Spring Training Outlook

Phillies’ J.P. Crawford waits for a pitch during batting practice at Phillies Spring Training in Clearwater, Fl on February 15, 2017. DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer

With Spring Training less than a month away the Phillies still have some moves to make if they wish to compete this season. Over the offseason they have bolstered their bullpen but are in need of some veteran presence in the young pitching staff. Although they still need pitching, the Phils are happy with their current situation because they have a lot of young players who will be the core of this team for the foreseeable future. Baseball America released their list of MLB’s 100 top prospects with the Phils having a couple of names on this list. The Phillies players who made the list are shortstop J.P. Crawford, right-handed pitcher Sixto Sanchez, second baseman Scott Kingery, right-handed pitcher Adonis Medina and outfielder Adam Haseley.

All of these players definitely deserve to be on the list, except there is one player missing, Mickey Moniak. Moniak had a rough season last year but there is no reason why he won’t be on MLB Pipeline’s top 100 prospects because he is only 19. Having a good farm system can truly make or break an organization and I believe this is one of the Phils’ strong suits. Coming into Spring Training the Phils made many significant moves up to this point. The Phillies traded SS Freddy Galvis to the San Diego Padres for RHP Enyel De Los Santos. This was a good move because they traded Galvis coming off one of his best defensive seasons when he has a lot of value. Enyel De Los Santos is a very good pitching prospect. He is 22 years old and has some good stuff. In three seasons in the minors he went 24-11, with a 3.70 ERA, with 306 strikeouts and 104 walks. De Los Santos has been invited by the Phils’ to try out for the big-league team. I do not believe he will be on the opening day roster, but his time may come next season when he develops a little more. J.P. Crawford will be the starting shortstop for the 2018 season.

The Phillies went out and strengthened their bullpen by signing right-handed relief pitcher Pat Neshek and right-handed relief pitcher Tommy Hunter. Neshek pitched in 43 games for the Phils before being traded to the Colorado Rockies at the trade deadline. With the Phillies, he had a 3-2 record with an ERA of 1.12. Neshek had 45 strikeouts and only 5 walks. He was easily the Phils’ best bullpen pitcher last season until he was traded. He was a free agent this offseason so the Phils picked him up again. He has a great veteran presence in the bullpen for all the young relievers the Phils have. Tommy Hunter has played 10 seasons in the MLB for Baltimore, Texas, Tampa Bay, Cleveland and the Chicago Cubs. He has a career record of 51-40 with an ERA of 4.13. Hunter has 510 strikeouts and 173 walks in 769.1 career innings. Hunter has a lot of experience which will also help the younger players. The best part of adding Hunter is that he is only 31.

So far the best signing the Phils’ made this offseason is signing first baseman Carlos Santana. Many were surprised by this considering the Phils’ have a future star in 1B/OF Rhys Hoskins. Santana is an All-Star caliber first baseman offensively and defensively. This means that Hoskins will spend majority of his time in the outfield. Santana has played 8 seasons in the MLB, all for the Cleveland Indians. He is 31 years old and has plenty of ball left in him. In his 8 seasons in the American League, Santana has a career batting average of .249 with 174 homeruns and 587 RBI’s. Santana is even more intriguing because he walks a lot and does not strike out often. In the past two seasons Santana has had under 100 strikeouts which is good especially for a position of power. Santana will look to continue his solid career with a core group of young players who will be able to look up to him.

Spring Training is right around the corner and the Phils’ will look to compete this year. It will be interesting to see how the Opening Day roster pans out. Some notable names the Phils’ have invited to Spring Training are CF Pedro Florimon, RHP Pedro Beato, 3B Will Middlebrooks, 2B Scott Kingery, RHP Tom Eshelman and RHP J.D. Hammer. Like stated earlier, the Phils’ need starting pitching, hopefully they will make a splash prior to the season starting to help solidify their starting rotation which can come from the likes of Aaron Nola, Jared Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Mark Leiter and Jake Thompson. For now, it’s a waiting game.

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