Tag Archives: Scott Kingery

Time for Phillies to give Alec Bohm a full shot to start in 2020

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It is only a matter of time before Bohm’s powerful bat is impacting the Phillies lineup

 

The Houston Astros won the 2017 World Series and are now playing in their third consecutive American League Championship Series. They won 107 games this season, most in Major League Baseball.

Whether they ultimately capture another title this year or not, Houston is the current model organization in MLB. The folks who run their ball club clearly know what they are doing.

Shortstop Carlos Correa was the first overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft. He became a big-league starter in 2015 at age 20.

Third baseman Alex Bregman was the second overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft. He became a big-league starter by the following July at age 22.

Second baseman Jose Altuve was signed by Houston as a free agent out of Venezuela at age 16 in 2007. By July of 2011 at age 21 he was a big-league regular.

Yordan Alvarez spent his rookie season in MLB this year as the Astros primary Designated Hitter. He blasted 27 home runs while slashing .313/.412/.655 at age 22.

The point? There is no reason that talented ball players aged 20-22 should be held back from their Major League Baseball debut simply due to their birth date.

In fact, more than ever, professional baseball is a game for players in their 20’s. Getting as many of those years as possible out of your best players is becoming more and more important.

The old way of MLB teams holding young players back in order to gain more years of contractual control should be considered as antiquated thinking.

If a young player demonstrates that he is going to be valuable to your organization, the strategy should be to buy them out of a few free agent years by paying them more at a younger age, as the Phillies have done with Scott Kingery.

In 2018, the Phillies made third baseman Alec Bohm their choice at third overall in the MLB Draft. He was billed as an advanced college bat whose hitting ability and maturity could allow him to quickly reach the big-leagues.

When spring training opens at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Florida four months from now, there is absolutely no reason that a 23-year-old Bohm should not be the Phillies annointed starter at the hot corner.

Not waiting until May or June after receiving six, eight, ten weeks of experience against Triple-A pitching. Not later in the summer. Not next September when rosters expand. Right away, in Clearwater.

During his first full professional season this year, Bohm demonstrated the hitting ability that had made him such a high pick. He slashed .305/.378/.518 with 21 home runs and 55 extra-base hits across 540 plate appearances while rising through three minor league levels.

No more authoritative hitting expert than former Phillies World Series winning manager Charlie Manuel had this to say regarding Bohm’s hitting ability earlier this year:

He’s going to hit. He’s going to be a line-drive hitter with power. He’s going to be an RBI guy. He’s a tough out. I liked him in college and like him even more now.

One question mark regarding Bohm’s status at the time of his selection was defense. Would he ever become a good enough defender at third base to stick at the position at the MLB level?

This past May, Bohm was named as the Phillies organization minor league defense player of the month. In late June, Mike Drago of The Reading Eagle quoted him regarding his work at the position:

I worked a lot at third base, and on defense (in the offseason), not to prove anybody wrong, but to be the best player I can be. It’s paid off.

Drago also noted that when Philadelphia Inquirer’s Bob Brookover brought up the fact that some had questioned his defensive chops at the time of his draft selection, Bohm responded: “Those guys don’t know what they’re talking about.

The Phillies minor league infield coordinator Chris Truby, whose four big-league seasons in the early-2000’s included playing in 242 games at the hot corner himself, had this to say per Drago regarding Bohm’s commitment to defense:

I don’t know that he’s ever taken defense as seriously as he is now. He has made tremendous strides since Instructional League (in September 2018). He’s taking this defense thing personally.

By July, Manuel was absolutely gushing about Bohm’s offensive ability. Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia quoted the hitting guru on the club’s prospect:

I think when it’s all said and done and his career balances out where it should be, I’m looking at a guy who is going to hit anywhere from .285 to .300 and hit anywhere from 25 to 30 to 40 home runs. It depends on how many he happens to catch that season.”

For his strong 2019 performance, Bohm was named as the Phillies minor league player of the year. In late August for Baseball America, Salisbury quoted Phillies director of player development Josh Bonifay:

Day in and day out, he’s continued to show why the organization believed in him. His ability to command the strike zone and do damage on pitches is impressive. You make a mistake, whether it’s on the heater or a breaking ball, and he’ll hit it hard somewhere. He’s a line-drive hitter who drives the ball with carry. He uses the whole field. He’s fun to watch.”

The Phillies sent Bohm to the Arizona Fall League in September where he became a starter in the annual Fall Stars Game. Josh Norris of Baseball America opined the following after watching Bohm’s performance in the AFL:

Gifted with the tools to become a classic corner-infield masher, Bohm’s .390 average places him third in the AFL through games of October 8.

MLB Pipeline now ranks Bohm as the top third base prospect in the game. But Jim Callis of MLB.com, while praising Bohm’s bat, still has questions on the defense when he wrote the following:

To get to the big leagues, Bohm will need to continue refining his defense at the hot corner. He has enough arm strength for the position, but his range is fringy and he lacks consistency. He made a wide throw on a seventh-inning grounder Sunday, his third error in six AFL games in the field after making 12 miscues in 83 regular-season contests.”

First base is not available in Philadelphia. Rhys Hoskins turns 27-years-old in March, just beginning the prime of this career. Hoskins is not scheduled to become a free agent until after the 2023 season.

Hoskins is a relatively inexpensive and powerful bat for an organization that already has spent a lot of money in free agency and is likely to spend a lot more in the next couple of years.

Incumbent third baseman Maikel Franco has legitimate 25-30 home run power and will spend much of the 2020 season still at just age 26. But his overall ceiling is nowhere near as high as Bohm, and Franco will likely be used as trade bait this coming winter.

The Phillies have a reputation as being notoriously slow in giving their top prospects a shot at the big leagues. But that reputation is beginning to fall by the way side.

Aaron Nola was the Phillies first round pick in the 2014 MLB Draft at seventh overall as an advanced college pitcher. He debuted in the big-leagues the following summer and was a regular member of the starting rotation at age 23 in 2016.

Adam Haseley was the Phillies top pick at eighth overall in the 2017 MLB Draft. He appeared in 67 games and was playing regularly by the end of the 2019 season at age 23. While a better outfield defender than Bohm will be in the infield, Haseley’s bat is nowhere near as advanced or impactful.

The Phillies need these types of exciting, inexpensive, homegrown talents to begin impacting their lineup as soon as possible. Bohm is plenty old enough and appears mature enough to handle the big-league lifestyle. His confidence and talent are undeniable.

Bottom line, there is no reason that Alec Bohm should not be the Philadelphia Phillies starter at third base right out of the gate in the 2020 season.

Rookie Zac Gallen and Dbacks shut down Phillies

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The Arizona Diamondbacks (58-57) defeated the Philadelphia Phillies (59-55) by a score of 6-1 on Wednesday night at Chase Field in Phoenix. The victory was a second straight for the hosts after the Phillies had taken the opener, giving the series to the Dbacks, who took four of the six match-ups between the two teams this year.
With the victory, Arizona moves back above the .500 mark on the season and pulls to within 1.5 games of the final National League Wildcard playoff spot. The Phillies are now tied with the Milwaukee Brewers for that second NL Wildcard berth, though Milwaukee has one more loss.
This was a game in which the visiting Phillies simply failed to show up to play in any way. The offense generated just five hits on the night, going 0-3 with runners in scoring position.
The Dbacks scored twice each in the 3rd, 4th and 8th innings to secure the victory. In the 3rd, a hit batsman, a walk, a single, and a sacrifice fly put the home team in front. In the 4th it was three singles and then the first RBI in the career of Arizona starter Zac Gallen that got the runs home.
Gallen’s RBI came on a poor play by Scott Kingery, who continues to be played out of position by the Phillies, this time at third base.
With runners at first and third and one out, Gallen laid down a bunt that was fielded by Kingery, who opted to throw to first base to get Gallen while the runner at third, Nick Ahmed, was right behind him. Kingery could have been more situationally aware were he a natural or more experienced third baseman, pump-faking to first and turning to get Ahmed in an easy rundown.
Meanwhile, Gallen was mowing the Phillies down on the mound. The rookie from South Jersey allowed just one hit over his five innings and left with a 4-0 lead after throwing 85 pitches.
Arizona tacked on two more runs for good measure in the home 8th inning on RBI singles by Jarrod Dyson and Ketel Marte to put the Dbacks on top by a 6-0 margin. In the top of the 9th, Bryce Harper lofted his 20th home run of the season, but all that did was provide the final score in a 6-1 defeat.
The Phillies will now move on to the City by the Bay to face the San Francisco Giants in a four-game long weekend series at Oracle Park.
SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING PERFORMANCE
Phillies – Jason Vargas: 5 IP, 4 earned, 3 walks, 1 strikeout. 82 pitches, 48 for strikes.
Dbacks: Zac Gallen: 5 IP, 1 hit, 0 runs, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts. 85 pitches, 54 for strikes.
PHILLIES NUGGETS PLAYER OF THE GAME: ZAC GALLEN
The rookie just turned 24-years-old last week, and was making his first start in a Diamondbacks uniform since arriving from the Miami Marlins in a trade deadline deal for shortstop prospect Jazz Chisholm.
Gallen was born in Gibbsboro, New Jersey and was raised in the Somerdale area, right across the river from Philly in Camden County. He made few mistakes on this night, shutting down the Phillies offense on one hit over five innings. He also registered his first career RBI on a 4th inning sacrifice bunt.
TICKET IQ NEXT GAME

Phillies visit the Arizona desert for key series with host Diamondbacks

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The Philadelphia Phillies (58-53) are tied for the second of two National League Wildcard playoff positions as they take on the Arizona Diamondbacks (56-56) in a three-game series starting on Monday night at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona.

The Dbacks 2019 regular season has gone much as the Phillies own season, see-sawing back and forth between control of one of those NL Wildcard spots and then sitting just on the outside looking in at a possible postseason berth.
Victories in 10 of 14 games at the start of June lifted the Dbacks from fourth place to second place in the National League West Division. But then Arizona dropped six straight, and the club has pretty much tread water ever since.
At the MLB trade deadline, general manager Mike Hazen was a busy man. He made four trades on July 31, highlighted by a deal in which he dealt away the club’s pitching ace, Zack Greinke, to the Houston Astros for a four-prospect package.
Hazen also brought in two new arms for the rotation in veteran Mike Leake from Seattle and young Zac Gallen from Miam. Both of those pitchers will make their debut with the Dbacks in this series.
The Arizona offensive attack has been fairly solid this year, currently ranking ninth in all of Major League Baseball by scoring 5.21 runs per game. That is almost a half-run per game better than the 16th ranked Phillies. The Dbacks hitters rank 5th in the National League in both batting average and OPS, and have the fourth-fewest strikeouts in the league.
On the mound, Arizona pitching ranks 5th in the National League in batting average against and sixth in strikeouts. An area where the club truly excels is on defense, where they are by far the top-ranked defensive unit in baseball according to Fangraphs. That helped the Dbacks finish 7th in the August 1 MLB Power Rankings here at Phillies Nation.
These two teams met once earlier this season, with Arizona taking two of three games at Citizens Bank Park in the second week of June by two very different methods. They crushed the ball in a 13-8 victory in the opener, then received a gem from Merrill Kelly, who pitches the opener this time around, in a 2-0 victory in that June series finale. The Phillies won the middle contest by a 7-4 score.
This is a chance for Arizona to make up ground head-to-head with one of the teams it trails in the playoff hunt. It is also an opportunity for the Phillies to distance themselves from one of their nearest pursuers. If it goes anything like the vast majority of this 2019 Phillies campaign, one of these teams will simply take two of three. Which team remains to be seen.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

TOP LINEUP THREATS

Eduardo Escobar (30/3B): .279/.336/.531, 24 HR, 53 XBH, 88 RBIs, 69 runs, 4 steals
Christian Walker (28/1B): .257/.349/.483, 20 HR, 41 XBH, 53 RBIs, 59 runs, 7 steals
Nick Ahmed (29/SS): .265/.326/.429, 11 HR, 38 XBH, 55 RBIs, 58 runs, 7 steals
Carson Kelly (24/C): .263/.348/.535, 14 HR, 31 XBH, 37 RBIs, 29 runs (247 plate appearances)
David Peralta (31/LF): .282/.347/.457, 9 HR, 37 XBH, 47 RBIs, 43 runs
Adam Jones (33/RF):. 270/.320/.433, 13 HR, 36 XBH, 51 RBIs, 56 runs
Jarrod Dyson (34/OF): .250/.333/.356, 6 HR, 16 XBH, 23 RBIs, 48 runs, 24 steals

SPOTLIGHT PLAYER

Ketel Marte (25/CF): The switch-hitting Dominican made his big-league debut with the Seattle Mariners at the 2015 MLB trade deadline, then spent most of the remainder of that season and all of the following as the Mariners starting shortstop.
In November 2016, Seattle shipped Marte and pitcher Taijuan Walker to Arizona for current Phillies shortstop Jean Segura, outfielder Mitch Haniger and pitcher Zac Curtis.
Marte’s career with the Dbacks organization saw him begin back at Triple-A. Following his promotion back to the big-leagues on June 28, 2018 he took over as the starting shortstop in Arizona.
This season, Marte has been used much as the Phillies have used Scott Kingery, as a super-utility player. He was featured mostly at second base and in center field, with occasional appearances at his natural shortstop position, for most of the first couple of months.
Now, Marte appears to have settled in as the regular center fielder, though manager Torey Lovullo will flip him back into the infield at times. He has responded well, breaking out to become a first time National League All-Star.
Marte enters this series with a .319/.380/.577 slash line His 24 home runs, 56 extra-base hits, 66 RBIs, 75 runs scored, and six stolen bases make him the single most dangerous all-around offensive performer in the Arizona lineup. And at just 25 years of age, he appears to be only scratching the surface of his talents and production.
Marte also has a Phillies connection. His uncle is former Phillies 2010-11 popular utility player Wilson Valdez. Marte is married to a cousin of Toronto Blue Jays third base phenom Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

DBACKS SHEDULED STARTING PITCHERS

MONDAY – Merrill Kelly (30/RH): 7-11, 4.52 ERA, 4.61 FIP, 1.277 WHIP, 127 hits over 125.1 IP across 22 starts with a 100/33 K:BB
TUESDAY – Mike Leake (31/RH): 9-8, 4.27 ERA, 4.73 FIP, 1.255 WHIP, 153 hits over 137 IP across 22 starts with a 100/19 K:BB, all with the Seattle Mariners.
WEDNESDAY – Zac Gallen (24/RH): 1-3, 2.72 ERA, 3.57 FIP, 1.183 WHIP, 25 hits over 36.1 IP across 7 starts with a 43/18 K:BB, all with the Miami Marlins in this, his rookie season, following a June 20 promotion.

THE SKIPPER

Torey Lovullo: Having turned 54 years old just last week, Lovullo is now in his third full season at the helm in Phoenix. He has a career 231-205 mark thus far. After leading Arizona to a 93-win, second place season and an NL Wildcard playoff berth in his first year back in 2017, Lovullo was named the National League Manager of the Year.
During those 2017 playoffs, Lovullo’s Dbacks outscored the division-rival Colorado Rockies by 11-8 in Phoenix to win the Wildcard Game. However, they were promptly swept out in three straight by the rival Los Angeles Dodgers in an NLDS.
Arizona entered September in first place a year ago, but the Dbacks collapsed to lose 20 of their final 28 games to finish in third place. Despite a second straight winning record for Lovullo, it was considered a disappointing finish after the club had led the division for most of the season.
Lovullo is a SoCal native from Santa Monica. As a player, he was the fifth round choice of the Detroit Tigers in the 1987 MLB Draft out of UCLA. He would play in parts of eight big-league seasons, though only in 1993 with the California (now Los Angeles) Angels did he play regularly, spending much of that season as the Halos second baseman.
Lovullo actually wrapped up his playing career in Major League Baseball with the Phillies, appearing in 17 games with the club in the 1999 season. His final big-league home run came in a Phillies uniform on September 8 of that year against the Houston Astros. On October 2, he registered his final hit against the Montreal Expos at Veteran’s Stadium.
After playing the 2000 season with the Yakult Swallows in Japan, Lovullo retired. He was then hired by the Cleveland Indians to tutor their minor league infielders during the 2001 season, beginning a lengthy career as a coach and manager in the minor leagues.
After spending the decade of the 2000’s as a respected manager in the Indians farm system, Lovullo had become one of the top candidates any time a big-league managerial opening occurred. He interviewed for a few positions, and was finally brought on board as a coach under John Farrell with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2010.
When Farrell left for the Boston Red Sox managerial job after the 2012 season he brought Lovullo with him as the bench coach in Boston. The two would win the 2014 World Series together in Boston. Meanwhile, Lovullo continued to be one of the hottest names for any MLB managerial opening.
When Hazen took over as the Dbacks general manager in October 2016, Lovullo was his top name to take over as the new skipper in Arizona. Lovullo was hired on November 4, and has been in the position ever since. Highly respected in the game and with a strong relationship with Hazen, look for Lovullo to be just at the start of a long run as Dbacks manager.

THE BALLPARK

Chase Field: The first stadium in the United States to be built with a retractable roof, one that protects fans from the brutal heat of summers in the Arizona desert, Chase Field opened with the Diamondbacks first game as an MLB expansion team for the 1998 season, and has been their home ever since.
Located in dowtown Phoenix, Arizona, the fences are 330 and 334 respectively to left and right field. It is 374 to left-center, 413 feet to what is known as deep left-center, and 407 straightaway to center field. Around to deep right-center field the fence is 413 feet away, and then 374 to right-center field.
The stadium has played host to the 2001 World Series, in which the Dbacks led by pitchers Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling won the franchise only world championship. It was also host to the 2011 MLB All-Star Game.
Originally having a natural grass playing surface, for last season the Diamondbacks went to a synthetic sports turf. Chase Field also has a swimming pool located in right-center field, which is rented to patrons as a suite holding 35 guests.

Phillies and White Sox set to battle in Sunday Interleague series finale

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Citizens Bank Park will be the scene of Interleague action on Sunday

The Philadelphia Phillies (58-52) held on for a 3-2 victory over the visiting Chicago White Sox (47-61) on Saturday night at Citizens Bank Park.

With that win, the Phillies moved back into a tie with their NL East Division rivals, the Washington Nationals, for the second National League Wildcard spot.
The Phillies and Nationals are each six games behind the Atlanta Braves in the loss column in the race for the NL East Division crown.
Beating teams like the White Sox is imperative to any hope that the Phillies might have of ending their eight-year stretch of missing the playoffs.
The Chisox are one of the half-dozen worst teams in the game, both by record and by any statistical evaluation. Picking up a victory on Sunday would give the Phillies two of three here, winning the series. That is the minimum they must accomplish against losing teams. So, that makes this afternoon’s contest of great importance to the home squad.

SUNDAY STARTING LINEUPS

PHILLIES

  1. Corey Dickerson LF
  2. Jean Segura SS
  3. Bryce Harper RF
  4. Rhys Hoskins 1B
  5. J.T. Realmuto C
  6. Cesar Hernandez 2B
  7. Scott Kingery 3B
  8. Drew Smyly P
  9. Roman Quinn CF

WHITE SOX

  1. Leury Garcia CF
  2. Tim Anderson SS
  3. Jose Abreu 1B
  4. Jon Jay RF
  5. Eloy Jimenez LF
  6. Ryan Goins 3B
  7. James McCann C
  8. Yolmer Sanchez 2B
  9. Reynaldo Lopez P

SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP

Phillies – Drew Smyly: 1-0, 0.69 ERA, 1.91 FIP, 0.846 WHIP, 8 hits over 13 IP across two starts with a 13/3 K:BB
White Sox – Reynaldo Lopez: 5-9, 5.43 ERA, 5.10 FIP, 1.464 WHIP, 136 hits over 124.1 IP across 22 starts with a 117/46 K:BB

PHILLIES NUGGETS PREGAME NOTES

  • The Phillies will honor the 2009 National League Champions with a reunion this afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.
  • Phillies enter play today with a 24-13 record during day baseball and their .649 winning percentage in the afternoon ranks 2nd among all National League clubs and 4th in the majors.
  • Since the start of the 2018 season, the Phillies are 20-12 in Interleague play and their .625 winning percentage is T-3rd-best in MLB.
  • Phillies are 50-13 this season when they score at least four runs in a game and their .794 winning % when doing so is 2nd-best in the National League and 5th in the majors. The club’s .794 winning % when scoring four or more would be their highest in a single season since 2011 when they went 72-13.
  • Realmuto currently ranks 11th among all National League position players with 3.3 WAR this season (Fangraphs). The Phillies have not had a position player finish in the top 10 in the NL in WAR since 2011 when Shane Victorino posted a 5.6 WAR in 132 games. In 27 games since June 29, Realmuto is slashing .308/.330/.529 with 17 R, 13 XBH (8 2B, 5 HR) and 19 RBI.
  • The Phillies demoted third baseman Maikel Franco to Triple-A Lehigh Valley prior to today’s game. The presumption is that Scott Kingery will play the position for most of the rest of the season. Adam Haseley will rotation in the outfield with Quinn and Dickerson, as well as Jay Bruce once he is healthy.

TICKET IQ PROGRAMMING INFORMATION

 

How do the Phillies match-up with the Braves?

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Following a half-decade of losing baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies are trying desperately to build their roster back to a truly competitive level.

Ownership opened their wallets this past off-season, shelling out hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade the starting lineup.
Last summer, the Phillies surprised many by taking and holding first place in the National League East Division for much of the summer. However, the club eventually collapsed over the final seven weeks of the season to finish in third place, once again with a losing record.
Bolting past the Phillies were the Atlanta Braves, who themselves were coming off a string of losing campaigns. Heading into the 2018 season, the Braves had suffered through four consecutive losing seasons. From 2015-17, Atlanta never finished closer than 23 games to the top of the division.
So, both the Phillies and Braves were awful for years coming into the 2018 season. But in the end, the Braves won a division crown, only their second since 2005. The Phillies missed the postseason for a seventh consecutive season.
There was a surge in excitement around the Phillies after the big cash outlay this past off-season. And as the 2019 season got underway at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies swept the Braves, outscoring their rivals by 23-11 over three late-March games and looking for all the world like the better ball club.
Flash forward four months, and things could not look any different. The two teams have met seven times since that opening series, with Atlanta winning five of those. Over the last three meetings, the Braves have now outscored the Phillies by a 30-10 margin.
The standings reflect this change as well. The Phillies early season lead in the division evaporated in a cloud of injuries, poor pitching, and inconsistent offensive production. Meanwhile, the Braves caught fire and again bolted to the top.
After Friday night’s 9-2 victory, Atlanta now leads the Washington Nationals by 5.5 games in the NL East standings, with the Phillies now 6.5 games back. And the fact is, the talent gap appears grimly wider than that between the two teams.
An examination of the two starting lineups, both now and projected over the coming seasons, reveals a major challenge ahead for the Phillies in trying to catch and stay with the Braves.

FIRST BASE

Harper and Hoskins give the Phillies two legitimate long term weapons. (Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire)
Freddie Freeman (29) v. Rhys Hoskins (26): The Phillies have a three-year age edge here. But it’s not as if Freeman is going to be old over the next few years. As he ages into his early-30’s, Freeman is likely to remain an All-Star caliber run producer. Hoskins is a good run producer. Freeman is elite. Neither is a great defender. Unless there is some leap forward from Hoskins, this match-up is likely to favor the Braves for the next 3-4 seasons. But this is not a position where the Phillies need a change.
Advantage: Braves

SECOND BASE

Ozzie Albies (22) v. Cesar Hernandez (29): The Braves smartly signed Albies to an extremely club-friendly contract that will keep him with Atlanta through the 2025 season, with two more club option years. Meanwhile, Hernandez is due to become a free agent following the 2020 season. This could well be his last year with the Phillies, possibly his last week in red pinstripes if dealt before the deadline. The real future match-up is with 25-year-old Scott Kingery, who should be the future at second base for the Phillies. Kingery has a chance to be much more impactful, and would make this an “even” push for years to come. All three are solid defenders.
Advantage: Braves now, but ‘Even’ over the longer term

SHORTSTOP

Dansby Swanson (25) v. Jean Segura (29): This is a reversal of the Freeman-Hoskins situation, age-wise, with the Phillies having the veteran who will be aging into his 30’s. Swanson likely has at least three more seasons in Atlanta before he can become a free agent. Segura has a Phillies contract through those same three years, with a club option for one more. Segura is a slightly better hitter, but Swanson has improved his approach this year and may still have more upside to come. Defense is an important part of the shortstop position, and there Segura has it all over Swanson. This is a Phillies advantage, but just as with the first base edge to the Braves, it is not a position where Atlanta needs to be overly concerned about the difference in talent.
Advantage: Phillies

THIRD BASE

Phillies desperately need top prospect Bohm to become truly impactful to keep pace with Braves young talent. (Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire)
Josh Donaldson (33) v. Maikel Franco (26): This is an extremely interesting match-up, because the two players currently occupying the positions are not likely to be with either team over the next few seasons. Donaldson is on a one-year contract, and the Braves have his heir apparent in-house with Austin Riley, who they have mostly played out of position in left field for now. Franco cannot be a free agent until after the 2021 season. However, the club’s top prospect, Alec Bohm, could be ready for a full big-league shot as soon as next season. Franco is a better defender right now, Donaldson a more impactful hitter. This season, I would prefer the 2015 AL MVP Donaldson. Longer term, it’s hard to know what Riley and Bohm will become. But Riley was considered a strong prospect as well, and has 16 home runs in just 243 plate appearances as a 22-year-old rookie. So even with the Phillies getting better at the position by bringing up their top prospect, they only remain a likely ‘push’ at this position over the long term.
Advantage: Braves now, but ‘Even’ over the longer term

LEFT FIELD

Austin Riley (22) v. Andrew McCutchen (32): There is no way to gauge these two as a fair comparison, since ‘Cutch’ is out for the season following knee surgery and Riley will not be in left field longer term, probably not beyond this season. Right now, with Jay Bruce (32) on the IL as well, the Phillies have a revolving door in left field, mostly using some combination of Nick Williams (25) and Adam Haseley (23), either of whom it would be difficult to define a future role for. For the Braves, the outfield is where you can begin to see a scary future developing for the Phillies to compete. A future Atlanta configuration would well see Acuna (see below) flip over here to left, with their top two prospects taking over in center and right. Those would be a pair of 20-year-olds in Cristian Pache and Drew Waters, both of whom are tearing up the minors and could arrive next summer. McCutchen, assuming health, can keep the Phillies competitive here for a few years.
Advantage: Braves now, ‘Even’ over next 2-3 years, Atlanta beyond that

CENTER FIELD

Moniak’s recent development has been encouraging. If he can become a true big-league talent, the Phillies job keeping pace becomes much easier. (Cheryl Purcell)
Ronald Acuna Jr.(21) v. Scott Kingery (25): Another position where these two are not likely to be the longer term answers for either club. That is not indictment on either. Kingery should be headed to second base to become the Phillies starter at the keystone for years to come. And Acuna is likely to slide over the left, making way for Pache, who is considered an elite defender. The real question will be, who is going to become the Phillies long-term center fielder? Is it Haseley? 2016 top overall draft pick Mickey Moniak? Frankly, if the answer isn’t either one of these two players, that will be a massive indictment of the organization. Again, Moniak was the first overall pick in the draft. Haseley was selected at 8th overall just a year later. Right now, Acuna, who was the 2018 NL Rookie of the Year and one of the game’s brightest young stars,
Advantage: Braves

RIGHT FIELD

Nick Markakis (35) v. Bryce Harper (26): Finally, a position where the Phillies have a clear advantage. Almost a decade younger and just entering the prime of his career, Harper is both a more impactful run producer and a better defender at this stage of their careers. However, Markakis is no slouch for now. The three-time Gold Glover was an NL All-Star as recently as a year ago. He is working on a one-year contract with a team option for next season. He could very well find that option exercised as the Braves give Pache and/or Waters most of another year to develop more fully. As well all know, Harper will be with the Phillies for a long time to come. He is likely to keep this a Phillies advantage position for at least the next 3-4 years, but just how big an advanage will depend on the development of the Braves youngsters after Markakis departs.
Advantage: Phillies

CATCHER

Brian McCann (35) & Tyler Flowers (33) v. J.T. Realmuto (28): By almost every measurement, Realmuto is the best defensive catcher in the game today. He is also in his prime. The Phillies gave up a major package in order to obtain him from the Marlins. He is signed only through next season, and there is no doubt that the Phillies must get an extension with him for at least three more years at some soon point. The McCann (LH) and Flowers (RH) platoon is very effective for Atlanta in the shorter term. They have combined this year for 18 home runs and 54 RBIs. The Braves addressed their lack of a long-term answer by selecting Shea Langeliers at 9th overall in last month’s MLB Draft. This is a Phillies advantage due to Realmuto’s elite defense. But again, they must extend his deal, and the Phillies need a better backup than Andrew Knapp.
Advantage: Phillies
For the Phillies, the three key youngsters as they move into the 2020’s and try to compete with Atlanta will be Bohm, Moniak, and Haseley. If two of those three youngsters become truly impactful big-league ball player, the Phillies should be fine. If only one, it makes it tough. If none develop as hoped, then the Phillies will have an uphill battle.
None of this even takes into account the situation on the mound, where the Braves have strong, young, highly-rated youngsters already in the big-leagues and where they have a number of well regarded prospects on the way. The Phillies really need someone such as Spencer Howard to develop fully, and are probably going to have to spend soon in free agency for a top-level arm or two.