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  • Writer's pictureSteve Potter

5/11/23 : Hot 🔥

With four games left in the current week’s six game cycle for the Phillies four minor league affiliates I thought it warranted that I point out a few of our hitters whom are smoking hot at the moment.  Baseball is a humbling sport to play and player development is an area where some choose to think that it’s an easy process, take it from one who watches each and every day that perception is far from the truth.  So when fellas are doing well it’s important, at least to me, to spotlight their successes.

Outfielder Simon Muzziotti (Lehigh Valley)  - In extending his hitting streak to 12 games last night, Muzziotti finished three for four and a triple shy of the cycle. He is 27-for-51 (.529) during the run.  Simon is hitting a robust .402 and leads the International League in hits (49) and is currently fifth in the loop in batting average.  The 24 year old was signed on July 5th of 2016 and has battled thru injuries the past couple of seasons.  This year he’s been a lineup regular playing primarily left field where he’s excelled defensively as well.  He’s always put up solid offensive numbers in his career but this season by far has been his most successful run to date.  It’s just 128 plate appearances but nonetheless it’s been a sparkling hot start!

Outfielder Johan Rojas (Reading) -  Johan has adapted a timing mechanism in his plate approach where he has an abbreviated Joe Morgan like elbow flap, it’s worked wonders thus far.  He’s had a hit in ten of his last eleven games (20 for 46 - .435 batting average) including three doubles, a home run and seven RBIs.  During the stretch he’s had a four hit game and two games with three hits.  For the season Johan has raised his batting average to .304 in 115 AB’s.  The 22 year old from the Dominican Republic was signed 1/18/18, the first time we saw him play on the backfields we realized he had a chance to be a really good player.  Johan is a stellar defensive center fielder as well; speed, reads, coverage and arm strength and accuracy are all at the elite level.  He stole 62 bases last season in minor league regular season action and has 8 in 11 attempts so far this year.  Last night he turned his ankle fielding a ground ball and had to leave the contest, hopefully it’s not something that sidelines him for a long term because he’s red hot right now.

Outfielder Ethan Wilson (Reading) - was named the Eastern League Player of the Week for last week.  Over five games at Hartford, Wilson hit .480 with three home runs, 11 RBI and seven runs scored. Since coming off the injured list (heel injury) on April 22, Ethan is hitting .352 (18 for 51) with five home runs and 18 RBI’s.  Drafted in the second round of the 2021 draft from South Alabama University the 23 year old has had his best stretch to date in his very brief career, he’s already within three home runs of tying a personal season high mark.

First Baseman/Outfielder Carlos De La Cruz (Reading) - he’s riding a seven game hitting streak (15 for 35 - .429 batting average) with two doubles, two home runs and six RBIs.  Over his last nine games he’s 17 for 40 (.425).  Carlos was signed on 8/23/17 as an amateur free agent from Yonkers, New York and is now 23 years of age.  We recognized his bat speed and power stroke when we first saw him on the backfields but since a breakout month of July last season he’s learned to cut down his swing and drive pitches to all fields.  He’s also a very good defender in the outfield and has made significant progress as a first baseman as well, few have the 6’8” stretch capabilities he has at the position.

First Baseman Rixon Wingrove (Jersey Shore) - he’s 22 for 61 (.361) with six home runs since April 14th.  He hit two home runs on Saturday which was his fourth multi home run game of his career and second of the season (4/19 at Aberdeen).  Rixon was signed on 4/20/18 from Australia and is now 22 years old, he’s got extensive international baseball experience as a member of Team Australia and played in this spring’s World Baseball Classic.  Very engaging personality as well, a popular teammate.

Infielder Kendall Simmons (Jersey Shore) - it’s a small sample size as he just recently returned from a rib injury however I really like this young man and have been excited to see him in game action since we noted terrific fall camps and spring training before the injury occurred.  In his last six games he’s 9 for 28 (.321) with a double, four home runs and nine RBIs.  The home runs have all come in the most recent three games.  Kendall was the club’s 6th round draft selection in the 2018 draft from Tatnall Square High School in Macon, Georgia and is now 23 years of age.  He’s got the quickest bat on high inside fastballs I’ve ever seen in my minor league coverage.  Also a very strong throwing arm defensively, the development focus for him has been the hot corner and second base as his positions.  Perhaps the best smile in the organization and a great personality to boot, he can rake.

There are others who are also cooking (as the Rock would say), namely Jake Cave (LHV), Matt Kroon (Reading), Caleb Ricketts (Jersey Shore) and Cade Fergus, Jordan Dissin and Gabriel Rincones Jr (Clearwater) but I felt a need to point out the six above in a special mid week article, just sayin - they’re really on 🔥.

Other Notes :

Right handed pitcher Mitch Nuenborn (25 years old from Johannesburg, South Africa) has joined the roster at Carpenter Complex in Clearwater and will begin his Phillies training as part of the Player Development Center team.  Nuenborn pitched this winter for the Australian Baseball League champion Adelaide Giants and also for Team Australia in the World Baseball Classic.  He was a very important bullpen cog for the Adelaide Giants during the 2022-23 Australia Baseball League season, making 13 appearances with a 3-0 record along with posting a 2.25 ERA in 28 innings and striking out 40.

"Neunborn pitched collegiately in the U.S for North Iowa Area JC and in the summer collegiate Great West League before returning home to Australia. He won the Australian Baseball League’s rookie of the year award in 2021 as a starter for Adelaide. He is a strong, stocky righthander with a mid-90s fastball and an above-average, tight-breaking curveball that gets swings and misses. Primarily dominates with those two pitches, but he also has a slider and changeup that are serviceable offerings he can mix in." - Baseball America

Griff McGarry is slated to pitch at least an inning tonight for Reading with Mick Abel getting the start tomorrow.  Expect quite a few eyes to be on those two.

Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️

Photo by Cheryl Pursell

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