Day 8: Wednesday, March 20, 2019
As mentioned in my last post, there wasn’t much to write about on Day 7 of my trip. Day 7 was rained out, in effect. Because I couldn’t see the camp day at the Blue Jays’ facility, I was going to see the A-ball club facing the Canadian Junior National Team in St. Petersburg but that got cancelled because of the rain and there was my day’s worth of baseball.
Wednesday, Day 8, I woke up, packed and checked out of my Airbnb. Then I drove down further south in Clearwater, closer to the Phillies’ complex. I reached out to the Blue Jays to find out who was scheduled to pitch in the games that day and was very pleasantly surprised to read the names Nate Pearson, Patrick Murphy, Jacob Waguespack and Maximo Castillo. It would be my first time seeing Waguespack and my first time seeing Pearson, Murphy and Castillo since last year.
Because the Phillies were playing that day at home, there was a ton of traffic around their facility because their minor league facility shares a parking lot with the big league stadium. So I parked well away and walked over to the complex. I ran into Andrew Case, who I hadn’t seen at all this year, so we had a nice chat, catching up a bit. He’s adjusting to fatherhood and I’m hoping to see him pitch in Buffalo fairly soon.
I noticed Cal Stevenson was playing and I hadn’t seen him at all until Wednesday but I just missed his first at bat (he was leading off) but when I did come around the corner to be able to see what was going on at that particular diamond, he was standing on second base, so he must have done something right.
After the inning ended, it was the Nate Show. Scouts, writers (including J.J. Cooper from Baseball America), fans and Phillies pitchers were gathered around radar guns in order to watch Big Nate light them up. He wasn’t in mid-season form but I did see at least one 99. But he was impressive, and if you’re a Premium Content subscriber, you’ll be able to read my scouting report in a few days. Bouncing back and forth to watch Patrick Murphy on the other diamond, it was a joy to watch as Murphy carved up the Phillies’ hitters in his own way, hitting 96 mph on the radar gun. I commented to J.J. Cooper that I think Murphy is shortchanged on many Top Prospect lists and he said that the Murphy that we were seeing, with plus velocity and three offspeed pitches that he could throw for strikes, wasn’t around two years ago and it takes writers and scouts some time to come around to the new reality of Patrick Murphy. Well, Premium Content subscribers will get to read me rave some more when I get that report up.
I enjoyed seeing Waguespack and Castillo, but the buzz in the air definitely cooled down a bit once Murphy and Pearson were out of the game. Chad Spanberger made an impression as I watched him drop the barrel on a fastball down in the zone to drive it out of the park. Baseball Betsy was there and she said that she was surprised that the home run ball didn’t set off any alarms in the parking lot and that she hadn’t seen a ball go that far in a long time. We also talked about Cullen Large and how he isn’t (large) but he plays like it.
After leaving the park, it was time to write up a few things for the blog as well as edit the photos for the day. Then I filled up the rental car, drove to the airport, returned the car and waited for my flight.
And thus was my 2019 trip to spring training. It wasn’t the best physically, and I certainly didn’t get to see everyone that I was hoping to. But it’s still baseball in March and I get to see way more players than I would otherwise.
Stay tuned to Blue Jays from Away for the best coverage of the Blue Jays’ minor leagues and we expect to have more major league coverage in 2019.
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