MLB Predictions: 2017 Edition

By: Dave DiPasqua 

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – The Chicago Cubs snapped a 108-year curse last year with an incredible postseason run to capture the 2016 World Series.

As we fast-forward to now, look for the Cubs to repeat as the 2017 campaign is officially underway. Who knows what will happen over the course of the next few months! 

World Series Prediction: Chicago Cubs over Boston Red Sox in 6 games

NL East: New York Mets 

NL Central: Chicago Cubs

NL West: San Francisco Giants

Wild Cards: Washington Nationals, Los Angeles Dodgers 

AL East: Toronto Blue Jays

AL Central: Cleveland Indians

AL West: Houston Astros

Wild Cards: Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers

Phillies Prediction: 77-85

  • Despite being on a three-game skid, the Phillies have shown promise with a young core.
  • They do lack power in the middle of the lineup, which is why this is such a big year for Maikel Franco. He has not shown anything yet, hence the losing streak with him batting clean-up.
  • Need the arms in the rotation to produce with Vince Velasquez being the ace.
    • Personally, I think Velasquez is better suited for the closer position with his strikeout potential.
    • Expect them to deal Jeremy Hellickson and Clay Bucholz at the deadline to bring up guys from the minors (Jake Thompson & Ben Lively to name two).
  • Expect them to throw big money this off-season as rumors fly around the notion of landing … Bryce Harper if the price is right.
  • A player to watch: Aaron Altherr
    • After missing time last year due to injury, Altherr needs to have a big year
    • He has the size (6’5”) and now has to put it all together
  • A pitcher to watch: Jerad Eickhoff
    • Has the ability to be the best of the bunch: 11-14 record with 3.65 ERA in 2016
    • Has good command of his pitches, but needs run support
    • Reminds me of a young John Lackey

 

 

2016 Phillies Podcast

By: David DiPasqua, Jr. Phillies_Logo

Baseball season has arrived in 2016!

Listen to our baseball podcast with special guest Amanda Orr, who comes from Phillies Nation. 

Topics of discussion

  • Expectations for the Phillies 
  • Pitching rotation 
  • Prospects-Future looks bright 
  • Trade deadline, who could be dealt 
  • Phillies radar with first overall pick 
  • Games to circle on your calendar 
  • MLB Predictions-Divisions, MVP, Cy Young, and Postseason 

Philadelphia Sports: Letter A

Considering how professional sports in Philadelphia have officially gone down the toilet in 2015, I have elected to shine a spotlight on the players who gave this fanbase something to cheer about. 

There were plenty of ups and downs, yet there are players who will forever be known in the city of “Brotherly Love.” Over the next few weeks, there will be a Philadelphia Sports Alphabet, A-Z. 

Kicking things off with letter A, is none other than Hall of Fame center fielder, Richie Ashburn. 

richie_ashburn
Now remembered in Citizens Bank Park with the naming of “Asburn Alley”

Career Statistics

  • Hall of Fame inductee 1995
  • Phillies tenure: 1948-59
  • .308 hitter
  • 1,198 walks
  • 2,574 hits 
  • .397 on-base percentage
  • 6x All-Star 

Whether it was his bat or glove, Ashburn knew how to get the fans on their feet. His heart, hustle, and will to win were qualities that Philadelphia embraced. 

During his tenure, Ashburn a brought National League championship to the city in 1950 as a member of the “Whiz Kids.” 

Ashburn wasn’t quite done after his playing days, joining the media after retirement. The center fielder joined the Phillies’ broadcast team in 1963 and was the voice alongside Harry Kalas for over the next two decades, up until his death in 1997. 

Richie Ashburn was truly a fan favorite who put his speed, bat, and voice on display for nearly 50 years, earning him a top spot in the Philadelphia Sports alphabet. 

Famous quote: “To cure a batting slump, I took my bat to bed with me. I wanted to know my bat a little better.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MN’s Chris Kirsch Journey to the Show

David DiPasqua, Jr., Monday, February 9th, 2015

Marple Newtown alum Chris Kirsch took full advantage of his opportunities during his senior year of high school in 2010, showcasing his talents on the mound and at the plate.

The southpaw became a force to be reckoned with in the Central League, dominating the opposition while attracting scouts’ attention at the collegiate and professional level.

One specific game that remains with Kirsch today was the showdown with Conestoga, delivering a phenomenal performance where he belted a home run and shutdown the Pioneers’ on the mound to propel the Tigers to a 12-2 victory.

Kirsch’s senior year at MN was one to remember. Image is courtesy of Chris Kirsch’s Facebook page.

Kirsch emphasized the importance Coach Balk played in his development. “Without him I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in now. He guided me through my senior season.”

Once his high school career concluded, Kirsch was fortunate enough to be drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 13th round, officially selected 387th overall.

Even though he decided not to sign the contract with Pittsburgh, Kirsch holds this experience as a cherished memory as it was his introduction to the major league draft.

Instead Kirsch headed to Lackawanna, a junior college located in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

During his first season with the Falcons, it was made clear that he had much to learn at the next level. 

The lefty elected to stay in school for one more season and pass up being drafted once again. This time it was the St. Louis Cardinals who selected him in the 21st round (650th overall). 

Originally this was not the plan coming out of high school. Kirsch pointed out that he “went in there with a mindset, I’m there for a year and I’m out.” Later he came to the realization that he needed more than one year to mature and learn the ins and outs. 

Heading into his sophomore campaign, expectations were high for both Kirsch and his team. Their goal was set on the World Series.

Staying the extra season proved to be a wise decision as both goals were achieved in the 2012 season.

Kirsch tore up the league, earning the Region’s Player of the Year while also obtaining First Team honors. The statistics speak for themselves, as the Lackawanna website showcases Kirsch’s success, finishing with a 10-1 record, 107 strikeouts in 75 innings, and a minuscule 1.92 ERA.

Other than Kirsch’s individual success, the Falcons’ reached their goal of attending the NJCAA Division II World Series.

He views both as accomplishments because it was the first time in school history that the team made it that far in the postseason.

From this point, it was down between going professional or attending Virginia Commonwealth University to prolong his collegiate career. 

Kirsch’s two year stint at Lackawanna allowed him to develop.  Image is courtesy of Chris Kirsch’s Facebook page.

Being selected in a third consecutive draft, Kirsch elected to sign with the Tampa Bay Rays who took him in the 14th round, winding up 452nd overall.

Coach Pensak played a significant role in his development over the two years as well, recalling how “he instilled a work ethic in me and gave me that drive I carry with me now.”

This was the moment where Kirsch realized he was ready to play pro ball. 

Collegiate athletics were now in the rear view mirror, it was time to go be a professional. 

Continuing to learn the game and adapt is a major concept that has allowed Kirsch to improve his game as a starting pitcher in the farm system. Back at Marple Newtown he was the pitcher with a big arm that threw past batters, consistently hitting between 86-88 miles per hour on the radar.

There was a learning curve, but over time Kirsch adjusted and now has a variety of different pitches in his arsenal.

Throwing heat is simply not enough for the big southpaw, so in addition to a fastball that ranges from 90-95 on the gun he has incorporated a split change-up, a slider, and a curve to keep hitters off-balance.

Injuries are a part of the game too, as he looked to bounce back after rookie ball and hip surgery in order to “put it all together.” 

One of the most challenging responsibilities of being an athlete is the lifestyle and pressure that comes along with the profession. 

This lifestyle shapes the persona of a player with diets, workouts, and baseball workouts that occur on a daily basis.

For the most part, baseball season ends in the middle of September for players. There is a three or four week layoff that provides these athletes with time to relax, before returning back to the grind for the next season.

“The most challenging thing I have to deal with is the pressure of the game. There’s so much mentally that goes in a player’s head that no fan knows, unless they are out there with you playing the game. When you are on that that mound, you control the game and you are responsible for what happens. But through my career so far, I have been able to deal with it just fine,” Kirsch remarked. 

Kirsch heads to spring training in the Tampa Bay Rays’ organization. Image is courtesy of Chris Kirsch’s Facebook page.

There are plenty of advantages to playing the game as well, “traveling the world playing the game you love.” Being able to see countless venues is certainly something to remember, witnessing different atmospheres around the country.

His personal favorite was Bowling Green, Kentucky where he recently played last season compared to his least preferred location in Beloit, Wisconsin due to the minimal amount of things to do or see.

The Marple Newtown grad reflects on his unique experiences.

“In the past five years, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned a lot about the game of baseball and I will continue too as I go. The whole journey through minor league baseball has been a dream come true. Playing baseball for a living comes along with so many different life lessons that most people never get to experience.”

Whether it is his ritual of arriving two hours early to the stadium before game time or off-season training, Kirsch stressed the importance of working hard and never giving up on a dream.

Through everything he has faced in his life, Chris’ biggest fans are his parents. At every level he has played, his parents have traveled to various stadiums and showed their support to help him succeed.

Currently, Chris Kirsch is preparing for spring training in the Tampa Bay Rays’ organization after completing last season with the Bowling Green Hot Rods (Class A) in Kentucky.

The future appears to be bright for the 23-year-old native from Newtown Square, Pennsylvania.