Tag Archives: Edgar Garcia

Philadelphia Phillies December 2019 mailbag

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No one in baseball is more under the spotlight this off-season than Phillies general manager Matt Klentak.

 

Back on Christmas Eve Eve, I asked my social media followers to shoot me out any questions that they might have on the Phillies.

As you might expect, the majority of those ended up in reference to moves the club has made and might still make during this current off-season.

Following are a representative sampling, along with my responses, presented in a question (Q) and answer (A) format.

 

Q: Sean Fitzpatrick (@SeanFit91141350 on Twitter) asks “I’m questioning the configuration of the infield as it stands now. I dont see either Segura or Kingery as a legit third base option, and which one plays second? Do we bring in an outside option?

A: As we sit here in the week between Christmas and New Year’s the Phillies 2020 infield configuration appears that it will feature Rhys Hoskins at first base, Jean Segura at second, Didi Gregorius at shortstop, and Scott Kingery at third base. Kingery is likely keeping the spot warm until top prospect Alec Bohm is ready, at which point Kingery would return to a super-utility role. That assumes he is not needed at another position due to injury.

Q: Robin Heller (@flower_auntie on Twitter) says “I am wondering about who will play third base and how they will address the holes in the rotation!

A: As for third base, see the above answer – though there remain rumors that the Phillies could consider a trade for Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant. The starting rotation is currently projected to be made up of Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, Jake Arrieta, Zach Eflin, and Vince Velasquez.

It doesn’t appear as though GM Matt Klentak feels that there are “holes in the rotation” – though you and I would disagree with him. Arrieta needs to prove that he can stay healthy and produce past May. Eflin and Velasquez have been consistently inconsistent.

Wheeler was a great signing. But we went into this off-season believing that the Phillies needed two new starting pitchers of the type who had proven to be winners at the big-league level. There is still plenty of time to bring in another arm via free agency or trade.

Among free agents remaining, perhaps Klentak would consider taking a shot on Alex Wood, if the 28-year-old southpaw keeps hanging out on the market and his price is reasonable. The Phillies have also been linked to Arizona lefty Robbie Ray.

Q: Dan McElhaugh on Facebook asks “You (Phillies) need to address the bullpen and get another starter. What are you doing about it?

A: I addressed the starting pitchers above. However, you also have to consider that top pitching prospect Spencer Howard is close to big-league ready and will likely impact the rotation at some point in 2020. He is probably going to start at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, and assuming health and success there we should see him by the second half of the season, at the latest.

The bullpen is a tough question. There actually are the makings of a decent group here. But much of that depends on them being healthier than last year’s group. Right-handers include Hector Neris, Seranthony Dominguez, Victor Arano, Edgar Garcia, Trevor Kelley, Robert Stock and possibly even Nick Pivetta or prospect Adonis Medina.

Among lefties the club currently has Adam Morgan, Jose Alvarez, Austin Davis, and Cristopher Sanchez. You could even see minor league starters Cole Irvin, Ranger Suarez, and JoJo Romero slide into a pen role.

There are a number of veteran relievers remaining on the free agent market including Daniel Hudson, Will Harris, Steve Cishek, Pedro Strop, Francisco Liriano, and Fernando Rodney. Any of them would help upgrade the bullpen. Klentak may be waiting to see if any can eventually come dirt cheap.

Q: JBFazz1213 (@JBFazz1213 on Twitter) stated “Very Disappointing if the Phillies don’t sign Dellin Betances because of the Luxury Tax.

A: As we now know, the Phillies indeed did not sign Betances, who received a one-year deal at $10.5 million guaranteed from the division-rival New York Mets which can rise to $13 million based on incentives. He also received two player option years, though if he proves himself healthy it is likely that Betances re-sets his value and returns to the free agent market next fall.

Having previously pitched his entire career in the Big Apple with the Yankees, he has a number of ties to New York. Likely of most importance were that the doctors who treated his shoulder injury and his Achilles injuries are located there. Those injuries, especially the September Achilles, are likely most of the reason that the Phillies and any number of other ball clubs in need of bullpen help were not involved.

Q: Wally Potter on Facebook asks “Why does the Phillies farm system have a bad history of producing quality starting pitching ? More specific within the last 40 years.”

A: Back in July of 2019, Dan Roche of NBC Sports Philadelphia did a nice piece on this very subject. In that piece, Roche listed the top 10 homegrown Phillies pitchers over the last four decades as ranked by Baseball-Reference WAR value.

Those ten arms belong to, in order, Cole Hamels, Aaron Nola, Kevin Gross, Randy Wolf, Brett Myers, Ryan Madson, Don Carman, Kyle Kendrick, Hector Neris, and Ricky Bottalico.

It’s not a bad list, but there is a major and obvious flaw. Nola and Neris are “now” arms on the current roster. Hamels, Myers, Madson, and Kendrick were all pitchers with the 2008 World Series champions and were with the club for a number of years around that magical season.

What you are left with are Gross, Carman, and Ricky Bo as the only pitchers developed out of the Phillies farm system from the late-1970’s through the mid-2000’s who had any real impact on the ball club.

Roche estimates that the Phillies have drafted upwards of 1,000 pitchers over the last 40 years and stated “Even by blind luck, a team should be able to do better than the Phillies have.

The answer to the “why” is difficult to explain. That poor history comes under various regimes led by eight different general managers and a number of higher executives.

Perhaps that poor homegrown pitching record is beginning to change. If you make the history just of the last dozen years or so, you get seven of the above 10 names. You also get arms such as current top pitching prospect Spencer Howard and former top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez, the centerpiece of the J.T. Realmuto deal.

Q: d dask (@DocD19 on Twitter) wanted me to “Ask Matt Klentak if he is allergic to southpaws?

A: I am not sure regarding the topic of Klentak’s allergies. But I get it. Madison Bumgarner, Cole Hamels, Dallas Keuchel, and Hyun-Jin Ryu were all available as free agents this time around. Any would have been a perfect fit for the Phillies rotation – especially our old hero Hamels on a one-year deal. The exact reasons why the GM didn’t get any of those arms to Philly is perplexing, to say the least.

Q: DDNAGS (@DDNAGS1 on Twitter) opined “They will not win with the current roster. Ask Matt Klentak when he is going to get off his big ass and make a couple trades? We don’t need all these scrubs he always signs.

A: Well, that’s simply wrong. Klentak signed Bryce Harper and Andrew McCutchen last off-season. He signed Zack Wheeler and Didi Gregorius this off-season. They had a .500 roster prior to the recent moves and on paper appear to be improved. So, it would seem that, given health, they are already good enough to “win with the current roster.
Now, if you are talking about winning enough to reach the playoffs, maybe even contend for a division crown, and beyond that, a world championship, I get it.
It is my contention that the Phillies need a more proven center fielder, a left-handed veteran starting pitcher, another veteran bullpen arm with a successful track record, and another bench bat with pop from the right side similar to what Jay Bruce brings from the left. Let’s see what the GM does between now and the start of the season.

Q: PhilliesCurveballMachine (@phillies_the on Twitter) asks “Will a “culture change” in the clubhouse under the new coaching staff really make a difference in the team’s intensity/ focus/ “hustle” this season? And will this translate into wins? Why/how?

A: When you talk about a “culture change” inside the Phillies clubhouse, you specifically mention the change of managers from Gabe Kapler to Joe Girardi. Honestly, we’re not going to know how the club responds. But I expect that a proven winner with a championship pedigree will be more influential and regarded more positively than a rookie with a cheerleader personality.

There is another major change inside the clubhouse, with a pair of starting players gone in Cesar Hernandez and Maikel Franco. This year should find Realmuto, McCutchen, and Harper stepping into even more vocal leadership roles. I don’t know about you, but that prospect elicits more confidence from me.

I am expecting that Girardi will simply not tolerate any lack of hustle. He is not only going to be willing to make an example out of any player, but also have the confidence and support from management to bench anyone for any reason.

This comes from the popularity of his hiring, the unpopularity of the general manager, the fact that Girardi is just beginning what should be at least a three-year run in the dugout, and his own confidence based on his experiences as a championship-winning player and manager.

Now, will this change in style and substance result in more victories? I think it will have some effect. However, the team has to stay mostly healthy, especially where its biggest stars are concerned, and needs to receive actual improved performance from a few players. Any more positive attitude needs to be backed by positive performances.

Q: Andrew (@Andrew201711 on Twitter) asks “With the roster as it stands , I don’t see the Phils doing any better than third place …. your thoughts ?

A: For me the big thing right now is that factor of health. If the roster as currently assembled remains healthy, they can contend for a postseason berth. If they stay healthy, get improved performances from a few players such as Adam Haseley, Hoskins, and Arrieta, and if Klentak can make a couple of big in-season moves, they can win the division.

All of that said, the Braves are two-time defending NL East champions with a talented young core. The Nationals are defending World Series champions. Both teams have solid overall rosters. The Mets have improved their already tough pitching staff in both talent and depth this off-season. All three of those teams finished above the Phillies in the 2019 standings.

It is way too early for me to make any predictions. A lot can still change on not only the Phillies roster, but that of their division rivals. But right now you can make a legitimate argument for the club finishing anywhere from first to fourth in the National League East Division in the 2020 season.

That’s it for the mailbag this time around. I’ll open it up once again as spring training gets underway in February. Between now and then, you can always hit me up on social media: @philliesbell on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

 

A grand welcome to the Phillies starting lineup for Jay Bruce

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Jay Bruce greeted after his 5th inning grand slam in San Diego

Man, did the Philadelphia Phillies (34-27) ever need this kind of a game? At Petco Park in San Diego, the offense finally awoke after a week-long slumber. As a result, the Phillies drubbed the host Padres by a 9-6 final score on a beautiful Tuesday night in San Diego.

The victory took just a little of the sting out of the pre-game announcement that outfielder Andrew McCutchen would miss the rest of the 2019 season with a torn UCL in his knee, which he injured in a rundown on Monday night.
The win snapped a five-game losing streak for the Phillies. It also pushed them back in front of the Atlanta Braves by a half-game in the NL East Division standings, though the two teams are tied in the loss column.
The Phillies got on the scoreboard first in the top of the 2nd inning when newcomer Jay Bruceand new third baseman Scott Kingery ripped back-to-back doubles. It was only the beginning of what would prove to be a memorable first start in a Phillies uniform for Bruce.
San Diego briefly took the lead in the home 3rd inning when Ian Kinsler led off with a double. That was followed by Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff hitting Austin Hedges. Eickhoff’s counter-part, Chris Paddack, then bunted the two runners over to second and third. Greg Garcia followed with a double to right, scoring both and putting the Padres up by a 2-1 score.
I say “briefly” on that Padres lead, because the Phillies would take it right back in the top of the 4th inning. It began with a great at-bat from J.T. Realmuto, who won an eight-pitch battle with Paddack by lining a base hit. Bruce then followed by driving a ball out over the wall to the opposite field in left, the two-run shot giving the lead back to the Phillies by a 3-2 score.
Paddack may have been a little shaken by that blast. He went to 2-0 on the next hitter, Kingery, who then blasted his fourth homer of the year deep into the left field upper deck to push the Phillies lead out to a 4-2 margin.
Eickhoff then began to settle in and shut down the San Diego lineup. He retired six straight at one point, and kept the Padres off the scoreboard into the 6th inning.
Bruce gave him more runs to work with in the top of the 5th inning. Bryce Harper led off with a base hit. The next batter, Jean Segura, would then reach on an error by his opposite number at shortstop, Manny Machado. One out later, Realmuto singled, and the Phillies had the bases loaded. They remained that way for three pitches. On the third of those, Bruce crushed another homer, this one over the right field wall for a grand slam.

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Take a bow, Jay Bruce!

A grand slam, his second homer of the game, his third hit ans six RBI!

507 people are talking about this

The Phillies took a comfortable 8-2 lead into the bottom of the 6th before the Padres finally dented Eickhoff again. It came on one swing of the bat when Franmil Reyes crushed a solo home run, his 18th of the season, over the wall in dead center field.
Eickhoff would get through the frame with no further damage, but it would also be his final inning as manager Gabe Kapler decided to go to the bullpen. It was a much-need Quality Start for the right-hander, who allowed three earned runs over his six innings pitched.
Juan Nicasio came on and surrendered a pair of hits in the bottom of the 7th inning. He was lifted for Jose Alvarez with two outs, and the lefty needed just one pitch to get out of that mini-jam.
In the top of the 8th inning, a cold bat finally found some fire. Maikel Franco, who has lost playing time at third base to Kingery after falling into a deep slump, came up to pinch-hit for Alvarez. Franco jumped all over a 1-2 slider from Padres reliever Luis Perdomo, crushing it way out to left field for his 9th home run of the season to give the Phillies a 9-3 lead.
The Padres got that run back and more – quickly – in the home 8th. Kapler decided to give Edgar Garcia a chance to redeem himself after the rookie had surrendered four runs in his previous outing in Los Angeles. Instead, Garcia was crushed again.
A solo homer by Reyes led off the inning. Garcia then walked Machado and served up a massive two-run home run to Eric Hosmer, cutting the Phillies lead down to a 9-6 margin.
Hector Neris came on for the 9th inning, trying to protect the victory for Eickhoff and the team. He gave up a one-out single, and that brought Reyes to the plate with a chance to do more damage. But Neris won a huge eight-pitch battle, striking Reyes out with a perfect splitter for the second out. The Phillies closer then earned his 11th Save of the season by getting Machado to pop out to short center field.
This much-needed victory raised the Phillies record during their 23-game tough stretch of the regular season schedule to the 11-11 mark. With a win in the Wednesday series finale, they can actually come through with an overall winning record during a difficult month.
This west coast trip ends tomorrow, and the Phillies will come home for the weekend at the start of a six-game homestand against the Cincinnati Reds and Arizona Diamondbacks. Once that has ended, a streak of 26 consecutive games within the division will begin, lasting through and past the MLB All-Star Game break.

SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING PERFORMANCE

  • Jerad Eickhoff: 6 IP, 4 hits, 3 earned runs, 5 strikeouts, 0 walks. 92 pitches, 60 for strikes.
  • Chris Paddack: 4.1 IP, 8 hits, 6 runs (5 earned), 4 strikeouts, 0 walks. 91 pitches, 65 for strikes.

PHILLIES NUGGETS PLAYER OF THE GAME:  JAY BRUCE

Making his first start in a Phillies uniform following a trade from Seattle just two days ago, Bruce ripped a double and two home runs over his first three plate appearances.
The first double got the offense going in the 2nd inning. The first homer put the Phillies up in the 4th inning. The capper was the grand slam, which came in the top of the 5th inning and provided would turned out to be the difference-making runs. All-in-all, Bruce went 3-4 with three runs scored and six RBIs.
He isn’t going to do this every night. But Bruce has the ability to be a consistently impactful bat, and the Phillies desperately need that right now. On this night, he showed fans exactly what that looks like.

TICKET IQ NEXT GAME

Phillies search for a closer is over as Hector Neris seizes the role

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Hector Neris has seized the Phillies bullpen closer role

Phillies manager Gabe Kapler began the 2019 season without a named closer at the back-end of his pitching staff. There were a number of options who appeared to be reasonably attractive. The skipper chose to simply use whichever option appeared best at an important moment over the late innings based on specific match-ups.

What began as a group of a half-dozen arms who Kapler hoped would fill those end-game roles has gradually shrunk to dangerously low levels.
David Robertson started slowly, producing a 5.40 ERA and 2.100 WHIP over seven games. The veteran free agent signee allowed eight hits over his first 6.2 innings with a 6/6 K:BB ratio before going down with a flexor strain in mid-April. It had been assumed by many that he would ultimately see the bulk of any “closer” opportunities.
Edubray Ramos and Victor Arano have also wound up on the Injured List. Youngsters Seranthony Dominguez and Edgar Garcia, the former who many believe has the pure stuff to one day serve as a closer, have been inconsistent at best. Pat Neshek has mostly succeeded despite not having dominant stuff and getting hit hard at times.
But one arm has emerged to save the day. That would be the big right arm of 29-year-old Hector Neris.
Neris had been the Phillies closer entering the 2018 season. But he began the year blowing a series of games, and by the end of June his ERA had skyrocketed to the 6.90 mark. Mercifully, he was demoted to Triple-A in order to rediscover his mojo.
Over 19 games with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Neris regained his confidence. He dominated minor league hitters, allowing just nine hits over 18.2 innings, striking out 31 batters while walking just seven in that time.
In mid-August, the righty was called back to Philadelphia. He immediately carried over that minor league success to the big-leagues, becoming the National League’s Reliever of the Month even though he didn’t appear in a single game with the Phillies until the 15th of the month.
From his August 15 return until the end of the season, Neris allowed just 11 hits over 17.2 innings with a dominating 35/5 K:BB ratio. He recorded a 2.04 ERA and .172 batting average against over that time while registering one Save and four Holds.
Neris has continued that dominance into the 2019 season. He has allowed just a dozen hits over 20.1 innings with a 27/6 K:BB ratio and has seized that closer role, earning seven Saves. Most importantly, Neris has suffered just one loss. Otherwise, he has blown no opportunities to close out a ball game over 20 appearances, 11 of those as chances to finish things off.
After Neris closed out a win this past Saturday night over the Colorado Rockies, Kapler was quoted by Matt Breen at Philly.com:

“When we see the splitter biting from the dugout – and when I say ‘biting,’ it doesn’t tumble and roll, but it takes a sharp downward action and guys are fouling the ball straight into the dirt or they’re swinging and missing – we know we have it…When we see that from the dugout, we know we have a dominant force.”

Last night at Wrigley Field, Neris came on for the bottom of the 9th inning after the Phillies had tied things up in the top of the frame. He shut the host Chicago Cubs down, striking out Victor Caratini to end the frame and send the game into extra innings.
The Phillies would take the lead on a J.T. Realmuto homer in the top of the 10th, Adam Morgan and Juan Nicasio would combine to shut the Cubs down in the bottom of the inning to end it, and Neris would be credited with the win.
Put it all together and Neris has allowed only 23 hits, just two home runs, over 38 innings across 40 games since his recall last August. It’s not just plain-old success, he has dominated opposing hitters with a 62/11 K:BB ratio. Neris has shown himself to be born again hard. He is as automatic as any closer in the game today. It’s time that we begin to expect it.

Phillies bats explode as Aaron Nola grounds the Cardinals

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Aaron Nola shuts down Cards behind offensive outburst

The Philadelphia Phillies (20-15) downed the host Saint Louis Cardinals (21-15) by an 11-1 score on Tuesday night at Busch Stadium in what was a complete reversal of the series opener between the two clubs.

After suffering a 6-0 defeat in that opener, a game in which they generated just six hits, the Phillies offense exploded. The lineup produced a dozen hits, with the heart of the order producing 10 of those, and scored in double-digits for the fifth time this season already. The 2018 Phillies scored in double-digits just nine times all season.
Meanwhile, starting pitcher Aaron Nola shut down the Cardinals lineup for most of the night. Nola allowed just three hits over six innings, striking out seven and walking one. The right-hander had a shutout going into the bottom of the 6th when pinch-hitter Matt Wieters got to him for a solo home run.
The Phillies put up a big crooked number by scoring six in the top of the 2nd inning. Odubel Herrera got things started with a double to center. He then moved to third on a passed ball by the usually reliable Cardinals veteran backstop Yadier Molina.
Cesar Hernandez then drew walk and Maikel Franco reached on a fielder’s choice that included a throwing error on Cards’ second baseman Kolten Wong and a victorious challenge by manager Gabe Kapler. Herrera scored on that play, putting the Phillies on the board first. Nola then also reached on a force play with Hernandez scoring to make it a 2-0 game.
Andrew McCutchen worked a walk to load the bases. One out later, Bryce Harper stepped to the plate. The struggling right fielder worked the count to 2-1 and then drove a slider from Cardinals starter Dakota Hudson out to right field for his first-ever grand slam in a Phillies uniform. Harper’s seventh home run of the season pushed the lead out to 6-0.
In the top of the 5th inning, consecutive singles from Harper, Rhys Hoskins and J.T. Realmuto produced another run. Hoskins then scored when Herrera grounded into a force play and it was 8-0 in favor of the Phillies.
Nola finished out the bottom of the 6th after surrendering Wieters’ home run and gave way to the bullpen. Juan Nicasio tossed a pair of shutout frames and then 22-year-old rookie Edgar Garcia wrapped things up with a scoreless 9th inning.
The Phillies offense wasn’t done, however. Hoskins one-out double was followed by a Realmuto single to put runners at the corners in the top of the 7th inning. Herrera then doubled to right to score Hoskins and a sac fly by Cesar Hernandez scored Realmuto to push the Phillies up to double-digits at 10-0.
In the top of the 9th inning, Hoskins put a cherry on top by blasting his 11th home run of the season out deep to left field. It was the fourth hit of the night for the Phillies first baseman.
On Wednesday afternoon the Phillies will be attempting something that the club has not accomplished since 2012, winning a series in Saint Louis. Jerad Eickhoff will take the mound for the Phils with talented 23-year-old Jack Flaherty going for the Cards. Then during a Thursday off-day they travel to Kansas City for a weekend Inter-league series with the Royals.

SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING PERFORMANCE

  • Aaron Nola: 6 IP, 3 hits, 1 earned, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts, 101 pitches with 63 for strikes
  • Dakota Huson: 5 IP, 7 hits, 8 runs (2 earned), 3 walks, 3 strikeouts, 79 pitches with 44 for strikes

PHILLIES NUGGETS PLAYER OF THE GAME: AARON NOLA

The Phillies ace produced his third straight solid start and best of the season. After Harper’s grand slam gave him an early cushion, he shut the Cards down and never allowed them into the game.
It was good to see Harper crack that blast. He had two hits, a walk, and scored twice. Hoskins blasted a homer as part of a four-hit night. But the most important story of this victory was the performance by the club’s starting pitcher.

NEXT GAME

  • Wednesday May 8 at 1:15 pm vs the Saint Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium III
  • TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia; MLB Network (out-of-market only)
  • Radio: SportsRadio 94 WIP, WTTM 1680 (Spanish)

First round of a dozen spring cuts leaves Phillies with 49 players in big-league camp

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Enyel De Los Santos was among first dozen Phillies reassignments

The Philadelphia Phillies dropped an 8-2 decision on Monday to the visiting Tampa Bay Rays at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Florida. With that game in the books the club has now officially passed the halfway point of its Grapefruit League schedule.

The Phillies record under the Florida sun sits at 9-7 following the defeat. They now have 14 games remaining on their schedule prior to heading back north for the March 28 regular season opener against the division-rival Atlanta Braves.
Following their game on Saturday, March 9, a first round of seven players were reassigned. After today’s game another round of five reassignments was announced. These dozen roster moves are part of the effort to cut down to the 25 players who will be in the home clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park on Opening Day.
Both 22-year-old pitcher Adonis Medina, who is the Phillies #2 prospect now per MLB Pipeline, and 21-year-old shortstop Arquimedes Gamboa, considered their#13 prospect, were optioned to Double-A Reading on Saturday.

Today the Phillies optioned pitchers Enyel De Los SantosAustin Davis and Edgar Garcia to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. De Los Santos is the team’s #6 prospect and made his Major League Baseball debut last season, appearing in seven games and making two starts on the mound. Davis saw action in 32 games with the Phillies last season as a situational left-hander.
Reassigned to the minor league camp over the two days were pitchers Cole IrvinJoJo Romero and Tyler Gilbert, catcher Deivy Grullon, first baseman Austin Listi, infielder Malquin Canelo and outfielder Mickey Moniak. Romero is the Phillies #7 prospect, Moniak #9 and Irvin #16 per MLB Pipeline.
The 20-year-old Moniak was the top overall pick of the 2016 MLB Amateur Draft. While he has struggled for much of his professional career, he finally began to hit the ball with more authority last summer. Listi was the 2018 Paul Owens Award winner as the top performing position player prospect in the Phillies minor league system.
Given the improvements to the overall Phillies roster, none of these players were expected to make the team out of spring training. The team still has a crowd of 49 players at major league camp, and more cuts can be expected at some point during the coming week.

NOTE: the Phillies further announced that pitcher Ranger Suarez was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley following Monday’s spring game.