• Steve Potter

6/2/2020 : More than just names ...

Yesterday there were multiple Phillies minor league names listed on the transaction list under the category “released”  ... professional sports is a unique industry in that dismissals are public knowledge and turnover is relatively frequent.   When you get to know the players a bit the release lists are dreaded albeit knowingly inevitable ... in baseball the vast majority of those who are skilled enough to become professional players do not reach the major leagues.  All know that when they sign yet it doesn’t make it any less difficult when it occurs.

Here’s a look at some of the fellas who were released yesterday ... beyond just a listing of names.

The Rehabbers :

Four pitchers who were working their way back from Tommy John surgery were on the list ; Brandon Leibrandt, Tyler Hallead, Brian Auerbach and Sandro Rosario.  We got to chat with each frequently over the past couple years.  

Tyler Hallead was drafted in 2016 in the 24th round out of the CC of South Nevada.  He pitched in 41 games over his first two seasons before suffering elbow issues ... Tyler missed the entire 2018 and 2019 seasons ... he had TJ surgery during 2019 ST camp, I remember on May 17th of that summer walking into the Complex with his Dad who had flown in from Nevada to surprise Tyler on his birthday.  Tyler had progressed this spring to bullpen sessions ... the last one I saw him throw was in March and he was popping the mitt well ... he’s a power pitcher with mid to upper 90’s capabilities.   He’s now 25 years old, still time if he wants to keep pursuing the dream.

Brandon Liebrandt turned 27 in December, he was drafted in the 6th round of the 2014 draft out of Florida State.  Brandon had moved to the bullpen in 2018 with Lehigh Valley and was having his best pro season posting a 1.42 ERA in 20 games.  He went on the DL on July 3rd of that year and had TJ surgery shortly thereafter ... Brandon missed the entire 2019 season but had worked his way back to the position of throwing an inning in October Fall Instructs, a big deal in the rehab process  ... he was super excited about making his way back.  I chatted with him briefly this spring as he was looking forward to competing for a job.   Camp shut down before he even got a chance to pitch in a game ... he’s a control and command artist and has what some describe as the best pickoff move to first base they’ve seen ... I thought he was primed for a big comeback season.

Brian Auerbach is 23 years old, he’s a local FLA product out of Dunedin.  Brian signed as an un-drafted free agent out of Rollins University on June 18th, 2018.  He pitched in 13 games for the GCL Phillies that summer posting a 1.59 ERA.  Brian went on the DL after having TJ surgery in 2019 and missed the entire season ... 

Sandro Rosario is 24 years old, he signed with the Phillies on June 12th, 2015 ... he pitched in three seasons making his last appearance in 2017 in the GCL.  Sandro missed the entire 2018 and 2019 seasons ... always greeted us with a broad smile each time we saw him at the Complex ... a lot of recovery time invested to end up with a release.

If the pandemic hadn’t occurred I believe all four of these fellas would have gotten chances to show they were ready ... the camp closing and elimination of a season took that away.

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The Veterans :

Utility player Ali Castillo is 30 years old ... he had a great 2019 season at Reading and Lehigh Valley hitting .322 in 466 AB’s ... he also served as a clubhouse leader and veteran presence, many of the players took guidance from him.  Ali has played 12 pro seasons ... he re-signed this winter with the Phillies cutting short his Winter Ball season to do so.  Certainly a coach in the making but I think he’s not yet done as a player.

Aaron Brown is 27 years old, was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2014 draft out of Pepperdine University and began his pro career as an outfielder ... he converted to a pitcher in 2017 and played the last two seasons throwing out of the bullpen for Reading.  Aaron is a power pitcher, has had some issues with control but capable of mid nineties deliveries ... hopefully he gets another shot somewhere.

infielder TJ Rivera and Pitcher Carlos Bustamante were signed this past off season to provide depth ... Rivera was working his way back from injury and Bustamante was coming off a very solid Mexican League season.

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My other buddies :

Ben Aklinski, Willie Estrada, Waylon Richardson, Michael Gomez, Raul Rivas and Juan Mendez are all fellas we’ve either watched or chatted with on the backfields the past few years.  Ben Aklinski was coming off a successful winter season in Australia where he even caught a few games rather than playing his normal outfield spots ... he’s gonna keep at it and continue to pursue his dream.  Waylon Richardson was recently engaged to be married, a fine young man who suffered some injury set backs that disallowed us to see him at his best on the hill.  Willie Estrada was signed last summer as catching depth but never saw the field in game action ... we got to chat with him last GCL season ... was very eager to play - coming back from an injury  ... the shutdown cost him the chance to do so with the Phillies.  Michael Gomez had worked his way up to the Threshers and actually pitched very well in ten games there posting a 1.47 ERA, he’s 23 years old.  Raul Rivas is also 23 years old, he had advanced to Reading but has also battled the injury bug the last couple years ... finished last season with the Threshers.  Juan Mendez had a couple solid seasons in the DSL and would have competed for a GCL spot ... with the pending season cancellation and the minor league depth the Phillies have at catcher and even a couple more new International signings coming aboard he got caught in the numbers.

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The Aussies and Hunter 

Jordan McCardle and Jason Lott were the initial two Australian players to be invited to ST camp as part of a new and ongoing agreement between the Phillies and the Adelaide Giants ... neither even got to suit up as they were initially quarantined and then camp closed before they were activated ... Hunter Stoval was acquired in a trade with the Rockies last April, the 23 year old infielder played at Lakewood in 2019 as a multi position player ...

More than just names ... all fellas with what we hope is a bright future, whether that be baseball or in another profession  ... best wishes to them all !

Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️ 




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