Game 060 - RDG vs HBG-2655 Nola

Aaron and Jesse (Wait, Aaron Paul = Jesse Pinkman…Whoa)

What a night to be alive and a fan of Phillies Minor League baseball. Aaron Nola made his AA debut in Reading in front of a huge contingent of media and a couple members of the Phils’ front office. And Jesse Biddle made his return to starting at Single-A Clearwater after about six weeks on the inactive list and throwing only a couple innings in the rookie Gulf Coast League.

Nola was, by all accounts, quite good, if not dominant.  For a guy who was still playing college ball two months ago, and despite it being predicted by professional evaluators the sport over, his rise to Reading and successful night there is pretty remarkable. Nola’s career path seems to be lining up similarly to the Cards’ Michael Wacha, with some work the summer of his draft, and an eye towards a mid-season call up from AAA the following year. If that’s how it turns out, he won’t be on many prospect lists for very long, but to be sure, he’ll be on all of them this winter. I would guess he’s in the 30-50 range most everywhere, but a very strong showing in his AA stint could puff that up some.

I’ve followed Phillies prospects closely for going on six years now, and there’s never been an Aaron Nola in my world. Continue reading…

Crash Bag, Vol. 110: Why Bad Things Happen

@Matt_Winkelman: “Given the Phillies signing Lenin this summer, can you make a team of former and current world leaders?”

(cracks knuckles)

I’ll try to go easy on American presidents with common names, but my lack of knowledge of, say, obscure Italian provincial dukes is probably going to hamstring me here a little.

  • C: Lenin Rodriguez (Vladimir Lenin, premier of the USSR, 1922-1924)
  • 1B: Fred Merkle (Angela Merkel, current chancellor of Germany)
  • 2B: Donovan Solano (Javier Solana, former Secretary General of NATO and de facto foreign minister of the European Union)
  • 3B: Tony Batista (Fulgencio Batista, president of Cuba, 1940-1944, 1952-1959)
  • SS: John McDonald (Sir John A. MacDonald, first prime minister of Canada, 1867-1873, 1878-1891)
  • LF: Mike Morse (Mike Moore, former prime minister of New Zealand, 1990)
  • CF: Cameron Maybin (David Cameron, current prime minister of the U.K.)
  • RF: Trot Nixon (yeah, you know this guy)
  • DH: Starlin Castro (Fidel Castro and Josef Stalin if you’re from New England)
  • SP: Derek Holland (Francois Hollande, current president of France. And not the Netherlands, at it happens, which I think is kind of messed up.)
  • SP: Masahiro Tanaka (Kakuei Tanaka, prime minister of Japan, 1972-1976)
  • LH RP: Joe Thatcher (Margaret Thatcher, prime minister of the U.K., 1979-1990)
  • RH RP: Luis Aquino (Corazon Aquino, president of the Philippines, 1986-1992)
  • CL: John Franco (Francisco Franco, dictator of Spain, 1939-1975)

Sorry for playing fast and loose with the spelling–this could have taken all day otherwise. Actually, it pretty much did take all day.

@neal_kendrick: “If everything happens for a reason why do the Phillies suck?’ Continue reading…

Two Months Later, Roberto Hernandez Still Getting It Done

At the end of May, I took stock of starter Roberto Hernandez‘s performance. He had, to that point, compiled a 3.76 ERA over 12 starts. In the four starts after that, he struggled, ballooning his ERA to 4.52, but he was the least of the Phillies’ concerns at the time.

Since then, in his last seven starts, Hernandez has notched five quality starts (missing a sixth by one-third of an inning) with a 2.85 ERA, lowering his overall ERA on the season to 3.87, only a smidge higher than it was the last time we checked up on the right-hander.

Continue reading…

What to Watch for in the Final Two Months

The Phillies are enjoying a much-needed day off today, after having been dominated by Nationals pitching over the weekend. They were shut out in each of their last two games and haven’t scored since the sixth inning of Friday’s 2-1 win. They’re 49-63, tied with the Arizona Diamondbacks for the third-worst record in the National League.

You’re not alone, and certainly not to be blamed if you’ve already found better things to do with your weekend evenings than watch a bad team play bad baseball. But for those of you who, like me, will watch no matter what, there are still a few points of intrigue with two months of regular season remaining.

Continue reading…

Hottness In July

A whole mess of Phils minor leaguers had a very strong statistical July, highlighted by six guys who were often ranked in the Top 15 last offseason and will be again, and two more who should easily join them this year.

Maikel Franco and Aaron Nola are the two guys you’d have to guess are either #2 or #3 in the system in pretty much every professional evaluators’ eyes right now, behind only J.P. Crawford. Franco came off a hellish June, where he OPSed a dismal .435. In July, he stroked 15 XBH, including four home runs, and struck out a reasonable 15 times in over 100PAs. He’s been pulling the ball with authority, as the spray chart below shows. His 2013 statistical red flag, BB rate, came back this month, as he drew just five. But as I’ve wondered in the past, who’s trying to draw a walk when they’re slugging .596 for the month. Not I.

franco spray chart july 14

RHP Aaron Nola was drafted this year with the seventh overall pick and signed quickly. Continue reading…