30 Teams in 30 Days - Philadelphia Phillies

General Overview - Philly fans will not have Ryan Howard to kick around anymore. He has left as a free agent with no team having the courage to sign him as of yet. Like the Braves the Phillies are rebuilding, but they are not sprinkling in veterans to enhance their lineup. They are giving opportunities to some of their younger players, with more down in the minors ready to show they are worthy. For Philly fans they hope these youngsters improve over their performance from last year. This is an offense that was at the bottom of the league in almost all categories, so the ability to score runs was challenging. The same bats who struggled to score runs last year are returning this year. The pitching was also pretty bad, near the bottom in most of the categories. For the most part the same group returns for an encore. Hard to believe it has now been five years since the Phillies last made the playoffs.

Strengths - Hard to find one. They have some promising players that they hope become strengths. Odubel Herrera showed a mixture of speed and power for centerfield. He was a Rule V pick for the Phillies a couple years ago that has panned out nicely. There was some concern about his centerfield defense, with his nine errors on the season leading all National League outfielders. Maikel Franco could provide the power to hit 30 plus homeruns. He struggled a bit, slugging only .427 with a .306 OBA. The Phillies will be looking for more from him next year. It will be interesting to see if Tommy Joseph and Freddy Galvis can continue to put up their 20 plus homeruns power numbers from last year.

Weaknesses - The outfield is not going to hit for a lot of power but they hope Howie Kendrick and Michael Saunders hit for average. Howie has bounced around a bit and Saunders has battled injuries, but did hit a career high 24 homeruns last year. The starting staff lacks an ace. Jerad Eickhoff finished three innings shy of 200 and could be the best starter, but his ERA was 3.65. Jeremy Hellickson has more experience and may take on the ace role with his 3.71 ERA. Vince Valasquez has the best stuff among the starters, but he is still learning the art of pitching. The Red Sox finally gave up on Clay Buchholtz and the Phillies are taking a flyer on him. The bullpen lacks a closer but rebuilding teams normally do not need one. Jeanmar Gomez saved 37 games for the team last year but his numbers were not good. Joely Rodriguez is a young pitcher who has high 90s heat now that he has moved into the bullpen. He could take over the closer role by mid-season if Gomez continues to struggle with consistency. Joaquin Benoit was a free agent signing that has closer experience, but it has been a couple years since he has had success in that role. Hector Neris did an excellent job in the setup role last year and could find himself in the closer role.

Breakout Prospects - J.P Crawford is the Phillies top prospect. He should be occupying the shortstop position by mid-season. At that time the Phillies will have to find some place for Freddy Galvis or Cesar Hernandez. Crawford is a defensive whiz who has the bat to sting the ball. He won’t hit for a lot of power or steal bases but he will pepper the gaps. Cameron Rupp is a solid catcher so it may be hard for Jorge Alfaro to get a callup. Jorge has a strong arm and a power bat but he has had his issues with staying healthy. An injury to Rupp would put him in a starting role. A couple power bats in Rhys Hoskins at first base and Dylan Cozens in right field will try to show it was not Reading that padded their power numbers. If the Phillies want speed they can call on Roman Quinn for centerfield, though with Herrera in center it may be tough for Quinn to get an opportunity. Andrew Knapp will back up Rupp. He lacks the tools of Alfaro but has a solid bat and can play the position. The Phillies are a little weak in pitching, especially with any arm that can make an immediate impact. Nick Pivetta has had AAA experience but he is more a back of the rotation starter. Mark Appel was once the first pick of the draft by the Astros, but his prospect status has dulled considerably. The Phillies could always promote him to see what he has got. Joely Rodriguez saw a significant increase in velocity when moved from the starting rotation to the bullpen. In the minor leagues he had a lot of success against left handed hitters.

Prospects to Watch - Mickey Moniak was a first pick in the 2016 draft. Myworld is not impressed with his overall tools. His power is absent and he lacks the burner speed to cover ground in center. Perhaps he will develop those tools as he matures. The Phillies do have other outfielders crowding their system. Nick Williams needs to improve on his contact to improve upon his .258 average. A 19/136 walk to whiff ratio is frightening, but he does have the potential to hit for power. Cornelius Randolph was a first round pick in 2015. He has been moving up the minors slowly as the Phillies wait for his power to develop. His speed is absent so the power must be found for him to be of any use. Sixto Sanchez is a young pitcher with a mid-90s fastball who can throw an excellent changeup. After two seasons in rookie ball he should be ready for Low A. Franklyn Kilome has the long arms a 6′6″ frame will provide, winging darts in the mid-90s. His secondary pitches are not as developed as Sixto.

Expected Finish - The Phillies will be battling with the Braves for the bottom of the AL East. They have four young hitters with the potential to hit 20 or more homeruns. They also have a couple power bats waiting in the minors. This should help them overcome the Braves for fourth place in the AL East.

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