Author Archives: Decal

Minor League Baseball Transactions

Early October is the time of year that player movement usually begins at the minor league level. With the Arizona Fall League set to begin their season on Tuesday, October 7 we can follow some of the junior Phillies playing this year for the Scottsdale Scorpions. This is a list of who the Phillies will be sending to the AFL:
First, and probably most important to the 2015 Lehigh Valley Ironpigs, LHP Adam Morgan will be continuing his rehab at Scottsdale. Morgan made 13 starts for the Ironpigs in 2013 then missed all of 2014 after having shoulder surgery in January. Other Phillies headed to he AFL include Roman Quinn, 21 year old switch hitting center fielder, Logan Moore, 24 year old catcher who split time in 2014 between Clearwater and Reading, Ethan Stewart, 23 year old LHP was 5-7 at Clearwater last year, Colton Murray, 24 year old RH relief pitcher pitched at Clearwater and Reading last year, Ryan O’Sullivan RHP was 7-8 3.91 with Reading in 2014 and Nefi Ogando a 25 year old RH relief pitcher who was 5-1 6.27 with 7 Saves at Reading last year.

In other Phillies minor league transactions according to Matt Eddy at Baseball America, 3 players have elected free agency, Jeff Manship, Jeremy Horst and Reid Brignac. All 3 would be missed if they sign elsewhere for the 2015 season.

A few other familiar minor league names who have already elected free agency this offseason include Dan Johnson, Corey Brown, Elliot Johnson, Jair Jurrjens, Michael Martinez, Jeff Francoeur and Ryan Feierabend.

The Winter Meetings this year will be December 8-11 in San Diego.


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ALS Charity Softball Game August 9th. Everyone is Invited

The action doesn’t stop in Allentown while the Lehigh Valley IronPigs go on an eight game road trip in early August. On Saturday, August 9th the Allentown Patriots Old Timers will be seeking revenge against the Lehigh Valley Ironpigs Ball Girls & other staff members in a game of softball to raise money for the LV Walk to Defeat ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Please mark your calendars as this is one fun event you won’t want to miss.

The game will be played on Saturday, August, 9th at Patriots Park, 1026 St. John St. Allentown. Gates open at 4 PM and the game begins at 6 PM. In case of rain, the game will be played at 4 PM on Sunday, August 10th with gates opening at 3 PM. Parking and Admission is free, but donations would be gladly accepted.

There will be plenty of activities and entertainment to make for enjoyable day. In addition to the softball game, there will be raffles, silent auctions and other activities including an opportunity to take home memorabilia from your favorite Phillies players, including Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and others.

Entertainment will be provided by the Ironpigs mascots, the Caribbean Steel Rhythms Band from 4:30 – 5:30 and Kim Bydlon performing the National Anthem at 6 PM plus other songs between innings.

All proceeds from the event will benefit Donna’s Dugout and the LV Walk To Defeat ALS.
2014 ALS Charity Softball Event

Photos of the 2013 ALS Charity Softball Game (below) courtesy of Rodney Heintzelman.
2013 ALS Charity Softball 01
2013 ALS Charity Softball 02
2013 ALS Charity Softball 03
2013 ALS Charity Softball 04

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Filed under From the Desk of Decal, Lehigh Valley IronPigs

This Week In Ironpigs History

4/14/08:   After 11 straight losses the Ironpigs finally break into the win column with a 3-1 win over the Richmond Braves.  Ron Chiavacci is the winning pitcher and Matt Childers gets the save.

4/15/08:  A 4-1 win over Toledo and the Ironpigs win 2 in a row.  Brian Mazone gets the win and Matt Childers gets another save.

4/18/08:  The Ironpigs drop to 2-14 after an 8-3 loss to Toledo.  Valentino Pascucci hits his only home run in his short stay with the Ironpigs.

4/19/08:  Syracuse defeats the Ironpigs 6-5 as future Ironpigs third baseman Hector Luna homers twice for the Chiefs.

4/15/09:  Kyle Kendrick throws 7 strong innings, John Mayberry Jr. homers and Pablo Ozuna drives in 3 runs as the Ironpigs defeat Syracuse 11-4. 

4/16/09:  John Mayberry Jr. hits a 3 run Home Run but Syracuse pushes across a run in the 12th inning off Dave Borkowski to defeat the Ironpigs by a 5-4 score.

4/17/09:  Andy Tracy hits a 2 run HR at Pawtucket as the Ironpigs defeat the PawSox 4-3.  Drew Carpenter gets his first Ironpigs win and Gary Majewski picks up a save.

4/19/09:  Justin Lehr improves to 2-0 and Andy Tracy homers again as the Ironpigs win 6-2 at Pawtucket.

4/15/10:  Home Runs by Cody Ransom, Dewayne Wise and John Mayberry Jr. to go with 7 strong innings by Nate Bump, and the Ironpigs defeat Rochester 4-1.  Losing pitcher was current Phillies pitcher Jeff Manship.

4/17/10:  John Mayberry doubles 3 times as the Ironpigs defeat Syracuse 8-1.  Future Phillies/Ironpigs fan favorite Pete Orr homers for the only Syracuse run.

4/20/10:  Nate Bump improves to 2-0 with 7 scoreless innings in a 2-1 win over Syracuse.

4/16/11:  Eddie Bonine throws 7 strong innings at Syracuse and Jeff Larish hits a home run as the Ironpigs defeat the Chiefs 4-2.

4/17/11:  Ironpigs win their 4th straight road game, scoring 6 runs in the 8th inning, highlighted by a pinch hit 2 run HR by Delwyn Young,as the Ironpigs defeat Syracuse 10-6.

4/18/11:  In the 2nd game of a doubleheader, Brandon Moss hits a 3 run home run in the 6th inning as the Ironpigs defeat Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 5-3.  Jason Grilli earns his first win with the Ironpigs.

4/14/12:  Hector Luna goes 2-4 with a home run and Domonic Brown drives in 2 as the Ironpigs defeat Rochester 5-2.  Scott Elarton throws 6 strong innings while Jeremy Horst picks up the win and Jake Diekman gets a save.

4/19/12:  Ironpigs score 5 runs in the 8th inning at Buffalo as Eric Kratz gets 3 hits & drives home 2.  Michael Schwimer picks up the win in the 8-4 victory over the Bison.


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Filed under Coca Cola Park, From the Desk of Decal, Lehigh Valley IronPigs

When A Bat Becomes A Weapon

On Sunday afternoon, Ironpigs third baseman Maikel Franco got jammed by an inside fastball.  He swung at the pitch and the bat split in half.  The barrel of the bat spiraled down the third base line while the handle of the bat remained in his hands.   Take a good close look at the splintered  end of the bat in Franco’s hands.  I would imagine the piece soaring towards the Rochester third baseman had to be just as sharp.  If you look close you can see the barrel of the bat ‘flying’ down the third base line.

I remember a few years ago a girl at a Dodgers game got “stabbed” with the sawed off barrel end of a bat.  Wish I knew if Franco’s bat was ash or maple.  I heard that the problems with maple bats had been resolved as best as possible, but this looks dangerous.  This also happened to Franco at third base in the Rochester series as he was unable to throw a runner out at first because he was busy dodging a splintered bat.2014 LV Ironpigs 142 Maikel Franco


Filed under Coca Cola Park, From the Desk of Decal, Lehigh Valley IronPigs

Looking Back 25 Years: When The Olympics Came To Quakertown

With Mickey Morandini set to join the coaching staff of the Lehigh Valley Ironpigs it reminded me of August 19, 1988, when the USA National Baseball Team came to Memorial Park in Quakertown to play an exhibition game against the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League All-Stars. It would be their final game in the USA before leaving for the Summer Olympics in Seoul, Korea. Although baseball was only a demonstration sport at that time, the USA team won the gold medal in Korea. It was likely the greatest amateur baseball team to ever play a game in the extended Lehigh Valley area.

Members of that team were:

Jim Abbott, LHP. Born without a right hand, he was the 1st Rd. pick of the California Angels in 1988. He threw a no-hitter for the Yankees vs. Cleveland on 9/4/93 and won 87 big league games.

Bret Barberie, IF. 7th Rd. pick by the Expos in 1988. The switch hitting infielder was a member of the inaugural Florida Marlins team and got the first hit ever by a Marlins player. Played parts of 6 seasons with the Expos, Marlins, Orioles & Cubs
Mark Beck, RHP. 16th Rd. pick by the Braves in 1989.

Andy Benes, RHP. Overall 1st Rd. pick by the Padres in 1988. 155 big league wins playing for the Padres, Mariners, Cardinals and Diamondbacks. Named Sporting News Rookie Pitcher of the Year. He was the starting pitcher in the first game in the history of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Jeff Branson, SS . 2nd Rd. pick by the Reds in 1988. Hit .260 with 12 HR for Cincinnati in 1995. In November, 2013 he was named as the new hitting coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Jim Campanis, C. 3rd Rd. pick by Seattle in 1988. Son of former major leaguer Jim Campanis and grandson of baseball executive Al Campanis.

Pat Combs, LHP 1st Rd. pick by the Phillies in 1988. In his first professional season (1989) he pitched at all 4 levels in the Phillies organization, Class A Clearwater, AA Reading, AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and for the Phillies where he went 4-0 2.09. He started 31 games for the Phillies in 1990 going 10-10 with a 4.07 ERA.

Mike Fiore, OF. 15th Rd. pick by the Cardinals in 1988 out of the University of Miami. After retiring from baseball he became a staff member for sports agent Scott Boras.

Tom Goodwin, OF. 1st Rd. pick by the Dodgers in 1989. Played parts of 14 big league seasons. 369 career SB. He is currently the first base coach for the New York Mets.

Ty Griffin, 2B. 1st Rd. pick (9th overall) by the Cubs in 1988. Played 9 minor league seasons. Never played in the majors.

Tino Martinez, 1B. 1st Rd. pick by Seattle in 1988. 339 major league HRs, 192 with Yankees. Finished 2nd to Ken Griffey Jr. for 1997 AL MVP. He resigned as the Miami Marlins hitting coach on July 28, 2013. In 2014 he will be inducted into the Latin American International Sports Hall of Fame.

Bill Masse, OF. 7th Rd pick by Yankees in 1988. Managed 9 years in the minors.

Ben McDonald, RHP. Drafted 1st overall by Orioles in 1989 draft. 78-70 big league record. He threw a complete game shutout in his first major league start. He retired prematurely after rotator cuff surgery in 1998.

Mike Milchin, LHP/1B. 2nd Rd. pick by Cardinals in 1989. 3-1 career big league record. He is currently managing partner of SFX Baseball Group, now Relativity Baseball, the agency that represents Tigers pitching ace Justin Verlander and AL MVP Miguel Cabrera, first baseman Paul Goldschmidt of the Diamondbacks and Red Sox DH David Ortiz.

Mickey Morandini, 2B. 5th Rd. pick by Phillies in 1988. Played 11 big league seasons with Phillies, Cubs & Blue Jays. After coaching the Lakewood BlueClaws in 2013 he was named as bench coach for the Lehigh Valley Ironpigs for the 2014 season although rumors continue to circulate that he may join the broadcast booth of the Phillies for the upcoming season..

Charley Nagy, RHP. 1st Rd. pick of Cleveland Indians in 1988. 129 big league wins in 14 big league seasons. He was pitching coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks for past 3 seasons but was fired at the end of the 2013 season.

Jim Poole, LHP. 9th Rd. pick by Dodgers in 1988. Relief pitcher spent parts of 11 seasons in the majors from 1990-2000. He was the losing pitcher in Game 6 of the 1995 World Series when David Justice hit a 6th inning homerun and the Braves defeated the Indians by a 1-0 score and won the World Series 4 games to 2.

Doug Robbins, C. Orioles 10th Rd. pick in 1988.

Scott Servais, C. 3rd Rd. pick by Astros in 1988. Played 11 big league seasons mostly with the Astros and Cubs. He is currently the assistant general manager for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Dave Silvestri, SS. 2nd Rd. pick by Astros in 1988. 336 career at bats over 8 big league seasons. He managed 2 seasons of minor league baseball.

Joe Slusarski, RHP. 2nd Rd. pick of the Oakland A’s in 1988. 13-21 career record over 7 seasons.

Eddie Zosky, SS. 1st Rd. pick by Blue Jays in 1989. Played briefly in the majors during the 1990’s.

Ed Sprague, 3B. 1st Rd. pick of Blue Jays in 1988. 152 career HR, 36 in 1996 for Toronto. His father was a big league pitcher in the late 60’s and early 70’s. He has been the baseball coach at Pacific University since 2004.

Robin Ventura, 3B. 1st Rd. pick by White Sox in 1988. In 1987 he had an NCAA record 58 game hitting streak while playing at Oklahoma State. He had a 16 year big league career with 294 HR, 18 of them grand slams. He also won 6 Gold Gloves at third base. He is the current manager of the Chicago White Sox.

Ted Wood, OF. 1st Rd. pick of Giants in 1988. Played briefly in the majors from 1991-1993 and played professional baseball in China and Korea for several years.

By the way, the Olympic team defeated the ACBL all-star team that night in Quakertown in front of a sold out crowd, by a score of 19-1. Starting pitcher Joe Slusarski threw 5 no-hit innings and catcher Scott Servais had 6 RBI’s. Robin Ventura chipped in with a grand slam and Tino Martinez also homered for team USA.

1988 Olympic Baseball


Filed under From the Desk of Decal

Phillies Transactions (10/16)

Outrighted by the Phillies to Triple-A Lehigh Valley:  LHP Cesar Jimenez, RHP  J.C. Ramirez,  and outfielders Roger Bernadina and Casper Wells.

Bernadina hit just .187 in 75 at bats for the Phillies after being acquired as a free agent on August 21st from the Nationals.   He had hit just .178 for Washington in 2013 after hitting .291 in 2012.   Casper Wells was acquired off the waiver wire from the White Sox on August 8th.  He had just 1 hit in 24 at bats with the Phillies.

Jimenez was 4-2 3.12  in 66.1 innings with the Ironpigs in 2013.  He threw just 17 innings for the Phillies and was 1-1 with a 3.71 ERA.   J.C. Ramirez is still only 25 years old and was 4-2 4.71 with the Ironpigs last season.  In his time with the Phillies he was 0-1 7.50 in 24 innings.   He was one of the players acquired when the Phillies sent Cliff Lee to Seattle in December, 2009.

The Phillies currently have 30 players on their 40 man roster with another 6 on the 60 Day Disabled List  (Adams, Horst, Kendrick, Lannan, Pettibone, Howard).



Filed under From the Desk of Decal, Lehigh Valley IronPigs

You Traded Michael Young For Who???

The UCLA Bruins baseball team had a dominant pitching staff in the 2010 season.  Their pitching took them all the way to the final game of the College World Series where they dropped an 11 inning heart-breaker to the South Carolina Gamecocks by a 2-1 score.  In 2011, two of the pitchers from that UCLA staff were selected first and third in the MLB draft.  The first to go was Gerrit Cole, now in the starting rotation for the Pittsburgh Pirates and the winner of Game 2 in the 2013 NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals.  With the third pick, the Arizona Diamondbacks selected Trevor Bauer from UCLA.  In December, 2012 Bauer was traded to the Cleveland Indians in a blockbuster 3 team deal.    Surprisingly,  neither of those aces was the pitcher to start the 2010 College World Series Championship game for UCLA.   That honor went to a 5’9″ left-hander by the name of Rob Rasmussen.

As a high school pitcher in Pasadena, California, Rasmussen compiled a 4 year record of 38-2 with a 1.04 ERA.  In 248.2 career innings in his high school career, he allowed just 37 earned runs while racking up 492 strikeouts.   His 12-0 record in his senior year earned him first team All-State  and third team All-American honors.    But, because he had already made a firm commitment to go to college,  he wasn’t drafted until the Dodgers took a chance on him in the 27th round of the 2007 draft.  As expected, he passed on the Dodgers offer and went to UCLA.

After an injury plagued 2008 season at UCLA he appeared in 18 games for the Bruins in 2009, 6 of those games as a starter.  He was 4-2 with a high ERA of 6.75 but recorded 51 strikeouts in just 44.2 innings.  He became the number 3 starter for UCLA in 2010 and started 19 games.  He finished the season with an 11-3 record and a 2.72 ERA which was the fourth best ERA in the Pac-10.  In 109.1 innings he recorded 128 strikeouts while walking just 35 batters.   In game 3 of the NCAA Super Regionals, he threw a complete game 2-hit shutout while striking out 9 and walking just 1.  That win over Cal State Fullerton sent UCLA to the College World Series for the first time since 1997.  The Bruins advanced all the way to the College World Series championship game on June 29, 2010 where they dropped that heartbreaking 11 inning 2-1 pitcher’s duel to the University of South Carolina.  Rob Rasmussen threw 6 scoreless innings while allowing 6 hits and striking out 5 in that game.

Rob Rasmussen was selected by the Florida Marlins in the 2nd round (73rd overall) of the 2010 draft.  He signed with the Marlins in 2010 and played in the Marlins farm system until July of 2012 when he was traded to the Houston Astros in the deal that sent Carlos Lee from Houston to Miami.  Then, in December of 2012 the Astros traded him to his hometown Dodgers in exchange for minor league right-handed pitcher John Ely.  In 2013, at age 24, Rasmussen struggled at the AAA level in the Dodgers organization going 0-7 at Albuquerque.   He pitched well at AA, finishing 3-4 2.55 with Chattanooga in the Southern League and, in 81.1 innings, he allowed just 60 hits and walked 28 while striking out 76 batters.

Finally, the journey to the major leagues for Rob Rasmussen took another surprising turn when on August 31st of this year,  his hometown Dodgers shipped him to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for veteran Michael Young.   With the 2013 minor league season coming to a close, Rasmussen has yet to pitch his first game in the Phillies organization.   He will likely begin the 2014 season as a member of the Reading Fightin’ Phils but it would not be a surprise if his journey takes him to the Lehigh Valley Ironpigs sometime during the upcoming season.   But the fact that such a young and talented left-handed pitcher has changed teams 4 times in 4 seasons can certainly raise some questions regarding the reason for all the changes.  Was he really in such high demand that 4 teams insisted he be included in trades?  Or did all those teams get a good look at him and decide he wasn’t what they expected?    I prefer to take a positive approach and assume that the reason he has been traded so often is because there is a high demand for a pitcher with his abilities.  Hopefully the Philadelphia Phillies will turn out to be the final destination for Rob Rasmussen.


Filed under From the Desk of Decal, Lehigh Valley IronPigs