Over the last 24 hours, the Phillies made three separate roster moves as the club inches closer to compiling its final 25-man Opening Day roster.
Tuesday afternoon saw a handful of young Phillies’ farmhand sent back to their respective minor league clubs to complete the Spring. Three positional players, including a catcher, infielder and outfielder, will begin the 2018 season in the minor leagues in some fashion. Catcher Logan Moore, infielder Mitch Walding and outfielder Andrew Pullin were each given their reassignments.
Moore found himself on the outside looking in on the Phillies MLB catching battle. which has really been a three man race for two spots all Spring. With Jorge Alfaro essentially a lock to be the Opening Day starting catcher, one spot remained available, leaving Cameron Rupp and Andrew Knapp to battle it out. Moore was never really considered in the competition, as he was more of an “able-bodied” catcher than a true candidate. Moore appeared in 64 games in AAA Lehigh Valley, and he’ll likely begin the season with the Iron Pigs.
In limited action, Mitch Walding was impressive this Spring, hitting .333 with a .455 on base percentage in 18 at bats. Without a spot on the 40-man roster, Walding was a long shot to break camp with the team. He hit .236 in 99 games with the AA Reading Fightin Phils in 2017. He’ll likely find his way back to Reading, at least to being the 2018 season. His fate is likely tied directly with Scott Kingery’s, who will make his Major League debut the moment his Super Two date has passed.
In an already crowded outfield that includes Odubel Herrera, Aaron Altherr, Nick Williams and now, Rhys Hoskins, it was considered a fallacy to say Andrew Pullin would make his way onto the Opening Day roster. The longtime Phillies’ minor leaguer, now entering his seventh season with the organization, struggled in 13 Spring Training at bats, hitting just .154. He did, however, produce a good amount of walks, as his on base percentage was .400 before the demotion. Pullin split his 2017 season between Reading and Lehigh Valley, where he hit .308 and .231 respectively. With the crowded outfield in the Major Leagues, Pullin should begin the season with the Iron Pigs.
After the Pittsburgh Pirates demoted Danny Ortiz to AAA Indianapolis at the end of the 2017 season, the outfielder elected free agency. In January, he signed a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training with the Phillies. He saw 20 at bats this Spring, picking up four hits, including one homerun. He failed to register a walk this Spring. The Phillies reassigned Ortiz to minor league camp, and he’ll likely begin the season in Lehigh Valley.
The final move was of more significance, as the Phillies released relief pitcher, Fernando Abad from his minor league contract. After pitching for the Boston Red Sox the previous two seasons, posting a 2-1 record with a 3.30 ERA in 2017, Abad did not resign with Boston this offseason. In February, he signed a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training with the Phillies with the hopes of cracking the Major League bullpen. With the signings of Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter, it was going to be difficult for Abad to crack the roster without a perfect Spring. In three appearances, Abad posted a 27.00 ERA over 1.2 innings pitched. Over that span, he struckout just one batter, allowed six hits and walked three. He finished his short stint with the team with a 5.40 WHIP.
The three separate set of moves cuts the Phillies Spring Training roster from 47 players to 42. The team will need to reduce that number by another 17 players before they break camp and head to Atlanta for Opening Day.
One of those nearly guaranteed to be sent down to AAA will be the loser of the backup catcher competition between Rupp and Knapp. Scott Kingery will also almost assuredly be sent down to AAA for control purposes. My assumption would be that one of three players, Roman Quinn, Pedro Florimon and Jesmuel Valentin, will also head back to Lehigh Valley to begin the year.
With those three moves likely to take place, the team will have to move another 14 players before Opening Day, whether via trade, release or reassignment.
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports