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  • Writer's pictureSteve Potter

4/1/24 : Reading 2024 initial roster

The Fightin Phils  open their season on April 5th with a three game away series against the Bowie  Baysox.  Here’s a look at the initial roster.  The club will have quite a few veteran players.

Pitchers :  17

Starters : pitchers who are expected to throw extended innings each outing.

RH Noah Skirrow - 25 yrs old - pitched last season for AAA level Lehigh Valley initially as a starter then in a bulk reliever role making 24 appearances (14 starts) amassing 101 innings - he returns to Reading as a starter to begin this season - made 21 starts for the Fightins in 2022.  Was signed as an un-drafted free agent from Liberty University on 6/16/20.   He’s currently listed on the IronPigs development list but will likely pitch for Reading.

LH Matt Osterberg - 24 yrs old - had a very good 2023 season pitching at both Jersey Shore and Reading posting a 3.52 overall ERA in 24 starts (122.2 IP).  Was the 2021 15th round draft selection from St Cloud State in Minnesota.  Matt’s a throwback type pitcher, throws strikes, mixes both location and speed, reads the hitter and uses pitch ability to record outs.  He led the entire minor league organization in ERA and WHIP for starting pitchers last summer. Features a fastball (91-92 mph), cutter, slider and change up.

RH Efrain Contreras - 24 yrs old - signed as a minor league free agent 12/22/23 - was originally signed by the San Diego Padres 7/18/17 as an international free agent from Mexico. Last season with the Padres he pitched at the AA level appearing in 35 games (17 starts) posting a 4.92 ERA in 97 IP with 117 K’s and 49 walks, a 1.40 WHIP.  In his minor league career with the Padres he appeared in 93 games (64 starts) amassing 328.1 IP with a 4.03 ERA and 1.27 WHIP.   Contreras shows an above-average, low-90s heater, a plus curveball, and an average changeup. 

LH Lachlan Wells - 27 yrs old - was signed 1/7/24 as a minor league free agent - had an outstanding  Australian Baseball League season for the league champion Adelaide Giants and was named the league MVP.   Wells was originally signed by the Minnesota Twins in 2015, he reached the High A level with the Twins and has appeared in 49 minor league games (45 starts) posting a 3.02 ERA in 253 IP and a  1.11 WHIP.  Lachlan had Tommy John surgery in 2019 and was released by Minnesota in 2022.   He features a fastball, curve and change up with the change up being his best pitch and out maker. 

RH Robinson Pina - 25 yrs old - signed as a minor league free agent 12/11/23 - signed by the Los Angeles Angels 2/15/17 as an international free agent from San Cristobal, Dominican Republic. He pitched last season at three levels (High A, AA, AAA)  in the Angels organization recording an overall ERA of 4.03 in 34 appearances (11 starts) accumulating 97.1 IP with 90 K’s and 55 walks.  Over his minor league career he’s appeared in 136 games (80 starts) posting a 4.06 ERA in 481.1 IP with a 1.32 WHIP.  He pitched in the Dominican Winter League for Estrellas Orientales. “Pina's fastball sits 93 mph and touches 95 mph. His 84-mph splitter sometimes looks like a straight changeup with a little more depth. Pina also throws an 84-mph curveball with a short break that resembles a slider, but the breaking ball has a tendency to back up on him at times.” - Baseball America

Relievers :

RH Carlos Francisco - 24 years old - 2019 28th round draft selection - Hillsborough CC, FL - appeared in 49 games in 2023 with Jersey Shore (25) and Reading (24) - had a solid season -  pitched as well  in the Puerto Rico Winter League - multi or singular inning reliever who can pitch often.

Andrew Schultz - 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.

RH Mitch Neunborn - 26 yrs old -  signed as an international free agent 6/5/23 - Australia - last year made 16 appearances (10 starts) for High A Jersey Shore amassing 42.2 IP and posting a 3.38 ERA with 54 strikeouts and 14 walks.  Had a 0.94 WHIP and a .172 BAA - averaged 14.95 pitches per inning pitched with a 62 % strike ratio.  Also pitched 3.1 innings in 9/14/23 playoff game.  Was selected to pitch in the Arizona Fall League - pitched 6 innings in 3 appearances. Mitch features three pitches, a fastball (92 to 95 mph), slider and split finger change up.  Throws his splitter with a Vulcan grip between his ring and index finger, creates good deception, reduction in velocity and downward movement, will throw it often and for strikes.  Mitch pitched collegiate baseball for Phillies Minor League Pitching Coordinator Travis Hergert at North Iowa Community College.

RH Zach Haake - 27 yrs old -  originally signed as free agent 3/30/23, re-signed this off season - drafted by Royals - 6th round, 2018 - Kentucky - made 12 2023 appearances (11 starts) for Reading accumulating 53.1 IP - posted a 5.06 ERA with 48 strikeouts and 19 walks, a .257 BAA and a 1.33 WHIP.  Zach features a sinker (93 to 95 mph), change up and slider.  The sinker flashes even higher - 96 to 97 mph at times.  He’s got a three quarter arm slot, utilizes the change-up on an even par with the sinker, slider is third pitch.

RH Max Lazar - 24 yrs old - signed as a minor league free agent 12/8/23 - He pitched at the High A and AA levels last season in the Brewers organization.  Lazar posted a 3.86 ERA in 17 appearances (one start) at AA Biloxi last season in 25.2 IP after recording a 2.91 ERA at High A Wisconsin in 16 appearances (43.1 IP in relief).  He had 73 strikeouts and 19 walks combined and a 1.25 WHIP.   Max was the Brewers 11th round draft selection in the 2017 draft from Coral Springs High School in Coral Springs, FL.  In his minor league career he’s made 91 appearances (38 starts) pitching 275.1 innings with a 3.46 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP.  He pitched for Brisbane in the Australian Baseball League during the 2022-2023 season making ten starts posting a 4.30 ERA in 46.1 IP.

LH Jordi Martinez - 23 yrs old - signed 1/22/18 - Santiago, Dominican Republic - appeared in 47 games in 2023 with Jersey Shore (39) and Reading (8) - had an very strong year and also pitched in the Arizona Fall League (8 appearances).  Will take the ball every day - mid to upper nineties heat - big league skill set.

RH Beau Burrows - 27 years old - He was the first round draft selection of the Detroit Tigers in the 2015 draft from Weatherford High School in Texas and has pitched in the Tigers, Twins, Dodgers and Braves organizations.  Once a high velocity hurler he now features a four seamer (93-94 mph), slider, change up and curve.  He has pitched in eleven major league games (2020-2021) with the Tigers and Twins and 190 minor league games (135 starts).  Last season he pitched at both the AA and AAA levels in the Braves organization. He signed with the Minnesota Twins on 1/31/24 as a minor league free agent and was released on 3/21/24.   

LH Tristan Garnett - 26 yrs old - won the Bill Giles Award for 2024 spring training, had a very solid spring camp and appeared in multiple Grapefruit League games.  He was signed as un-drafted free agent 7/20/21 - Cal State Dominguez Hills, CA.  Had stellar 2023 season - 1.94 overall ERA in 46 appearances between Jersey Shore and Reading - 51 IP, 56 strikeouts, 19 walks, 1.04 WHIP, .189 BAA.  Tristan hails from the Portland, Oregon area and was a starter in both high school and college however has adapted nicely to reliever with multi inning capabilities.   His release point comes on a downhill plane, he’s 6’6” - put away pitch is his changeup, excellent deception from the same arm slot as the heater and no slowing of his arm motion.

RH Tommy McCollum - 24 yrs old - signed as an un-drafted free agent 7/20/21 - Wingate University , NC - Is the definition of a strikeout pitcher with two put-away deliveries, a heavy fastball that generally sits in the 94-96 mph range but reaches upper nineties and a devastating splitter that drops off the table. Tommy is an imposing figure on the hill at 6’5” and has an easy downward plane delivery, the baseball gets on the batter quickly and comes out of the hand with lots of movement.  He’s also got a slider he will use for good measure.  Returns to Reading - was promoted there in late July from Jersey Shore last season.  A big arm talent that when he controls the zone has the goods to be a big leaguer.

RH Andrew Baker - 24 yrs old - drafted in eleventh round of the 2021 draft from Chipola Junior College, Chipola, FL - Features a fastball (95 to 99 mph, has reached 101 mph), hard slider and big break curve.  Had his struggles during the 2023 season at Reading with control, command and mix.  We’ve never doubted that Andrew has big league talent, if you watch him throw that’s readily evident.  It’s a matter of commanding/controlling the zone, refining and sequencing pitches and repeating mechanics, from there the talent can shine.  A good young man who’s both approachable and well liked.

RH Matt Russell - 25 yrs old - signed as an un-drafted free agent 7/21/21 - Missouri State University - is fun to watch as he will alter his delivery ala Nestor Cortes and throw in different leg kicks, spins and even arm angles to throw off the hitters.  He can push the fastball consistently in the mid nineties and flashes higher - has a four pitch mix - fastball sits in a range of 92 to 94 mph - max 96, slider, change up and cutter.

RH Konnor Ash - 25 years old - signed as an un-drafted free agent - 7/20/21 - University of Missouri - made 24 appearances with FCL (1), Clearwater (5), Jersey Shore (17) and Reading (1) in 2023.  Multi inning capability with a unique over the top delivery and ability to hide the ball. 

Position Players :   Average Age : 24

Catchers :  3

Caleb Ricketts - 23 yrs old - drafted in 7th round of the 2022 draft from San Diego University, CA - a left handed hitter with gap to gap drive, easy swing, good approach, can take the outside pitch the other way with power as well as pull the inside delivery for distance.  Defensively he’s a take charge receiver, savvy.  Has the ability to reach the major leagues. He was a huge part of the Clearwater Threshers first half Florida State League championship and earned a promotion to Jersey Shore on 5/9/23.  Went on the injured list with a wrist injury on June 4th spending a good bit of time at the complex with the rehab team, also had a knee sprain.  Was re-activated by Jersey Shore on 8/5/23 - had a strong month of September for the BlueClaws hitting .324 in 34 AB’s and a good post season where he homered and delivered a .375 OBP in eight plate appearances.  Hit one the most impactful home runs of the year on 9/5/23 in the playoffs against Hudson Valley - a two run shot in the bottom of the 8th inning that erased a one run deficit and turned out to be the game winner.

William Simoneit - 27 yrs old - selected in the 12/23 minor league rule five draft from the Oakland A’s where he had signed as an undrafted free agent on 6/22/20 out of Wake Forest University - in 2023 he hit .237/.326/.387 in 289 plate appearances with 15 doubles, a triple, 7 home runs and 39 RBIs for AA level Midland.  Played mostly first base last season (342 innings) but also caught in 30 games (262 innings).   Collegiately he spent three seasons with Cornell in the Ivy League, then played 2020 for Wake Forest.  Participated in major league ST this year with the Phillies, we observed him as a hard worker willing to put in extra time and effort to improve his skillset.

Arturo DeFreitas - 22 yrs old - signed as an international free agent 3/13/18 - Maracay, Venezuela - has swung the bat very well in ST camp - consistently barreling the baseball - is an excellent defender and thrower - takes pride in his defense as well as supporting his pitchers.   Has good leadership skills and is well regarded by the pitchers.

Infielders :  7

Jim Haley - 29 yrs old - re-signed as a minor league free agent on 3/8/24 knowing he would be assigned to Reading to provide veteran leadership.  Last season he played at AAA level Lehigh Valley and posted a .253/.324/.412 slash line in 410 plate appearances with 17 doubles, 4 triples, 11 home runs and 58 RBIs.  Haley saw time defensively at all four infield positions with the majority of his time at either first or second base.  He’s a local fella from Lansdowne, PA and attended Penn State University.  He was the 19th round draft selection of the Tampa Rays in the 2016 draft and has played seven years in the minor leagues.

Casey Martin - 25 yrs old - drafted in 3rd round of the 2020 draft from the University of Arkansas, AR - Casey struggled offensively in his first two professional seasons making consistent contact.  Last season was promoted to Reading from Jersey Shore on 6/12/23 - at JS he had cut down on the swing and had better pitch recognition. He’s very good defensively at shortstop with more range than most and a very strong arm, if can hold his own at the plate can be a valuable defensive reserve at the higher levels.

Bryce Ball - 25 yrs old - selected in the minor league portion of the rule 5 draft from the Guardians organization on 12/6/23 - was the 2019 24th round draft selection of the Atlanta Braves from Dallas Baptist University - in addition to the Guardians has also played in the Cubs organization - played in 95 games last season with High A South Bend (36- Cubs), Double A Tennessee (16- Cubs) and Double A Akron (43 - Guardians) - defensively plays first base - LH power bat who was once a highly regarded prospect in the Braves organization.  He showed that power this spring on the backfields and also participated in multiple Grapefruit League games as a game day call-up.

Robert Moore - 22 yrs old - acquired from Brewers in 11/14/23 trade for Oliver Dunn - was the Brewers 2022 CB-B round draft selection - University of Arkansas - played in 123 games at the High A level for Wisconsin in the Brewers organization in 2023 - defensively plays primarily second base but also has played quite a few games at shortstop. Switch hitter.  Is the son of Dayton Moore the former President of Baseball Operations of the KC Royals.  Robert played winter ball for Brisbane in the Australian League in the 2022-2023 season.  He’s noted for good bat speed, soft hands as a fielder and smart baseball acumen along with a high motor.   We witnessed all of those skills this spring in camp.

Trevor Schwecke - 26 yrs old - selected in the minor league portion of the rule 5 draft from the Blue Jays organization on 12/6/23 - was Toronto’s 2019 13th round draft selection from Wisconsin-Milwaukee University - RH hitter who played in 87 games last season at Double A New Hampshire (71) and AAA Buffalo (16) - good offensive numbers - defensively played all four infield positions plus left and right field - versatility serves him well.

Kendall Simmons - 23 yrs old - 2018 6th round draft selection - Tattnall Square HS , Macon, GA - played in 59 games in 2023 with FCL Phillies (8 rehab), Clearwater (1 rehab) and Jersey Shore (50).  Is a powerful RH hitter who also played for Adelaide in the Australian Baseball League this past off-season.  Battled the injury bug last summer, when healthy can play either 2B or 3B but it’s the power bat that’s the ticket - can turn on any fastball and send it a long way.  Participated in multiple Grapefruit League games this spring as a game-day call-up.

Carson Taylor - 24 yrs old - selected in the minor league portion of the rule 5 draft from the Dodgers organization on 12/6/23 - was the Dodgers 4th round draft selection in the 2020 draft from Virginia Tech University - LH hitter who played in 77 games with Double A Tulsa last season catching in 39 - also plays first base and was the DH in 23 games - was an offensive standout in college.  Has above average raw power, we were impressed with his BP sessions this spring, will play mostly at first base for the Fightins.

Outfielders :  4

Carlos De La Cruz - 24 yrs old - signed as an un-drafted free agent 8/23/17 from  Yonkers, NY - was 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 plays first base and all three outfield positions. Carlos is 6’8” and very athletic. Tracks fly balls well and is a good thrower.  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.

Marcus Lee Sang -23 yrs old - 2019 11th round draft selection - Northern HS, Owings, MD - played in 124 games in 2023 with Jersey Shore (99) and Reading (25).  LH hitter who’s patient and has pop - excellent defensively - played mostly center and left fields in that order.  Had an outstanding spring training camp this year showing power potential including the ability to go to the opposite field.

Baron Radcliff - 25 yrs old - 2020 5th round draft selection - Georgia Tech University - played in 70 games in 2023 with FCL Phillies (5 - rehab) and Reading (65) - LH power hitter - suffered shoulder injury 4/16/23 - returned to game action 6/12/23 -  corner outfielder. Is healthy and ready to go.

Gabriel Rincones Jr - 23 yrs old - 2022 3rd round draft selection - Florida Atlantic University - played in 123 games in 2023 with Clearwater (48) and Jersey Shore (75) plus an additional 22 games in the Arizona Fall League - LH hitter - had an strong first full season as a professional - plays primarily right field defensively but has also played left field.  Has both power and wheels - stole 47 bases in 2023 and hit 17 home runs.

Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️

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