5/4/2021 : Another Opening Day !
It’s been since September 6th, 2019 when a Phillies minor league affiliate took the field of play in an official game. That day the Trenton Thunder defeated our Reading Fightin’s by a score of 12-2 to eliminate Reading from the Eastern League playoffs. Little did we know at the time that it would be almost 21 months later till we’d have another minor league game 🤪.
That day has arrived and it feels like a new beginning to not only baseball but to getting back to some semblance of normalcy. I will be in attendance tonight in Clearwater as the Threshers take on the Lakeland Flying Tigers at 7 PM. I’ve been granted media credentials but at least for the first few games I’ll pay for tickets and join my fellow fans in the stands ... just seems like where I should be.
Writing about baseball has kept this particular fella somewhat sane during this past year of social distancing, it’s always been my escape but this past year it’s been even more so. We were very thankful to recently be able to attend big league spring training and also enjoy minor league spring training scrimmages but the ability to now watch games where the score counts in the standings is most welcome 😎.
I will begin the journey of a minor league baseball season with you, hopefully you will be informed by our game coverage over the next five months and even more hopefully the safety precautions and vaccinations work to enable a full season to be played. With that being said here’s a few fellas of perhaps lesser focus that I feel are gonna have nice years ... no one can predict the future but it’s always fun to try 😄.
Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️
Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs :
Darick Hall has been mashing the baseball all spring, both in major league camp and at the Alternate site. There is no reason to believe that won’t continue into the AAA season. Darick will also see action in right field besides his normal spot at first base. He’s got big league skills, I’ve touted that since we first saw him play.
Corneluis Randolph may have been the forgotten man for some but we saw that sweet swing akin to when we first saw him play on the backfields years back again this spring. He was driving the ball consistently to all fields and playing with attitude ... a good sign. The skill set has always been there, we think it’s about to pop.
Adonis Medina has also always had big league skills, evident from his early days. The battle has been confidence and consistency. We think this is the year that bursts thru - looking for a return to “prospect” and beyond form.
Enyel De Los Santos looks mean .. he’s a good dude but his scowl can be intimidating. The past couple seasons there’s been some discomfort in throwing the baseball, the time off may have actually been of great benefit to him. Moving to the bullpen will allow him to turn loose big time velocity - upper nineties levels - he’s got the goods to pitch in the show.
Francisco Morales has a skill set that can be dominating, we saw that on Roberts Field a few years ago in his early days. Finding the consistency of command is the only thing holding him back, working in a not so pitcher friendly ballpark setting in Reading hopefully hones in the focus - we believe it will. Expecting big things.
Daniel Brito can pick it in the infield with anyone, he’s already won a gold glove in the minor leagues. This past winter he started to hit the baseball with more authority in the VZ winter league. Danny would have been in big league camp if not for visa issues ... when he arrived it was off to Alternate Camp where he performed well. I think he’s got a Manny Trillo look about him, excited to see what develops.
Kyle Glogoski can flat out pitch. The young RHP from New Zealand has no fear of any situation and has very good stuff including a now mid 90’s reach with his FB. We think he’s ready to burst and could make a lot of noise this summer. Watch for him 👀
Nick Matera mashed the baseball this spring in minor league camp. Folks may not know the name right now but we like his catching skills ( arm, receiving and acumen ) a lot. When he gets his chance we believe he’s gonna turn some heads ... just sayin 💪👀
McCarthy Tatum is a very good defender at both corners of the infield. He also played the outfield this spring in minor league camp. We like his game and think he’s primed to have a very good summer.
Jersey Shore :
Ben Brown is one of our favorite persons in the organization, he’s got a work ethic above and beyond and is genuinely a good dude. Ben can fire the baseball also, his competitive nature is welcoming to any challenge that comes his way. It’s our belief the young RHP is a future big leaguer ... this is the first step after TJ surgery to prove it.
Kevin Gowdy is another young RHP who’s battled back from TJ surgery. His last scrimmage appearance in minor league camp was a wow factor performance in our opinion. We think he’s healthy now and ready to dazzle. Expecting very big things.
Jonathan Guzman is just a real good baseball player. His defensive skills are outstanding as a middle infielder. The bat started to come around during the 2019 season as well. We think he’s on the verge of good things.
Billy Sullivan can fire the baseball ... he’s also got a somewhat quirky delivery that I believe hides the baseball extremely well. We’ve liked what we’ve seen in the couple outings we saw him. With big time pop and movement he’s gonna do really well.
Mick Abel will certainly have the spotlight on him as a # 1 draft pick but we feel he’s up to the challenge. We’ve actually just seen him throw once and it was an outing where he was hit pretty well but we later learned he was working on the location of his fastball ... sometimes what you see on the backfields or in minor league games can’t be taken as they seem. His composure during that outing was excellent and for a teenager that’s really something. The talent is real and now we know the mindset can match it. He’s gonna be a really good one !
Jordi Martinez is a strong armed lefty that got me excited when I saw him pitch in Fall Instructs a few years back. He’s capable of pumping into the mid to upper nineties with tailing movement ... looking forward to seeing him in competitive game action. He’s gonna pop.
DJ Stewart was smoking the ball in minor league camp, at least when we saw him. His ability to play both corner infield spots plus the outfield also serves him well but it’s the hit tool that will make him advance. We think it’s the year that shows.
Extended Spring :
There are a few fellas that will have a bit of a delay to their seasons ... Kendall Simmons, Erik Miller, Carlos De La Cruz and Albertus Barber are just a few that are working thru some temporary set backs but we’re hopeful that they get out there in a few weeks or so. Don’t forget about them or the other players who continue to work on the backfields till their turn to play comes about ... we sure won’t ... we watch em all ... not just write about em 🤓👀.
Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️. It’s another opening day !
Photos by Cheryl Pursell, Mark Wylie and Casey Burns