Originally posted on Phillies Nation  |  Last updated 2/21/12

Ladies and gentlemen, join us in welcoming Phillies pitching prospect Justin De Fratus, who will be taking time this preseason to offer rare and unique glances inside spring training.

De Fratus, an 11th round draft pick from 2007, has been one of Philadelphia’s fastest rising relief pitchers over the past couple of seasons. After posting a combined 6-3 record with 15 saves and a 2.99 ERA at Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley last year, De Fratus earned a promotion to the majors and appeared in 5 games for the Phillies.

This year, as the 24-year-old De Fratus battles for an opening day roster spot, he’ll share all sorts of thoughts and inside looks at camp in Clearwater, FL exclusively with you, Phillies Nation. Read ahead for your first dose of The J-Bone Zone.


I left for Florida from my off-season home in California back in late January. I drove cross-country with my buddy Jameson and I’ve just been down here since then, soaking in the baseball. I got to work at the complex from day one.

I stay in New Port Richey, which is about 36 miles north of Clearwater. I stay here with a family friend and I’ve been staying with them for the past couple of years and stuff. They’re real cool to me and they take care of me, while I’m down here. It’s a nice little set up I’ve got.

This year already feels a little different, pressure-wise, than other years have felt. I feel more relaxed this year. I played with everybody last year, so it’s definitely more of a comfortable situation for me this year, after spending some time with the big league club in September. I feel like I am getting to be myself a little bit more, so for me it’s a better atmosphere and I think that can help me as far as my on-field performance…I’ll feel more relaxed knowing that I don’t have to impress somebody with every pitch that I throw. It’s going to be more about getting ready for the season.

And, although I feel more and more like I belong in big league camp, I still realize the type of talent I am working side by side with. You never take for granted that you’re on the field with guys like (Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels). That awe factor is just not there anymore. It can’t be if you want to be successful. In my situation, I am able to look at them more as teammates now, as opposed to them being some big stars.

For daily workouts, bunting and fielding practice I am in a group with Joe Blanton, Mike Stutes, Jonathan Papelbon and Pat Misch. As far as the new teammates go and those guys becoming familiar with how things are, generally the types of things we discuss or they’ll ask about have to do with, “What’s the conditioning like around here?” Because everybody around baseball hears that the Phillies get after it quite a bit.

I’ve been taking it easy here in the early going, as I have been dealing with some elbow tightness. I’m two days in on rehab throwing, so it’s progressing well. We’re probably being a little overly cautious, but, why not? It’s early. I’m not worried about it at all. It’s not really something to be alarmed about. We’re just taking is slowly and not rushing it, because we don’t have to.

___________________________________________________

You can follow Justin on Twitter by clicking HERE.

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