MLB Wrap: Indians cruise past Red Sox

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MLB Wrap: Indians cruise past Red Sox

The Phillies are all ready to resume their rivalry with the reigning NL East champion Washington Nationals (see story).

Chase Utley won't be taking part in the series after being placed on the 15-day disabled list (see story).

Now let's look at Thursday's MLB action:

Indians beat BoSox in Francona's return
BOSTON -- Drew Stubbs and Mark Reynolds drove in three runs each and Cleveland had 16 hits in the Indians' 12-3 win over the Boston Red Sox in manager Terry Francona's return to Fenway Park on Thursday night.

Francona, let go by Boston after the 2011 season, got a standing ovation after the first inning during a video tribute on the center-field scoreboard. But he didn't have to leave the visiting dugout during the game because all of Cleveland's pitching changes came at the start of an inning.

In eight years as manager, Francona led the Red Sox to two World Series championships. In his first year as Cleveland's manager, he has the Indians in first place in the AL Central after they went 68-94 last season (see full recap).

-The Associated Press

Homers help Angels beat Royals
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Mike Trout and Albert Pujols hit solo home runs, and Mark Trumbo hit a two-run shot to help the Los Angeles Angels beat the Kansas City Royals 5-4 Thursday night.

Joe Blanton got his first victory of the season after going 0-7 in his first nine starts. He held the Royals to seven hits and two runs in 6 1-3 innings. Trumbo put the Angels up 5-2 in the eighth with his team-leading 11th homer.

Ervin Santana (3-4), who spent 12 seasons in the Angels' organization before being traded during the offseason to the Royals, struck out eight without a walk, but allowed five runs and eight hits -- four of which were homers. Chris Iannetta hit one in the fifth.

The Royals scored on ground outs by Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas (see full recap).

-The Associated Press

Pirates top Cubs for fourth straight win
PITTSBURGH -- Andrew McCutchen had three hits and two RBIs to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates past the Chicago Cubs 4-2 on a rainy Thursday for their fourth straight win.

Leadoff hitter Starling Marte singled and scored in each of the first two innings as Pittsburgh built an early 4-0 lead. The Pirates moved a season-best 11 games over .500 with its 11th victory in 13 games.

Edwin Jackson (1-7) gave up two runs in the first inning and two more in the second. He lasted only three innings and has a 6.11 ERA through 10 starts.

Jackson is in his first season with the Cubs after signing a four-year, $52-million contract over the winter as a free agent (see full recap).

-The Associated Press

Encarnacion, Blue Jays pound Orioles
TORONTO -- Edwin Encarnacion hit his fifth career grand slam, J.P. Arencibia homered and drove in four runs and the Toronto Blue Jays beat Baltimore 12-6 on Thursday night, spoiling the debut of Orioles right-hander Kevin Gausman.

Brandon Morrow (2-3) allowed six runs and a season-high 10 hits in seven-plus innings. He walked one and struck out five.

Brett Cecil and Brad Lincoln each worked one inning of scoreless relief as Toronto won for the third time in four games.

Baltimore's Chris Davis hit his major league leading 15th home run, a leadoff shot in the fourth. Nick Markakis and Adam Jones clubbed back-to-back homers off Morrow in the eighth but it wasn't enough for the Orioles, who lost for the seventh time in nine games (see full recap).

-The Associated Press

Phillies set prospect-packed lineup for exhibition opener vs. U of Tampa

Phillies set prospect-packed lineup for exhibition opener vs. U of Tampa

The Phillies will have an exciting, young lineup Thursday in their annual exhibition opener against the University of Tampa.

1. Roman Quinn, CF (S)
2. J.P. Crawford, SS (L)
3. Dylan Cozens, RF (L)
4. Rhys Hoskins, 1B
5. Nick Williams, LF (L)
6. Jorge Alfaro, C
7. Scott Kingery, 2B
8. Hector Gomez, 3B
9. Andrew Pullin, DH (L)

RHP Mark Leiter

Gomez aside, it's a prospect-packed lineup that represents the best of the Phillies' farm system.

Several of these players — Crawford, Williams, Alfaro and Quinn — will likely taste the majors at some point this season. They're all in big-league camp for the second straight year. It's a first for Cozens, Hoskins and Kingery.

As CSN Phillies analyst Ricky Bottalico pointed out Tuesday on Phillies Focus (airing all week on CSN at 6 p.m.), it's, in a way, a lose-lose situation for Leiter. If he pitches well against Tampa, he did it vs. college kids. If he pitches poorly, then he was hit around by college kids. Not the easiest assignment.

The Phillies play Tampa at 1:05 p.m. Thursday.

On Friday, the Phillies travel to Tampa for the Grapefruit League opener against the Yankees (1:05 p.m.). Here is the posted lineup for that game:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Roman Quinn, CF
3. Daniel Nava, DH
4. Tommy Joseph, 1B
5. Chris Coghlan, RF
6. Tyler Goeddel, LF
7. Andrew Knapp, C
8. J.P. Crawford, SS
9. Hector Gomez, 3B

RHP Alec Asher

The Phillies' first televised spring training game on CSN is Saturday at 1:05 p.m., also against the Yankees.

Drew Anderson has emerged as one of the Phillies' top pitching prospects

Drew Anderson has emerged as one of the Phillies' top pitching prospects

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Drew Anderson remembers his telephone ringing in November. He remembers hearing Phillies director of player development Joe Jordan congratulate him and tell him that he'd been placed on the team's 40-man roster.

Anderson was elated.

"It was awesome," the right-handed pitcher said the other day.

So awesome that Anderson celebrated in an unusual way.

"I busted out 50 pushups," he said. "I had so much adrenaline."

The internal discussions that teams have when considering which players to protect on the 40-man roster and which ones to risk losing in the Rule 5 draft are often long and detailed and decisions are not always reached easily.

But in Anderson's case ...

"It was not a long conversation," Jordan said. "The feeling was, 'Put him on the roster. Don't lose him. Let's talk about the next guy.'"

"Across the board," minor-league pitching coordinator Rafael Chaves said. "And that's not common for a kid that pitched in A-ball."

Anderson, who turns 23 on March 22, will get his first taste of Double A ball in April.

Clearly, the Phillies are high on him.

But how high?

"We've got scouts who will tell you that he might be our best pitching prospect," Jordan said.

Given some of the power arms that the Phils have collected in the low minors, that's quite a statement.

If it seems as if Anderson has flown below the radar since being drafted by the Phillies in 2012 it's because, well, he's done just that.

For a while.

He received little interest from four-year colleges coming out of Galena High School in Reno, Nevada, and was headed to Mesa Community College in Arizona before the Phillies selected him in the 21st round that year.

"My name never really got out there," he said. "Really only the Phillies looked at me. (Area scout) Joey Davis saw me and he said he liked that I had a fluid arm and he liked the way the ball jumped out of my hand. He saw me as a sleeper pick. I just wanted to play ball so I said, 'Yeah, I'll give it a shot.'"

Jordan recalled seeing Anderson pitch at Single A Lakewood early in the 2014 season. Anderson had added strength to his 6-foot-3 frame and his fastball velocity had jumped from 90-92 mph to 93-95 mph.

"It was just a matter of physical maturity, his body getting stronger, and we were really excited," Jordan said.

Anderson did not make it through that season, however. He came down with an elbow injury and the following spring became a statistic — a pitcher who needed Tommy John surgery.

Anderson missed the 2015 season. He came back in May of last year and made 15 starts between Lakewood and Clearwater. At Clearwater, the Phillies' advanced Single A stop, Anderson posted a 1.93 ERA in 32 2/3 innings. He struck out 37 and walked 10.

The rehabilitation process after Tommy John surgery focuses on more than just the elbow. Special attention is paid to the shoulder and the legs. Working under Joe Rauch, the Phillies' minor-league rehab specialist, Anderson gained much strength in those areas and it showed in his fastball velocity last summer.

He got it up to 97 mph.

He also has a good breaking ball and an improving changeup to go with a classic pitcher's body. He has long arms and weighs 205 pounds.

"We just felt some team out there would have taken him even if they had to stash him in the bullpen," said Jordan, expounding on the Phils' decision to add Anderson to the 40-man roster in November. "He's too big an asset."

Anderson is excited about making the jump to Reading this season. He's never pitched more than 76 innings as a pro and now that he's healthy needs to start racking up mound time and experience.

Anderson mentioned how hard he worked this offseason to get ready for his first trip to big-league camp and what lies beyond when he heads to Double A.

The hard work started with those 50 pushups that he busted out upon learning that he'd been placed on the 40-man roster.

"After hearing that, it was time to kick it in gear," he said. "I was like, 'Let's do this.'

"I've had some ups and downs, but I feel like I'm on track now."