That's not new. But when asked if he could compare it to the brand of baseball that's played at the same ballpark by the Class A Clearwater Phillies during the summer, Fregosi indicated it was not even that good.
"I'd have to say a 'low' A classification," he said. "It's just tough to judge right now. We're mixing in some guys who have played higher."
For those who can't rattle the Phillies farm system off the top of their heads, the pecking order goes like this.
Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, International League.
Double A Reading, Eastern League.
Class A Clearwater, Florida State League, considered "high" A.
Class A Kannapolis (N.C.), South Atlantic League, a "low" A league. This is a new affiliation for the Phillies, ending a 32-year association with Spartanburg, S.C.
Class A Batavia (N.Y.), New York-Penn League, a short-season league mostly for players drafted in June.
Rookie League Martinsville (Va.), Appalachian, home of the youngest and greenest players.
Former Phillies general manager Paul Owens, now an assistant to the president, confirmed Fregosi's assessment.
"Maybe Sparty," he said. "I'd have trouble putting them in the Florida State League right now."
Owens pointed out that there's a possibility the replacements could improve. But there's also a chance the quality of play could decline, too, since some of the players are older and haven't played baseball in awhile and they could develop nagging aches and pains.
Shortstop Mike Huyler hit the first replacement home run of the spring off Marty Bystrom in the seventh inning of yesterday's squad game . . . Bystrom had just returned from his father-in-law's funeral in Reading . . . The replacements will be off today. "They need a day for their muscles to recuperate," Fregosi said. The plan is to concentrate on drills tomorrow . . . The exhibition season opens Saturday against the Reds at Jack Russell Stadium.