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Rollins Remembers Five of His Best

Rollins Back at the Top, Halladay Ready to GoJimmy Rollins needs two more hits to break Mike Schmidt‘s franchise hits record.

It could happen tonight.

Rollins chatted this weekend in Cincinnati about five of his most memorable hits.

Click here to read his memories and watch video of those hits.

Giles Finally Makes Phillies Debut

Padres Phillies BaseballKen Giles left the Phillies bullpen, headed down a few steps and walked through the bullpen door before he jogged onto the field for his big-league debut with two outs in the top of the ninth inning today at Citizens Bank Park.

One problem:

“I thought I was going to fall down,” he said following a 7-3 victory over the Padres. “My legs were a little Jell-o-y. I thought I was going to fall down. But once I got to the dirt I was like ‘Oh my god, this it. My dreams are finally coming true.’ Now I’ve got my greatest goal accomplished. … It was breathtaking.”

Fans have been waiting for Giles since April, when he started to light up the scoreboard in Double-A Reading with 100 mph fastballs. He dominated Double-A hitters and pitched with some success in Triple-A.

He didn’t disappoint as his first pitch fastball to Yasmani Grandal flashed 100 mph on the scoreboard, although Pitch f/x data had it at 99.1 mph. His next three pitches were balls and Grandal lofted a 3-1 fastball into the flower boxes in left field for a solo home run.

“That’s a great way to welcome me to the big leagues,” Giles said. “I didn’t think it was going to go out. It looked like a routine fly ball to the warning track to me. Once I saw it, Dom (Domonic Brown) was under it, I just stood behind the mound like I would for an out. Next thing I knew, there was stumbling in the bushes. I was like alright, oh well, on to the next one.”

Giles struck out Alexi Amarista swinging on a 2-2 slider to end the game.

One home run, one strike out.

Giles hopes he is on his way.

“It was fun, it was great,” he said. “Now I’ve showed them what I can do, what I throw, so now it’s just, I got the first one out of the way, now it’s down to business, time to pitch.”

The scoreboard flashed 100 mph twice with fans cheering each time it hit. Giles heard each one.

“How could you not?” he said. “I just go out there and pitch. Whatever it says, it says. I’m not going to try to force it. It’s all natural, you’ve seen it, everybody’s seen it today. No reason to pump 102 or 103. … Everybody’s different on their debut and, unlucky for me I got a home run on mine, but, that’s a great memory, just thinking first at-bat, gave up a home run. Next guy, struck out. It’s just a good story to tell.”

Howard Sits Against Lefty … He Hits

Ryan HowardRyan Howard has been a bit better against left-handed pitchers this season than the previous three, but not substantially better.

So it seemed like a no-brainer today when Ryne Sandberg started John Mayberry Jr. at first base against Padres left-hander Eric Stults. Howard entered the afternoon with a .209/.268/.413 line against left-handed pitchers, compared to a .198/.254/.350 line the previous three seasons.

But then a quick look at the matchups showed Howard is 2-for-2 with two home runs and four RBIs in his career against Stults.

Despite his struggles against left-handed pitchers, Howard has started 12 of 16 games against lefties this season. He also has hit fifth eight times after hitting there twice in the season’s first four games. Meanwhile, Mayberry has a .273/.385/.545 line against left-handed pitching this season and a .274/.326/.528 line against them in his career.

Lee Throwing, But No Timetable for Return

Cliff LeeCliff Lee said he felt fine after some light throwing yesterday at Citizens Bank Park.

Lee has been on the disabled list since May 19 with a strained left elbow. It was the first time he had thrown since May 18, when he threw 6 2/3 against the Reds. Lee said his elbow is not 100 percent yet, but it is improving.

“He’ll do that every other day for a couple of days and then back-to-back after that twice,” Ryne Sandberg said of the 30-35 throws Lee made yesterday. “And then keep progressing from there. … He just said he’s gradually gotten better and it got to the point where, pretty much no sensation in there. So that was the indication to start throwing yesterday.”

There is no timetable for Lee’s return, although he already has missed considerable time so he will need to rebuild arm strength. That will take weeks, not days.

Adams to DL, Giles Called Up

Mike AdamsThe Phillies lost one of their best relief pitchers today when they placed Mike Adams on the disabled list with inflammation in his right rotator cuff.

They called up their best young bullpen arm to replace him.

Right-hander Ken Giles will take Adams’ spot in the Phillies’ bullpen. Giles, who touches 100 mph with his fastball, has been on the minds of fans since he started to put up eye-popping numbers in April with Double-A Reading. He had a 1.20 ERA in 13 appearances with Reading. He struck out 29 and walked five in 15 innings.

He was promoted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley early last month. He posted a 2.63 ERA in 11 appearances, but struck out just nine and walked eight in 13 2/3 innings.

“He’s had some good outings,” Ryne Sandberg said. “He’s the next guy in line for us. We saw him in the spring and his control has been better and he’s made some improvement.”

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Phillies Love College

belushiThe Phillies are wild for college baseball players this year.

They have said it is a coincidence, but through the 25th round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft they have selected 24 college players (96 percent). That is way above the average for the Phillies over the previous 10 drafts. Here is a look at those drafts with information provided by Baseball Reference:

  • 2004: 32 of 50 players drafted were four-year, junior or community college players (64 percent)
  • 2005: 27 of 49 (55.1 percent)
  • 2006: 30 of 51 (58.8 percent)
  • 2007: 26 of 52 (50 percent)
  • 2008: 26 of 53 (49.1 percent)
  • 2009: 30 of 49 (61.2 percent)
  • 2010: 35 of 50 (70 percent)
  • 2011: 27 of 51 (52.9 percent)
  • 2012: 21 of 42 (50 percent)
  • 2013: 26 of 41 (63.4 percent)

College players represented 280 of 488 (57.4 percent) of Phillies draft picks over the previous 10 years.

Phillies Take Lefty in 2nd Round

imhofThe Phillies took another arm tonight to finish the first day of the First-Year Player Draft.

They selected Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo left-hander Matt Imhof with the 47th overall pick in the second round. Imhof, who is 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, is considered a late bloomer, having not been drafted out of high school.

“Big left-hander with a plus fastball, average to above breaking ball and a lot deception in his delivery,” Marti Wolever said. “We’ve seen a lot of him. From USA team last summer and again this spring. And certainly a rotation guy we think. We think middle to the back of the rotation.”

MLB.com’s scouting report says Imhof, “pitches downhill with natural cutting movement on his fastball. His short, sharp slider is an out pitch at times. He has solid feel for a changeup, though it’s still a work in progress. Imhof is generally around the plate with all of his pitches and has been one of the nation’s top strikeout pitchers. There’s still some upside to Imhof as he continues to fill out, giving him the chance to be in a big league rotation in the future.”

Imhof went 10-4 with a 2.45 ERA in 15 starts this season. He allowed 65 hits, 43 walks and struck out 124 batters in 99 1/3 innings.

“He’s got a chance to go through (the farm system) a little quicker,” Wolever said. “Not as quickly as (first-round pick Aaron) Nola, but he throws strikes and he commands the strike zone so that certainly works to his advantage.”

The draft continues with the third round tomorrow. The Phillies most certainly will start taking some position players on the second day.

“Some of the bats that we kind of focused on were gone at that point and we thought he was the best option at that point in time,” Wolever said of their second-round pick.

Phillies Take Nola With No. 7 Pick

nolaThe Phillies hinted last week they preferred a polished baseball player, not just an athlete with the proverbial “high ceiling” with the seventh overall pick in tonight’s First-Year Player Draft.

They followed through and selected LSU right-hander Aaron Nola.

“We would hope that in a couple of years he could be here pitching here in the organization with the Major League team,” Phillies assistant general manager of amateur scouting Marti Wolever said. “It’s hard to say, but within a couple of years, I think that’s a pretty safe estimate.”

MLB.com considered Nola the sixth-best player available in the Draft, and most scouts project him to be the first starting pitcher to appear in the big leagues. He is 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, so he is not imposing on the mound. But Nola has excellent command of his pitches, which includes a two-seam and four-seam fastball, a changeup and a breaking ball. His fastball sits in the 92-94 mph range, although Wolever said he has seen him touch 97 mph.

“A name that was mentioned upstairs (in the Phillies front office) quite frequently was Tim Hudson,” Wolever said, when asked for a comparable big-league pitcher. “I hate to put it on these kids because now all of a sudden they’ve got to live up to that. But that was tossed around quite a bit with our group. Just the command and the life on his fastball. … There’s something to say about having ‘now’ stuff. And that’s what Aaron Nola has. Aaron Nola has ‘now’ stuff. We don’t really have to project a lot because it’s already here.”

Nola, 21, is eager to get started.

“I kind of want to get going,” he said in a telephone interview Thursday night. “I look forward to getting up there.”

It sounds like that should not be a problem. Wolever said he thinks they are “very close” to signing Nola. Once he signs, it would not be a surprise to see him begin his professional career with Class A Clearwater, but because he threw 116 1/3 inning this season the Phillies plan to bring him along slowly.

Read more about Nola here.

Fire Sale Looming

Chase UtleyOn the train to DC this morning I crunched some numbers and came up with a few thoughts about the Phillies, who seem to be headed nowhere fast following a 4-7 homestand, which included their first no-hit loss since 1978 and four losses in five games to the Mets.

The Phillies are 9-17 since they were 15-14 on May 4. It’s the worst record in the National League in that span.

They are 24-31 overall. They were 26-29 at this point last year, when they were on their way to 89 losses.

I’m typically one to preach patience during a 162-game season because it is difficult to draw concrete conclusions about a team a little more than two months into it. I often remind people about the deficits the 2007 and 2008 Phillies overcame to win the National League East: seven down with 17 to play in 2007 and 3 ½ back with 16 to play in 2008. But those teams did at least one thing very, very well. Those teams had the best offense in the National League. They hit the cover off the ball. They also had a very good bullpen down the stretch in 2007 and a great one throughout 2008. They also played good defense.

But the 2014 Phillies don’t do anything well. You can’t say, “This team has fantastic starting pitching, so if they can just add a bullpen arm and get Domonic Brown going they should be OK.”

There are holes everywhere.

*

Brown is hitting .206 with six doubles, one triple, four home runs, 27 RBIs, 15 walks, 36 strikeouts and a .557 OPS through the team’s first 55 games. It reminds me of Pat Burrell’s 2003 season. Burrell’s struggles were a huge story that year. Fans wanted him sent to Triple-A, like Brown. I got emails from people asking about Burrell’s eyesight or other ailments that might be affecting him at the plate. But through 55 games in 2003, Burrell was hitting .204 with 13 doubles, one triple, 10 home runs, 25 RBIs, 31 walks, 64 strikeouts and a .751 OPS. Amazing. Burrell’s OPS was nearly 200 points higher than Brown’s is today.

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Marquis Signed to Minor League Deal

Jason MarquisThe Phillies hope to have added depth to the organization today when they announced they signed right-hander Jason Marquis to a Minor League contract.

He will report tomorrow to Clearwater, Fla., for extended Spring Training.

Marquis went 9-5 with a 4.05 ERA in 20 starts last season with the Padres before having Tommy John surgery in July. He is 121-114 with a 4.56 ERA in 368 appearances (309 starts) over a 14-year big-league career.

The Phillies are short on starting pitching depth with Cliff Lee, Jonathan Pettibone and Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez each on the disabled list.

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