Andres Blanco Hurt, Could J.P. Crawford Get The Call?
UPDATE (Monday, 2:30 EDT): As expected, the Phillies have opted to recall Taylor Featherston. The 40-man roster remains at 39.
#Phillies have placed Andres Blanco on the 15-day DL with a fractured left index finger and recalled Taylor Featherston from Lehigh Valley.
— Phillies (@Phillies) July 25, 2016
In today’s edition of Baseball Is Bad…
Andres Blanco has a fractured left index finger. Sounds like he'll be headed to the DL.
— Matt Breen (@matt_breen) July 24, 2016
Andres Blanco has been an unexpected revelation as a utility infielder for the Phillies over the past two seasons. Since the start of the 2015 season, he is batting .282/.344/.472 through 427 plate appearances and has played all four positions on the infield dirt. But one of the most crucial roles the 32-year-old Venezuelan has played is as a mentor for the young Latin American players on the team — especially infielders Maikel Franco, Cesar Hernandez, and Freddy Galvis. As a dual threat in leadership and on-field performance, he’s been everything the Phillies could want from a utility infielder and more.
It’s too early to speculate how long the injury will keep him sidelined, but it’s not too soon to speculate as to who will fill his spot on the roster in the meantime. Given that they’ll likely need to add someone capable of playing shortstop, the two most obvious candidates are: top prospect J.P. Crawford and Taylor Featherston.
The 21-year-old Crawford was promoted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley at the end of May and struggled at first, but he is hitting .322/.379/.455 since June 19th. Yes, that’s a completely arbitrary end point, but it’s a hot streak that could give the Phillies the confidence to give Crawford a taste of the majors in 2016. If they were leaning towards promoting him sometime in the next couple weeks, this sudden roster opening could be a natural opportunity to promote Crawford.
In the likelier scenario that they have an internal timeline for Crawford that they don’t wish to deviate from, Featherston is the next most logical call up to take the spot. Last year, Featherston stuck on the Angels roster as a Rule 5 guy, but since moving to the Phillies last offesason he’s been unable to return to the majors. With Triple-A Lehigh Valley, he’s batting .264/.320/.446 in 385 plate appearances and, more importantly, has spent time at second base, third base, and shortstop.
Featherston has the added bonus of being on the 40-man, but it is worth noting that, after DFAing Daniel Stumpf last week, there are just 39 players on the 40-man roster. As a result, if the team wants to promote a non-40-man guy like Crawford, it would be easy to do.