5/1/23 : April Standouts -Phillies Minor Leagues
The Phillies have historically issued “Player of the Month” awards in three categories … Hitter, Defender and Pitcher. Below are a few nominations for the April awards 🤔🤓.
Hitter of the Month :
Simon Muzziotti (signed 7/5/16 as an international free agent from Venezuela) hit .380 (35 for 92) with a .389 OBP in 95 plate appearances for AAA level Lehigh Valley. Simon currently has the highest batting average in the International League and is second in the loop in hits. He has been limited in action the past two seasons due to injuries and work visa issues, this year he had a solid showing in big league spring training (is on the 40 man roster) and has had a great start to the regular season. He’s just 24 years old and is also an excellent outfielder and has made multiple web gem grabs as well playing primarily left field this season, he’s got plus speed and instincts.
Justin Crawford (2022 1st round draft selection - Bishop Gorman High School , Las Vegas, NV) had a great month posting a .321 batting average (18 for 56) and .387 OBP in 64 plate appearances with two doubles, a triple, ten RBIs and ten stolen bases at the Low A level for the Clearwater Threshers. The mercurial 19 year old also played outstanding defense in center field. He’s currently 7th in batting average in the Florida State League and third in stolen bases.
Caleb Ricketts (2022 7th round draft selection - University of San Diego) had an outstanding month posting a .338 batting average (22 for 65) with 3 doubles, a triple, home run and 17 RBIs at the Low A level for the Clearwater Threshers. He reached base at a .353 OBP level and posted an OPS of .815. The 22 year old caught 116 innings during the month and threw out 8 of 24 base stealers (33 %). He’s near the top of the Florida State League leadership in batting average (3rd) and RBIs (2nd). It’s his first month of April as a professional player and he made it a memorable one!
Esteban Quiroz (AAA Lehigh Valley) and Nick Ward (High A Jersey Shore) have been the prototypical old school lead off hitters for their respective clubs. Quiroz (31 years old) was acquired in a trade for cash considerations from the Cubs on 3/23/23. He walked 21 times in 95 plate appearances and also had 22 hits (16 singles, 5 doubles, 1 HR) posting an outstanding .463 OBP and a .301 batting average. Ward (27 years old) was signed on 12/19/22 as a free agent. He walked 16 times and had 15 hits (13 singles, 2 HR) in 69 plate appearances posting an outstanding OBP of .464 and a .294 batting average, Nick had 12 RBIs and scored 14 runs.
Gabriel Rincones Jr (Low A Clearwater) posted a .409 OBP in 88 PA’s including 6 doubles and 4 home runs, he stole 13 bases (2nd in league) and scored 16 runs (tied for league lead). The 22 year old outfielder was the club’s 3rd round draft selection in the 2022 draft from Florida Atlantic University. He didn’t play in 2022 after being drafted due to a shoulder injury but had strong fall instructs and spring training camps. He’s got plus power from the left side of the dish but also a selective eye witnessed by his 14 walks to date.
Oliver Dunn (AA Reading) was acquired in the Minor League Rule 5 draft this past December from the Yankees organization. He’s 25 years old and has played very well in the 18 games he’s been in. Oliver has posted a .408 OBP in 76 plate appearances with 19 hits (11 singles, 6 doubles, 1 triple, 1 HR) and 12 walks. His batting average in 64 AB’s is .297. He was limited to just 36 games in 2022 due to injuries but has certainly started the 2023 campaign strong.
Others with strong months :
AAA Lehigh Valley :
Vimael Machín - a .355 OBP in 107 plate appearances - 15 walks and 21 hits including 2 doubles and 3 HR’s
Dalton Guthrie - a .380 OBP and .278 batting average in 92 plate appearances, had 6 doubles, 2 triples and 2 HR’s
Jordan Qsar - had 3 doubles, 1 triple, 5 home runs and a team leading 20 RBIs
AA Reading :
Cam Cannon - a .391 OBP in 46 plate appearances and .333 batting average - placed on 7 day IL 4/27/23
Madison Stokes - a .385 OBP in 39 plate appearances after being activated from Development List 4/15 - .314 BA
Ethan Wilson - lost time due to a heel injury but posted a .353 OBP in 34 PA’s, .286 BA in 9 games played
High A Jersey Shore :
Wilfredo Flores - posted a .425 OBP in 40 plate appearances and a .395 batting average
Troy Schreffler - a .425 OBP in 40 PA’s - nine stolen bases and 14 runs scored
Casey Martin - .386 OBP in 71 PA’s - 15 hits, 11 walks
Marcus Lee Sang - .377 OBP in 69 PA’s - 15 hits, 11 walks, 10 RBIs
Low A Clearwater :
Ricardo Rosario - a .514 OBP and .348 BA in 35 plate appearances - 8 hits, 8 walks and 5 stolen bases
Jordan Dissin - a .400 OBP in limited play (31 PA’s) with a double & triple
Erick Brito - a .367 OBP in 61 PA’s and a .288 batting average - 15 hits and 6 walks
Emaarion Boyd leads the Florida State League in steals with 14 followed by Gabriel Rincones Jr with 13 and Justin Crawford with 10. The Threshers as a team lead the league in stolen bases with 59, nineteen more than second place Jupiter.
Pitcher of the Month :
Right hander Orion Kerkering (Low A Clearwater) had a dominant month out of the bullpen. The 22 year old 2022 5th round draft choice from the University of South Florida made seven appearances (seven and 1/3 IP) recording three saves and one hold posting a 0.00 ERA and 0.27 WHIP with 13 strikeouts and 1 walk, he allowed only one hit, opponents hit .043 against him 😳. Kudos to scout Bryce Harman for signing Kerkering who could move quickly up the ladder as a back end reliever with two plus pitches, a wipeout slider (best in the system) and a high velocity sinker/fastball (97 to 100 mph).
Mick Abel (AA level Reading) finished the month with an excellent six inning effort on Saturday allowing just one run on two hits, no walks and striking out six batters. In four April starts the 21 year old right-hander (2020 1st round draft selection - Jesuit High School, Portland, Oregon) posted a 2.93 ERA in 15 1/3 IP and a 1.11 WHIP. Opponents hit just .170 against him, those numbers include his initial outing of the season in Richmond where he yielded two runs and four walks in just 2/3 of an inning, Mick has been stellar since. Really good first month of the season for the young man with the power arm and stuff baseball folks salivate over.
Sam Aldegheri had a very strong month, in four appearances (15 2/3 IP) he posted a 2.87 ERA and 0.89 WHIP with 25 strikeouts and only 3 walks for Low A level Clearwater. The 21 year old left hander from Verona, Italy was the starting pitcher in a no hitter on 4/8 going four perfect innings. He started in three of his four appearances, in the other he followed Nick Nelson who was on MLB rehab assignment. We’ve been anxious to see what Sam can do ever since we first saw him in Fall Instructs shorty after he signed as an amateur free agent on 7/2/19. Last season was a battle with injuries for him as he was able to only accumulate twelve innings, this season thus far he’s shown a five pitch mix (four seamer, sinker, slider, curve and changeup) with the velocity on the heater generally sitting 92 to 93 mph with flashes of 94. The movement and placement of his pitches has been really good and his ability to throw each of them at any point in the count creates a terrific mix. Really good start to the season for the likeable young man.
Francisco Morales (AAA Lehigh Valley) posted a 0.90 ERA in eight April games (11 IP) with 16 K’s and 4 walks. Opponents hit just .139 against him and he recorded a 0.82 WHIP. Francisco opened the season with a shaky outing on 3/31 in which he was tagged for 3 runs on 3 hits in 2/3 of an inning but has been stellar since. The 23 year old right hander from Venezuela has always possessed major league talent but also has continually struggled with control and command in his young career. This past fall and spring he was taught both a cutter and two seam fastball grip which he’s added to the repertoire of a wipeout slider and a high velocity four seamer. His fastballs are generally sitting in the 95 to 96 mph range now but with seemingly more life and to date much more control/command. The slider is still a put away pitch and the cutter has provided an offset which he’s used quite a bit. Still early and I’m admittedly a huge fan of this young fella but it’s been a very encouraging April for him.
Jonh Henriquez (Low A Clearwater) is a right hander whom I’ve been touting ever since Matt Winkleman of Phillies Minor Thoughts clued me in last summer about Henriquez popping the radar gun in the mid nineties in the Dominican Summer League. So far this season the 23 year old from the Dominican Republic has appeared in six games (15 IP) and has posted a 2.40 ERA and 0.93 WHIP as a bulk reliever going three innings or more in each of his last three games. He’s throwing five pitches (four seamer, cutter,change-up, slider & curve) with the heater topping out at 95 mph, it’s the movement he’s getting on his pitches that have stood out, batters have hit just .157 against him as he’s allowed only eight hits. Has really progressed in a very short amount of time to becoming a well rounded pitcher while not sacrificing his ability to overpower hitters as well.
Braden Zarbnisky (AA Reading) posted a 1.74 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in six appearances (10 1/3 IP) with one save, the 26 year old right hander didn’t allow a run in four of his appearances, in those contests he pitched multiple innings in each. Braden was signed as an amateur free agent on 7/21/20 from the University of West Virginia where he was a two way player. He has a three pitch mix - a fastball that generally sits in a range of 93 to 95 mph - max 96, curve (81 to 82 mph) and slider (84 to 85 mph).
Others with strong months :
AAA Lehigh Valley :
RH Noah Skirrow - posted a 3.00 ERA in 4 games (18 IP) going five innings twice and notching two wins
RH Jesus Cruz - 1.64 ERA in 9 appearances (11 IP) with 14 K’s and 4 BB
AA Reading :
RH Tyler McKay - 1.50 ERA in 5 appearances (6 IP) with a 0.83 WHIP
LH David Parkinson - 2.57 ERA in 3 starts (14 IP) with 15 K’s and 6 BB
RH Brett Schulze - 0.92 WHIP in 7 appearances (8 2/3 IP) with 16 K’s & 2 BB
LH Taylor Lehman - 1.06 WHIP and 2.61 ERA in 7 appearances (10 1/3 IP)
High A Jersey Shore :
RH Tommy McCollum - 2.70 ERA in 7 appearances (6 2/3 IP) with 14 K’s & 5 BB
RH Gunner Mayer - 2.79 ERA in 3 starts (9 2/3 IP) with 11 K’s and 4 walks
LH Jordi Martinez - 2.57 ERA in 6 appearances (seven IP) - 12 K’s, 2 BB, 1st pro save
LH Jordan Fowler - 3.12 ERA in 4 starts (17 1/3 IP)
Low A Clearwater :
RH Jack Dallas - 0.00 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 8 appearances (11 1/3 IP) with 12 K’s and 4 BB
LH Wesley Moore - 0.00 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in 7 games (nine IP) with 15 K’s and 5 BB
RH Wen Hui Pan - 0.00 ERA and 0.43 WHIP in 3 games ( seven IP) with 11 K’s and 2 BB
RH Alex McFarlane - 3.29 ERA in 4 starts (13 2/3 IP) with 20 K’s
Clearwater threw a no hitter on 4/8/23 - five pitchers combined in the second game of the season, a 3-0 win. Sam Aldegheri was outstanding as the starting pitcher, he threw four perfect innings and struck out seven batters. Eduar Segovia threw two strong innings behind him. Andrew Walling pitched a hitless seventh inning. Orion Kerkering struck out the side in a dominant 8th inning. Wesley Moore completed the no hitter with a scoreless ninth frame! The five hurlers combined to tally 16 strikeouts and allowed just four walks.
Defender of the Month :
Outfielder Marcus Lee Sang (High A Jersey Shore) was outstanding making multiple hit robbing catches, he also had an assist throwing out a runner at the plate.
Outfielder Simon Muzziotti (AAA Lehigh Valley) also made multiple great catches in left field for the Iron Pigs. His range was tremendous tracking balls in the gap. Simon also had two outfield assists.
Outfielder Johan Rojas (AA Reading) just seems to catch every fly ball that comes into the outfield with ease. His range in center field is stellar, an elite level defender. He had 59 put outs during the month and an assist.
Catcher Arturo De Freitas (High A Jersey Shore) is an outstanding receiver, mechanics, framing, catching and throwing - he threw out six of twenty base stealers during the month.
Photos by Cheryl Pursell, Casey Burns, George Youngs Jr, Rebecca Alexander and Michael Dolcemascolo
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