Phillies

Phillies prospect Cole Irvin is an old-school lefty focused on getting outs

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Phillies prospect Cole Irvin is an old-school lefty focused on getting outs

Updated: Friday, 9 a.m.

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Wondering how many Phillies fans are aware of this ...

Last year, the organization could boast having the International League Pitcher of the Year.

That's pretty good stuff.

Cole Irvin is his name. He led the IL in ERA (2.57) and WHIP (1.05) while pitching 161⅓ innings for Triple A Lehigh Valley.

The left-hander will get the ball Friday when the Phillies open their Grapefruit League schedule against the Tampa Bay Rays in Port Charlotte.

Irvin, who turned 25 three weeks ago, is pumped.

“First game of the spring, that’s what is really cool about it,” he said. “I love baseball season. I think we all do. And to be the guy starting the Phillies baseball season, whether that’s spring training, it doesn’t matter to me. This is the first game of the year for us and it’s going to be fun.”

The Phillies selected Irvin in the fifth round of the 2016 draft out of the University of Oregon. He does not have to be protected on the 40-man roster until after this season but is in camp as a non-roster invite.

Despite his accomplishments last season, Irvin is not the most ballyhooed Phillies pitching prospect. You won’t find his name on Baseball America’s list of the team’s top 10 pitching prospects.

Irvin, bright and articulate, has an explanation for that.

“I’m not known as a prototypical prospect,” he said. “I’m a guy that gets outs. I don’t care how hard I throw. I don’t care about my spin rate. I care about the guy’s swing coming through the zone. I care about the guy leaning out over the plate to get the away pitch. I care about the stuff that actually matters in games. And I felt that there’s been a little bias toward some guys that can’t find the strike zone and I’m a guy that pitches in the strike zone and gets outs just the same.

“I’m not a hard thrower. I pitch at 88 to 94, 95 (mph). What’s wrong with a guy that goes out there and gets outs? That’s kind of where I stand.”

Irvin throws a deep repertoire of pitches. He relies on command. He doesn’t stress over velocity, though he can sneak a 95-mph heater up in the zone when he has to. Phillies minor-league pitching instructors love the way Irvin prepares for starts. He keeps a book on his outings — what worked, what didn’t — in his locker.

“I stick to the old-school thing about baseball,” he said. “I’m a big fan of breaking down hitters and swings. I’ve always been taught to pitch first, not throw. Everyone wants to prove they can throw hard.

“You have to understand who you are. I’m a pitcher. Get outs.”

Irvin will likely be applying his methods of pitching back at Triple A at the start of this season. On paper, the Phillies' rotation seems set with Aaron Nola, Jake Arrieta, Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin and Vince Velasquez. Jerad Eickhoff, Ranger Suarez and Enyel De Los Santos are all on the 40-man roster if the Phils need immediate depth and it’s not out of the question the team would try to sign Dallas Keuchel.

As the saying goes, you can never have enough pitching. So it would not be surprising to see Irvin get a shot in Philadelphia sometime this season.

“We have a really good rotation,” he said. “I want to see my teammates do well. I’m excited to see what this team can do. My role right now is minuscule compared to the guys on the 40-man roster. All I can do is put myself in position to be the next man called up and be able to win that game if need be.

“In the business of baseball, the player doesn’t make the decision (when he’s called up). All you can do is focus on what you can do to get better.”

And that is what Irvin is focused on this spring.

It all starts for him Friday in the Grapefruit League lid lifter.

Here is the Phillies' lineup this afternoon as they open the spring in a non-televised game in Port Charlotte against the Rays:

1. Roman Quinn, CF
2. Scott Kingery, SS
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Nick Williams, LF
5. Andrew Knapp, C
6. Shane Robinson, RF
7. Andrew Romine, 2B
8. Dylan Cozens, DH
9. Austin Listi, 1B

Cole Irvin, LHP

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Gabe Kapler recalls the challenge of his final days in Philadelphia

Gabe Kapler recalls the challenge of his final days in Philadelphia

SAN DIEGO — The beginning wasn’t easy for Gabe Kapler in Philadelphia and neither was the end. He was booed before managing his first game in Citizens Bank Park in 2018. Eighteen months later, he twisted in the wind for 10 days as Phillies ownership pondered whether to bring him back for the 2020 season or let him go.

Eventually, Kapler was fired but he wasn’t out of work long as the San Francisco Giants hired him to manage their club in November.

At the winter meetings Tuesday, Kapler recalled waiting for John Middleton’s verdict over those uncomfortable final 10 days in Philadelphia.

“Those ten days were challenging because I definitely wanted the opportunity to continue to manage the Phillies,” Kapler said. “I wanted to see the work that we put in, and I wanted to see it through the finish line. In my mind, that finish line was still in the future and in the distance, and I think there's going to be a lot of great things accomplished in Philadelphia next year.

“But it was difficult, and sometimes there's a real silver lining to those situations. I think the Philadelphia Phillies got a great manager in Joe Girardi in place, and I think I have an opportunity to manage a club that I'm incredibly excited about, and the people that I'm working with, I'm really excited about as well. So I think, interestingly, even though it was challenging, those 10 days, it worked out pretty well for the Phillies, and I think it worked out really well for the Giants as well.”

Kapler was asked what he said to Middleton upon learning that he would not return to manage the Phillies.

“The last words were 'thank you for the opportunity,' ” he said.

Kapler was asked how he might have been able to save his job in Philadelphia.

“Probably win more baseball games,” he said.

Kapler’s record in Philadelphia was 161-163. He learned a lot in those two seasons.

“I think the thing that stands out to me is I'm excited about getting every possible strategic advantage as a manager and as part of a coaching staff,” Kapler said. “I think that one of the things that I learned is that sometimes those small strategic advantages come at the expense of some confidence from a player.

“So I think I did a better job in 2019 than I did in 2018 of blending those two things, blending the small strategic advantages with the confidence level of the players, and I think I'm going to do a better job having learned some of those lessons in '18, in 2020, without overcorrecting. I think that's an important part as well. Bringing it back to the middle is important, too, after an overcorrection is made.

“So, specifically, it's just striking the right balance between getting small strategic advantages and confidence levels of players.”

Kapler will be back in Philadelphia with the Giants August 7-10 — unless he sneaks into town earlier for one of his favorite steaks at Suraya.

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Phillies fans, you're gonna love Didi Gregorius based on his Twitter personality

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Phillies fans, you're gonna love Didi Gregorius based on his Twitter personality

MLB free agency is in full swing and the newest addition to the Phillies, Didi Gregorius, has quite the personality on Twitter.

More specifically, he really enjoys tweeting after his team wins ... especially with emojis.

It almost feels like Groundhog Day scrolling through his feed. And by the looks of things, he rarely forgets.

Take a look:

Of course, these are only a few of the many he has tweeted out. If you have the time though, look at the rest — there are definitely some hidden gems.

Will he continue this tradition with his new club? Will we be able to see tweets from him stating that the bullpen was worth four fire emojis? What emojis will he assign for Bryce Harper, Aaron Nola, Rhys Hoskins and the rest of the team?

These are the hard-hitting questions we want answered right after the news of a signing breaks — but we'll just have to wait and see once Spring Training comes to a close in a few months.

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