Prospect Zach Collier finishing strong
1. Reading centerfielder Zach Collier is finishing strong after a difficult first four months. An outstanding defensive player with great speed, Collier entered the weekend hitting .327 (32 for 98) with 16 runs, three doubles, five triples, a home run, and 10 RBIs in August. Overall he was batting .221 for the season.
"I have very little doubt he will play in the big leagues," Phillies director of player development Joe Jordan said. "The fact that he is having a strong August speaks volumes about what he is made of and how tough he is."
A sandwich pick selected 34th overall in the 2008 draft, Collier, who turns 23 on Sept. 8, credits his late-season surge to his experience and maturity.
"At a younger age I think I would have kind of shut it down [if having a bad season], and this year I feel I have grown up a lot and wanted to continue to work hard," Collier said.
Collier has battled injuries, missing the 2010 season because of right-wrist surgery. In addition he was suspended 50 games at the beginning of 2012 by MLB after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug. This year he entered the weekend with a career-high 443 at-bats
"It has been very important to get my reps and understand how I am as a hitter," Collier said. "I have learned a lot about myself this year."
2. Even though he's with the Phillies, Cody Asche made the International League's triple-A all-star team as a third baseman. While with Lehigh Valley, Asche hit .298 with 15 homers and 68 RBIs before debuting with the Phillies on July 30. Lehigh Valley's Cesar Hernandez, who is a second baseman but who has also played center field, made the postseason team as a second baseman. Hernandez, who hit .250 in 28 at-bats this season with the Phillies, entered the weekend hitting .313 with a .378 on-base percentage and a league-high nine triples.
3. Reading lefthander Jesse Biddle, scheduled to start Monday's season finale at New Britain, has been battling some control problems. Biddle issued seven walks in Wednesday's 1-0 loss to visiting Richmond, throwing 63 pitches, 29 for strikes, in three innings. He has walked 82 in 1381/3 innings. Three times in his last seven starts, Biddle has walked six or more batters. On the positive side, Biddle has struck out 154 and opponents are batting just .210 against him.
4. One reason shortstop J.P. Crawford, the Phillies' first-round pick, went from the Gulf Coast League to Lakewood, bypassing short-season Williamsport, was because of shortstop Malquin Canelo. The Phillies wanted to have the 5-foot-10, 156-pound Canelo get regular reps at Williamsport. Even though he entered the weekend hitting just .209 in 163 at-bats, Canelo, who turns 19 this week, has shown promise, according to Williamsport manager Nelson Prada.
"He's hitting better than his average shows," Prada said. "And his defense, I can put him on any level in the minor leagues and he can play defense and he is young and I feel his hitting will come around as he gets stronger."
5. Clearwater centerfielder Aaron Altherr is finishing the season strong. The 22-year-old ninth-round pick in 2009 entered the weekend hitting .342 in his last 10 games (13 for 38). For the season he was hitting .275 with 12 homers and 69 RBIs. Altherr will participate in the Arizona Fall League.
- Marc Narducci