BlueClaws Quotables: Morandini, Charles & Tromp Reflect on 2013 – Phillies Nation

BlueClaws Quotables: Morandini, Charles & Tromp Reflect on 2013

As the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws wrapped up their regular season with a rain out on Monday, I spoke with manager Mickey Morandini about several of his players’ progress this year.  Additionally, first baseman Art Charles and outfielder Jiandido Tromp shared some thoughts on their 2013 season and what the off-season might hold.  Read ahead for quotes from all three men.

Mickey Morandini:

Off the top, Morandini shared a list of BlueClaws that will be participating in the Florida Instructional League- RHP Zach Cooper, RHP Delvi Francisco, RHP Kevin Walter, RHP Shane Watson, SS J.P. Crawford, 1B Art Charles, OF Larry Greene Jr. and OF Carlos Tocci.

Morandini spoke about which of those players would benefit most from more time on the field with the Phillies’ coaches and minor league staff…

Larry needs to go down there and continue to work on his swing.  Tocci really needs to go down there and get stronger.  I don’t think he needs a lot more games.  He’s pretty tired right now.  And Walter needs to go down there and work on his mechanics a little bit.  He throws across his body a little too much and that impacts some of his off-speed pitches, so he’s gonna work on that.  Mainly, I think Larry needs to go down and iron out the issues with his swing right now.

On the topic of RHP Severino Gonzalez (7-5 record, 2.00 ERA, 119 K’s, 22 walks in 103 2/3 innings combined at three levels), who became a bit of a breakout prospect in the Phils’ system this season…

Yeah, he’s made a name for himself.  There’s no question about it.  You know, he started out in extended spring and he did a couple of appearances in the Florida State League and really took off.  A very smart pitcher, throws four pitches for strikes, a very confident pitcher that’s not afraid to pitch inside.  He’s had a tremendous year, there’s no question about it.

On if Severino could be on the verge of being the type of prospect that fans and media will really buzz about next year…

He’s got a chance.  You know, that’s a long ways away and we don’t know where we’re gonna need starters, so who knows if he’s back in Clearwater or with Reading.  But, as long as he continues to throw strikes and have command like he has- I mean, the key for him is he’s not an overpowering pitcher, but he hides the ball well and he’s sneaky fast.  As long as he can continue to keep command of all his pitches, he’s got a chance to be a pretty darn good one.

On if he feels certain BlueClaws players displayed a considerable amount of progress this season…

I mean, I think Willie Carmona has come a long way.  He was here the last two months last year and overall struggled offensively.  This year, he’s been pretty darn consistent after a slow April.  He really took off and he’s really our best hitter.  Our most consistent.  Got on base at least twice a game after the All-Star break and started driving in runs and doing what we needed him to do in the middle of that order.  So, he had a great year.  I think Art Charles had a great second half.  He had a great August.  Driving the ball, driving in runs, starting to hit the off-speed pitches a little better.  So, those two guys really stepped up for me.

On this year’s first round draft pick J.P. Crawford’s impact (batted .208 in 14 games with Lakewood after sporting a .345 average in 39 games with the Gulf Coast League Phillies) in the system thus far…

He’s had a huge impact on this team.  I think we were maybe ten and five since he got here, or something like that.  He made us a lot more athletic, played excellent defense, he’s got great instincts for a young kid playing shortstop.  Don’t read too much into the average, because he had an impact offensively.  The last three games, he’s bunted a couple times for outs, he’s hit a couple balls hard for outs, so he’s had a good impact here and he’s going to be a very good baseball player. 

On his own personal satisfaction with the season for his players…

You know, we’re not happy with the record, but at this level, it’s more about player development than about wins and losses.  Obviously, we want to win and teach them how to win, but as far as I’m concerned, everyone got better here in some aspect of the game and that’s what we’re here for.  I think we sent eight or nine pitchers to Clearwater.  You know, that’s our goal, is to get these guys up to the next level.  And you look around, Tocci’s a better player than when he first got here.  Walding’s a better player.  Charles is a better player.  Carmona’s a better player.  Even though Larry’s numbers aren’t real good, he’s a better player now than from- being, just being able to play a full year and see what it takes to be a player that plays a full year, he’s better.  So, as far as I’m concerned, it’s been a successful year for us.

On lefty pitcher Yoel Mecias (4-3 record, 3.79 ERA, 70 K’s, 22 walks in 57 innings over 13 games), who was an All-Star with Lakewood this year, then went down with an arm injury and required Tommy John surgery…

I don’t know what the time table is for him to start throwing and things like that, but he just had the surgery, I think, in June.  So, I’m sure he’ll be throwing by spring training.  I don’t know when he’ll be game-ready.  But, Tommy John is a surgery that guys come back from, you know, there’s not too many that don’t come back from it.  

He was progressing real nice here.  He was starting to get a lot of confidence.  He was throwing strikes with all his pitches.  He needs to work a little bit more on his breaking ball and if he can get his breaking ball better, he’s a chance to be real good, especially from the left side. 

Art Charles (batted .251 with 34 doubles, two triples, 11 homers and 72 RBI in 123 games):

On his level of satisfaction with his 2013 season…

I had an okay season.  Obviously, I wanted to do better.  I felt like, as a player, we always want to do better.  If I had hit .300, I’d want to do better, you know?  But, I’m hitting around .250, I definitely wanted to have a better average and have a little bit better power numbers, but it is what it is.  I’ll kind of take it in stride.  I’m going to instructional league and I’ll be working on some new things, so it’s all about development and kind of finishing strong.  I felt like I did well.  I had an okay season.  Definitely wish I’d have done better, though.

On what’s he’ll be working on at instructs…

I’ll be working on stuff with my hitting.  That’s pretty much the biggest thing, just kind of getting a new approach.  Just working on a few different things.  I don’t know exactly what we’re going to do, but it’s going to have to do with hitting.  Stuff that might not be best suited for in-season changes.

On his goals for this off-season…

Definitely want to come back more agile.  More agility.  I want to work on that a lot.  Just strengthening it up, like always.  Better shape as far as, like, body composition and working on that as well.  Just coming back ready for the next full season and to kick it into gear.

On where he feels like he made the most progress this year…

Probably, I mean, I struck out on some off-speed pitches, but I’d say recognizing off-speed pitches better and getting my front foot down and being able to react to those pitches and to drive those pitches, not to just kind of slap them around.  I had a few home runs and doubles off of hanging off-speed pitches and swinging at them, when they’re up and obviously, that’s going to help my development and my progression because those are the kind of pitches that I have to hit.  I’m not always going to get fastballs, being a big guy and being a first baseman. 

Jiandino Tromp (batted .150 in 13 games with Lakewood, after batting .299 with nine doubles, a homer and eight RBI in 33 games for short-season Williamsport):

On his 2013 season…

For me, it was good.  For me, I had a good time in Williamsport and then to come here, it was- I mean, you can’t see it in the numbers, but I felt good at the plate.  I had some good hits.  I had some struggle, but my struggle wasn’t too bad, ’cause I was hitting the ball hard, so that’s what I was looking for.  I got it, I’m going home and I’m going home happy.

On what being recognized as an All-Star in the NY-Penn League meant to him, prior to joining the BlueClaws…

I mean, second year in pro ball, being an All-Star in the New York-Penn League, that’s an honor.  That was really fun.  We had fun and we lost though, but that’s alright. 

On if he’ll be playing in any winter or off-season leagues…

I don’t know yet.  I’ll just, for now, I’ll just go home and see what’s up next. 

On being from Aruba and representing his country…

Aruba’s a nice place.  It’s small though, it’s like 110,000 people.  But, there’s good talents there.  I’m glad to be representing my country and everything.  We just got a big leaguer, right now- Xander Bogaerts.  Yeah, so let’s see who’s the next one.  

I played with him in the (Little) League World Series.  He’s a good guy.  We had a lot of fun together and he’s right there right now waiting for me. 

On what his goals are for the off-season to try to improve himself…

In every aspect.  I mean, speed wise, just keep doing the same thing and try to get better day by day.  Just practice hard.  

I have other players (to work out with) and I will have trainers too, in Aruba.  So, I’ll be good.

Bonus note: Lakewood third baseman Mitch Walding broke a rib on his left side on Sunday when getting up from the couch in the Blueclaws’ clubhouse.  The injury, which was initially diagnosed as a back strain but was actually a stress fracture that resulted in a larger break, had kept the 20-year-old out of action since August 20th.  Walding will still head to the Florida Instructional League later this month and will rehab the injury.  Expected to be sidelined four to six weeks, the Phillies’ 5th round draft selection from 2011 may see some instructs game action over the final week of the schedule.

Walding posted a .224 average with a home run and 42 RBI in 115 games with the BlueClaws this season.



  1. Kenneth Books

    September 3, 2013 at 11:51 am

    Excellent article, but please proofread before you post.

  2. Jay Floyd

    September 3, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    Forgot an S on the end of doubles for Tromp. Anything else…?

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