A week ago at this time, I was sitting on my high horse and looking for big things out of my Philadelphia Phillies. I was looking forward to watching the Phillies win more and more games – the future looked bright, my optimism was shining. Alas, here we are now with my optimism completely diminished, and in all honesty, watching the Phillies go on yet another losing streak, especially one sparked by the Mets and the ROCKIES, has almost completely destroyed my phaith. So, in a time of poor faith and no conviction, I cannot bring myself to write about the woes in Philadelphia.
So, in positivity, and in promise, I will turn from Philadelphia for a day, and I will turn to the small town of Reading, Pennsylvania where our Boys of Summer are spouting rays of light in a time of severe overcast.
While standings may not be exactly everything for minor league teams as managers are always looking to improve their players for the next level, the Reading Fightin Phils, the clubs Double-A affiliate, gives us Phillies fans some relief from Philadelphia’s fifth place position as the Reading Phils currently sit in second place in the division while they sit at third in the entire league with a record of 27-22.
But, as I said, records are not everything in minor league ball, in minor league baseball we focus more on the players, and in our case, that is very exciting for us Phillies fans. The Fightin Phils of Reading’s record is not out of mere luck, it is due to the skill level and the skill-sets which the Phillies’ minor league system possesses, both in the batter’s box and on the mound. It is only right to acknowledge the top contributors in Reading who can give us some hope in the doldrums of Philadelphia.
To start with, we will take a look at those who have been hot at the plate as they have been leading the way offensively for the Reading Fightin Phils.
Roman Quinn is a 22 year old Centerfielder for the Fightin Phils. Quinn was drafted straight out of high school in the 2011 MLB Draft. According to MLB Pipeline, Quinn is the Phillies number four prospect in the organization, and he is showing off why he is ranked so highly so far this season. In Reading, Roman Quinn is batting .310 with six doubles, 3 homeruns, and 12 RBI’s. However, with Quinn’s apparent ability to hit for power every once in a while, his strong suit and what he is prized for, is more in his legs. Along with the aforementioned statistics, Quinn has 24 stolen bases, and five triples. Both of these statistics are league leading.
J.P. Crawford is a 20 year old Shortstop for the Fightin Phils. Although Crawford was just recently called up to Reading, it would be wrong not to mention him due to the impact that he will have in Reading for the remainder of the year. Crawford was drafted in the first round in 2013 straight out of high school, and he is ranked as the Phillies’ number one prospect. Crawford was expected to start in Reading this year, but due to injury, he began in Clearwater. In Clearwater, Crawford was batting a league high .392. So, with J.P. Crawford’s potential, and his play in Clearwater to back it up, it is only inevitable that he will prove to be an asset in Reading.
Brock Stassi is a 25 year old First Basemen and Second Baseman in Reading. Although Stassi is not listed as a top prospect in the Phillies’ organization, Stassi has been a leading force on the FIghtin Phils’ roster. With a batting average sitting at .340 with 12 doubles, 6 homeruns, and 40 RBIs, Stassi is a very difficult batter to pitch to as he can hit for power when necessary but he can hit for average as well. This is evident not only through looking at his statistics, but it is evident in a grander scale as he sits at third in the league in batting average, first in the league in RBIs, and twelfth in the league in longballs hit.
While the hitters are definitely something be excited about in Reading, one can easily make an argument by stating that the pitching in Reading is even more exciting and promising for us in Philadelphia.
Aaron Nola, a 21 year old starting pitcher from LSU, is at the helm of the pitching staff in Reading. Drafted in the first round of the 2014 draft, Nola is the second highest ranked prospect in the Phillies’ system, and Nola has been making noise in his first year in Reading. Aaron Nola has a team low ERA of only 1.81 which puts him within the five lowest ERAs in the league. With such a low ERA, Nola obviously positions himself for wins which has made him accumulate the second most wins in the league, six. But, wait, there’s more. Nola not only wins games and does not allow runs, he also strikes batters out. With a strong arsenal of pitches, he has struck out 50 batters which is the fourth most strikeouts in the league. As a mature pitcher, Phillies’ fans should not have to wait long to see Nola on the mound in Philadelphia.
Zach Eflin is a 21 year old starting pitcher for the Fightin Phils. Eflin was drafted in the 2012 MLB Draft straight out of high school by the San Diego Padres. Eflin was traded to the Phillies organization in the deal with Jimmy Rollins before the start of the 2015 season. Eflin has made immediate impact in Reading and has therefore found himself sitting in the position of being the Phillies’ number five prospect. So far this season, he has an ERA of 3.48, the lowest it has been in his minor league career. With that, Eflin also has a WHIP of 1.12, again the lowest it has been in his minor league career.
Jesse Biddle is 23 year old starting pitcher in Reading. Biddle, a Philadelphia native who was drafted out of Germantown Friends School in 2010, is the Phillies’ number nine prospect. Biddle has had quite the roller coaster ride so far in his minor league career. However, it seems that he has finally settled down both physically and mentally. While his ERA is still hovering around the 4.50 mark as it was last season, the visible improvements which he has made since last season are evident in the win column. Biddle has been able to throw strikes and stay composed on the mound more than he has before which has led to him winning more games. Jesse Biddle’s record to start the season is 4-1, only one win away from mounting the same number of wins that he had all of last season. So, for that reason alone, Biddle seems to be proving his potential.
These players stationed in Reading are not only the driving force behind a winning team but they are also the driving force for the future of the Philadelphia Phillies. Therefore, if you are like I, and you cannot bear to watch the Phillies at this point in time, be sure to tune into a Reading Fightin Phils games which is sure to give you some entertainment.