For 3 hours last night, Steve Noworyta and I sat shivering in section 112 of Coca-Cola Park. The Phillies’ Assistant Director of Minor League Operations and I begrudgingly unsheathed our pens at every on-field occurrence worth transcription and hustled to complete our frigid memoirs before the wind sucked the last bit of agility from our fingers. I seldom succeeded. The Reading Fightin Phils (I can’t believe I have to type that all season) were in Allentown for a scrimmage last night against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. It was supposed to be a most efficient opportunity for me to evaluate Phillies Minor League talent. My cup runneth over, my scouting sheets fat with verbiage.
Not only was the weather miserable for me (and the 100 people or so who actually came out to the game) but for the players as well who were visibly doing everything they could to get the hell out of there. As such, there is very little to take away from last night’s exhibition game from a scouting perspective. But I will still provide you with those things.
First, Ethan Martin has made changes to his delivery. I can’t be sure if it was due to the cold or if Phillies instructors have altered things, but Martin has slowed down his once rushed delivery into a much smoother, more graceful dance. Once he loosened up he was vicious. Martin was sitting 90mph-93mph (on the gun Jesse Biddle and Seth Rosin were charting with, not the stadium gun which was awful last night) and touched 94mph a few times. Yes, this isn’t as hard as we’re used to seeing Martin throw but keep in mind that between the weather and the infrequency with which I was peeking at Biddle’s gun it’s possible he might have thrown harder at some point or at least would have if the winds of Thor weren’t blowing so cold. His breaking balls looked good, especially the slider which flashed plus and was sitting in the mid-80s. Hard to grip and spin a baseball in that weather so I’m not worried about the curveball just being kind of average looking.
Second, Brody Colvin is confusing. He was mostly sitting 88-90mph with the fastball and showed an okay curve. The command was not good. Needs more looks to determine if he has a future role as a big leaguer in some form. I’m surprised that no Phillies coach has asked him to lengthen his stride. It seems like he could be using his lower half more efficiently.
Third, Darin Ruf did something last night that I’ve never seen him do. He put an average big league curveball in play with some authority. Ruf’s never been able to keep his weight back long enough to drive a good curveball anywhere to the right of the third base line. Last night he took a good Brody Colvin hook a pulled it on the ground down the line. It’s one at-bat and isn’t necessarily a sign of progress, but it certainly isn’t a bad thing. Also, the fact that I was pleased that Ruf hit a curveball in fair territory tells you a lot about what I saw last year and why I’m skeptical about his future.
And that’s pretty much it. Everything else from last night was unquestionably altered by the weather. Guys pitching out of the bullpen never had a chance to get truly warm. Position players typically had so many layers on that it was impossible for it to have not changed the way they did just about everything. I’d love to give you guys more but there simply isn’t anything more to give. I’ll take questions in the comments section.