Phillies director of player development Joe Jordan took time today prior to opening night in Williamsport to chat on the phone about the team’s developmental system, providing injury updates on several players including right-hander Jimmy Cordero, Triple-A Starter Mark Appel and last year’s first round draft selection Cornelius Randolph. Jordan also spoke about short-season Class A Williamsport getting their season underway, Matt Imhof‘s change of roles with Clearwater, today’s roster moves and plenty more. Read ahead for that full interview.
-The first guy I wanted to ask about was injured reliever Jimmy Cordero (biceps issue). Any updates on him?
Yeah, he’s making progress. We’ve taken a real slow process to get him ready, so he’s throwing again, but he’s somewhat early still in his throwing progression. You know, we’re hoping that by the middle of July he’s ready. He feels good, but we’ve taken a slow go at trying to get him strong and get him back to throwing. But he is throwing now and we just need to get him ready.
-How about Cornelius Randolph (shoulder strain)? Seemed like last I heard from Lakewood manager Shawn Williams he was approaching maybe a return late this month. Any hopes for that still?
Well, I think it’s gonna be maybe a little beyond that, but somewhere in that area. He’s just had a real nagging muscle strain in the middle of his back, behind– I think it’s his right shoulder blade, somewhere back there– and we’ve tried to amp him up a couple of times and we’ve met some resistance. It flared up again. But I think we’re ahead of it now. He started swinging a bat. He started to do a lot more activity than we’ve had him into in the past. Hopefully, he won’t have a setback and we’ll have him on the field in the next couple of weeks.
-Mark Appel was off to a hot start and then had an issue with his throwing shoulder. Is he making progress?
I mean his target– we’re looking about the middle of July. Mark’s fine. I mean he’s playing catch. He’s getting lengthened out. Um, but we just gotta take a step back and let his arm calm down a little bit. He’s actually good. He’s feeling no pain whatsoever and out target I think at the latest is July 15th. You know, if things go a little better than that, it’ll be a little sooner.
-Righty Matt Imhof went from Clearwater’s starting rotation to their bullpen. Any comments on the change of roles for him?
Yeah, I mean overall Matt was struggling mightily. He was having a hard time throwing strikes, which is, you know, it’s just amazing what happens sometimes with these guys, but they just get to fighting themselves and I think that’s what he was doing. His last outing was probably the best he’s thrown in over a year. Um, I think he went two, two-plus innings and the reports were “this is the guy we saw a couple years ago”, so we just had to get him out of his own way more than anything. But, hopefully we can build off the other night and the second half will be good and you’d like to get him back in the rotation at some point, but, um, you know, that’s down the road.
–J.P. Crawford had a bit of a difficult stretch at the plate in Triple-A, but it seems like the J.P. everyone knows is back, getting things together on offense. What do you think about him?
J.P.’s fine. I mean I’m very, very proud of the fact that, as a young player, he didn’t take one at bat to shortstop with him. He’s been as good at shortstop as I’ve ever seen him play and his bat’s starting to come. Guys get in slumps and they, you know– we haven’t seen that type of stretch from him and they all gotta go through it. So, he’ll come out of it. He hasn’t forgotten how to hit. I’m just really proud of the fact that he didn’t take it to shortstop one time. He’s just been dynamite on the dirt, so that’s a good sign.
-The short-season A level Crosscutters open their season tonight. Is there anybody that excites you on that roster?
Yeah, I mean there are some kids that are exciting. I’m excited to see (Adonis) Medina. Medina’s our opening night starter. He’s a kid we’re very excited about. You know, I think for a lot of these kids it’s their first time out of the complex (in Clearwater) and it’s an exciting night for them. We’re gonna have fans in the seats and the lights are gonna be on and it’s a beautiful day up here, so, yeah, we’ve got some kids we’re excited about. I’ll forget about some of them if I start mentioning a few, but you know it’s– Medina’s our starter. I’m excited. I really like the kid’s ability and we’ve got some good starting pitching here. And, you know, we don’t have our club here. Once we get everyone (from the draft) signed and make sure they’re healthy and ready to go, we’ll complete this roster, but there are some good kids here right now and, like I said, it’s a lot of them’s first time out of the complex, so I’m anxious to see how they do.
-There were a few roster moves today and some shuffling with the pitching, some guys moving to a new level. A few guys going from Double-A to Triple-A. Joe DeNato moves up. A guy with local ties Matt Hockenberry among those moves, promoted from Clearwater to Reading. He had a quick visit with Double-A Reading earlier this season and now hopefully he’ll be back there for a good stretch.
Yeah, we’ll see. The Florida State League club is on their All-Star break and we needed to fortify a couple of rosters and Matt and Joey are very capable of doing that and we’ve got a split day (and night) double header. Two nine-inning games in Lehigh Valley tomorrow night that, you know, we’ve got to try to prepare for and there are some things going on whether they’re short-term or long-term, we’ll see.
-Another pitcher that has missed some time is Jesen Therrien. Are there any updates on him?
Jesen’s doing well. He got his oblique and it’s a slow go till the pain goes away, but he’s pretty active. I talked to him probably 10 days ago down there and, you know, he feels good, but he was still feeling it a little bit, but he’s not feeling anything right now. So, we’re trying to get him ready. We need to get him back on the Clearwater club as soon as possible. I don’t think it’ll be too long.
-While I have you, Carlos Tocci‘s having a good season as a young guy in the FSL. Any thoughts on him?
Yeah, Tocci’s doing fine. I wouldn’t say he’s setting the world on fire offensively, but he’s had some good at bats and I think he’s hit into some bad luck so far, but he’s playing his game. I’m happy. I’m looking forward to, after the break, I’d really like to see him get on a streak offensively and maybe have a few more balls fall in for him. But, he’s actually swung the bat a lot better than his numbers, but, you know, that’s baseball.
-Before I let you go, I wanted to see if you could talk a bit about the trio of hot bats that have gotten a lot of attention at the upper levels. Outfielder Nick Williams at Triple-A, then outfielder Dylan Cozens and first baseman Rhys Hoskins at Double-A…what can you share about those guys?
Well, I think, starting with Nick, you know, for a (22)-year-old in Triple-A I think he’s done very well. He’s, you know, I think what we’re trying to build with him, like most of these guys, is just consistency. He will absolutely show you what you want to see on any given night and it’s just a matter of it showing up more often and being consistent. I like what he’s doing in the outfield. He’s really working hard to become a better base runner. He’s working on his total game and I think– listen I would have signed up for the two months he’s had coming out of spring training, so far. I think he’s done well.
And “Cuz” is making progress in his whole game. I think the comments that he made in an article that I read a few days ago where he talked about being able to focus on being a complete player, that’s been a big talking point between the two of us and our whole staff for the past couple years, so it was good to see him verbalize that, because I do think he’s capable of being that type of player. He’s going to be a much better hitter than I think people realize. He’s got a good feel of hitting. He’s striking out too much, I understand that comes with power sometimes, but I think when it’s all said and done with him, it won’t be what people think. I think he’s going to be a better hitter than some people realize.
And I like what Rhys is doing. He got off to a slow start and really got away from a couple things preparation wise that worked for him last year. I think he recognized that and his bat’s fast. He’s got plenty of bat speed and he’s doing a good job. They’ve got a competition going on there to see who can be the hero of the night in Reading now. So, we’ve got some good things going on.
-They are a fun team to watch. Any given night it’s somebody different coming through. I remember maybe four weeks ago talking with Jesmuel Valentin and he was telling me that’s how they are. There’s no weight on anyone’s shoulders because they know someone will come through.
Yeah, and Jesmuel’s jumping right into the middle of it. He’s had a terrific month, so yeah, it’s contagious. Guys…they want to join in and right now they’ve got a good thing going and they’re getting contributions from, you know, it’s a long lineup, so it’s pretty deep.