With the long-delayed Major League Baseball season finally ramping up, it’s time to start thinking about who will be helping fill out the Phillies extended roster.
Since there will be no minor league season, there is a deep pool of prospect talent for the club to choose from. These are a few of my lesser known favorites who could step in and provide help at some point this year.
Christian Bethancourt: The only player in this list who is not a pure “prospect”, Bethancourt turns 29 in early September and has appeared in parts of five MLB seasons with the Braves and Padres. I wanted to mention him because he hasn’t won a starting big-league role to date, but made an impression at spring training this year as a catcher who produced three homers in just 17 plate appearances in the Grapefruit League. In 204 plate appearances with San Diego in 2016, Bethancourt produced a half-dozen homers and 25 RBIs over 204 plate appearances. He is almost surely going to be around as an extra experienced catching option.
Austin Listi: The Phillies’ 17th rounder in the 2017 draft, Listi reached Triple-A Lehigh Valley for 71 games in 2019 and was receiving a long look by the club this spring with 24 plate appearances over 13 games. The 26-year-old hit a solid .333 with a .417 OBP in the Grapefruit League. Defensively he is a corner infielder who can play left field as well. That flexibility could come in handy.
Luke Williams: The club’s third round pick in the 2015 MLB Draft has five full years of minor league experience and turns 24 in early August. Williams was enjoying a tremendous spring training before things got shut down, slashing .391/.462/.565 and last year he played every position on the diamond with Double-A Reading except pitcher and catcher. He is a veritable super-sub type.
Simon Muzziotti: Still very young at 21, Muzziotti was signed originally by the Boston Red Sox in 2016 out of his native Venezuela but was made a free agent again by MLB and signed instead with the Phillies. He is one of the best defensive center fielders in the Florida State League and hit .287 with 21 steals last year with High-A Clearwater. The left-hander is definitely future big-league material. His defense, maturity, and consistency could make that future now. Muzziotti hit .375 in the few plate appearances he received before spring training shut down.
Nick Maton: The team’s seventh round pick in 2017, Maton is a 23-year-old who fields right-handed but comes with a lefty bat. The Phillies used him in 14 games this spring and he produced seven RBIs over 25 plate appearances. He is one of those players who always seems to come up with a clutch hit whenever needed. Built like Chase Utley, he plays the middle infield and the club has used him in the minors at third base as well.
Mauricio Llovera: A 24-year-old right-hander out of Venezuela, Llovera is a strikeout pitcher who is likely headed for a bullpen role in the majors. He has fanned 402 opposing batters over 372.2 minor league innings in parts of five seasons. This spring he struck out a half-dozen over six innings pitched. He was “must-see” when here with the High-A Clearwater Threshers in 2018, striking out 137 over 121 innings.
Jeff Singer: Easily the sleeper on the list, Singer is a Philly native southpaw who will turn 27-years-old in September and played his high school and college ball in South Jersey. Often overlooked, he pitched to four batters in spring training and struck them all out. Back in the winter, Singer pitched with Santurce in the Puerto Rican Winter League and pitched to a 2.38 ERA over 11 games. That followed on the heels of a dominant season a year ago with Double-A Reading. A lefty with movement on the ball, he is one to keep an eye on.
Addison Russ: A pure reliever, Russ is a right-hander drafted by the Phillies in the 19th round of the 2017 MLB Draft. Over three minor league seasons he has put together a 15-10 mark with 50 saves. Russ has allowed 122 hits over 152.2 innings while striking out 200 batters, and has a career 2.48 ERA and 1.087 WHIP. Strong and consistent, he got into a half-dozen games this spring and would likely have pushed for a bullpen role with the Phillies at some point this season in any event.
Darick Hall: The left-handed slugger will turn 25-years-old just as the 2020 season is about to get underway and was the club’s 14th round pick in the 2016 MLB Draft. He got off to an extremely slow start this spring, hitting just .091 over 23 plate appearances in 14 Grapefruit League games. But the Phillies may want at some point to tap into the raw power that has generated 84 homers over nearly 1,800 minor league plate appearances over the last four years.