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Reading, Trenton set for Eastern League Divisional Series

Moniak has shown a lot of development in 2019, specifically with runners in scoring position. (Cheryl Purcell)

As the Philadelphia Phillies continue to fight for a playoff berth, the Double-A Reading Fightin Phils are preparing for the playoffs. On Wednesday, September 4, the Fightin Phils and Thunder will kick-off their best-of-five divisional series to begin the Eastern League playoffs. This will be a rematch of the 2016 Eastern League playoffs, which saw Trenton emerge victorious 3-1 in the series over Reading. In 2019, Trenton took the season series from Reading 8-6.

The first two games of the series will take place in Reading at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 4 and 5. Both games have a first pitch time of 7:00 p.m. The next two games will be played in Trenton on September 6-7 with start times of 7:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., respectively. If necessary, game five will be played in Trenton at 1:00 p.m. on September 8.

The Reading Fightin Phils earned their playoff spot by winning the second half division title with a 41-31 record. They missed out on the first half title due to a tiebreaker with Trenton, who took that half with a 38-28 record. In the EL Western Division, Harrisburg (Nationals) and Bowie (Orioles) will go head-to-head. The winners of the divisional series’ will play each other for the Eastern League crown.

Starting Pitching

Game 1 – Spencer Howard (AA stats: 6 GS, 1-0, 2.35 ERA) vs. Clarke Schmidt (AA stats: 3 GS, 2-0, 2.37 ERA)

The first game of the series is going to feature Philadelphia’s No. 4 ranked prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, and New York’s No. 5 ranked prospect. Spencer Howard was sidelined with a shoulder injury in mid-May, but returned with tremendous results. After posting a 1.29 ERA in seven starts with Advanced ‘A’ Clearwater, Howard is sporting a 2.35 ERA in 30.2 Double-A innings. Unfortunately, his worst start with Reading came against Trenton on August 16. The 23-year old right-hander allowed four runs on five hits over five innings, walking three and striking out three. He’s allowed just one run over his last two starts, though, spanning 11.2 innings. As for Schmidt, he also had a bad start against his first-round opponent. Starting opposite Howard on August 16, he gave up five runs on nine hits. Trenton won that game 7-5.

Game 2 – David Parkinson (22 GS, 10-9, 4.08 ERA) vs. Rony Garcia (AA stats: 29 GS, 4-11, 4.44 ERA)

The Fightin Phils will hand the ball over to Phillies No. 18 ranked prospect, David Parkinson, in game two. Parkinson has spent the entire 2019 campaign in Double-A, holding opposiing hitters to a .247 average in 119 innings, which is 4.1 innings short of a career high. In his last two starts against Trenton, Parkison has allowed three runs in 10 innings with 13 strikeouts. He’s allowed three runs or less in seven of his last 10 starts, but his last two outings have seen the left-hander surrender 12 runs in 9.2 innings. Meanwhile, Garcia has split time this year between High ‘A’ bal and Double-A. He’s faced Reading twice this season, going 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA. He tossed an eight-inning gem against them back on July 12, striking out eight. On August 20, he have up three runs in five innings.

Game 3 – Adonis Medina (7-7, 4.94 ERA) vs. Miguel Yajure (AA stats: 2 GS, 1-0, 0.82 ERA)

Medina, 22, has been at the top of the Phillies prospect rankings for a few years now. He sits at No. 2 in 2019 rankings, but hasn’t had the most success in Double-A. After posting a 4.12 ERA in 22 games with Clearwater in 2018, Medina’s 2019 earned run average has gone up again. Since joining the Phillies organization in 2014, his ERA has gone up each year with the exception of 2016. He has a 6.11 ERA over his last 10 starts, but the high number comes mostly from starts on July 21 (2.2 IP, 8 ER) and August 18 (2IP, 7 ER). He has held the opposing team to three runs or less in seven of his last 10 outings. In two starts against Trenton this season, he’s allowed nine runs in seven innings. Yajure is the Yankees’ No. 27 ranked prospect. He spent the majority of 2019 in the Floriday State league, going 8-6 with a 2.26 ERA. He’s made just two Double-A starts, both which have been gems. His last one came on August 31 against Reading. Yajure tossed 5.2 innings of shutout baseball, scattering three hits while striking out five.

Phillies Prospects To Watch

Jose Antequera (SS) – The 24-year-old native of Venezuela slashed .381/.435/.381 in 11 August games and is hitting .429 over the last 10.

Alec Bohm (3B) – The Phillies’ top pick from 2018 heads into his first minor league postseason on a nice run. In 26 games during the month of August, Bohm slashed .305/.393/.516 with five doubles, five homers, 15 RBIs, 20 runs scored, 15 walks and 14 strikeouts. He went 2-for-5 with a homer and three RBIs in his final regular season game.

Spencer Howard (RHP) – This one is pretty obvious. If you haven’t heard of Spencer Howard yet, you haven’t been paying much attention to the Phillies organization in 2019. After dealing with a shoulder injury at the beginning of the season, Howard has put together a tremendous season. Between four minor league levels, he’s 3-1 with a 2.03 in 15 starts, spanning 71 innings.

Mickey Moniak (OF) – Although Moniak hit just .232 in August, the 2019 campaign has been an overall success for the former 2016 first-rounder. In 45 at-bats with runners in scoring position this season, the 21-year-old outfielder is hitting .317 with 13 doubles, six triples, two home runs and 53 RBIs.

Cornelius Randolph (OF) – Drafted in the first round of the 2015 draft, Randolph hasn’t reached the potential the Phillies saw in him on draft day. In the last 10 games, though, Randolph has four multi-hit games, is hitting .289 and launches four home runs.

Connor Seabold (RHP) – The Phillies’ third round pick from 2017 will likely start game four or five (if necessary) since he pitched on September 1. Over his last 10 starts between Clearwater and Reading, he’s 4-2 with a 2.45 ERA.

Yankees Prospects To Watch

Daniel Alvarez (RHP) – Alvarez has been a consistent arm at the back end of Trenton’s bullpen, saving 21 games in 24 opportunities. Overall with the Thunder this season, he’s 7-2 with a 2.31 ERA in 46 games, spanning 58.1 innings. Over his last 10 appearances, Alvarez has allowed one run while tallying 11 strikeouts, good for an ERA of 0.77.

Chris Gittens (1B) – At 25 years old, Gittens isn’t a ranked prospect for New York, but he is a proven power hitter in the minor leagues. Last week, he was named the Eastern League’s Most Valuable Player. This season, he’s hitting .281 (.306 over the last 10) with 23 home runs and 77 RBIs. In his last three games against Reading, he’s hitting .500 (5-for-10) with a homer, two RBIs and three runs scored. He’s hit safely in nine of 10 games against Reading this season, totaling three homers and 11 RBIs.

Hoy Jun Park (SS) – Park is hitting just .229 over the last 10 games, but has been one of Trenton’s best hitters with runners in scoring position this season. In 89 at-bats, he’s slashing .337/.450/.483 with five doubles, four triples and 35 RBIs. He’s hitting .333 with the bases loaded.

James Reeves (LHP) – Another strong arm out of the bullpen, the 26-year-old Reeves is 7-2 with a 1.79 ERA in 55.1 innings this season. Over his last 24 innings, he’s surrendered just one earned run on seven hits. Over that span, he’s struck out 28 and walked 10.

Ben Ruta (OF) – Like Gittens, Ruta is a 25-year-old unranked prospect, but he gets hits. Over the last 10 games, he’s hitting .333 with two home runs and five RBIs. Ruta went 6-for-17 in Trenton’s four-game regular season series finale against Reading over Labor Day Weekend.

Clarke Schmidt (RHP) – The Yankees No. 5 ranked prospect is a combined 6-5 with a 3.47 ERA between three levels this season. He’s struck out 19 in 19 innings at the Double-A level to this point.

Head-to-Head Stats

Doubles – Reading 219, Trenton 193

Triples – Reading 45, Trenton 32

Home Runs – Reading 117, Trenton 98

Runs scored – Reading 576, Trenton 531

Team ERA – Trenton 3.68, Reading 3.72

Strikeouts (pitching) – Reading 1250, Trenton 1185

WHIP – Reading 1.24, Trenton 1.29

Home Runs Allowed – Trenton 81, Reading 98


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