The Kids Won’t Help the Phillies’ Weaknesses

On Monday, I tweeted that the Phillies minor league system had the best winning percentage in baseball. Predictably, there were responses for the Phillies to give the kids a chance. This combined with nearly every beat writer having a mailbag yesterday where they were asked about calling up prospect relievers, had me wanting to look at where the team actually needs help and if there is any help that could come. Why not break this team down by units (lineup, bench, rotation, and bullpen) and see where they are right now?

Lineup:

The most MLB ready prospect is Rhys Hoskins, and on the surface it feels like he should be able to get close to that Joseph stat line. The only problem is that Joseph would be the best hitter in baseball in May if it weren’t for Altherr, and is currently hitting .400/.512/.886 through 43 PAs this month. Cameron Rupp is having an unsustainably good stretch, so no point in not continuing to ride that and buy Alfaro more time. Franco and Herrera aren’t going anywhere. Galvis has been fine, and Crawford has been bad. That leaves just Saunders in RF. The Phillies aren’t going to move Altherr for Howie Kendrick, so the platoon partner for Saunders is on the way The only problem is that Saunders doesn’t have platoon splits. This gives us one spot where we plausibly have room to upgrade.

Bench:

Blanco is the primary 2B, SS, and 3B backup, and while his offense has slipped, he is fine as a backup infielder. Knapp is hitting well, but at only 43 PAs and a .375 BABIP, he is going to regress. That said, he is the backup catcher. Nava has turned into Daniel Nava and is a negative on defense. As a rookie, Stassi has been fine. As a major league asset he has been poor. Ty Kelly is a warm body and 5th infielder. Howie Kendrick is going to take one of the last 3 spots, which means we are talking about the 4th and 5th bench bat roles where there won’t be much playing time. Maybe Cameron Perkins is better than Nava, but that is not a huge change. In general, there is a corner outfield spot that could be seized, but there aren’t any outfield prospects proving they are a better option than Michael Saunders.

Rotation:

The rotation has been rough so far. Eickhoff and Hellickson have struggled of late, maybe Hellickson is traded soon, but that might still be 2 months off. The Phillies aren’t going to give up on Velasquez in the rotation yet. Zach Eflin has looked good so far. Nick Pivetta is overmatched and needs AAA time. Luckily for the Phillies, Aaron Nola is ready to rejoin the rotation. Yes the Phillies have Ben Lively, Jake Thompson, and others in AAA, but none of them have the upside of the Phillies starting 5 with Nola back.

Bullpen:

A Mess – 4.61 ERA

Everyone wants to help the bullpen, but here is the AAA bullpen right now and their MLB stats (2016 and career):

Player Age 2016 IP 2016 ERA Career IP Career ERA
Pedro Beato 30 0 0 93.1 4.34
Casey Fien 33 39.1 5.49 283 4.29
Michael Mariot 28 21.2 5.82 49.2 5.98
Hoby Milner 26 0 0 0 0
Adam Morgan 27 113.1 6.04 203.2 5.52
Colton Murray 27 31.2 6.25 39.1 6.18
Cesar Ramos 32 47.2 6.04 346.2 4.02
Pat Venditte 31 22 5.73 50.2 4.97

I don’t blame you if you just threw up a bit in your mouth just now. It is rough. The guy who was supposed to be ready was Victor Arano, but he got injured in Spring Training. Reading now has Austin Davis, Jesen Therrien, and Yacksel Rios all off to good starts, but none of them are major league ready. Therrien and Rios have good, but not knockout, stuff and could use time in AAA, meanwhile Davis arrived in Reading today.

There isn’t anyone coming. Three weeks ago there were a lot of think pieces about calling up Hoskins or Alfaro, now there aren’t spots, even if the team wanted to promote either of them. The farm system is doing better and continues to be deep with talent, but for now the Phillies are going to need to ride with what they have in the major leagues.

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