Reading Fightins Season Preview: Roster and Outlook

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“That team down in Reading” gets its home season started tonight.  Here’s a primer on what you can expect if you make your way to Baseballtown this season.  I’d recommend that you do make that trip.

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First Energy in Reading, as seen from the boardwalk in left field on an overcast "Futures" day. Photo: Kram

First Energy in Reading, as seen from the boardwalk in left field on an overcast “Futures” day. Photo: Kram

 

I’m not sure if there’s anything that demonstrates the depth of the Phillies minor league system more, than the Reading opening day roster.  Nine of the 25 players have AAA experience–several with the IronPigs last season.  Several have MLB experience.  In addition–depending on which list you’re using–13 of the Phillies top 50 prospects will start the season here.  That’s more than for any other Phillies full-season affiliate team this season.

In the past, I’ve gotten a nice email with a roster and some photos which I’ve been able to post, but due to the timing this season, perhaps they decided not to do that.  In any case, if does give me a chance to chime in with some thoughts on the team which will take the field tonight (weather permitting) for the first time together officially, as they open the season.

Ben Lively (Photo: Cheryl Pursell)

Ben Lively (Photo: Cheryl Pursell)

Rotation

15 Alec Asher (Tonight)

19 Ben Lively (Friday)

22 Nick Pivetta (Saturday)

35 Ricardo Pinto (Sunday)

25 Anthony Vasquez (Monday)

Thoughts:  Asher made it all the way to the Phillies last season, so it was a bit surprising to see him here.  However, just as Adam Morgan was squeezed out of the Phillies rotation, Asher from AAA as well.  Expect to see him with the ‘Pigs soon enough.  Lively needs a little attention to detail and good numbers, and he’s due for a promotion too.  Pivetta has electric stuff, and if the 222 game was any indication, he may force his way to the top of the promotion list.  Pinto is the least experienced of the group, but reports I’ve read say that his change-up is MLB-ready right now.  Command and control of his other pitches, and he should continue his fast rise through the system.  We remember Anthony from last season, when he made 20 or so starts for the IronPigs.  He works fast, with a variety of pitches from the left side, and should continue to get paid to pitch for the foreseeable future.  He’s said that he’s most comfortable starting, but could find himself in the bull-pen or starting for the Fightins or the IronPigs all season long.  If he can be consistent, he could find his way back to the Show, too.

 

Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Severino Gonzalez. Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Relievers

(n) Jeremy Bleich

40 Severino Gonzalez

30 Ulises Joaquin

16 Edubray Ramos

17 Yacksel Rios

45 Joely Rodriguez

38 Tom Windle

Thoughts:  Joely and Sev were in the IronPigs rotation to start last season.  Both suffered from ineffectiveness and lacked consistency.  A move to the bull-pen may be just what’s in order for each, and based on their experience, I wouldn’t be surprised to see either or both return to Allentown in a relief role, if needed.  Windle also moves from the starter role; his left arm has been playing up in relief for some time now.  Younger arms like Rios and Ramos will have the opportunity to prove themselves on the AA level.  Look out for fire-baller Jimmy Cordero.  He’s on the IronPigs DL right now, but may need a couple outings at AA before getting promoted.

 

Rhys Hoskins. Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Rhys Hoskins. Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Infielders

3 JP Crawford (SS)

34 Jake Fox (3B/1B/DH)

12 Rhys Hoskins (1B)

7 Harold Martinez (3B)

18 Angelo Mora (2B/3B/SS)

5 KC Serna (SS/2B)

2 Jesumel Valentin (2B)

Thoughts:  You can start the countdown for JP’s promotion right away, if you want.  I was kind of surprised they started him at AA rather than AAA–considering his performance down the stretch last season, as well as the fact they were so quick to promote Andrew Knapp.  No matter, we’ll see him soon enough.  He’s everything they say he is.  Jake Fox returns to the organization, and I’d expect he’ll spend more time in Allentown than Reading this time around.  Rhys Hoskins is the highly-ranked 1B prospect Junior and I saw with Williamsport a couple years ago.  We were impressed with his defense, then, but it’s been his bat that has propelled him to AA this quickly.  AA should be a test, but expect to see some HRs.  Martinez, Mora and Serna return–and each could see AAA this season if needed.  Valentin is the 2B prospect who came in the Roberto Hernandez deal.  He’ll get every opportunity to succeed at this level this season.

 

Catchers

11 Jorge Alfaro

10 Logan Moore

Thoughts:  Perhaps the reason for Knapp’s hasty promotion (in addition to the fact that he’s really good) is the presence of top-10 prospect Alfaro at AA.  Both will need time behind the plate.  Alfaro is a physical specimen with a cannon for an arm.  It will be fun watching him mash HRs and gun down would-be base-stealers this season in Reading.  Our old friend “LoMo” represented himself well at AAA last season, I thought.  He’ll be a call-up without hesitation, if needed, and handles the defense with aplomb.

 

Quinn, bunting for a hit. Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Quinn, bunting for a hit. Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Outfielders

27 Aaron Brown

31 Dylan Cozens

21 Christian Marrero

4 Roman Quinn

Thoughts:  Brown was on that same Williamsport team we saw Hoskins on–he’s a fun guy to watch, who goes 110% all the time.  Look for him to take over in center after Quinn gets promoted.  And speaking of Quinn, he might be my favorite player to watch.  Not just on this team–in all of baseball.  His speed changes the game in so many ways–it’s just compelling.  Cozens has loosened up his swing and will attempt to add more contact to his game this season.  When he hits it, no worries, it’ll go far.  Marrero has played AAA with Gwinnett and Indianapolis.  He spent last season at AA Birmingham.  He could see some time at 1B as well.

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Sample Lineup

Quinn CF

Crawford SS

Hoskins 1B

Cozens RF

Alfaro C

Fox DH

Brown LF

Mora 3B

Valentin 2B

Thoughts:  That’s a pretty compelling lineup.  When are you going to get up to get a sandwich?  During the 222 game I missed the Alfaro HR.  Fox went deep as well.  You wanna get up when Mora is batting and you risk missing Quinn.  Martinez and Marrero and the others will filter in but the lineup will remain stacked until it gets gutted by promotions.  Then again, there are a few guys in Clearwater who can step in and keep it interesting.  It’s gonna be a good season!

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Ballpark

It’s the 50th season of Phillies affiliated ball in Reading, and they’re pulling out all the stops.  There will be special giveaways, special hats and uniforms, and other treats all season long.  I’d also like to recommend the “all you can eat” deck buffet if you’re going.  It’s a nice spread, and dare I say, nicer than anything we usually get at the picnic patio or suites in Allentown.  You can add it to your ticket purchase at checkout–or after the fact at the stadium.

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I’m looking forward to a good season down in Baseballtown.  Some games will be available on TV-2, and you can catch many of them on MiLB-TV if you’re a subscriber.  On the radio, listen for our old friend Mikey-V on 98.5FM or 1240AM (or via the internet) calling the games.

If you’re in the park, I can be found in Blue 7, row 2, when I can make it.  When I can’t the tickets will sometimes be up for grabs.  Stay tuned!

 

See you at the park,

@Kram209

 

 

 



Categories: Kram's Korner - From the Club Level, Reading Phillies

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