The Phillies ‘AA’ level minor league club, the Reading Fightin' Phils, have bolted out to a first place lead in the Eastern Division of the Eastern League.
The Fightin' Phils are 29-14, on a four game winning streak which has them 2.5 games up on the Hartford Yard Goats farm team of the Colorado Rockies organization.
This is the 50th anniversary of the Phillies relationship with the city of Reading, Pennsylvania, and the franchise is celebrating all year long with various events and giveaway items.
The timing couldn't be better for the fans pouring into FirstEnergy Stadium. The Fightin' Phils have a talented ball club with some exciting prospects.
Manager Dusty Wathan's squad just suffered a personnel loss, the type which minor league affiliate clubs are all too familiar with.
The Phillies top prospect, shortstop J.P. Crawford, began his season with Reading. Crawford was hitting .265 with a .398 on-base percentage, 23 runs scored, and five stolen bases when he was promoted over the weekend to the AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs.
Remaining at Reading to lead the offense are a trio of interesting hitters, the best of whom is catcher Jorge Alfaro.
The soon-to-be 23-year old Alfaro got off to a torrid start, but then missed a few weeks early on with an oblique injury. Since returning a couple of weeks ago he has continued to rake.
Over at TBOH we ranked Alfaro as the Phillies #6 prospect back in the preseason. He is hitting for a .348/.366/.517 slash line with seven doubles and 19 RBI in just 89 at-bats.
Right fielder Dylan Cozens will turn 22 years of age next week, and is having a true breakout season. He currently carries a .277/.350/.560 slash line, leads the club with 11 homers and 33 RBI, and is tied for the team lead with 29 runs scored.
23-year old 1st baseman Rhys Hoskins is hitting for a .272 average, seven home runs, and 26 RBI as he tries to show that he can be a legitimate piece of the Phillies rebuilding future plans.
Center field belongs to Roman Quinn, whocame into the season as one of my personal favorite Phillies prospects. He possesses legitimately game-changing speed, and the thought of him roaming center at Citizens Bank Park and atop the Phils' batting order had me salivating.
Quinn is hitting .255 with a .343 on-base percentage, and is tied for the team lead with 29 runs scored. His 19 stolen bases make him the club's biggest baserunning threat by a wide margin.
A new element with the Fightin' Phils, at least for a short time, will be rehabbing Phillies player Cody Asche, who just moved up after beginning his season with High-A Lakewood.
Big right-hander Ben Lively has been the leader of the Reading pitching staff. In his second season with the Phillies organization after coming over in trade from the Cincinnati Reds for Marlon Byrd.
Lively has been the Eastern League Pitcher of the Week, and was named to Baseball America's April All-Prospect Team. The 24-year old is 7-0 with a 1.87 ERA. He has allowed just 35 hits over 53 innings, with a 49/15 K:BB ratio.
Nick Pivetta is a 23-year old right-hander who came to the Phillies last year in the Jonathan Papelbon trade, and is really starting to come on strong.
Pivetta is 4-2 and has allowed just 36 hits over 44 innings with a 44/15 K:BB ratio. Over his last three starts, Pivetta has been white hot, winning all three with a 1.47 ERA and 20 strikeouts.
Anthony Vasquez is 6-2 with a 1.82 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP. The 29-year old veteran has appeared in seven big league games, all back in 2011 with the Seattle Mariners.
Ricardo Pinto has allowed 43 hits over 45.1 innings with a 25/13 K:BB ratio. At 22 years of age, Pinto is highly considered by some in the organization, and is an arm to watch as the season moves along.
Severino Gonzalez is a 23-year old who made seven starts for the Phillies a year ago. He is being used exclusively out of the bullpen now, and has allowed nine hits in 10.2 innings with a 9/2 K:BB.
Another intriguing arm at Reading is 24-year old left-hander Tom Windle, who was another favorite of mine entering the season.
Windle came to the organization along with Zach Eflin in the Jimmy Rollins deal with the Dodgers back in the summer of 2014. The southpaw is struggling, however, having allowed 21 hits over 14 innings with a 16/6 K:BB.
FirstEnergy Stadium is located about 75-80 miles northwest of Philadelphia, and is about an hour and a half ride out I-76, just off PA Route 12. It is a gorgeous ballpark, and well worth the trip to watch some talented future Phillies perform.