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  • Writer's pictureSteve Potter

9/22/23 : Arizona Fall League

The Phillies contingent will be part of the Scottsdale Scorpions joining with the Los Angeles Angels, San Francisco Giants, St Louis Cardinals and Washington Nationals.  This year the team has nine players on the team along with team manager Marty Malloy and Strength and Conditioning Coach Joseph Miranda.

RHP Andrew Baker

RHP Christian McGowan

RHP Mitch Neunborn

RHP Dominic Pipkin

LHP Jordi Martinez

INF/OF Matt Kroon

C Caleb Ricketts

OF Gabriel Rincones Jr.

INF Oliver Dunn

Here are some notes on the manager, coach and players selected.

Marty Malloy - Clearwater - Marty took over the reigns of the Threshers in the second half of the 2021 season and has stayed at the helm since, he led the club to a first half championship this year and the championship series in the playoffs.  Players truly enjoy playing for him as they know he has their back and will battle for them.  Began his Phillies career as Manager of the then Lakewood BlueClaws from 2017 to 2018.  Managed Clearwater initally in 2019, then served as minor league infield coordinator the next one and a half seasons before returning to the Clearwater dugout.  Prior to joining the Phillies organization he spent four years in the Astros organization as a manager, hitting coach and coordinator.  He played twelve years of professional baseball as an infielder including his first eight years in the Atlanta Braves system.  Played in eleven major league games with the Braves in 1998 and in twenty four games with the Marlins in 2002.

Joseph Miranda - Strength and Conditioning Coach - Clearwater - Joseph earned his bachelor’s degree in Physical Education from Maryville College and his master’s degree in Exercise Science from George Washington University.  He had seven years of experience in professional baseball prior to joining the Phillies this year, having previously worked as a Strength and Conditioning Coach in the Rockies, Red Sox, Reds, and Marlins organizations.

Andrew Baker - 23 years old -11th round draft selection (2021) - Chipola JC, FL

Notes - fastball (95 to 99 mph, has reached 101 mph), hard slider and big break curve.  Had his struggles during the 2023 season at Reading with control, command and mix.  Just before the All-Star break Andrew came to Clearwater to work with the pitching lab coaches on mechanics, sequencing and to develop a new pitch, a splitter.  He returned to action armed with an adjusted approach and a new bullet in the arsenal.  We’ve never doubted that Andrew has big league talent, if you watch him throw that’s readily evident.  It’s a matter of commanding/controlling the zone, refining and sequencing pitches and repeating mechanics, from there the talent can shine.  Participating in the AFL is an opportunity to continue to develop in all of those areas and come into 2024 spring training ready to compete for an upper level roster spot.

Christian McGowan - 23 years old - 7th round draft selection (2021) - Eastern Oklahoma State JC

Notes -  Spent the majority of the year at the complex with the rehab team returning from TJ surgery.  Can throw the ball past hitters.  Competes with passion, plays hard, will get after it  - fun to watch. The arsenal - four seam and sinking fastball ( sits in a range of 92 to 96 mph - flashes higher), slider and change-up.  Returned to game action on 7/22/23 with two innings of work in the Florida Complex League and to High A Jersey Shore on August 12th and continued to build up innings, performed well in the South Atlantic League playoffs.  Finished the season with a start for AAA Lehigh Valley on 9/20/23.  He will be a starter in the AFL, has the talent to perform at the upper levels and in the show.  Needs to build up innings, missed the entire 2022 season.  A potential big arm starter whose AFL focus will be on commanding the zone, continuing to refine pitches and build experience.  His sinker is a pitch of intrigue and a ticket to higher levels, coupled with the four seamer and hard slider it provides three out pitches with the changeup being another potential put away pitch, particularly to left handers.  No one will outwork this young man, he’s a down to earth, no frills, straight at ya, get it done persona who’s easy to root for.

Mitch Neunborn - 26 years old - signed as an international free agent 6/5/23 - Johannesburg, South Africa

Notes :   Features three pitches, a fastball (92 to 95 mph), slider and split finger change up.  Throws his splitter with a grip between his ring and index finger, creates good deception, reduction in velocity and downward movement, will throw it often and for strikes.  Has been a standout for the Adelaide Giants the past couple of seasons putting up stellar numbers out of the bullpen last year for the Australian League champions.  He’s a strike thrower as evidenced by an immaculate inning he threw on August 17th for the BlueClaws, pitched well for Jersey Shore both in the regular season and playoffs.  He is being deployed as a starter as his repertoire of pitches and command position him for success.  Neunborn pitched collegiate baseball for Phillies Minor League Pitching Coordinator Travis Hergert at North Iowa Community College.

Dominic Pipkin - 23 years old - 2018 9th round draft selection - Pinole Valley HS, CA

Notes -  began the season on the IL with some elbow soreness and spent the first couple months of the year working with the rehab group at the Complex.  I remember watching one of his early live bullpen sessions and told him that the fastball was getting on the hitters but because of his smooth delivery it didn’t seem like at a high velo - he laughed and said he was “sneaky fast” - turns out the gun read the heater at 99 mph that day - sneaky fast indeed.  After five rehab appearances with the FCL team and Clearwater he was taken off the IL and assigned to Reading on 7/4/23 where he delivered the fastball consistently in the upper nineties, even reaching 100 mph on multiple occasions.  He’s converted from being a starter earlier in his career but still has a starter’s mix with a cutter, slider and change up in addition to the heat, it’s the velo that can make him standout as a back end reliever - very like-able young man - 99 to 100 mph fastballs that rise aren’t generally sneaky but they are indeed good.  Keep an eye out for this fella.  Will pitch out of the pen in Arizona.

Jordi Martinez - 23 years old - signed as an international free agent 1/22/18 - Santiago, Dominican Republic

Notes -   we first saw Jordi pitch in 2019 Fall Instructs and came away thinking “Wow” - ball seemed to jump out of his hand.  This year he converted to a full time reliever after making thirty-four starts in his first four years of play.  The changeover worked well, he was a back end reliever with multi inning capability for Jersey Shore and earned a promotion to Reading on 8/19/23.  The stuff we saw in 2019 still plays, features a fastball in the 93 to 97 range - has reached higher, a change up and slider.  He pitched more than an inning in multiple appearances and two or more frames as well on many occasions.  He’s incorporated more of his lower half in his delivery as I remember when we initially saw him it was a straight up style that seemingly would place more stress on the elbow, in fact he has lost time with arm issues in the past.  Coming out of the bullpen has allowed Jordi to open the throttle on his pitches, the fastball velocity has always been something we’ve seen but not as consistent as this year.  Will be in the same role in Arizona.

UTL Matt Kroon - 26 years old - 2018 18th round draft selection - Oklahoma State University

Notes - This spring he broke camp as Reading’s primary third baseman while also seeing time in all the outfield positions.  Matt has above average speed, a short swing and has shown the ability to play multiple positions, we’ve seen him play at every position except catcher.  He’s a diligent worker who is a baseball rat, gets after it and loves to play.  Had a great season with Reading, was amongst league leaders in multiple categories which earned his promotion to AAA Lehigh Valley on 8/7/23, went on the IL on 8/11 with a hamstring injury but has since returned and continues to excel.  Scouts I’ve chatted with about him project Matt in a multi position role (due to his defensive versatility) in the big leagues, we believe that he can hit in the show and contribute to a winning club.  He will be the Phillies featured position player in Arizona this year meaning that he will be a lineup regular.

C/1B Caleb Ricketts - 23 years old - 2022 7th round draft selection - San Diego University

Notes -  Caleb was a key cog in the early success of the Threshers first half championship run which earned him a promotion to Jersey Shore on May 9th, went on the IL on 6/4/23 with a wrist injury and later a knee sprain, returned to action with the BlueClaws on August 5th, hit a key home run in the playoffs.  He’s a left handed hitter with gap to gap drive, easy swing, good approach, can take the outside strike the other way.  Defensively he’s a take charge receiver, very savvy.  Arm strength is a bit behind others in the system but makes up for it with overall skill set.  Has the ability to reach the major leagues.  Will likely catch a couple games per week in Arizona.

Gabriel Rincones Jr. - 22 years old - Birthdate : 3/3/01 - 2022 3rd round draft selection - Florida Atlantic University

Notes - We saw him in BP for the first time in 2022 Fall Camp - ball absolutely flies off the bat with easy power - left handed hitter who drove multiple baseballs over the right field fence on Roberts Field and some into the tree line before the hill bank that leads up to Route 19.  He has a “pretty lefty swing” using an old baseball term - no wasted motion and direct thru the ball.  Has the ability to drive the baseball to all fields.  He got off to a great start this season with Clearwater and was named the system’s player of the month for April.  Promoted to Jersey Shore on 6/13/23 where his power swing continued to shine.  Confident in his abilities, won’t be intimidated by any situation.  He’s a better defender than described in pre-draft scouting reports, smart player.  Will see time in Arizona in both the outfield and likely as a DH.

Oliver Dunn - 25 years old - selected in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft on 12/7/22 from the New York Yankees organization - was the Yankee’s 2019 11th round draft selection from the University of Utah

Notes - left handed hitter who had a career year this season for Reading, he played in the most games this summer in his five year career and was amongst the Eastern League leaders in multiple categories.   His manager with the Yankees last season was Dan Fiorito who was quoted as saying this about him in an article written on 5/24/22 by Mike Ashmore, a correspondent covering the Somerset Patriots  - “He’s just a really smart baseball player, he’s really knowledgeable. Every pitcher that we face, he has a great plan and I know he helps all of his teammates, even in games when he’s not in the lineup.  He helps everybody in there, and guys gravitate towards him.”  That followed thru this season as he was a key contributor both on and off the field.  I asked Oliver if he was surprised about being chosen in the Rule five draft and what’s stood out for him this season. “Yes, I was totally surprised. I wasn’t even following the draft when it happened actually. I think the main thing is just getting consistent at bats. That opportunity has really helped me figure out what I do well as a hitter and where I need to improve, and then allowed me to work on it.”  Oliver has played primarily second base however has seen some time in left field and third base as well which bodes well for his future advancement, the more defensive versatility a player can display obviously the better.  One to watch as a viable big league contributor next season.  In Arizona defensive versatility may be a focus.

Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️

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