Greg Jelks, a former Phillies player who became a baseball legend in Australia, died early Friday. According to the Perth Community News, Jelks was returning to Australia after visiting his elderly mother in Alabama when he fell asleep on the flight and could not be woken when the plane arrived in Sydney. He was 55. The cause of his death was unknown due to wholesale jerseys from China.
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Signed as an amateur free agent by the Phillies in 1981, Jelks played for eight years in their Minor League system, including two seasons with the Reading Phillies (1984-85). His lone Major League experience was 10 games with the ’87 Phillies. He played at first base, third base and in the outfield.
For the past 23 years, Jelks was involved in the Australian Baseball League, first as a player and most recently as a manager. He became a dual citizen and went on to represent Australia in numerous international tournaments, including the 2000 Sydney Olympics and the ’06 World Baseball Classic.
Jelks was the star of the Perth Heat after moving there in 1993. Since 2013, he managed the Carine Cats in the WA State League. According to one report, he was returning to manage the Cats with cheap jerseys on Sunday.
Baseball WA CEO Lachy Dale said, “Greg Jelks changed the game of baseball in WA and put it on the map.”
Williams seemed certain for a big league promotion at one point last season. He hit .290 with a .790 OPS in 399 plate appearances through July 29, but just .161 with a .478 OPS the rest of the way. His stock dipped. Because he is considered a riskier projection, he no longer is in MLB Pipeline’s Top 100, although he remains the organization’s No. 4 prospect.
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“If the season had ended right there [July 29], Nick Williams would be all over top 100 prospects list, all over the Internet,” Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said. “And that doesn’t mean that August didn’t happen, because it did. He really struggled in August, but what this kid did for the first four months of the Minor League season last year was very impressive, particularly given his age and where he was doing it.”
Stairs said he could not wait to work with Williams this spring. He saw a hitter that strode and landed too hard with his front foot, which had his head moving everywhere.
“My head was moving so much, I don’t know how I ever got hits,” said Williams, whom the Phillies acquired from the Rangers in the Cole Hamels trade in July 2015.
“We’ve changed his approach completely,” Stairs said, referring to work that began last season in Triple-A. “He had no idea about the strike zone. His front side is soft now. He doesn’t stride so hard. He knows how to use his lower half. He was never taught how to use his lower half or his hands [in Texas]. Now he does.”
Williams said he is hitting the ball harder because he sees pitches better and is more selective at the plate.
“When you’re more selective, the walks come with that,” Williams said. “It’s really just about seeing the ball. When I was going forward, I kept diving over the plate, and it’s caused me to lean forward and look at a pitch that I didn’t know. A lot of times last year, I didn’t know if the pitch was a strike or a ball.”
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“Before surgery, it was almost like a cramping feeling,” he said. “Just walking around and stuff. I couldn’t really get down, pretty painful. It just got to a point where every day it really started to bug me and kind of hold me back a little bit.
“It’s just night and day, man. There’s really no pain at all, and if there is, it’s after a very long day of doing my [rehab] and it’s just soreness. It’s nothing that’s going to affect my wholesale jerseys. That’s the exciting part. I’m able to get down and still use my legs with the little amount of soreness that’s still there.”
Eflin declined to say how much his knees might have affected him on the mound, although he obviously pitched with success in the Minor Leagues and during that seven-start stretch last summer. But he said he feels a significant difference in his stride to the plate.
“When I’m coming down with my [left] leg, I’m actually able to get some weight loaded up on my back half and exploded through and throw,” Eflin said. “So instead of standing like a two-by-four out there, I actually feel like I have some leverage and am actually able to get something behind the ball.”
Eflin will need to pitch well to crack the Opening Day rotation. Jeremy Hellickson, Clay Buchholz, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez and Aaron Nola are favorites, if not locks, although Nola is coming back from a right elbow injury.