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  • Writer's pictureSteve Potter

2/11/24 : The potential 2024 opening day Lehigh Valley IronPigs - an early look

I concluded my 38 part notes series detailing the Phillies minor leaguers we saw play during the 2023 season on 12/5/23 which encompassed a total of nearly 200 individual profiles on players.  Here’s a link to the 12/5 last article in the series which contains within it links to the prior thirty seven if ya missed them 🤓.  https://www.philliesbaseballfan.com/post/12-5-23-annual-phillies-minor-league-player-notes-outfielders-part-six


This is the fourth of a four part series outlining potential 2024 opening day landing points for Phillies minor league players.  It’s far too early to do so as spring camps will play a large part to determine a much clearer view of who’s going where to start the season but nevertheless we venture down the path anyways.  Here’s a link to part one on the FCL and Clearwater in case ya missed it - https://www.philliesbaseballfan.com/post/1-2-24-the-potential-2024-xst-fcl-phillies-clearwater-threshers




The domestic minor league reserve active roster limit for 2024 once the AAA level season starts is 165 players, fourteen of which will be players optioned from the major League reserve list.  The limit is 175 players prior to the season including spring training which excludes those on the 40 man roster.  Active rosters at the AAA and AA levels are limited to 28 players with 30 players being the active roster sizes for both High A and Low A.  There are no roster limits for extended spring training or the Florida Complex League other than the overall reserve cap.  So in effect 116 active player spots is the maximum for the four full season squads however “inactive” players can practice with each of the teams if they are designated as being on the “development list”.   Players on the various injured lists can also stay with the designated full season clubs as inactive spots however more often than not those players come to the Complexes for rehab training.


The Lehigh Valley IronPigs are the Triple A level of play affiliate for the Phillies.  Triple A is the highest rung of the ladder for what is referred to as “full season” play meaning that a formalized league game schedule is played from April to September.  Lehigh Valley is part of the twenty team International League.  It’s the level regarded as the first line of ready reserves as needed by the major league team.  Players often shuttle back and forth from Triple A to the Majors.


Here’s my view of the players likely in the mix at the Triple A level.  Again more detailed information on each player can be found using the link above to get to my annualized player notes.


Players who’s names are highlighted in bold, italicized and underlined are on the forty man roster.


Pitchers :


Potential Starters/Bulk Relievers :


Mick Abel - 22 years old - RHP - 2020 1st round draft selection - Jesuit HS , Portland, OR - had a solid High Performance Camp leading into this year’s big league ST where he’s once again a non-roster invitee.  Made 23 starts and appearances last year  - 4.13 ERA between Reading (22 games) and Lehigh Valley (1 game). 113 1/3 IP, 1.26 WHIP,  .192 BAA,  132 K’s, 65 BB.  Mick caught fire in his last four starts of the season for Reading posting a 1.17 ERA in twenty-three IP allowing just three runs and eight hits while striking out twenty-three batters.  He finished the year making his AAA debut in a start for Lehigh Valley on 9/22.  Focused on a sinking fastball and curve as primary pitches down the stretch, both plus offerings, continues to work on his change up.  He’s capable of dominating opponents, has a definite big league skill set.  He’s a student of the game.  A genuinely nice young man who possesses the gift of being able to throw his fastball consistently in the upper nineties - he’s easy to root for.


Griff McGarry - 24 years old - RHP - 2021 5th round draft selection - University of Virginia - worked during the  off-season at Cressy Sports refining his delivery and release point, shortening arm swing and streamlining mechanics.  He was shut down for the season in late August last year after an inability to throw strikes at Lehigh Valley, in my opinion he was falling off the mound glove side and consistently getting under his pitches (sailing them) or pulling deliveries far off the plate.  Really struggled in his three appearances with Lehigh Valley.  The decision made was to work on a “re-set” on mechanics, perhaps slow down pace and to re-synch the body with the arm delivery.  When he’s commanding the zone the fastball is electric and both his slider and curve are swing and miss pitches.  On top of that there’s a change up which he’s also working to improve.  The fastball sits in a range of 93 to 98 mph - max 100.  Big league arm if can solve the control and command issues.  We’ve watched multiple bullpens in HP camp - was compact and threw strikes.


Kolby Allard - 26 years old - LHP - signed as a major league free agent - 1/23/24  - was the 1st round draft selection of the Atlanta Braves in the 2015 draft from San Clemente HS, San Clemente, CA - has appeared in 69 major league games with Braves and Rangers - 6.10 career ERA in 245 IP.  He is generally a strike thrown with a career 65 % strike percentage.  Has a four pitch mix (4 seam FB - 90 to 91 mph, curve, cutter and changeup).  Has a minor league option remaining so is eligible to ride the AAA/Major League shuttle one more season.


Nick Nelson - 28 years old - RHP - acquired via trade with Yankees on 11/19/21 - was the Yankees 4th round draft selection in the 2016 draft from Gulf Coast CC in Panama City, FL - started 25 games for LHV last season (115 IP) posting a 3.83 ERA - has pitched in 70 major league games including 4 as a starter - converted back to a starting role last season.  He arrived early in Clearwater working in hopes of garnering an opening day roster spot with the Phillies. Has a minor league option remaining so is eligible to ride the AAA/Major League shuttle one more season.


Tyler Phillips - 26 years old - RHP - claimed off waivers from Texas Rangers 7/24/21 - re-signed as a minor league free agent twice - most recently during this off-season.  Pitched in 26 games (25 starts) for Reading and LHV last season totaling 122.2 IP.  Had TJ surgery in 2021 and spent that season and 2022 rehabbing - in 2023 added or enhanced three pitches in his arsenal (see my player notes article #16 I referred to above for details).  He’s been working diligently at Cressy Sports the entire off-season - in my humble view he’s gonna turn heads as a non-roster invitee in big league spring training.  I see big league skills and believe so will everyone else this spring.


Max Castillo - 24 years old - RHP - claimed  off waivers from Boston Red Sox 2/7/24 - originally signed by the Blue Jays 9/25/15 as an international free agent from Caracas, Venezuela.  Has pitched for the Blue Jays and Royals organizations having been traded by Toronto to KC on 8/2/22.  He’s appeared in 21 major league games - 6 as a starter.  He features a four seam fastball (93 to 94 mph), slider and change-up. He’s a strike thrower whose best pitch is his slider.  Castillo has a career 4.04 ERA in 136 minor league games (124 starts) accumulating 654.2 IP and a WHIP of 1.27.


David Parkinson - 28 years old - LHP - 2017 12th round draft selection - University of Mississippi -  pitched all of his appearances except for one game for Reading (one at LHV) and posted an overall 3.80 ERA in 25 appearances (130.1 IP) - was 9-5 with 135 strikeouts against 54 walks, had an exceptional month of August where he recorded a 1.26 ERA in five starts (28.2 IP) - from July 7th forward went  7-1 over 12 appearences.  He finished amongst the Eastern League leaders in ERA (4th), Wins (2nd), K’s (7th), IP (4th), BAA (10th) and WHIP (9th).  Averaged 16.23 pitches per inning pitched and recorded a 63 % strike ratio.   He led the Phillies minor league organization in innings pitched and strikeouts.  Returned to the organization after voluntarily retiring and missing the 2022 season.  He’s a cerebral pitcher who also owns and operates his own training and baseball business where he incorporates “old fashioned hard work and new school data driven analytics with a mantra that hard work equals success.”  David knows how to pitch on the edges and generally has excellent control of his deliveries, is a master of changing speeds and hitting locations.


Potential Relievers :


Connor Brogdon - 29 years old - RHP - 2017 10th round draft selection - Lewis-Clark State, Lewis-Clark State, ID - will be in the hunt for a major league job this spring training as he is out of minor league options.  Would have to clear waiver claims to be assigned to Lehigh Valley - Was optioned to Lehigh Valley on 6/9/23 after beginning the year with the Phillies - appeared in 27 games in the big leagues last season posting a 4.03 ERA (29 IP) with 26 walks and 13 strikeouts.  In the Minor Leagues at AAA Lehigh Valley he appeared in 26 games (28 IP) posting a 5.46 ERA with 34 strikeouts and 16 walks, a 1.36 WHIP, .216 BAA, 63 % strike ratio and a 17.36 pitches per innings pitched average.  Over his career he’s appeared in 139 major league games with a cumulative 3.55 ERA in 142 IP with a 65 % strike ratio, 16.63 pitches per innings pitched average and a 1.21 WHIPConnor possesses a major league skill set, last summer was a difficult one for him in regards to results however once he was optioned it was time spent working on refining his mechanics to find a consistent arm slot, regain pitch movement and maintain a motion path to enable consistency.  He has a four seam fastball (in the 94 to 96 mph range), an outstanding change-up and a cutter.


Michael Rucker - 29 years old - RHP - acquired from Chicago Cubs in trade for cash considerations 2/6/24 - pitched in 35 games with the Cubs last season in the major leagues -  40.1 IP with a 4.91 overall ERA - has appeared in 96 major league games the last three seasons - 123.1 IP with a 4.91 ERA - has minor league options remaining.  I think Rucker can help the big club and has a strong chance of making the Phillies opening day roster - having options left is huge which is why I’m listing him here. He was better than his ERA number indicated last season as most of that was bumped up in three outings last year.  Mid nineties FB and two solid secondaries with ability to get ground balls and throw strikes are all good things to have.


Yunior Marte - 29 years old - RHP - acquired from SF Giants in trade for LHP Erik Miller 1/9/23 - originally signed by the KC Royals as an international free agent 7/19/12 from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic - has pitched for the Royals, Giants and Phillies organizations - appeared in 40 major league games last season - 39.1 IP - 5.03 ERA - 38 K’s, 17 BB - also appeared in 18 minor league games with LHV - 1.80 ERA in 20 IP, 24 K’s, 9 BB - throws a sinker (96-98 mph), four seam FB (97-99 mph) and power slider.  He has one minor league option remaining.


Luis Ortiz - 28 years old - RHP - claimed off waivers from the SF Giants on 11/9/22 - originally drafted and signed by the Texas Rangers - their 1st draft selection in the 2014 draft from Sanger HS, Sanger, CA - has pitched in the Rangers, Giants and Phillies organizations - appeared in 14 major league games last season - 19 IP, 3.32 ERA, 16 K’s, 5 BB - appeared in 33 minor league games for LHV - 4.60 ERA in 45 IP - 45 K’s, 13 BB - features a four seam FB (96-98 mph), sinker, slider and change up - has minor league options left.


Michael Mercado - 24 years old - RHP - acquired in trade with Tampa Bay Rays 11/6/23 for RHP Adam Leverett - was the Rays 2017 2nd round draft selection - Westview HS, San Diego, CA - posted a 4.79 ERA in 52 appearances with AA Birmingham and AAA Durham.  He pitched 62 innings with 95 strikeouts and 35 walks.  Had a 1.34 WHIP and a .211 BAA. He has a power arm and  features a four seam fastball (94 to 98 mph), curve ball and cutter.  Curve was once described as a hammer curve and has been graded by some scouts as a plus pitch.  In some views all three pitches have plus potential.  Mercado stands out most in his ability to command his arsenal.  He was a college commitment to Stanford but signed with the Rays for a significant bonus instead.  Has three minor league options remaining.


McKinley Moore - 25 years old - RHP - acquired in trade with Chicago White Sox 3/29/22 for outfielder Adam Haseley - was the White Sox 2019 14th round draft selection from Arkansas Little Rock University, AK - appeared in three 2023 major league games in April (3.1 IP) after making the club in spring training.  Was optioned to Lehigh Valley on 4/16/23.  Injury riddled summer - appeared in 20 total minor league games with Clearwater (one game rehab - one scoreless inning), Reading (seven games - 1.42 ERA in 6.1 IP) and Lehigh Valley (12 games - 1.38 ERA, 13 IP, 22 K’s, 17 BB -  .125 BAA). Overall pitched 20.1 minor league innings, 1.33 ERA, 37 strikeouts, 22 walks, 1.67 WHIP, .176 BAA.  Was very good in September for Reading/Lehigh Valley - 6 appearances, 6 IP, 1.50 ERA, 12 strikeouts and 2 walks.  He’s a high velocity reliever capable of upper nineties to triple digits heat and has a hard and sharp breaking slider to go along with it.  Issues have been control and command for the 6’6” hurler.  The stuff can shine thru if he can throw strikes consistently and command the zone.  Fastball sits in a range of 95 to 99 mph - max 100, slider and change up.  Pitches on a downward plane given his size and high release point.


Cristian Hernandez - 23 years old - RHP - signed as an international free agent 7/9/17 from Cumana, Venezuela.  He threw very well in HP camp leading up to Minor League mini camp and ST.  Posted a 3.66 ERA in 35 appearances at Reading last season, 51.2 IP with 66 strikeouts and 24 walks, 1.43 WHIP.  In May recorded a 0.77 ERA in 11.2 innings and in June he had a 2.87 ERA in 15.2 innings. Was placed on the IL on 8/11/23 and re-activated 8/31/23 - finished the year strong with a 1.59 ERA in 5 September appearances (5.2 IP) with 14 strikeouts and two walks. Have always liked his demeanor and approach, we think he can be a major league contributor at some point.  Cristian also pitched winter ball in the Venezuelan League for Caribes de Anzoategui this off-season.


Taylor Lehman - 28 years old - LHP - signed as an un-drafted free agent 6/18/18 - Penn State University - appeared in 50 games (52 IP) for AA Reading (13 games - 17.2  IP - 3.06 ERA, 0.85 WHIP) and AAA Lehigh Valley (37 games - 34.1  IP - 4.19 ERA, 1.46 WHIP) with 49 strikeouts and 31 walks. Taylor began the 2023 year with Reading and was promoted to Lehigh Valley on May 22nd.  He’s a tall (6’8”), lanky southpaw with a three pitch arsenal (four seam fastball 90 to 93 mph - touches 95), sinker and curve although basically relies on the four seamer and curve.  Gets good spin and tailing action on the four seamer, curve ball has big vertical break.  He returned to action in 2022 and also pitched in the Arizona Fall League after missing most of the previous two seasons rehabbing from TJ surgery.  Last season was his first full season of action since the recovery.  He’s another young fella we got to know a bit during his rehab time at the complex, very intelligent and knows his craft, interesting conversations on pitch release and design.  Pitched this winter in the Dominican League for Tigres del Licey.


Tyler McKay - 26 years old - RHP - has pitched very well in this year’s HP Camp - is in his first major league spring training camp as an NRI - drafted in 16th round of the 2018 draft from Howard JC, TX - began 2023 at Reading where he posted a 2.54 ERA in 25 appearances in 28.1 IP converting six of eight saves with 32 strikeouts and 10 walks, a 1.02 WHIP and a .179 BAA.  He was promoted to Lehigh Valley on July 14th where he appeared in 23 games (27 IP) posting a 2.67 ERA, a 1.48 WHIP with 24 strikeouts and 19 walks.  Overall a 2.60 ERA in 48 appearances, 55.1 IP, 56 strikeouts and 29 walks, a .200 BAA and a 1.29 WHIP. Had stellar months of April (1.50 ERA in 5 games - 6 IP, .091 BAA, .083 WHIP) and June (1.74 ERA in 9 games - 10.1 IP, 15 K’s, 1 BB, .211 BAA and a 0.87 WHIP).  In 2022 spring training converted from a starting pitcher to a reliever and hasn’t looked back.  Tyler has a riding two seam sinker (92-94 mph), a sweeping slider and a heavy tumbling action change up to go along with a cutter that he will primarily use against left handed hitters.  He is a strike thrower who attacks the zone.


Brett Schulze - 26 years old - RHP - 2019 7th round draft selection - University of Minnesota - began the 2023 season with Reading and earned a promotion to Lehigh Valley after stellar months of June and July at the AA level (0.96 ERA in 18.2 IP).  Overall in 46 appearances (31 with Reading, 15 at Lehigh Valley) posted a 4.26 ERA in 57 IP with 80 strikeouts and 41 walks. Opponents hit just .199 against him, had a 1.42 WHIP.  He throws a sinker in the 92 to 94 mph range, has a five pitch arsenal including a sweeping slider, sharp curve ball, cutter and a four seamer, will use any of those pitches in any count.  He’s a multi inning reliever who is a strikeout pitcher, was a reliever in college who’s continued that path as a professional.


Andrew Shultz - 26 years old - RHP - 2019 6th round draft selection - University of Tennessee - appeared in 34 games for Reading in 2023 (37.2 IP) with a 5.97 ERA, 41 strikeouts and 30 walks. Finished the season well - in thirteen July/August appearances posted a 2.40 ERA with 16 strikeouts, 11 walks. He throws a fastball (95 to 99 mph - has reached 101 mph), slider and change up and occasional cutter.  Andrew has a short arm delivery where the baseball appears to get on hitters even quicker than an already high velo output.   Has the stuff to be a high pressure situation impact reliever and generally that’s how he’s been deployed in his career to date.  Now has completed two full seasons back in action after missing the 2021 year recovering from TJ surgery.


Noah Skirrow - 25 years old - RHP - signed as an undrafted free agent 6/16/20 - Liberty University - posted an 8-4 record in 24 appearances (14 starts) totaling 101.2 IP for 2023 Lehigh Valley with 79 strikeouts and 53 walks - Noah is a great competitor - will throw strikes and challenge hitters.  Began the year as a starter, converted to a bulk reliever on July 15th and adapted to the role throwing four or more innings in six of his ten appearances thereafter.  Features a four pitch mix - four seam fastball (sits in a range of 91 to 95 mph), slider, split finger change up and sinker.


Jose Ruiz - 29 years old - RHP - signed as a minor league free agent 11/28/23 from the AZ Diamondbacks organization - originally signed by the San Diego Padres as an undrafted free agent 7/2/11 from Guacara, Venezuela - pitched in 38 major league games last season with the White Sox and Diamondbacks.  He was traded from Chicago to Arizona in April for cash considerations.  With the D-backs he appeared in 34 games (40.2 IP) and posted a 4.43 ERA with 36 strikeouts and 17 walks.  He was sent to the Triple A level on 7/30/23 and appeared in 17 games with Reno (26.1 IP) posting a 4.10 ERA with 33 strikeouts and 13 walks.  Ruiz declared minor league free agency on 11/2/23.  He features a four seam fastball (96 to 97 mph), a curve ball which he throws as often as the heater, sinker and changeup.   He’s pitched for Team Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic.  Ruiz has appeared in 212 major league games with the Padres, White Sox and Diamondbacks and has a career 4.51 ERA in 219.1 IP with a 1.49 WHIP.   He has received a non roster invitation to big league spring training to compete for a bullpen role.


Nick Snyder - 28 years old - RHP - signed as a minor league free agent 12/4/23 from the Texas Rangers organization - was the Rangers 2017 19th round draft selection from Indian River State JC, Florida - He did not pitch last season.  In 2022 at AAA level Round Rock he posted a 4.97 ERA in 41 appearances (38 IP) with 51 strikeouts and 18 walks, a 1.42 WHIP.  In 119 career games he’s got a 3.59 ERA in 143 IP with 176 K’s and 47 BB - a 1.22 WHIP.   He’s a big arm - has popped 101 mph on his fastball.  Snyder tore his UCL and had to undergo “Tommy John” surgery in February of 2020 but came back from that, last season was a lost year of action for him as well.  He has received an non roster invitation to big league spring training to compete for a bullpen role.


Ryan Burr - 29 years old - RHP - signed as a minor league free agent 12/12/23 from the Tampa Bay Rays organization - was the 2015 5th round draft selection of the AZ Diamondbacks from Arizona State University - He has pitched in the Diamondbacks, Chicago White Sox and Tampa Bay Rays organizations and appeared in 66 major league games with the White Sox from 2018 to 2022 posting a 4.09 ERA in 75 IP with 66 K’s and 39 walks.  Last season at AAA level Durham in the Rays system he had a 2-1 record in 18 appearances (23.1 IP) with 23 K’s and 3 walks with a 0.99 WHIP.  He features a 95 mph fastball, cutter, slider/curve and sinker.  In June 2019, Burr underwent Tommy John surgery.  He spent the shortened 2020 season working back into form at the White Sox’s alternate site.  He was released by the White Sox in June of 2022 and signed by the Rays.  The cutter has hard dropping action and is his primary and best pitch.  Finished his collegiate career at Arizona State as their all-time saves leader.


Potential Catchers :


Rafael Marchan - 24 years old - Switch hitter - signed 7/3/15 as an un-drafted free agent from San Cristobal, Venezuela -

played in 51 games for AAA Lehigh Valley - in 2023 posted a .297/.391/.440 slash line in 207 plate appearances with 13 doubles, 3 triples, 2 home runs and 30 RBIs.  He was also 6 for 10 in four rehab games with Clearwater and Jersey Shore. It was his best offensive output since 2018 with short-season Williamsport.  Defensively posted a .986 fielding percentage at LHV in 418 fielding chances and threw out 17 of 54 base stealers (31 %).  He also played winter ball in the Venezuelan Winter League for Tigres de Aragua where he posted a .333/.436/.546 slash line in 133 plate appearances. Has always been a skilled defender with a strong throwing arm and good mechanics.  We’ve witnessed multiple batting practice sessions, folks may be surprised to know he’s always shown the ability to drive the ball beyond the fences however his offensive prowess is found in a line drive gap to gap swing.  Has incurred injuries the past two spring that have delayed starts to the season for him and has instead spent time in extended spring camp.  A very likable young man, big league skills all around.


Aramis Garcia - 31 years old - RH hitter - initially signed as a minor league free agent 2/16/23 - re-signed this off season - is a non-roster invitee for major league spring training -  played in 53 games for 2023 Lehigh Valley with a .251/.295/.523 slash line in 210 plate appearances with 11 doubles, 14 home runs and 44 RBIs.  Also played three rehab games with Jersey Shore.  Defensively had a .985 fielding percentage in 49 games - threw out 12 of 56 (21 %) base stealers.  He hit nine of his home runs and drove in 26 of his RBIs in 24 August/September games. A veteran presence who has played in 301 major league games with the Giants, A’s and Reds, he was a steadying team leader at Lehigh Valley.  Is a decent receiver with a strong throwing arm, has worked hard in his career to get better defensively.  A right handed hitter who has shown plus power especially to the pull side, can turn on fastballs.


Herbert Iser - 26 years old - LH hitter - 2019 23rd round draft selection - Dallas Baptist University - played in 23 games last summer posting a .229/.308/.371 slash line in 78 plate appearances with 3 home runs and 8 RBIs for Reading.  Defensively caught in 17 games and had a .982 fielding percentage.  Threw out 7 of 25 base stealers (28 %). He hit one of the longest home runs ever to right field at ShoreTown Ballpark when he played for Jersey Shore.  Has solid catching skills, both receiving and throwing.  Very welcoming young man who was born in Jamaica, we met his dad last spring at the complex as well, another good fella.


Cody Roberts - 27 years old - RH hitter - selected in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft 12/7/22 from Orioles organization - was the 2018 11th round draft selection of the Orioles from the University of North Carolina - is a non-roster invitee to major league spring training - made 239 plate appearances in 72 games for 2023 Reading with a .214/.277/.349 slash line - 11 doubles, 6 home runs and 15 RBIs, 16 walks.  Recorded a .984 fielding percentage in 507 chances and threw out 21 of 74 base stealers (28 %).  He is an excellent defender, last year was his first season in the Phillies organization.  Has a strong arm and very good mechanics that he continually strives to improve upon.  Is also a versatile defender - played a few games in both right and left field during the season and has played both first and third base previously in the Orioles organization.


Potential Infielders :


Kody Clemens - 27 years old - LH hitter - 2B/3B/1B - acquired in multi player trade with Detroit Tigers 1/7/23 - was Tigers 2018 3rd round draft selection - University of Texas - hit .256/.373/.564 in 279 plate appearances with 10 doubles, 4 triples, 18 home runs and 52 RBIs for Lehigh Valley in 2023.  In 148 major league plate appearances hit .230/.277/.367 with 7 doubles, 4 home runs and 13 RBIs.  He was recalled by the Phillies to the major leagues on 4/7/23 after having a strong spring training camp.  Stayed with the big club till 7/2/23 when he was optioned to Lehigh Valley, finished the season with the IronPigs.  Played multiple defensive positions - both corner outfield spots as well as first, second and third base.  The left handed hitter had a very solid season - had a stand out game on 8/14/23 against Rochester when he doubled and hit three home runs - had five RBIs.  He had two games during the season with two home runs.


Rodolfo Castro - 24 years old - switch hitter - 2B/SS/3B - acquired in trade with Pittsburgh Pirates 8/1/23 for LHP Bailey Falter - was signed by the Pirates 10/30/15 from Los Llanos, Dominican Republic - appeared in 92 major league games in ‘23 - 227 AB’s - .211/297/.322 slash line with 6 home runs and 24 RBIs.  Is an average runner and serviceable defender - projects as a utility player with thump.


Diego Castillo - 26 years old - RH hitter - SS/2B/OF - claimed off waivers from New York Yankees organization - originally signed by Yankees 12/18/14 from Barquisimeto, Venezuela - played at AAA Reno last season - 124 games - 454 AB’s - .313/.431/.410 slash line - 33 doubles, 3 HR, 72 RBIs. Has played in 97 major league games - a good defensive shortstop, and also has experience at second and a little at third.


Darick Hall - 28 years old - LH hitter - 1B - 2016 14th round draft selection - Dallas Baptist University - posted really good numbers at Lehigh Valley in 2023  - a .311/.395/.545 slash line in 334 plate appearances marking the first time in his pro career he hit .300 or better in a season.  He had 12 doubles, a triple, 18 home runs and 57 RBIs with 42 walks.  His OPS was .940.  Had a strong second half of the season - in his last 56 games played slashed .312/.393/.560 with an OPS of .953 with 16 home runs and 46 RBIs.  He led the Phillies minor league organization in slugging percentage and OPS for those who had more than 300 plate appearances. Darick also made 56 plate appearances in the major leagues posting a home run and three RBIs.  Defensively at LHV he recorded a .994 fielding percentage in 522 chances.  A powerful left handed hitter who concluded 2023 big league spring training with a .316 batting average (18 for 57) and a 1.041 OPS making the big club as the starting first baseman.  Suffered a broken thumb early in the regular season and was placed on the 60 day IL on 4/6/23.  His 144 career minor league home runs by my unofficial count rank 2nd highest since 1960 for long balls hit while a member of a Phillies minor league affiliate behind only Joe Lis (164) and ahead of Pancho Herrera (141), Dan Held (135) and Dylan Cozens (132).  Darick has earned the patent on the nickname “Long Ball Hall”.


Weston Wilson - 29 years old - RH hitter - signed as a minor league free agent 1/11/23 from Milwaukee Brewers organization - was the Brewers 2016 17th round draft selection - Clemson University - played in 125 games with 2023 Lehigh Valley - .259/.363/.515 slash line in 544 plate appearances with 19 doubles, 3 triples, 31 home runs and 86 RBIs - an OPS of .878.  Played in 8 major league games - .313/.500/.500 slash line in 22 plate appearances with a home run, two RBIs and six walks.  He set the IronPigs single season franchise record for home runs (31) and became the first Lehigh Valley player to ever tally thirty or more home runs and stolen bases (32) in the same season.  Weston finished in the league’s top ten in runs scored (6th with 89), home runs (3rd with 31), RBIs (T-6th with 86), walks (T-9th with 75) and stolen bases (T-8th with 32).  Defensively played mostly shortstop - .985 fielding percentage in 266 chances but also saw time at first base, third base and all three outfield spots. He had a career year including making his major league debut.


Scott Kingery - 29 years old - RH hitter - UTL - 2015 2nd round draft selection - University of Arizona - non roster invitee to major league spring training - is a non-roster invitee to major league spring training - hit .244/.325/.400 in 117 games (466 plate appearances) with 2023 Lehigh Valley with 68 runs scored, 18 doubles, 3 triples, 13 home runs, 47 RBIs, 48 walks and 24 stolen bases (caught just once).  He had a .725 OPS.  Had an outstanding month of June - .343/.418/.571 slash line with a .989 OPS including 7 doubles, 3 home runs, 9 RBIs and 9 walks in 21 games (79 PA’s).  Defensively played mostly shortstop (64 games - 547 innings) and had a .982 fielding percentage in 275 chances.  Had a 1.000 fielding percentage in 145 chances at second base, also played 18 games in center field with a 1.000 fielding percentage in 43 chances. His second year of play after shoulder surgery, continued to make progress and played in the most games since the 2019 season.  Had a solid season and showed the ability to drive the baseball once again.  Still turns the double play at second base as a second baseman better than anyone I’ve seen, very quick exchange.   Scott played predominantly at shortstop last year, made all the plays there and showed no ill effects of previous shoulder issues.  Possesses outstanding speed and posted his most stolen bases in a season since 2017.


Matt Kroon - 27 years old - RH hitter - 3B/OF - 2018 18th round draft selection - Oklahoma State University - non roster invitee to major league spring training - is a non-roster invitee to major league spring training - had an outstanding 2023 season - .326/.399/.526 slash line in 432 overall plate appearances with Jersey Shore (rehab), Reading and Lehigh Valley.  Hit 31 doubles, 5 triples, 11 home runs with 58 RBIs and 46 walks.  Stole 26 bases in 35 attempts.  Had strong numbers at both Reading and Lehigh Valley - .319/.387/.493 with an .880 OPS at Reading in 344 plate appearances and a .381/.467/.698 slash line with a 1.165 OPS in 15 games (76 plate appearances) at Lehigh Valley.   Had a tremendous month of June - .376/.433/.518 slash line in 21 games - 92 plate appearances.  Defensively played mostly third base (.908 fielding percentage in 98 chances) but also saw action in 48 games in the outfield - all three positions.  Was selected for the Arizona Fall League and played in 18 games - 73 plate appearances - .262/.356/.344 slash line with .700 OPS - 2 doubles, 1 triple, 15 RBIs, 7 walks, 13 runs scored, 5 stolen bases.  He’s a diligent worker who is a baseball rat, gets after it and loves to play.  Was promoted to Lehigh Valley on 8/7/23 and went 3 for 5 in his first game at the AAA level.  Suffered a hamstring injury in his second game with the IronPigs and went on the IL on 8/11/23.  Returned to action on rehab assignment with Jersey Shore on 8/29, was reactivated at Lehigh Valley on 9/3/23.  Many project Matt in a multi position role (due to his defensive versatility) in the big leagues, we believe that he can hit in the show and contribute to a winning club.  Came back from a significant knee injury in 2022 which required surgery and ended his season that year on April 10th.


Nick Podkul - 26 years old - RH hitter - 1B/3B - signed as a minor league free agent 12/17/22 - re-signed this off season - was the 2018 7th round draft selection of the Toronto Blue Jays - University of Notre Dame - non roster invitee to major league spring training - is a non-roster invitee to major league spring training.  He hit .285/.396/.588 in 2023 with a .984 OBP at 2023 Reading with 8 doubles, 3 triples, 12 home runs and 35 RBIs.  Was promoted to Lehigh Valley in July - in 34 plate appearances for the IronPigs hit .280/.471/.560 with a 1.031 OBP - 2 home runs, 5 RBIs and 5 walks.  Had a 1.000 fielding percentage for the season at first base in 183 chances and a .923 fielding percentage at third base in 39 chances. Nick suffered a season ending injury on 7/28/23 when he was hit in the face by a pitch and incurred multiple facial fractures.  He has since made a full recovery.  We first got to chat with Nick in spring training, very upbeat and welcoming personality.  Can swing the bat with power and for average, is solid defensively, played mostly second base in college but has been a corner infielder as a professional.  Good all around baseball player.


Esteban Quiroz - 31 years old - LH hitter - 2B/3B - acquired in trade with Chicago Cubs for cash 3/23/23 -  hit .231/.348/.354 in 96 2023 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. 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.  Played winter ball in his native country of Mexico for Algodoneros de Guasave in the Pacific League.


Potential Outfielders :


Carlos De La Cruz - 24 years old - RH hitter - signed as an un-drafted free agent 8/23/17 from  Yonkers, NY - is a non-roster invitee to major league spring training -  posted a .259/.344/.454 slash line in 582 plate appearances for 2023 Reading.  Had 25 doubles, a triple, 24 home runs, 67 RBIs and 54 walks - a .798 OPS.  Led the Eastern League in hits (132), second in runs (80), third in doubles, third in home runs, fifth in RBIs, sixth in slugging and sixth in OPS.  Defensively played first base (.991 fielding percentage in 352 chances) and all three outfield positions. Carlos is 6’8” and very athletic. He can track fly balls well and is a good thrower.  Picked up the first base position well also. When we first saw him hit on the backfields in 2017 the ball jumped off his bat - made that special baseball loud sound that results from the barreling of the ball on the sweet spot.  He can drive baseballs high and deep into the sky.  Has the abilities to be a major league contributor.  Pleasant personality who is driven to succeed.


Simon Muzziotti - 25 years old - LH hitter - signed as an international free agent 7/5/16 - Cumana, Venezuela - was designated for assignment 2/7/24 - if clears waivers likely returns to LHV - had a very strong season with 2023 Lehigh Valley - .296/.358/.404 slash line in 124 games - 524 plate appearances with 22 doubles, 4 triples, 7 home runs and 61 RBIs, stole 26 bases in 38 attempts and walked 45 times.  He tied for 5th in the International League in hits (140), 11th in stolen bases and tied for 10th in batting average.  Defensively played primarily left field - .986 fielding percentage in 145 chances although also played center field - .965 in 85 chances and right field briefly - 17 innings there.   Had 10 outfield assists. He is a left handed hitter and thrower who generally puts the ball in play and has good speed.  Has the tools to be a major league contributor, is a very good defender in ability to track balls and arm accuracy.


Cal Stevenson - 27 years old - LH hitter - claimed off waivers from SF Giants 5/26/23 - was the 2018 10th round draft selection of the Toronto Blue Jays - University of Arizona - is a non-roster invitee to major league spring training - played in 56 games with 2023 Lehigh Valley - .271/.437/.472 slash line in 202 plate appearances with a .909 OPS - 5 doubles, 8 home runs, 30 RBIs and 46 walks.  Stole 14 bases in 17 attempts.  Defensively played all three outfield spots, had a 1.000 fielding percentage in all three - 91 chances - 60 in center field. He is a left handed hitter who did a very good job for the Iron Pigs after coming over from the Giants.  Throughout his career has always shown strong plate discipline and has plus speed.  Has played in 29 major league games with the A’s and Giants.  The Phillies are his 4th organization.


Ethan Wilson - 24 years old - LH hitter - 2019 2nd round draft selection - University of South Alabama - played in 114 games for 2023 AA level Reading - .250/.307/.443 slash line in 463 plate appearances with 24 doubles, 3 triples, 17 home runs and 61 RBIs - .750 OPS.  Walked 31 times and stole 12 bases in 19 attempts.  Defensively played left field (.991 fielding percentage in 106 chances) and right field (.977 fielding percentage in 86 chances).  Had nine outfield assists. He’s a good all around baseball player who posts everyday - when he barrels the ball it flys - has power, also has shown an ability to drive the ball to all fields - I see a glimpse of Matt Carpenter in his swing as a left handed hitter.  Hard worker and coachable. Very approachable, good sense of humor.  Is self motivated and driven to do well.


Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️



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