Phillies minor-leaguer Tuffy Gosewisch stays focused on goal of making majors

Tuffy Gosewisch
Tuffy Gosewisch
Posted: May 15, 2011

The same man whom Roy Halladay credits with turning around his career has helped Tuffy Gosewisch keep pushing toward his goal.

Halladay has told the story many times how his wife, Brandy, picked up Harvey Dorfman's book, The Mental ABC's of Pitching, after he had been demoted from the big leagues to single A following the 2000 season. He also has described Dorfman, who died in March, as the single biggest reason for his success.

Greatness is not likely to be part of Gosewisch's future, but the catcher is still hoping that a job in the big leagues is in his future despite his being sent to double-A Reading for the third straight season.

Gosewisch, 27, admitted that the news of another season in Reading was initially difficult to digest. But he quickly flushed the thought and focused on his job.

"You know when you first hear something like that, it's frustrating, but then I try to remember something that Harvey Dorfman once told me," Gosewisch said. "He worked with us in college and he always talked about things you can control and things you can't control.

"The decisions that they make in the front office are something I can't control. All I can control is my performance and going out on the field and doing whatever I can to become a better player. Whatever happens after that is what happens."

By taking that approach, Gosewisch has won the admiration of his first-year manager and continued an offensive revival that he believes began last season.

"As far as handling being back [in Reading], nobody has done it better," manager Mark Parent said. "I see him doing stuff and I say to myself, 'I don't know if I could be doing that.' It's appreciated, I can tell you that. It makes me want to give him extra effort because he gives me extra effort. That's the kind of kid you want to be around."

Parent believes Gosewisch has the defensive tools it takes to be a backup catcher in the big leagues, and the manager, a former backup catcher, means that as a compliment.

"That's a guy who can handle a game and who guys like throwing to," Parent said. "He could be a backup on most clubs right now."

Gosewisch's popularity with the pitchers was evident in spring training, when Halladay and several of the other aces on the staff specifically requested throwing to him during the early side sessions in Clearwater.

"It gives you another level of confidence because I know if I can get called up there that they trust me," Gosewisch said. "The number-one key to a pitcher-catcher relationship is trust, so to work with all those guys and learn from them, that gives me great confidence."

Parent said Gosewisch still needed to work on reading the swings of a hitter when calling pitches, but he's confident based on the catcher's work ethic that it will happen.

The most improved aspect of Gosewisch's game in the last year has been his hitting. He went into the weekend hitting .267 with four home runs and 18 RBIs hitting primarily ninth in the batting order. He has never hit higher than .252 at any level of the minors and he has never hit more than nine home runs or driven in more than 45 runs in a season.

"It really happened last year," Gosewisch said of his offensive awakening. "A couple months into the season last year I was struggling pretty bad and I completely simplified things and went back to the basics. I didn't worry about anything except hitting a line drive. I didn't care about anything else. I worked on hitting a line drive and it went from there. I really simplified things mentally.

"I got a good routine with Frank [Cacciatore], our hitting coach, and we got into the same routine every day. I focused mentally on not taking a single pitch off, and that has been big for me. In pregame, everything I try to do is 50 percent of game speed because if you try to do something 100 percent in batting practice, then in the game you're naturally going to speed up and be going too quick."

So far this season it is all working for Gosewisch, and his dream of playing in the big leagues remains very much a realistic one.

"We think of him as a major-league prospect," said Chuck LaMar, the Phillies' assistant general manager in charge of player development. "He continues to do everything we ask of him. More importantly, he continues to develop his skills. He's coming off the best major-league camp he has ever had and he continues to open eyes, especially defensively with the way he is able to handle a game at the major-league level."


Hot-hitting Valle a work in progress

Clearwater

(Advanced A, 23-11, second place, Florida State League North Division)

Sebastian Valle, considered the best young catching prospect in the system, went into the weekend hitting .326 with seven doubles, three home runs, and 15 RBIs, but he is far from a finished product, according to Phillies assistant GM Chuck LaMar.

"He's a young man who continues to improve," LaMar said. "He showed vast improvement last year at Lakewood and statistically he's off to a good start offensively. He needs to continue to improve defensively, especially at handling pitchers with really good stuff. You see him throw a guy out and then make a poor throw. He needs to show more consistency."

Jonathan Singleton, at 19, is the youngest player in the Florida State League and has held his own with a .291 batting average and .411 on-base percentage while also moving from first base to left field. The one area where he has struggled is in the extra-base-hit department. He had just two doubles and a home run through his first 24 games.

"He does not have as many extra-base hits as we'd expect him to have," LaMar said. "We'd much rather see a young player hit first and then grow into his power. People look at his size and think of him as a big power guy, but this kid is also a hitter."

Julio Rodriguez continues to open eyes. The former eighth-round pick from Puerto Rico is 5-0 with a 1.67 ERA, third-best in the league.

"He's one of those players who is a major-league prospect until proven otherwise," LaMar said. "His stuff may not be as good as some other pitchers', but his numbers speak for themselves."

Jarred Cosart, on the other hand, has been inconsistent in his first season at Clearwater. He is 3-3 with a 4.15 ERA in seven starts, but LaMar said he was simply learning how to pitch against a higher level of competition.

"He's fine," LaMar said. "We knew this would be a challenge and it is. He's going to have some good outings and some questionable outings. We're not concerned with his numbers."

After missing time because of stiffness in his lower back, righthander Brody Colvin returned to the mound for his second start of the season Friday.

Reading

(AA, 20-13, second place, Eastern League Eastern Division)

One of the things Matt Rizzotti was told he had to work on when the Phillies removed him from the 40-man roster and sent him back to Reading was his ability to hit for extra bases. So far, so good. In addition to his .342 batting average, he went into the weekend with six home runs and 13 doubles for a total of 19 extra-base hits, which led the league. That total included a broken-bat home run that traveled about 430 feet over the center-field wall at Trenton's Waterfront Park on Wednesday.

"I'm just trying to be comfortable in the box, and if being comfortable in the box means a little more power I guess that's the way it's working out," Rizzotti said. "As for trying for more power, I'm not consciously trying for it. I'm just trying to put the ball in play."

Rizzotti was also told he needed to lose weight and improve defensively at first base. Manager Mark Parent said Rizzotti has lost about five or six pounds, and Rizzotti believes he has made strides defensively.

Michael Cisco, the grandson of former Phillies pitching coach Galen Cisco, is 3-0 with a 1.46 ERA in seven appearances as a long reliever. A 36th-round pick in 2008, he was never considered much of a prospect.

"He has been outstanding for us," Parent said. "You look at him and he looks just like his grandpa: a short dude with short arms. You try to find out why he's deceptive because apparently he is. Nobody barrels the ball up consistently against him. Every time we throw him out there he throws up nothing but zeros."

Lehigh Valley

(AAA, 19-15, second place, International League North Division)

Drew Carpenter, removed from the 40-man roster in spring training, is pitching primarily in a relief role for the first time in his career and doing well. He went into the weekend with a 2-0 record and 3.00 ERA in 10 appearances and had struck out 19 batters in 21 innings.

"We liked the move to the bullpen with him," LaMar said. "We think it helps his stuff. He has borderline major-league stuff, but good command, and we think this gives him a better chance to pitch in the major leagues. We'll see what happens the rest of the year."

When infielder Kevin Frandsen was suspended for 50 games after testing positive for Ritalin, the IronPigs activated veteran minor-leaguer Tagg Bozied, who went 3 for 5 with a home run and four RBIs in his first two games.

Lakewood

(Low A, 16-17, sixth place, South Atlantic League Northern Division)

Righthander David Buchanan, a seventh-round pick out of Georgia State last year, has been the BlueClaws' best pitcher through the early part of the season, posting a 5-1 record and 1.51 ERA in seven starts.

"He's not one of those guys who is going to light [radar] guns up, but we felt like he had a good sinker last year and it has continued to sink," LaMar said. "That's going to be a really good pitch for him, and his breaking ball is improving."

After starting the season in extended spring training, Lisalberto Bonilla is now pitching at Lakewood. LaMar said Bonilla could eventually move into a starting role.

- Bob Brookover


Contact staff writer Bob Brookover at bbrookover@phillynews.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/brookob

 

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