For the first time in well more than a year, there will be minor league baseball. The fun antics of local mascots and the performance of baseball’s future stars will once again be on display.
Because of the changes to Minor League Baseball, the Phillies will field just 4 professional teams this year: The Triple-A Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, the Double-A Reading Fightin Phils, the High-A Jersey Shore BlueClaws, and the Low-A Clearwater Threshers.
The Williamsport Crosscutters are no longer affiliated with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Rosters for the teams were announced on Monday. Let’s take a look at some of the most interesting assignments for the Phillies’ minor leaguers.
Up in Allentown, PA, you can find a myriad of prospects and former major leaguers.
Looking at the roster, the biggest names to looks at are all pitching depth for the Phillies. Spencer Howard, Damon Jones, and Adonis Medina could call make starts for the Phillies at some point this season. JD Hammer, Bryan Mitchell, and Jeff Singer could all find themselves in the bullpen at Citizens Bank Park at some point.
With the Phillies’ current outfield problems, 2 position players stick out in Lehigh Valley. Mickey Moniak struggled in the majors this season but he is still just 22-years-old (23 in a couple of days). This will be Moniak’s first appearance in Triple-A. He’ll be able to play every day and hopefully develop some more.
Austin Listi is someone who can play left field and has hit relatively well throughout the minors. He has an .838 OPS in 71 Triple-A games. Don’t be surprised if we see him come up at some point this season.
Since 1967, the Reading Fightin Phils have been affiliated with the Phillies. They are the longest-tenured affiliation in all of Minor League Baseball.
There are only 2 players of serious note in Reading at the moment. Francisco Morales is the Phillies’ #4 prospect according to MLB.com. His fastball and slider combination could make him a serious threat in the rotation or in the bullpen. He last pitched in Lakewood (Jersey Shore) in 2019, posting a 3.82 ERA with 12 K/9.
The most interesting player award goes to Mark Appel, however. After a 4-year hiatus from baseball, the former #1 overall pick is back. His potential road to the show will start in Double-A where he has a 4.05 ERA. The almost-30-year-old will be fascinating to watch.
With Reading being a hitter’s park, there are always some hitters to keep an eye on. Phillies’ prospect expert Matt Winkelman tabs McCarthy Tatum as a Darin Ruf-like possibility.
The former Lakeland BlueClaws will feature the Phillies’ top position prospect in Bryson Stott. The former 14th overall pick out of Las Vegas struggled in spring training this year, hitting just .176. His last appearance in the minors came for the Williamsport Crosscutters where he posted an .816 OPS. It should see Double-A Reading by the end of the year.
After dealing with injury issues, former second round pick Kevin Gowdy will also be with the BlueClaws.
The Clearwater Threshers will feature some of the Phillies’ most interesting young players. Four of the Phillies’ top-10 prospects will be in Clearwater. The top pick of the 2020 MLB draft, Mick Abel, will start his journey as a Phillie as a Thresher. Fellow 2020-draftee, Casey Martin, will also start in Clearwater. His interesting combo of speed and power should make for an interesting season.
From Jim Salisbury, after appearing in Spring Training Johan Rojas drew mounds of praise from Phillies’ skipper Joe Girardi.
“He’s a plus-plus defender and a plus runner,” Girardi said. “He has a chance to be a special player. I believe there’s Gold Glove potential there. So offense becomes really important—maturing as an offensive player. He has bat speed. He has a ton of tools. He’s very coachable and picks up on things quickly.”Joe Girardi from Jim Salisbury
After struggling in Lakewood, Luis Garcia will repeat in Low-A. He still sits at #6 in the Phillies’ prospect rankings.
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Photo by: Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire