New book details Phillies’ minor league teams in 2016
● By Steven Hoffman
2016 was a very good year for the Philadelphia Phillies’ Minor League system. All the Phillies’ farm teams made the playoffs for the first time ever. The farm system was also awarded a “MiLBY” for being the best in baseball. Steve Potter, who is well-known here in Chester County as an avid baseball fan, has written a book, “The 2016 Phillies Minor Leagues: A Fan’s View,” which is a diary of the Phillies minor league system—and a recap of a memorable season.
Potter spends a lot of time in the Clearwater, Florida area between October and April, and on most days he finds himself at the Carpenter Complex or Bright House Field watching the Phillies train and play their early-season games. He also attends games during the summer in Reading, Williamsport, and Lehigh Valley. Potter regularly maintains a Facebook page about the Phillies, where he writes game recaps, analyses, and transactions. According to Potter, his book is a compilation of those items, as well as his coverage of the June draft, the International signings that began in July, periodic team analysis throughout the season, and plenty of statistics. The book is presented in chronological order as the season unfolded.
“The reason I wrote the book,” Potter explained, “is to tell people about the depth and the real chance that once these kids start arriving at the big league level, the pipeline should allow the major league Phillies to go on an extended run of multiple years of winning baseball. They truly have done a very good job of gathering and developing talent.”
Potter particularly enjoyed watching the Phillies' Double A team in Reading, especially the tandem of Dylan Cozens and Rhys Hoskins.
“My favorite part of the season was the excitement in Reading when they went on a winning run and at one point had the best record in all of professional baseball,” Potter explained. “They found ways to win in different ways each night with their offense—they had one of the best offensive teams I have seen in a long long time. The seasons that the "bash brothers," Dylan Cozens and Rhys Hoskins, had were tremendous. Cozens hit 40 home runs and I am a big fan, and Hoskins has some of the quickest hands I have seen. Charlie Manuel is right when he says that Hoskins can turn on an Aroldis Chapman fastball right now. There is big time power with those two kids.”
After tracking the progress of some of the Phillies' top prospects, Potter believes that the team will soon have an influx of talent that will lead to a lot of success on the diamond, reminiscent of the success that the team enjoyed between 2007 and 2011.
“What stands out to me is the depth of talent in the system,” Potter said. “There are two tiers as I describe them in the book. The first tier is older and at the higher levels, kids like [Cozens and Hoskins] and JP Crawford, Miguel Nunez, Scott Kingery, Alberto Tirado, Franklyn Kilome. They are legitimate major league prospects. The second tier that is three to five years away is even better as they have kids with superior level talent. Young kids like Jhailyn Ortiz, Mickey Moniak, Sixto Sanchez, Kevin Gowdy, and Cole Stobbe are really gifted baseball players.”
The book includes photographs taken by Cheryl Pursell, who photographs game action for the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs and sometimes the Reading Fightens.
“She is an excellent photographer and I am honored she agreed to the inclusion of her work,” Potter said.
Potter describes himself as a lifelong baseball fan. He founded the Kennett Men's Senior Baseball League in 1989, and served as its president for 14 seasons. He is a Kennett Old Timers Baseball Hall of Fame inductee and serves as vice president of the organization. He has played, managed, coached and has been an administrator at various levels of amateur baseball and was a member of three national tournament championship teams in the Men's Senior Baseball League annual Fall Classic tournament in Florida. He also is a four-time participant in the Phillies Phantasy Camp. In 2015, he was presented with the Tug McGraw Inspiration Award at the camp.
Potter said that he believes that his newest book—he's written five books about baseball overall—will be a great reference for Phillies fans, especially as some of the minor league stars of the 2016 season make it to the majors.
Potter recently learned that the Phillies have agreed to carry the book in the team store at Citizens Bank Park. The books will also be sold at the team stores for the minor league affiliates in Lehigh Valley, Reading, Williamsport, Clearwater and Lakewood. Potter also said that he has received purchase orders from six different libraries so far. The book is also available at www.createspace.com/6592139.