Hey Bulls' Fans! Here's what you need to know about the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (AAA - Phillies) in advance of the forthcoming “wraparound” weekend series, coming to you from the “Horn and Bell” Blog, The Voice of the Noise Nation in the Lehigh Valley, PA.
The 2014 IronPigs have been a better road team than home team. They've hit for power much more than anticipated, especially on the road. They are managed by former Richmond/Gwinnett Braves manager Dave Brundage. His management style is more similar to our most recent previous manager, Ryne Sandberg, than our first one, Dave Huppert. Former Phillie Mickey Morandini is a bench coach-new this year. Expect to see Brundage manage to win — he'll set the lineup and change the pitchers in a manner conducive to winning, all while getting guys playing time. The roster is a nice mix of young guys and veterans. We've lost a couple to the Phillies, and a couple to injury, though. The team comes in with 24 players on the active roster and only two position player reserves. Gillies, Rupp and Franco are the guys in the starting lineup who could be considered position-player “prospects.” The 'Pigs arrive from Norfolk after taking 4 of 5 from the Tides (one was a makeup from Allentown).
- Record: 29-25, Third Place IL North, 0.5 games back
- Home/Away: 12-15 Home; 17-10 Away
- Day/Night: Day 14-6; Night 15-19
- One-Run: 12-6
- Weekends: 5-10 Friday and Saturday; 9-5 Sunday and Monday
- Righty/Lefty: vs RHP Starter: 24-17; vs LHP Starter: 5-8
Phillies’ Top Prospect, Maikel Franco. Photo: Cheryl Pursell, NoiseNation’s Horn and Bell
(with player notes)
#13 Tyson Gillies CF (nickname: “Herc-Gillies” or “Greased Lightning”). A series of mishaps and injuries has dropped Gillies out of favor among prospect-watchers. However, he does still have a 40-man roster position. He was a key piece from the Cliff Lee trade to Seattle. He's fast. Very fast. And he'll run out everything from a routine grounder to a base on balls to a home run. He'll bunt for a hit periodically. He'll make a highlight reel play or two in center field as well. He is hearing impaired.
#9 Tyler Henson RF (nickname: “Henny” or “Hen-Dog”): The former Orioles 3B prospect remade himself as a utility player in the offseason. He lost weight and gained speed and can now be found in both corner-outfield positions as well as 3B and 2B. He's been one of the IronPigs most consistent players this season.
#10 Maikel Franco 3B (pronounced: MY-kell FRAHN-co): The 21-year old is one of the top three prospects in the Phillies' system. With Cody Asche's recent injury in Philadelphia there has been some call to get him to the big club early. However, most IronPigs observers know that he just isn't quite ready yet. He started very slowly in April, but came on strong in May as the weather began to warm up. Recently, allergies and an upper respiratory infection have set him back a bit. He's not fast, but is very quick in the field. His play at 3B has been superb. He'll also play 1B at times.
#44 Jim Murphy 1B (nickname: “Big Jim” or “Jimmy”): The big first baseman earned a promotion to AAA for 2014 by virtue of his outstanding year last season in Reading. The right-hander has hit most of his home runs on the road, as Coca Cola Park in Allentown is not conducive to big right-hand power hitters. He leads the team in extra-base hits and home runs, among other offensive categories.
#35 Cameron Rupp C (nickname: “Ruppy”): The catcher made it to the Majors late last season before highly regarded Phillies system prospects Tommy Joseph and Sebastian Valle. He can hit for power from the right side, and has a better-than-average arm behind the plate. He's well-regarded by his pitching staff.
#4 Steve Susdorf OF/DH: Steve Susdorf is a professional hitter. He has one of the purest swings in the Phillies system. However, he doesn't really hit for power and doesn't play a premium defensive position. He did get his first call-up last season. He's an outstanding individual.
#18 Leandro Castro LF: The sometimes flamboyant outfielder is a free-swinger. He's worked this year to improve his walk rate and his approach at the plate. He can play center field if needed and has an outstanding arm.
#3 Andres Blanco SS (nickname: “Let's Go, Blanc-o”): The slick fielder has Major League experience with the Rangers and Cubs. He's a streaky hitter with sneaky power from both sides of the plate.
#5 Ronny Cedeno 2B/INF: Ronny spent most of last season with the Padres. He has a wealth of Major League experience and acts as a reserve infielder should the Phillies need a utility guy. He can play short or third without difficulty.
You will see the reserves play, as we mix the lineup pretty well on a night to night basis.
Koyie Hill C (pronounced: “Koy”): A veteran of multiple seasons with the Cubs and Marlins, he's a switch hitter who started the year fast and can hit for both power and average on this level.
Addison Maruszak INF: He came up through the Yankees system and played last season with the RailRiders. He was a late cut out of camp and only recently joined us as a replacement following the Mother's Day injury to Freddy Galvis. He reports that he's seeing the ball well, but still getting his timing down.
Youngsters on our staff are either injured (Jon Pettibone) or with the Phillies (David Buchanan). The starters are, for the most part, veteran guys with MLB experience.
Friday: LHP Greg Smith (4-2, 3.74): Has MLB time with Colorado and Oakland. He's been a solid part of our rotation since last season. He's had a couple hiccups recently-and does pitch better at home-but can be difficult to score against and can go deep into games. Smart competitor.
Saturday: RHP Barry Enright (3-2, 4.06): Came up with Arizona and had a good year in the majors in 2010. Had less success with the Angels. A fly-ball pitcher who lives on the corners, he'll give up the occasional HR. Has pitched very well recently, and has lost a couple games to no-decision by virtue of the bull pen. This is his first season in the IL, he's been a PCL guy in the minors previously. Will pitch deep into games.
Sunday: RHP Sean O'Sullivan (2-4, 4.19): Has MLB starts with the Angels, Royals and Padres. His brother pitches for our AA affiliate, Reading. He rebounded quite well in Norfolk following a tough outing at home against Toledo his last two times out.
Monday: RHP Brad Lincoln (1-3, 5.90): Started the season in the Phillies' pen-was used sparingly. Was sent down to get innings and work some things out in a more stretched manner. Pressed into the starting rotation due to Pettibone's injury. Has been a reliever and a starter for Pittsburgh and Toronto. Has struggled in his last two starts.
Pitching has been a strength of this team, but some hiccups, some young players getting looks, and some misfortune have cost some games. Here's a quick look at the relievers, Giles and Martin are the “prospects,” but all of them could see time in Philadelphia before we're done in 2014:
Phillippe Aumont (phil-LEAP oh-MONT): A giant of a man, he came with Gillies in the Lee deal to Seattle. He's been really solid his last couple times out, but can struggle mightily with control sometimes. Clear the area near the backstop for safety, please.
Kenny Giles (Jiles): (nickname: “100 Miles”): He will touch 100 on the gun with his heater, but the slider is what's going to get him to The Show, once he gets full command of it. Started the season in Reading. Has a great ERA, but weak peripherals right now. Still figuring it out, he'll be in Philly before the end of June, most likely.
Jeremy Horst: A lefty, he's spent time in Philly in previous seasons. Solid, but got beat up in the one bad game in Norfolk.
Cesar Jimenez: Another lefty, he's our de facto closer, along with Giles. He's seen time in the Majors with Seattle and Philadelphia.
Ethan Martin: A starter and IL All-Star last season, he's been re-made into a reliever following his first stint in the majors and some shoulder difficulty in Spring Training. Still regaining his speed, he's looked really solid so far in relief. Should return to Philly soon.
Hector Neris: Pitched a gem as part of a doubleheader in April and was sent to AA for his trouble. Just made it back and got touched up a bit in Norfolk. One of the youngsters--could be unpredictable.
BJ Rosenberg: Just returned from a concussion he received on a line drive. His stuff can be absolutely filthy at times. I think it plays up as a reliever; he does have starting experience, though.
Seth Rosin (pronounced: row-ZEEN): A Rule-5 pickup by the Dodgers, he was then claimed on waivers by Texas this Spring, thus making the Opening Day Roster for TWO MLB teams! (Use that in your trivia contest!) He had a nice turn as a spot starter in Norfolk, but has been mighty shaky at times for the IronPigs. Could be still working through some things following a whirlwind Spring.
Have a great weekend everybody!
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