field my emphasis is on further developing a third and fourth pitch. My fastball definitely has played in the lower levels but I know it will be really difficult to find continuing success if I can’t have solid off speed stuff to use in all counts.”
Albertus Barber - RHP ( 24 yrs old - signed as an Amateur Free Agent 6/23/19 ) - after signing as an amateur free agent in 2019 he quickly advanced from the GCL to Williamsport to Lakewood all in one summer. The hard throwing reliever was likely slated for High A in 2020 before the season was cancelled.
“I have been constantly learning not only how the human body works, but also how the bigger picture works. How limiting stress and outside forces produces better results has been a big thing for me. I’ve been teaching myself to sequence my biomechanics better so that I can throw more efficiently.
Honestly, my focus has been on everything. I’m trying to be the best I can possibly be at everything baseball wise. It sounds very unrealistic, but in my head I have this vision. I have this vision where I want to play for the Phillies and only the Phillies my entire career. No other team signed me, and I honestly don’t ever want to play for any of them. I believe that with the right effort I can become a big part of our team. Not only in terms of physical and mental ability to win baseball games, but I’d like to be the guy who wears all of our failures as a team and gives all the success to our guys. Who brings energy daily to those around him and never produces any negativity inside the clubhouse. The guy every teammate can come to and know that I’d battle for them.
This has been one of my biggest focuses not only in terms of this year, but in terms of my life. I want the hardest path. I want a World Series ring, and I want Philadelphia to be the best team in baseball, but more importantly I want to build something much bigger than anything I’ve ever been apart of. So becoming the man I need to be and accepting my shadow and bad parts of me has been my off season focus. I want to be able to look at myself in the mirror and my reflection becomes scared of the man I am becoming (in a good way).”
Kendall Simmons - IF ( 20 yrs old - 2018 6th round selection ) - he was coming off an All-Star campaign at Williamsport in 2019 where he led the club in home runs. He was invited to 2020 Fall Instructs and impressed coaches with improvements in his hitting although he was hindered by a hamstring injury. Kendall will play winter ball in Australia for the Adelaide Giants.
“My focus during my self training time is to work on every part of my game. Whatever the coaches say I need to work on I work on it and try to perfect it so the next time they see me it won’t be a problem. I’m working to be a big leaguer, to separate myself. I push myself to make sure that’s it’s not a coin toss, don’t won’t anyone close to me. I want to be different than others by being better ! “
Connor Brogdon - RHP ( 25 yrs old - 2017 10th round draft selection ) - He made his major league debut in 2020, initially struggling but then finishing strong in his last call-up and putting himself in a position to be a very strong candidate for a 2021 opening day roster spot.
“Hey Steve. Mostly just making sure to keep my arm loose during this downtime with two days on, one day off of catch. My buddy and I have access to a facility about a half hour away from the house where I’m living at. Also doing the workouts the Phillies assigned us as well as trying to get out on the links every now and again to get a little fresh air outside of just playing catch.”
Damon Jones - LHP ( 26 yrs old - 2017 18th round draft selection ) - He participated in both 2020 big league Spring Training Camp and the Alternate Camp site. 2019 was a stellar year for the big lefty as he moved from Clearwater to Reading to Lehigh Valley all in one season. He’s on the verge of making his big league debut in this observer’s view.
“This offseason I am training with a guy named Kyle Rogers. He used to work at Driveline in the past and it’s at a facility near my apartment. My focus is to find a way to throw more balls that are either in the strike zone or look like strikes long enough that hitters swing at them. I feel like with that in my arsenal it will allow me to have success in whatever role the big league team has for me whether starter or reliever.”
Other Notes :
The Phillies will send a record number of players to the Australian Winter League this year. This past spring they entered into an exclusive agreement with the Adelaide Giants and will have at least eleven players on the Giants roster. In addition they will have players on the rosters of the Sydney Blue Sox and the Melbourne Aces.
In total I am aware of fifteen players who will participate.
Pitchers : RH Kyle Glogoski, LH Jonathan Hennigan, RH Tyler Burch, RH Austin Ross, LH Taylor Lehman
Catchers : Colby Fitch & Mitchell Edwards
Infielders : Rixon Wingrove, Luke Williams and Kendall Simmons
Outfielder : Cornelius Randolph
Pitchers : LH Josh Tols & RH Luke Leftwich
Catcher : Chris Burke
Pitcher : Josh Geshner
Rosters are also formulating in the Caribbean based winter leagues ... to date I’m aware of RHP Enyel De Los Santos being on a roster ... I’m sure more will be announced.
Article two in this series will include responses from Hunter Markwardt, Guarner Dipre, Nicoly Pina, Gunner Mayer, Keaton Greenwalt and Mitchell Edwards.
Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️