Tag Archives: Reading Fightins

Phillies may finally have a legitimate lefty starting pitching prospect emerging

Damon Jones has emerged as a legit Phillies pitching prospect
Baseball America is one of the most respected resources in all of baseball for all sorts of information on the game. That is especially so regarding their evaluation and coverage of minor league baseball and top prospects.
In a regular feature, the periodical and website releases a monthly “Dynasty Stock Report” as a research tool for fantasy baseball players who might be looking for emerging prospects.
For their June release, Baseball America had an interesting name pop up in the “Surging” category of that stock report. The named belonged to a Philadelphia Phillies pitcher, left-hander Damon Jones.
Jone is a 24-year-old southpaw (he turns 25 in September) from Idaho who was the Phillies 18th round selection in the 2017 MLB Amateur Draft out of Washington State University.
After signing with the organization, Jones began his professional career that same summer at short-season Williamsport. He then advanced to Low-A Lakewood for his first full season in 2018 and began to excel. That season, Jones went 10-7 with a 3.41 ERA, striking out 123 batters over 113.1 innings across 23 games, 22 of those as starting assignments.
This year, Jones has upped his game. Over 11 starts at High-A Clearwater the lefty went 4-3 with a 1.54 ERA and 1.063 WHIP. He allowed just 38 hits over 58.1 innings, earning a promotion to Double-A Reading. There he has continued to dominate, allowing nine hits over his first 22 innings across four starts.

Jones has greatly improved his command and control as he has risen through the ranks. This season he has fashioned a 119/33 K:BB. He also has allowed just three home runs, and has yielded just 10 total long balls over his now 219+ minor league innings pitched.

Matt Eddy at Baseball America had the following to say in bestowing their “surging” designation on Jones:
The 6-foot-5 lefthander streamlined his delivery this season…Improved fastball velocity and enhanced feel for his slider enabled the 24-year-old Jones to record a 1.17 ERA in 30.2 innings in June, striking out 44 and walking nine. The biggest improvement had been much sharper control than he had shown in past seasons.
In his own piece for BA on July 2, Phillies beat writer Matt Gelb quoted Phillies director of player development Rafael Chaves: “Obviously, his stuff was always pretty good. Command was always the question mark. Now he’s throwing the ball not only with authority, but he’s commanding it.
Given his age and developmental path, it would not be surprising to see Jones surface in Philadelphia by this September, if not sooner. The Phillies pitching woes have been well documented, as has been their inability to develop a left-handed starter. Jones is at least putting himself in the picture for consideration to receive a shot sometime soon.
NOTE: Special thanks to Gail “Baseball Betsy” Dull for the pic of Damon Jones that accompanied this piece. She also shot the video within the piece as well. Follow her at BaseballBetsy.com, and her husband “Baseball Ross“, both providing fantastic Phillies and other Florida-based minor league coverage.

Originally published at Phillies Nation asDamon Jones surges into Phillies prospects pitching picture

Reading Fightin Phils feature four top Phillies draft picks

Randolph, Moniak, Bohm, Haseley at Reading end of June 2019
(photo credit: George Young Jr)
Many fans of the Philadelphia Phillies make the trip to FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading, Pennsylvania at some point. Roughly 75-80 miles northwest of Philly, those fans make the trip to watch the Reading Fightin’ Phils, the club’s Double-A minor league affiliate.
Minor league baseball has its own attractions, with frequent giveaways and other promotional activities. There is often access to the players that you rarely get in a big-league ballpark, and the seating is fantastic in a more intimate setting.
Recently there was something even more exciting for fans who were able to get to Reading. For the first time in the history of the franchise, four Phillies first round draft picks were all being featured in the Fightins lineup at the same time.
The Phillies top prospect, 22-year-old third baseman Alec Bohm, was the club’s first round choice at third overall in the June 2018 MLB Draft out of Wichita State. Bohm was promoted last Thursday from High-A Clearwater after tearing through four levels of the system since being drafted last year.
Bohm made his home debut in Reading with a fantastic performance on Thursday night. “It was an outstanding game, all-around (for Bohm),” said Reading manager Shawn Williams per The Reading Eagle. “He did it all here tonight.
Bohm has slashed .331/.406/.535 with nine home runs, 32 extra-base hits, 42 RBIs, and 43 runs scored over 298 plate appearances across three levels this season. It was just announced that Bohm has been selected to play for the United States team in the prestigious MLB Futures Game as part of the MLB All-Star festivities next month.

After making his big-league debut last month, outfielder Adam Haseley was also at Reading on a rehab stint. Haseley is back in the minors after suffering a left groin injury in early June. The club’s first round pick at 8th overall in 2017 out of the University of Virginia, the 23-year-old Haseley could find himself back in a Phillies uniform at any time now.
Haseley has slashed .274/.355/.479 this season over the two highest levels of the minors with eight homers, 21 extra-base hits, 25 RBIs, and 31 runs scored over 217 plate appearances. In two games with the Phillies, Haseley had a double and a walk, scoring two runs and driving in another.
The first overall pick of the entire 2016 MLB Draft, outfielder Mickey Moniak, struggled in his first couple of minor league seasons. But the 21-year-old Moniak, who was drafted out of a California high school, began to catch-up last summer and was recently selected for the Double-A All-Star Game.
Finally beginning to really break out, Moniak is slashing .262/.315/.434 with 31 extra-base hits, 38 RBIs, 41 runs scored, and nine steals in 72 games this year as he continues to advance incrementally one level at a time. He is slashing .284/.373/.474 in the month of June with a dozen extra-base hits.
Also drafted out of high school, Cornelius Randolph is a Georgia native selected at 10th overall in the 2015 MLB Draft. Randolph turned 22 years of age at the start of June, and is the one in this talented group who is still trying to figure things out.
Randolph is slashing just .237/.305/.367 with 16 extra-base hits, 27 RBIs, 22 runs scored, and five stolen bases over 236 plate appearances as he repeats the Double-A level. Last season with Reading, Randolph slashed .241/.324/.322, showing limited power and speed. After being drafted as a bat-first prospect, he simply has not progressed much to this point.
All four of these talented youngsters were playing together briefly at Reading, as Haseley has just been activated by the Phillies today and optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The other three may not be together for very long either. If Bohm continues to progress as he has to this point, he would put himself in line for another promotion, also to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, before the minor league season ends.
Now is the time to make a trip from Philly. If you plan it on the right night, you can even see these stud position prospects performing behind the club’s top pitching prospect, Adonis Medina. The 22-year-old right-hander is 5-3 with a 4.02 ERA and 1.292 WHIP over his first 13 Double-A starts this season.

JoJo Romero named as Double-A Reading Fightin’ Phils POY

JoJo Romero, Reading Player of the Year
(Photo: Baseball Betsy)

The Reading Fightin’ Phils have been the Philadelphia Phillies Double-A minor league affiliates since their founding all the way back in 1968 when they were simply named the Reading Phillies.

The relationship between the two teams is tied for the longest minor league affiliation in baseball.

In 2008 the Philadelphia Phillies ownership outright purchased the Reading club, and the nickname was changed for the 2013 season.
Often simply known as the “Fightins”, the Reading team is the oldest in the Eastern League still playing in their original city. The club has played its home games at FirstEnergy Stadium, which was built in 1951 and was originally known as Reading Municipal Stadium, for its entire history.
Reading, Pennsylvania has been nicknamed “Baseballtown” as its relationship to organized baseball goes back to at least 1858 and the Reading Athletic Club. The city is located approximately 70 miles northwest of the Philadelphia area. Depending on where you are coming from, traffic conditions, and the route you take, it is about an hour-and-a-half to two-hour drive usually utilizing I-76.
The Fightin’ Phils went 64-73 this season, finishing in fourth place in the Eastern Division of the Eastern League. Their manager is 58-year-old Greg Legg, a 22nd round draft pick of the Phillies way back in 1982. Legg would reach the big-leagues, playing in parts of the 1986 and 1987 seasons with the Phillies.
This year’s Reading Fightin’ Phils Player of the Year is pitcher JoJo Romero. A native of Oxnard, California, the 6-0, 190lb left-hander was taken by the Phillies with their fourth-round selection in the 2016 MLB Amateur Draft out of Yavapai College in Arizona.
Romero had his season cut short due to an oblique injury, but still made 18 starts for the Fightins. He went 7-6 with a 3.80 ERA and a 1.294 WHIP, allowing 97 hits over 106.2 innings with a 100/41 K:BB ratio.
He currently ranks #5 on the Phillies Top Prospects list by MLB.com, where they show him as throwing five different pitches: fastball, cutter, changeup, slider, and curveball. Each of his offerings are graded out at 50 or higher, with his fastball receiving a 60 grade.
Their scouting report on him includes the following breakdown of his pitches:
“…improved stuff, along with his command, make him a much better pitching prospect overall. His four-seam fastball was up to 95 mph all year, including his final start of 2017 against Blue Jays super-prospects Vladimir Guerrero Jr and Bo Bichette, while his sinking 90-93 mph two-seamer generates a lot of weak contact on the ground. Depending on the report, he has as many as four secondary pitches. His changeup and cutter have the chance to be plus pitches, while he has a distinct average slider that is a bit ahead of his curveball. He fills the strike zone with all of them consistently.”

Romero also finished in the #5 slot when we released our own Phillies Nation Top 20 Phillies Prospects rankings back in early August of this year. In our description, staff writer Alec Whitaker wrote:
an ERA of 3.80 while playing in a tough pitchers park at Reading is more than okay. Romero could be a solid middle rotation option or an elite lefty out of the bullpen.
Romero put together his strong season after getting off to a horrendous start. Over his first seven outings the lefty went 0-4 with a 6.38 ERA, allowing 43 hits over 36.2 innings. Opposing batters were hitting .291 against him.
Mitchell Gladstone at Philly.com did a nice piece on Romero back in mid-July, just before the injury shut down his season. In it, Gladstone quoted Legg on the turnaround made by his pitcher:
“He was trying to do too much. He had an arsenal of all these pitches — a two-seamer, a four-seamer, a slider, a cutter, a curveball, a change-up. In the first three hitters of a game, he’s trying to do all of it. … The biggest thing since his first four or five starts here was that he simplified his attack.
After making the adjustments, Romero went 7-2 over his final 11 outings with just a .212 batting average against. He allowed just 54 hits over 70 innings with a 69/22 K:BB ratio during that ending stretch to his season. That was the stretch that pushed him to this Player of the Year recognition.
Romero should reach Triple-A Lehigh Valley next season. Whether that happens out of spring training or into the season probably depends on his health and his spring performances. That would leave him on the doorstep of a promotion to the Phillies.
All big-league clubs are continually looking for effective left-handers. Rookie southpaw Ranger Suarez made three starts for the Phillies this season, the only three by a left-hander all year. Should Romero stay healthy and continue to mature as expected he will at least be in line for a bullpen shot as early as next summer.

Originally published at Phillies Nation as “Reading Fightin’ Phils Player of the Year: JoJo Romero

Phillies Minor Leaguers Receive All-Star Honors

The Philadelphia Phillies minor league system is greatly improved, and a number of the players have received invitations to All-Star games for their individual performances.

With the Major League Baseball All-Star Game just a couple of weeks away now, there has been some speculation as to who might represent the Phillies in the Mid-Summer Classic.
The way that things are currently unfolding for the team, it would appear that the two players with the best chance to represent the Phillies are center fielder Odubel Herrera and closer Jeanmar Gomez.
Whatever happens regarding the All-Star situation at the big league level, the improvement in both talent and competitiveness at the Phillies’ minor league level is now being rewarded with All-Star recognition for those players and prospects as well.

Three members of the AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs just received notice that they have been selected for the AAA All-Star Game, which will be played on Wednesday, July 13th at BB&T Bank Ballpark in Charlotte, North Carolina and will be televised on the MLB Network.
IronPigs closer Edward Mujica, who has 10 years of big league experience, has 19 Saves. Despite some poor peripheral numbers, he has been selected to the game, joining catcher Andrew Knapp and outfielder Cam Perkins.
Two members of the AA Reading Fightin’ Phils squad, starting pitcher Ricardo Pinto and outfielder Dylan Cozens, have been selected to participate in the prestigious MLB All-Star Futures Game, which will be played on Sunday, July 10th at San Diego’s Petco Park.
The Fightin’ Phils are also expected to have at least a few players selected for the Eastern League All-Star Game to be played in Portland, Maine on July 15th. Fan voting ended on Sunday, and results are expected to be announced soon.
A full nine members of the Phillies High-A Clearwater Threshers affiliate were named to the Northern squad for the Florida State League All-Star Game, which was already held on Monday, June 20th at St. Lucie, Florida.
That large group of Threshers was made up of pitchers Tom Eshelman, Elniery Garcia, and Alexis Rivero, catcher Chase Numata, 1st baseman Zach Green, 2nd baseman Scott Kingery, 3rd baseman Mitch Walding, and outfielders Cord Sandberg and Carlos Tocci.
Eshelman got the start for the North in the FSL All-Star contest, which the North went on to win by a 1-0 score in a pitching dominated game. In one inning, he allowed no runs or hits, striking out one and walking one.
I knew coming in here we were going to be pretty good arms-wise, but I didn’t think we’d be that good,” Eshelman said per MiLB.com contributor Erin Brown. “It was definitely fun to be a part of and humbling since this was my first All-Star bid.
Three members of the Low-A Lakewood BlueClaws were invited to the South Atlantic League All-Star Game, which was played on Thursday, June 23rd in Asheville, North Carolina.
Pitcher Luke Leftwich was added to the roster just ahead of the game, joining outfielder Jose Pujols and 2nd baseman Josh Tobias. The trio helped the North to a 2-1 victory in the contest.

Pharm Report: AA Reading Fightins

The Phillies ‘AA’ level minor league club, the Reading Fightin’ Phils, have bolted out to a first place lead in the Eastern Division of the Eastern League.
The Fightin’ Phils are 29-14, on a four game winning streak which has them 2.5 games up on the Hartford Yard Goats farm team of the Colorado Rockies organization.
This is the 50th anniversary of the Phillies relationship with the city of Reading, Pennsylvania, and the franchise is celebrating all year long with various events and giveaway items.
The timing couldn’t be better for the fans pouring into FirstEnergy Stadium. The Fightin’ Phils have a talented ball club with some exciting prospects.
Manager Dusty Wathan‘s squad just suffered a personnel loss, the type which minor league affiliate clubs are all too familiar with.
The Phillies top prospect, shortstop J.P. Crawford, began his season with Reading. Crawford was hitting .265 with a .398 on-base percentage, 23 runs scored, and five stolen bases when he was promoted over the weekend to the AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs.
Remaining at Reading to lead the offense are a trio of interesting hitters, the best of whom is catcher Jorge Alfaro.
The soon-to-be 23-year old Alfaro got off to a torrid start, but then missed a few weeks early on with an oblique injury. Since returning a couple of weeks ago he has continued to rake.
Over at TBOH we ranked Alfaro as the Phillies #6 prospect back in the preseason. He is hitting for a .348/.366/.517 slash line with seven doubles and 19 RBI in just 89 at-bats.
Right fielder Dylan Cozens will turn 22 years of age next week, and is having a true breakout season. He currently carries a .277/.350/.560 slash line, leads the club with 11 homers and 33 RBI, and is tied for the team lead with 29 runs scored.
23-year old 1st baseman Rhys Hoskins is hitting for a .272 average, seven home runs, and 26 RBI as he tries to show that he can be a legitimate piece of the Phillies rebuilding future plans.
Center field belongs to Roman Quinn, who came into the season as one of my personal favorite Phillies prospects. He possesses legitimately game-changing speed, and the thought of him roaming center at Citizens Bank Park and atop the Phils’ batting order had me salivating.
Quinn is hitting .255 with a .343 on-base percentage, and is tied for the team lead with 29 runs scored. His 19 stolen bases make him the club’s biggest baserunning threat by a wide margin.
A new element with the Fightin’ Phils, at least for a short time, will be rehabbing Phillies player Cody Asche, who just moved up after beginning his season with High-A Lakewood.
Big right-hander Ben Lively has been the leader of the Reading pitching staff. In his second season with the Phillies organization after coming over in trade from the Cincinnati Reds for Marlon Byrd.
Lively has been the Eastern League Pitcher of the Week, and was named to Baseball America’s April All-Prospect Team. The 24-year old is 7-0 with a 1.87 ERA. He has allowed just 35 hits over 53 innings, with a 49/15 K:BB ratio.
Nick Pivetta is a 23-year old right-hander who came to the Phillies last year in the Jonathan Papelbon trade, and is really starting to come on strong.
Pivetta is 4-2 and has allowed just 36 hits over 44 innings with a 44/15 K:BB ratio. Over his last three starts, Pivetta has been white hot, winning all three with a 1.47 ERA and 20 strikeouts.
Anthony Vasquez is 6-2 with a 1.82 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP. The 29-year old veteran has appeared in seven big league games, all back in 2011 with the Seattle Mariners.
Ricardo Pinto has allowed 43 hits over 45.1 innings with a 25/13 K:BB ratio. At 22 years of age, Pinto is highly considered by some in the organization, and is an arm to watch as the season moves along.
Severino Gonzalez is a 23-year old who made seven starts for the Phillies a year ago. He is being used exclusively out of the bullpen now, and has allowed nine hits in 10.2 innings with a 9/2 K:BB.
Another intriguing arm at Reading is 24-year old left-hander Tom Windle, who was another favorite of mine entering the season.
Windle came to the organization along with Zach Eflin in the Jimmy Rollins deal with the Dodgers back in the summer of 2014. The southpaw is struggling, however, having allowed 21 hits over 14 innings with a 16/6 K:BB.
FirstEnergy Stadium is located about 75-80 miles northwest of Philadelphia, and is about an hour and a half ride out I-76, just off PA Route 12. It is a gorgeous ballpark, and well worth the trip to watch some talented future Phillies perform.