NEXT STOP: 2012 Centralia HS Grad Andrew Pullin Joins Lehigh Valley IronPigs After Hitting .308 With Double-A Reading
By Aaron VanTuyl
There’s plenty of questions for Andrew Pullin in his new situation.
What’s Lehigh Valley like? Where’s he going to live? And what, exactly, is an IronPig?
Pullin, a 2012 Centralia High School graduate, took a step closer to the big leagues on Thursday, when he was promoted to the Philadelphia Phillies’ Triple-A affiliate — the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.
Pullin was informed Wednesday night of the move, and flew from Philadelphia to Rochester, N.Y., on Thursday to join the IronPigs at the start of a four-game series against the Red Wings.
“It was good news,” he said. “I was hoping for it. That’s the goal, to keep moving up, but I’m just focusing on each game, and only focusing on what I can control each game.
“Whatever happens, happens,” he added. “But I’m excited it did happen.”
The former Tiger hit .308 in 67 games this season for the Double-A Reading Fightin Phils before his call-up. Playing left field, he hit 14 home runs in 266 trips to the plate with with 46 RBIs and a .556 slugging percentage.
Consistency, he said, has been the key to his success.
“I think just kind of knowing what I can do, and just being able to be consistent with that, and not do too much — just focusing on controlling the zone and swinging at pitches I want to hit,” he said, “just being really consistent with that, I think that’s the biggest thing that’s helped me.”
Lehigh Valley leads the International League with a 49-25 record. The IronPigs are on the road in Rochester, New York, for a four-game series that ends Sunday afternoon, and will start a four-game series with Pawtucket at home in Allentown on Monday.
“It’s a bigger stadium, a lot more fans, a bigger clubhouse — everything is a little better than it was before,” he said. “The pitching, the guys are more experienced. They know what they’re doing. You just have to stick to your plan and execute, and consistency is the biggest thing.”
He was inserted into the starting lineup as a designated hitter on Thursday and went 1 for 4 in the IronPigs’ 4-2 loss.
“It was good. I got my first hit out of the way,” he said. “It was fun. We didn’t win the game, but it’s a good team, with a lot of good players on the team. It’s going to be fun to help contribute and help the team win.”
He had his first Triple-A RBI on Friday, going 1 for 4 with a double in the IronPigs’ 4-3 win.
Lehigh Valley is the last stop for players in the Phillies’ organization on their way to the pros. The roster spot he now occupies opened up when Cameron Perkins, a right-handed swinging outfielder who was hitting .298 for the IronPigs, was called up to the majors on Tuesday. Perkins, 26, was taken in the sixth round in 2012 after three years at Purdue; he moved up to Reading in 2014, played for Reading in 2015, and hit .292 for Lehigh Valley in 2016.
Pullin hopes he can replicate his Double-A success at the latest stop on his baseball journey.
“I think if I’m able to just be consistent with what I do, stick with my approach at the plate and not do to much with that, and keep it simple, I think I absolutely can,” he said.
And, for the record:
• Lehigh Valley is the Allentown–Bethlehem–Easton area of eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey; it’s the third-most populous area of Pennsylvania, and the home of Crayola and Bethlehem Steel.
• Pullin will look for an apartment next week, when the team returns from its four-game series in Rochester to start an eight-game homestand.
• And the team was moved to Allentown in 2008, at which point the local newspaper held a contest to choose a new mascot. According to MentalFloss.com, IronPigs is a play on ‘pig iron,’ the raw iron melted down to make steel: “The term refers to the rows of ingots on the conveyor belt all attached to a single runner, which was thought to look like a litter of suckling piglets.”
Notes: Pullin was moved up to Double-A Reading last June, at nearly the same point in the season, and made an immediate impact, going 6 for 9 in his first two games. He committed to play for the University of Oregon while in high school, but was drafted in the fifth round by the Phillies in 2012 and took the professional route. He played in the Class-A Advanced Florida State League for the Clearwater Threshers in 2015, hitting .258 with 14 home runs and 73 RBIs in 123 games. He played 36 games for the Threshers to start the 2016 season, hitting .293 with 19 RBIs and four homers before the call-up to Reading.