Here we are, already more than a third of the way through the baseball season. The Phillies just never seemed to be able to get things started without Utley and Howard. Opening Day was disappointing, to say the least, almost boring. And now they’ve dug themselves into such a deep hole that it’s hard to imagine them digging their way out of it. I really feel bad for Carlos Ruiz, with the year he’s having.
But the Reading Phillies, they got off to the best start in the history of the franchise. They won their first five games before losing one by a run. They’re still hanging tough too. As I write this, they’re tied for second in the Eastern League Southern Division, just a game out of first place.
There are several individual players having great seasons for the R-Phils. First baseman Darin Ruf is batting .327 with 10 homers; shortstop Miguel Abreu is batting .326 with 4 homers, and second baseman Ceser Hernandez is hitting .314 and has 10 stolen bases. Phillies top rated prospect, Trevor May, has had a few spectacular games, but he’s also been roughed up a few times. Closer Justin friend has an 0.43 ERA and 12 saves. The defense has made some spectacular plays too.
A few have already moved on. Tyler Cloyd started the year in Reading and after a 3-0 start was promoted to Lehigh Valley and is now a combined 9-1 with a 2.04 ERA. Mike Spidale started another year in Reading and is now batting .325 at Triple A. B.J. Rosenberg was a combined 2-0 with a 1.57 ERA after 16 games between Reading and Lehigh Valley and has been promoted to the big league club.
The R-Phils front office staff is also off to another great start. I don’t know of anywhere else that you can get so much entertainment for your dollar. I often thought the old “drag team” was just a little strange, when it was a bunch of guys running around the base path dressed as girls, but I do have to admit, it was often quite entertaining. I really like the new “Red, White, and Blue Guy” costumes that the “base draggers” are wearing for some of the games!
VIST Financial Plaza has been such a great addition to the stadium too! I know of people who never leave the Plaza to actually watch the game. The R-Phils employees do a great job of making sure you’re comfortable and having a good time – not to mention well fed! And it doesn’t get much better than Phunland for the kids!
But the best part of going to the Reading Phillies this year is seeing how well these guys play as a team. They’re usually pretty exciting to watch; they’re leading the league with a .282 batting average, 19 points better than anyone else. They seem to be pretty well disciplined and sincere about playing to win. I’m guessing that new Manager Dusty Wathan has something to do with that. Last weekend, Jiwan James, a tremendous athlete, hit an Inside-the-Park home run, just a few days after being pulled from a game for not hustling. Baseball doesn’t get much more intense than that. Or so you’d think… the following day, utility man Tim Kennelly, in just his second day batting leadoff – for the first time in his seven year professional career – blasted a leadoff home run to start the game, then ended it with a walk off homer on the first pitch in the bottom of the ninth!
If you want to see some good baseball this weekend, the R-Phils take on the Western Division leading Akron Aeros for a five game home stand. It’s should be pretty exciting, Reading’s league leading batting against Akron’s league leading pitching (2.73 ERA). I think the R-Phils are out to prove that good pitching doesn’t always beat good hitting.