8/2/23 : Memories
As we all know the 2020 season was a lost one for minor league baseball however in October of that year the Phillies held a modified Fall Instructs Camp. No one other than team members, coaches and select staff were allowed inside the complex but that didn’t prohibit us from viewing the action from beyond the fences. With lawn chairs and step ladders in tow we watched from the berm alongside the left field fences of Roberts Field adjacent to the Ream Wilson Trail.
Participants that fall included Bailey Falter and Matt Vierling. Both had requested to attend, Bailey was working on increasing his velocity, actually experimenting with a different arm slot (which ultimately he decided to abandon and stick with his classic delivery) and Matt was there to work on playing the infield corner positions of first and third base. Both young men eventually reached the major leagues, Matt is now a lineup regular for the Detroit Tigers and Bailey was just traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates where it’s likely he will join their major league rotation.
Over the course of their time with the Phillies we got to know each a bit, both very pleasant and down to earth young men. Bailey this year in Spring Training was one of the few in big league camp who would venture down to minor league camp to check in with coaches, staff and yes even old ball fans/scribes like myself. We got to know his family as well, really nice folks. While a part of me is saddened he’s no longer a Phillie I’m equally happy that he will now get a shot at pitching in the major leagues once again. Hopefully he enjoys the on field success that Matt is experiencing with the Tigers, good people deserve good things to happen for them - just sayin.
In 2021 Fall Camp we got a longer look at a young infielder that had signed that June and had briefly played that summer in the Gulf Coast League - here were my notes that fall - “Hao Yu Lee ( 18 yrs old ) continues to impress, his swing is short and direct and he barrels balls up consistently. Today he had two hard hit singles and a walk in three plate appearances with two stolen bases, he was very aggressive on the base paths - got outstanding jumps stealing third base twice. The young man looks well schooled in how to play the game, not so fleet of foot but plays smart. There’s much to like in what we’ve seen to date.”
We also got to know Lee’s translator Peter Lin, watching the two of them interact and how Lee progressed socially was cool to see. Recently Peter told me “Lee’s English has definitely improved drastically, last year with Clearwater I was right next to him basically throughout practice and games. He understood what people were saying by the end of the year but still struggled with conversation. This year he is able to have full conversations with coaches and players by himself, this shift happened as early as this January when we had the pre-season meeting, where I can tell he was willing to try to speak with the coordinators by himself. His capability to speak English certainly brings out his true character when interacting with teammates. Everyone enjoys his goofy attitude on top of being surprised several times when Lee bursts out some authentic slangs during casual conversations.”
What we saw while Lee was here was a very competitive young man who truly enjoys playing baseball and competes with everything he has. Even in practices he got after it and yes he was indeed a popular teammate, that was evident as well. Yesterday he was traded to the Tigers for pitcher Michael Lorenzen which is itself a testament to his baseball skills to be valued as an equal exchange for a successful major leaguer. In our opinion Lee will reach the major leagues at some point, he’s just 20 years old at present - we’ve always drawn a comparison in our minds to former big leaguer Placido Polanco in his hitting prowess and baseball savvy. Detroit definitely got a very fair exchange.
Just a few memories from the old mind bank - baseball trades are part of the business and all involved know that. New opportunities await both Bailey and Lee with their clubs and we wish them both well. I’m sure they will acclimate very well to the new organizations. It’s all part of it.
Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️
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