Tag Archives: Jerad Eickhoff

Phillies 2015 Report Card: Starting Pitchers

To fashion the worst Philadelphia Phillies season since 1972, a deficiency in talent and results from the 2015 starting pitching rotation was a key element. 
However, mixed in with those deficiencies were a few notable bright spots.
Fifteen different pitchers took the mound at the start of a game for the Phillies this past season. 
Thirteen of those made at least five starts apiece, while seven received double-digit starting assignments.
Those seven who did receive at least 10 starts all received at least 13. They will receive grades on their performances, along with the next highest, who received eight starts.
If others want to waste time grading the performances of the other seven starting pitchers individually, that’s fine. 
Suffice it to say that both individually and as a group, they receive an ‘F’ from me.

The seven pitchers included in that ‘F’ group, with the number of starts made, are as follows: Alec Asher (7), Chad Billingsley (7), Severino Gonzalez (7), Kevin Correia (5),Dustin McGowan (1), and Phillippe Aumont (1).
That’s a total of 28 starts, or just over 17% of the Phillies regular season games, that were made by pitchers who delivered a collective 6-18 record. Billingsley’s awful 5.84 ERA was the lowest of the group.
We know that of the following eight pitchers who are receiving grades, one is already off the roster. 
At least two more, probably at least three, will definitely not be a part of the 2016 starting rotation. That leaves four of these pitchers with a very real shot at being a part of the rotation next season.
So let’s work through the eight 2015 Phillies primary starting pitchers, and hand out their individual grades for the season:

Reading Eagle: Phillies Top Prospects Survey Results

Back in August, I was contacted by Mike Drago (Twitter: @mldrago) of the Reading Eagle to participate in the publication’s annual survey regarding the Phillies’ top prospects.
The task was to provide my own personal Top 20 prospects list from the team’s minor league system. 
Those were then pooled with the results of lists provided by twenty or so others who also closely monitor the team, and a Top 10 Phillies Prospects feature was released on August 30th.
One thing that became apparent from this effort was the obvious improvement in the number of serious prospects among the top players in the Phils’ system. Another was the growing depth of that system. A third was that the team has a stud at the top who should be a future MLB All-Star in shortstop J.P. Crawford.
For the first time in a long time, there has been clear improvement in the Phillies farm system. That now shows in both the quality and quantity of the club’s better prospects, but also in the on-field success of the minor league clubs. 
As Drago said in his piece: “After a wild series of trades, and back-to-back  strong drafts, the once-lagging Phillies minor league system now ranks among the strongest in baseball.”
The AA Reading Fightin’ Phils finished in 1st place in the Eastern Division of the Eastern League with a record of 80-61, and are now playing in the Eastern League Championship Series. 
The High-A Clearwater Threshers finished on top of the overall standings in the Florida State League’s North Division with a 79-58 mark.
At the A-ball level, the Lakewood BlueClaws finished in 3rd place in the Northern Division of the South Atlantic League with a 73-65 record. 
The Williamsport Crosscutters finished in 1st place in the short season New York-Penn League’s Pinckney Division at 46-30 overall.
Even the team’s Rookie level Gulf Coast League affiliate finished strong, with a 36-24 record, good for 2nd place in the Northwest Division. 
Only at AAA Lehigh Valley, where the IronPigs lost 10 of their final 14 to finish at 63-81 did the minors system experience a losing record.
Overall, the Phillies minor league affiliates compiled a 377-319 record. In their mid-season update, MLB Pipeline ranked five Phillies’ prospects among the top 89 in the game. Those are the best results the system has produced in a long time.
Here is the Reading Eagle Top 20 Phillies Prospects. In parentheses, I show where I placed that player on my own submitted list. 
Following that are the players who I submitted on my own personal list who did not make the overall Top 20 final ranking.
1. J.P. Crawford, SS (1)
2. Jake Thompson, P (3)
3. Nick Williams, OF (2)
4. Cornelius Randolph, OF (4)
5. Jorge Alfaro, C (6)
6. Roman Quinn, OF (7)
7. Franklyn Kilome, P (5)
8. Zach Eflin, P (8)
9. Ricardo Pinto, P (NR)
10. Carlos Tocci, OF (17)
11. Aaron Altherr, OF (NR)
12. Andrew Knapp, C (19)
13. Jerad Eickhoff, P (14)
14. Scott Kingery, 2B (10)
15. Nick Pivetta, P (15)
16. Ben Lively, P (9)
17. Darnell Sweeney, 2B (NR)
18. Rhys Hoskins, 1B (NR)
19. Alberto Tirado, P (16)
20. Malquin Canelo, SS (20)
My listees who didn’t make the combined Reading Eagle poll Top 20: Tom Windle (11), Matt Imhof (12), Alec Asher (13), Jesse Biddle (18).
 I really like Windle to develop as a lefty arm who can help out of the Phillies pen as soon as next season. 
Also, my list was submitted before Asher’s big league performances, which have been a major turnoff.

Jerad Eickhoff Stars in His MLB Debut

In the 2nd game of their 4-gamer in Miami, the Phillies sent rookie Jerad Eickhoff to the mound. 
The 24-year old, acquired in last month’s Cole Hamels deal with Texas, was the 13th different starting pitcher used by the club in this season of change.
He was also the 5th of those to take the hill with their rookie status intact, making their first starts on a big league mound, following the earlier starting debuts of Severino GonzalezPhillippe AumontAaron Nola, and Adam Morgan.
While those previous rookies have produced mixed results to this point, the performance turned in at Marlins Stadium by Eickhoff (1-0) was anything but mixed. 
The righthander dazzled from the start, shutting out the Marlins over 6 strong innings. He allowed just 5 hits, striking out 5 and walking just 1 batter. 52 of his 75 pitches went for strikes.
The Phils’ offense came to life against the Marlins own 23-year old rookie Kendry Flores, who was also making the first start of his MLB career after making a handful of appearances as a reliever this season. Flores (1-2) allowed 5 earned runs on 7 hits while walking a pair of batters.
It was the top of the 4th when the offense first got going, as Andres Blanco led off with a double and was singled home by Odubel Herrera to put the Phillies on top 1-0. 
Ryan Howard followed with a double, and one out later a walk by Flores loaded the bases. A sac fly from Freddy Galvis then made it 2-0, and an error on the play allowed the runners to move up to 2nd and 3rd.
That error set up a nice offensive moment for Eickhoff, and the troupe of a couple dozen friends and family members in the Marlins Stadium stands there to witness his MLB debut. 
Flores intentionally walked Cameron Rupp to re-load the bases, and to get to the rookie hurler.  The move backfired for Miami when Eickhoff delivered a 2-run single, pushing the Phillies lead out to 4-0 with his first big league hit.
In the top of the 5th, Howard followed a one-out single by Herrera with an RBI double to make it a 5-0 game. 
In the top of the 6th, with Miami having turned to their bullpen, Galvis led off with a single. Rupp followed him with another single, and when the ball ticked off the glove of left fielder Derek Dietrich and rolled away from him, Galvis hustled to 3rd. He then never slowed, as he was sent home by 3rd base coach John Mizerock when the throw came in to 2nd base. That run busted the lead out to 6-0.
With Eickhoff finally lifted in the bottom of the 7th, the Fish broke through on a solo home run off the bat of Dietrich against Jeanmar Gomez. That would be all the hosts could muster on the night.
The Phillies tacked on a final run in the top of the 9th, as Howard drilled his 3rd double of the night, just the second 3-double game of his storied Phillies career. That wrapped the scoring at 7-1 in favor of the visitors.
Per MLB.com, Eickhoff’s postgame statements demonstrated his appreciation for the moment. “It’s surreal. You grow up dreaming about this, and words can’t describe it. There’s so many people you meet that help you get here, and it’s just a testament to what they do.
It is expected that Eickhoff will remain a member of the rotation for the balance of the season, joining fellow rookies Nola and Morgan in that role. 
The trio represent the first wave of a young starting pitcher group that the Phils hope will uncover at least 3-4 long-term gems over the next year or so.

Cole Hamels Traded to Texas

It was revealed through numerous sources last night that the Phillies and Texas Rangers have agreed to a trade sending lefty ace Cole Hamels and lefty reliever Jake Diekman from Philly to Texas.
In exchange, the Phils will receive lefty Matt Harrison and a quintet of prospects: catcher Jorge Alfaro, outfielder Nick Williams, and pitchers Jake ThompsonAlec Asher, and Jerad Eickhoff.
It marks the 2nd straight day that the Phillies completed a major trade involving a heavily rumored pitcher, following Tuesday’s swap of closer Jonathan Papelbon to the Washington Nationals.
Nobody was more tuned in to this developing deal over the last couple of days than Jim Salisbury. The Comcast SportsNet insider has taken to Twitter a handful of times since the lefty finished off his historic final-start no-hitter on Saturday with revealing information, and he was first on the story yesterday.
For the franchise, another chapter closes in the book which I frequently have come to refer to as the “Glory Era”, covering that period of consistently winning Phillies baseball from 2001-2012 which included just a single losing season, and that one at just 80-81 in 2002.
Hamels was the Phillies 1st round selection at the 17th overall pick in the 2002 MLB Amateur Draft out of Rancho Bernardino High School in his native San Diego, California.
In a minor league career that lasted just 39 starts over parts of 4 seasons, Hamels went 14-4, allowing just 117 hits in 201 innings with a strong 276/74 K:BB ratio.
He was first called to the big leagues in May of 2006, making his first start at Great America Ball Park in Cincinnati. 
While he did not gain the official Win on that night, he was strong. Over five innings, Hamels allowed just one hit while striking out seven Reds. He did show some first-start jitters, however, walking five batters.
In the starting lineup that day were a half-dozen players with whom Hamels would forge a strong bond, and with whom he would win a ton of baseball games over the ensuing years: Jimmy RollinsChase UtleyPat BurrellRyan HowardShane Victorino, and Carlos Ruiz.
He gained his first official big league Win on June 6th of 2006 at Chase Field in Arizona, as the Phillies drubbed the DBacks 10-1. Hamels went 5.2 innings that evening, allowing just three hits. Overall he would go 9-8 across 23 starts as a rookie, allowing 117 hits over 132.1 innings with a 145/48 K:BB ratio.
That exciting freshman performance was the beginning of his career, and brought him into the tremendous nucleus that the club was forming. 
That nucleus would win the next five consecutive National League East crowns, would win back-to-back NL Pennants in 2008 and 2009, and would most importantly win the 2008 World Series.
In that 2008 World Series run, Hamels was named the Most Valuable Player of both the National League Championship Series and the World Series. 
He went 4-0 in that postseason, possibly missing out on a record-tying 5th victory only due to the rain deluge that turned Game 6 of the World Series into a historic four-day long epic saga clincher.
Overall in parts of 10 seasons with the Phillies, Hamels accumulated a 114-90 record with a 3.30 ERA and 1.145 WHIP across 295 games, 294 of those as a member of the starting rotation. In his 1930 innings pitched, Hamels allowed 1717 hits with an 1844/492 K:BB ratio.
In 2011, the final winning season of that “Glory Year” period, Hamels was part of the “Four Aces” rotation along with Roy HalladayCliff Lee, and Roy Oswalt. The group was largely responsible for a record-setting 102 regular season Phillies victories.
As his slightly older “Glory Era” teammates aged around him, some were traded off and found success elsewhere, such as Victorino, who won a World Series with Boston, Burrell, who won a World Series with San Francisco, and Jayson Werth, who remains with a contender in Washington.
Most of the others either have retired, such as Halladay, Oswalt, Jamie Moyer, and Brett Myers, or are dealing with the twilight of their careers with declining results or injuries, including Lee and the only three remaining 2008 champions: Howard, Utley, and Ruiz.
In Texas, Hamels joins a team that is just four games out of the 2nd AL Wildcard playoff position, but that would have to jump over a half-dozen other teams to ultimately earn that postseason spot. They trail the first place Houston Astros by eight games in the AL West race.
It is rumored that the Astros were the other finalist for Hamels services, and the Phillies brain trust may have actually preferred the package of prospects that Houston was offering. 
However, Houston was also not on Hamels list of nine teams to whom he would accept a trade per his contract, and it is rumored that he turned down a request to go to the Astros.
If the Rangers don’t make a run to the postseason this year, they still have what they wanted in Hamels. 
Outside of Coors Field in Colorado, Texas is probably the 2nd best hitters park in Major League Baseball. It is extremely hard to lure a big name free agent to the club. Hamels was willing to accept a trade there, and is now under team control for the next 3-4 seasons as well at a fair market value.
Texas has righty ace Yu Darvish currently on the disabled list after he underwent Tommy John surgery back in the spring. The supremely talented Darvish should return sometime around next May or June, giving the Rangers a strong 1-2, lefty-righty combo atop their rotation for the next few years.
This is an emotional moment for Phillies fans, the 2nd one that we have had to deal with in recent months, following the winter trade of iconic shortstop and franchise all-time Hits leader Rollins to Los Angeles. There will be more to come in the months ahead as Howard, Ruiz, and Utley also leave, one way or another.
On Sunday, September 7th of last season, with none of us having any clue that it was taking place, Hamels took the mound in what history reveals was a goodbye of sorts to that “Glory Era” club.
In a 3-2 loss at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. on that Sunday afternoon, Hamels went 6.1 innings and took the loss. Rollins and Ruiz were in the starting lineup with him. Howard and Utley would make pinch-hitting appearances. 
It would be the final time that what has to be considered as the “Core Five” of that club would appear in a game together in a Phillies uniform. As a side note, Werth was in the Nats lineup that day.
Hamels not only has been a tremendous performer on the field, but through his and wife Heidi’s charitable efforts with ‘The Hamels Foundation‘, he has been a contributing member of the local and broader community, and a positive example for young fans and other players to emulate.
It’s an emotional time for me personally, as it is for most of you reading this piece. I clearly remember the day that Hamels was being called up to make his first career start. It frankly doesn’t seem that long ago, and yet it has now been over nine years since that May day in 2006.
He and the group of players that came through the system with him, and those who came to the team during those late-00’s seasons, provided so much entertainment, so many joyful memories, so much great baseball to a town that was starved for that kind of sustained performance from our Fightin’ Phils.
No doubt, we will have opportunities to cheer them again. Not only in person when some actually return during their playing careers as opponents, but also in future reunions of the great 2008 championship team, and the memorable 2011 record-setting team as well. 
I look forward to each of those opportunities to thank and pay tribute to performers who gave us all so many wonderful moments and memories.
Twice in my lifetime, I have been blessed to enjoy such a sustained run by Phillies teams. The other time being as a teen and young man during the mid-70’s through early-80’s period which also yielded a World Series victory. 
I feel blessed to have enjoyed both runs fully. I think we all hope to enjoy another at some point in the not-too-distant future.
This trade has been rumored, discussed, and anticipated for months. No doubt it will be dissected numerous times in the coming days, months, and years. But it is done, and the franchise continues to look towards the future more and more.