Now that all of the members of the 2009 championship Philadelphia Phillies team are finally gone after the departure of longtime Phillies Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz, fans are excited to see top young prospects make their mark in the organization.
Two such prospects for the Phillies, shortstop J.P. Crawford and 2013 number one overall pick Mark Appel, will be joining the team in spring training for the second straight year. Others players headed to spring training include catcher Jorge Alfaro and outfielders Nick Williams and Roman Quinn.
None of these are expected to be in the bigs to start the season. Fans are going to have to wait to see Crawford (#2 prospect in MLB) and Dylan Cozens, who both led the minor leagues with 40 home runs each last season, join the big league club.
“Trust me, I get that,” general manager Matt Klentak told the Associated Press. “Sometimes the baseball season will test my patience, too, as it probably will for everyone in this room, as it will for the managers and the players and the fans. I get that. No team is going to go 162-0 and no team is going to go 0-162. How we do in between, we’ll see.
“I very much understand this is a passionate town and a passionate fan base that wants to win. So do I. I’m passionate about what we do here. I want to win too. I know our manager does and I know our players do. That alignment, to me, is a good thing. We all recognize it doesn’t happen overnight. But we’re taking steps to get to where we want to go. All of us with the Phillies are pleased with where we stand on that path right now.”
The top prospects will join the Triple-A affiliate Lehigh Valley IronPigs to start the 2017 season but could join the team midseason like current Phillie first baseman Tommy Joesph. Joseph played in just 27 games for the IronPigs before being called up in May last season.
“Virtually every position is manned by someone who we think might have a major league future,” Phillies president Andy MacPhail said per the AP. “That’s rare. Often you’re signing six-year free agents to fill in. We’re not at that place, fortunately. We think our starting pitching – we have a lot of depth through the system. Not necessarily front-end rotation types, but, honestly, I would rather take numbers of solid prospects over the higher valued few.”
The Phillies have managed to have high draft positions due to four straight losing seasons and have managed to add prospect depth. The Cole Hammels trade to Texas in 2015 has also boosted the farm system when the Phillies netted six players including Alfaro and Williams.
Other trades involving veteran players have helped the Phillies not only clear up salary space, but also add to organizational depth with prospects.
“One of the things we’ve worked hard to – and this predates me – we worked hard to acquire as many talented young players as we can,” Klentak told the AP. “The reason we acquire as many players as we do is because we know the inevitable is going to happen. Somebody’s going to get hurt. Someone’s not going to perform as well as you thought. But there’s also going to be a player who turns out to be a full grade better than you thought.”
Philadelphia kicks off spring training with a matchup against the University of Tampa on Feb. 23.