The Phillies Youth Movement is In Full Swing

2

That is the number of players 30 years old or older on the Phillies’ active roster after Daniel Nava was moved to the 60 day DL. Those players are RHP Luis Garcia and IF Andres Blanco. Last night the oldest player to take the field for the Phillies was 28 year old Cameron Rupp. The Phillies had two 22 year olds on the field in J.P. Crawford and Victor Arano. Their superstar right now is 24 year old Rhys Hoskins. This hasn’t been just a youth movement based on September callups, it has been a slow build all season with a final culmination as the Phillies head towards the end of the year.

Last night wasn’t the youngest the Phillies lineup could be, here is how they stack up right now by position.

Lineup: Jorge Alfaro (24), Cameron Rupp (28), J.P. Crawford (22), Maikel Franco (25), Freddy Galvis (27), Cesar Hernandez (27), Aaron Altherr (26), Odubel Herrera (25), Rhys Hoskins (24), Nick Williams (24)
Average Age: 25

Yes I know there are 10 names here, but the Phillies have used Crawford, Franco, Cesar, and Galvis in a mix where 3 are playing every night. Meanwhile at catcher, the Phillies are still splitting time between Rupp and Alfaro. Andrew Knapp (25) is back from the DL, but has yet to appear in a game.

Bench: Andrew Knapp (25), Andrew Blanco (33), Tommy Joseph (26), Ty Kelly (29), Hyun Soo Kim (29), Cameron Perkins (26)
Average Age: 28

Knapp is the only player on the bench expected to be back next year, and when he does he will bring the age of the lineup down as he replaces Cameron Rupp.

Rotation: Henderson Alvarez (27), Mark Leiter Jr. (26), Ben Lively (25), Aaron Nola (24), Nick Pivetta (24), Jake Thompson (23)
Average Age: 25

Every one of these pitchers feels like they have been around forever. Henderson Alvarez was 21 when he made his debut back in 2011, Jake Thompson and Aaron Nola were both 22 when they made the majors in 2016 and 2015 respectively. Nola is the only one of this group that is a lock to be in the rotation next year, but I think it is important to note the youth in the rest of the rotation when thinking about future improvement or moves to the bullpen.

Bullpen: Victor Arano (22), Zac Curtis (25), Luis Garcia (30), Hoby Milner (26), Adam Morgan (27), Hector Neris (28), Ricardo Pinto (23), Edubray Ramos (24), Yacksel Rios (24), Kevin Siegrist (28)
Average Age: 26

Hector Neris and Luis Garcia are older than you might think. Hoby Milner and Adam Morgan are younger than they appear. The real key for me to this group is Arano, Pinto, Ramos, and Rios. That group of pitchers have really struggled at times this year, but they throw hard, they show good offspeed pitches and they have youth on their side. There is not a future closer in that group, but there may be Garcia/Neris replacements in that bunch, and as we have seen in the case of Adam Morgan, it can take a bit for some of these things to click.

Disabled List: Clay Buchholz (33), Zach Eflin (23), Jerad Eickhoff (26), Jesen Therrien (24), Vince Velasquez (25), Pedro Florimon (30), Daniel Nava (34)
Average Age: 29

The presence of Nava, Florimon, and Buchholz drives the age up here. I do want to briefly look at Eflin, Eickhoff, and Velasquez here, because they are young. We all know the Phillies are going to need outside pitching help this offseason, but they need something from this group. All are young enough to make a bullpen transition if needed, but all 3 will compete for a rotation spot next year.

Can the Phillies run out a lineup and rotation that will average 25-26 next year? Probably not. The lineup should stay on the young side (with the obvious caveat that everyone will be a year older), but it is clear that while the Phillies have youth on their side in their pitching, that youth outside of Nola has not contributed to wins. Either way, the kids are up and they are playing, and on offense they are contributing.

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15 comments

  1. Mike Fassano

    September 14, 2017 01:22 PM

    I don’t see the Phillies having to make a lot of moves regarding the starting eight. My best guess is that Galvis gets traded over the winter, and the Phillies keeping Hernandez to start the season. Backups for the outfield can be Quinn, and Perkins unless Tocci steps up big time in the spring. For the infield backups I’d go with Valentin and Florimon, if they’re healthy again. I’d like to see the Phillies go with a third catcher next year. A veteran, preferably a left handed hitter who can mentor our young catchers and give Hoskins an occasional day off.
    The biggest question of the winter is, Do the Phillies value Velasquez more as a 5 or 6 inning starter, or as a potential elite relief pitcher. He has the potential to be both, or neither. There is no doubt that the Phillies will acquire a starting pitcher over the winter. We have the players and prospects to get a solid, young pitcher from a rebuilding team. Just as Hamels and Giles were a luxury that the rebuilding Phillies didn’t need, perhaps the Tigers could be convinced to move Fulmer if the price is right. I’ve hear talk of resigning Hellickson too. That would give the Phillies three starting pitchers who could pitch deep into a game. The caveat on signing Hellickson would be to move Velasquez to the bullpen. The group of Mariot, Lively, Eickhoff, Pivetta, Thompson, and Eflin could fill the final two spots. A bullpen of Velasquez, Neris, Garcia, Morgan, Ramos, and possibly Mariot doesn’t look too shabby.
    Instead of my usual half dozen questions, I only have one for you today, Matt. In your opinion, will Knapp or Alfaro ever become above average catchers defensively?

    • MplsPhilsFan

      September 14, 2017 01:47 PM

      The only move I can see among the starting 8 is to acquire a new 3B. They have , at least on paper, some depth in many positions, but are bereft at 3B. Obtaining that player will require some current players and some prospects, but we cannot continue to use Franco out there as he is horrible offensively, defensively and on the base paths. He literally adds no value to the team.

      I would love nothing better than the Phils to acquire Fulmer, but there is no way the Tigers would trade a 24 year old starting pitcher who has already put up a WAR of over 3 in his first two years. Even assuming their timeframe to contend is 3-4 years out, they would still be able to retain him. It makes no sense, even if we were to offer Sixto, Crawford and Kilome.

      Velasquez probably should transition to being a reliever, but the Phils, have publicly stated they want him to continue as a starter. I think this is a mistake, as he could become an Andrew Miller type weapon, but the front office has access to more data than I do.

      The one question I have about the starting 8 is Nick Williams. Can he maintain a walk rate of 7% and, if not, should we strike while his value is at its highest and use him to bring in another quality starting pitcher? If that rate is sustainable, I obviously would not want to deal him, but I have doubts based on his track record in the minors

      • Mike Fassano

        September 15, 2017 07:56 AM

        Mpls – I hope you are able to understand this. For many years I was in several bowling leagues. I was never the best bowler on the team, but I was the anchor (last bowler). No matter how shitty I was bowling on a particular night, when the 10th frame came up I was “the man”).
        For some reason Franco does not have the make-up to be “the man”. Yes he’s hitting .231 this year, and half the city wants to run him out of town. In the past month Franco is hitting .263 since being surrounded by better hitters. Since his recent benching, he is batting .417. At the age of 25, it’s too early to give up on him. If we’re having this conversation a year from now, I’ll be in total agreement with you.

      • MplsPhilsFan

        September 15, 2017 09:26 AM

        Mike,

        I am not a believer in “clutch” hitting. While I would need to research it, I had thought that variations in performance in those situations were due to small sample size and normalized out when the data set became sufficiently large.

        As for Franco, god, man I want to be wrong about him, but I just do not see it. Yes, he is young and the lights go on for players at different times, but he literally ain’t adding anything. His defensive numbers are terrible whether you use B-R or Fangraphs (I use B-R generally). Even knowing that defensive values take 3 years to stabilize, he has ranged from barely passable to downright awful. On the basepaths, the guy is slow and not particularly adept at taking an extra base.

        Offensively, now there we can delve into greater depth. And the numbers are not good, nor have they been since 2015. Yes, I know his BABIP is abnormally low this year, and that account for some of the issue, but his Line Drive is declining his opposite field % is increasing (possibly indicating he is not recognizing the pitch until later), his ISO has dropped precipitously. I don’t know of any critical metric you could examine and show improvement since 2015.

        Can he turn it around as a player? I hope so, but the truth is it may have to be somewhere else other than here as I do not see him climbing out of this hole under this regime. Sometimes guys just need a new voice in their ear to unlock their potential and I believe that is the case with Maikel.

    • Michael C Lorah

      September 14, 2017 02:50 PM

      I pretty much agree on the starting eight, except I think it’s more likely they move Hernandez in the off-season and install Galvis at second as a stopgap until Kingery, assuming a good start at AAA in 2018, gets the call. I think Hernandez gets a better return (more years of control, better offense, not-as-great-but-still-very-good defense) than Galvis, and the coaching staff is likely to go to bat for keeping Freddy.

      The bench is more flexible. I’d say Valentin benefits from regular playing time at AAA (where he played only a couple months) and gets the call if a starter is injured. Depending how the FO feels about Perkins’ performance off the bench this summer, I could see them signing Nava (or a Nava type outfielder) to provide a little more bat off the bench. I agree with getting a third catcher, a veteran, to provide some leadership and free up Knapp/Alfaro for pinch-hitting and backup first base duties.

      Overall, I feel pretty good about the offense. Hoskins won’t be this hot forever, Franco remains a concern, and I worry about Williams and Alfaro controlling the strike zone, but I think the 2018 offense will score enough runs, even if it streaky. So I have no problem running out an age 25-26 lineup.

      The pitching… jeez. I’d love them to pursue Darvish, or at least Lynn, and get a starter with some real upside.

      Of the returning candidates:
      *I’m good with Nola.
      *I’m concerned about Eickhoff, but willing to give him time to show 2016 is repeatable.
      *I’m still firmly in the corner of keeping Velasquez in the rotation for another season – his injuries have been more problematic to me than his performance. The flashes of growth that he sometimes shows are hard to maintain if he can’t stay on the mound. The Phillies need another frontline starter and he’s the only guy in the immediate system with the required upside.

      Of the other returning candidates:
      Henderson Alvarez – well, he has a few Sept starts, but I expect little.
      Mark Leiter Jr., Ben Lively – pleasantly surprised by their 2017 performances, but skeptical of their long-term prospects and still convinced the Phillies need a frontline starter. Neither of these have that upside.
      Nick Pivetta, Jake Thompson – no strong desire to give them significantly more chances, but willing to be proven wrong.

      The bullpen, honestly, isn’t something I think about. The Phillies need starters a lot more than relievers. That Morgan, Milner, and Garcia have turned into useful relievers continues to prove that if you throw enough arms at the bullpen problem, you’ll find a few hot hands to spackle over the holes for the short term.

      • Mike Fassano

        September 14, 2017 03:22 PM

        Michael, Hernandez would bring a better return than Galvis if traded over the winter. Also, I agree that Galvis should play 2B, and occasionally spell Franco at 3B. After the season starts if a contending team have a serious injury at 2B, SS, or 3B, Galvis can be made available. My only problem with that scenario is that I know, and you know that Pete will put Galvis in the two hole.

      • Kurdt Kobeyn

        September 14, 2017 05:21 PM

        Cesar might provide better return (mostly due to high OBP and years of control) but for a light hitting 2B only player, the market is really thin. while on the other hand, Galvis provides position flexibility and a defensive whiz. Better return = Cesar, but easier to trade = Galvis. Galvis can provide a very good value as a UTIL INF when the Phils decided to go full throttle on Kingery-JPC DP combo. When JPC gets his feet wet and experience more at bats, JPC will easily can slot as the #2 or if Kingery comes up and plays at the same level. With Doobie, JPC, Cesar and possibly Kingery next year, Pete will no longer goof around and play Galvis in the two hole unless he wants to be fired.

      • Michael C Lorah

        September 15, 2017 08:17 AM

        Mike Fasano wrote:

        “My only problem with that scenario is that I know, and you know that Pete will put Galvis in the two hole.”

        Ain’t it the sad truth.

      • Andrew

        September 15, 2017 10:03 AM

        @Mike Fassano
        While he is not an ideal two hole hitter, his versatility as a switch hitter and decent production from that spot warrants the question who would you rather have in the two hole?
        Season Batting Order G AB PA
        2017 2nd 83 341 371
        H 1B 2B 3B HR R RBI BB IBB
        94 69 15 4 6 43 36 25 0 SO HBP SF SH GDP SB CS AVG
        62 3 1 1 7 10 3 .276

  2. Kurdt Kobeyn

    September 14, 2017 02:10 PM

    Klentak’s approach has been deliberate and methodical. As much as I would love the Phils to sign Darvish and/or Lynn plus a solid veteran pen arm to kick off the start of winning ways and contention next year – Klentak will stay its course and will rather do marginal improvements and continue the waiver carousel.

    Some players like ToJo, Rupp, Cesar and possibly Galvis will be traded for lesser value. It’s apparent that the Phillies fans are the only ones who are high on Cesar but the it’s obvious that the rest of the league don’t seem to value a light hitting 2B only player. Klentak should just take what he can take from these players and start rolling with the core consist of the former Iron Pigs maulers of Hoskins-Kingery-JPC-Williams-Alfaro-Knapp-Quinn to join the major pieces like Altherr, Doobie, Nola and Eickhoff.

    The Phils should hire a top notch pitching coach to fix the stalled development and early struggles of some of the young arms (Eflin, Jake, Ramos, Pinto, etc) while waiting for the younger high end arms (Kilome, Sixto, JoJo, Medina) to continue their development across levels. The arms I’m interested the most are Pivetta, Anderson and Dominguez in the rotation and Arano, Davis and Edgar Garcia as high leverage pen arms. I’m still not buying on Appel but the move to the bullpen might work wonders for the Phils. Tirado is a lost case. He will be DFAd, claimed in the waivers and the Phils will just trade him for almost nothing.

    • Bary Onyx

      September 15, 2017 09:48 AM

      I don’t know. Klentak has been deliberate and methodical because that’s what the circumstances required. But given the opportunity to make a big move, I don’t think we have any reason to think he wouldn’t go for it. In fact, we have one major reason to think he would; the Ken Giles trade. I’d say that trade was pretty bold. And perhaps a taste of what to expect when we finally transition from “rebuilding” mode to “go for it” mode.

      Neither one of us really know. Maybe he will just sit back and make minor adjustments. I wouldn’t say his track record is proof of anything either way, though.

  3. Steve

    September 14, 2017 05:54 PM

    Otani…..

  4. 4ester

    September 14, 2017 05:56 PM

    Likely to be the most exciting offseason in a long time just to see how some of these logjams get cleared. Obviously pitching is the weakness. I don’t really see anywhere worth upgrading in the field at this point and let’s see how Franco can do surrounded by some more lethal bats. Giving up on him might be a mistake and now they can afford to see him for another year.
    Not sure what kind of package it would take, but what do folks think about putting an offer out there for Marcus Stroman this offseason. Be a nice piece controllable through 2021.

  5. Harvey Wallbanger

    September 14, 2017 07:33 PM

    Galvis is the little train that could. I want to see him in a Phillies uni for years to come.

  6. Maziar Azizi

    September 22, 2017 02:39 PM

    If Hoby Milner was any younger than he looked he would be in high school lol

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