Phillies Prospects Experience Philadelphia First-Hand





PHILADELPHIA—The aim of player development extends beyond simply preparing a young player to compete in the big leagues. An intangible aspect to being a big leaguer can only be learned through experience.

That's why Phillies officials have tried to give their top prospects a taste of that experience before they head to their first big league spring training camp.

This year, seven top talents spent a week in Philadelphia at the team's fourth annual prospect education seminar in January.

During the week, players received media training, learned about travel, clubhouse protocol and other off-field responsibilities that go with being a major leaguer.

Players learned about the roles and importance of non-baseball front office personnel. They listened to former Phillies great Larry Bowa and former Eagles football star Brian Dawkins talk about the passion and culture of Philadelphia sports.

They heard from manager Charlie Manuel and former closer Brad Lidge.

They visited the MLB Network studios in Secaucus, N.J., where they received words of wisdom from former big leaguers Billy Ripken and John Smoltz.

"It's been great," catcher Tommy Joseph said of the experience. "I'd never been to Philly. To come here and see all the stadiums, the Rocky statue, the Liberty Bell and Citizens Bank Park, is unbelievable. I understand now why the fans love it here."

Joining Joseph were catcher Cameron Rupp, third baseman Cody Asche, outfielder Zach Collier, lefthander Adam Morgan and righties Ethan Martin and Kyle Simon. During the visit, the players witnessed the city's sports hysteria up close when the Eagles hired new coach Chip Kelly.

"In a way that was good," said pro scouting director Mike Ondo, who heads up the program. "We talked about the magnitude of something like that. Even though it wasn't baseball-related, it was Philly related, and that's why we bring them here."

Being a third baseman, Asche couldn't help but notice how prominent Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt's presence was around the ballpark. In spring training, the development process will shift back to the field and Asche will be able to get some firsthand tutoring from Schmidt during his regular stint in camp.

PHIL-UPS

• Looking for depth, the Phillies signed veteran righthanders Rodrigo Lopez, Aaron Cook and Juan Cruz to minor league contracts and invited them to spring training.

• Righthander Julio Rodriguez, who pitched at Double-A Reading in 2012, went 3-1, 3.67 in 10 games (three starts) for Carolina in the Puerto Rican League, striking out 30 in 27 innings.