When the Phillies reported to Summer Camp last week, they came with a 53-man roster. The roster, consisting of 31 pitchers, three catchers, 10 infielders, and nine outfielders, has enjoyed their fun in the sun as they prepare for the season.
But, just like any other summer camp, each would bring some new faces into the fold. The Phillies are seven players under the MLB’s allotted 60-player rosters. This appears to be a strategic move by GM Matt Klentak as only players on the 60-man roster can be called up during the season. That way, if the Phillies find they are lacking a certain position mid-season, they can call up anyone from the farm. Today, we are going to take a look at seven players who just might fill one of those roster spots.
RHP Adonis Medina
Medina is the Phillies’ 5th best prospect according to MLB.com. A 23-year old right-handed pitcher, Medina utilizes a sinking fastball that can clock 96 MPH. His secondary pitches include a changeup and a slider. He is also the only player on this list that is currently on the Phillies’ 40-man roster.
Since his signing in 2014, he has incrementally risen one step per year up the Phillies’ system. He spent the 2019 season in AA Reading, where he started in 21 games with a 4.94 ERA. His ERA and WHIP have been increasing since 2017, while his K/9 has dropped from 10.0 to 7.0. His main issue appears to be a reliance on his sinker and forcing contact early in at bats.
Medina sought to demonstrate that he improved over the offseason in Spring Training 1.0, but only appeared in two games before the camp shut down. He would not make the Phillies’ roster to start the season, but given that there is no Minor League season, putting Medina on the 60-man roster would allow him to get some work in with the Phillies this season. The team could also utilize him if multiple starters are unavailable. Aaron Nola is just returning to camp, while Zack Wheeler may still opt out this season as his wife is expecting their firstborn child this month. In such a unique and complex season, depth will be critical.
RHP Francisco Morales
Morales is right above Medina at fourth overall on the MLB.com Phillies prospect list. Similar to Medina, Morales is also a right-handed pitcher and was signed by the Phillies in 2017. A 6’4″ frame, Morales’ fastball already hits 98 MPH at age 20. Combine the fastball with strong secondary pitches in a slider and breaking ball, along with a developing change-up, and Morales has a strong repertoire.
Last season, Morales pitched in single-A Lakewood where he appeared in 27 games while starting in 15. In those 15 starts, Morales posted a 4.10 ERA with an 11.1 K/9. Those numbers improved as a reliever to a 3.38 ERA and a 13.5 K/9. Morales has plus potential and most likely will require another couple of years to develop in the minors before making an impact in Philly. However, given that David Robertson and Seranthony Dominguez are both on the 60-day disabled list and Hector Neris, Tommy Hunter, and Ranger Suarez are all currently on the 10-day IL, the bullpen could do with some reinforcement. If the Phillies get desperate, Morales just may be a good option out of the pen-based on raw power and pitch selection alone.
IF Nick Maton
Maton is a 23-year old infielder with experience at second base, third base, and shortstop. A SS by trade, Maton split his 2019 season between single-A Clearwater and Reading. An overall 2019 OPS of 0.725 leaves for a lot to be desired from the bat, but the Phillies would not bring him up to hit. With the designated hitter in play in the National League this year, the Phillies will not need to carry as many position players on their bench. Instead, the team may elect to have a super-utility player on the bench to utilize late-game as a defensive replacement as necessary. Maton could also benefit greatly from being around the likes of experienced infielders Didi Gregorious and Jean Segura.
RHP Mick Abel
When the Phils drafted Abel 15th overall in the 2020 MLB Draft, they most certainly were not thinking of having him pitch for the big leagues in 2020. And I don’t think he will either. Putting Abel on the 60-man roster would purely be a move to get him some reps in practice and let him develop. Since they can’t send the 6’5″ right-handed pitcher to the minors, why not surround him with the Aaron Nola, Jake Arrieta, and Zack Wheeler? Let the18-year old learn by being around some of the best in the game. It would not be a move that would benefit the 2020 Phillies, but could certainly be a long-term investment in the young Oregon native.
OF Mickey Moniak
From Mick to Mickey. It’s not every year the Phillies have a first overall draft pick. When the Phillies took Moniak first overall, the pressure was on him to contribute as quickly as possible. Since being drafted, Moniak has worked his way up to Reading, where he posted a .252/.303/.439 slash line in 2019. The outfielder has faded out of the Phillies’ top ten prospect list, he came to camp ready to prove himself this year. In 22 PA (a small sample), Moniak hit .353/.500/.588 and put his name back into contention in the eyes of Phillies fans.
While the Phillies’ outfield may currently be full, OF Adam Haseley has yet to report to camp, leaving an opportunity for Moniak to find his way onto the Phillies’ outfield depth chart this season.
C Russell Martin / Rafael Marchan
Yes, I’m cheating on this one. Two catchers listed for one roster spot. The point? There needs to be another catcher on the roster. Currently, J.T. Realmuto, Andrew Knapp, and Deivy Grullon are the only catchers on the roster. Christian Bethancourt is also connected to the Phillies but is not on the currently released roster.
Regardless, having four-five catchers on the roster would not be a bad idea. Practically speaking, catchers come into contact with other players the most behind the plate. While social distancing practices and testing are in place, you never know if a player might play while being asymptomatic. Said player could unintentionally infect a catcher or umpire while in the batter’s box. Essentially, having extra catchers just in case would be smart.
Whether the extra catcher is Martin or Marchan would be up to the Phillies. Martin is a free agent with 14 years of service time in the league. If he were willing to sign, he could provide a veteran presence behind the plate and a career .746 OPS as a catcher. If the Phillies would rather go young, then Marchan is a great option. The young catcher is solid defensively, can lead a pitching staff from the plate, and threw out 36% of baserunners last year.
OF Yasiel Puig
It’s not every day someone has their name in a song. “Yasiel Puig, number one in the league.” While the song by Mr. Criminal has done nothing but boost Puig’s confidence, Puig is no longer number one in the league. In fact, he’s still a free agent.
The 29-year old OF is no longer the impact player he was in 2013 when he placed second behind the late Jose Fernandez for NL Rookie of the Year, but he has hit for 20-plus home runs each of the last three seasons. He could service as a potential DH replacement if the Phillies lose OF depth and need Jay Bruce to start in left field.
Puig is a very outspoken player and is a large personality in the clubhouse. The Phillies would have to consider whether or not he would be a fit for the team’s chemistry, but he could provide energy when the team needs it the most in an empty stadium.
There are many ways the Phillies could go with their final seven roster slots. They could go with any, all, or none of the names on this list. They could fill the slots now in training or during the season. It appears Klentak wants to remain flexible with several open roster slots. That flexibility just may be crucial if the Phillies lose a player unexpectedly during the season. If coronavirus cases or symptoms find their way into the Phillies’ clubhouse midseason, a “Next Man Up” mentality will be necessary if the team wants to stay afloat in the shortened season.
Mandatory Photo Credit: Sam Greene, Cincinnati Enquirer via Imagn Content Services, LLC