The Phillies are back! The team has officially reported to Clearwater, FL, or as Philly calls it, “Clear Wooder.”
Now that Spring Training has arrived, the reigning National League Champions have begun their quest to win the World Series. With camp starting, the players look to fine-tune their skills and fundamentals before exhibition games get into full swing.
Spring Training is the first official sign that spring is right around the corner. While the Phils practice in warm Florida temperatures, it inspires us back home to look forward to the end of winter.
60-degree days in the Delaware Valley feel like 85, and our moods get slightly brighter.
Tuning into the coverage surrounding the camp is always super exciting. Hearing the bat’s crack or the mitt’s pop are some of the most incredible sound clips in the world. Seeing our favorite Phils players, as well as getting to meet the newest members of the team, is an underrated feeling this time of year.
3 Things to Watch during Phillies Spring Training
There is plenty to get excited about with Spring Training officially underway. Aside from being one step closer to Opening Day, I believe these three storylines are the most important to follow over the next few weeks.
Painter, Abel, McGarry… Oh My
The Phillies have three of the top right-handed prospects in all of baseball. This includes the #6 prospect and #1 pitching prospect in all of baseball, Andrew Painter.
When each member of this three-headed beast takes the mound for the Phillies, all eyes should be glued to the television. This could be the start of a wonderful career for any of these three guys, and the fifth starter conversation will be a big topic to follow in the coming weeks.
World Baseball Classic
The World Baseball Classic returns this Spring and will be must-see TV. The best players from around the world represent their countries in an effort to claim superiority for the next four years.
Phillies All-Stars JT Realmuto, Kyle Schwarber, and newly added Trea Turner will all represent Team USA in this year’s WBC. This means that each player will miss some time away from team camp, but fans still get to watch them perform at the highest levels.
Other Phillies that are participating in the World Baseball Classic consist of Garrett Stubbs (Israel), Taijuan Walker (Mexico), Gregory Soto (Dominican Republic), Ranger Suarez, and Jose Alvarado (Venezuela).
Battle of the Bench
The Phillies made a lot of moves to their bench this past off-season. Trading away Nick Maton and Matt Vierling in the Gregory Soto trade forced Dave Dombrowski to go ahead and make additional moves.
Dombrowski signed veterans Josh Harrison (IF) and Jake Cave (OF) to go along with Garrett Stubbs (C), Edmundo Sosa (IF), Dalton Guthrie (UTL), and Darick Hall (DH). The team will likely carry four bench players and, at the most, only five.
Garrett Stubbs is already a lock due to being the backup catcher. It would feel as if Edmundo Sosa will make the team, mainly due to his fantastic play down the stretch last year. Darick Hall is my pick to be the DH against right-handed pitchers, but there is a good chance he could start the year off in AAA. The same goes for Dalton Guthrie, who can play nearly any position on the field.
Josh Harrison and Jake Cave were both brought in for a reason. Dave Dombrowski obviously viewed both players as strong candidates to come off the bench for the Phillies.
This doesn’t even mention minor-league players who have been invited to camp. Outfielder Johan Rojas is now on the 40-man roster, and who knows if Scott Kingery can have a bounce back in March.
With so many options, it will be a battle for the last few spots on the big league bench. The Phillies have plenty of worthy competitors, so it will be up to players to win the spot. With a strong Spring Training, each player can make a claim for their spot on the team.
It will be a very interesting storyline as baseball ramps back up in South Philly.
Photo by: Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire