Stumpo’s Surprise and Howard’s Look Back


The look in his eyes and the breathlessness in his voice kind of gave it away.  Bob Stumpo was the new kid in town.

Among the likes of Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez, Ross Gload and even Cory Sullivan, there was the 23 year old kid named Stumpo.  McKechnie Field was his candy store Saturday.

A 33rd round pick by the Phillies out of Division-III West Chester last June, Stumpo’s born and raised a Philadelphia fan.  His family lives just a half hour outside the city in Delaware.

Stumpo made his pro debut in the Gulf Coast League in 2010, playing four games before being promoted to A-Advanced Clearwater after an injury to Joel Naughton.  He started his second game with the Threshers and played against the Marauders July 15th, his first of now two trips to McKechnie.

The second one came Saturday when the Phillies put Stumpo on the big league taxi squad, shuttling him from minor league camp to play against the Pirates.

“It’s unbelievable actually,” Stumpo said of spending the day with the big club.  “It’s a dream come true.  It’s what a lot of young guys look forward to their entire life.”

Stumpo was one of three catchers on a split-squad Phillies team with Erik Kratz (a former Pirate) and Tuffy Gosewisch.  He was one of seven minor leaguers Philadelphia brought to Bradenton though he didn’t get into the game.  Kratz took the start and Gosewisch came off the bench, but just being there for batting practice was enough of a treat.

“I was standing in right field and Ryan Howard was hitting,” Stumpo said.  “I’ve been watching Ryan Howard on TV as a fan for a long time now.”

Stumpo knows the call-up is only a temporary move and that tomorrow he’ll likely be back in minor league camp.  His placement in the minors for 2011 is still unknown, but Stumpo’s grateful not only for Saturday’s brush with bigs but also his time with the Threshers last season.  In 18 games the rookie picked up six hits and an RBI.

“Not too many guys get to go up that quickly,” Stumpo said.  “There was an injury and they needed and extra spot and it just happened that I got to stay.  It’s a humbling sport that’s for sure.  You just have to keep learning.  Going up to Clearwater and High-A right away I learned a lot from the pitching coaches.  I learned a lot from the manager.  I learned a lot from other guys on the team.”

FIRST TASTE FOR ELLIS

Jordan Ellis is famous in McKechnie Field lore for the hits he didn’t give up.  Just promoted from Low-A Lakewood last summer Ellis took the loss in the sixth of seven wins the Marauders had over the Threshers.  It also just so happened that Bradenton beat Ellis in the ninth inning without a hit.  The Marauders scored on a strikeout in the dirt, walk, sac bunt, sac fly and wild pitch.  The final was 8-7.

“Yeah, it was [nuts], but that’s part of the game,” Ellis said.  “You never can expect to win a game even when you’re up because things change quickly.”

Just out of his second full pro season Ellis, also a Philadelphia native and Villanova product, got a kick out of the big league experience.

“It’s a good experience anytime somebody in minor league camp can get involved with big league camp and pick their brains and see how it really is up here,” Ellis said.  “I’m just trying to take it all in and talk to everyone and see how everything goes.  I guess it will help me relax someday.”

HOWARD RECALLS THE FLORIDA STATE LEAGUE

It was a long while back that Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard played in the Florida State League in 2003.  Howard won league MVP and torched opponents to the tune of a .304 average, 23 homeruns and 82 RBI.  The season, his third, marked his best as a pro.

“For me I was just being me,” Howard said.  “I guess everybody else will look at it in a different light but I was just out there playing ball, doing me.”

And that’s the advice Howard has for other Florida State Leaguers and minor leaguers in general.  Just don’t put too much pressure on yourself.

“Sometimes you’ll catch yourself kind of thinking too much,” Howard said, “and then sometimes you just have to let it go and go out there and swing just kind of let what happens happen.”

As for the biggest perk of playing in the FSL?

“You got to sleep in your own bed every night,” Howard said.  “All the towns were very close.  We played Dunedin and Tampa.  Fort Myers was one of the only teams we had to stay overnight within our division.”

The less than good?

“It was hot,” Howard said.  “You get a lot of rain and you have to be very patient.”

In something of a light moment I asked Howard about the show he put on at the ’03 home run derby in Fort Myers.  Kris Koch, a former Assistant General Manager for the Miracle and now a Pirates employee, informed me he was pretty sure Howard had won the derby.  The slugger was less sure (with a laugh).

Howard: I did alright.

Me: I thought you won?

Howard: I don’t think so. 

Me: Oh.  Then I guess I got bad information.

Howard: Then I guess I won.  I don’t know it was a while back.

 

I scoured the internet looking for the actual answer and failed.  So if you know the correct answer please let the both of us know.

 

Till next time…

Joel

 

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About Joel Godett
Joel Godett is in his secod year broadcasting Bradenton Marauders baseball. His career has carried him from Syracuse to Buffalo, Roanoke, Cape Cod, Tampa and Bradenton. He is originally from New Jersey and somehow grew up an Atlanta Braves fan.

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