4/12/22 : A Journey of Perseverance
I remember first meeting Jeff Singer on the backfields of Carpenter Complex during extended Spring Training of 2016. He had signed with the Phillies in October of the prior year as an un-drafted free agent after attending Rutgers-Camden University and also pitching for the Camden Riversharks in the independent Atlantic League. There’s a lot of down time in extended Spring Training for pitchers and I remember seeing Jeff wandering about the Complex as if a lost puppy. We struck up a conversation and thus began one of my first encounters with and articles on a Phillies minor leaguer. As I recall it was one of the few Q&A ones I’ve ever written. After posting it on my then new Facebook Page dedicated to the Phillies entitled “A Fan’s View” I soon came to find out that young Mr. Singer had/has an extensive circle of family and friends ! The response was tremendous and the launch of our “careers” became almost simultaneous 🤓.
Jeff was assigned to Williamsport for short season play that June but he didn’t stay there long. After just four appearances and 6 2/3 IP of scoreless ball he was promoted to Lakewood on July 2nd where success continued. In 9 games as a Blue Claw ( 21 IP ) he posted a minuscule 0.43 ERA. On August 4th he was promoted yet again to then High A level Clearwater where he finished the regular season pitching in 10 more games. His initial season wasn’t quite yet done as he earned a spot in the Arizona Fall League where he appeared in 10 more games for the Scottsdale Scorpions and recorded a 1.42 ERA in 12 2/3 IP. In a whirlwind first year Jeff pitched in 33 games amassing 53 innings - a theme was established - this lefty reliever would always take the baseball regardless of the situation or when asked. The ascension to the show seemed almost imminent given the first year success.
Out of 2017 spring training camp Jeff was assigned to the Clearwater Threshers. That spring I believe was also the first time I met his dad Mark and we chatted. Mark and I share a common passion - baseball. He was still pitching in the NJ version of the Men’s Senior Baseball League and I was also still active in a branch of the league playing for a team in Kennett Square, PA named the Cutters. Mark became the first parent interaction for me in this post retirement endeavor of mine covering the Phillies minor leagues. Over the years since he’s been a sounding board, an advocate and even an advisor when I hit my lulls. Since then I’ve met quite a few more players and families but the Singers will always be the first. 😎
Jeff had a very strong 2017 with the Threshers as he posted a 2.34 ERA in 37 games ( 50 IP ) which earned him a spot in the league’s All Star game. On July 27th he was promoted to AA level Reading where he appeared in 12 games ( 13 IP ) to finish the season.
There were high expectations in 2018 spring camp but I remember a game on Roberts Field in which Daniel Brito went yard against Jeff in an intra-squad scrimmage. Now that in itself wasn’t alarming as Brito can swing the bat and every pitcher who’s ever been on the mound has given up a dinger at one time or another. The thing that was noticeable was that Jeff’s velo was down and the pitch was flat - again every pitcher has also experienced what we refer to as “dead arm periods” - it is just a baseball occurrence out of our control 🤪. Jeff was surprisingly assigned to Clearwater once again out of that spring camp - it was a disappointment for this writer/fan, his dad and Jeff himself. It marked the beginning of a new push though - the early success of the first two seasons were put in the rear view mirror and Jeff started a new ascension. He pitched in 13 games with the Threshers re-building arm strength over 16 1/3 IP - the numbers weren’t great but in minor league baseball it’s not always about the stats but rather the situation and circumstances. He was promoted to Reading on May 30th after a short stint on the injured list with the Threshers spent on refining mechanics. Jeff pitched in 27 games for Reading ( 33 1/3 IP ) and recorded a 2.70 ERA. He finished the 2018 season with AAA Lehigh Valley where he appeared in four games. Jeff signed on with the Gigantes franchise in the Dominican Winter League and pitched in three games for them.
2019 was a return to AA Reading where he played the entire season and pitched in 42 games ( 61 2/3 IP ) posting a 2.34 ERA. He pitched that off-season in the Puerto Rico Winter League for Santurce in 11 more games and recorded a 2.38 ERA in 11 1/3 IP. Hopefully you’ve picked up the theme here of a workhorse effort - always takes the baseball.
The 2020 minor league season was lost to Covid but Jeff did get an invitation and opportunity to participate in the alternate camp at Allentown. In 2021 he was assigned to AAA Lehigh Valley and pitched in 44 games ( 53 IP ) - he followed that up with a winter ball stint in the Mexican League with Hermosillo and pitched in 14 more games ( 14 1/3 IP ) posting a 2.51 ERA.
Since 2017 spring training Jeff has made multiple appearances in Grapefruit League games with the big club but yesterday the ultimate promotion was made. While in Worcester, MA with the AAA Iron Pigs club once again, he was called into Manager Anthony Contreras’s office mid morning and told he was heading to the show ! All the bus rides, winter tours, backfield work, periods of doubt and battling back and “dead arm” times had finally resulted in the call that every minor leaguer plays for - the call to the big leagues. He called his Dad and told him - I got the word shortly before the team announced it - exuberance all around ! The lost puppy from that day in 2017 had found his way - a great day for him, his family and friends - amongst whom I count myself - really, really proud for them and so happy that so many of them could gather at the ballpark for the game to celebrate the accomplishment.
I’ve heard from many baseball folks that getting to the show is difficult but staying there is harder ( this morning Jeff was designated for assignment to make room for Corey Kneble’s return from a short stint on the Covid list ) - doesn’t matter at this point for Jeff - the perseverance of the journey has been rewarded - no matter how long his stay is he will always know that indeed his hard work paid off - that good things do happen to good people. That there is truly a time that comes that can be called the ultimate Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️! He experienced that yesterday as did his family and extensive following - good for us all !
Today’s another one to look forward to - I wish you all - Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️
Jeff Singer - photo by Cheryl Pursell