Promotion Time

The start of June has typically signaled the start of promotion season in Minor League baseball. Two months at a level is a pretty good benchmark for many guys – everyday players are generally approaching 200 PAs, starting pitchers have 8-10 starts under their belts, and relievers are often 25+ innings into their campaigns. And mid-month is the draft, the end of Extended Spring Training, the start of short season/rookie leagues, and the mid-point of the five month full-season leagues. So lots of opportunity for movement.

In many cases, what it amounts to is an organizational question, not necessarily a prospect question. Some of the guys mentioned below are not really “prospects” in the sense that you look at them to have an impact on the big club in the future. But don’t discount them all; the players who surprise from the rank and file, the non-prospects, are often the same guys having big seasons like those organizational guys I mention below.

Lehigh Valley (AAA) – Aside from thinking it’s a waste to have Dom Brown spending time at AAA when we need to see if he can do anything at MLB, I don’t see much going on at AAA that would warrant a promotion. Continue reading…

Ruben Amaro: Fans Don’t Understand the Game

If there’s one thing GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. has not been in his tenure with the Phillies, it’s a good communicator. It didn’t take long after taking over for Pat Gillick that he was branded with the nickname “Smuggy” for the condescending way he would deal with reporters while hunching into his phone.

Amaro’s gone public with not understanding the value of walks, he verbally devalued his own asset in Ryan Howard, and he called former Phillie Andy Oliver‘s decision to look elsewhere for work “foolish”. His latest comment will also likely draw some heat, though this time he may have a legitimate point.

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What Is Domonic Brown Still Doing in Triple-A?

Outfielder Domonic Brown was supposed to be the Phillies’ starting right fielder, replacing Marlon Byrd who had been traded to the Cincinnati Reds in the off-season. Brown, however, suffered from Achilles tendinitis in mid-March and it forced him to start the regular season on the disabled list. When he was finally ready to come off of the disabled list, the Phillies curiously optioned him to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

To Brown’s credit, he took the decision in stride, saying that he could use the time spent facing minor league pitching to rediscover his timing at the plate, as Greg Joyce of Lehigh Valley Live reported. And for a while, it looked like he actually had found his timing. In a recent six-game hitting streak between May 15-20, Brown had three multi-hit games. But he went hitless in his next four games and is currently batting .243/.296/.293 in 152 plate appearances at Lehigh Valley. He hasn’t homered and only six of his 34 hits have gone for extra bases.

So why should he be in the major leagues?

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Aaron Harang Pitching Much Better Than Expected

Making his 10th start of the season on Sunday afternoon against the Washington Nationals, Aaron Harang again delivered a quality start, holding the opposition to two runs in six innings of work in a losing effort. In nine of his starts this season, the right-hander has yielded three runs or fewer while pitching at least six innings. He owns a superb 1.93 ERA over 65 1/3 innings this season.

Needless to say, Harang has pitched better than anyone — including the Phillies — could have hoped when he signed a one-year, $5 million deal on January 5. The factors leading to his success are rather obvious to pinpoint: he has walked fewer than six percent of batters, allowed only two home runs on 85 fly balls, and has limited opponents to a .258 batting average on balls in play.

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Some Fuel for the Long-Lost Rivalry with the Nationals

The Phillies aren’t happy with the division-rival Washington Nationals and it has nothing to do with in-game behavior. Rather, they’re upset because A) they feel they start on-field batting practice later at Nationals Park than at other stadiums when visiting; and, B) the Nationals have been playing “soft” music while the Phillies take batting practice.

Here’s a sampling via the Phillies’ broadcast on Comcast SportsNet on Saturday:

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The Awful Phillies Are On A Six-Game Winning Streak

Something, something, broken clock right twice a day, or something. The Phillies, who entered Monday’s series opener at Coors Field with an expected record of 13-26 based on their -54 run differential, won 4-3 over the Rockies to bring their winning streak to six games. If we take their “expected” winning percentage of .333 at face value, the odds of them winning six games in a row is about one-in-a-thousand. Of course, with 157 six-game opportunities in a season, the odds aren’t quite that steep, but it’s still impressive nevertheless.

The Phillies have scored more than four runs just twice in those six games, which means they’ve been getting the job done on the pitching side of things. Indeed, here’s how the starters have fared:

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A Brief Written History of Maikel Franco

News broke this morning, from basically every beat writer who was awake, that the Phillies have called up third baseman Maikel Franco from AAA to start at the hot corner tonight and with any luck, long into the future. This shouldn’t be much of a surprise, given the recent demotion of incumbent Cody Asche to log innings in left field, and Franco’s torrid pace at Lehigh Valley thus far. He was slashing .350/.372/.540/.912 with a .418 wOBA and a 166 wRC+. All that, and he was two years younger than anyone else in the Top Ten in OPS in the International League, and the fifth youngest position player in that league overall. Continue reading…