Not a day goes by when I don’t read in the conventional or social media, that the Phillies need to call up players. Dylan Cozens and Rhys Hoskins are hitting home runs at a record pace in Reading? Call them up to the Phillies immediately. JP Crawford is the top prospect in baseball? Call him up immediately. Nick Williams? Call him up. Jake Thompson? He should have been here from the beginning.
Today I read about how JP Crawford is “stuck” on the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. “Woe is me” for the Phillies, as other teams call up their prospects. Giolito got called up to the Nationals (and now he’s back down.) Josh Bell got called up to the Pirates (and now he’s back down.) Yeah, but Trea Turner is with the Nats right now. Right, but not before getting jerked up and down by Washington.
Now, before I continue to rant here, let’s establish a my bona fides: I’m not a Phillies fan in the true sense of the words. But, I am a fan of their minor league teams.
So, yes, I have a vested interest in seeing these players stay with their current teams. But let’s take a deeper look at what’s going on here by answering your questions:
“Hoskins and Cozens can hit home runs. Therefore they are ready for the Majors.”
Do you really think Rhys Hoskins and Dylan Cozens are ready to see Major League pitching? Do you really think they are ready to play MLB-quality defense?
Yes, they both have MLB power, but neither are ready for MLB breaking pitches–let alone AAA off-speed garbage at this point. Yes, they’ll have to learn sometime, and may be leading the league in home runs, but they’re both still very high in the strike-out category as well–in AA. The fact is, I don’t want to even see them in Allentown, at this point. I want them to continue raking in AA, and paying attention to detail in their games, and getting themselves ready for next season. Oh, and win a championship. Those are always good.
“Nick Williams would be more motivated if he were in the Majors.”
Really? Well, I can’t speak for him. However, what I can tell you is that even with a lot of league-leading batting stats, he still strikes out on three pitches often. I’m not sure is approach at the plate is ready quite yet. But only the coaches, managers and coordinators know that. And because he’s gong to need a 40-man spot anyway, you’ll get to see him on the big stage later in September, most likely.
And by the way, I’m not sure he needs “motivation.” And if he did, I’m not sure a call up at this juncture is the way to achieve that.
“The Phillies always leave their prospects down too long.”
Oh yeah, ever heard of Domonic Brown? How about Darin Ruf? Or, Tommy Joseph? Or Jake Thompson?
Look, every case is different, and I believe the Phillies are being very, very smart about this. They will call players when they are ready or when they are needed. They have millions of dollars invested in the rebuild of this farm system and they’re not going to screw it up by yanking guys up and down before they’re ready, or before there’s room for them to get the playing time they need at the next level.
“But JP Crawford is ‘stuck.’ We don’t get to watch him. We don’t get to cheer for him.”
Now we’re getting somewhere. He’s not “stuck.” He’s moved levels every single year that he’s been a professional. He’s currently one of the youngest players in AAA baseball. He’s hitting .258/.348/.333 with the IronPigs. And, he’s injured.
So, he’s not “stuck.” But you, Phillies Fan, want to see him play. You want to “cheer for him.” You can’t wait until the return of the glory days of 2008-2011 when playoff baseball was a given in South Philadelphia and on your Comcrap Cablevision.
I’m here to tell you that playoff baseball is back!
All you have to do, is get in your car and drive.
Drive to Allentown, a couple stops up I-476, where prospects like JP Crawford and Nick Williams and Andrew Knapp and Darnell Sweeney, and Ben Lively and Nick Pivetta are playing. Even that kid Darin Ruf is having a good year–, and Cody Asche is contributing all over the field.
So get in your car and drive.
You could even go up the turnpike a little farther to see the ‘away’ games for the IronPigs–back up to Moosic where your Red Barons used to play. It’s not the “mini-Vet” it used to be; they re-did the stadium and it’s really nice.
All you have to do is drive.
Or, head out to Baseballtown, Reading, PA. America’s Classic Ballpark is home to some of the best hitters in all of AA baseball: Cozens and Hoskins, as mentioned above, but how about top-prospect catcher Jorge Alfaro? He’s got power, too, but a ton of contact ability and feel for hitting as well. He’s no more a finished product than any of these guys, but he has a passion for the catching position and pitchers love working with him. Roman Quinn roams the outfield tracking down fly balls all over the place, and causes all manner of havoc on the base-paths with his elite speed. Top second base prospect Scott Kingery will be in the lineup, as will rising prospects OF Andrew Pullin and 3B Mitch Walding. Veteran 3B/DH Jake Fox is there to make sure all the kids “play the game the right way.” He’s good for a home run or a clutch hit now and again as well. You’ll be a member of “Jake Fox Nation” by the time you leave. There are some interesting pitchers to watch, both in the rotation and in the bull pen. Jimmy Cordero hit 100mph the other day when I was there.
You could drive to Trenton, too. That’s likely where the Reading team will be playing their ‘away’ playoff games, and it will give you a chance to out-number and out-cheer the Yankees fans–just like in Scranton, in fact! It’s the shortest distance for you, and trust me, it will be a friendly crowd for those clad in red. Plus they have a dog who goes and gets the bats. That’s cool, right?
It’s only a short drive.
I hear your cries:
“But Kram, I live in the city and I don’t have a car. And even if I did that drive home is always a drag. I just wanna watch the new Phillies on TV.”
Well you can. If you’re used to the questionable quality of your Comcast channels, you can sign up for MiLB.TV and watch all the games live on your screen.
“But Kram, baseball is best enjoyed on the radio, like in the old days.”
We got you there, too. Two of the best broadcasting teams in the minors reside in Allentown and Reading. Enjoy Matt Provence and Jon Schaeffer either live on the air or via the web links available for computer or mobile. Enjoy Mikey V and his trakemark “Arrivederci” call over the air or online as well, as he takes you through the killer Fightins lineup.
“But I want the Phillies to make a splash with the national media.”
Why? The national media is mostly clueless anyway–you likely know more about these prospects than they do. You’ll get mentions, but it’s all empty.
“But the tickets are probably hard to get.”
Nope. Single game tickets are on sale at some of the parks already. All the casual MiLB fans will be on to other things for the fall, and tickets will be plentiful and cheap. That’s not an acceptable excuse.
“But Kram, it’s not the PHILLIES.”
Yes, it is. It’s the future of the Phillies, and two of the tightest clubhouses in the minor leagues. Let them finish what they started and compete in some playoff baseball. These games count for something. They keep score, and there’s a trophy at the end and everything.
And you can help. Get in your car and drive to these stadiums and help create the atmosphere these young men will encounter when they get to Citizens Bank Park in seasons to come. All you have to do is get in your car and drive.
See you there,
PS: By the way, your Phillies aren’t going anywhere this season anyway, and you DO have young prospects to cheer for. You have Aaron Altherr, and Jake Thompson, and you HAD Zach Eflin and Aaron Nola before you broke them, and you have Tyler Goeddel and Odubel Herrera and Maikel Franco and Tommy Joseph. So settle down and count your blessings. At least you’re not an Angels fan.
PPS: I’m telling you, tickets should be readily available for these playoff games. Playoffs are a tough sell to the casual fans in minor league baseball with school starting and fall sports and the lack of advance group sales and whatnot. The seats are inexpensive and parking is near free. A hot dog and a beer will cost you way less than in South Philly, too. If you’re a real baseball fan, enjoy, and tell them Kram sent you.