Phillies

Adam Morgan finally falters in Phillies' loss but remains confident in bullpen role

Adam Morgan finally falters in Phillies' loss but remains confident in bullpen role

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Adam Morgan went to his favorite pitch, the one that has done the most damage in his remarkable second-half run. 

The changeup was slightly misplaced this time, however, and it cost the Phillies the game. 

Asdrubal Cabrera hit a three-run shot in the 11th inning, the first homer allowed by Morgan since July 31, and the New York Mets outlasted the Phils, 7-4, in a four-hour, 10-minute marathon on a brisk and blustery Saturday night at Citizens Bank Park (see observations)

“Tough loss on a cold night,” Pete Mackanin said after his second-to-last game as Phillies manager.

The season ends Sunday, after which Mackanin will move into a front office role (see story)

The Phillies’ late-season success — they dropped to 15-13 in September — has come thanks to plenty of help from Morgan. After nearly being released in spring training and losing his job as a starter, Morgan has become a valuable lefty out of the bullpen that can get righties out, too. 

He came in Saturday night having given up two runs over his past 26 innings with 32 strikeouts. And he was the victim of some tough luck this time. 

Morgan gave up a single to Phillip Evans with one out and then saw two pitches that were clear strikes by the computerized strike zone system called balls before walking Nori Aoki. Morgan then struck out Jose Reyes before the switch-hitting Cabrera came to the plate. 

The 0-1 changeup rode up in the strike zone, and Cabrera pounced for his 14th home run. Unlike Rhys Hoskins’ towering fly in the 10th that died at the warning track thanks to the stiff wind blowing in, Cabrera’s line drive made it just far enough to clear the wall in left-center. 

“He’s had such a great run. He’s been very impressive,” Mackanin said of Morgan. “He just got a changeup up. I was surprised the ball went out because Hoskins hit that ball probably harder than Cabrera did. But he probably got it up in the air too much and the wind got a hold of it.”

Hoskins had tied the game with a two-out, run-scoring single to left in a two-run seventh for his 48th RBI in 49 games. 

Maikel Franco’s third home run in four games, a solo shot in a two-run second, put the Phillies up 2-0 against Mets starter Seth Lugo. 

But Hoskins was the only player to have a hit after the third inning. And this time the bullpen wasn’t perfect. 

“I’m still going to use it. It’s one of my strengths,” Morgan said of his changeup. “Moving forward, I’m just going to try to erase that from my memory and keep going.”

The Phillies rallied after a rough outing by right-hander Henderson Alvarez, who was making his third start in an audition for a 2018 job. Alvarez, the former NL All-Star with the Marlins who had been out of the majors for two years because of shoulder surgeries, walked six in 4 2/3 innings. 

Alvarez, who declined to speak to reporters after the game, was charged with three runs and three hits with no strikeouts. He had a 4.30 ERA in his three starts. 

Mackanin removed catcher Jorge Alfaro after he got banged up tagging out Juan Lagares following a great throw by rightfielder Nick Williams in the fifth. 

“Alfaro made a great tag, but he hit the back of his head on the ground,” Mackanin said. “I just took him out for precautionary reasons. I think he’s going to be fine. The doctor checked him.”

Alfaro was likely to sit Sunday anyway when Mackanin manages the Phillies for a final time and Morgan hopes to get one more chance. 

“I’m real proud, but It’s just reality, nobody’s perfect,” he said. “It was just kind of a bad hit that happened at a bad time. But it’s been fun.”

Phillies lose prospect in Rule 5 draft, gain money to sign more

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Photo: Clearwater Threshers

Phillies lose prospect in Rule 5 draft, gain money to sign more

ORLANDO — Carlos Tocci has long been an intriguing prospect in the Phillies' system. The club's international scouting staff liked the slender outfielder from Venezuela enough to give him a $759,000 signing bonus as a 16-year-old in the summer of 2011.

The big question with Tocci was whether he'd develop enough offensive pop to go with his outstanding defensive prowess.

Tocci made strides every year in the Phillies system, but not enough, in the minds of team officials, to move past other prospects and win a spot on the 40-man roster. The Phils left him unprotected last winter and managed to slip him through the annual Rule 5 draft, but they weren't so fortunate this year. Tocci was selected by the Chicago White Sox with the fourth pick in Thursday's draft and quickly spun to the Texas Rangers in a trade.

The price to select Tocci was $100,000. He must spend the entire 2018 season in the majors (or on the big-league disabled list) or be offered back to the Phillies for $50,000.

"Obviously, it stinks for us to lose a guy like that, but it's the risk you take when you don't protect someone," Phillies assistant general manager Bryan Minniti said. "I'm happy for him to get the opportunity. Selfishly, we hope to get him back."

Tocci, 22, hit .307 with a .362 on-base percentage and a .398 slugging percentage in 113 games at Double A Reading in 2017. He hit .189 in 17 games at Triple A.

Tocci has athleticism and speed. He is a plus defender. His speed and defensive skill could help him stick in the majors as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement.

The Phillies added a player in the Rule 5 draft, but only briefly. They selected right-handed pitcher Nick Burdi from Minnesota with the third pick and quickly traded him to Pittsburgh for $500,000 in international signing money. The Phils have just over $1 million remaining in their current pool, which expires June 15.

Extra international money is valuable. The Phillies recently added four pitchers — Seranthony Dominguez, Ranger Suarez, Jose Taveras and Franklyn Kilome — to their 40-man roster and all were international signings. The team recently used international pool money to sign catcher Abrahan Gutierrez, one of 13 former Atlanta prospects who had been set free after the Braves violated signing rules. Several of those players are still unsigned and other prospects pop up all the time. Remember, the Phillies' top pitching prospect is a kid named Sixto Sanchez. He caught the eye of Phillies scouts three years ago while throwing batting practice to a catcher that the Phillies were watching (see story).

"Our international department with Sal Agostinelli and those guys, they're weapons for us," Minniti said. "So for us to have the ability to give them more money to spend is a positive. They're seeing workouts every day all over the world. It's good to have the reserves to continue to spend."

The Phillies have two open spots on their 40-man roster. Those will soon be filled by relievers Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter.

The Phillies have apparently decided on a first base coach, which would fill the final opening on manager Gabe Kapler's staff. Sources say the hire will come from outside the organization, but no announcement has been made yet.

Phillies make a pick and a trade in Rule 5 draft

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USA Today Images

Phillies make a pick and a trade in Rule 5 draft

The Phillies were active in Thursday's Rule 5 draft. With the third pick, they selected right-hander Nick Burdi from the Minnesota Twins and spun him to the Pittsburgh Pirates in a trade that netted them $500,000 in international signing bonus money.

That $500,000 goes into the Phillies' current pool and must be spent by June 15. 

The Phillies also lost 22-year-old outfield prospect Carlos Tocci to the Chicago White Sox, who in turn traded him to the Texas Rangers. Tocci must stay in the majors for all of 2018 or be offered back to the Phillies.

More coming ...