August 21, 2016 |
This was mid-January, a freezing day in a freezing month, but already Nick Williams was thinking warm thoughts. The Phillies had brought him to Citizens Bank Park, with several other young players and prospects, for a tour of the place, and in walking the concourse Williams began eyeballing the right-field wall and its alluring distance from home plate. Just 329 feet down the line. Just 369 to right-center. September, he said. He wanted to be in the Phillies lineup by the end of September, to take some shots at that short porch.
August 16, 2016 |
PLACIDO POLANCO retired Sunday as a Phillie. It shouldn't be the last time we hear from him. Polanco always played in the shadow of bigger names - Jim Thome, Pat Burrell, Bobby Abreu, Cole Hamels, Billy Wagner, Roy Halladay - but he belonged with them. He should be remembered as a hard-nosed Phillie with deep connections to the four hardest-nosed Phillies to play for the franchise in the past 20 years: Scott Rolen, Chase Utley, Thome and Carlos Ruiz. Polanco came to Philadelphia in 2002 and turned out to be the most valuable piece in the deadline deal that sent Rolen to the Cardinals.
August 11, 2016 |
HANG AROUND for 133 years and you're bound to come across all sorts of people. The history of the Phillies franchise is decorated with saints, sinners, stars and screwballs - and even a few war heroes. There were a few Phillies who were overwhelming, but many more who were simply overmatched, especially in the first half of the franchise's existence. Jake Thompson's debut on Saturday, uninspiring as it may have been, made him the 2,000th different player to don a Phillies uniform.
August 10, 2016 |
When the Phillies failed to move veteran starter Jeremy Hellickson at the non-waiver trade deadline, some otherwise rational people suggested that was a mistake, whatever the deal might have been, because Hellickson's presence blocked the way for the overdue promotion of Jake Thompson from Lehigh Valley. I say "otherwise rational people," but the truth is it was mostly fans communicating by posted comments and through email, the latter method often employing all capital letters. For instance: "GET HIM UP HERE NOW. " Whether those impatient for Thompson imagined a late pennant push or had simply identified the savior du jour and wanted to see the first round of miracles sooner than later is a matter of conjecture.
August 6, 2016 |
Jake Thompson, the Phillies' top pitching prospect, will make his major-league debut Saturday when he starts for the Phillies in San Diego. The 22-year-old righthander registered a 1.21 ERA in his final 11 starts with triple-A Lehigh Valley. Thompson was acquired last summer from Texas as one of the key returns in the trade that sent Cole Hamels to the Rangers. He was dominant at the end of last season with double-A Reading and made a good impression on the Phillies during a stint in major-league spring training.
August 3, 2016 |
Approaching baseball's non-waiver trade deadline from the high road occupied by contenders is a lot different than climbing up to it from below. The better teams have good seasons in the balance, seasons that could be improved with the right additions, but those organizations are already winners and their general managers are comfortable in their office chairs. That isn't the case for the teams that hold up the few attractive pieces of their rosters like rare produce from an otherwise fallow field, hoping desperately to get the seeds for a better harvest in return.
July 24, 2016 |
READING - As soon as Jorge Alfaro signed with the Texas Rangers in 2010, his focus shifted to doing whatever he could to make it to the majors. But Alfaro grew up playing the outfield, third base, and shortstop. He didn't have any catching experience and the Rangers moved him behind the plate anyway. He wasn't expecting it. But he wasn't surprised, either. Alfaro was ready to do whatever was asked of him. "I will play anything," Alfaro said. "But I really like catching [now]
July 17, 2016 |
Pitcher of the first half Jake Thompson, righthander, triple-A Lehigh Valley Thompson rolled into the triple-A all-star break with a 0.73 ERA in his seven starts since June 1. The 22-year-old took some time to get set in triple A, but he was dominant once he did. Thompson allowed one run or none in six of his last seven starts. He pitched seven shutout innings on July 6 in his final start of the first half. Thompson allowed just one homer in his last 491/3 innings. He has excellent command of his low-90s fastball, which he pairs with a change-up, curveball, and slider.
July 13, 2016 |
SAN DIEGO - Cole Hamels never doubted he would return to the postseason. Stay healthy, the former Phillies ace said, and the opportunity could arise. He just did not expect it so soon with the Texas Rangers last season, mere months after the Phillies traded him. Now he is the best pitcher on the team with the best record in the American League at the all-star break. Life is good for the 32-year-old lefthander. That does not preclude him from being wistful about the great days in Philadelphia.
May 30, 2016 |
ALLENTOWN - As players attempt to reach the major leagues, confidence can fluctuate on a daily basis with performance. For Nick Williams, one of the most highly regarded outfielders in the Phillies' system, confidence has never been an issue. Overconfidence is something he admittedly has struggled with. "I've always been extremely confident, and at times I am overconfident and I have to slow down," Williams said. Williams, who will turn 23 in September, was acquired from Texas last year in the Cole Hamels trade.