This is in response to a request from Sean and Tracey for me to project a possible 2018 roster for the Williamsport Crosscutters. He is a host for players in Lakewood. I have met another host family from Lakewood and a couple from Williamsport. I respect you all for opening your homes to these young players. Here’s my best guess at a possible roster. (BTW Sean, if your Tracey is the Tracey who follows me on Twitter, saying she is a huge Phillies fan is an understatement. And thank you for your kind words.)
There are some hold overs in extended spring training who were on the 2017 Williamsport roster – Andrew Brown, Orestes Melendez, Jesus Azuaje, Brian Mins, Greg Pickett. I would expect all but Pickett to be on the 2018 roster. I haven’t seen Pickett in over a week.
We have 27 players from the 2017 GCL Phillies in extended spring training. I would expect most of them to make the initial trip to Williamsport. Some of these will return to Clearwater and play on one of the GCL teams (we have two this year) as they are bumped by college players we sign out of the 2018 Amateur Draft.
Catchers: Rafael Marchan and Lenin Rodriguez. Before he was promoted to Lakewood, I would have included Nerluis Martinez among this group. I’m fairly certain that one or two college catchers will also be considered in the mix.
Middle Infielders: The obvious locks are SS Jonathan Guzman and 2B Brayan Gonzalez. They make up an incredibly talented duo up the middle. Jesus Azuaje and Brian Mims are also likely going north.
Corner Infielders: Pickett would certainly have gone to Williamsport if not Lakewood. In his absence, Austin O’Brien and Edwin Rodriguez look like the next alternatives at first base. I would have expected Jack Zoellner to have been the third baseman, but I heard he has a broken thumb. Jake Holmes and D.J. Stewart are both playing third base. Both are young, having been drafted out of high school last year. Holmes changed to third from shortstop during Instructs, and Stewart signed late and got few reps last season. I’m notoriously, slow when it comes to promoting the young guys, and can make an argument for both playing another season in the GCL. With Zoellner hurt, that leaves Jesus Henriquez and Grenny Cumana as the likely candidates. Both are utility types and have seen playing time at all infield positions and in the outfield.
Centerfielders: Keudy Bocio made the transition from shortstop to third baseman to center fielder since reporting to 2016 Instructs. He’s been leading off most of the spring.
Corner Outfielders: Ben Pelletier should also be headed north. Carlos De La Cruz is a big, lanky outfielder in the John Mayberry, Jr. mold. He was undrafted out of high school, was spotted in a summer league in Brooklyn, and signed late. His first action came during Instructs. He’s raw, and I wouldn’t hesitate leaving him in the GCL for his first taste of professional baseball. The remaining outfielders are likely going to come out of the draft.
We also have some guys rehabbing down here like Simon Muzziotti, Malvin Matos, and Cole Stobbe. It’s unlikely that they report to Williamsport even for a rehab. They would be more likely to do that in the GCL. But, when healthy, they will return to their teams and bump guys backward. A Danny Mayer or Kevin Markham could find themselves in Williamsport.
As muddled as all the above is, projecting pitchers is even tougher. These are just my best guess. A half-dozen or more will likely be bumped by college pitchers from the draft.
Starting Pitchers: Andrew Brown, Jhordany Mezquita, Manuel Silva, Sandro Rosario, Francisco Morales, and Ethan Lindow.
Relief Pitchers: Orestes Melendez, Josh Tols, Oscar Marcelino, Victor Sobil, Rafael Carvajal, Justin Miller, Danny Martinez, Robinson Martinez, Ben Brown, Sati Santa Cruz, and Bailey Cummings
Once again, there are pitchers I would bring along slower. However, Morales and Lindow looked good in their last appearances. It could be tough to keep them in Clearwater. Andrew Brown is just as likely to go to Lakewood as he is to repeat Williamsport.
Same for Ben Brown. Like Lindow, he was part of the 2017 draft out of high school. I can see him pitching more innings in the GCL.
Tols is interesting. He’s an older guy, from Australia. He has a delivery that is hard to pick up. A friend says his pitch looks like it is coming out of a pitching machine. He’s a lefty.
Santa Cruz and Cummings saw limited action last season, eight innings or less. They might also benefit from another, longer stint in the GCL.
Guys I didn’t mention. Jose Jimenez, starter who could benefit from another season in the GCL. Anton Kuznetsov, reliever who led the GCL Phillies with 5 save last season. But, his FB is 85-85 mph, and he’s been hit pretty hard this spring on the occasions I saw him.
Again, there are a lot of pitchers down here on rehab. If they start getting healthy, the domino effect when they return to their teams will affect the Williamsport pitching staff.