It is no secret that the MLB lockout has taken center stage in the baseball community these days. With each passing day, it seems more and more likely that the 2022 season will be delayed in some capacity. While the owners and players continue to battle it out in meeting rooms and zoom calls, all hope for baseball in 2022 is not yet lost.
The Farm is still running
While Major League Baseball still has major question marks for this season, Minor League Baseball is up and running. The minors leagues operate essentially as a separate league that has direct ties with the MLB. Since the MILB does not have the same structure as the MLB, they can begin their season on the schedule and will not be affected by the current lockout.
Only players that are on minor league contracts can play until the lockout is resolved. This means that any player that is on the 40 man roster will be ineligible to suit up. For the Phillies, this includes players such as Mickey Moniak, Alec Bohm, Matt Vierling, and various others.
More Baseball! Kinda…
Recently it was announced that the Triple-A baseball season has been extended in an effort to closer mimic the MLB schedule. This allows both the MLB and AAA to have similar seasonal structures and should in theory make it easier for players if and when they are promoted/demoted. More games mean more baseball for everyone, which can only be a good thing.
Opening Day in the Minor Leagues will take place on April 5, 2022. They might start their season earlier than the bigs, which would be a major league mistake on the part of the MLB.
What does this mean for the Phillies?
Regardless of whether the Phillies are playing on April 5th or not, their minor league clubs will be. The Leigh Valley Iron Pigs, Reading Phillies, Jersey Shore Blueclaws, and Clearwater Threshers are the Triple-A through Low-A representatives of the Phillies. These teams feature the future of the Phillies and can help scratch that baseball itch while we wait for our boys in red to return to action.
Players to Watch
The biggest name to watch in the Phillies minor leagues this season will be Bryson Stott. Bryson Stott is considered by many to be the top prospect in the Phillies organization. Stott would receive a non-roster spring training invite in a normal year and has a chance to compete for the Phillies starting shortstop position once the MLB season is up and running. At the very least Bryson will get more seasoning in Triple-A to start the year and could potentially join the Phillies once the season eventually starts back up.
Mick Abel is another guy to watch for this season in the minor leagues. Abel is also very highly touted, and like Stott is considered one of the Phillies’ top guys. The right-hander had a very nice beginning to his professional baseball career in 2021 and looks to continue such success in 2022. Abel will most likely start the season in the Phillies A-Ball affiliate the Clearwater Threshers.
An under-the-radar player to keep an eye out for will be Phillies’ number 11 ranked prospect Logan O’Hoppe. O’Hoppe soared up the prospect board in 2021 and the young catcher has begun to turn some heads. Logan played alongside Bryson Stott in the Arizona Fall League this fall and posted a .299/.440/.520/.960 slash line with 17 RBIs and a 21:15 walk to strikeout rate. O’Hoppe is currently jammed behind JT Realmuto and Rafael Marchan in terms of Phillies’ catchers. His name has been mentioned in trade talks and could possibly be on the move in a deal once the MLB lockout ends. Logan O’Hoppe could be a really interesting player to watch as the minor league season begins.
Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire