From the notebook of a sportswriter who’s enjoying the ride…
“When you believe in things that you don’t understand,
Then you suffer,
Superstition ain’t the way”
The IronPigs are 36-18 headed into Saturday night’s contest in Louisville, and are in first place in the International League North, 4.0 games ahead of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. They’re coming off the month of May where they compiled a franchise-best 24-5 record.
The Pigs lost both Thursday and Friday evenings–the first two-game losing streak since the end of April. In fact, Thursday and Friday are the worst days of the week for the team at 4-4 and 3-3 respectively. They’ve done better recently versus LHP starters at 11-9–but are still a superior 25-9 versus RHP starters. They’re a combined 16-3 in games started in the morning or afternoon; 20-15 in evening affairs.
OF Roman Quinn has been out of the lineup since they opened their western road swing on Monday in Indianapolis. Sources close to the team tell me that his arm has been sore since he slid into third base in Sunday’s game at Coca Cola Park, and that he is considered “day-to-day.”
OF Dylan Cozens left last night’s game early. No word on injury status at this juncture. If neither he nor Quinn are available, that would leave the IronPigs with two healthy outfielders in Cam Perkins and Nick Williams. Taylor Featherston would slot into left field in that instance. They have evening games tonight and tomorrow before flying home to begin a 7-game stand on Monday versus Buffalo.
Not only due to necessity, but also because we’ve completed two months of the season, players have begun to move. I predict more moves are forthcoming–and keep in mind that some moves are done for roster-management purposes and not necessarily demotions. Let me catch you up the best I can: (official moves does not include pending or anticipated moves)
RHP Ben Lively recalled by Philadelphia
LHP Adam Morgan recalled by Philadelphia
LHP Hoby Milner promoted to IronPigs from Reading
OF Jiandido Tromp promoted to IronPigs from Reading
RHP Jesen Therrien promoted to IronPigs from Reading
LHP Hoby Milner assigned to Reading
RHP Zach Eflin added to IronPigs roster from Phillies
RHP Ricardo Pinto recalled by Philadelphia
What’s next? Well, Pinto and RHP Mark Leiter, Jr have been optioned back to the IronPigs and will need roster spots when the team arrives home on Monday. With Reading returning from Akron at the same time–they don’t play until Tuesday–I wouldn’t be surprised to see 2B Scott Kingery on the move to IronPigs. The Tromp move kind of precludes an OF Andrew Pullin move just yet–but we’ll have to check the status of those injuries the next two nights and as the team returns home. RHP Nick Pivetta should be back with Philly to start Monday.
Don’t freak out about a DL move at this point–especially for Quinn. With the 7-day MiLB DL and a retroactive, it doesn’t necessarily signify a long-term issue. Still, we hope he’s back soon–as well as Cozens.
More on the new guys:
Therrien is a reliever who has been doing very well in Reading: He’s 2-1, 1.26 over 21 appearances with the AA squad. He made his first AAA showing last night with two innings of 2-hit, 1-unearned ball with 2 K’s and no BB. He throws a well-controlled 93 MPH fastball and two different sliders. He could be on the fast-track to help Philly’s ‘pen, a la Edubray Ramos last season.
Tromp is a 23-yo native of Aruba whom I used to liken to a Leandro Castro clone. However, he’s more controlled than that, and has been slashing .266/.311/.461 in Reading during his first 42 games at that level. I’m not sure if he’s here to stay or not, but has been impressive lately in the last few games I’ve seen in Baseballtown. The 5’11” 175 righty is also a decent defensive player in the outfield.
I’ll take a 40.
Remember when predicting a move to the big club or trying to reason out a “call ’em up” missive, that some of these players need 40-man roster spots to make that move. That means DFA-ing or 60-day DL-ing an MLB player. Despite the putrid nature of the Phillies’ play recently, they still need enough guys to get through the season. As do we, with the IronPigs, and as do the Fightins in Reading.
At some point, though, as the trade deadline approaches and as AAA and AA guys start to run out of stuff to work on at their current levels, I do think we might see wholesale changes at the top, with players filling in behind an no worries about cutting or trading MLB guys who aren’t in the future plan. It’s just gong to take some time to get there.
And, we’re the current beneficiary at AAA, and in first place. Enjoy the ride, as I’ve said before.
But, that’s why you won’t see OF Andrew Pullin promoted straight to the Phillies, as one writer suggested yesterday. He needs a 40-man spot. As does 1B Rhys Hoskins. As does RHP Thomas Eshelman–the current player of the month.
And remember, these guys are working on things. The coaches and coordinators are tweaking swings, as well as trying to get hitters to approach different pitches and counts a bit differently. Players like C Jorge Alfaro are working on defense.
“The difference between AAA and the Majors isn’t what the players can do–it’s how often they can do it.”
I don’t know who said that, but it rings true. If you’re reading this and you’ve been in the habit of just checking box scores as a method of tracking players in the minors, I’d caution you that it’s not the best way. Watch the games–either in person or on MiLB.TV. You’ll see that a 2-for-4 can look horrible with a couple bad strikeouts and another outing might be pretty good with nothing to show for it. Pitchers can run into bad luck. I think the Phillies minor league coordinators are looking for consistency in play before making promotions–not any particular statistical marker.
One more thing: Remember that while these players are working on things, that it doesn’t necessarily proceed with linearity. Just because a player moves up one level per year, for example, does not mean that maybe he might need some extra time at a level that gives him difficulty–whether that road bump occurs at Lakewood or Reading or Lehigh Valley.
The Phillies have build in waves of prospects, but as some players stall and some are promoted, holes can occur in the waves. Those holes will show up as some bad teams or positional problems at some levels. But, never fear, more good players will be on the way. Even if things turn bad for a time, still, enjoy the ride.
As mentioned above, the IronPigs will return on Monday for Jake Thompson bobblehead night. Four games with Scranton will follow three with Buffalo. Here are the upcoming probables:
Tuesday: TBA (Cesar Ramos? Mark Leiter Jr?)
See you out at the parks,