BY DON SCOTT
The Reading Phillies will be well-armed when they start the 2012 season with a first-ever season opening doubleheader against the Portland SeaDogs.
One of Reading’s big pluses is that first-year manager Dusty Wathan has been around, not only several of these pitchers, but a few of the position players as well.
“For the most part coming up through the organization the last couple years I’ve had most, if not all of them, at some point,” Wathan said recently. “That means we’ve already had that feeling-out period so right away we have a trust factor. We have a lot of top prospects in pitching and they are that for a reason, so hopefully we can put them in the best situations possible to let them have success this year.”
Four of Philadelphia’s top minor-league 10 prospects are on the roster to start the year including pitchers Trevor May, Jonathan Pettibone and Julio Rodriguez.
“Double-A ball is the biggest jump a player can make because the funnel gets smaller, because you have guys who have been in the big leagues and have had that experience,” Wathan admitted. “In the lower levels you don’t have guys with that kind of experience, then when you get to Triple-A you have players that are still hanging on. But at this level you have some hard throwers, and especially for hitters it can be a big change.”
May is the top prospect who pitched in the Florida State League All-Star Game last year and picked up the win.
“Trevor has done a tremendous job of learning to pitch down in the zone after having been pitching up and once he realized he could have success pitching down we added a sinker and that’s really helped him keep his pitch count down,” said Wathan.
The number three prospect, who will be on the receiving end of the hurlers, is catcher Sebastian Valle.
“It will also be his first year at this level but the good thing is he has come up with this group of pitchers and is comfortable with them,” Wathan said. “He has developed his defense tremendously in the last couple years and his offense will be fine, so if can continue to separate the offense from the defense I think we’ll have a successful season.”
“His work ethic is tremendous,” Wathan continued. “His game calling is probably the last thing to come, but it is coming. The physical attributes come easier than the mental part of the game which comes with seasoning.
“With so many top prospects it means they should be good so we’ll put them in the best situations and hopefully they can do on the field what it says on paper.”
Philadelphia’s ninth-ranked prospect, Jiwan James, will be patrolling the outfield along with Leandro Castro, Tyson Gillies and returners Mike Spidale and Stephen Susdorf.
The infield spots will be manned by Miguel Abreu, Harold Garcia, Troy Hanzawa, Cesar Hernandez, Tug Hulett, Tim Kennelly and Darin Ruff. Garcia, Hanzawa and Kennelly spent time in Reading last summer.
In addition to the previously mentioned hurlers, pitching coach Bob Milacki will also work with newcomers David Buchanan, Jay Johnson and Juan Morillo. Guys who spent some time in Reading last year include Tyson Brummett, Chance Chapman, Michael Cisco, Tyler Cloyd, Justin Friend, Jordan Ellis, Chris Kissock, J.C. Ramirez and B.J. Rosenberg.