Here’s our new discussion topic. Which prospects will crack the big league roster this year, and how much time will they log? I figure we can also discuss guys who have a cup of coffee under their belt already and who figure to be more prominent players in 2012.
Domonic Brown, OF – Brown had a rollercoaster 2011, and his stock seems to have dipped, but the raw ability is still there. His defense is obviously the biggest obstacle standing between him and a big league job. If the Phillies do not sign a 1B this winter, the presumption may be that Mayberry will play 1B in Howard’s absence, which may open up LF for Brown. Of course, the entire offseason is ahead of us, so nothing is assured or known, and Amaro has spoken of getting Brown a full season in AAA in 2012, which could be a smokescreen.
Michael Schwimer, RHP – Schwim got a brief cup of coffee in 2011 and had mixed results. He showed potential, and when he threw strikes he was tough, but he does have to sharpen his control and hone his approach against lefties. With the Phillies figuring to go with a young bullpen (outside of whoever they sign to close), I figure he’ll have a shot at a bullpen job in spring training and should spend a good chunk of time in the majors.
Justin De Fratus, RHP – If Schwimer got a cup, I suppose De Fratus had a sip. Like Schwimer, mixed results. His velocity was only 91-92, but you could definitely see the swing and miss potential of his slider, and the velocity may have just been him tiring out at the end of a long season. Like Schwim, he should have the chance to grab a spot in spring training. Like Schwim, he figures to spend a good chunk of the season in the bigs.
Joe Savery, LHP – Savery had one of the more remarkable seasons of any Phillies minor leaguer, going from the brink of retirement to a brief September appearance. His arm strength appears to have bounced back, and going with the “young bullpen” theme, he might get a look as the 2nd lefty. The bullpen is in complete flux, so this is pending, and like the above relievers, he could spend a little time to the entire season in the majors.
Phillippe Aumont, RHP – Now that he’s firmly established as a reliever again. Aumont logged 22 innings at AAA and will be protected on the 40 man roster this winter. On raw stuff, he’s probably a notch ahead of everyone above (with the possible exception of De Fratus) and if his improved command and control carry over, he could be the closer of the future. I expect he’ll have a shot to win a bullpen role.
Austin Hyatt, RHP – The only starter that seems to be worth mentioning is Hyatt. After initial struggles at AA, he turned things around in the second half, noticeably decreasing his home run rate while maintaining his excellent strikeout numbers. With Kyle Kendrick due a big arbitration raise, and the Phillies (Dubee’s) apparent lack of faith in him, he may actually be non-tendered. Blanton’s arm could blow up again at any moment, which means Hyatt could be first in line. I expect he’ll get a few looks in spring training, and he should be #6 or #7 at worst on the SP depth chart.
Cody Overbeck, 1B/3B/LF – Overbeck has almost 250 PA in AAA. After a slow start he brought his average up to .279 and ended with 18 extra base hits. He swings and misses a lot, meaning he’s not likely to hit for average, and the Phillies still have to protect him on the 40 man roster. But could he possibly fill a bench role? Its highly unlikely the Phillies would count on him from Day 1, but if there are more injury needs, he may get a look, and if he gets off to a good start, he could be the first call-up, depending on how things shake out. I think he could sneak in 100+ PA in 2012, depending how the chips fall.
Freddy Galvis, SS – The hot button item is the Phillies SS position. Should the Phillies sign Jose Reyes (yes), should they bring back Rollins (no) or should they save a boatload of money and go with the untested rookie? Galvis has a major league glove that could save 30+ runs over the course of a full season, but his bat is likely to offset almost all of that positive fielding value. The Phillies may look to make a big splash (Reyes) or sign a stopgap (like Furcal) to bring the gap to Galvis. Or they could bring back Rollins on a medium length deal. If the Phillies go external, short of an injury, Galvis will likely spend the entire year in AAA. If the Phillies bring back Rollins or go with an external option than Galvis becomes really good insurance or a big trade chip, possibly for a third baseman.
Carlos Rivero, 3B – Rivero’s glove is well behind his bat, and he struggled in his brief AAA stint in 2011, but he did show plenty of potential at AA. I expect he’ll start at Lehigh Valley next year, and if the need for a utility guy is there, he might get a look, especially if Polanco continues to deal with injuries. The Phillies have a few quality 3B prospects now, but they are well down the ladder. Rivero is a long shot for significant big league time in 2012, but I’ve seen stranger things.
Who did I miss? I didn’t include Tyson Gillies, as he needs to stay healthy first. Tyler Cloyd (if protected) could get a mention, and he’d have the advantage over Hyatt because he’d be on the 40 man roster. Jacob Diekman could make it as a LOOGY, but he needs to show a bit more control before he’s considered anything more than Juan Perez.
On another note, the Phillies bullpen competition in spring training should be fascinating to watch.