Phillies Minor League Notebook

A month into the season, we're starting to see players fit into their reputations or falling short of expectations. Our first Minor League Notebook of the season takes a look at news from around the Phillies minor league system.

Lehigh Valley has lost eight of their last eleven games after starting the season 7-6. The skid has dropped the 'Pigs to 10-15 on the season, 7 1/2 games behind Buffalo. That deficit is the furthest out of first place that Lehigh Valley has been since finishing the 2012 season nine games out.

It was a big week for outfielder/first baseman Darin Ruf, who had a four-hit game against Louisville on Sunday. His day included two home runs, two doubles and five RBI. Ruf's 12 total bases is the most ever by an IronPig in a nine-inning game. Michael Taylor also had 12 total bases in a game, but it was in a ten-inning contest, also against Louisville back in 2009. In two games since then, Ruf is 4-for-8 with another home run and three more RBI. On Tuesday, Ruf's solo home run gave him the distinction of both driving in and scoring the franchise's 3,000th run.

Sunday was longball day for the IronPigs, as they launched five home runs. Ruf hit two, while Leandro Castro, Cesar Hernandez and Josh Fields all went deep, setting a franchise record for home runs in a game.

Hernandez now has a 12-game hitting streak and is batting .413 (19-for-46) during the stretch to boost his average to .375 and his on-base percentage to .417 for the season. Hernandez has hits in 20 of the 24 games he has played this season and has multiple hits in 12 of those games. Through Tuesday's games, Hernandez is third in the International League in hitting and leads the league with 36 hits. The Phillies honored Hernandez as their Minor League Player of the Week.

Third baseman Cody Asche had a nine-game hitting streak snapped on Saturday. Asche was hitting .483 (15-for-31) during the stretch. Currently, Asche has hit safely in ten of 12 games and is battting .325 (15-for-46) in his last 12 games.

J.C. Ramirez allowed his first runs of the season on Monday when he allowed two runs in an inning of work. Between Reading and Lehigh Valley, Ramirez had gone 11 innings, allowing just four hits and four walks along with 12 strikeouts and had held opponents to a .111 average. Joe Savery also allowed his first earned run of the season on the recent road trip. The left-hander went 7 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run. Overall, Savery has now pitched 9 2/3 innings and has posted a 0.93 ERA with two saves in two opportunities. He has also struck out 14 hitters, while walking just two. Of the 138 pitches that he's thrown this season, 83 have been for strikes.

The IronPigs open an eight-game homestand Thursday night, facing the same two teams - Indianapolis and Louisville - that they faced on their recent road trip, which they finished at 3-5.

Pitcher Jesse Biddle has been all the rage for Reading. Garnering Eastern League Pitcher of the Week honors for the week ending April 28, Biddle set a franchise-record with 16 strikeouts in seven innings of work at Harrisburg and followed that up with ten more Ks in six innings of work against New Hampshire. Against Harrisburg, Biddle was perfect before allowing a walk in the seventh inning. Perhaps the most impressive stat is that in his last two starts, Biddle's opponents against batting average was just .050 (2-for-40) and their on-base percentage was .156 over Biddle's 13 innings.

Just in case you thought Biddle was a one-trick pony, he had two doubles, an RBI and scored two runs in his dominating outing against Harrisburg. On the season, Biddle is 3-for-5 (.600) and has struck out just once this season.

Tyler Henson is quietly putting together a strong season at Reading. Henson had a seven-game hitting streak snapped on Wednesday when he went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts against Portland. During his streak, Henson hit .407 (11-for-27) and on the season, Henson ranks third in average (.343).

Outfielder Zach Collier belted his first career Double-A home run on April 22nd and enjoyed it so much, he hit his second the following day. Collier came into the April 20th game at Richmond with no home runs and no RBI on the season, but then went on a stretch of six games in a row with at least one RBI.  While Collier hasn't exactly been tearing the cover off the ball, he has upped his average from .111 on April 18th to its current level of .161 for the season. Collier's second home run of the week was a three-run shot that came in the top of the ninth with Reading trailing New Hampshire by one.

Right-hander Hector Neris made two spot starts for Reading after opening the season in the bullpen. Neris was a combined 1-0, 4.00 in his two starts, walking three hitters and striking out nine in nine innings of work. Neris returned to the bullpen and threw two shutout innings against New Hampshire on Sunday.

Aaron Altherr had his seven-game hitting streak stopped on April 27th. During the streak, Altherr hit .528 (14-for-26) during the streak with a home run and six RBI. Altherr picked up an RBI in five of the seven games that he hit in safely. On the season, Altherr is hitting .348 - good enough for seventh in the Florida State League - and is 6-for-6 in stolen bases. Altherr also ranks second in the league in doubles (10), fourth in extra base hits (14) and third in slugging percentage (.576). Maikel Franco is the popular Threshers player on the league rankings. The 20-year old Franco leads the FSL in at-bats (106), RBI (25), doubles (12) and extra base hits (17). Franco helped Clearwater to a 9-4 win over Tampa with a 3-for-5 day, including two doubles, two home runs and seven RBI.

Cameron Perkins is on a current seven-game hitting streak, batting .500 (13-for-26) with six runs scored. The streak has taken Perkins' season average from .310 to .354, putting him sixth in the FSL in hitting.

Second baseman Carlos Alonso had an eight-game hitting streak snapped on Sunday. Alonso hit .438 (14-for-32) during the streak and scored at least one run in seven of the eight games during the stretch, scoring nine total runs. In three games since the streak ended, Alonso is 0-for-11.

Kelly Dugan, who had opened the season on the DL, was activated on April 26th and is already in mid-season form. The 22-year old outfielder is hitting .375 (6-for-16) with a home run, three RBI and three runs scored.

The Lakewood BlueClaws would just like to play a steady amount of games. The 'Claws were rained out last Friday at Asheville, resulting in a double-header scheduled for the next day, but those games were washed out as well. Lakewood started their recent road trip with two wins, but then lost four straight. William Carmona enjoyed the BlueClaws trip to Asheville, going 8-for-12 (.667) in the series. It's been an up-and-down season for Carmona, who was hitting .259 a week into the season, but saw that fall to just .174 a week later and he's now pushed it back up to .269 with his strong series in Asheville.

Second baseman Angelo Mora has hit safely in eight of the last 11 games, bringing his season average from .128 to .222 and his on-base percentage from .228 to .300 thanks to his stretch of success. Mora has played 23 games this season, 21 at second base and two at shortstop.

Art Charles, who came to the Phillies in the Michael Schwimer deal with Toronto, has gotten his bat in sync and put together a nine-game hitting streak. His .382 average (13-for-34) during the streak has brought his season average to a solid .286 after a slow start that saw him hitting just .143 on April 13. Charles has four home runs and 17 RBI on the season for Lakewood.

Righty Kevin Brady had a dismal first start for his season, but then put together three strong outings and adjusted his ERA to a respectable 3.54 going into his last start in Asheville, which looked much more like his first start than any of his three previous starts. Against Asheville, Brady was hit for five earned runs in two innings. Control has been an issue for Brady, who has walked 13 and struck out 22 in 22 1/3 innings. Miguel Nunez has moved from the bullpen to the rotation and picked up two wins in his first two starts. As a reliever this season, Nunez was 0-0 with a 3.24 ERA, but has gone 2-0, 2.70 as a starter. Like Brady though, Nunez has had some control issues, walking nine and striking out nine in 18 1/3 innings of work this season.

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