June 6, 2016 |
ALLENTOWN - Zach Eflin had a suggestion for his coaches last summer as he was winding through his first season in the Phillies organization. The pitching prospect wanted to again throw a curveball, which he had taught himself in high school. The Phillies obliged. And the success Eflin has since found could have him in the majors sooner rather than later. The pitch - which Eflin classified as a "knuckle curve" - gives the righthander a needed extra option. It is something else the batter has to think about, Eflin said.
May 10, 2016 |
Derek Wakeley has been playing baseball with many of his West Deptford High School teammates since their first days in Little League. "A lot of us go back to when we were 8 or 9," said Wakeley, a senior righthander. Those Eagles will be together for another month, tops. But while Wakeley and company have their sights set on a Colonial Liberty Division title as well as the South Jersey and state Group 2 tournaments, they have another opportunity to make their mark as well. For the first time in three years, West Deptford has qualified for the Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic, the most prestigious in-season tournament in South Jersey baseball.
April 26, 2016 |
MILWAUKEE - Cameron Rupp lowered his right hand and signaled for a fastball in the most crucial moment of an 8-5 Phillies loss to the Brewers. Jerad Eickhoff did not flinch. He stared at his catcher for three seconds to express his disapproval. Rupp flashed a new call. The curveball. "If I get beat on my curveball," Eickhoff said later, "I'll live with it. " On Sunday, he was beaten again and again on the curveball. Eickhoff allowed a career-high seven runs. Ten Brewers batted in the decisive six-run sixth inning.
April 25, 2016 |
Jerad Eickhoff was three years removed from being a 15th-round pick and even further from being considered a prospect. The pitcher was instead a middling minor-leaguer, struggling to find success on baseball's lowest rungs. Then, in the summer of 2014, he struck up a conversation with Mark Connor, a roving pitching instructor in the Texas Rangers' farm system. Connor told Eickhoff to throw his curveball more. He believed that American League pitchers who offered a heavy dosage of curveballs were more likely to succeed.
April 21, 2016 |
Vince Velasquez had not allowed a run this season in his first 15 innings. His first two starts with the Phillies were nearly perfect. A night like Tuesday's 11-1 loss to the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park seemed as if it was bound to happen. The Mets tagged Velasquez for a pair of home runs (on a night when they hit six) just 10 days after the pitcher had blanked them for six innings. The righthander allowed five runs - two of which were earned - in 41/3 innings. Velasquez threw just 74 pitches, perhaps still a bit worn out from firing a career-high 113 pitches five days earlier.
April 15, 2016 |
It was a curveball count. Two strikes, a runner on third in a tight game Wednesday night defined by Jerad Eickhoff's curveball. The pitch had buckled the knees of Padres hitters all night. It had to be a curveball. Eickhoff stared at Cameron Rupp. The catcher wanted fastball. So did the pitcher. "I was going to get into one," Eickhoff said. This is promise, a 2-1 Phillies win over San Diego, when a 25-year-old righthander is on the same wavelength as his 27-year-old catcher to fool the best hitter on the other team in the most crucial moment.
March 24, 2016 |
CLEARWATER, Fla. - When Jerad Eickhoff stepped to the plate in the second inning of his first Grapefruit League start, the sign to bunt may or may not have been flashed. Depends on whom you ask. Eickhoff, who fractured his right thumb in a February bunting incident that delayed his spring progress, swung with runners on the corners and one out. He chopped it back to the pitcher. "To get back in the box was kind of a nervous wreck," Eickhoff said Tuesday. "If I had to bunt, I had to bunt.
March 17, 2016 |
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. - Steven Souza Jr. smacked the barrel of his bat against his thigh in frustration as he walked back to the Tampa Bay dugout. He had swung well ahead of Aaron Nola's change-up as the Phillies righthander left batters mystified Tuesday when his pitches rounded into form for the first time this spring. Manager Pete Mackanin said Nola looked like himself as he pitched the first 42/3 innings of a 5-2 win. Nola mixed his fastball with a looping curveball and an effective change-up, a pitch he spent the offseason trying to improve.
September 7, 2015 |
In the last 15 months, countless hitters at four levels of pro baseball have found themselves quickly behind in counts because of Aaron Nola's pinpoint fastball command. Then will often come his best secondary pitch, a breaking ball, and with it an obvious question from those watching. "Was that a slider or a curveball?" Since the Phillies drafted Nola seventh overall in the 2014 draft out of Louisiana State, his breaking pitch has been labeled as both in articles and in interviews with opposing hitters.
August 20, 2015 |
MOOSIC, Pa. - Lehigh Valley manager Dave Brundage described Jerad Eickhoff as having a "bulldog mentality. " The righthander commands the mound with a tenacious approach, Brundage said. All signs point to the bulldog being unleashed in the major leagues Saturday. The Phillies have yet to name a starter for that day's game in Miami. The IronPigs have not named a starter for Friday, which would be Eickhoff's normal day to pitch. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said the team is still figuring it out. Brundage said it's not his decision.