With pitchers and catchers scheduled to report to Clearwater on February 13th–three short weeks from now–it is certainly early to look forward to which 25 players will emerge from Spring Training as members of the Phillies Opening Day roster. Last week, we looked at the locks to break camp with the Major League club. That brings us to this week and next where we’ll turn to potential roster battles in the final two weeks before pitchers and catchers report.
Through the first part of this series, we identified 20 players who are, for practical purposes, guaranteed to be on the Phillies 25-man Opening Day roster. The composition of that is as follows:
Starting Pitchers (5): Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, Jeremy Hellickson, and Clay Buchholz
Relief Pitchers (5): Hector Neris, Jeanmar Gomez, Pat Neshek, Joaquin Benoit, Edubray Ramos
Infielders (6): Cameron Rupp, Tommy Joseph, Cesar Hernandez, Freddy Galvis, Maikel Franco, Andres Blanco
Outfielders (4): Odubel Herrera, Michael Saunders, Howie Kendrick, Aaron Altherr
That leaves battles for the last five spots on the team in the following roles: Backup catcher, bullpen lefty, last bullpen spot, and two bench bats. We’ll start today with an examination of the roster battle for backup catcher.
Realistically, the Phillies have three catchers in camp who could conceivably make the team as Cameron Rupp’s backup. While it’s fun to dream on Jorge Alfaro showing up, having a Spring Training like Maikel Franco’s last year, and forcing his way onto the roster, that isn’t going to happen. Alfaro is only entering his age-24 season (which is young for a catcher, developmentally) and, aside from his brief MLB debut in September, has never played above AA. He’ll start the season in AAA with the potential for a mid-season call if everything goes well.
That leaves three catchers in the mix: Andrew Knapp, Ryan Hanigan, and Bryan Holaday. Our preview will only focus on them. Continue reading…