Minor League Update

There's always lots of stuff going on both on and off the minor league fields. Here's some of the stuff that might have fallen through the cracks.

The strange case of Chris Duffy

The release of Chris Duffy barely raised much of an eyebrow. After all, Duffy was hitting a very pedestrian .243 in 91 games with Lehigh Valley, struck out 99 times in 346 at-bats and simply wasn't getting the job done. In the week leading up to his release, Duffy struck out 14 times in just 29 at-bats. Not much reason to be very surprised to find the 30 year-old out of a job, especially when his style is that of a leadoff man, but his on-base percentage (.306) was nothing at all indicative of where a leadoff man should be.

What did make the release interesting is the timing. First, the IronPigs were in the midst of a player crisis. They were playing so short-handed, that pitchers Brian Mazone and Joe Savery were routinely taking batting practice and were called on to pinch-hit on a couple of occasions. Duffy's release gave manager Dave Huppert exactly one extra position player - his backup catcher - to go to as a pinch-hitter. In desperation, Huppert could have gone to the lengths of putting Savery at first, where he played in college or possibly putting reliever Brian Gordon in the outfield, where he started his pro career, but other than that, the cupboard was bare. It was also a little interesting that Duffy was cut loose in the middle of a road trip. While it's not a hard and fast rule, generally, minor league players aren't released in the middle of a road trip, although it does happen from time-to-time.

Even with the oddities surrounding Duffy's release, there wasn't much smoke, let alone fire. Being the inquisitive bunch, reporters asked Huppert why Duffy was released, expecting something to the effect of his strikeout rate, they had just determined that he wasn't going to play a role with the big league club, anything. Instead, Huppert paused for a moment, with a look on his face that said he would have rather not had the question arise. His offered reply: "No comment."

While Duffy was with Lehigh Valley, he wasn't always the most affable of guys. He often seemed aloof and wasn't much for making small talk. Again though, there was no real smoke. His attitude was taken by some as just a quietness and by others as a full-blown attitude. Whatever the case, Duffy never did quite seem to fit in much around the club, but there was never a sign of any real issue to speak of, other than his failing stats.

The thought is that something must have happened, but nobody is willing to say just what it was, but here's one theory. The Phillies perhaps decided to bring Rich Thompson up from Reading and informed Duffy that he would be much more of a bench player and he wasn't happy about that decision. Who knows?

By the way, if you still hear about Chris Duffy in relation to the Phillies, don't be surprised. This Chris Duffy - actually, he goes by Christopher Duffy, perhaps to avoid any confusion - is a 22 year-old first baseman/DH for the GCL Phillies, who is hitting .228 with five home runs in 33 games in the GCL.

That ball's outta here...

Speaking of pitchers at the plate. The sweetest swing on the IronPigs staff belongs to Brian Mazone. In BP, Mazone has some pop, but is more of a line-drive type hitter. He makes good contact, hits the ball hard and knows how to hit. The most power honors go to Joe Savery. On Thursday, Savery drove one way out of the park, banging it off of the Red Robin sign about 30 feet past the outfield fence down the line, which would make it only about 360 feet, but the beauty of it was that it was one of those high, majestic shots that are the prototypical home run.

Another strange case

While the Chris Duffy release was a little odd, the release of Kevin Angelle from Williamsport was downright weird. Between his debut in the Gulf Coast League last season and his stint with Williamsport this season, the 22 year-old left-hander was 6-4, 1.65 in 20 starts, with a combined WHIP of 0.968 to his credit. Instead of earning a promotion to Low-A Lakewood, Angelle was given his walking papers. So, what happened there?

The move was a "disciplinary action," according to a quote from Steve Noworyta, the Phillies Assistant Director of Minor League Operations on SunGazette.com. Noworyta went on to explain that "We have our policies and procedures. It's disciplinary action that we had to enforce."

It's likely that the move either came after a hole appeared in the wall outside Williamsport manager Chris Truby's office, or perhaps the hole appeared there as a result of the move. Rest assured that teams - especially the Phillies - know talent when they see it and will do whatever they can to get a player with some rough edges straightened out before making a move like releasing him. Nobody in the Phillies organization is denying that Angelle had a ton of talent, but to their credit, character matters and if Angelle's character was more important than his talent, then hats off to the Phillies for cutting him loose.

Where do CrossCutters go to rehab?

Obviously, players in the minors and even major league players, often wind up in the a short-season league to get a few at-bats when they're getting close to coming off the DL. But what if you're already playing in a short-season league? Williamsport has sent two players to the Gulf Coast League - the lower of the two short-season leagues - for "rehab" assignments.

Kelly Dugan, who was the Phillies second round pick in 2009, has missed all but four games of the season with an unspecified infection. Things got so bad that Dugan recently had to have the infection surgically removed. Dugan is now with the GCL Phillies to work his way back to Williamsport. Reliever Siulman LeBron was also sent to the GCL on a rehab assignment this week. Both Dugan and LeBron could return to the CrossCutters soon.

Who's that guy?

The Phillies have a couple of new players in the system. Keoni Ruth was recently signed out of the Golden Pacific League and was assigned to Clearwater. While Keoni isn't the most common name, the Phillies have cornered the market on Keonis, with Ruth and Keoni DeRenne, who has been in constant motion up and down through the organization all season long.

Outfielder Drew Rundle, a castoff from the Cubs organization also joined the organization and will be at Williamsport. Rundle is a 22 year-old who was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 14th round of the 2006 Draft. He's a career .227 hitter in the minors and has 16 home runs in 793 at-bats.

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