Phillies don't forget about their minor league bench guys

Jarred Cosart was chosen for the MLB Futures Game.
Jarred Cosart was chosen for the MLB Futures Game. (DAVID M. SCHOFIELD/Lakewood BlueClaws)
Posted: June 28, 2011

See all those guys with their arms draped over the dugout rail? They're watching the starting nine, with the refrain from John Fogerty's "Centerfield" buzzing beneath their caps.

"Put me in coach, I'm ready to play . . . "

Playing time. Precious to an aspiring pro. To get to the show, a player has to get onto the field to show what he can do. A minor league manager knows. He has 25 snarling, hungry apprentices but only 10 spots in the daily lineup. (Yes, that designated hitter is a big help.)

Lakewood hitting coach Greg Legg is the perfect guy to quiz on this topic. Legg managed 11 seasons in the Phillies system, from the Rookie League level to Double A Reading. He and Lakewood skipper Chris Truby know why their players are there: to perform well and get promoted. And it's all about taking advantage of opportunities.

"You look at our guys, look at our stats, and you can see that Chris Truby has done a great job at giving everybody an opportunity," Legg said. "What I've seen in the past, especially at the lower [minor league] levels, is that when you have that third catcher on your roster, he really has a hard time getting at-bats. For the most part, though, with our guys, it's been pretty spread out and they've all had opportunities. Most of them have taken advantage of them."

Once the club establishes its starters and bench players, Legg noted the "extra" guys get extra attention.

"We spend a lot of time with those guys, probably more than the ones who are playing full time; working on hitting, getting extra work in. They're usually the first ones here," he said.

Legg often uses the word "opportunity." The manager can't play everyone in every game. When a job opens up, no matter how briefly, Legg said a bench player has to make the most of it.

"I usually tell them that we're going to prepare you for your opportunity and when you get it, we're going to take advantage of it," Legg said. "Again, you're going to get your opportunity. It's just a matter of when. Inevitably, it happens, whether it's because someone gets called up or a guy gets hurt, eventually you're going to get a chance. You might have to be patient."

Of course, the minor league executives from the parent club will have their own suggestions.

"Sure, we have guys who tell us, 'Let's try this guy at this position, let's play this guy a little more,' " Legg said. "Hey, that's the way it runs. You're told to do certain things and that's just what you do."

It's a little easier to get pitchers work. A complete game in the minors is about as rare as a tripleplay, so the bullpen gets quite a bit of work and managers are able to juggle the load.

But position players?

"It always comes down to this: If you hit, you seem to find a way to get called up," Legg said. "If you can hit, you'll find your way into the lineup. No matter where it is, any league, any level, if you're hitting, the manager wants you out there. Somebody wants you out there playing."


A couple of Clearwater standouts are headed to the 2011 MLB Futures Game, July 10 in Phoenix, 2 days before the MLB All-Star Game.

Righthander Jarred Cosart and catcher Sebastian Valle were picked to play in the 13th annual contest. But the Threshers battery mates will be in opposite dugouts. Cosart, a Texas native, will represent the U.S. team; Valle, of Mexico, is on the World team roster.

Valle was a no-brainer. He is hitting .343 and generally viewed as one of the top catching prospects in baseball. Cosart, who is 6-5 with a 3.15 ERA, has been much more effective than that pedestrian record would suggest. There would have been no argument here if any of Clearwater's other top righthanders - Jonathan Pettibone (7-4, 2.80), Julio Rodriguez (8-5, 3.33) and Trevor May (4-4, 3.23) - had been picked. Especially May. Maybe it's the 102 strikeouts in 78 innings, but, wow, he has the look of an under-construction major leaguer.

A berth on the Futures squad is by no means a harbinger of big-league stardom. But it's worth noting that four current Phillies - Chase Utley (2001), Ryan Howard (2003), Joe Blanton (2004) and Domonic Brown (2010) - all were picked for the Futures Game.


Clearwater's Jonathan Singleton must have known we were about to rip him. He must have known that we were all set to write up an item wondering what happened to that can't-miss lefty hitter who came into the season as the hottest prospect not named Domonic Brown. His average had been hovering around .250 for the better part of a month. And for someone touted as a power guy, someone forgot to pay the electric bill.

One week ago, the first baseman had a career-best six-RBI night against the Tampa Yankees that included a three-run home run.

Two nights later against Daytona, he went 3-for-3 with a pair of solo homers and three runs scored. In his last 10 games through the weekend, Singleton has hit .389 (14-for-36, three homers, four doubles, nine RBI). He told an interviewer recently that he'd been trying to do too much and needed a slower approach to hitting. Now he's up to .279 with a six homers and 29 RBI.


Reading shortstop Freddy Galvis is making quite a case for a promotion to Triple A Lehigh Valley. Through Sunday, he was hitting .275 with seven homers; he had a total of 10 in his four previous pro seasons. In his last 10 games (through the weekend), the switch-hitting Venezuelan was 13-for-39 (.333).

Brian Bocock is the current IronPigs shortstop. He's struggling, and has been. In 49 games through Sunday, he was hitting .209.

But, hey, shortstop is more about the glove and the bat, right? Bocock has a slight edge in that area, with nine errors to Galvis' 13. But wait: Galvis has played in 73 games, 24 more than Bocock, and handled more than 100 more chances. So . . .

Galvis is only 21, which is the likely reason he's at Double A. But soon it might be worth seeing what he can do at Triple A, since he's touted as Jimmy Rollins' heir apparent.

Speaking of promotions, lefty-hitting outfielder Michael Dabbs was promoted from Lakewood to Clearwater last week. And that's fine. Dabbs, 24, was performing well with the BlueClaws, especially recently, showing vast improvement as a contact hitter. But his former BlueClaws teammates, Anthony Hewitt and Zach Collier, probably ought to join him soon, just to see if the former first-rounders can handle anything above low-Class A. Particularly Hewitt.


Team records are through Sunday.


Tonight: at Buffalo, 7:05

Tomorrow: at Buffalo, 1:05

Thursday: at Buffalo, 7:05

Friday: at Buffalo, 7:35

Saturday: vs. Rochester, 6:35

Sunday: vs. Rochester, 6:35

Monday: at Scranton/W.B., 7:05

READING (AA - 36-39)

Tonight: at Altoona, 7

Tomorrow: at Altoona, 7

Thursday: vs. Richmond, 7:05

Friday: vs. Richmond, 7:05

Saturday: vs. Richmond, 6:35

Sunday: vs. Richmond, 6:35

Monday: at Bowie, 6:05


Today: at Lakeland, 10:30 a.m.

Tomorrow: vs. Brevard, 12

Thursday: vs. Brevard, 7

Friday: vs. Brevard, 6:30

Saturday: vs. Lakeland, 6:30

Sunday: vs. Lakeland, 6

Monday: at Brevard, 7:05

LAKEWOOD (A - 3-1)

Tonight: at Hagerstown, 7:05

Tomorrow: at Hagerstown, 7:05

Thursday: at Hagerstown, 7:05

Friday: at Delmarva, 7:05

Saturday: at Delmarva, 7:05

Sunday: at Delmarva, 6:05

Monday: vs. Hagerstown, 7:05


Tonight: at Auburn, 7:05

Tomorrow: vs. Auburn, 7:05

Thursday: vs. Auburn, 7:05

Friday: vs. Auburn, 7:05

Saturday: at Jamaica, 7:05

Sunday: at Jamaica, 1:05

Monday: vs. Jamaica, 5:05

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