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2015 Eastern League Season Roundup

As the season draws to a close, let's look at key events in the 2015 Eastern League..

Matt Boyd
Matt Boyd
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Reading Fightin' Phils Cruising towards Playoffs after Cole Hamels Trade

The Fightin Phils are 24-9 since the big Cole Hamels trade, as they added Nick Williams, Jorge Alfaro and Jake Thompson to their Double-A team as a result of the trade. One of the main contributors in the last month, Nick Williams has a slash line of .326/.347/.554 since the trade, his slugging percentage and average are up, despite his .OBP being down, with only three walks in 95 PA.

Catcher Jorge Alfaro, another central piece in the big trade, suffered an ankle injury in early June, but is now back for the stretch run and will be an important piece in the playoffs.

Jake Thompson has appeared to do better since the trade, pitching to the tune of a 2.08 ERA in Reading, and putting behind him the 4.72 ERA that he had with the Frisco Roughriders. Although it may look like he is doing much better, his FIP in Frisco, 3.82, and his FIP in Reading, 3.81, are almost identical, suggesting that his ERA may rise in the future.

That said, Thompson has a plus fastball, sitting at about 93 with sinking life. His best pitch is a hard slider that some rate as a possible plus-plus pitch in the future. He also has an average curveball and change-up that have the possibility to be better as he continues to improve.

Matt Boyd Blossoms in Double-A

Matt Boyd, rated as a C+ preseason by John Sickels, dominated in the Eastern League and made his major league debut. In 2014, he ended the season on a rough note in Double-A and some wondered whether he would be able to live up to his potential as a #4/5 finesse lefty. But in the offseason he had a weighted ball program, raising his fastball velocity by about 3 MPH, as he now comfortably throws at 93 MPH.

As a result of his stellar season, he was a piece in the trade that sent David Price to the Blue Jays. Although he has been struggling recently in the majors with the Detroit Tigers, it is not hard to see him as a solid number four starter.

Abundance of Young, Promising Hitters Play in the Eastern League

Among the 50 players who were selected to participate in the Futures Game, 12 of them played at some point in the Eastern League. Of those 12, 10 of them are hitters, most who have now been promoted to Triple-A or even the majors.

There will still be some promising young talent in the Eastern League next year, as Bradley Zimmer and Lucas Giolito look to start the year there, and a plethora of young Red Sox talent, including Yoan Moncada, Rafael Devers and Andrew Benintendi, could join them mid-season.

Say Goodbye to the New Britain Rock Cats

In 2016, the New Britain Rock Cats will relocate to Dunkin' Donuts Stadium, where they will be called the Hartford Yard Goats. In 1983, the Red Sox moved a team to New Britain, known as the New Britain Red Sox. In 1994, the Red Sox looked to move out of New Britain, but the owner of the team, Joe Buzas, decided to stay in New Britain. The Twins became affiliated with them in 1995. In 2014, it was announced that the New Britain Rock Cats would move after the 2015 season.

Shortly afterward, the Twins severed ties with the Rock Cats, and the Rockies decided to sign a two year deal with them. Although it is the end of an era, professional baseball is not done with New Britain, as an independent league team has decided to move to New Britain.