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Sixers ink undrafted guard James Blackmon Jr. to deal

By Josh Liddick, Sports Talk Philly editor 

The Sixers announced that they have brought in undrafted free agent James Blackmon Jr. on a contract deal.

Blackmon is a 6'4" guard from Indiana who played for the Sixers in the Utah and Vegas Summer Leagues this year, averaging eight points in five games.

Blackmon played three seasons in college, averaging 17 points, five rebounds and two assists as a junior. He had a three-point percentage of 42.3 percent.

This signing went hand-in-hand with the signing of power forward James Michael McAdoo to a two-way contract, although this contract to Blackmon seems to be a one-way deal.

Obviously, the Sixers already have quite a bit of depth at both guard positions, and it's still very unclear what Blackmon's role might be if he does make the cut on the roster heading into the regular season.


Sixers officially sign James Michael McAdoo to two-way contract

By John Williams, Sports Talk Philly staff 

The Philadephia 76ers made a depth signing on Wednesday morning as they brought James Michael McAdoo on to their roster via a two-way contract. This is the first two-way deal given out by the Sixers in their franchise's history.

The deal was initially announced on Saturday, but was not announced to be official until Wednesday.

In addition to the NBA's 15-man roster, the league has added two, two-way roster spots on every roster that allows teams to call up and send down players to-and-from their NBA G-League team. Prior to Wednesday's signing, the Sixers were one of only two teams -- the Cavaliers being the other -- that had not signed anybody to one of these special contracts. 

Continue reading "Sixers officially sign James Michael McAdoo to two-way contract" »


Sixers Rumors: 'Growing sense' 76ers will extend Joel Embiid

By Tim Kelly, Sports Talk Philly editor

Despite knowing that he was going to probably miss his first NBA season, then-Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie took a risk and drafted Joel Embiid with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. The same talent that led the Sixers to draft Embiid despite red flags health-wise, appears to be the same talent that may get the team to give him a long-term contract despite him only having played 31 games in the first three years of his career. 

In a piece breaking down the contractual futures of the 2014 NBA Draft class, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders did say that there's a feeling from some in the league that the Sixers will ultimately sign Embiid to an extension: 

Continue reading "Sixers Rumors: 'Growing sense' 76ers will extend Joel Embiid" »


Randolph leads group of seven Phillies prospects headed to AFL

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By Brandon Apter, Sports Talk Philly editor

The Arizona Fall League released their rosters this week and seven Phillies prospects will join forces with young talent from the White Sox, Indians, Dodgers and Pirates on the Glendale Desert Dogs. The most notable Phillies prospect headed to the AFL is outfielder Cornelius Randolph. Third baseman Zach Green, catcher Edgar Cabral and pitchers Trevor Bettancourt, Garrett Cleavinger, Elneiry Garcia and J.D. Hammer are the other Phillies prospects on the Desert Dogs roster. The 2017 Arizona Fall League begins on October 10.

Cornelius Randolph, 20, was the Phillies first round pick from the 2015 draft and he's spent the 2017 season with Advanced 'A' Clearwater. In 120 games, Randolph is slashing .248/.337/.398 with 18 doubles, four triples, 13 home runs, 55 RBIs, 46 runs scored, 123 strikeouts and 55 walks. He had a strong month of July for the Threshers, hitting .311 in 30 games, but has regressed in August, hitting just .207 in 87 at-bats. Randolph has a long way to go in terms of approach at the plate, but he can really unleash some power if he's zoned in on the ball.

Zach Green, 23, is currently with Double-A Reading after spending time in the Gulf Coast League and with Clearwater working his way back from an injury. The former third round pick from 2012 is hitting a combined .224 in 52 games this season between three levels of the minors. He's struck out 15 times over his last 30 at-bats, hitting just .200 in that span. 

Edgar Cabral, 21, was selected in the 15th round of the 2011 draft by the Phillies. The 5-foot-11 Burbank, California native is hitting .292 with Advanced 'A' Clearwater since being promoted at the end of July, tallying four doubles and two home runs after spending 67 games earlier this season with Class 'A' Lakewood.

Trevor Bettancourt, 23, was a 25th round pick in the 2016 draft and he's a bullpen arm for Clearwater. This season, the right-hander is 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA in 14 appearances for the Threshers. He started the season with Lakewood, going 3-2 with a 3.28 ERA in 35.2 innings.

Garrett Cleavinger, 23, was acquired by the Phillies in the trade that sent Jeremy Hellickson to Baltimore. In nine games since joining the Philadelphia organization for Double-A Reading, Cleavinger is 0-1 with a 5.84 ERA in 12.1 innings of work. 

Elniery Garcia, 22, is ranked as the Phillies No. 19 prospect by MLB Pipeline this season. The left-hander has been dealing with injuries most of the year, but he's pitching well for Double-A Reading as the season comes to a close, going 2-0 with a 1.40 ERA in four starts

J.D. Hammer, 23, was acquired by Philadelphia in the deal that sent Pat Neshek to the Rockies. Hammer has made 10 appearances for Advanced 'A' Clearwater since the trade, posting a 0.71 ERA in 12.2 innings, striking out 14 and walking two.

 

 


Flyers Won't Force Nolan Patrick on Roster, GM Ron Hextall Says

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

When the Flyers drafted Nolan Patrick with the second overall pick, the assumption, from hockey experts to fans and beyond, was that he would be in the Orange and Black come October.

But as is the case with Flyers GM Ron Hextall, don't assume anything until it's set in stone.

Hextall stood by his usual stance this week as he stated the likelihood of Patrick or any other prospect making the Flyers roster.

Continue reading "Flyers Won't Force Nolan Patrick on Roster, GM Ron Hextall Says" »


Darick Hall crowned MVP of South Atlantic League

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Darick Hall made his Advanced 'A' debut on Wednesday night for Clearwater, playing both games of the doubleheader

 

By Brandon Apter, Sports Talk Philly editor

Philadelphia Phillies first base prospect Darick Hall started his Tuesday learning that he had been named the Most Valuable Player of the South Atlantic League, being rewarded for his performance with Class 'A' Lakewood. Little did he know, his day would be filled with memories.

In 114 games with Class 'A' Lakewood, Hall hit 27 homers and drove in 96 runs, put up a .533 slugging percentage, tallied 56 extra-base hits and 227 total bases. All of those numbers lead the South Atlantic League and his 27 home runs with Lakewood is a franchise record. Pretty solid, huh? Well, the Phillies decided that Hall deserved a promotion during the final week of the minor league season, sending the 22-year-old to Advanced 'A' Clearwater in time for their double header on Wednesday night in Florida.

Hall didn't disappoint in his Threshers debut during their twinbill, going 3-for-6 at the plate with a double, two home runs, three RBIs, two runs scored and 10 total bases. What was even more impressive is he hit one home run to his pull side, deep over the wall in right field, but also went opposite field to left for a long homer in game one of the double header.

The Phillies selected Hall in the 14th round of the 2016 draft out of Dallas Baptist. He's not listed on the Phillies Top 30 prospects list at the time, but if he keeps hitting the ball out of the park at this rate, Hall will definitely be considered come the next prospect rankings.


Scout who wanted to draft Hoskins thought he had 15-20 home run potential

By Tim Kelly, Sports Talk Philly editor

Even in the midst of a season that will likely land the Philadelphia Phillies the No. 1 overall pick, 1B/LF Rhys Hoskins' month of August has generated noteworthy excitement around the team, both locally and nationally. In 68 at-bats, Hoskins has 11 home runs, something that even those behind drafting him didn't see coming. 

This past weekend, Matt Gelb of The Philadelphia Inquirer penned an excellent piece about the 24-year-old, who suddenly appears in a home run chase with Giancarlo Stanton. In it, Gelb spoke to Joey Davis, the scout who was perhaps highest on Hoskins leading up to the team drafting him. Davis even admitted that he didn't initially think Hoskins would develop this type of power: 

Continue reading "Scout who wanted to draft Hoskins thought he had 15-20 home run potential " »


Ice begins to go down at Wells Fargo Center

10-20-16_FlyersvsDucks_1st_credKateFrese-3(Kate Frese/Sports Talk Philly)

By Rob Riches, Sports Talk Philly staff

As much fun as this summer was, it's all beginning to come to a close. Schools are starting back up, the weather is beginning to cool down, and before we know it, leaves will change colors and fall will arrive.

The biggest indicator fall is on its way, though? Crews began work Tuesday on putting down the ice at Wells Fargo Center.

Continue reading "Ice begins to go down at Wells Fargo Center" »


Former Sixer Elton Brand named GM of Delaware 87ers

By Josh Liddick, Sports Talk Philly editor 

Elton Brand has always been around the Sixers in one way or another. He wasn't always healthy, but he made himself known that he was someone that others loved to be around.

After spending much of his career with the Los Angeles Clippers, Brand signed a five-year deal with the Sixers before the 2008-09 season.

After retiring for the first time, Brand spent time with the Atlanta Hawks, and then finished his playing career with Philadelphia in 2016.

This past December, Brand was named the Player Development Consultant to the Philadelphia 76ers, giving him a chance to see what it's like to be in the front office of a basketball organization.

Apparently, he did a pretty good job at that, as on August 28, the Sixers named Brand the General Manager of the Sixers' G-League team, the Delaware 87ers.

Continue reading "Former Sixer Elton Brand named GM of Delaware 87ers" »


Phillies Mailbag: Hoskins, Velasquez & Pivetta, Williams

Once again it is time for the 97.3 ESPN Phillies mailbag.  We take your questions each week about the Phillies and answer them here on 973espn.com.  Tuesdays at 2:30 p.m. in-season we discuss them on the Sports Bash with Mike Gill.  Tune in at 97.3 FM, or listen online at 973espn.com.

Is Rhys Hoskins for real, or is this fast start a fluke?
~Brian

Let's see: first baseman and outfielder Rhys Hoskins has 11 home runs in his first 19 games.  That is just about 58% of games he homers, so over the course of 162 games, he will hit 94 home runs.  I think that is about right.

In all seriousness, the pace that Hoskins opened up with is indeed historic. Hoskins reached 11 home runs fastest of anyone in MLB history.  Early on in the hot play, we heard of the likes of Bobby Estalella and others that ended up amounting to fringe major league players.  But Hoskins keeps going.

Let's face it: the Phillies have had many home run hitters throughout their minor league system over the years.  Anyone remember Matt Rizzotti?  Jim Murphy? Even Darin Ruf, who managed to play a handful of major league seasons with the Phillies and became a millionaire in Korea is on the shorter end of "made it".  Power alone does not make a major league player.

But Hoskins is much more.  Hoskins caught the attention of Cubs manager Joe Maddon with his plate discipline: as he told Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer and other reporters, "I don’t think I’ve ever seen a young guy look that profound at home plate".  Hoskins is tuned in.

Home run number 10 came off of talented Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks.  Hendricks threw a pitch that was rather down and outside - the type of pitch that one might throw when they are trying to avoid a home run from the opposing player.  Yet, in a very smooth swing, Hoskins reached down and took it deep for a home run.

My early impression of Hoskins is that he has staying power.  He will not have the 94 home runs he would be on pace for in a 162-game season, and he may not set any records.  But, he could be a solid bat who gets on base and hits for power and average, too.

Hoskins developed this skill to go along with raw talent along the way in the minor leagues and deserves a lot of credit.  I think the Phillies have a mainstay in their lineup.  With outfielders Odubel Herrera and Aaron Altherr due to return this week, Hoskins will be firmly implanted at first base and not let it go.

Do you think Nick Pivetta an Vince Velasquez would be good in the bullpen?
~Stephen

As I just mentioned, Hoskins was able to take talent and make something of it, thanks to hard work and development.   Both Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez have the raw tools.  The Phillies hoped to find out a good amount about Velasquez this season, and Pivetta is finally getting his opportunities in the major leagues.  If I were the Phillies, I would try to make both relievers.

I remember looking at Ryan Madson pitch out of the Phillies bullpen once he moved out of the starting rotation for good at some point during the 2006 season.  Madson just seemed to be unable to put it together as a starter.  Looking at the radar gun, I noticed Madson the reliever hit 97 on the radar gun.  He was able to put it together and today remains an effective reliever in the major leagues.

As for Pivetta, I would be interested to see him start a bit longer.  If I am the Phillies I try to assemble a starting rotation in 2018 that leaves Pivetta as the sixth or seventh starter on the depth chart.  Watching Pivetta pitch on Sunday, he appeared to be scared pitching to the top hitters in the Cubs lineup.

As he got to the bottom of the lineup, he blew right through them and started to develop some confidence.  The problem with this was that Pivetta had amassed such a high pitch count he would not be going long in the game.  Thankfully, the Hoskins triple play got Pivetta through a fifth and final inning on pitch 104.

Pivetta may need to develop a bit more confidence and toughness. I would like to see him give starting another shot.  If he cannot, maybe he can be the next Madson.

As for Velasquez, I really wonder if the Phillies might trade him this offseason.  While the Phillies openly stated Velasquez will be in the rotation next year, they were not going to make any final decisions publicly and risk limiting his value.  Velasquez has a live arm and a good amount of upside.

I see Velasquez as someone who would interest a team like the Tampa Bay Rays or Pittsburgh Pirates should the likes of Chris Archer or Gerritt Cole.  Should the Phillies package a Velasquez that the acquiring team can use right away, a starting pitcher prospect such as Ranger Suarez, a useful fringe arm (like a Zach Eflin) and maybe a fourth lower-level prospect, I think that will get a decent return.

Do you think Nick Williams is part of the future?  I question if he has the true HR power a corner OF needs.
~Michael

The Phillies have a really nice player in Nick Williams.  In fact, I would say that Williams will be a fine major league starter who will play solid defense, hit for some power, and be on base a bit more than average.  I kind of see him as a left-handed counterpart of Aaron Altherr.

If the Phillies went forward with an outfield of Herrera, Williams, and Altherr, it might be one of the top defensive outfields in the league.  The offense generated by that outfield would be really good.  However, I think there is an opportunity to upgrade.

The Phillies once again were linked to Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton.  Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported that the Phillies reached out to the Marlins just recently after Stanton cleared waivers.  It is still probably too early to gauge a trade of Stanton, which could happen this offseason before Derek Jeter and new Marlins ownership takes over.

The Phillies will look to upgrade at any position going forward, even if a nice player is already there.  If Scott Kingery is found to be the superior player to Cesar Hernandez, they will move on from the very talented second baseman and try to acquire other assets in a trade.  Right field will be no exception to this.

The Phillies are probably out of outfield prospects ready to join the major league roster.  Dylan Cozens needs to make more contact, and Roman Quinn is too injured too often to count on.  Others are in the pipeline, but not imminent.  But if the Phillies go forward with Williams, they will have a really nice player.  If they upgrade him to someone like Stanton, even better.