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Phillies top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez will skip Arizona Fall League after setback

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Phillies top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez will skip Arizona Fall League after setback

The Phillies have decided against sending top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez to the Arizona Fall League after the right-hander recently experienced a setback in his recovery from an elbow injury that first sidelined him in early June, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

General manager Matt Klentak confirmed the team’s decision.

Sanchez was firmly on the road to recovery and getting work in the Florida Instructional League when he recently came down with soreness in his right collarbone. Team medical officials are not alarmed by the issue and they are confident that Sanchez will be fully healthy and ready to go for spring training. However, the setback cut into Sanchez’s preparation time in Florida so the team has decided to err on the side of caution and hold him out of the AFL. The prospect-studded league opens play Tuesday and runs through Nov. 17. Sanchez had been slated to pitch for the Scottsdale Scorpions.

Sanchez, 20, was shut down in early June after experiencing right elbow soreness. After a battery of tests, it was determined that he would not require surgery. He spent the summer rehabilitating the injury in Florida and began getting back on the mound in late August.

Sanchez had been pitching for Single A Clearwater at the time of his injury. In four starts leading up to the injury, he had allowed just two earned runs in 25 2/3 innings while striking out 29 and walking four. In his last start on June 3, he delivered seven shutout innings, walked two and struck out five in a win over the Florida Fire Frogs. He reported to the ballpark the next day complaining of elbow tenderness.

The Phillies discovered Sanchez, a converted shortstop, during a workout in the Dominican Republic in late 2014 (see story). His mix of control and power stuff has made him one of baseball’s top pitching prospects and an untouchable in trade discussions. The Phillies envision him as being a mainstay in their rotation in the coming years.

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Even Mr. Sunshine, Gabe Kapler, thinks the Phillies are playing 'sh---y' baseball

Even Mr. Sunshine, Gabe Kapler, thinks the Phillies are playing 'sh---y' baseball

BOX SCORE

DENVER – General manager Matt Klentak collected his thoughts and said, “There’s no other way to say it, the last six weeks have been awful.”

And that was before the Phillies’ first eight hitters struck out Wednesday night, before the moribund team suffered its seventh straight defeat in an uncompetitive 14-0 loss to the Colorado Rockies.

Even usually upbeat manager Gabe Kapler couldn’t come up with anything positive after the team’s latest embarrassing loss.

“It was just a sh---y performance all the way around,” he said. “From a pitching standpoint to approach at the plate, we didn’t do anything very well tonight.

“We’re playing really bad baseball right now. Really bad baseball,” he said. “There’s no excuse for it. None at all. We all have to look ourselves in the mirror individually and collectively and figure out how to be better. We have to do it right now."

The Phillies are 6-18 in September.

It sure looks like they've quit.

“I don’t believe there’s a man in that room that’s quit,” Kapler said. “I think we can fight harder. I think we can grind harder. I think we can push each other harder.

“I feel like there’s more fight in us. I feel like there’s more energy. There’s more grit. I’ve seen it. I know it’s in there. I believe in these guys. I believe in their ability to bring it out and I believe in their ability to bring it out tomorrow. But that doesn't take away from the fact that we have been playing really, really bad baseball for quite some time. No excuse for it.”

Three games into this four-game series at Coors Field, the Phillies have been outscored, 34-4. It is the first time since 1958 that they have given up at least 10 runs in three straight games.

And to think, this was a first-place team, 15 games over .500, in early August.

The Rockies are thanking the schedule makers for sending the Phillies their way in the final week of the season. The Rockies are in a dogfight with the Dodgers for the NL West title. If the Rockies win the division, they might want to send the compliant Phillies a portion of their postseason shares.

The Phillies are 0-7 on this eight-game trip. It began with four losses in Atlanta and elimination from postseason contention.

The Phils had an 0-8 trip in June of 2015. That ultimately led to manager Ryne Sandberg’s resignation. Kapler isn’t going anywhere (see story).

The Phils’ worst road trip ever was an 0-9 showing in 1883. Only by the grace of the schedule makers will they not equal that mark on this trip.

The Phillies are 78-80 with four games left in the season. They need three wins to finish .500 and avoid a sixth straight losing season.

After Thursday’s game, the Phils open their final homestand of the season Friday night against the NL East champion Braves. It’s likely Jerad Eickhoff will start Friday followed by Aaron Nola on Saturday night.

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Through fog of defeat, Phillies GM Matt Klentak sees progress, says Gabe Kapler will return in 2019

Through fog of defeat, Phillies GM Matt Klentak sees progress, says Gabe Kapler will return in 2019

DENVER — Phillies general manager Matt Klentak used the word “awful” to describe the last six weeks.

“There’s no other way to put it,” he said before Wednesday night’s game. “We’ve played poorly. We’ve lost games. It’s been miserable for just about everybody up and down the organization.”

The Phillies have lost 32 of their last 47 games after Wednesday's lifeless 14-0 loss, which began with eight consecutive strikeouts. They are on their way to making ignominious history. According to baseball writer Jayson Stark’s research, no team had ever been 15 games over .500 as late as 113 games into the season — that’s where the Phillies were on Aug. 7 — and not finished with a winning record.

The Phillies, losers of seven straight games, are headed there. They are 78-80 with four games to play.

In the wake of their historic collapse, Klentak pointed out that the team had made progress. Indeed, the club will finish with a much better record than last year’s mark of 66-96.

Still, he promised changes for next season.

“Significant changes are necessary,” he said. “But I think we all need to fight the narrative that it’s a simple fix. There’s a lot of things we can do and we’re going to address a lot of things.”

He mentioned that changes could come through free-agent signings, trades and by the improvements that some players who have now gone through the ups and downs of a long season will make next year.

There is one area that Klentak will not change: on-field leadership. He said first-year manager Gabe Kapler and the coaching staff would be back next season.

“I think Kap has been consistent throughout the year,” Klentak said. “I think he’s made plenty of adjustments. I think he’s learned a lot. I think he’s grown a lot.

“I think his style of in-game management has been relatively consistent. I think what changed was for four months we were winning and it was scrutinized less. For the last couple months, we’ve been losing and it’s been scrutinized more. I don’t think that’s the first time in baseball history that something like that has played itself out. When you’re losing, people are going to scrutinize more. The whole organization will be.”

Klentak mentioned that the Phillies were not projected to be a powerhouse team when the season opened. They were the youngest team in the majors. They won for four months then things went bad.

“Expectations were fairly modest,” he said. “When we hired Kap, we knew that he is progressive. In my judgment, this was a good year to be progressive and try new things because expectations were modest and we had a lot of young players and a new manager. Some of the things we’ve tried have not worked, some of the things that he’s done and that we’ve done as an organization have worked really well.

“I think this was a good year for us to experiment, try new things, grow forward and we made progress. We didn’t make enough progress to make the playoffs and there was a time in midsummer when it looked like maybe we were and then we didn’t. But I think in order to take this organization where it needs to go we had to have a year like this, where we pushed the envelope.”

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