2020 Spring Training Round-Up

Spring Training Round-Up 2/18: Larry Bowa: ‘The bullpen was in disarray last year’


Spring training is already well underway. There’s plenty going on in and around the world of Phillies baseball. Here’s a quick recap of the news and storylines you may have missed.

Larry Bowa is a staple in the Phillies organization. (Brian Murphy/Icon Sportswire)

Astros sign former Phillies pitcher Jared Hughes

Per Jake Kaplan of The Athletic, the Houston Astros have signed former Phillies pitcher Jared Hughes to a minor-league deal with an invite to big league spring training.

The Phillies claimed Hughes off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds in August. He, along with Blake Parker and Mike Morin, made up the trio of end-of-the-year bullpen acquisitions the Phillies called upon to pitch in high-leverage situations. Hughes went 2-1 with a 3.91 ERA and a 6.47 FIP in 23 innings pitched. Parker is the only player to remain with the Phillies in some capacity, as he was invited to camp on a minor-league deal. Morin signed with the Brewers earlier in the offseason.

Phillies farm system ranked 26th by Baseball America

This week, Baseball America updated their MLB organizational talent rankings. The Phillies, who finished as high as sixth as recently as 2017, came in at 26th, the team’s lowest ranking since 2012. According to Baseball America, after Spencer Howard and Alec Bohm, “…Philadelphia’s impact talent drops off pretty quickly after that pair. There are a lot of potential role players and potential bullpen arms, but few regulars or starting pitchers.”

The four clubs who finished lower than the Phillies are the Astros (27), Cincinnati Reds (28), Colorado Rockies (29) and Milwaukee Brewers (30). The Atlanta Braves received the highest mark of all NL East teams (4), followed by the Miami Marlins (9), Washington Nationals (24) and New York Mets (25). If anything, the Phillies can take comfort in the fact that the Nationals and Mets both have poorly rated farm systems.

Larry Bowa on the vibe in camp, Gabe Kapler’s bullpen

On MLB Network Radio’s “Inside Pitch,” former Phillies manager and current spring training instructor Larry Bowa spoke briefly on the differences between Gabe Kapler and Joe Girardi in their approach in managing the bullpen.

“There’s no doubt the vibe is much different,” Bowa said. “The fact that Joe has already come out and said, ‘I want to have, from the seventh inning and on, defined roles in the bullpen. I would like to have a set lineup.’ Those two statements, if you think about our bullpen the last couple of years, it was not like that.”

“When you’re down in that bullpen and that phone rings, especially from the seventh inning on, most guys know who is supposed to get up. There’s no question in my mind. There were times last year — and [Kapler] is a great guy and everything — but that was in disarray last year. In my opinion, the bullpen was in disarray last year. Guys didn’t know what their roles were, with the exception of probably Neris.”

“Those guys like knowing what their roles are and I think Joe is definitely going to try to do that.”

Bowa also spoke about how Girardi’s experience and preferences for consistency impacts the feel of camp so far.

“I’m sure there is going to be tweaks every now and then, but he’d like to have the lineup where it’s a pretty consistent lineup. I think that part of it and the fact that Joe’s been on championship teams, he’s managed in New York and everything — that bring a lot of credibility to the ballclub. I see a different attitude. I see a different vibe right now, and it’s all very positive.”

First 3 starting pitchers in Grapefruit League play announced

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, Nick Pivetta will start the Grapefruit League opener against the Tigers in Lakeland on Saturday. Aaron Nola will start Sunday against the Pirates in Clearwater and Vince Velasquez will take the mound at home against the Orioles on Monday.

All games have a start time of 1:05 p.m.. The first game can be heard on Sportsradio 94 WIP, while the other two can be seen on NBC Sports Philadelphia.

Extras: McCutchen on Jean Segura, Bryce Harper’s newest headband

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