Cornelius Randolph among 7 Phillies headed to Arizona Fall League

Photo: Clearwater Threshers

Cornelius Randolph among 7 Phillies headed to Arizona Fall League

Seven players will represent the Phillies' farm system in the Arizona Fall League this year.

Pitchers Trevor Bettencourt, Garrett Cleavinger, Elniery Garcia and J.D Hammer, catcher Edgar Cabral, infielder Zach Green and outfielder Cornelius Randolph are on the Glendale Desert Dogs' roster.

The biggest name of the bunch is Randolph, the Phillies' first-round pick in 2015. An all-bat leftfielder, Randolph has had a rather disappointing first three seasons in the Phils' system. This has been his best season and he's hit .249/.339/.394 with 18 doubles, four triples, 12 homers and 53 RBIs in 496 plate appearances with High-A Clearwater. He's walked 55 times and struck out 122.

Hammer and Cleavinger were both acquired by the Phillies at the trade deadline, Hammer for Pat Neshek and Cleavinger for Jeremy Hellickson.

Hammer's success has continued in the Phillies' system. After posting a 1.20 ERA with 47 strikeouts and five walks in 30 innings with Asheville (Colorado's Class A affiliate), Hammer has allowed just one run in 12⅔ innings with Clearwater. He's struck out 14 and walked two. Overall this season, Hammer is 6-2 with a 1.98 ERA, 13.0 strikeouts per nine innings and 2.6 walks. He hasn't allowed a home run.

Cleavinger has made nine appearances with Double A Reading since the trade and allowed 12 runs (eight earned) in 12⅓ innings with 16 strikeouts. Throughout his three-year minor-league career, he's been a high-strikeout, high-walk reliever.

Garcia, a lefty on the Phils' 40-man roster, missed most of this season because of a PED suspension. He returned to Double A Reading on Aug. 9 and has gone 2-0 with a 1.40 ERA and .200 opponents' batting average in four starts. Playing in the AFL will allow him to recoup some of the valuable development time he missed in 2017.

Phillies set to unveil new ace Jake Arrieta in spring training

Phillies set to unveil new ace Jake Arrieta in spring training

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Thursday starts the one-week countdown to opening day.

Oh, yeah, and Jake Arrieta will also make his Grapefruit League debut.

It figures to be the highlight of the spring.

Arrieta signed a three-year, $75 million contract with the Phillies last week. He has completed a progression from bullpen work — he actually had gotten well into that on his own before signing — to facing hitters in a controlled situation.

Now, it’s time to face some competition — the Detroit Tigers. The game will be televised on NBCSP+ at 1 p.m.

The Phillies have yet to decide when Arrieta will make his regular-season debut. The pitcher believes he will be ready during the first week of the season. The team will exercise caution. Arrieta’s performance Thursday — and possibly more important, his recovery — will go a long way into determining when the Phils turn him loose.

“I’m looking for him to be healthy, first and foremost,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “I would love to see him come out just like he has in his live batting practice sessions and in his bullpens, which is strong, ball looking like a lead fastball, featuring that great cutter and a lot of that great deception.

"We’re looking for him to be Jake Arrieta. Most importantly, most critically and most consequentially, I’m looking for him to be healthy and strong.”

Kapler said the Phils would be flexible on Arrieta’s pitch count. Fifty or so seems like a good guess.

Arrieta has been around for a week now. His teammates are thrilled to have him.

“Obviously, with the Arrieta signing, we got a lot better not only on the field but in the clubhouse,” Rhys Hoskins said (more on him here). “What he’s going to be able to do not only for the pitchers but for some of us young position guys — I mean he’s recently won a World Series, he’s a Cy Young guy, he knows how to compete at the highest level. We have a good group. It’s meshing pretty quickly. I’m excited to see how it goes once we start.”

Rhys Hoskins doing damage as opening day comes into sight

USA Today Images

Rhys Hoskins doing damage as opening day comes into sight


DUNEDIN, Fla. — The season opener is eight days away and Rhys Hoskins says his swing “is getting there.” 

Getting there? Really?

It looks like it already arrived with the morning mail.

Hoskins continued his recent run of excellent at-bats in Wednesday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays. He belted a two-run homer, a solo homer and also worked a walk. Over his last five games, he is 6 for 16 with five walks. For the spring, he is hitting .279 (12 for 43) with four doubles, four homers, eight RBIs, 11 runs scored and an OPS of 1.066.

“What does he have, 10 strikeouts and 10 walks on the spring?” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler asked.

Indeed, those are the numbers.

“That is fantastic,” Kapler said. “Obviously, he’s swinging the bat beautifully and really controlling the at-bats.”

It all starts with pitch recognition.

“I’ve been pretty happy with that throughout camp,” Hoskins said. “I don’t feel like I’ve chased too many, which is always good. I’ve seen a bunch of breaking balls and been able to recognize them early.”

The outstanding selectivity that Hoskins has allows him to work pitchers into fastball counts. He did that in the first inning when he got a 3-1 fastball from Marcus Stroman and drove it over the left-field wall. The ball left the bat at 108 miles per hour.

Obviously, Hoskins was pleased that the ball left the yard. He was more pleased with the swing. He believes pitchers will try to bust him in this season and he’s ready for it.

“I was really, really happy with the first at-bat,” he said. “I had been struggling with the ball in. I was able to keep my hands inside of it and the ball went.”

His second homer came on a 1-1 fastball from Luis Santos. The wind was blowing out at Dunedin Stadium. Hoskins saw a pitch up and took a rip.

“On a day like today, if you see the ball up you’re going to have a pretty good chance,” he said.

Hoskins batted second in the lineup, ahead of Maikel Franco and Carlos Santana. Kapler has juggled lineups all spring and has strongly implied that he will do that, based on matchups, during the regular season.

“I don’t care where I hit,” Hoskins said. “With the guys we have and the way they’re going to construct the lineup, if I hit second, fourth, sixth, I think I’m going to be able to hit with men on base.

“Throughout my career I’ve been a run producer, so that’s the main thing for me. If I can create some runs, whether it’s scoring runs or driving in runs, I’ll be happy.”

The Phils and Jays played to a 7-7 tie. The Phillies’ bullpen gave up five runs in the last two innings to let a 7-2 lead get away. The Phils used 10 pitchers, including two day-trippers from minor-league camp. Starter Nick Pivetta pitched two perfect innings. The team purposely scaled him back to keep him in line with a 25-inning spring target. Scott Kingery and Aaron Altherr also hit home runs.