Pitching Spotlight: LHP Tom Windle – 7 .0 IP 2 H 1 ER 1 BB 9 K
Windle had a rough start in his second start of the year, battling through a 9 run effort. Against the Harrisburg Senators on Sunday, Windle was dominant allowing only 14 balls in play with 11 of them ground balls and only 3 leaving the infield. The only run came when a leadoff walk was slowly moved around the bases before being brought home on a ground ball through the hole. According to the TV broadcast and the inconsistent Harrisburg radar gun, Windle was 91-93 T94 with his fastball which is somewhere between the 93-95 and 91-93 of his previous two starts. Windle still struggles with turning over a good changeup, but he will show multiple slider looks which can help keep hitters off balance. He will vary the horizontal and vertical break to his slider anywhere from a long horizontal frisbee that he can get left handers to chase out of the zone to the best version which is a sharper, shorter slider with good two plane movement. It is easy to see why some evaluators think that his long term home is in the bullpen because the command is loose and you can see the fastball and slider combination playing well out of the bullpen. The Phillies will obviously give him plenty of time to work through his issue in the rotation before thinking about a bullpen move.
Hitting Spotlight: CF Aaron Brown – 2-10 2B 3B 3 BB 2 K CS
On the surface Brown going 2-10 on a weekend isn’t particularly noteworthy, even if both hits are for extra bases. Brown’s overall line of .209/.274/.403 is not spectacular either. However, after striking out 12 times in his first 12 games with no walks, Brown has walked 4 times in the past 5 games, while striking out 4 times. This is notable because Brown walked just 7 times in 2014 with 60 strikeouts over 61 games. For the most part Brown’s problem has been an over aggressive approach that has caused him to chase a lot of pitches he has no business swinging at. This short little blip in walks could be just a mirage, but it is worth keeping an eye on. Brown has big raw power and good bat speed, so if he can tap into that at the plate he is going to rocket up prospect lists and through the Phillies system.
What is Going on with Phillippe Aumont?
For those that weren’t paying attention yesterday, RHP Phillippe Aumont moved into the Lehigh Valley rotation. The move followed some team needs due to Sean O’Sullivan’s injury and the subsequent promotion of Severino Gonzalez. Aumont has expressed interest in starting and the team had started to stretch him out as a long man, but no one expected what would happen on Sunday. Aumont went 5 innings allowing 3 hits, no runs, no walks, and striking out his first and last batters while only throwing 63 pitches (19 in the first inning) with 46 strikes. His 2-seam fastball was dialed down from the 93-96 in the bullpen to be 90-94 and he was mixing in a straight pitch at 88-90 that he could paint a bit with for strikes. He still had the splitter with the sharp downward movement at 83-86 and the knee buckling curve at 78-81. He pitched more than threw and was overall very impressive. He has reportedly lost at least 20 pounds and looks it, the effect has been that he is more athletic and everything looks easier for him. It is way too early to say that this is an experiment that will bear results, but it certainly was a good first step and worth watching again.
Stat of the Week:
There will be more on this in the coming weeks, but the Reading rotation has started to show signs of being good at generating weak contact. For Zach Eflin and Tom Windle it has been in heavy ground ball percentages, and for Aaron Nola and Jesse Biddle it has been with high rates of infield fly balls. The sample size is still very small, but given that none of the current staff are power pitchers with overpowering stuff, they will need to continue to keep hitters off balance rather than rely on strikeouts alone.
J.P. Crawford DHed and went 3-4 in Extended Spring Training on Saturday, and here is the video by TheGkita
For bonus here is Baseball Betsy’s video of Franklyn Kilome from the same game (even if Kilome is not hurt).
Reading Rotation Watch:
With everyone but Ben Lively going 3 times (well Eflin more like 2 1/3 times), here is where the vaunted Reading rotation stands.
79.2 IP 63 H (7.1/9) 24 ER (2.71 ERA) 6 HR (0.7/9) 21 BB (2.4/9) 60 (6.8/9)
Since last week the ERA is up due to Windle’s disastrous outing, the BB/9 is up due to some control issues from Biddle, and the K/9 is up because of good outings by Windle and Nola. Overall the group has been everywhere from good to very dominant.