A number of recent transactions should secure Lehigh Valley’s first ever playoff berth over the last month of the season. The Phillies decided that Raul Ibanez should be their left fielder for now, so the IronPigs will benefit from Domonic Brown playing every day. They also received Freddy Galvis and Carlos Rivero from Reading to shore up their infield. Despite the additions, they only went 3-4 on the week. In seven games, they only scored 18 runs despite Brown hitting well in his return to the minors. To make room on the roster, Brian Bocock was sent to the Pirates, and Tagg Bozied was placed on the DL with a shin contusion. A deep bullpen continued to dominate late in games, and the only thing that could stop them is losing some young relievers to the Phillies.
Reading Phillies (58-54, 2nd in EL East)
Despite losing three every day players in the past week and only going 3-4, Reading moved ahead of Trenton (Yankees) into second place in the division. Infielders Freddy Galvis and Carlos Rivero were promoted to AAA, and outfielder Terry Evans broke his hand and probably won’t be back this year. They’ve been replaced with four recent minor league free agent signings: Ozzie Chavez and Steve Singleton for the infield, and Chris Lubanski and Brent Cleven for the outfield. Fortunately for Reading, Trenton is experiencing similar losses. Top Yankees prospect Manny Banuelos was promoted to AAA, and other prospects Dellin Betances and Austin Romine could soon follow.
Clearwater Threshers (21-20, 3rd in FSL North)
The Threshers survived the losses of Jarred Cosart and Jonathan Singleton with a 3-3 week, and in a division where six teams are separated by only 3.5 games, that’s good enough to stay within striking distance. Due to injuries and ineffectiveness from the current Threshers corner outfielders, they signed minor league free agents Brandon Tripp and Cyle Hankerd to fill in, and they’ve both contributed early. Tripp hit three home runs in two games the past week, and Hankerd homered in his first two games with the Threshers. David Buchanan came up from Lakewood and took Cosart’s place in the rotation and did well in his FSL debut, allowing two runs in six innings.
Lakewood BlueClaws (22-19, 3rd in SAL North)
With less than a month remaining in the season, the BlueClaws need to win the second half division title. If Hickory (Texas) wins, the second playoff spot will go to the team with the next best record, and Lakewood likely won’t be able to catch up in that. For the first time this season, Lisalberto Bonilla is struggling, allowing five earned runs and 16 baserunners over his last two starts that totaled nine innings. He’s only thrown 79 innings, so durability shouldn’t be an issue. Austin Wright made his Lakewood debut, allowing one run in six innings with five strikeouts, and this is a league he should be able to compete in. Maikel Franco, not Harold Martinez, was promoted to the BlueClaws, and at 18 years old, he’s going to be challenged.
Williamsport Crosscutters (27-21, 3rd in NYPL Pinckney)
After a 5-2 week that included a nearly tragic team bus crash, the Crosscutters remained in third in the packed Pinckney division. They have the 4th best record in the league, but like last season proved, that doesn’t guarantee them anything. Despite the promotion of Austin Wright to Lakewood, the Crosscutters’ rotation had another strong week. Reliever Bryan Morgado started in his place, and while he’s probably just a placeholder, he did a good job. Percival Garner returned from injury once again, and it remains to be seen how long he can remain healthy. Aaron Altherr went on a tear this week, homering in three straight games at Brooklyn (Mets), and Kelly Dugan continued to work towards his first decent season as a professional.
GCL Phillies (20-21, 3rd in GCL North)
The GCL Phillies endured a rough 1-5 week, by far their worst of the season. The starting staff provided two quality starts, but the rest of the week was an absolute disaster for the pitching. They gave up 42 runs, and in three games, the starters didn’t get through the 4th inning. Overall on the season, their team ERA is 3rd worst in the league, and their team WHIP is second worst. Unfortunately, with no obvious overslot signings coming for pitchers, what they have now is the staff that will finish the season. Their offense is at or slightly above league average, but it will be the pitching that prevents them from returning to the playoffs for the third time in four seasons. Czech prospect Marek Minarik made his pro debut this week and gave up two runs in two appearances.
Domonic Brown, Lehigh Valley- 7/23, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 7 BB, 7 K, 1/1 SB- Top prospect showed great approach in the majors leading up to his assignment to AAA.
Freddy Galvis, Lehigh Valley– 9/26, 6 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 3 RBI, 0 BB, 2 K, 2/3 SB- Galvis has scored in seven straight games between AA and AAA after his recent promotion.
Pete Orr, Lehigh Valley– 11/24, 3 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 1 BB, 7 K, 2/4 SB- Nearly one third of Orr’s extra base hits at Lehigh Valley this year came in the past week.
Darin Ruf, Clearwater– 10/22, 5 R, 3 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 3 BB, 4 K- 9 of Ruf’s 13 home runs this season has come in a second half where he’s hit over .350.
Aaron Altherr, Williamsport– 9/28, 6 R, 1 2B, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 1 BB, 4 K, 2/3 SB- Altherr homered in three straight games against Brooklyn this week.
Phillippe Aumont, Lehigh Valley– 0-0, 1 SV, 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K- Aumont has allowed two baserunners in 4.1 IP since returning from a shoulder injury that cost him a month.
Michael Schwimer, Lehigh Valley– 0-0, 2 SV, 2.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K- 7 of Schwimer’s 19 walks this season came in a subpar April.
Tyler Cloyd, Reading– 0-0, 12 IP, 9 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 12 K- Command/control righty has been very good in rotation and relief role for Clearwater and Reading this season.
Austin Hyatt, Reading– 0-0, 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 12 K- With a few more strong outings, Hyatt could finish in the top 10 for minor league strikeouts for the second straight year.
Lino Martinez, Williamsport– 1-0, 8 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K- Martinez set a career high in strikeouts with seven in his last start against Brooklyn.
Steve Singleton, Reading- 3/26, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 0 BB, 5 K- Pinch hit grand slam at Reading was nice, but the rest of his week was pretty miserable.
Jim Murphy, Lakewood– 5/29, 1 R, 2 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 7 K- Perhaps frustrated he wasn’t promoted to replace Jonathan Singleton, Murphy is coming off his worst week of the season.
Taylor Black, Williamsport– 1/14, 1 R, 0 XBH, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K, 1/1 SB- Light hitting 2011 pick from Kentucky is losing at bats to an undrafted teammate.
Jorge Castillo, GCL– 1/11, 0 R, 1 2B, 0 RBI, 1 BB, 4 K- Castillo should lose a lot of at bats if Larry Greene gets into game action before the end of the season.
Alejandro Villalobos, GCL– 0/15, 1 R, 0 XBH, 0 RBI, 0 BB, 0 K- With only four walks and four strikeouts on the season, Villalobos may feel that he can hit any pitch.
J.C. Ramirez, Reading– 0-2, 8.2 IP, 14 H, 9 ER, 5 BB, 9 K- Ramirez’s time as a starter could be coming to an end if the results don’t improve soon.
Juan Sosa, Clearwater– 1-0, 3.2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 0 K- Sosa has allowed runs in five of his eight appearances with Clearwater since being promoted last month.
Ervis Manzanillo, Lakewood– 0-1, 5.2 IP, 11 H, 9 ER, 5 BB, 6 K- Manzanillo has had some strikeout stuff this year, but his WHIP is over 1.50.
James Birmingham, GCL– 1-0, 2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K- Undrafted free agent has been very good for the GCL Phillies, but he gave up runs in consecutive appearances this week.
Jonathan Musser, GCL– 0-1, 3.1 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 1 K- Musser’s bad start this week is just one of many for a battered GCL starting rotation.
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