Results tagged ‘ Jason Phillips ’

ALUMNI REPORT: GROSS

As far as Syracuse alumni to report on this week, most of the news was bad news.

Gross_gabe1 Gabe Gross (’03-’05) was optioned by the Brewers to Triple-A Nashville last Thursday.  Gabe had appeared in 55 games this season and was hitting .202 with 4 HR and 9 RBI.

Gross was Traded by the Blue Jays along with Dave Bush and Zach Jackson for Lyle Overbay and spent all of the 2006 season in the bigs where he hit .274 with 9 HR and 38 RBI in 117 games.

For Gross it will mark his first time in the minors in nearly 2 years.  Gabe’s last Minor League at-bat came for the SkyChiefs at Pawtucket on August 31, 2005.

Gabe is taking everything with a great attitude and looking forward to being a regular in the lineup.

“Hopefully I’ll be able to go down and get some at-bats,” said Gross, 27. “It’s been two years since I’ve been able to play every day, so that’s going to be nice. I’m looking forward to waking up every day knowing my name is going to be in the lineup.”

The outfield situation in Milwaukee is pretty crowded both now and in the future.  Former Infielder Bill Hall is now the Brewers Center-fielder and is signed through 2010.  With Hall currently on the DL, Tony Gwynn Jr. has played in center and is hitting .275 with 8 SB in 58 games.  The Brewers could move Hall to left field next season to make room for Gwynn JR.  25-year old Corey Hart (.284-14-40 with 16 SB) has emerged as a solid option in Right field.  The current left field platoon of Geoff Jenkins and Kevin Mench both have expiring contracts at the end of the season and with the emergence of young talent in the outfield will probably not be re-signed.

Gross will certainly be called back up in September if not sooner and will be in the mix as a reserve outfielder next season if Jenkins and Mench are not brought back.  If Gross wants to be an everyday player in the Big Leagues, the time is now to showcase his talents for other teams.

“I have never been more confident in my ability to play every day,” Gross said. “I feel like if you put me in the lineup on the first of April and take me out the first of October, that my numbers won’t just be adequate, they’ll be very good. I have to convince somebody to give me that opportunity.”

In other alumni news, former SkyChiefs shortstop Cesar Izturis was traded from the Chicago Cubs to the Pittsburgh Pirates for a player to be named later.  Izturis is reunited with Jim Tracy, who managed Cesar in Los Angeles.

Pittsburgh pitcher John Wasdin who was 1-1, 5.95 in 12 appearances (’03) was outrighted to Indianapolis.

Former SkyChiefs catcher Jason Phillips was released when the Jays called up Curtis Thigpen.

FINAL ROSTER DECISIONS MADE

The Toronto Blue Jays made their final few decisions and the result caused a ripple effect on their minor league system.  The Blue Jays decided to send down to the Chiefs pitchers Geremi Gonzalez and Brian Tallet, catcher Sal Fasano and designate pitcher Francisco Rosario for assignment.

The Chiefs roster currently looks like this with still a few decisions to be made:
STARTING ROTATION:  Four kids and a veteran.  Dustin McGowan, Josh Banks, Ty Taubenheim and Ismael Ramirez made 60 AAA-starts in 2006.  They all should be improved in their second season.  Gonzalez a veteran will anchor the staff with Jamie Vermilyea and Jason Scobie also available for long relief or spot staring.

BULLPEN:  Tallet is the lone lefty and will be used in situational roles, while newcomer Blaine Neal assumes the closer role.  Set-up men include former Red Wing Beau Kemp, who helped Rochester to the I.L. Governors Cup Finals, Matt Roney who recorded an ERA under 3.00 with Sacramento last season, Ryan Houston who pitched exceptional from April-June last year before a terrible month of July balooned his ERA and newcomer Brain Wolfe, who was acquired in the Corey Koskie trade last season and bounced around from A-Dunedin and AA-New Hampshire in 2006.  Wolfe could be the sleeper in this group.

CATCHING:  Veteran Sal Fasano backs up big league catching prospect Curtis Thigpen.  A major improvement over last seasons defensively challenged duo of Mike Mahoney and Jason Phillips.

INFIELDERS:    Kevin Barker returns for his third season at 1B, Russ Adams returns to Syracuse this time to play second base, Slick fielding Ray Olmedo takes over at shortstop while John Hattig returns for his third season at 3B.  Ryan Roberts will man the utility role and is very good at all three positions 2B, SS and 3B.   The Chiefs should be very much improved up the middle with Olmedo and Adams, both have played in the major leagues, while Barker is very good around the bag at first.  Hattig’s range is average at best, but should make up for it with his bat (.277 with 30 doubles last season).  Roberts had a great spring and will see plenty of action.

OUTFIELDERS:  Three spots with five quality players.  Jeff Duncan will see most of the action in center field and can play defence.  His speed on the turf at home should make him a .300 hitter.  Super prospect Adam Lind will play left field while veterans Mike Vento (AAA All-Star at Columbus two years ago) and Chiefs Fan Favorite Chad Mottola share time in rightfield.  2005 MVP John-Ford Griffin is healthy and will get most of the DH at bats.

The Chiefs still need to drop one pitcher and will add Francisco Rosario and Brandon League at some point in early April with more changes yet to be made.

DUNCAN SENT TO MINORS

The Blue Jays have sent OF Jeff Duncan to minor league camp.  Duncan had a great spring hitting .353 with two triples and 5 RBI in 34 at-bats.  The Jays have 31 players left in camp include non-roster players, C Sal Fasano, OF Matt Stairs and Pitchers Josh Towers, Geremi Gonzalez and Victor Zambrano.

Slam! Sports is reporting that Casey Janssen will make the Jays opening day roster and pitch out of the bullpen to start the season.

Jason Phillips, known for his glasses, had laser eye surgery this off-season and had shed the glasses.  Phillips went back to the glasses this week after finding out his left eye was still bothering him.  He is hitting .132 (5-38) this spring.

CHIEFS GET FIRST WIN

The Syracuse Chiefs picked up their first spring training victory on Saturday 4-1,  with the help of former Cy Young pitcher Roy Halladay.  The Chiefs took on the Ottawa Lynx (Phillies farm team) and with the Jays major league club playing the Tigers, the Jays brass thought it would be better if Halladay got his work in a AAA-game instead.  The Phillies countered with big league righty Jon Lieber who pitched against the Chiefs.

The lineup for the Chiefs included:

Jason Phillips C, Russ Adams 2B, Sergio Santos SS, Chip Cannon 1B, Ryan Klosterman DH, Dustin Majewski RF, Justin Singleton CF, Luke Hetherington LF and Brad Hassey 3B.

The Chiefs scored two runs off Lieber in the 4th on solo home runs by Jason Phillips and Sergio Santos.  They scored two additional runs in the 10th-inning (the teams agreed to play 10) on a fielders choice and error.

Halladay went 5-innings allowing only 3-hits and struckout 7 batters and threw only 56 pitches.  Mike MacDonald followed that up with 2-shutout innings with relievers Jamie Vermilyea and Lee Gronkiewicz tossing one shut out inning each.  Jean Machi also pitched one-inning and allowed one un-earned run.

The Chiefs did committ 4-errors in the field, two by shortstop Sergio Santos. The Chiefs take on the Phillies (Ottawa) again today in Dunedin.

WEEKEND UPDATE

Minor League camp is underway and it’s time to turn our attention to more significant matters – like reporting baseball.   We have made our point and we are not going to waste your time by beating a dead horse on this space.   Again only here on “Inside the Chiefs” will you receive first hand knowledge of what’s going on in spring training with the major league club, Toronto and the Syracuse Chiefs.

Non-roster catcher Erik Kratz was the first player to be sent to minor league camp as the Jays minor league affiliates reported this weekend.

Jays righty Josh Towers pitched two innings today vs the Pirates and allowed only 1 hit, a solo home run to Pirates first baseman Brad Eldred in two innings of work.  Towers also struck out two batters and looked good in his first outing.  Also pitching today in a B-game were righthanders Dustin McGowan and Casey Janssen.  In the lineup today are: Royce Clayton -ss, Greg Zaun -c, Lyle Overbay – 1B, Vernon Wells -cf, Troy Glaus – 3b, Matt Stairs – rf, Aaron Hill – 2b, Adam Lind – lf, Jason Phillips -c.

Over the weekend John Thomson also pitched well – two shutout innings and Shaun Marcum  pitched 2 innings, 1 run, 3 strikeouts. Francisco Rosario, who was slowed by back pain earlier this spring, pitched one shutout inning.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons has said that Russ Adams would begin the season in Syracuse and play second base.  The Blue Jays hope that Adams can return to his 2004-2005 form when he played for the Chiefs and Blue Jays and batted over .280 playing shortstop.

Former Chiefs pitchers Dave Stieb and Pat Hentgen are in camp helping with the younger pitchers and throwing batting practice.

In yesterday’s win Curtis Thigpen (2), John-Ford Griffin and John Hattig combined for 4-RBI in their 7-4 win over the Rays.  On Saturday, Rob Cosby went 1 for 3 with Curtis Thigpen providing another RBI and, on Friday, Kevin Barker had a two-run home run and Ryan Roberts went 2 for 2.

Don’t forget that “Inside Pitch” will broadcast live from Dunedin, Florida beginning on March 19th when the voice of the Chiefs Bob McElligott and Chiefs General Manager John Simone provide player interviews beginning at 7PM all week long.

FASANO, OLMEDO JOIN JAYS

The Toronto Blue Jays picked up two additional players that could have an impact on the Syracuse Chiefs 2007 season.  Veteran catcher Sal Fasano who has spent parts of the past ten seasons in the major leagues with the Royals, A’s, Rockies, Angels, Orioles and last season with the Phillies and Yankees signed a minor league deal with an invite to spring training that begins in three weeks.

Fasano, 35, will provide insurance for the Blue Jays who have Greg Zaun and Jason Phillips slotted at the catching position at the present time with prospect Curtis Thigpen on the way up and expected to start the season with the Chiefs. 

The signing of Fasano allows the Blue Jays to allow Thigpen to continue to develop if the need for a third catcher or injury occurs.

The Jays also claimed infielder Ray Olmedo off waivers from the Reds and assigned him to their major league roster.  The 25 year old native of Venezuela batted .282 for Louisville last season and recorded a .960 FPCT in 90-games at shortstop.  Olmedo has appeared in 171-games with the Reds during the past 4-years (2003-2006).

The Blue Jays now have middle infielders Royce Clayton and Aaron Hill expected to start and John McDonald, Jason Smith, Russ Adams, Ray Olmedo, Sergio Santos and Ryan Roberts also in camp.

During the past week the Blue Jays outrighted 3B/OF Rob Cosby back to the Chiefs and will likely do the same to Roberts who was taken off the major League roster to make room for Olmedo.

ZAUN RETURNS TO JAYS

In the end Blue Jays catcher Greg Zaun, who represented himself in contract talks with Jays GM J.P. Ricchardi couldn’t leave the only team that has provided him the opportunity to play on an everyday basis.  Zaun decided Tuesday to resign with Toronto for two years at 7.5 million with an option for 2009.  With only Jason Phillips on the roster and Curtis Thigpen at least a year away, the Zaun signing was a must for the catching strapped organization.  At 36 years old it’s not a given that Zaun can catch 120 games and a quality back-up still needs to be found.  Look for Toronto to continue to shop for catching help that will tutor Thigpen in Syracuse and provide an emergency back-up at the major league level.

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