8/27/22 : FCL ( Florida Complex League ) Phillies season review - part two
Playing on the backfields during the summer in Florida is definitely one of the most arduous and challenging task assigned to any minor league player. Midday or morning games in the heat require early starts to each day to get pre-game work in. They are also playing to small audiences ( folks like my wife and I, scouts and family members who are in town ). Many of the players played exclusively this year on the complex fields from spring pre camp in February thru extended spring ( March to early June ) and the FCL game schedule ( June to August ). While it’s a great opportunity for us to get to know them and their family members who visit it’s a grind for the young men. As one of the few regular attendees for the “backfield” games here’s my observances.
This is part two of the series on the outfielders - part one on Catchers and Infielders can be found here : https://www.philliesbaseballfan.com/post/8-26-22-fcl-florida-complex-league-phillies-season-review
Yemal Flores ( 18 yrs old ) - the numbers don’t reflect the potential - Yemal is a very strong young man that has the ability to hit the baseball a very long way, we’ve seen him do just that. Already has two seasons of pro baseball under his belt and won’t turn 19 till November. Pitch recognition, cutting down on the swing and misses and a more consistent approach are keys to further development. Defensively we saw him quite a bit in center field, has a very strong throwing arm and while not a burner in the sense of others he’s played with he moves decently for a fella with such a thick muscular body. Numbers don’t tell the whole story but he will have to drastically improve them with his play next spring to move forward to a full season squad albeit another year of growth on the backfields isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Albert Rodriquez ( 19 yrs old ) - angular build is reflective of the ability to move quickly - Albert has decent speed but also has some pop as well - we were there for his first pro home run - in fact made the long trek beyond the left field fences of Roberts Field to retrieve it for him. He had a strong month of June to start the FCL season but tailed off significantly thereafter and with the new arrivals played sparingly in August. What we saw in June was of intrigue - hopefully future play is of that sort.
Jordan Viars ( 19 yrs old ) - won’t turn 20 till next July - had a very strong pre camp and spring training that ended with an ankle injury that delayed his regular season. He’s a powerfully built young man that plays the game as if his hair is on fire - all out all the time. Patience isn’t a strength as he pushes himself to excel - his first season as a pro has been a learning curve both physically and mentally - one he hopefully looks back upon in later years as a positive. After the FCL season concluded Jordan was added to the Threshers roster which is where he projects to start next spring. He’s a pleasant young man who’s eager to succeed - the power tool is his ticket - finding consistency along with adaptability are keys to un-locking full potential. Defensively he has better speed than one might think - once he’s going he’s like a very fast tank approaching - we’ve seen him both in the corners of the outfield and at first base - there’s a bit of rawness at both but that will be refined - we feel there’s athleticism to develop into a solid defender. Just gonna take some time and patience.
Jordan Viars - photo by Mark Wylie
Ricardo Rosario ( 19 yrs old ) - started the season in the Dominican Summer League with the Phillies White team before being promoted to the states. He’s a very quick runner, the first week he was in Clearwater we saw him intentionally bunt to the first base side as a right handed hitter and flat out beat the play ! Won’t turn 20 till February - his speed enables him to play all outfield positions, coupled with throwing abilities would seemingly project as a strong defender - evidenced by four assists from right field in the FCL. Had a strong finish to the season albeit in limited action hitting .313 in August. Speed is an asset and can keep slumps at bay - Ricardo is yet another young outfielder in the organization who has in my estimation above average wheels.
Ricardo Rosario - photo by Mark Wylie
1B/OF Lou Helmig ( 19 yrs old ) - very raw talent - large build at 6’5” - bats from the left side of the plate. Spent some time at the Dominican Academy before coming stateside for the FCL season. Had a good June but fell off thereafter - powerful swing and eagerness to play are assets. Footwork at first base was a challenge when he first arrived but coaching addressed that and was far improved thereafter - same with outfield play - projects as a corner - probably in left field as focus is likely more on offensive capabilities. Swing isn’t long from what we’ve seen but will need to improve his bat speed and recognition. Is a pleasant young fella that we had a chance to chat with about his native country of Germany. He’s willing to work and learn - great work ethic. Could be a diamond in the rough.
Gavin Tonkel ( 19 yrs old ) suffered a season ending injury during an extended spring training game - he hit an outfield pole flush attempting to catch a fly ball at the Yankees complex ala Aaron Rowand. He’s back working towards a return for Fall Instructs. Gavin was selected in the 9th round of the 2021 draft from Heritage High School in Brentwood, CA. We’ve seen him in action prior to the injury, another very fast runner who also has some pop - plays the game hard - we are anxious to see him back on the field.
Emaarion Boyd ( 19 yrs old ), Justin Crawford ( 18 yrs old ), Ezra Farmer ( 19 yrs old ) and Dakota Kotowski ( 22 yrs old ) all were late additions to the roster after being drafted or signed as un-drafted free agents. Kotowski and Crawford have since been added to the Threshers roster with Boyd perhaps not far behind. Crawford and Boyd are as advertised - tremendous speed and athletic ability - Emaarion bats from the right side of the plate - we’ve been impressed with his quick hands and bat speed. Justin exudes confidence and is well schooled as a baseball player, he has already shown the ability to get great reads defensively along with an apt to hit the ball where it’s pitched - singles are doubles to both with their elite wheels. Kotowski is a powerfully built young man and Farmer plays with passion - he too is a burner.
Justin Crawford & Emaarion Boyd - photo by Mark Wylie
The final part of the series will be the pitchers
Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️