Thursday, March 31, 2016

2016 Topps Opening Day #OD-88 Odubel Herrera

Phillies 8Astros 4
Spring Training Game 28 - Wednesday Afternoon, March 30th in Clearwater
Record - 15-10-3

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies stunned the Astros with an eight-run eighth inning to win their final Florida spring training game, 8-4.

What It Means:  The Phillies will play three more exhibition games up north before opening the regular season on Monday afternoon in Cincinnati.  Top prospects from throughout the entire Phillies organization will take on the big club on Thursday night in Reading and on Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia.  In between those games, the Orioles will visit Citizens Bank Park on Friday night.

What Happened:  Andres Blanco's grand slam was the big blow in the eighth.  But the play that everyone was talking about was the Phillies' third successfully executed suicide squeeze by Cesar Hernandez to score Will Venable.  It appears as if small ball and the running game will be heavily relied upon by the 2016 Phillies.

Featured Card:  Play ball!  I'm at a loss to come up with any meaningful card connected to this game, so let's just go with Odubel Herrera's Opening Day card.  I'm ready to go.

Camp Head Count:  36

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

2016 Topps #330 Edward Mujica

Yankees at Phillies
Rained Out - Tuesday Afternoon, March 29th in Clearwater
Record - 14-10-3

What It Means:  Brett Oberholtzer is probably fine with this game being washed out.  When the rain started falling after the fourth inning, Oberholtzer had already allowed seven runs.

Camp Head Count:  39 - 3 = 36 - The biggest roster move of the day was the release of Edward Mujica.  The veteran pitcher had an out clause in his minor league deal that gave him the right to be released (within 48 hours) if he wasn't added to the team's opening day roster by Sunday.  He pitched well this spring (2.16 ERA , 7 games, 8 1/3 innings, 7 strikeouts) but the Phillies apparently like their other bullpen options better.  It would appear as if the final two bullpen spots will be claimed by two of these four ptichers:  Andrew Bailey, Ernesto Frieri, Hector Neris and James Russell.  Neris could be the odd man out as he still has a minor league option remaining.

Outfielder David Lough and infielder Ryan Jackson were also reassigned to minor league camp.

Featured Card:  I'm going to hold off on posting Mujica's Chachi Almost card at this point, as there's a small chance he could resign with the Phillies and end up back with the club at some point this season.  Instead, here's his card from Topps Series One.

And if you're curious . . . I've added a preliminary 2016 Chachi checklist here.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

2015 Topps Update #US258 Vincent Velasquez

Blue Jays 2Phillies 1
Spring Training Game 27 - Monday Afternoon, March 28th in Dunedin
Record - 14-10-3

One Sentence Summary:  A flurry of roster moves was way more exciting than the 2-1 loss to the Blue Jays.

What It Means:  After a hot start to their spring, the Phillies are coming back down to Earth. They're 3-6-1 in their last 10 games.

What Happened:  Vince Velasquez had an impressive outing, allowing just two hits and striking out eight over six innings.  Dalier Hinojosa entered the eighth with a one-run lead and allowed a two-run home run to Darrell Ceciliani.  The Phillies only run came courtesy of Darin Ruf's seventh home run of the spring.

Featured Cards:  Velasquez cards are scarce in my collection, and I had to borrow this card from my son Doug's 2015 Topps Update set.  This is the young right-hander's first flagship Topps card.

Camp Head Count:  47 - 9 + 1 = 39 - The hammer dropped on nine players prior to this game and then a new name was added to the outfield mix.  Pitchers Adam Morgan, Elvis Araujo and Luis Garcia along with outfielder Darnell Sweeney were all optioned to Lehigh Valley.  All had spent time with the Phillies in 2015, and the demotion of Morgan was perhaps the biggest shock.  By many accounts, Morgan had been one of the club's most effective pitchers this spring but ultimately the fifth starter's job went to newcomer Velasquez.

Non-roster invitees Logan Moore (c), Angelys Nina (inf), Reinier Roibal (rhp), Chris Leroux (rhp) and Bobby LaFromboise (lhp) were all reassigned to minor league camp.

2015 Topps Heritage #546
Following the game, the Phillies announced the signing of outfielder Will Venable to a minor league contract.  Venable had been recently released by the Indians, and he split 2015 between the Padres and the Rangers.  One of the Padres primary outfielders since 2008, Venable's best season came in 2013 when he hit .268 with 22 home runs and 53 RBIs.

Here's the (most likely) final listing of the team's 2016 non-roster invitees.

Player (position) - 2015 Organization - Last Major Baseball Card Appearance
1.  James Russell (lhp) - Cubs - 2015 Topps #255 (Braves)
2.  Emmanuel Burriss (inf) - Nationals - 2010 Topps Update #US-82 (Giants)
3.  Ryan Jackson (inf) - Royals/Angels - 2013 Panini Prizm #238 (Cardinals)
4.  Frank Herrmann (rhp) - Angels/Pirates - 2010 Topps Update #US-89 (Indians)
5.  Chris Leroux (rhp) - Brewers/Phillies - 2013 Panini Select #205 (Pirates)
6.  Reinier Roibal (rhp) - Phillies - N/A
7.  J.P. Arencibia (c) - Orioles/Rays - 2014 Topps #627 (Rangers)
8.  Greg Burke (rhp) - Blue Jays - 2009 Bowman Chrome #103 (Padres)
9.  Ernesto Frieri (rhp) - Rays - 2014 Topps #240 (Angels)
10.  Gregory Infante (rhp) - Blue Jays - 2011 Topps Allen & Ginter #84 (White Sox)
11.  Angelys Nina (inf) - Rockies - 2012 Bowman Prospects #BP45 (Rockies)
12.  Andrew Bailey (rhp) - Yankees - 2013 Topps Heritage #344 (Red Sox)
13.  Edward Mujica (rhp) - Red Sox/Athletics - 2015 Topps #131 (Red Sox)
14.  Cedric Hunter (of) - Braves - 2011 Topps #554 (Padres)
15.  Mark Appel (rhp) - Astros - 2015 Topps Heritage Minor Leagues #219 (Astros)
16.  J.P. Crawford (ss) - Phillies - 2015 Topps Heritage Minor Leagues #208 (Phillies)
17.  Zach Eflin (rhp) - Phillies - 2014 Topps Pro Debut #184 (Padres)
18.  Andrew Knapp (c) - Phillies - 2014 Topps Heritage Minor Leagues #146 (Phillies)
19.  Gabriel Lino (c) - Phillies - 2012 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BCP199 (Phillies)
20.  Logan Moore (c) - Phillies - 2011 Bowman Draft Chrome Prospects #BDPP44 (Phillies)
21.  Brock Stassi (1b) - Phillies - N/A
22.  Jake Thompson (rhp) - Rangers/Phillies - 2015 Topps Heritage Minor Leagues #129 (Rangers)
23.  Nick Williams (of) - Rangers/Phillies - 2015 Topps Heritage Minor Leagues #175 (Rangers)
24.  David Lough (of) - Orioles - 2015 Topps #290 (Orioles)
25.  Yoervis Medina (rhp) - Mariners/Cubs - 2014 Topps Update #US265 (Mariners)
26.  Bobby LaFromboise (lhp) - Pirates - N/A
27.  Will Venable (of) - Padres/Rangers - 2015 Topps Heritage #546 (Padres)

Monday, March 28, 2016

2013 Topps Update #US107 Andrew Bailey

Red Sox 5Phillies 1
Spring Training Game 26 - Sunday Afternoon, March 27th in Fort Myers
Record - 14-9-3

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies dropped their Easter matinee 5-1, as pitcher Jared Eickhoff was knocked around by the Red Sox.

What It Means:  Eickhoff was making just his second spring start and he surrendered 11 hits and five runs in his five innings of work.

What Happened:  Maikel Franco should have had his ninth home run of the spring, but his hit bounced off a fan back into the outfield and was ruled a double.  After a slow start to his spring, Odubel Herrera had three hits in this game to raise his spring average to .424.

Featured Card:  Reliever Andrew Bailey faced his former team, pitching a perfect eighth inning for the Phillies.  Although no official announcement has been made, it appears as if Bailey, a non-roster invitee, has the inside track to be named the club's closer for the start of the season.

Shoulder injuries have hampered Bailey the past few years, and he's been limited to just 59 games with the Red Sox and Yankees since the start of the 2012 season.  An All-Star with the A's in 2009 and 2010, Bailey is one of many intriguing story lines for the Phils as they approach the start of the 2016 season.

Camp Head Count:  47

Sunday, March 27, 2016

2016 Topps Heritage #107 Jeanmar Gomez

Tigers 6Phillies 5
Spring Training Game 25 - Saturday Afternoon, March 26th in Clearwater
Record - 14-8-3

One Sentence Summary:  Nine different relief pitchers took the mound for the Phillies in this 6-5 loss to the Tigers.

What It Means:  With several bullpen spots still up for grabs, the Phillies used a different reliever every inning in what amounted to one of the final auditions of the spring.

What Happened:  Four relievers had perfect outings - Jeanmar Gomez, Elvis Araujo, Dalier Hinojosa and Ernesto Frieri.  Luis Garcia and Chris Leroux didn't do themselves any favors with shaky outings.  Garcia allowed a home run and two other hits.  Leroux was saddled with the loss after allowing two runs on two hits and a walk in the ninth.

Featured Card:  I'll go with a card for Gomez, since honestly I probably won't have another opportunity to feature the low-key middle reliever at any other point this season.  Gomez appeared in both team issued photo card sets last season, but this is first mainstream baseball card appearance with the Phillies.

Camp Head Count:  47

Happy Easter!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

2014 Phillies Team Issue 2 #45 Pete Mackanin

Phillies 4Blue Jays 4
Spring Training Game 24 - Friday Night, March 25th in Clearwater
Record - 14-7-3

One Sentence Summary:  Home runs from Maikel Franco and Peter Bourjos weren't enough to give the Phillies the win as they ended regulation tied with the Blue Jays.

What It Means:  The Grapefuit League season is winding down and the Phillies will find themselves traveling north in less than a week.

What Happened:  Jeremy Hellickson worked in and out of trouble through a shaky outing, allowing two runs on four hits (and three walks) in 4 2/3 innings.  Franco's home run was his league leading 8th of the spring.

Featured Card:  Prior to the game, the Phillies called a press conference to announce that Pete Mackanin's contract had been re-worked to guarantee him two years with the club.  The deal includes a club option for the 2018 season.

I'm very happy for Mackanin, and I think it's a good move to solidify his standing with the club to give him some more clout in the clubhouse.  It's still crazy to think that this time last year, Mackanin was the team's third base coach as Ryne Sandberg began the season at the helm.  With Sandberg's abrupt departure in June, Mackanin found himself first as the interim manager, then as the actual manager through at least 2016, and now as the actual manager through at least 2017.

Hopefully this is the start of another Charlie Manuel era, and not the start of another Terry Francona (or Sandberg) era.

Camp Head Count:  47

Thursday, March 24, 2016

2016 Topps Heritage #225 Ken Giles

Astros 2Phillies 1
Spring Training Game 23 - Wednesday Night, March 23rd in Kissimmee
Record - 14-7-2

One Sentence Summary:  For seemingly the first time this spring, the bats went quiet and the Astros defeated the Phillies, 2-1.

What It Means:  The loss marked the first time the Phillies have lost back to back games.  That's pretty impressive.

What Happened:  The offense managed just two hits against the Astros.  Charlie Morton pitched well, striking out five and allowing four hits in his 5 1/3 innings of work.  Both runs allowed by Morton were unearned due to a costly Darin Ruf error.

Featured Card:  Ken Giles pitched a perfect ninth for the Astros for his first save of the spring. Giles recently appeared on his first Astros card within the Topps Heritage set.

Camp Head Count:  48 - 1 = 47 - Catcher Gabriel Lino was reassigned to minor league camp before this game.  Lino went 0 for 10 in seven spring games, and an extra catcher was no longer needed in camp due to Carlos Ruiz's return from playing for Panama in  the World Baseball Classic qualifier tournament.

1947-1952 Baseball Player Charms - Del Ennis

Fellow collector Eric Mace (@erocmace) recently alerted me to a oddball Del Ennis item for sale on eBay.  I checked it out, negotiated a little with the seller and the item arrived a few weeks ago.  My Dad's favorite players were Ennis and Dick Sisler, and I'm gradually putting together a comprehensive collection of both player's Phillies cards and related collectibles.

I had never seen this particular Ennis item before, and I was honestly a little surprised when I initially took it out of its mailing envelope.  It's small.  It's very, very small.  I hadn't read the item's description closely in the seller's original listing, where it clearly indicates that the "charm/pin/coin" is about 3/4" x 1 1/4".  I guess I was expecting something the size of a vintage Bowman card or maybe something no bigger than a 1951 Topps Red Back card.  So that you can appreciate the smallness of this charm/pin/coin, I've pictured it here on top of Ryan Howard's 2016 Topps card.

So what is this?

The Standard Catalog of Vintage Baseball Cards actually has a listing for the set from which I believe this charm/pin/coin to be from.  Ennis appears to be the only Phillies player in the "set" and I've included the set's listing from the Catalog below.  There's no mention of the set in the online Beckett database.

Even though it's smaller than anticipated, I'm still happy to have this oddball Ennis item in my collection.  Thanks again Eric for the head's up!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

2016 Topps Heritage #173 Jerad Eickhoff & Colton Murray

Twins 7Phillies 5
Spring Training Game 22 - Tuesday Afternoon, March 22nd in Clearwater
Record - 14-6-2

One Sentence Summary:  Jared Eickhoff pitched well in his first spring start as the Phillies fell to the Twins, 7-5

What It Means:  Eickhoff injured his thumb in an early spring bunting drill.  Despite missing time due to the injury, the team seems confident that he'll be ready for opening day.

What Happened:  Eickhoff allowed three runs on four hits in four innings.  He also struck out seven, thanks in part to an extremely effective curve ball.  Closer candidate Andrew Bailey allowed four soft hits and surrendered three runs.

Third baseman Angelys Nina had two errors, but he also executed a perfect suicide squeeze in the sixth to score Emmanuel Burriss.

Featured Card:  I mentioned this card in yesterday's post, and I figured I'd feature it today given Eickhoff's solid start.  The young pitcher's first two Phillies cards can be found in Topps Series One and Topps Heritage.

Camp Head Count:  49 - 1 = 48 - Continuing the pattern of at least one to two demotions per day, the Phillies optioned pitcher Severino Gonzalez to Lehigh Valley prior to this game.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

2016 Donruss #37 Aaron Nola

Phillies 4Tigers 3
Spring Training Game 21 - Monday Afternoon, March 21st in Lakeland
Record - 14-5-2

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies won again behind Aaron Nola's strong pitching and a two-run home run from Cedric Hunter.

What It Means:  It appears as if Hunter could make this team as a fifth outfielder.  He's hit .302 this spring with three home runs and the final outfield roster spot seems to be coming down to between him and David Lough.

What Happened:  Nola allowed a run on three hits in his six innings of work.  Along with Hunter's two-run blast, Maikel Franco and Tyler Goeddel also drove in runs.

Featured Card:  Still no Hunter baseball cards in my collection, so here's another newish card of Nola.  There's a whole lot going on within the base design of the regular 2016 Donruss cards, and I prefer the subdued (by comparison) design of this Rated Rookie subset card.

I still can't bring myself to refer to these as "2016 Panini Donruss" cards.  To me, they're just good old Donruss.

Camp Head Count:  50 - 1 = 49 - Reliever Colton Murray was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Vallery prior to this game.  Murray appeared in eight games last season with the Phillies, and he recently received his first Phillies baseball card - a multi-player card in Topps Heritage that he shares with Jerad Eickhoff.

Monday, March 21, 2016

2016 Topps Heritage #129 Cesar Hernandez

Phillies 5Astros 4
Spring Training Game 20 - Sunday Afternoon, March 20th in Clearwater
Record - 13-5-2

One Sentence Summary:  Jeremy Hellickson and Cesar Hernandez starred in the Phillies 5-4 win over the Astros.

What It Means:  Sure, it's just spring training, but it's a whole lot more fun to write these game summary posts following a win than it is following a loss.

What Happened:  Hernandez hit a lead-off home run in the first, singled home Cedric Hunter in the fifth and doubled home David Lough in the seventh.  He also scored the eventual winning run on Freddy Galvis' sac bunt.  Hellickson pitched five scoreless, no-hit innings, walking three and striking out six.

Astros reliever Ken Giles made his first appearance against his former team, allowing two runs on three hits but also striking out two.

Featured Card:  I'm giving Hernandez the card here since I suspect/hope Hellickson will be starring in more games this season than the current starting second baseman.  Hernandez has appeared in the Phillies team issued sets since 2013 but this is first mainstream, non-minor league baseball card.  It's strange that Topps would list Hernandez's position as shortstop on this card.  In 2015, he appeared in 88 games at second base (including 75 starts), 10 games at third base and just 12 games at short.

Camp Head Count:  50

Sunday, March 20, 2016

2015 Grandstand Reading Fightin Phils #28 Brock Stassi

Phillies at Blue Jays
Rained Out - Saturday Afternoon, March 19th in Dunedin
Record - 12-5-2

One Sentence Summary:  Rain washed out the Phillies-Blue Jays match up scheduled to be played in Dunedin on Saturday.

Camp Head Count:  52 - 2 = 50 - I might be mistaken, but I don't remember the Phillies ever culling down their spring training rosters in the dribs and drabs method they seem to be using this year.  In what seems like a daily occurrence now, two or three players at a time are removed from consideration for the opening day roster.  It seems like the cuts came in large swaths in prior years, with groups of 10 at a time getting their demotions together.

Yesterday, it was first baseman Brock Stassi getting reassigned to minor league camp and Taylor Featherston being optioned to Lehigh Valley, to cut the camp head count down to an even 50.  In reality, that number is actual 48 since both Matt Harrison and Aaron Altherr aren't in camp due to injuries.

Featherston saw quite a lot of playing time, appearing in 12 games and hitting .100 (2 for 20) with six strikeouts.  He's also leading the club with three spring errors.  Prospect Stassi hit .240 (6 for 25) in 13 games.  He was the Eastern League's MVP last year after hitting .300 with 15 home runs and 90 RBIs.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

2016 Topps Stickers #267 Ryan Howard

Phillies 15Pirates 12
Spring Training Game 19 - Friday Afternoon, March 18th in Clearwater
Record - 12-5-2

One Sentence Summary:  Led by a three-run home run from Maikel Franco and a grand slam from Ryan Howard, the offense exploded for a 15-12 win against the Pirates.

What It Means:  Franco's hot spring continued with his 7th home run, and he's now driven in 17 runs.  No one else has hit more than four home runs and his RBI total is four more than the next closest player.

What Happened:  Peter Bourjos and Cameron Rupp also homered, and Rupp's home run was one of his three hits.  The bullpen almost coughed up the lead, with both Severino Gonzalez and Dalier Hinojosa having rough outings.

Featured Card:  Howard had a three-hit game, including his fifth inning grand slam.  After a slow start, his average has crept up to a respectable .276.  While neither of my sons has shown any interest (yet) in the latest Topps Stickers album, I did manage to add a 2016 Topps Stickers Phillies team set to my collection.

Camp Head Count:  55 - 3 = 52 - Prior to the game, two of the franchise's top catching prospects were removed from the active roster as Andrew Knapp was reassigned to minor league camp and Jorge Alfaro was optioned to Reading.

Following the game, pitcher Jimmy Cordero was also optioned to Reading.  Cordero saw his first and last game action against the Pirates on Friday.  He allowed a run on two hits in 2/3 of an inning.

Friday, March 18, 2016

1980 Burger King Phillies #20 Tug McGraw

Rays 6Phillies 1
Spring Training Game 18 - Thursday Afternoon, March 17th in Clearwater
Record - 11-5-2

One Sentence Summary:  Vince Velasquez pitched five strong innings, but a rough bullpen outing from Elvis Araujo contributed to the 6-1 Rays win.

What It Means:  The Phillies donned their green jerseys and hats in their annual St. Patrick's Day celebration.  For a look at St. Patrick's Day from prior years, please click the links below under the Memory Lane heading.

What Happened:  Velasquez fanned seven in his five innings of work, allowing three hits including a lead-off home run to Logan Forsythe.  Ryan Howard hit his first home run of the spring for the Phillies sole run.  Araujo lasted 2/3 of an inning, surrendering two homes and allowing three runs overall.  Emmanuel Burriss had two hits and a stolen base.

Featured Card:  It just feels right to post a classic Tug McGraw card in the St. Patrick's Day game summary.

Camp Head Count:  55

Memory Lane
2010 - Mike Schmidt and the entire 1986 team go green.
2011 - Chase Utley models the green jerseys worn during Spring Training 2006.
2012 - A smiling card of Tugger and Roy Halladay models a green jersey.
2013 - Irish Mike Ryan's 1972 Topps card and Freddy Galvis in green.
2015 - David Buchanan started the game last year.  This year, here's already in minor league camp.

Velasquez throws a pitch in the first

Thursday, March 17, 2016

2016 Topps Heritage vs. 1967 Topps Phillies

1967 Topps #290
2016 Topps Heritage #290
I almost decided to skip this little exercise this year once I figured out that Topps has all but abandoned the practice of matching up cards from their Heritage set to a logical counterpart to the original set being referenced.  I still want to go back and perform this analysis for the early years of Topps Heritage, as it seems that the company at one point actually tried to match up cards.

In recent years, they've gone away from this practice and this year's Topps Heritage set has only a few logical matches.  As I've done in the past, the table below matches up this year's Topps Heritage Phillies cards to their counterparts from the original 1967 Topps set.

Aaron Nola and Ryan Howard share their card numbers with Terry Fox and Bill White respectively. The league leaders cards match up and Topps did a nice job replicating the Phillies-themed Hurlers Beware combo card.  It's probably just dumb luck that card #359 in both sets belongs to the Phillies. Other than that, there's no real correlation.

1967 Topps #309
2016 Topps Heritage #309
Other Heritage Random Thoughts:
  • As a few other baseball card bloggers have pointed out, what happened to the little dot between the player's name and position at the top of the Heritage cards?  If you're going to pay tribute to your own design, at least be accurate.
  • The set features Jeremy Hellickson's first Phillies card.
  • Notable Phillies omissions from the set include manager Pete Mackanin, pitcher Adam Morgan, catcher Cameron Rupp and outfielder Cody Asche.
  • I'm fine with Aaron Harang and Jeff Francoeur being included in the Phillies team set as these cards could serve as final tribute cards to both veterans.  But why did we have to get a card of Domonic Brown?  The Phillies cut ties with him back on October 26th, two and half months before Ken Giles was traded to the Astros and Giles appears Photoshopped into an Astros uniform in the Heritage set.
Memory Lane
2012 Topps Heritage vs. 1963 Topps Phillies - 25 Hits
2013 Topps Heritage vs. 1964 Topps Phillies - 11 Hits
2015 Topps Heritage vs. 1966 Topps Phillies - 7 Hits
2016 Topps Heritage vs. 1967 Topps Phillies - 7 Hits

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

2016 Topps #133 Aaron Nola

Phillies 5Rays 2
Spring Training Game 17 - Tuesday Afternoon, March 15th in Clearwater
Record - 11-4-2

One Sentence Summary:  Key hits from Andres Blanco and Darnell Sweeney helped the Phillies come from behind with four runs in the eighth inning to win their 11th game of the spring.

What It Means:  Let's start the season!

What Happened:  Cesar Hernandez had two more hits in this game and Cedric Hunter hit his second home run.  Aaron Nola gave up two runs on six hits in his 4 2/3 innings of work.  He also struck out five.

Featured Card:  Nola enjoyed his best outing of the spring.  Coincidentally, if he continues to pitch every fifth day, he's on track to start opening day on April 4th against the Reds.  This card marks Nola's first appearance in a Topps flagship set.

Camp Head Count:  57 - 2 = 55 - Two potential starting rotation candidates were sent packing on Tuesday morning as Alec Asher and David Buchanan were both optioned to the IronPigs.  The fifth spot in the starting pitching rotation is going to go to Adam Morgan, Brett Oberholtzer or Vince Velasquez.  Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Jeremy Hellickson and Charlie Morton have the first four spots locked down.

2013 Bowman Chrome
Prospects #BCP186
Uniform Number Update:  Readers of this blog, all three or four of you, may recall I posted last week that Aaron Altherr had switched his uniform number to #9.  Reviewing the team's online roster last night, it appears as if he's now back to #23.  So never mind.

And I'm not sure what I find this so intriguing, but the Phillies have updated their online roster page with the names and numbers of those minor leaguers who get invited to accompany the big team on any given day.  Here's the updated list, which includes some additions from last week's list:

#86 Nick Fanti - lhp
#87 Jose Mayorga - c (new)
#88 Andrew Amaro - inf
#88 Greg Brodzinski - c (new)
#88 Andrew Pullin - of
#89 Hoby Milner - lhp (new)
#89 Yacksel Rios - rhp
#89 Joely Rodriguz - lhp
2014 Bowman Chrome
Prospects #BCP86
#89 Jesmuel Valentin - 2b
#89 Anthony Vasquez - lhp (new)
#90 Alexis Rivero - rhp (new)
#90 Ken Roberts - lhp
#91 Brendon Hayden - inf
#92 Edgar Cabral - c
#92 Brian Pointer - of (new)
#92 Tom Windle - lhp
#93 Dylan Cozens - of (new)
#95 Tommy Joseph - 1b
#95 Ben Lively - rhp
#95 Ryan O'Sullivan - rhp (was originally #92)
#96 Angelo Mora - inf (new)
#98 KC Serna - inf (new)
#99 Cam Perkins - of (new)

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

2015 Topps Gypsy Queen Autographs #GQA-MF Maikel Franco

Orioles 8Phillies 7
Spring Training Game 16 - Monday Afternoon, March 14th in Sarasota
Record - 10-4-2

One Sentence Summary:  Maikel Franco hit two more home runs in an 8-7 loss to the Orioles.

What It Means:  Franco now has six home runs and 14 RBIs this spring, which is the most in the Majors.

What Happened:  Tyler Goeddel also homered and walked twice, raising his spring average to .273 (9 for 33).  Cedric Hunter added three singles.

Alec Asher allowed four runs in his three innings of work.  Rule 5 draft pick Daniel Stumpf allowed the Orioles to come from behind for the win, scoring three times in the eighth inning.

Featured Card:  I recently felt the need to fill several holes in my Franco baseball card collection, raiding the COMC inventory for some of his recent cards.  I was happy to add this certified auto card to my 2015 Phillies binder and it represents the second Franco auto in my collection.

Camp Head Count:  61 - 4 = 57 - Prior to this game, the Phillies reassigned J.P. Crawford and Nick Williams to minor league camp and optioned outfielder Roman Quinn and pitcher Edubray Ramos to Double-A Reading.  Crawford, Williams and Quinn are considered three of the top prospects in the Phillies system and (like the other top prospects with the Phils) we'll be seeing them sooner rather than later.

Monday, March 14, 2016

2012 Topps Heritage Minor Leagues #128 Adam Morgan

Phillies 3Yankees 0
Spring Training Game 15 - Sunday Afternoon, March 13th in Tampa
Record - 10-3-2

One Sentence Summary:  Adam Morgan continued to make his case for a rotation spot, throwing four shutout innings against the Yankees in a 3-0 victory.

What It Means:  It was just another Phillies spring win.  Hopefully they're saving some wins for April too.

What Happened:  Cesar Hernandez and Ryan Howard both drove in runs in support of Morgan's efforts.  Brett Oberholtzer relieved Morgan and threw three scoreless frames of his own.

Featured Card:  I don't like to repeat the use of Phillies cards on this here blog, but Morgan is forcing my hand.  He was clearly the star of this game, but I've previously featured all 10 of his cards that I currently have in my collection.  This 1963 Topps-inspired card was first featured back in January 2013 when Morgan, Cody Asche and Justin Friend were added to the list of 2013 non-roster invitees.

Camp Head Count:  61

Sunday, March 13, 2016

2015 Topps Stickers #202 Phillie Phanatic

Phillies 8Blue Jays 5
Spring Training Game 14 - Saturday Afternoon, March 12th in Clearwater
Record - 9-3-2

One Sentence Summary:  David Lough, J.P. Arencibia and Nick Williams homered in the latest Phillies win over the Blue Jays.

What It Means:  The Phillies haven't lost a spring training game since last Sunday and they're 7-0-1 in their last eight games.  That's pretty good.

What Happened:  Starting pitcher Vince Velasquez pitched four innings, allowing two runs on four hits.  Odubel Herrera had two more hits to raise his spring average to .391.  Arencibia also doubled in the eighth but had to leave the game with an apparent leg injury.

Featured Card:  Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista and the Phillie Phanatic staged an impromptu pre-game fitness contest that can be witnessed here.

Camp Head Count:  63 - 2 = 61 - Before the game, non-roster invitee pitchers Greg Burke and Gregory Infante were reassigned to minor league camp.  In 3 2/3 innings over three games, Burke allowed five hits and two walks and had compiled an ERA of 9.82.  Infante's ERA of 7.20 was slightly better than Burke's.  Infante appeared in four games, pitching five innings allowing eight hits and three walks.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

2016 Phillies Want List

2016 Topps Heritage #359
Chrome Prospect Autographs - CPA-JO Ortiz
Paper Prospect Autographs - PA-RP Pinto

Bowman's Best
Best of 2016 Autographs - B16-MM Moniak
First Impressions Autographs - FIA-MM Moniak

Bowman Chrome
Base Chrome - 67 Herrera

Bowman Draft
Chrome Draft Pick Autographs - CDA-MM Moniak
Top of the Class Box Toppers - TOC-MM Moniak/99

Bowman Platinum
Top Prospects - TP-JC Crawford SP, TP-SK Kingery

Back to the Future Materials - 22 Utley
Bat Kings Relics - 3 Franco
Signature Series - 9 Nola, 49 Franco
Significant Signatures - 4 Carlton

Donruss Optic
Rated Rookie Signatures - 1 Nola
Studio Signatures - 13 Franco

Base Set - 103 Nola SP

Stadium Club
Variations - 295 Nola

Topps Series One and Series Two
Photo Variations - 133 Nola
Scouting Report Autographs - SRA-AN Nola
Team Logo Pin Relic - TLP-AN Nola

Topps Allen & Ginter
Mini Exclusive - 380 Franco SP

Topps Archives
Fan Favorites Autographs - FFA-AN Nola

Topps Archives 65th Anniversary Edition
Rookie Base Variation - A65R-AN Nola

Topps Bunt
Moon Shots - MS-17 Howard/50

Topps Gold Label
Framed Autographs - GLFA-AN Nola, GLFA-JE Eickhoff, GLFA-MF Franco

Topps Heritage
Throwback Variation - 473 Franco SSP
1967 U.S. Postage Stamp Relics - 67USPSR-JB Bunning
Real One Autographs - ROA-AN Nola, ROA-DCL Clemens, ROA-JB Brandt

Topps Opening Day
Autographs - ODA-AN Nola

Reading Fightin Phils 50 Greatest Players
#1 Manor Golf Club - Starts with Juan Samuel - NEED
#2 Berks and Exeter Pediatrics - Starts with John Vukovich - HAVE
#3 Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology - Starts with Bob Boone - HAVE
#4 University of Valley Forge - Starts with Dallas Green - NEED
#5 Computer Wizards - Starts with Larry Bowa - HAVE
#6 Miller-Keystone Blood Center - Starts with Greg Luzinski - HAVE
#7 Carl's Cards & Collectibles - Starts with Ryne Sandberg - HAVE
#8 Lancaster Bible College - Starts with Robin Roberts - NEED
#9 Klick Financial Services - Starts with Mike Schmidt - HAVE

2015 Topps Archives #45 Ryan Howard

Phillies 9Braves 2
Spring Training Game 13 - Friday Afternoon, March 11th in Lake Buena Vista
Record - 8-3-2

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies went to Disney World and teed off against former teammate Kyle Kendrick, defeating the Braves 9-2.

What It Means:  In an achievement that will be quickly forgotten once the regular season starts, the Phillies are one of only three teams in baseball with eight wins so far this spring.  The Astros have also won eight while the Blue Jays have won nine.

What Happened:  Kendrick, who is a long-shot to make the Braves rotation, retired only 5 of the 16 batters he faced.  Darin Ruf led the way with two doubles off Kendrick, while Ryan Howard and Peter Bourjos both added doubles of their own.

Reliever Bobby LaFromboise threw two more scoreless innings.  He hasn't allowed a hit or a run in his six innings so far this spring and he's making a strong case for a job in the team's bullpen.

Featured Card:  Howard's two-run double in the first was his first hit of the spring, and the former slugger is now hitting .083 (1 for 12).  Howard had missed time this spring due to the flu bug that continues to spread through the Phillies clubhouse.  There weren't a whole lot of opportunities last season to feature many of Howard's cards, and this is his 1957 Topps-inspired card from last year's Topps Archives set.

Camp Head Count:  63

Friday, March 11, 2016

2015 Topps Chrome Future Stars #FSC-11 Maikel Franco

Phillies 6Tigers 6
Spring Training Game 12 - Thursday Afternoon, March 10th in Clearwater
Record - 7-3-2

One Sentence Summary:  Maikel Franco hit two more home runs while Aaron Nola struggled in a 6-6 tie with the Tigers.

What It Means:  I'll try not to be too concerned over Nola's spring so far, but his 11.57 ERA in 4 2/3 innings pitched is ugly.  He did strike out four in his outing yesterday, so that's certainly a positive.

What Happened:  The Tigers touched closer candidate Ernesto Frieri for two runs in the top of the ninth to take the lead but Ryan Jackson homered in the bottom of the ninth to tie up the game.

Featured Card:  Franco and Nola will probably lead the way for the Phillies in terms of appearances on baseball cards this season.  Here's a card of Franco's issued late in 2015 that didn't have a chance to be featured in a 2015 game summary post.

Camp Head Count:  66 - 3 = 63 - The first cuts of the spring came yesterday, with pitching prospects Zach Eflin, Jake Thompson and Mark Appel all being reassigned to minor league camp.  I really hope to see each of these guys pitching in Philadelphia at some point this season.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

2014 Panini Prizm #180 Cameron Rupp

Phillies 8Orioles 4
Spring Training Game 10 - Wednesday Afternoon, March 9th in Clearwater

Phillies 4Twins 2
Spring Training Game 11 - Wednesday Afternoon, March 9th in Fort Myers
Record - 7-3-1

One Sentence Summary:  In split squads, Darin Ruf and Cameron Rupp both hit two home runs as the Phillies won both their games.

What It Means:  I don't think the Phillies have had this good a record in spring training in recent years.  I'm not sure if I should be cautiously hopeful or irrationally optimistic at this point.  I'm leaning towards being irrationally optimistic.

What Happened:  Ruf has three home runs in a span of five at-bats between Tuesday and yesterday.  In the game against the Twins, top prospects Zach Eflin, Jake Thompson and Mark Appel combined to allow one run over eight innings while striking out six.

Featured Card:  Rupp is certainly making his case to be the team's opening day catcher.  His two home runs raised his spring average to an even .500 (5 for 10).  Hopefully his status in 2016 earns him his first Topps flagship card.  Rupp appeared in quite a few Panini sets in 2014, and his only two 2015 baseball cards can be found in the Phillies team issued sets.

Camp Head Count:  66

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

2013 Topps Finest Rookie Autographs Refractors #RA-DR Darin Ruf

Phillies 4Pirates 2
Spring Training Game 9 - Tuesday Afternoon, March 8th in Clearwater
Record - 5-3-1

One Sentence Summary:  Darin Ruf and Cesar Hernandez led the way in a 4-2 win over the Pirates

What It Means:  The Phillies have a nice little three-game winning streak going.  I also wish my work schedule would let up slightly so that I could listen/watch some of these spring games.

What Happened:  Ruf hit a two-run home run in the first inning and Hernandez added a two-run triple in the second.  Adam Morgan pitched very well, allowing just a hit in three scoreless innings of work.

Featured Card:  With all the starting pitching depth added by the Phillies over the past two seasons via trades, Morgan has become somewhat of a forgotten man.  He started 15 games last season, going 5-7 with a 4.48 ERA.  He's still in the mix for one of the final openings in the starting rotation, but it seems as if the pitcher is destined to start the year back with the IronPigs.

He's been somewhat of a forgotten man in the world of baseball cards too.  His only 2015 baseball cards can be found in the 2015 IronPigs team sets.  In fact, I've previously posted every Morgan baseball card in my collection . . . so here's a card of Ruf instead.  (I had already finished my write-up on Morgan when I realized I had no new cards of his to post.)

Camp Head Count:  66 - The Phillies have apparently lost Aaron Altherr for most of the season with a torn tendon in his wrist.  Altherr was pencilled in to be the team's every day right fielder, and his injury opens the door for Cody Asche and Rule 5 pick Tyler Goeddel.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

2016 Topps Heritage #377 Andres Blanco

Phillies 1Pirates 0
Spring Training Game 8 - Monday Afternoon, March 7th in Bradenton
Record - 4-3-1

One Sentence Summary:  In his first game action of the spring, Andres Blanco went 2 for 3 and knocked in the game's lone run.

What It Means:  It's early, but the Phillies have looked good in exhibition action so far this spring.

What Happened:  Five Phillies pitchers allowed eight hits and no Pirates runs in this game.  Vincent Velasquez went the first three innings and Brett Oberholtzer followed him with three scoreless frames of his own.

Featured Card:  This is Blanco's second mainstream Phillies baseball card, as he also appeared in the 2015 Topps Update set.  Blanco and Jeff Francoeur were credited with serving as the veteran presence in the clubhouse last season, providing some much needed leadership and advice for the youngsters.  Francoeur is back with the Braves this spring and only time will tell if Blanco makes the club or if the Phillies go with a prospect as an infield bench option.

Camp Head Count:  66

Monday, March 7, 2016

2013 Bowman Chrome Draft Picks Prospects #BDPP17 Andrew Knapp

Phillies 6Yankees 5
Spring Training Game 7 - Sunday Afternoon, March 6th in Clearwater
Record - 3-3-1

One Sentence Summary:  The offense exploded for six runs in the sixth inning, capped by Andrew Knapp's three-run home run.

What It Means:  This was the first full game I was able to sit and enjoy on TV.

What Happened:  Charlie Morton pitched into the third inning, allowing a run on one hit while striking out two.  He retired the first six batters he faced.

Featured Card:  Knapp's blast raised his spring average to .571 (4 for 7) and I have to imagine he'll play with the Phillies at some point this season.  This is the first mainstream card of Knapp's in my collection, from the 2013 Bowman Draft Picks set.

Camp Head Count:  66 - We're still at 66, although it's worth noting the 9 players who have yet to see game action this spring.  Pitcher Matt Harrison isn't even in Florida as he continues to be plagued by back issues.  Cody Asche and Andres Blanco have been hampered by nagging injuries although neither is expected to miss significant time.  Other pitchers who have yet to appear in any games are:  Jimmy Cordero, Jerad Eickhoff (broke his thumb in a bunting drill), Frank Herrmann, Mario Hollands, Michael Mariot and Yoervis Medina.

Uniform Number Update:  Outfielder Aaron Altherr headed back to Philadelphia yesterday to have his ailing wrist checked by a hand specialist. Apparently, Altherr has changed his uniform number again and he's now wearing #9.  (He has been #40 last season and had worn #23 for the first few weeks of spring training.)  Coach John McLaren, who had been wearing #9, will need a new number.  (Perhaps #23?)

2015 Choice Lehigh Valley
IronPigs #24
The Phillies also added 13 more players to their roster, going so far as to add these players to their website's roster page along with numbers in the 80s and 90s.  Ken Roberts is the only player listed below to have previously played for the Phillies.  I guess these guys are non-non-roster players?  And how confusing is it that there are three different players walking around with #89?

#86 Nick Fanti - lhp
#88 Andrew Amaro - inf
#88 Andrew Pullin - of
#89 Yacksel Rios - rhp
#89 Joely Rodriguz - lhp
#89 Jesmuel Valentin - 2b
#90 Ken Roberts - lhp
#91 Brendon Hayden - inf
#92 Edgar Cabral - c
#92 Ryan O'Sullivan - rhp
#92 Tom Windle - lhp
#95 Tommy Joseph - 1b
#95 Ben Lively - rhp

Sunday, March 6, 2016

2015 Phillies Team Issue 2 #5 Steve Henderson

Blue Jays 9Phillies 6
Spring Training Game 6 - Saturday Afternoon, March 5th in Dunedin
Record - 2-3-1

One Sentence Summary:  Aaron Nola got hit hard in his first spring start as the Blue Jays downed the Phillies, 9-6.

What It Means:  Nola and Jeremy Helickson seem to be the front runners to get the opening day nod from manager Pete Mackanin.  There's still a lot of spring training left to determine which of the two starters comes out on top.

What Happened:  Nola gave up two first inning home runs, allowing four runs total in his two innings of work.  Taylor Featherston homered for the Phillies.

Featured Card:  The "Hendu Flu" is making its way through the Phillies clubhouse as several players and coaches have been sent home sick over the last few days.  By all accounts, hitting coach Steve Henderson is patient zero, hence the designation of the wide-spread illness as the Hendu Flu.

Camp Head Count:  66

Saturday, March 5, 2016

2016 Topps Heritage #473 Maikel Franco

Phillies 12Braves 11
Spring Training Game 5 - Friday Afternoon, March 4th in Clearwater
Record - 2-2-1

One Sentence Summary:  Cedric Hunter hit a walk-off three-run home run to give the Phillies an impressive 12-11 win over the Braves.

What It Means:  While we spent the day covered in more wet snow, it was nice to watch a ballgame on TV from sunny Clearwater.

What Happened:  Maikel Franco hit a home for the second day in a row and drove in four runs in this game.  In total, the offense pounded out 13 hits including two a piece from Franco, Brock Stassi, Ryan Jackson and Cameron Rupp.

Aaron Altherr had to leave the game after the first inning.  He injured his wrist trying to make a diving play on the first hit of the game by Ender Inciarte.

Featured Card:  I had planned to postpone featuring Franco's new Topps Heritage card in favor of a Hunter card, before I realized that I had already featured the one Hunter card in my collection.

My wife graciously stopped by Target on her way home yesterday and found a blaster box of the new cards for us.  This Franco card was the first Phillie from the packs I opened.  (Doug's first Phillie was Freddy Galvis and Ben has already claimed the Ben Revere card we found in one of the packs.)  I'll have more on the Phillies in the 2016 Topps Heritage set and how they compare to the Phillies in the original 1967 Topps set in a future post.

Camp Head Count:  66 - We're probably a week or so away from the first wave of roster cuts.  Looking back on last year's posts, the first roster moves came on March 16th.

Friday, March 4, 2016

2015 Grandstand Reading Fightin Phils Top Prospects #4 Roman Quinn

Astros 3Phillies 2
Spring Training Game 3 - Thursday Afternoon, March 3rd in Clearwater

Phillies 13Yankees 4
Spring Training Game 4 - Thursday Afternoon, March 3rd in Tampa
Record - 1-2-1

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies split their squad, winning against the Yankees in Tampa and losing to the Astros in Clearwater.

What It Means:  The focus this spring (as it should be) is on the up and coming Phillies prospects. All afternoon, any mention of these games on social media was in reference to something relating to a prospect and not an established veteran.

What Happened:  Jake Thompson made his first spring start and pitched a solid two innings against the Astros.  He suffered from some bad defense behind him and allowed an unearned run in his outing.

In Tampa, Roman Quinn and J.P. Crawford went 3 for 10 with four runs scored at the top of the line-up and Darin Ruf knocked in three runs.  Quinn and Maikel Franco hit their first spring home runs.  Mark Appel had a shaky spring debut, walking four and and allowing a run in two innings of work.

Featured Card:  Quinn's speed was also on display with his sixth inning triple.  He started showing up in various Bowman and Topps releases in 2013, and this is his card from the 1953 Topps-inspired Fightin Phils Top Prospects set from last season.  I'm hoping the Double-A team produces a similar set this year.

Camp Head Count:  66

Thursday, March 3, 2016

2011 Topps Pro Debut #16 Aaron Altherr

Phillies 4Blue Jays 4
Spring Training Game 2 - Wednesday Afternoon, March 2nd in Dunedin
Record - 0-1-1

One Sentence Summary:  Aaron Altherr hit a monster home run in a game with the Blue Jays that eventually ended in a tie.

What It Means:  I enjoyed the first five innings of the radio broadcast of this game as I was making the long drive back from Reading (for work) yesterday.  How I've missed sunshine and baseball on the radio.

What Happened:  Altherr's bomb came in the fourth inning, and Phillies radio announcer Scott Franzke was genuinely amazed at how far the blast traveled.  Peter Bourjos tripled and Andrew Knapp doubled in the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth.  The Blue Jays tied the game in the bottom of the ninth on a Reinier Roibal wild pitch.

Featured Card:  Franzke mentioned that the Phillies are cautiously optimistic about Altherr's power potential.  He should see plenty of playing time in the outfield this season, which should improve his chances of finally appearing on a Topps card.  His sole Topps-ish card to date can be found in the 2011 Topps Pro Debut set.

Camp Head Count:  66

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

2016 Chachi Alumni Insert Set

Browsing through the various team pictures from this spring's annual photo day, I decided to make a limited edition Chachi Alumni insert set.  I'm not yet sure if these will be inserted into 2016 Chachi factory sets or perhaps they'll find their way into retail only blaster boxes.  While we ponder their means of distribution, please enjoy the full set (for now).

2016 Chachi Alumni #1
2016 Chachi Alumni #2
2016 Chachi Alumni #3
2016 Chachi Alumni #4
2016 Chachi Alumni #5
2016 Chachi Alumni #6
2016 Chachi Alumni #7