The Phils made several moves that were announced this morning, leaving them with 36 players in major league camp as we approach opening day. P Paul Clemens, C Koyie Hill and INF Chris Nelson and Chris McGuiness were all re-assigned to minor league camp. P Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez and P Hector Neris were optioned to minor league camp. No real surprises here. Gonzalez and his $4M a year salary will notably begin his second season in the minor leagues.
With less than two weeks to go before the long awaited start to the baseball season, it is as good a time as any to take a look at how the lineup will play out for both the Phils and AAA Lehigh Valley with my best educated (?) guess coming below. So, with that here it goes.
At catcher, expect to see Carlos Ruiz and Cameron Rupp. While there is an outside chance of a late pick up from another organization, Rupp has had a strong Spring after a lackluster, injury marred 2014.
In the infield, going around the horn: Howard, Utley, Galvis and Asche with Cesar Hernandez and Darin Ruf extra pieces. With Hernandez being out of options, I see him winning the roster battle with Cord Phelps who has been having a good Spring for the Phils
The outfield will likely consist of Ben Revere, Odubel Herrera and Grady Sizemore to start the year. The Phils will clearly be struggling for runs. Expect Domonic Brown to start the year on the DL with Brian Bogusevic and Jeff Francoeur filling in the final two outfield spots. Jordan Danks is making a late run for a roster spot and could easily replace either Francoeur or Bogusevic.
With Cliff Lee and Chad Billingsley on the DL to start the year, the Phils rotation looks like Hamels, Harang, Buchanan and Jerome WIlliams as “definites” with either Kevin Slowey or Miguel ALfredo Gonzalez likely to take the fifth spot for the seasons first month. Gonzalez has been awful this Spring, giving the edge to SLowey.
In the bullpen, Papelbon will close with Giles and Diekman seeing the bulk of the set up work. Both Justin DeFratus and Luis Garcia seem to have cemented their roles in the bullpen, leaving two spots up for grabs. The first is likely to go to Rule 5 pick Andy Oliver who has thrown well this Spring (and is a lefty). The final bullpen spot comes down to free agent pick up Jeanmar Gomez, Phillippe Aumont, Cesar Jiminez or Hector Neris. God willing, the Phils will end the Aumont nightmare and give Gomez a shot, leaving Jiminez and Neris as the odd men out.
Moving along to Lehigh Valley, I expect to see Tommy Joseph and Koyie Hill behind the plate.
Around the horn, my thought is Russ Canzler at first, Cord Phelps at 2B, ANdres Blanco at SS and Maikel Franco at 3B. Expect to see Chris McGuiness and Cord Phelps rostered and seeing plenty of playing time.
In the outfield for the ‘Pigs I am expecting Jordan Danks, Kelly Dugan, and Aaron Altherr as the starters with Darin Mastroianni and Chase D’Arnaud filling out the final two spots. Notably, D’Arnaud can play 3B as well.
The ‘Pigs rotation should be interesting to watch. I think it is likely Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez and his $4M salary starts the year in Allentown. Joely Rodriguez (acquired for Antonio Bastardo) and Severino Gonzalez look to have spots solidified. Rounding out the rotation, I expect to see Adam Morgan and Jesse Biddle with Sean’OSullivan likely to see plenty of starts when the roster juggling begins.
Projecting the bullpen becomes difficult with all the potential variables, but a best guess is: Jiminez, Neris, Paul Clemens, Seth Rosin, Ethan Martin, Elvis Arajuo, and Tyler Knigge. I would expect to see Colton Murray in Allentown before long, replacing the inevitable unfortunate soul who falters early on.
Have fun and discuss.
The Phillies acquired 25 year old SS Devin Lohman from the Reds today to add some depth to their minor league middle infield corps. Lohman was the Reds third round pick in the 2010 draft and spent much of the last two seasons at AA Pensacola in the Reds organization.
The Cal State Long Beach product hit .245/.310/.352 in 375 plate appearances last year in AA, with 5HR 29RBI and 8SB. Most of Lohman’s time was spent at SS, where he committed 22 errors in 82 games. Lohman will also occasionally fill in at 2B. Expect to see Lohman in Reading opening day.
And so it begins…Multiple media outlets are reporting an left oblique strain for Phillies top prospect JP Crawford that will keep him out 4-6 weeks. As obliques are delicate injuries, I would expect the Phils to be extra cautious. Crawford, was likely to start the season as Reading’s starting SS.
So, as Spring Training approaches, I am getting the itch to write a bit, so I am going to do just that as time permits. With the Phillies roster in transitional flux, Lehigh Valley looks to have an interesting mixture of youthful pitching combined with some AAAA talented hitting. Lets take a look at the roster possibilities and probabilities.
Catcher: With Cameron Rupp likely to back up Chooch in Philly, The IronPigs should roster two of the Tommy Joseph, Koyie Hill, Rene Garcia and John Hester quartet. Joseph remains on the 40 man roster but has yet to prove his long term health. My thought is Hill and Hester end up on the Lehigh Valley opening day roster.
Infield: I think it is unlikely Maikel Franco makes the Phils out of Spring Training for a variety of reasons, with service time implications at the top of the list. He will be manning the hot corner out of the gate for the ‘Pigs. At 1B will likely be Russ Canzler, a local product and AAA veteran who did a nice job for Lehigh Valley after being picked up in June last year. Likely veterans up the middle as well, with Andres Blanco back in the fold at SS to go along with Chase D’Arnaud who was picked up as a free agent out of the Pirates system in the off-season. Look for Chris Nelson, a high 1st round pick in 2004 to see time all around the infield as a utility player.
Outfield: Look for Aaron Altherr to man one of the OF spots for the ‘Pigs as the 24 year old is on the 40 man roster and spent all of last season in Reading. The Phillies claimed Jordan Danks off of waivers in the off season from the WHite Sox and the likelihood is that he ends up in Lehigh Valley because of the necessity of keeping promising Rule 5 pick Odubel Herrera on the major league roster all season. Danks has an option left and look for the Phils to use it. Oft injured Kelly Dugan is likely to see substantial time in the Lehigh Valley outfield this season. As a member of the 40 man roster and a fairly consistent hitter in the minors, Dugan could play himself into a 4th outfielder contender for the Phillies come 2016. Look for the other two outfield roster openings to be filled by 2 of the following: Cameron Perkins, Jeff Francoeur, Brian Bogusevic, Darin Mastroianni and Xavier Paul.
Starting Pitching: This is an area that looks to be very interesting with significant talent coming into the organization through trades and additional talent coming back from injury. Sean O’Sullivan and Kevin Slowey look to be the veteran presence on the mound for Lehigh Valley, Both have major league experience and have experienced success at AAA. Look for both to eat significant innings for the ‘Pigs. Both Adam Morgan and Jonathan Pettibone return from significant injuries and will be watched closely in the Spring with the hope that they rejoin the Lehigh Valley rotation in the short term. My expectation is that Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez will be in the Lehigh Valley rotation at the beginning of the year. The Phils have hoped to move him back into the rotation and assuming he has command, he is at the AAA level. Look for Joely Rodriguez, acquired in the Antonio Bastardo deal from the Pirates to open the season in the Lehigh Valley rotation as well.
Bullpen: Cesar Jiminez is back with the organization and all but guaranteed a bullpen spot after a successful 2014 with both Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia. Ethan Martin is likely to be in the IronPig ‘pen after a disappointing 201 during which he was often injured and pitched poorly. Hector Neris is a dark horse for the Phillies bullpen but more likely ends up in Lehigh Valley. The Phils brass have been extremely impressed with Neris during winter ball and at the end of 2014. The other four spots are likely to be filled by some combination of Elvis Arajuo, Nefi Ogando, Tyler Knigge, Jeanmar Gomez, Ryan O’Sullivan and Colton Murray.
Comes from some other beginning’s end”. SemiSonic. So, in 2007, James gave me an opportunity to write for Phuture Phillies during a difficult personal time period and with that opportunity came over seven years of feeling “like a kid in a candy store”. I had the opportunity to write about a passion and be in an environment (at the ballpark)that is one of my personal nirvana’s. I met great people, learned a ton about the industry (media, baseball and management), and perhaps most importantly made lifelong friends. To James, my heartfelt thanks. When James left the site over two years ago, I did my best to keep up the site and did so with the goal of keeping the site aligned with James vision. The day to day work in keeping up a site like this with a very demanding “real life” career is simply overwhelming. So, with that said, I will be moving over to what I consider to be the best baseball resource in the Delaware Valley at Philly Baseball Insider (http://www.phillybaseballblog.com). I expect to contribute there fairly regularly and appreciate the opportunity to continue my passion working for (with) a friend who is a regular writer for local newspapers and a huge baseball enthusiast. I expect my participation to be limited until Spring Training, but expect to hit the ground running with pitchers and catchers….
Thanks to all those who have contributed to Phuture Phillies over the years.
Until next time…
The flow of minor league free agents continue to move in as the Phillies announced they have signed 29 year old journeyman infielder Chris Nelson to a minor league deal. Nelson, 29, was a first round draft pick by the Rockies (9th overall) in the 2004 draft. Nelson spent most of 2014 playing at the AAA level split between the Reds and Padres organizations, finishing with a .279/.355/.389 line in 319 AAA at bats, to go along with 6HR and 59RBI.
Over the last three seasons, Nelson has accrued 629 major league at bats (Yanks, Angels, Padres, Rockies), during which he has hit a respectable .269. Nelson has spent most of his time at 3B, but can play 2B and SS in a pinch as well. I would expect to see Nelson playing all around the infield in Lehigh Valley come April.
The disaster that is 2014 continues for Jesse Biddle with multiple media outlets reporting that Biddle has left his Winter Ball team in Puerto Rico and returned to Philadelphia after experiencing soreness in his left elbow. Biddle was 0-1 with a 15.19 ERA in his 2 appearances. He will undergo an MRI and be examined by Phillies physician Dr. Michael Ciccotti.
Per Baseball America:
AAA:BJ Rosenberg, Greg Smith, Brad Lincoln, Koyie Hill, Lars Davis, Sebastian Valle, Jim Murphy, Tyler Henson, Nate Spears, Leandro Castro
AA:Chris Bootcheck, Matt Hoffman, RayWily Gomez, Zach Collier, Albert Cartwright
High A: Brandon Short
The name that scares me on here is Sebastian Valle. He has underachieved with the Phillies organization but continues to have a solid skill set and still is only 24 years old. With so little true talent at catcher around major league baseball, Valle will be given a legitimate shot with another organization.
We hit the back end of the Arizona Fall League schedule with Roman Quinn continuing to excite almost anyone who has watched him in Arizona. In 66 AB’s, Quinn is hitting .258/.372/.364 with 1HR 7RBI and a very impressive 13 SB’s in 15 attempts, along with playing a very solid CF. C Logan Moore is hitting .154, playing every third day or so.
On the mound, P Nefi Ogando remains the most impressive and has likely solidified a spot on the Phils 40 man roster coming into next season. In 9 appearances, Ogando is 1-0 with a 2.53ERA and 3 saves. Opponents are hitting just .205 against him and his WHIP sits at 1.13. P Ryan O’Sullivan continues getting hit around with an ERA of 11.57 in 7 appearances including his last appearance during which he allowed two earned runs.The opposition is hitting at an astronomical .385 rate against him. RP Colton Murray has been up and down in his 8 relief appearances, and sits at 0-2 with a 4.66ERA in his 9.2 innings of work. Murray has walked just 1 and struck out an impressive 10 hitters, however opponents are hitting .300 in what has been a very long season with a lot of innings for Murray.
P Ethan Stewart has had an abbreviated AFL season, suffering from minor arm issues. He has struggled in his 4 AFL outings, sitting with an ERA of 6.75 and an abysmal WHIP of 2.06, mostly because of his 8 walks in 5.1IP. The bright side is the 9 strikeouts, which against this level of competition is eye opening. Finally, Adam Morgan has thrown in 4 games (9.1IP) and is 1-0 with a 5.79ERA thus far. Reports have his velocity increasing into the high 80’s–low 90’s which is a good sign but less production that that hoped for thus far. Morgan has walked just 1 and struck out 8, but the 16 hits allowed has shown hit to be very hittable coming off his significant injury.