Too Early 25-Man Roster Predictions

Pitchers and catchers have finally reported to Clearwater. Over the next few days, 66 players will convene at the Phillies spring training complex and six weeks from now that group will be whittled down to a finalized Opening Day 25-man roster. The handful of recognizable players has diminished as, according to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, only 18 of those 66 players were in Phillies Spring training camp a year ago.

For Phillies fans, much of the next six weeks will be spent getting used to the new players. (I mean, what does Tyler Goeddel even look like?) Spring Training will also provide an opportunity to watch top prospects like J.P. Crawford, Nick Williams, Jake Thompson, and Mark Appel. But few, if any, prospects are likely to head north with the big squad. So, what will the 2016 Phillies look like on April 4th when they open the season in Cincinnati?

Here’s my best guess as of right now:

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Phillies PECOTA Projections

Yesterday, Baseball Prospectus released their annual PECOTA projections. PECOTA is a projection system which takes a player’s track record over the past few seasons and uses that data to project what a player is most likely to do over the upcoming season. Part of the process includes incorporating what comparable players have historically done at the same age as the player PECOTA is projecting.

Projections systems should obviously never be taken as gospel but they have real value in the sense that, unlike us flawed mortals, they’re not heavily impacted by recency bias. Humans are quick to forget what happened in recent years and, as a result, we have a tendency to overreact to breakout or breakdown seasons. Computers never forget.

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Spring Storylines – Twenty-Six Guys Who Can Play Some Center Field

Gone are the days of Michael Martinez. Gone are the days of John Mayberry Jr. Gone are the days of “maybe Cesar Hernandez” and “I don’t know man, Grady Sizemore?”. The 2016 Phillies have actual center fielders coming to camp to back up an incumbent. Odubel Herrera enters the spring with a firm grip on a starting role, but behind him, there is a crowd vying for the other outfield spots. Almost all of them have at least some ability in center, and one of them might even push El Torito to a corner.

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Keith Law’s Top 10 Phillies Prospects

It’s the first week of Spring Training, so that means ESPN’s Keith Law has been working nonstop on his prospect rankings. He released his top 10 Phillies prospects list today, and threw in ten more for good measure. The fact that the list has an extra 10 names on it is one indicator of how deep the Phillies’ farm system has become. Here’s the list, with the player’s KLaw top-100 ranking in parentheses where applicable.  Continue reading…

Spring Storylines: The Phillies’ (Temporary) Middle Infield Problem

By now you’ve probably heard of the Phillies’ next great shortstop, J.P. Crawford. The global top-10 prospect is likely to be manning the dirt at Citizens Bank Park sometime this summer, and if not, he’ll certainly be there for good on Opening Day 2017. In the meantime, you’ll be subjected to another season of a lot of Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez. As much as I like both players’ personalities, their games aren’t exactly indicative of first division regulars, or even major league starters. The 26-year-old Galvis is a known quantity at this stage of his career, and his career 72 wRC+ tells you everything you need to know. He’s a (very) low-OBP bench/utility guy who can hit a homer once a month. Hernandez was, as you may recall, anointed as the team’s second baseman by former General Manager Ruben Amaro, Jr., before Chase Utley could even drag himself out of the trainer’s room.

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Spring Storylines: The Fifth Starter Battle

In honor of pitchers and catchers reporting on Thursday (yay!), the Crashburn crew will be breaking down one key Phillies Spring Training storyline each day this week. Up first: The Fifth Starter.


From the group of pitchers and catchers reporting to Clearwater this week, the Phillies starting rotation will eventually emerge. The final outcome is neither as uncertain as it has been in recent years nor as obvious as it was in the era of Four Aces and Joe. Veteran trade acquisitions Jeremy Hellickson and Charlie Morton are virtual locks for the rotation as is former Phillies first rounder Aaron Nola. The fourth starter often described as a “lock” for the rotation is Jerad Eickhoff who closed out the 2015 season with the following line over his final four absurdly impressive starts: 0.96 ERA, 30.8 K%, 6.5 BB%, 0.86 WHIP. Despite that, I’d argue it’s moderately premature to label Eickhoff a guaranteed rotation lock given that his changeup remains both a work in progress and a key to his future as a starting pitcher. Eickhoff making the rotation is far and away the most likely outcome, but I’m not sure I’m ready to bet my life on it.

For the purposes of this analysis, however, let’s assume that Hellickson, Morton, Nola, and Eickhoff are all members of the Opening Day rotation. Who will get the final spot?

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Who Are You Series Wrap-Up

For the past six weeks, we’ve been looking in depth at new members of the Phillies roster. In case you missed any of the profiles, here are handy links to all six of them:

OF – Peter Bourjos (link)
SP – Jeremy Hellickson (link)
SP – Charlie Morton (link)
SP/RP – Brett Oberholtzer (link)
SP/RP – Vincent Velasquez (link)
RP – David Hernandez (link)

Before tying a bow on this series, I will run down a few thoughts on the new members of the 40-man roster who didn’t warrant a full write-up either due to a lack of previous major league experience or questionable likelihood they will have a notable role for the 2016 Phillies. To close it out I’ll share a few final takeaways. Continue reading…

Who Are You: Brett Oberholtzer

This is part of an ongoing series profiling new members of the 2016 Phillies roster. Previous installments:

Jeremy Hellickson
Peter Bourjos
Charlie Morton
Vincent Velasquez
David Hernandez


Brett Oberholtzer – LHP
Born: 7/1/89 — entering age 26 season
Height: 6’1″, Weight: 225 lb.
2015 MLB: 38.1 IP, 4.46 ERA, 15.8 K%, 9.9 BB%, 91 ERA+
2015 AAA:  70.0 IP, 3.86 ERA, 17.9 K%, 4.1 BB%
MLB Career: 253.2 IP, 3.94 ERA, 15.3 K%, 5.3 BB%, 100 ERA+
Contract Status: pre-arb; 5 years of team control remaining

History

The most important thing you need to know about Brett Oberholtzer is he hails from the greatest state in the union. In 2007, he was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 47th round after graduating from William Penn High School in New Castle, Delaware, but he opted to go on to junior college instead of signing. After a year at Seminole Community College, his draft stock soared and the Atlanta Braves took him in the eighth round of the 2008 draft.

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Who Are You: David Hernandez

This is part of an ongoing series profiling new members of the 2016 Phillies roster. Previous installments:

Jeremy Hellickson
Peter Bourjos
Charlie Morton
Vincent Velasquez


David Hernandez – RHP
Born: 5/13/85, entering age 31 season
Height: 6’3″, Weight: 245 lb.
2015: 1-5, 4.28 ERA, 33.2 IP,  22.9 K%, 7.6 BB%, 96 ERA+
Career: 25-35, 4.15 ERA, 414.1 IP, 23.2 K%, 9.8 BB%, 100 ERA+
Contract Status: 1-year/$3.9M

History

Drafted by the Orioles in the 16th round of the 2005 draft, David Hernandez came up through Baltimore’s system as a starting pitcher. His minor league numbers were rather ordinary — 28-27, 552.1 IP, 3.75 ERA, 9.8 BB% — except for a notably impressive strikeout rate of 27.1 percent. A successful start to the 2009 season in Triple-A led to Hernandez making his major league debut and, ultimately, starting 19 games that season for Baltimore.

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Who Are You: Vincent Velasquez

This is part of an ongoing series profiling new members of the 2016 Phillies roster. Previous installments:

Jeremy Hellickson
Peter Bourjos
Charlie Morton


Vincent Velasquez – RHP
Born: 6/7/92, entering age 24 season
Height: 6’3″, Weight: 205 lb.
MiLB Career: 26-14, 3.28 ERA, 296.1 IP, 29.0 K%,  8.3 BB%
2015 MLB: 1-1, 4.37 ERA, 55.2 IP, 25.1 K%, 9.1 BB%
Contract Status: pre-arb; not arbitration eligible until 2019 at the earliest

History

If you’ve heard the hyperbolic scouting adage that all major leaguers were once shortstops, Vincent Velasquez is not the player you can go to as evidence to the contrary. An elbow injury kept Velasquez off the mound for the entirety of his junior year in high school and pushed him to shortstop. In his senior year, however, he returned to the mound and caught the attention of scouts with his low-90s fastball, impressive changeup, and developing curveball. The Houston Astros were impressed enough to take him in the 2nd round of the 2010 draft as the #58 overall pick.

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