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  • Writer's pictureSteve Potter

2/7/24 : The Months of the Complex

Most every day I am at the complex. Depending on the time of year the routine alters a bit.

In January there’s less fan traffic so rather than go thru the electronic scanner at the gate we are wanded by a security staff member at the entrance shed.  We’ve come to know most every security team member, they do an excellent job of keeping the complex secured yet interactive for great fan experiences - it’s a balance that I’ve always appreciated. Yes there are baseball activities in January at the complex, in prior years the Phillies engaged with the city of Clearwater in a co-op program where a dozen or so players would workout in the mornings at the complex but then work for the city in the afternoon - usually at the recreation centers or parks.  That program dissolved when Covid hit us.  Since then there have been mini camps - this year’s five week High Performance Camp is an example where selected minor league players participate in various drills working towards spring training camp.  Near the end of the month there’s usually a handful of major leaguers on hand as well - they come early for voluntary workouts on their own in order to prepare for the season.

In February and March pro baseball returns in earnest with minor league mini camp, major league spring training and lastly minor league spring training.  It’s the busiest time of the year at the complex and certainly when the most people visit.  There are Grapefruit League games at the stadium as well as practices at both the stadium and complex fields, the entire area is energized with baseball.  With the increased volume of visitors entrances to the complex requires passage thru scanners, it’s a quick and easy process though - no worries.  For me it’s a time to renew acquaintances and make new connections.  For those who read me you know I write virtually every day of the year but during spring training I get the most interest as I try to share with everyone my camp observations and who’s doing what and where.  It’s the busiest time but also the most fun … I think.🤣

In April  (actually end of March for Majors and the AAA team) those who make the major league team and affiliates break camp and head off - the Threshers have the shortest journey as they just have to take their stuff from the complex clubhouse to the adjacent stadium.  For those who aren’t assigned to a team or are going to be playing in the Florida Complex League there’s a continuance of training at the Complex known as extended spring training.  The crowds have also dispersed so we return to security shed check ins for entrance rather than the walk thru scanners.  There’s only a handful of us that watch extended spring training - it’s a two and half month process with the FCL season not opening till June.  There are games against other teams played, primarily the Blue Jays in recent years.  We spend our days at the complex during the months of April and May watching extended spring training practices and games and our nights watching the Phillies and the affiliates on streaming feeds.  On occasion we are also in the crowd at Threshers games.  We write recaps each day of the whole minor league element 😎.

In mid June extended spring camp turns into the formalized Florida Complex League with games played on Roberts Field against the Jays, Tigers and Yankees FCL clubs.  The games generally start at noon - it’s hot here in the summer so hydration is a must.  We are joined by multiple scouts from other organizations to watch games - we each bring our own chairs to position ourselves in the little shade to be found.  I write each game summary and include it with my nightly minor league roundup reports which also summarize the affiliate games and at this point would also include the Dominican Summer League as their season also starts in June.  Note that the rehab process for injured players has also been ongoing the whole time since January with both long term and short term injury recoveries - the staff is excellent at the complex, they get after it and get the players back to good health and eventually back in action.

July brings new arrivals to the complex as the draft and subsequent signings of draftees and un-drafted free agents introduce usually around 30 or so new players to the organization. They gather for initial workouts, we introduce ourselves and begin the process of getting to know them and if possible their families as we incorporate our observations of their work into our ongoing reports.  August brings the conclusion of both the FCL and Dominican Summer League schedules, if the Phillies clubs make their league playoffs I’ll write about them as well else I finalize my coverage of those two leagues with year end recaps.

September, October and November are the months for season end High Performance Camps at the Complex - mostly for the new players but also some selected others.  It focuses primarily on strength and conditioning work.  Rehab work continues as well. There’s a mandatory collective bargaining agreement shut down period from mid November thru the end of December - it’s the only time there’s really no baseball activity at the complex nor daily visits by yours truly although I do stop over now and again to say hello to folks who work there year around.  It’s during that time period that I write and post my individual player notes on every minor league player who finished the season with the Phillies organization.  Yes - every player - usually close to 200 reviews.

It takes a great many folks to complete the work at the complex and at the affiliates  - all have their own importance and role in the process.  There’s administration, security, maintenance, management, coaching, training and guidance - all focused on development of the players.  It’s not just the individual player that is exuberant if they reach the major leagues - it’s the village that supports them.  My small part of the equation is that of an outsider looking in - writing what I see, encouraging interest and promoting the talent - my part doesn’t make the impact of others nor does it have equivalent value but I still do it - just because, someone has to tell the story of the months of the complex, at least that’s what I tell myself  - might as well be me 🤪.

Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️

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1 Comment

Feb 07

Great work on this, Steve! I feel like I'm standing there at every part of the complex!

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