Threshers' Reinforcements Slow To Deliver

Moving up a level isn't easy and three players moved to Clearwater at the end of the first-half are finding that out. Odds are though that all three will make the necessary adjustments and find themselves fitting in before long.

It was just about a week ago that the Clearwater Threshers got word that reinforcements were on the way. Three players - pitchers Drew Naylor and Ben Pfinsgraff and outfielder Michael Taylor - were headed to Clearwater from Low-A Lakewood. Well, a week later, all four have seen some tough times adapting to life with their new team. All three were important pieces of the puzzle for Lakewood, but they're still trying to fit in with their new club, albeit through a short amount of time. Drew Naylor has been possibly the nicest of surprises among young Phillies pitchers this season. There was no debate that he was good, but he put up very impressive numbers at Lakewood and moved very close to being the type of pitcher that's termed "dominant". A look around the South Atlantic League leaders shows Naylor's name pinpointed all across various departments. He shares the league lead in complete games (2), leads in strikeouts (97) and is fifth in innings pitched (87.1) and that's after not getting his usual start this past week. Instead, he was starting for Clearwater last Friday and did well to make it through five innings. He struggled early on, but continued to battle against Dunedin, leaving after five innings with Clearwater trailing 7-2 and Naylor having been hit for two home runs. Considering that he averaged just one home run allowed just about every 11 innings at Lakewood, his two allowed in five innings was eye-opening. His lack of control played a huge part, with Naylor averaging 5.4 walks over nine innings in his first Clearwater start as compared to just 2.2 walks per nine at Lakewood. The night before Naylor took to the mound, Ben Pfinsgraff made his season debut at Clearwater and wasn't treated well at all. In 2.2 innings of relief, Pfinsgraff was hit for four earned runs on seven hits, a walk and a hit batter. Opposing hitters hit .500 against him and by the time he was back in the clubhouse, his ERA was at 13.50 as a Thresher. Pfinsgraff was pretty solid at Lakewood with a 3.41 ERA in 18 games, so his stumble at Clearwater was also not expected. Of the three called up to Clearwater, Michael Taylor has had the most opportunity. The outfield prospect, who was hitting .361 at Lakewood, has hit just .130 in his first week with the Threshers. He's struck out eight times in 23 at bats (once every 2.9 AB), and once every 5.8 at bats with the BlueClaws, so there's no doubt that there is some adjusting still to be done for Taylor. Players should take no shame in struggling when they move up a level. While the jump to Double-A is considered the toughest to make in the minors, moving from Low-A ball to High-A ball isn't an easy step to make either. All three players have the talent to be at Clearwater and all three were performing well enough at Lakewood to not only justify, but deserve the move to the next level. Naylor is slated to start Thursday for Clearwater against St. Lucie and it will be interesting to see if he's able to bounce back or if he'll need more time to adjust to his new surroundings. Clearwater has started the second-half of the season with a 1-5 run after finishing at 32-38 in the first-half of the Florida State League season. With any luck, the added reinforcements will adjust quickly enough for the Threshers to make a run at the second-half title.

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