Reading clinches first division title in 15 years


By PATRICK GORDON | Managing Editor
September 4 2015, 11:15 PM EST.
@PGordonPBR

Seven of the top 12 prospects in the Phillies' farm-system are playing in Double-A Reading, so it bodes well for the future that the Fightin Phils clinched an Eastern League division title on Thursday.

"You have to learn how to win in order to win a championship," said right-hander Zach Eflin, one of the Phillies' top pitching prospects. "They did a great job of keeping the core here and keeping this team together and focusing on the winning mentality and the winning side of baseball. I think it's going to benefit us a lot in the years coming. We're going to know how to win when we're in a situation that's a win-or-go-home kind of game."

The division title is the first for Reading since 2000. The team last won the Eastern League championship in 1995.

Champagne and beer splashed all around the clubhouse at FirstEnergy Stadium, drenching the tarps meant to protect the carpet and lockers. Eventually, the celebration extended out to the swiming pool just beyond the stadium's right-field wall.

"This is great," said Phillies' top-prospect J.P. Crawford. "This makes us hungrier to experience similar success at the next level."

Reading manager Dusty Wathan said a full season of competitive baseball is important for a player's growth.

"It's a big part of what we want to get back to in Philadelphia - winning baseball," Wathan said. "Anytime you can win, I think that's a big part of development. Guys get in situations that count late in the season. Teammates are counting on each other and guys are looking at each other saying: 'Somebody has to do something here.'"

The Fightin Phils open their playoff series on Wednesday against the Binghamton Mets.

Adding to the excitement on the farm, high-A Clearwater and short-season-A Williamsport both clinched playoff berths and open postseason play next week.

"Things are changing," Crawford said. "The future of this organization looks bright." 

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