Phillies Announce 16 Non-Roster Invites
Without many established major league players on the Phillies 40-man roster, this year’s Spring Training figures to offer a greater level of intrigue than recent years as many of the top prospects and young players in the organization will be hoping to lock up a spot with the team on Opening Day. With that level of open competition, there is also the possibility that a player or prospect not currently on the 40-man roster could earn such a spot with a strong spring performance.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Phillies announced 16 non-40-man players who have received invitations to major league camp this spring:
— Phillies (@Phillies) January 11, 2017
Those 16 join the likes of LHP Sean Burnett, infielders Pedro Florimon and Hector Gomez, and outfielder Daniel Nava who were announced as non-roster invites earlier this offseason.
Obviously, the name that sticks out on that list is shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford, who is likely appear on many lists as one of the top-10 prospects in baseball for the second consecutive season. He spent the bulk of the 2016 season at the AAA level, hitting .244/.328/.318 in his first stint at that level as a 21-year old. He will likely start the 2017 season at AAA, but could force his way into the picture early with a strong spring.
Other top prospects in camp are first baseman Rhys Hoskins, second baseman Scott Kingery, and outfielder Andrew Pullin. All three will need more time in the minor leagues before making their debut, but they could all see a promotion at some point during 2017. Their invites are likely just a chance for them to get a first look at major league pitching.
Another name that could be potentially interesting is Cesar Ramos. As it stands, the Phillies have only two left-handed relievers on the 40 man roster: Joely Rodriguez and Elniery Garcia. Garcia is entering his age-22 season and has never pitched higher than high-A. He will not be in the Phillies bullpen on Opening Day. Burnett and Ramos are the only other left-handed relief options currently slated to be in camp. With the Texas Rangers last season, Ramos appeared in 12 games as a reliever–he also started four games–with a 6.83 ERA and only 4.2 strikeouts per nine innings in that role. At 32-years old, that could be the sign of decline. But, as recently as 2015, he was an effective reliever for the Los Angeles Angels. with a 2.75 ERA (3.02 FIP) in 52.1 innings. If his spring makes it look like 2016 was a fluke, there is likely a spot in the bullpen for him.
With Holaday, Moore, and Numata, the Phillies will now have six catchers in camp with rostered players Cameron Rupp, Jorge Alfaro, and Andrew Knapp. None of those three really has a chance of making the team, but teams always bring in catcher depth to ease the workload at a physically stressing position.
Four of the players–Murray, Hinojosa, Mariot, and Featherston–appeared in the majors with the Phillies last season to mostly poor results. They’re all vaguely competent players, but, for the relievers, are now on the outside looking in after the Phillies added depth to their bullpen this offseason with Joaquin Benoit and Pat Neshek.
Though it’s going to be fun to see top prospects like Crawford, Hoskins, Kingery, and Pullin in camp–at least for the first couple weeks–most of the serious contenders to break camp with the team, as always, are already on the 40-man roster.