April 21, 2023
The Phillies might just be settling into a rhythm after a series win on the road against the White Sox and then a return home to face an ever-struggling Rockies franchise – albeit save for a brutal opener.
They're trying to climb back to .500 and still early into the season, and while it's hardly the start anyone expected after a World Series run and a series of splashy offseason moves, they at least appear to be getting there again while a couple of names in particular have been helping them do it.
Here's what they're saying about the Phillies:
As weird as it sounds, after belting almost nothing else but homers through spring training and the World Baseball Classic, Trea Turner finally notched his first four-bagger as a Phillie in Wednesday's series-clinching win over the White Sox.
Took a few weeks, but it's not like anyone was really complaining before that – well, about him at least. Hitting .321 with an .819 OPS and four stolen bases at the top of the order, the $300 million shortstop has been everything as advertised so far, and it isn't lost on the Phillies how lucky they are to have him in the clubhouse:
"I wouldn't even know what goes through a pitcher's mind when he steps up," said [centerfielder Brandon Marsh], who has bragging rights over both Turner and Stott after hitting his third homer of the season in the second inning. "Trea is Trea -- the name speaks for itself. He's a special talent and we're blessed to have him."
But this wasn't exactly a breakout game for Turner.
Sure, he entered the day without a homer, but he was still hitting .303 with a pair of triples and three stolen bases. Plus, Turner hit just one home run in his first 34 games last year on his way to a 21-homer, 100-RBI season for the Dodgers.
Meanwhile, Wednesday's three-hit effort marked Turner's 10th multihit performance in 19 games this season. The only player across the Majors with more multihit efforts is fellow one-homer-club member Stott, who recorded his 12th multihit effort in the series-clinching victory. [MLB.com]
As last year went on, it became clear, especially in the postseason, that Bryson Stott goes into every plate appearance expecting to take a lot of pitches.
While it didn't necessarily translate at first, his numbers did steadily climb up as 2022 went on. This year, he's been off to the races with a .365 batting average and an .854 OPS through 19 games, which now includes time in the leadoff spot.
Patience is a virtue, especially with Turner and Kyle Schwarber behind him in the order.
When he's at the plate, “I’m not in a rush,” he told The Inquirer's Alex Coffey:
Stott did not expect to be batting leadoff again in 2023. It seemed like it would be either Trea Turner or Schwarber. But on April 10, Stott saw his name penciled in at the top of the lineup. He texted hitting coach Kevin Long: “We’re back.”
Stott was joking, but it did feel, in a way, like he was returning to a familiar place. He’s batted leadoff for most of his life. He did it throughout high school, college, and the minor leagues. But of course, the big leagues are an entirely different challenge, and he has tried to adjust his approach knowing that Turner and Schwarber are hitting behind him.
“I know Trea likes to swing, and I know Schwarber likes to swing, so I want to see as many pitches as I can so they can see as many pitches as they can,” Stott said. “So when they do swing at that first one, they know pretty much exactly what to look for.
“You want those guys swinging, especially if the first one is a get-me-over strike. The more pitches I see, the more pitches they see, and the more comfortable they are swinging at the first pitch.” [The Inquirer, $]
The Phillies are built to win now, but behind the scenes, their director of player development Preston Mattingly has been working to build the future with a heavy emphasis on the club's academy in the Dominican Republic.
The organization was already dedicating resources there, but when Mattingly took the job, he noticed that prospects were coming over physically unprepared. The process needed to be reworked. There needed to be a more seamless transition for prospects making the jump from the Dominican to Clearwater, so in came an overhaul.
Via Matt Gelb in an expansive Q&A with Mattingly:
There is no dodging it: The Phillies have work to do to create a more fertile farm system. In Mattingly’s eyes, it has to begin at the bottom with the youngest players, and that is why the Phillies have allocated more resources to the complexes in Florida and the Dominican Republic.
“You don’t get many shots at acquiring young players,” Mattingly said. “I think once we sign these guys internationally, I want them to come into our system and for it to be a seamless transition from the Dominican to the States. So we’re trying to really mimic everything we have going on in Clearwater, (Fla.), here in the Dominican.
“We really beefed up the staff. I think we’ve poured a lot of resources — whether it’s the gym or offseason training camps. We value these kids very highly, and we want to show them that with the resources we’re pouring into them.”
That might result in incremental progress now, but with domestic minor-league rosters capped at 180 players — and perhaps 165 players as soon as next year — the Phillies feel it’s essential. Before, organizations could bring international players to America and have time to work with them at the complex without putting them on a roster.
The new rules accentuate the work at the Dominican academy. [The Athletic, $]
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