3/22/23 : Just Sayin - Camp Reflections
Phillies baseball in Clearwater at Carpenter Complex is a year round endeavor. While Spring Training marks the beginning of each new season there are training camps throughout the calendar. The Phillies have heavily invested and incorporated mental, nutritional and strength and conditioning training into the player development process along with baseball learnings. During the off-season there are multiple “High Performance” camps held that key on keeping the players focused on the “Protect the Standard” mantel and enabled physically to deliver it. We go from Spring Training to the season ( for some Extended Spring Training ) to Fall Instructs to High Performance to Winter Ball ( for some ) and then back to Spring Training once again. Analytics, new technology ( we now have state of the art hitting and pitching labs in the Montgomery Training Center ), conditioning and good old fashioned coaching are all included in the development process. Clearwater is the hub of the training process and will get even better with ongoing investments to build even better structures.
So with that being said there’s really no excuse for players to not come to Spring Training Camp thoroughly prepared to compete and our observances this spring found that to be the predominant case. The baseball season is a grind, advancement up the rungs of the minor league ladder from the backfields to triple A and for those who truly excel on to the major leagues requires a village of support for each player inclusive of family, coaches, trainers, coordinators, administrators, management, fans and even goofballs like myself who show up every day to write about them and offer my encouragement. It’s all part of it.
With the big club slated to break camp after next Tuesday’s ( 3/28 ) game vs the Blue Jays and the Triple A club also slated to move north next week along with the remaining levels scheduled to end training camp on 4/1 ( not fooling 🤓 ) here’s a look at some things that have stood out to me thus far this spring.
Just Sayin 🤷♂️
The World Baseball Classic was a tremendous success for baseball in general, the excitement it generated globally was beyond expectations and hopefully has fueled a passion for the game in others that folks like me already feel. Some fellow fans have voiced displeasure to me about the “stars” not being with their clubs this spring but from my perspective the goodwill the WBC has brought to the table far outweighs any fan disgruntlement about not seeing their favorites in person in Grapefruit League games - just saying 🤓.
Both of the Phillies Major and Minor League camps have been exceptionally run, kudos to those who’ve done the daily scheduling, kept track of who needs to be where and then communicating it to the masses. It’s not an easy thing to keep such a large gathering of folks organized as I can attest to from my working days but both camps have been crisp, on time and well organized.
It is perhaps a surprise to some the depth at the position player level that has been displayed in Grapefruit League games this year - Darick Hall, Scott Kingery, Weston Wilson, Dalton Guthrie, Jake Cave and Kody Clemens have all had strong camps. All but big Darick are multi position players and all he does is hit rockets each week plus he’s a very good defender at first base. There are others on the not so distant horizon as well who will continue honing their skills at the minor league levels.
I’ve been fortunate this spring to have been allowed to observe minor league bullpen sessions on the seven mounds. Baseball is a game ( like life ) that you can continuously learn about and from if you allow yourself to - getting to see such talented young hurlers deliver pitches while standing behind the catchers has been a great experience. Seeing the rotation and spin ( or in some cases an intended lack thereof ) and share some of my observances with you has been truly fun, initially I felt out of place however the Phillies baseball operations and development staff have made me feel welcome - good people all around. It’s been the spring of the “cutter” as many of our young pitchers have incorporated it, cool to see their reactions when it succeeds. By the way it’s been great to watch the catchers at work up close also as they train each day on their receiving skills, good stuff !
With camp nearing it’s end unfortunately some players will be released, it’s the most unpleasant part of the business to see happen as for some their dreams end. With the MLB mandate of 180 stateside minor league players for each team it’s often a numbers issue. To me it’s a silly rule to cap teams at 180, I chatted with a very respected scout about that the other day, we agreed that teams should be allowed to employ as many players as they choose to and not be dictated by a limit. For players who are released it’s difficult to find another opportunity right away as each team has the 180 count limit. Just doesn’t seem right.🤦♂️
We will continue to do our daily training camp reports - and then once the season’s start we go into “Minor League Roundup” mode with articles on each of the affiliates games and coverage of extended spring training. It’s sometimes a grind for us also but we love it - hope you all enjoy reading as well.
Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️