7 minor details
1.) Lefthander Jesse Biddle, The Inquirer's No. 3 Phillies prospect who is beginning his second year at double-A Reading, improved in his second outing but still is looking to find his form. After allowing four earned runs in 31/3 innings in his first start, Biddle went seven innings and allowed four earned runs in his second. An encouraging sign has been his control. He has struck out 11 and walked three in his first 101/3 innings.
"He was getting ahead in the count in the second start, and he could throw the change-up and utilize that big breaking ball more," Reading catcher Tommy Joseph said. "He definitely made a step in the right direction."
2.) Lehigh Valley third baseman Maikel Franco, The Inquirer's No. 1 prospect, entered the weekend hitting .129 (4 for 31) with two RBIs after hitting just .184 in spring training with the Phillies.
"There is no concern from me," said Joe Jordan, the Phillies director of player development. "I think it has more to do with the weather.
"He is not where he needs to be offensively, but I don't see him striking out a lot (seven times entering the weekend), and he is not doing things that concern me."
3.) Lakewood shortstop J.P. Crawford, The Inquirer's No. 2 prospect, missed two games after getting hit on the knee with a pitch and suffering a bruise. Crawford returned to action in the BlueClaws' home opener on Thursday, a 6-0 loss to Hagerstown. Selected 16th overall as the Phillies' first-round draft choice last season, Crawford entered the weekend batting .301. He appeared in 14 late-season games last year at Lakewood after leading the Gulf Coast League with a .345 average.
"The time at Lakewood last year helped me a lot because I know what is expected, and I know to keep my cool and not try to do too much," Crawford said.
4.) Shortstop-second baseman KC Serna was hitting .400 (8 for 20) in his first six games in Clearwater. Serna, who played in an independent league last year, was originally a 42d-round pick of the Cleveland Indians in 2011 out of the University of Oregon. Last season he hit .304 for the Amarillo Sox of the independent American Association.
"We signed him because we need middle-infield depth at Clearwater," Jordan said. "He has been what we hoped for, and he has a chance to play in our system and not just be a one-year rental."
5.) Lehigh Valley saw two extremes while splitting a Wednesday doubleheader with visiting Buffalo. Doubleheader games are supposed to go seven innings, but Buffalo won the first, 5-3, in 11 innings. That game took 3 hours and 55 minutes. The IronPigs won the nightcap 1-0, in a seven-inning game taking 1 hour and 53 minutes. Centerfielder Clete Thomas scored the lone run on a passed ball. Thomas, 30, was signed as a minor-league free agent after appearing in 92 games last season for the Minnesota Twins and 36 more for triple-A Rochester.
6.) In a matchup pairing sons of former major leaguers, Greensboro catcher Chad Wallach went 2 for 3 with a two-run homer off Lakewood righthander Mark Leiter during Wednesday's 2-1 win over the visiting BlueClaws. As Lakewood public relations director and radio broadcaster Greg Giombarrese points out, Wallach's father, Tim, had much less success against Leiter's father, also named Mark. During his career Tim Wallach was 1 for 9 with no RBIs against the elder Leiter.
7.) Reading righthander Severino Gonzalez, The Inquirer's No. 6 prospect, doesn't throw overly hard, but he has great control. He has walked one and struck out seven in his first 12 innings. Gonzalez, 21, has thrown 116 of his 165 pitches for strikes.