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Phillies promote top prospect Nick Williams to major leagues

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By Brandon Apter, Sports Talk Philly editor

The Philadelphia Phillies have made a significant promotion prior to Friday night's game against the New York Mets, calling up outfielder Nick Williams from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. With the move, Howie Kendrick will be heading to the disabled list with a nagging hamstring injury.

Williams, 23, was acquired by the Phillies back on July 31, 2015, in the deal that sent left-hander Cole Hamels to the Texas Rangers. Williams will be the fifth player in that trade to make his debut for the Phillies. After a 2016 season that saw him hit just .250 in Triple-A, Williams has put together a very strong 2017 campaign that has him slashing .280/.328/.511 with 16 doubles, two triples, 15 homers, 44 RBIs and 43 runs scored. Over his last 10 games, he's shown improved plate discipline, walking seven times to 11 strikeouts. So far in the month of June, he's hitting .282 with five home runs and 13 RBIs.

While the promotion of Williams may excite a lot of fans, unfortunately his stay in Philadelphia may not be long. 

MLB Pipeline has Williams ranked as the Phillies' No. 4 prospect in the organization, behind J.P. Crawford, Mickey Moniak and Jorge Alfaro.


Did Brayden Schenn Only Score Power Play Goals?

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(Kate Frese/Sports Talk Philly)

By Kevin Fortier, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

When it came to Brayden Schenn, many Flyers fans were unable to see the forest through the trees. So many fans regurgitated the wholly inaccurate talking point that all he did was score power play goals.

I have never seen a young, talented player so oft-maligned by the home fans as I saw with Schenn.

Why so many Flyers fans were so negative on him is something I never understood. Every month rumors would circulate of his upcoming trade. Most had him garnering minimal return.

The news of his recent trade was greeted with great fanfare and glee. Again, over and over it was tweeted that all he did was score power play goals and how he dragged the whole team down.

So, was it true? Was Schenn only good for scoring power play goals?

Continue reading "Did Brayden Schenn Only Score Power Play Goals?" »


Phillies First Round Pick Adam Haseley Heads to Williamsport

The Phillies 2017 first round pick is coming a lot closer to Philadelphia.   Well, literally.   After being selected eighth overall in the first round, outfielder Adam Haseley is already moving up the Phillies minor league system ranks.   Originally assigned to the Gulf Coast League in Clearwater, Haseley is now headed north to report to the Williamsport Crosscutters.

The Gulf Coast League, which is the lowest level of professional baseball associated with Major League Baseball, is housed for the Phillies at the Carpenter Complex in Clearwater, on the back fields behind where the Clearwater Threshers play.  The league is made up often of recently-signed or drafted players.  Those who are advanced move from the Gulf Coast League to Williamsport, a short-season league.   In the Gulf Coast League, Haseley played three games and had seven hits in 12 at bats.

Williamsport is currently home to many of the Phillies young prospects.   Right now Williamsport is home to international free agent power bat Jhailyn Ortiz and 2016 third round draft pick Cole Stobbe.   

The team plays at historic Bowman Field that dates back to 1923. A trip to Williamsport, just over three hours from Philadelphia, might be a worthwhile trip.  While the ballpark is small, no frills, 2017 is a good opportunity to check out some young Phillies players.   The Little League World Series Museum can also be on your list, as well as a number of other attractions.

 


Flyerdelphia Podcast: Episode 2

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In this week’s episode of the Flyerdelphia Podcast, we look back on the 2017 NHL Draft and the Flyers nine selections from the weekend. We also discuss the Brayden Schenn trade and the return of Jori Lehtera and two draft picks.

We also preview the upcoming free agency period, like Brian Elliott, who appears to be on his way to becoming the next Flyers goaltender, and Jordan Weal gets a new deal while we're recording, so we have instant reaction!

Lastly, we do some housecleaning, reviewing the other offseason moves from before the NHL Draft and the Expansion Draft.

Join Kevin Durso, Rob Riches and Dan Heaning as they discuss and review all of this and more.

Subscribe to the Flyerdelphia Podcast on iTunes, Google Play and YouTube.


Flyers Re-Sign Jordan Weal to 2-Year Deal

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(Kate Frese/Sports Talk Philly)

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

With under two days until free agency begins, the Flyers managed to keep one of their players around for a little while longer.

Jordan Weal has re-signed with the Flyers on a two-year deal, according to TSN's Darren Dreger. It is a $3.5 million deal, an average annual value of $1.75 million.

Continue reading "Flyers Re-Sign Jordan Weal to 2-Year Deal" »


Five IronPigs are Named to Triple-A All-Star Game

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The Phillies Triple-A affiliate, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs is loaded with prospects.   At 50-29, the IronPigs are in first place in the International League North with a 50-29 record.  Therefore it should be no surprise that the All-Star game would feature at least a few IronPigs.  There will be a record five total when the International League takes on the Pacific League at Triple-A Tacoma on July 12.

The IronPigs tweeted the official release earlier today:

Four of the five are legitimate Major League prospects.

Catcher Jorge Alfaro will be a reserve for the International League.  The right-handed hitting catcher is batting .256 for the IronPigs with six home runs and 35 runs batted in.  Alfaro had a cup of coffee in the Major Leagues with the Phillies last season, coming up briefly while Carlos Ruiz was traded to the Dodgers but before A.J. Ellis could report to the Phillies and then again in September.  Alfaro was obtained in the trade that sent pitcher Cole Hamels to the Texas Rangers.

Tom Eshelman is often considered the "ace" of the IronPigs pitching staff.  After beginning 2016 in Double-A Reading and going 3-0 with a 3.10 earned run average, Eshelman is 6-2 with a 2.15 earned run average for the IronPigs. Eshelman came to the Phillies in the trade that sent Ken Giles to the Houston Astros.

Closer Pedro Beato really does not get a lot of attention, as he is not really considered a prospect.  Beato has played in the Major Leagues for the Boston Red Sox, New York Mets, and the Atlanta Braves, but has not been in the Major Leagues since 2014.  As the IronPigs closer, Beato has a league-leading 22 saves.   Beato is 0-3 with a 3.67 earned run average in all out of the bullpen.  30 years old, Beato was signed as a minor league free agent before the 2017 season.

Phillies fans generally are well aware of the "Bash Brothers" Dylan Cozens and Rhys Hoskins.   Cozens currently has 18 home runs and 51 runs batted in for the IronPigs and an OPS of .796, despite batting just .237.  Hoskins has 18 home runs himself, with 62 runs batted in, while batting .304 and logging a 1.004 OPS for the IronPigs.

The promotion happened at a tough time for second baseman Scott Kingery.  Kingery probably would have been selected as a Double-A Eastern League All-Star had he not been promoted.  Though off to a hot start, Kingery does not have enough time at Triple-A to get All-Star consideration.  However, Kingery will represent the Phillies along with Hoskins at the 2017 All-Star Futures Game.


Larry Bowa seems to think Phillies overvalue sabermetrics

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Phillies bench coach Larry Bowa is never shy about sharing his opinions. (Frank Klose/SportsTalkPhilly)

By Tim Kelly, Sports Talk Philly editor

If you thought a two-game winning streak was enough to make Philadelphia Phillies bench coach Larry Bowa feel good about what's otherwise been a disastrous first half of the 2017 season, you were wrong. 

Bowa joined Mike Missanelli on 97.5 The Fanatic this afternoon, and when asked how he's pushing through what's been a rough season, Bowa gave this answer: 

 

Continue reading "Larry Bowa seems to think Phillies overvalue sabermetrics " »


Report: G Brian Elliott the Front-Runner for Flyers, Steve Mason Not Returning

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

The signs were there weeks ago, but Steve Mason's agent confirmed on Thursday that the goalie who ranks third all-time on the Flyers wins list will not be returning to the team.

It hardly comes as a surprise, with the Flyers giving a new contract to Michal Neuvirth and Mason expressing frustration over the goalie tandem approach the Flyers used last season.

With the Flyers now in the market for a new free-agent goaltender, keep an eye on Brian Elliott, who spent the 2016-17 season with the Calgary Flames. According to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman, early predictions are that Elliott will end up with the Flyers.

Continue reading "Report: G Brian Elliott the Front-Runner for Flyers, Steve Mason Not Returning" »


Flyers Rumors: Is an Orange and Black Reunion in Store for Hartnell, Williams

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(Kate Frese/Sports Talk Philly)

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

Free agency is set to start on Saturday at noon, with unrestricted free agents being free to sign anywhere. The Flyers have a generally small checklist going in.

Top priorities right now are to find another goalie to join Michal Neuvirth and try to complete a deal to re-sign Jordan Weal, which could certainly happen before noon on Saturday.

The Flyers aren't in the market for much else this offseason, as their salary cap remains an issue, though less of one than in years past, and there aren't many definitive open spots on the roster that could fit a veteran player. That said, two former Flyers are on the market, and their names are coming up in regards to the Flyers.

Continue reading "Flyers Rumors: Is an Orange and Black Reunion in Store for Hartnell, Williams" »


The Phillies Should Consider Adding Catcher Miguel Montero

Back on Tuesday morning when I wrote my weekly mailbag for 973espn.com, I was asked what I thought the Phillies should do to help stabilize the flailing club.  One of my responses was that the Phillies should consider adding a veteran catcher, who would do a good job with pitchers calling pitches and who was a bit of an upgrade with the bat.   One name in particular I suggested was Cubs catcher Miguel Montero.    That very night, Montero made some controversial comments and by Wednesday morning, he was designated for assignment.  Now that he is very available, I would suggest that the Phillies consider giving him a shot.

What caused the ire of the Chicago clubhouse that led to Montero's designation were comments critical of Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta.    Frustrated that Washington Nationals stole seven bases, Montero placed the blame on Arrieta in postseason comments:

"It really sucked, because the stolen bases go on me. But when you really look at it, the pitcher doesn't give me any time, so yeah, 'Miggy can't throw anyone out,' but my pitchers don't hold anyone on."

This did not sit well with the Cubs brass.  Both Cubs manager Joe Maddon and Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein were highly critical of these comments.  Since they are the decision makers, the Cubs designated Montero for assignment the next day.

Part of the blame is on Montero.  However, Arrieta and pitcher John Lackey, whom Montero was frequently paired with, are both known for being slow to the plate.  In fact, Trea Turner, who stole four of the Nationals' stolen bases Tuesday night, said as much:

"I knew that Arrieta was slower to the plate, so I just wanted to be aggressive and make sure I was taking good chances."

Montero was the catcher for Arrieta's no-hitter back in 2015. 

While it is fair to say that Montero's skills have diminished some behind the plate, it is not all bad for the veteran catcher, now 33 years old.  Grant Brisbee of SB Nation actually looked at all 31 stolen bases against Montero this season.  15 of them he did not even get a throw off.   Generally, of the stolen bases, the pitcher's throw time to the plate was on the high side and Montero's throws to second base were indeed on the slower side, for a tough combination.

So why do I think Montero would help the Phillies?

The Phillies are playing Cameron Rupp less and less.  The reason has something to do with his batting average, currently at .208, and Rupp's pitch calling.  At times, the coaching staff's criticism over Rupp's pitch calling has become public.  The first such instance was Bryce Harper home run on May 14.  On Sunday, the Phillies broadcast showed pitching coach Bob McClure and assistant pitching coach Rick Kranitz converge on Rupp again about his pitch calling. 

The veteran Montero could help the Phillies pitching staff with some better game calling and at the same time help mentor young catcher Andrew Knapp and eventually Jorge Alfaro.  

Montero has always been a brutally honest player, for better and for worse.  After essentially winning the World Series for the Cubs with a bases-loaded hit that drove in the winning runs, Montero still expressed he was disappointed about his lack of playing time.  This Phillies team might need some honesty at this point, especially as the development of young players is at stake.  But the Phillies, with a large Venezuelan contingent, probably will have great respect for Montero, a native of Venezuela himself.

Futher, Montero would bring to the Phillies lineup an .830 OPS from the left side of the plate.  The veteran bat might do the Phillies very well in a lineup that may have lost Howie Kendrick to the disabled list and got nothing out of Michael Saunders.  

Montero is making $14 million this season.  Right now, still in the 10-day window that teams have when designating a player for assignment, the Cubs will look to trade Montero before releasing him.  Maybe the Cubs would consider a one-for-one swap with the Phillies and Rupp.  With Alfaro ready to make the big leagues (he is out of options and has to begin 2018 with the Phillies or they could lose him), Rupp has no long-term future with the club.  Montero would just be signed until year's end and could turn the position over to Alfaro and Knapp afterwards.

The Phillies could eat a little bit of money, perhaps more than the Toronto Blue Jays could, who are reportedly interested in acquiring Montero.  A deal would not and should not cost much in terms of talent; after all, after 10 days if the Cubs cannot make a deal they will have to straight release Montero.   If all Montero costs is a player such as Rupp and money, I think the Phillies should give him a shot.