After several years of dealing with a barren farm system, the Phillies have slowly been able to restock the lower ranks with some talent with plenty of upside. Pitchers Adam Morgan and Shane Watson are among those giving Phillies fans something to look forward to as the duo ranked sixth- and eighth-best in the organization, respectively, according to MLB.com.
But the Phillies got a double-dose of bad news yesterday, as MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reported:
[Morgan] suffered a left shoulder injury [in May], which ultimately required surgery this month. Phillies assistant general manager Benny Looper said Morgan might not be back until August, at the earliest. Fellow prospect Shane Watson is scheduled to have right shoulder surgery shortly. He also is expected to be out until August.
Morgan was selected by the Phillies in the third round of the 2011 draft. He has been solid in three seasons in the organization, but suffered a shoulder injury in mid-May last season, sidelining him for two months. Doctors prescribed rest rather than undergoing surgery immediately. The Phillies put him on a pitch count. While the results were decent following his return (2.67 ERA in eight Triple-A starts), his strikeout and walk rates were worse (20-14 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 30 1/3 innings) and he was giving up hits at a much higher rate as well (.347 BABIP). Morgan will turn 24 years old at the end of February.
Watson, a 20-year-old taken in the first round of the 2012 draft, made just 16 starts in what would have been his first full season in professional baseball. With Single-A Lakewood, Watson posted a 4.75 ERA in 72 innings. Following a start on July 4, Watson was given time off due to shoulder fatigue, but was eventually shut down for the season in August. Like Morgan, doctors prescribed rest rather than a surgical procedure. In both cases, the rest seemed to only delay the inevitable.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.
Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.
With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.