New book is essential, and enjoyable, reading for any Phillies fan
By Steven Hoffman
For Philadelphia Phillies fans who can’t wait for the start of a new baseball season, the third annual “A Fan's View: Phillies Minor League Digest” compiled by Steve Potter is essential reading until pitchers and catchers report.
“A Fan’s View” is 370 pages of insight and delight, filled with statistics, photos, and stories about the Minor League players who are in the Phillies’ farm system. The book provides comprehensive reviews of each Minor League team during the 2018 season. Potter, an avid baseball fan who writes a daily blog about the Phillies on Facebook, offers insights that can only be developed through hours and hours of watching, talking, and reading about baseball.
For the third annual Phillies Minor League Digest, Potter enlisted the help of a number of contributing writers and photographers.
“I think the collaboration of fellow writers and my group of photographers stands out more this year,” Potter said. “In the first year I did the book, it was entirely done by me. Last year, I got others to contribute, and this year even more joined in. No one gets paid for their contributions to the book. It is all done voluntarily. The proceeds from store sales go to Phillies Charities.”
For the third edition, Jim Salisbury, the respected writer and reporter whose work is featured on NBC Sports Philadelphia, wrote the forward. He details how the book is a labor of love for Potter.
Potter now splits his time between Florida and Pennsylvania, and from the time players start reporting for Spring Training to the time the last players wrap up their work in the fall, he closely follows the Phillies and their farm teams. He writes about what he sees regularly, and while he does, indeed, offer “a fan's view,” it is a view sharpened by knowledge about the game. Phillies' broadcasters have even taken to sharing some of Potter's insights during telecasts, especially when it comes to players in the Phillies' farm system.
Potter is very optimistic about the Phillies’ future because of the talent currently in the pipeline.
“The Phillies have a very deep farm system,” Potter said. “The lower level pitching at Williamsport, Lakewood and Clearwater was excellent last year. There were also real major league prospects at Reading and Lehigh Valley, but most of the stronger arms were at the lower levels. The system is light in middle infielders, deep at third base and catcher, and relatively strong in center fielders. It is lacking at the corner outfield spots in regards to depth.”
The players working their way through the farm system will join a good, and improving, team. Rhys Hoskins has established himself as a talented major leaguer. Young players like Scott Kingery and Jorge Alfaro offer a lot of promise. The Phillies recently added shortstop Jean Segura and Andrew McCutchen to bolster the lineup. Aaron Nola has developed into an ace, joining Jake Arrieta as the leaders of the pitching rotation that includes a number of good, young arms.
Potter has watched closely as a lot of the younger players have developed into major leaguers. When asked about Kingery he said, “Scott Kingery is gonna be a very good player. He’s a kid that is a gym-rat type, always working and learning. His gap is up and in and down and away, and he will have to learn to lay off those pitches, but he’s capable of that.”
Potter lauded Kingery's hands as a defensive player and concluded that he will be fine once he makes the full adjustment to the majors.
One player that could make an impact on the Phillies as early as 2019, Potter said, is Adam Haseley, the eighth overall pick in the 2017 draft. He has ascended quickly through the farm system.
“Adam Haseley is a pure hitter,” Potter said. “He reminds me of Andrew Benintendi of the Red Sox.”
He added that Haseley may not have the arm strength and defensive prowess to play center field at the major league level, but he could project to be a strong defensive left fielder.
“He will be a plus major league hitter though, and he knows how to work counts which the Phillies like. I see him in the major leagues at some point in 2019.”
Another top prospect working his way through the system is outfielder Mickey Moniak. Potter said that Moniak should be promoted to Double A Reading at some point this summer, and could be a steady contributor at the major league level when he reaches that point. Moniak, who was drafted right out of high school, is still very young, so there is a lot of potential as he matures.
Another top prospect who could be on the fast-track to the big leagues is 17-year-old Luis Garcia, a shortstop.
Potter said that Garcia could develop into a true superstar in the mold of Ronald Acuna, Francisco Lindor, or Juan Soto―all major leaguers who made an immediate impact at the major league level.
“Garcia has absolutely the quickest hands I've seen as a middle infielder,” Potter explained. “He has natural movement as a shortstop, a strong arm, and he can flat out hit. He is slated for Lakewood at just 17, and I expect he will be in the big leagues before he's 20. He's really, really good.”
Potter is well-known in Chester County as an avid baseball enthusiast. He founded the Kennett Men's Senior Baseball League in 1989, and served as its president for 14 seasons. In addition to being an administrator, he played, managed, and coached at various levels of amateur baseball. He was a member of three national tournament championship teams in the Men's Senior Baseball League annual Fall Classic tournament in Florida. He is a Kennett Old Timers Baseball Hall of Fame inductee and was a vice president of the organization.
The third annual “A Fan's View: Phillies Minor League Digest” is available for sale online at Amazon for $15. It’s also available at Citizens Bank Park and the Minor League team stores in Lehigh Valley, Reading and Lakewood.