Thursday night's drubbing in Reading by the Phillies' Major League talent may have left some mild mental scarring for a few pitchers who will not be starting their season in Philadelphia. (We're looking at you, Zach Eflin and Mark Appel.) Don't worry, it should get better from here.
There was no blowout in the cards in the second Majors vs. Minors match-up Saturday. In fact, the prospects nearly pulled off the upset of the century (Could Villanova beat the Sixers?!) but the Major League talent just had to go and ruin everyone's day with a 6-5 walk-off win in the bottom of the 9th inning.
Yes, Darin Ruf, who is the past, present, and future all rolled into one, cracked a two-run gapper in the bottom of the 9th to tie the game at five a piece. Cesar Hernandez brought him in with a bloop single to win the game, 6-5. Better luck next year, kids. On to the observations...
- Well, damn, this is a lot more fun than the snooze-inducing On-Deck Series, two borefest games against either the Blue Jays, Astros, Pirates or some other team you don't care about. Of course, the Phillies did squeeze in a game against the Orioles on Friday night in between these two Phillies Futures games, but this is a major improvement, and was fun to watch.
- For those not in the know, it was a fun afternoon for TGP, as over half of the staff here at the site packed into a nice section off the third base line to take in the game. Much fun was had, including some discussion about...
- Why not make this a little more interesting? How about a draft next year? Call it Team Ashburn vs. Team Schmidt or whatever, and have a couple of captains, let them pick whoever they want from the rosters, and blend the teams. No MLB vs. MiLB. Mix it up a bit. Could be a bit more exciting.
- Roman Quinn is fast. Really fast. Of course, I wanted to see him put a few balls in the gap, but secretly, I wanted to see him put a couple on the ground just to see him try to beat them out. He didn't beat them out, but you can tell that he will pick up a few infield hits in his life.
- J.P. Crawford's defense is silky smooth, as expected. He almost robbed Darin Ruf on a ball deep in the hole, but his throw from behind third base in shallow left field was just too far, and yes, even a slow-footed Ruf beat it out.
- Nick Williams was the standout star for the day. A smash double in the gap in left-center brought in a pair in his first at-bat. He had another hard hit ball in his second at-bat which resulted in an out. His third AB of the game saw him launch a high fly ball to right field that took forever to come down. When it did, it cleared the wall for a homer. He has some power to say the least. Take one look at this roster, and it's easy to dream about him being in Philadelphia soon. Real soon.
- Jake Thompson was hit around a little bit, but his off-speed stuff seemed there at times. I decided to geek out a little bit and catch his bullpen prior to the game. He threw to Andrew Knapp as Iron Pigs pitching coach Dave Lundquist watched. Thompson does have a nice repeatable delivery, and he was locating all of his pitches. The slider looks like it can be a true plus pitch for him, and if it is, look out. If not, well, he's probably still going to be a mid-rotation starter that can be relied on for a long time.
- Ryan Howard didn't feel like running out his RBI double in the first inning. Quinn didn't get the best read on the ball in center, but he has a few years to figure out how to navigate Citizens Bank Park. Thompson actually thought the ball was going to leave the park, as did Howard. This served as a nice little reminder that April weather doesn't always let balls carry that extra 10 feet.
- Charlie Morton's "I look like Roy Halladay" motion isn't as pronounced as it used to be, but you can still see it in his arm slot and his follow through. It's a bit eerie. It will take some getting used to.
- Angelo Mora flashed the leather impressively a few times at third base, so go fix all those pre-season prospect rankings. It's Angelo Mora's world now.
- Reading should win somewhere between 130-150 games this year. I think they only play like 140. Whatever. They'll find a way.
- Darin Ruf, you are the ruiner of all fun. Best of luck in your 2016 platoon though.
Finally, from the entire staff here at The Good Phight, to you and yours, Happy New Year. Our long spring training/exhibition game nightmare is finally over. Let there be baseball.