AFL Scouting Report: Dan Giese

Dan Giese put up solid numbers at AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre over the summer, but still didn't get a call to Philly for the final month of the season. What he did get was a plane ticket to Arizona and a spot on the Phoenix Desert Dogs roster in the Arizona Fall League. Now, he's working on ways to get himself a ticket to Philadelphia.

"It's a whole different game out here." Dan Giese says.

That 'out here' is in the Arizona Fall League, where Giese hasn't been the dominant set up man he was at AAA Scranton last season, but he's still 2-0 on the Phoenix Desert Dogs, the team that holds a league leading 20-12 record. The 5.30 ERA isn't what Giese is looking for, but he explained that the numbers are not what matters for pitchers in the AFL.

"This is definitely a hitters league, I know my arm's exhausted, and I think most of the arms down here are. I talked to the Phillies before I got down here, they explained that I shouldn't be worried about numbers. I'm here to work on some things and improve, and that's what I'm doing."

For Giese, what he's working on is the change up.

"I've been pretty much a fastball/slider pitcher," he said Monday in Peoria, "and I've been working on spotting my change better, and throwing it to right handers more often. So I'm not necessarily throwing what I would normally throw in a game. There's times when I think, 'I'd really like to throw my slider here,' but I have to throw that change up, because it will help me down the line."

For Giese the change up directive came from his time in the Instructional League just before the AFL started. "They had a bunch of us down there, and they went over the change up, when to throw it, how it would help me, and then sent me here to work on it. You just get your work in, do what they want you to do, and then after you've done that you start really competing."

For Giese the competition is just starting. He hasn't heard anything yet, but Spring Training is on the horizon, and he's hoping he gets an invitation to Phillies camp. "I don't know if it will happen, but I will be really disappointed if I don't get an invitation. Of course everybody wants to make the big league club, and I'm no different, but even just the chance to see how big leaguers handle themselves, how they prepare and work, that would just be great experience for me."

Ryan Madsen is the name that Giese brings up often, "He showed us the way," Giese said, "I got to play with him at Reading, and when he got the call he started off as the last guy in the bullpen. But he worked hard and he listened to his coaches and by the end of the season he was one of the key guys in that bullpen."

The fame and the glory might go to the closers, but Giese prefers the set up role. "There's a little different mindset in closing, but really the only big difference is that as a set up guy you might come in during the 7th or 8th, you might go two or even three innings, the closer knows his time, knows he's the ninth inning guy. I feel like I can stretch it out, that I'm better for two or three innings than as a closer. Besides," Giese smiles, "the Phillies already have Billy Wagner, and he's pretty good."

Giese's season in Scranton (12-5, 2.81 ERA, 54Ks against only 18 walks) opened a lot of eyes in the Phillies organization, and it seems likely he won't have to endure the disappointment of missing an invite to Phillies camp. Giese's work in the AFL, and the consistent improvement of his changeup, give him a very real chance to make the club too.

Phillies in the desert: Giese had his change up - and everything else - working on Tuesday. He struck out three hitters in two innings of work and lowered his ERA to 4.79 for Phoenix... A rare hitless day for Ryan Howard as he went 0-for-5 against Peoria Tuesday. Howard is starting to show some fatigue and his average has dropped to .328 in the AFL... Keith Bucktrot is also looking a little tired. He lasted 3 2/3 innings Tuesday and suffered the loss. He was hit for five earned runs on seven hits and three walks. Bucktrot is now 1-2, 4.40 for Phoenix... Chris Roberson was 1-for-3 against Phoenix and is hitting .272. He also scored a run and drove in a run in the 6-4 loss to the Saguaros... Chico Ruiz got the start behind the plate and 1-for-4 with a run scored. He is hitting .294 in the AFL. At 20-13, Phoenix has a three-game lead over the Grand Canyon Rafters. The season ends this week, with the AFL Championship game on Saturday.

Editor's Note: James Renwick is the managing editor of FutureBacks.com and is covering the Arizona Fall League for PhillyBaseballNews.com.

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