The Reading Fightin Phils leave for Bowie, MD today to continue their quest for the AA Eastern League championship. They leave with the series tied one game apiece after last night’s loss. Whatever the outcome should be south of the Mason-Dixon, remember these Fightins. Teams like this don’t come along very often in the minor leagues.
Remember these Fightins for their starting pitchers: Zach Eflin and Jake Thompson should start 2016 with the IronPigs, and end the season with the Phillies. Ben Lively may start back with Reading next season, but should find his way to Allentown rather quickly if his curve ball command continues the way it looked in the divisional playoffs. Ethan Martin continues to work his way back, and while he’s starting now and struggled somewhat last night, may find a role in the ‘Pigs pen before making his way back to the Show. Guys like Reinier Roibal and Joely Rodriguez played an important part in this team’s success and may be able to take the next step and help the IronPigs next year. You could say the same for Hoby Milner, although is role may be in the bull pen, he was difficult to hit last night with his side-arm delivery. We may still have an O’Sullivan on the mound in East Allentown next season should Ryan take the next step. Fireballer Jimmy Cordero is on the “Kenny Giles Plan” and will pass through Coca Cola Park on his way to the big leagues if he can harness that heater and control his slider. Lefty Tom Windle should continue to find success in a relief role. Edubray Ramos may prove to be more than just a “set-up” man in the future. Nick Pivetta may should be back and start the title defense in Reading next season as part of a once-again stellar starting rotation in AA.
Remember these Fightins for their prospects: Top outfield prospect Nick Williams should provide defense and pop in the IronPigs outfield in 2016. Dylan Cozens should start with Reading in the Spring, but will quickly find himself in Allentown if he continues to mash AA pitching. Catcher Andrew Knapp has had success at the plate over an extended period in AA, and should continue his defensive development at AAA in the Spring. Make sure you stock up on early-season ‘Pigs tickets, because JP Crawford won’t be with us for long as he passes through on his way to manning the shortstop position for the Phillies for the next 15 years.
Remember these Fightins for the guys who could play. They might not be the “big names” or the “trade returns” but guys like Brock Stassi–the Eastern League 2015 MVP–know how to play the game the right way. He should finally get the promotion to AAA that he so deserves, in 2016. Big Art Charles may start back with Reading, and if he can find regular playing time before Rhys Hoskins gets there, we may find ourselves with another big piece for the future. Harold Martinez could have quietly played his way back onto the back end of the experts’ prospect lists over the course of the 2015 season. He may get a shot at the hot corner at Coca Cola Park in 2016. KC Serna and Brodie Greene and Rene Garcia and Angelo Mora all played important roles on this team, and should be kept in the organization and given the opportunity for more playing time. Cam Perkins and Brian Pointer should quickly find themselves back in the Lehigh Valley in the near future–with opportunity to take the next step. Stephen Shackleford was lights-out as a closer for this team for much of the season. It was great to see him close out the win in the divisional series, given his recent struggles. We’ll remember what he meant to this team regardless of where he ends up next season–here or elsewhere.
Finally, I ask you to remember the 2015 Fightins also for the players who aren’t here. Some played big roles along the way, and others less. Some will be important parts of the MLB Phillies in the future, and others maybe not as much. But we’ll remember that Aaron Nola started the year on this team. So did Aaron Altherr. And, so did Kelly Dugan and Jesse Biddle. Roman Quinn was a big part of this team–and oh, so exciting to watch. Destin Hood answered the call when Reading needed men in the outfield, and played his way into the playoff dugout, despite injury. Jorge Alfaro never swung a bat or caught a ball for this team–he’ll be in Baseballtown in the Spring–but could be part of a championship roster next season. Carlos Alonso’s season was cut WAY short by injury–but he made significant contributions to the team last season.
You make sure you remember, forever, the night you watched the 2015 Fightins. They could be the 2016 IronPigs.
“….always, always, we remember the [Fightins].”
See you at the park,