IronPigs News: Phillies’ 2015 MiLB Sign-ees with Invites

Official announcement today of Phillies’ MiLB contracts with MLB Spring Training invitations.  Some of these have leaked out in previous days, but today we got the official word on all eight–including some surprises:

SS Andres Blanco:  

I feel like those dudes from Animal House when they walk into that bar and see Otis Day and the Nights:  “He loves us!”  OK, I don’t know whether he does or not, but I know he’s heard the cheers:  “LET’S–GO–BLAN–CO!” (clapclap–clapclapclap)  Good to have him back.  Always good to have a solid shortstop on the roster.

OF Brian Bogusevic:

He spent last season playing 82 games with Miami’s AAA team, and had 47 games with the Cubs in 2013.  .263/.352/.420 with seven HRs in the PCL last year.

1B/DH Russ Canzler:

We had a feeling Russ would be back.  He really added a spark when he came over from Moosic–and by all accounts enjoyed his time with the ‘Pigs and enjoyed staying close to home in Pennsylvania!

SS/3B Chase d’Arnaud:

I’ve seen him play with both Pittsburgh and Indianapolis.  He hit .250/.313/.356 with two home runs last season in the International League, having played 118 games.  A quick and dirty extrapolation has him as our 3B, with Franco and Asche both in Philly and Howard in Seattle.  ;-)

RF Jeff Francoeur:

“Frenchy” comes aboard having played 115 games with the Padres’ AAA team last season.  He hit .289/.320/.450 with 15 HR.  The former Brave has kicked around the past few years with the Mets, Royals, Rangers, Giants and Padres.

C John Hester:

The Angels–>IronPigs pipeline remains open as the veteran catcher comes over having played 71 games for the Angel’s AAA team last season.  He has MLB experience with both the Angels and Diamondbacks.  He comes eastward having hit .261/.338/.411 with six home runs last season in the PCL.

OF Darin Mastroianni:

He made it to the Show with both Toronto and Minnesota last season, but hit .277/.354/.379 in the International League last season with Buffalo and Rochester.  He had 20 stolen bases.

OF Xavier Paul

We’ve met him before, too, with Norfolk, Syracuse and Louisville.  He has MLB experience with Arizona, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and the Dodgers.  He split last season between the IL and the PCL hitting .251/.311/.425 with 12 home runs from the left side over 82 AAA games.

A Couple Thoughts:

I’m kidding around with the Asche/Franco stuff above, but it’s probably true:  Both will probably start in Philly.  Franco has been playing really well in the Dominican this winter and certainly didn’t embarrass himself last season in his first action with the big team.  It really sounds like they’re gonna move Howard and eat his contract as long as they can get something/anything in return.  I believe Duran re-signed as well, but he is probably headed back to Reading to start, backing up phenom JP Crawford there.

I am a little surprised with the number of OF signed, given prospects Cam Perkins, Aaron Altherr, and Kelly Dugan on the way.  Altherr has been ripping it up in Venezuela this fall, but I suppose Dugan could start back in Reading given the time he missed due to injury last season.  And, there’s always injuries, opt-outs and PCL-nonperformance cuts.  So, yeah, depth is necessary.

I still don’t have a definitive answer on Leandro Castro.  Most places I look still have him as a Free Agent–and I do remember hearing that his MiLB deal last season was for one year.  One source told me that he has re-signed with the Phillies organization, but you’d think they’d give him the MLB camp invite if that were the case.

Stay tuned, looking for some pitching…



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Phantoms Promotional Schedule

Magnet Schedule to be given out to ALL fans at Saturday's Phantoms game

Magnet Schedule to be given out to ALL fans at Saturday’s Phantoms game

Perhaps we’ve been spoiled by the IronPigs.  For 72 home dates per year, starting in April, they’ve got a promo for virtually every one.  And, they announce the whole thing in February.  Certainly, adjustments need to be made along the way, but the amount of work in thinking up the promos, aligning the sponsors, designing the items, and approving the production is staggering to me.  And, I love getting that promo schedule in February or so each year.  We plot it on our schedule with the games so that we know “what night it is”–for good or indifferent.  I’ve seen what some other MiLB teams do, and it’s nowhere near as extensive as the IronPigs.  Kudos to them.

As you probably know, the Phantoms have not yet released a promotional schedule.  I reached out to Executive Vice President Chris Porreca to check on the status of the Phantoms Promotional Schedule–and if they would even have one.  He shares that the schedule–for the entirety of the remaining season–will be released very soon.  He shared that opening the new building presented challenges with organizing the schedule and other issues which resulted in it’s delay.  Given the multiple points of entry at the arena, he says that more giveaways will be done at the seats as the T-Shirts were.  When the giveaways are to be done on entry, he’ll have staff at each location to handle it.  Of course, I tried to get him to reveal the types of promotions that they have planned, and his response was, “You will see…”

And as a gung-ho kind of fan, you know I can’t wait.  I don’t need the T-Shirt (opening night) or magnet schedule (coming this Saturday) to get me to the games, but it’s a nice bonus.  Since we’re new to all this on the hockey side, while we wait, I thought I’d check out what some other teams do–although as we’ve seen with the IronPigs, it may not be exactly representative of what we’ll get, for better or worse.  Anyway, here are links to their promotional schedules, and a rough summary below:

Reading Royals

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins

Hershey Bears

Binghamton Senators

Philadelphia Flyers

Now let’s summarize what the other teams offer (keep in mind some night’s may have more than one promo/theme/etc, and some may already have passed.  It’s just an overview…)

Reading Royals:

Theme Nights:  At least 6

Jersey Auctions:  7

Cool Giveaways:  6 T-Shirt nights, 2 hats/caps, a bobblehead, a scarf, trading cards

Other Giveaways:  4

Other Events:  Many:  post-game skate with players, Dollar Days, Team Autograph days (2), Discount Beer nights (several), Sgt Slaughter appearance,  Other Appearances, Fan Appreciation Night

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins:

Theme Nights:  (none announced)

Jersey Auctions:  (none announced)

Cool Giveaways:  7, including 3 bobbleheads, a license plate, trading cards, and a garden flag

Other Giveaways:  6, your standard magnets and posters

Other Events:  Fan Appreciation Night

Hershey Bears:  (among the attendance leaders in the AHL…)

Theme Nights:  14 (at least…)

Jersey Auctions:   5

Cool Giveaways:   6, including caps, bobblehead, snow globe, TShirt and Golf Balls

Other Giveaways:  3

Other Events:  Autograph night, Hershey Park Pass Nights (2), Dollar Days, Turkey Shoot, Ham Shoot, and TWO Fan Appreciation Days!

Binghamton Senators:  (only available through early December, 2014)

Theme Nights:  6

Jersey Auctions:  1

Cool Giveaways:  1

Other Giveaways:

Other Events:  Post-Game Skate

Philadelphia Flyers:

Theme Nights:  at least 7

Jersey Auctions:  none announced

Cool Giveaways:  none particularly

Other Giveaways:  at least 4, several for the kiddos

Other Events:   Season Ticket Holder Appreciation Night, Dollar Dog Nights (at least 2), Fan Appreciation Night, Dollar Pretzel Night, Team Award Night

A couple other thoughts:

We know from our IronPigs experience that there can be much consternation among the fans when it comes to the giveaways.  If the two that we’ve had (have) so far are any indication, it appears the Phantoms will concentrate on “everyone” -type giveaways rather than “first #” or “kids” or whatnot.  The T-Shirts were a huge hit, and I heard no complaints whatsoever; it looks like they’re on the right track with that one.  And, that makes it easier to just put them in the seats rather than decide how many to have at each gate–or leave out all the people who enter through Chickie’s.

I support the Phantoms for being thoughtful in this, and getting it right.  And I’m looking forward to that schedule!

See you at the arena,





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Angels For Mark Benefit Concert Announced

Our friends Angels for Mark have announced their winter benefit, to raise money for Choroideremia research.  Here at the Horn and Bell Blog, we’ve supported Angels for Mark with a trip to see the IronPigs play in Moosic which I organized and a softball benefit which Cheryl Pursell organized this past summer.

However, this is their biggest event of the year and has been a huge success in the past.  It’s at the State Theater in Easton on Sunday, December 14 at 4PM.  Young Markie DeVoe has a rare, blinding retinal disease known as Choroideremia.  Research is ongoing and solutions may be close; however, money is needed to support the research.  Please consider attending this concert.  I’ll provide some important links:

To Buy Tickets

More on the Wizards Of Winter

More on Angels for Mark

More on Choroideremia Research

More on the concert, from the State Theater site, below:




Performing The Trans Siberian Orchestra’s Greatest Hits: Christmas Eve Sarajevo, Old City Bar, Christmas Cannon Rock, Queen of the Winter Night, and many others, plus music from their own holiday rock opera “Tales Beneath a Northern Star.” Celebrate the holiday season with Wizards of Winter!

This concert is to benefit Research to save Mark DeVoe and others who are afflicted with the retina eye disease called Choroideremia. To learn more about the disease please visit

All Audiences

This is not a State Theatre produced show. Member Benefits & Gift Cards do not apply.


See you at the Theater,





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Ghostbusters — Sad News in PhantomLand

“If it’s somethin’ weird an’ it don’t look good…”

–Ray Parker Jr.

gostisbehere posterize 3

As you may have already heard, Phantoms’ defenceman and top-prospect Shayne Gostisbehere suffered an ACL tear near the end of Friday night’s game in Manchester, NH.  He’s now out “indefinitely.”  Flyers GM Ron Hextall left open the possibility that we could see him back near the end of the season, but personally I’m not holding my breath.  He could be skating and doing hockey things, but I’d want to make sure he’s completely right before putting him in harm’s way again so soon.

How big a blow is this?  I don’t think we can understate it, really.  First, for the player:  Shayne now loses an entire year of development–a year in which the Flyers wanted to see him fine-tune his craft in Allentown before becoming a force in Philadelphia next season (or even at the end of this season).  He’ll likely need to start next season with the Phantoms now–which may be good for us as fans but delays his impact for the Flyers.  For the Flyers it’s one more injury to a prominent defenceman:  First round pick Sam Morin recently suffered a fractured jaw with his juniors team.  Finally, for the Phantoms:  The Ghost was a significant part of a team which was poised to (finally, and once again) make some noise in the AHL standings.  One need look no further than this weekend’s results:  Ghost had two assists in the Phantoms’ 3-2 win Friday night.  The same team got shut out 3-0 the next night in Portland.  Microscopic sample size, but the kid’s a fabulous player who’s fun to watch and makes a difference on both ends of the ice.  Sad to see him go out like this so early in the season; we wish him well has he has surgery Thursday and starts the road to recovery.

We’ll  have more on this as the week goes along, as well as a “Hockey Night” post to get you ready for Saturday.  But, now some quick news and notes:

  1. I’ve seen it written that Forward Pat Mullane and defenseman Adam Comrie have been signed to “two-way” contracts by the Flyers, and assigned to AHL Lehigh Valley.  More on them to come–assuming some support for the injured.
  2. Magnet Schedules for ALL FANS at this Saturday’s game!  This will be great for Dan’s collection, but more importantly it could be bringing us one step closer to a promo schedule.  I have reached out to the Phantoms with some promotional questions, but have not heard back from them yet.  Stay tuned–I do have a piece written which will post soon regardless.

See you at the arena (Saturday!)



Filed under Kram's Korner - From the Club Level, Phantoms Hockey

Gettin’ the Band Back Together: @LVPhantoms -Style

Darroll Powe Photo: Cheryl Pusell

Darroll Powe
Photo: Cheryl Pusell

The Phantoms are in Wocester tonight to face off against the high-flying Sharks.  We’ll be listening via 1470-AM and it’s internet cohort.  What I expect to hear is a team with most of it’s pieces back together–a team that started out the year in first place for a time before faltering of late.

As we mentioned the other day, you’ll never get one of the players to make the excuses.  However, the injury and call-up changes have certainly had a toll.  In fact, all you have to do is look at the statistics from the early games compared with the last few to know what’s been going on.

Jay Rosehill returns from his three-game suspension which stemmed from a complaint (read: crying) from the Hershey Bears regarding a check which wasn’t penalized during the game.

Shayne Gostisbehere returns from Philadelphia for sure this time, and ready to log some ice time and set up some goals.

Brandon Manning was returned from the Flyers today. It’s not clear if he’ll make it to Wocester for tonight’s tilt, but will join the team on the current New England road trip.

Steve Delisle has recovered from his “lower extremity” injury which caused his late scratch the other day.  He should be good to go, as needed, during the road trip.

Brett Hextall has been skating with the team for some time now, although a time-table for his return has not been set.

Some of those stats on goals and plus/minus, I feel have been skewed by the small sample and the roster changes.  We’ll revisit those prior to the next “Hockey Night” on November 15 at the PeoPLe Center.  By then (four more games) we should have a better handle on it.

Yours in hockey,


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Game Report: Skeleton Crew Edition

There was no Ghost, but a “skeleton crew” as blue line depletion reached critical mass last night.  The Hartford Wolf Pack spoiled the Phantom’s day-late Halloween party 4-2, before 8,114 at the PPL Center.

The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown was on the big screen as we entered.  I enjoyed it very much.   Photo: unknown

The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown was on the big screen as we entered. I enjoyed it very much.

While we’re still learning about hockey around here (ie broken sticks), there are some things that we are familiar with:  We’re familiar with the ultimate team aspect of the game.  Ask any hockey player about his great game, and he’ll immediately credit his teammates.  Ask about a loss, and he won’t make excuses or point fingers.  It’s refreshing in a day when basketball players worry about their shoe contracts and football players get tackled heading for the end zone whilst preening for the big screen.

So it was no surprise to read the quotes coming out of the Phantoms’ locker room last night.  There were no excuses, just “We need to play better” and “I need to give better effort.”  No mention of the fact that they’ve been left with barely enough players to play a game.  And they have.

Oliver Lauridsen, Brandon Alderson, and Darroll Powe.  Not happy campers. Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Oliver Lauridsen, Brandon Alderson, and Darroll Powe. Not happy campers.
Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Defenceman Steven (“Diesel”) Delisle was a late injury scratch after morning skate yesterday, which left the Phantoms with only two and a half pairs on defense, and the minimum on offense.  They dressed  a “skeleton crew” of only 17 skaters.  It caught up with them in the third period last night as a 1-1 game in the second period turned into a 4-1 game in the third,  prior to a late Nick Cousins goal which brought the game to it’s end 4-2.  The Phantoms tried to get a replacement, but it was too late, as Shayne Gostisbehere was still in Florida (sitting in the press box next to new Flyer Carlo Colaiacovo to watch the Flyers lose to the Panthers 2-1.  Mark Alt is still injured (and will be until around Thanksgiving) and Brandon Manning is still with the Flyers, where he logged only 9 minutes on the ice.  Meanwhile, the Reading Royals were in Wheeling, WV last night to face the Nailers, and were also a bit short on the blue line with Adam Comrie’s injury.

The Phantoms got an early goal from Kevin Goumas out in front of the net, and held the 1-0 lead into the second period.  However, the Rangers affiliate did control play most of the first stanza.  They didn’t seem to be able to generate a cogent offensive plan, though, even into the second where they tied it 1-1.  They did get their shots–leading Lehigh Valley the whole way–it just didn’t look terribly impressive.  Even in the third, where they exploded for 3 tallies, it was breakaways and breakdowns that did it.  To the Phantom’s credit, in light of the quantity-over-quality shot-fest versus the Pens the other day, they did seem to put together some quality chances.  Just, not many.  And what they did get were stifled by quality goalie play from the Hartford net-minder.

One other thing:  We’ve seen a fair few Hershey and Penguin jerseys at recent rivalry games, but the fans have been good and respectful, as far as I could tell.  I did encounter a few highly-obnoxious Ranger fans on my way out.  Memo to them:  It’s not the real Rangers.  Also, get yourself a Wolf Pack jersey before you go crowing about your team’s mighty victory.

Still Undefeated

The big fight last night was Derek Mathers versus Hartford’s Nick Tarnasky.  I had it Mathers 10-9 on my card, but it might not have been that close.  Evidence:

Mathers Landing 'Em Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Mathers Landing ‘Em
Photo: Cheryl Pursell


Looking Ahead

While he didn’t make it to Pennsylvania to play hockey, it was made official on the transactions page:  Shayne (“Ghost”) Gostisbehere was “loaned” to the Phantoms from the Flyers.  With Vinny Lecavalier’s activation, and we have to assume Colaiacovo will be activated soon as well, perhaps we’ll get Ghost and Manning on the bus to New England by Tuesday.  The Phantoms will play Wednesday in Worcester (Sharks, 5-2-1), Friday in Manchester (Kings, 4-3-0), and Saturday in Portland (Arizona Coyotes 4-5-0) before a return to Pennsylvania the following week.  They’ll be in Wilkes Barre for a Friday night tilt 11/14 with the Baby Pens.  The next home game will be 11/15 versus the Toronto Marlies (Leafs).

Mr Krabs

I was going to take a picture, but I was up to my elbows in butter and Crabby Ale before I knew what was happening:  Chickie’s and Pete’s is now fully functional with the installation and approval of the steamer hood.  I can report that the King Crabs were excellent, and served piping hot with crab-spiced butter sauce–really super, if a little pricey at $28.

Free Hockey

It wasn’t widely publicized, but we stayed after the game for some free hockey as the Army Black Knights were in town to take on Muhlenberg.  Army dominated shots about 20-1 in the first period and lead on the scoreboard 2-0 as we left at the first intermission.  Final results are not available at press time.

I wish they’d have notified fans about this game a little more:  I think more folks would have stayed if there had been more than a quick announcement before the game and a quick one after.  All of the concessions were closed and we were herded by ushers and curtains into sections 107-103.  There was no re-entry available from Chickie’s and Pete’s, and the only exit open was the Air Products gate.  However, it was still fun to watch, and the presence of the Muhlenberg pep band and hockey parents gave it a different feel as well.

Army vs Muhlenberg Photo: @Kram209

Army vs Muhlenberg
Photo: @Kram209

Most of the action with Army on the attack. Photo: @Kram209

Most of the action with Army on the attack.
Photo: @Kram209

Of Ushers and Arena Rules

Still some growing pains around the arena as fans, ushers and staff begin to learn and comply with rules and etiquette.

  • Due to the difference in the liquor license, wine and liquor cannot be removed from the Miller Lite Loft bar to the main seating areas.  However, it can be removed into the suite areas.  And they’ve finally stopped giving out glass up there, although that can be taken into the suite area as well.
  • I know it’s tough in a crowded minor-league arena with many novice hockey fans, but it is common sense:  Don’t move around when the puck is in play.  We’ve been through this with baseball and many still don’t get it there, so I’m not hopeful.  Unless there’s an emergency, don’t get up during game play, and preferably not until between periods.
  • If you are up, you’ll have to wait for a stoppage in play before you return to your seats.  The ushers should stop you at the top of the stairs (up for upper bowl, down for lower bowl).  The ushers are still learning, too, so don’t get angry with them.
  • You know what’s more annoying than folks in and out of the aisles during game play?  Other people constantly screaming about it–and kicking my chair while they do it.  Let the usher know; let the usher-manager know.  Then, stop kicking the chairs!
  • And while the arena and ushers need to do a better job of controlling this stuff, they could also do a better job of letting the fans know what is expected of them.  One quick announcement before the game might not be enough.  I think most folks would be more than happy to comply with the rules if they knew what they were, and didn’t have to be corrected.  With less correcting to do, the ushers will do a better and more polite job.   Not all will comply, of course.  But having to be told just makes it more difficult on everyone.  We’ll do more on this soon.


Cheryl was in the house last night, so you know I’ve got a bunch of her photos to share–all done with “point-and-shoot” due to arena photography restrictions:

A Fyten Chance Photo: Cheryl Pursell

A Fyten Chance
Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Andrew Gordon and Rob Zepp Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Andrew Gordon and Rob Zepp
Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Zepp Fighting off the Screen Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Zepp Fighting off the Screen
Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Alternate Captain Darroll Powe with the TIP Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Alternate Captain Darroll Powe with the TIP
Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Kevin Goumas, who had the first goal, takes the face off.

Kevin Goumas, who had the first goal, takes the face off. Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Scotty Laughton Doing Work Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Scotty Laughton Doing Work
Photo: Cheryl Pursell

See you November 15,





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Hockey Night in Allentown: WOOF! …and the Ghost Returns?


The Lehigh Valley Phantoms welcome the Hartford Wolf Pack (Rangers) in their first ever visit to the PPL Center, for a 7:05 puck drop.

The Wolf Pack arrive with an identical record to the Phantoms: 4-2-1-0. It’s good enough for second in the Northeast division, while the Phantoms are in third place in the East,  3 points back of Hershey.

Word came late Thursday night that the Flyers had signed veteran defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo. With Gostisbehere a healthy scratch in favor of Brandon Manning the other night, and now with the addition of Colaiacovo, The Ghost shall return to haunt opponents in Allentown for ice time and experience.  Arrival time and playing status still unknown at press time…

gostisbehere posterize X

Bad Blood?

F Darroll Powe was alternate captain for Hartford last year.  This year?  Same position for Lehigh Valley.

Injury Update

D Mark Alt is expected to miss 3-4 more weeks with an injured shoulder.

F Brett Hextall still out with “upper body” injury.  Lack of details and time frame leads me to believe that it may be a concussion, and they’ve got to follow the appropriate protocols.  Here’s wishing Brett good health and hoping he gets back to the ice soon.

D Brett Flemming and F Matt Hatch were “loaned” back to Reading for Thursday night’s game there.  We’ll see if one or both return.


(Unavailable at press time.  Will update if possible.)


Robb Zepp: 4-0-1; 2.50GA; 0.918Sv — Anthony Stolarz: 0-2-0, 2.54GA, 0.922Sv

TV and Radio
The usual suspects: TV2 (Service Electric), AHL online (pay), AM-1470, IHeartRadio App, 89.9 FM (Arena only).

Phantoms:  Cousins (9pts/2g), Laughton (7pts/5g), Cousins (+5)
Wolf Pack:  LW Ryan Bourque, C Oscar Lindberg (3g), RW Danny Kristo (6pts/2g), D Jared Nightengale (+3)

Chickie’s and Pete’s
Get the crab legs ready, we’re on our way…


Remember, they still check the meters until 6PM tonight downtown.  If you’re earlier than that, pump in some quarters to get through ’til 6.  It’s been my experience and observation that there are plenty of street spots available on a Saturday night.


The Phantoms head up to New England for three games next week, then head back with a Friday the 14th battle in Wilkes Barre before returning home in two weeks:  Saturday 11/15 versus the Toronto Marlies (Maple Leafs).

See you at the arena,


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