Phillies 8, Blue Jays 8: Another young middle infielder opens eyes

Phillies 8, Blue Jays 8: Another young middle infielder opens eyes


DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Scott Kingery isn't the only young second base prospect to open eyes in the early stage of the Grapefruit League season.

Jesmuel Valentin has put together a couple of pretty good days lately.

He had a two-run double to go along with a walk and a run scored as the Phillies played to an 8-8 tie with the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday.

Valentin also had a double in Wednesday's game.

A former supplemental first-round pick of the Dodgers (51st overall) in 2012, Valentin joined the Phillies in the August 2014 trade that sent pitcher Roberto Hernandez to Los Angeles.

Valentin hit .269 with nine homers and 52 RBIs at Double A and Triple A last season and earned a spot of the 40-man roster in November. He projects to open the season as the starting second baseman at Triple A while Kingery projects to open at Double A.

Kingery has been a standout early in camp. He has won high praise from manager Pete Mackanin (see story) and is widely considered the Phillies' best second-base prospect.

But Valentin has his fans. And he's actually several weeks younger than Kingery. Kingery turns 23 in April, Valentin in May.

Valentin hails from Puerto Rico. He is the son of former big-league infielder Jose Valentin. The younger Valentin was slowed early in camp by a shoulder injury sustained in winter ball, but he's healthy now and it has shown at the plate the last two days.

Valentin has played mostly second base as a pro, but he was drafted as a shortstop. He's gotten time at that position the last two days as Mackanin and the Phillies staff try to determine whether he could hold down a utility infielder's job on the bench. A utility infielder must be able to fill in at shortstop in a pinch.

"I like what I've seen of Valentin," Mackanin said. "He showed really good base running instincts and that's the way he was advertised. I like his energy. We're going to put him at shortstop a little bit to see what he can do over there. He looks OK over there. It looks to me like he's got enough arm, but I'd have to see him longer.

"We have to make sure we're covered if something happened to Freddy (Galvis), or if (J.P.) Crawford isn't ready at a certain time, we have to have coverage. He's on the roster. We want to see if he can play more than second base."

Said Valentin: "I'm ready to go at any position, anywhere the team needs me."

On Nola
Aaron Nola had a solid spring debut. He pitched two scoreless innings and hit 94 mph on the radar gun. Most importantly, he got out of it healthy (see story).

"The best thing about that game was Aaron Nola," Mackanin said. "He looked really good. He had some good velocity, made some good pitches, went unscathed. I liked that."

Nola missed the last two months of 2016 with an elbow injury, so there's going to be some holding of breath for a while.

"I'd feel totally comfortable if we get into June and there aren't any issues," Mackanin said. "To be honest with you, I don't foresee any, but you never know. I don't know if the workload will catch up to him or not, and if it doesn't, then we have a heck of a good pitcher there. But it's always going to be an issue. I'm always going to wonder if he comes in one day and says it's bothering him. But right now, I'm staying positive and hoping he has no issues."

Brock and roll
Brock Stassi, the 27-year-old career minor-leaguer bidding to win a spot as a backup first baseman/outfielder, started in left field and had three hits, raising his spring batting average to .636 (7 for 11). He also drove in a run.

Up next
The Phillies host the Minnesota Twins on Friday afternoon. Jeremy Hellickson will start against Trevor May, the former Phillies prospect who was traded to the Twins for Ben Revere.

Best of MLB: Rendon explodes for 3 homers, 10 RBIs in Nats' 23-5 win vs. Mets

Best of MLB: Rendon explodes for 3 homers, 10 RBIs in Nats' 23-5 win vs. Mets

WASHINGTON -- Anthony Rendon had 10 RBIs, three home runs and six hits as the Washington Nationals took advantage of Noah Syndergaard's injury and mauled the New York Mets 23-5 on Sunday to set a franchise scoring record.

Rendon went a career-best 6 for 6 and scored five times while setting a club mark for RBIs. He became the 13th player in major league history to drive in 10 or more in a game, and first since Garret Anderson did it for the Angels in 2007.

Matt Wieters added two homers, a single and two walks as the Nationals salvaged the finale of a three-game series. Adam Lind and Bryce Harper also homered, and Harper scored four runs.

Washington finished with a season-high 23 hits and scored the most runs in the history of the Expos/Nationals franchise. The Nationals' seven homers were their most since the team moved from Montreal to Washington in 2005 (see full recap).

Keuchel improves to 5-0 with dominant start vs. Astros
HOUSTON -- Dallas Keuchel threw 7 2/3 solid innings, Marwin Gonzalez hit a three-run home run and the Houston Astros beat the Oakland Athletics 7-2 on Sunday.

Keuchel (5-0) struck out nine, while allowing one run on three hits and two walks. The left-hander has thrown at least seven innings in every outing this season. He became the second pitcher in Astros history to get five wins in April, joining Rogers Clemens, who went 5-0 in 2004.

After Trevor Plouffe doubled with one out in the first, Keuchel retired ten straight and 13 of the next 14 batters he faced.

Ken Giles earned his sixth save after getting Yonder Alonso to fly out with the bases loaded.

Jesse Hahn (1-2) gave up four runs on eight hits with six strikeouts in six innings.

Gonzalez hit his home run off the right field foul pole in eighth (see full recap).

Miguel Sano's 5 RBIs help hand Royals 9th-straight loss
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Miguel Sano homered and drove in five runs, helping the Minnesota Twins beat slumping Kansas City 7-5 on Sunday for the Royals' ninth straight loss.

Sano posted his fourth consecutive multihit game. He has 11 hits in his last 16 at-bats. He drove in nine runs in the two-game, rain-abbreviated series.

Sano connected in the third after Jason Hammel (0-3) walked Byron Buxton and Max Kepler. He added run-producing singles in the fourth and sixth innings.

It's the longest slide for Kansas City since a 12-game skid in April 2012 (see full recap).

Instant Replay: Dodgers 5, Phillies 3

Instant Replay: Dodgers 5, Phillies 3


LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers hit two more home runs in beating the Phillies, 5-3, on Sunday afternoon.

The Dodgers swept the three-game series from the Phils, hitting seven homers in the final two games, including five on Saturday night. Three of those homers Saturday night came in the ninth inning, as the Dodgers rallied back from a three-run deficit to hang an excruciating loss on the Phils.
Sunday's loss was not as painful. The Phils got a leadoff triple from Cesar Hernandez and an RBI single from Freddy Galvis in the first inning then did not score again until the ninth.
The Dodgers out-hit the Phillies, 13-4, over the first eight innings.
The Phillies are 11-12 heading into Chicago to play the defending World Series champion Cubs.
Starting pitching report
Nick Pivetta allowed 10 baserunners in his big-league debut but managed to limit the damage to just two runs thanks to a couple of double plays, a couple of big strikeouts and a fortuitous bounce that turned a double into a ground-rule double, which meant a runner had to hold at third.
Four of the nine hits that Piverta allowed were for extra bases, including a homer by Chris Taylor that gave the Dodgers a 2-1 lead in the second. He walked one and struck out five.
Dodgers lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu held the Phillies to three hits and a run over 5 1/3 innings. He walked three and struck out nine. He is 1-4.
Bullpen report
Jeanmar Gomez entered the game with the Phils trailing just 2-1 in the sixth. He allowed a leadoff single, a two-out walk to pinch-hitter Chase Utley and a three-run homer to Andrew Toles as the Dodgers put the game away.
With Hector Neris unavailable after throwing 19 pitches in Saturday night's disaster, Mackanin was likely holding back right-handers Edubray Ramos and Pat Neshek for the late innings in case the Phils got a lead.
Gomez has a 9.64 ERA.
Kenley Jansen got the final out and the save for the Dodgers after Grant Dayton gave up a two-run, two-out homer in the ninth. Jansen struck out Hernandez on three pitches.

At the plate
Maikel Franco struck out three times, snapping a career-best streak of 32 straight plate appearances without a strikeout.

Galvis has hit in 12 straight games.

Odubel Herrera smacked a two-run homer in the ninth to make it a two-run game.
Justin Turner had seven hits in the series, and he didn't even start the second game. (He had a game-tying, pinch-hit homer in that one.) He had three hits Sunday, including an RBI single in the first inning.
Toles had two homers in the series.
On the bases
Cameron Rupp, who entered the day hitting .180, had a pair of doubles and a single but short-circuited a potential rally when he was picked off second by rival catcher Yasmani Grandal on a no-outs bunt play with the Phils down a run in the fifth.
In the field
Not only did Turner have a big series at the plate, he robbed Tommy Joseph of a hit in the seventh inning with a fabulous pick of a hot smash to third. Joseph needed the hit as he is slumping badly. He went hitless with two strikeouts and is hitting .179.
Up next
The Phillies move on to Chicago for four games against the defending World Series champion Cubs. Here are the pitching matchups:
Monday night -- RHP Vince Velasquez (1-2, 6.33) vs. LHP Brett Anderson (2-0, 3.54)
Tuesday night -- RHP Jeremy Hellickson (4-0, 1.80) vs. LHP Jon Lester (0-1, 3.68)
Wednesday night -- RHP Jerad Eickhoff (0-2, 3.56) vs. RHP Jake Arrieta (3-1, 4.66)
Thursday afternoon -- RHP Zach Eflin (0-0, 1.89) vs. RHP John Lackey (2-3, 5.10)