Alternate Title: Hen-dog and His Hitters
We dodged some rain showers and lane closures on the way, but had a cool night inWilliamsport Friday night to see some of the youngest of the Phillies prospects. Consider this your first glimpse at the 2020 IronPigs! (Well, maybe 2019 for a couple of these guys…
BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field
The little park was updated this off-season, with some new seating, new hospitality areas and a new field. With a capacity of 2,366 and a paid attendance of 1,685 it all just felt about right on a Friday night. It was fireworks night, as per usual in the minors, and happy hour too…
Parking is free in the park next door and in a grassy lot up the way, but there’s also a reserve lot for $2 which we used for the proximity and because the recent rains had come through the area making things a bit messy. Traffic and construction on the way had us on site a little later than planned, but we had a quick tailgate, then the gates were open.
The beverage choices weren’t copious, but the prices were more than fair. $6 for a 32-oz Genny? Yes, please, and a flashback to my youth for no extra charge!
But wait–it was Happy Hour and 20-oz drafts were $2 until game time and my resident mathematician/designated driver informed me that was a better option. On return trip to the stand, a nice gentleman in front of me apologized for delaying my order while he snapped a picture of the beer sign. I told him that was quite alright–I had already taken the photo above, myself.
Part of the reason for the recent renovations is that the small park will host an MLB game this summer as part of the Little League World Series festivities in town. That game is not open to the public–just the kids and parents in town for the tournament will get to see the Pirates and the Cardinals. It should be really cool for them to see the big-league players that up-close!
All the seats are good in a stadium that size, of course. But my view was somewhat obstructed by the huge padded pillars that hold the net behind the plate. I should sit up higher, of course, where I normally prefer to be…
But another feature of the stadium is a “family section” where no alcohol is allowed. Pretty cool, but also right behind the plate and below the press box, where I normally like to sit. Also, that’s where the loudest heckling was coming from, so I’m not sure we can always just blame the beer!
One final thing I noticed from the website, but didn’t test: The park does not allow re-entry, which is kind of unusual to me in the Minors. Just something to note if you’re going to visit.
“Home Run Haseley”
21-yo Adam Haseley was the first round pick of the Philadelphia Phillies just a few short weeks ago. He was picked 8th overall out of the University of Virginia as a “5 Tool” Center Fielder. His bat is his calling card slashing .390/.491/.659 during his Junior year this season. After a short stint in front of the powers that be in Clearwater, for the GCL Phillies, Adam was promoted to Williamsport where he continues to rake to the tune of .424/.525/.576 as of this writing. His presence on the team was a key factor in our trip, even though I had been meaning to get to a game up there for some time.
He does indeed seem to know what he’s doing at the plate. In his first at-bat he was right on top of a pitch center-in that he tried to drive. Unfortunately he was right on top of it, literally, too. He topped it for an easy 1-3 put-out, but you could tell his timing was good and that he got the pitch he wanted.
In his next three at-bats the pitchers tried to keep the ball away from him, but the lefty was able to barrel them all up to the opposite field–including an oppo home run in his final at-bat.
Jhailyn Ortiz is a large young man. He bats from the right, so I suppose the David Ortiz comparison fails pretty quickly. But he does have big, easy power similar to our own Dylan Cozens (yeah also a lefty), and doesn’t have to swing real hard to get the ball to go real far. He proved it in the second inning as he launched a long home run to the opposite field simply by squaring the ball up. As other outlets have pointed out, he does indeed get a different sound off the bat compared with other hitters! He had another hit in the game, and even stole a base, proving he can move a little for a big guy. I didn’t see him get many opportunities in right field, but he does look athletic enough to stick there for a while.
Ortiz is but 18 yo and was signed as a youngster out of the Dominican Republic. He’s currently listed at 6’3″ 215lb.
The Giant on the Mound
I was thrilled to see Kyle Young listed as the starter because he was originally the probable for Thursday night. The big lefty is 6’10” in the program, but was measured at an even 7′ when he reported to the Phillies this spring. Signed as a high schooler out of New York, Kyle had everything working last night.
In the first inning, he worked mainly with his fast ball and another pitch which showed some late dip. Without a radar gun handy it was sometimes difficult to tell, but we were assuming the other pitch was a cutter or change. Reports have his fastball at 89-90. His motion is somewhat effortless, but the batter sees nothing but elbows and knees coming at him. Young hides the ball well and his release seems to be consistent for each pitch. I think he tried to bury a breaking pitch once when ahead in the count in the first inning, but that was it’s only appearance early on.
In the second and third inning we saw more left-handed batters and that’s when the curves really started. The breaking ball has nice two-plane movement and was really unfair to the LHB. The consistent release made the fastball play up as it really started to look like it was jumping out of his hand.
With 11 strikeouts and no walks, we didn’t get to see him work with runners on base much. However, he did seem to be either unrefined or at least thoughtfully inconsistent in both his move to first base as well as his delivery. It worked as he got the guy picked off–unfortunately a missed tag or missed call allowed the runner to remain safe, but he had him dead-to-rights. That might be something to watch going forward. He went slide-step to first, then leg kick to home. I said, well, look for the leg kick and take off. Next pitch, he did leg kick with the throw over–pattern broken whether on purpose or just how it all worked out. Later, he did slide step to home as well.
As we were planning our egress, I didn’t record any specific observations from the four other pitchers who followed, a couple of whom were making their pro debuts. In the end, the Cutters won 7-3 and we didn’t stay for the fireworks, starting our long journey home. That ride home was much better as the roadwork was minimal and the moon light was bright.
I certainly recommend a trip up to the Historic Bowman Field either as a day trip or as a stop along the way of a longer journey.
No trip would be complete without photo-documentation, and we had the best with us. Here are some additional Cheryl Pursell Photos:
The Haseley HR in Four Shots: Photos: Cheryl Pursell
One thing for the coaching staff to work on with the kids in Williamsport might be sliding. A couple awkward attempts lead to outs which I thought could have easily been safe with a better slide. Even if the player was safe, sometimes just the weird slide gets the wrong call from the two-person umpire crew. That’s CF Malvin Matos above trying to stretch a double into a triple but not making it, in the fourth inning.
Ortiz trying to make it to third–he didn’t quite get there. Another slide which could have been better, I thought at the time. Also interesting are the glasses. At only 18, might not be the right time for LASIK quite yet. Photos: Cheryl Pursell
More Young. The folks behind us were making fun of the catcher for being little. I’m not sure that was it, he’s 5’11”. Gotta tell the big guy to stay off the mound if he wants to talk! Photos: Cheryl Pursell
More Hasely. I believe from his first at-bat. Photos: Cheryl Pursell
More Hasely. Photos: Cheryl Pursell
They had a Q&A with Haseley, on the field, prior to the game. Good stuff, and seems like a nice kid. Photos: Cheryl Pursell
See you at the park(s)