How Are They Doing This?

Photo: Steve Kiebach

“Here I’m sittin on this bar stool, talk like a damn fool…”

      Tommy Shaw/Styx
Once again coming to you from the Club Level Bar with some thoughts before today’s game:

You know, these IronPigs are kind of good.  Best record in much of the minors good.  Except:

  • Top prospect JP Crawford still gazes up longingly at the Mendoza Line.
  • RHP Mark Appel can’t find the strike zone.  But he CAN find bats.  
  • RHP Jake Thompson has had a few dreadful starts–like last night.
  • I don’t think RHP Ricardo Pinto was ever meant to be a AAA starter to begin with–he had a couple good starts before it all caught up with him and now he’s in relief.
  • C Jorge Alfaro started off hot at the plate, but has since regressed.  That, and he can’t stop a ball in the dirt to his right.
  • OF Dylan Cozens has a shot at the AAA strikeout record.  But he swings hard just in case he hits it.
  • 2B Jesmuel Valentin started off OK, but then cooled off before needing season-ending shoulder surgery.  
  • Neither Taylor Featherston nor Hector Gomez have a full-time claim on third base.
  • Despite having the best walk-up music, Cam Perkins isn’t allowed to play every day.
  • OF Nick Williams went a few weeks where he couldn’t see three pitches in an at-bat–unless it was a strikeout.

Photo:  Steve Kiebach

So what gives?  What’s making this team so darn good?  

  1. Talent. Look, I was critical of some stuff above, but these are some really talented players and even if the numbers don’t look good on paper all the time, that talent has a way of shining through.  Nick Williams recent surge and Dylan Cozens monster homers are good examples.  These guys aren’t “prospects” for nothing.
  2. Depth. The sheer volume of prospects on this team means that none of them are ever the only one in the spot light.  Have a really tough night?  No worries, someone else will step up.  Established AAA players like Taylor Featherston and Pedro Florimon are hitting in the bottom three in the lineup.  That’s pretty good and it wears the opposing pitchers down.
  3. Health.  I know Valentin is injured, but more than that I think I’m referring to the Phillies.  Even with Kendrick’s (above, on rehab right now) injury, the Phillies bought an outside guy rather than plundering our crop of prospects for their needs.  We’ve been able to remain mostly intact to this point of the season.
  4. Other Teams.  Mark Appel might give up 6 runs, but other teams have Mark Appels, too.  The IronPigs have been able to take advantage of that given some of the above factors.
  5. Relief.  Late game pitching has really been an advantage thus far.
  6. Youthful Exuberance. These guys don’t seem to ever give up on games, which has allowed them to come from behind and deal with the grind pretty consistently thus far.  And, guys called up, such as Eshelman, have performed well.

So what now?  

Well, enjoy the ride.  Things change quickly in the minors, so what’s going for us above may fall apart at any time–through no fault of anyone in particular.  Kingery and Pullin are the two guys who could come up from Reading at some point yet and contribute, but I’m not sure about the pitching other than a couple of their relievers.  

I’m not purchasing tickets for the National Championship game in Moosic just yet.  But it is tantalizing to realize how close it is this season.  
See you at the park,


….from the Club Level

Categories: Uncategorized

4 replies

  1. “So what now?

    Well, enjoy the ride. Things change quickly in the minors…”


  2. I think the fact that they’re doing so remarkably well despite some of the anemic pitching and batting averages speaks to the depth of the talent on this team. When one falters, others step in to pick things up. This is the best IronPigs team I think we’ll ever see!

    I hope the Phillies continue to resist the pressure to call up half of our team. These guys deserve to know what a championship season is like, and the experience can only benefit the Phils in the long run.

    Crawford, Cozens and Williams have resurrected their seasons lately, and I hope they’ve finally broken out of their slumps. Featherston and Perkins have played so well that they deserve a permanent spot in the lineup.And Rhys Hoskins — what can you say except that he is a remarkable all-around player, probably a cinch for Rookie of the Year honors when e finally joins the Phillies. The next Trout?

    • For the most par Jim, I agree. I like their mindset, too–they never seem to give up on a game, everybody is hustling on the basepaths. Howie Kendrick joked in his media session the other day, “I might be the weak link on this team” with respect to the talented lineup. Watching him the last couple nights, he might be right! (And no disrespect to him; I’ve been a fan of his since the Angels days.)

      While I’d like nothing more than a run at a championship, if a guy puts together a really sustained run and pushes his way to the Majors, then so be it. You can see, even Rhys is cooling off a bit as pitchers adjust and he has to subsequently adjust to them. Same thing, if there’s an obvious opening on the big club, then the hot guy should get a shot. If they need an outfielder to play every day up there, then Nick Williams should go–at this juncture. Guys have to know that their strong play will be rewarded–within the confines of roster management (ie 40-man, etc) and so that both teams can field a roster, of course.

      As you say, guys in slumps certainly have the best situation to get themselves out of it: a winning team and positive atmosphere.

      I’ll refrain from Trout comparisons for now… šŸ˜‰

      • Yeah, except these guys know they’re going to the big leagues; it’s only a matter of time. So I don’t think they need to be in a big hurry to get there. Enjoy what you’re doing, how well you’re doing it, and the experience you’re getting while it lasts!

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