Finally, after a long and dark winter of discontent, the 2010 baseball season is here. While I still enjoy other sports, baseball is my first love and my obsession some might say. But today, the pain is finally over. Its the second official day of Spring Training for the Phillies...at least for pitchers & catchers. Despite this, a good number of other position players are already in camp and working out (some since January actually). Howard has been there a few weeks, Utley and Polanco reported early. Utley always reports early and Polanco (who typically doesnt) came a full week early to take extra reps at 3B.
On the pitchers/catchers side of the house, Ruiz, Contreras & Moyer were the last 3 to report in at camp and all 3 showed up on the 17th.
10 Guys To Watch In Camp:
1. Cole Hamels - He supposedly worked on his curveball and will be working on it all spring training. He's also working on a slider so it should be interesting to see how hard he gets hammered the first couple of Grapefruit League starts as he uses them in game action.
2. J.A. Happ - Happ is working on a 2 seamer/sinker to compliment his current arsenal of various fastball iterations. He threw primarily 4 seamers and cutters last year to go with his slider and change. That should give him a different look and with his height, it could be a very effective pitch if he perfects it.
3. Placido Polanco - How well will he transition to fielding 3B again? He is a great fielder and he has the arm strength so it shouldn't be too rough of a transition. Should be fun the first couple times he gets a screamer down the line though.
4. Brad Lidge - If and when he's healthy again, it should be interesting to see where his velocity/control is at for his fastball as well as his pickoff move (something that was non-existent in 2009). He's about 2 weeks behind the other pitchers in camp for readiness. Odds are he won't be ready for Opening Day.
5. Antonio Bastardo - Antonio had an absolutely fantastic winter and fall. He pitched lights out in the Dominican League (equivalent of AA/AAA competition) and he's been fully converted to a relief role. He was able to sit 93-95 as a reliever at Reading last year and he was typically low 90s (89-91) as a starter at the MLB level. It will also be interesting to see where his changeup and slider were at. His change was supposedly his best pitch as a minor-leagure but he never really got comfortable using it in the Majors. Going into April, he'll likely be the only LH pitcher in the bullpen.
6. Scott Mathieson - Scott is coming back from his 2nd TJ surgery and might finally be healthy. He was regularly hitting 97mph in the Arizona Fall League and was pretty unhittable in limited action last year in the minors. He could be a sleeper to make the team out of the bullpen if Moyer, Lidge and Romero all aren't ready by Opening Day.
7. Phillippe Aumont - He got a Major League invite so we'll get at least a couple weeks of him against MLB hitters. While he's at least a full year or so away, this will be a good benchmark to see where he's at as a prospect.
8. John Mayberry Jr - Barring injury, he'll start the year in Lehigh. However, he had a strong winter in the Mexican League where he was sent to work on hitting breaking balls. He batted over .300 there so hopefully he can build on that success. He's not really a prospect anymore as he's into his Age 27 season but he might end up as a decent platoon OF. I wouldn't be stunned if he is traded after a strong Spring. Between Ben Francisco and Dewayne Wise, he's pretty unneccessary and he might be a decent bargaining chip to pick up another pitcher.
9. Dom Brown - He's our last elite prospect. While he'll start the year in Reading, he's not that far away when its all said and done. His only chance of seeing the Majors will be as a Sept callup but it will be good to see how he does against advanced pitching. He hasn't had a breakout year yet but he's always been young for his league in the minors. Still, he's got the making of an All-Star RF.
10. Kyle Kendrick - This is it for Kyle. This will be his last chance to be an MLB pitcher. If he can't beat out a hobbled 47 year old Jamie Moyer and AAA retreads like Drew Carpenter and Ryan Vogelsong for the 5th starter position, I see no point in keeping him around. Hopefully he builds on his strong Sept last year and shows us something worth keeping.