Where will the Phillies end up in the 2013 standings remains to be see. Veteran players like pitchers Roy Halladay and Kyle Kendrick and position players like Michael Young, Delmon Young, Laynce Nix and Chase Utley are in the final year of their contracts. Next season would appear to offer great opportunities for the Phillies to give younger players in the system a chance to make the opening day 2014, 25 man major league roster.
Baseball Betsey and I spent a lot of our time in February and March watching games on the back fields of the Phillies organization. We did attend some major league games or watched them on MLB.TV but our real interest was with the “kids” as one of our minor league fan friends calls them. So the Carpenter Complex fields or quick trips to the Blue Jays minor league complex a few miles away were our baseball homes most of the time over the previous six weeks. I tried to watch two minor league games at the same time on adjacent fields as much as possible. Some days it was the AAA and AA or the A+ and A- teams taking on their counterparts in the Yankees, Pirates and Blue Jays organizations. The best games were the intrasquad camp games when the Phillies AAA (Lehigh Valley) team played the AA (Reading) team and the A+ (Clearwater) team played the A- (Lakewood) team. The whole organization was on display for better or worse in a three hour period during those games.
In Monday’s Harrisburg Patriot newspaper they ran a story that listed 14 players who played for the Eastern League Senators at some point who will be on the Washington National’s opening day 25 man roster. It got me to thinking just how many Phillies on the opening day roster for them played at AA Reading. The answer is not many. Only Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Freddy Galvis, Domonic Brown, Kyle Kendrick, Antonio Bastardo and Phillippe Aumont ever played for an extended period of time in Reading. Cole Hamels and Chase Utley each appeared in only three games with Reading and Carlos Ruiz did play a season there but he is now serving a 25 game suspension. Other former Phillies players do come to mind who will appear on opening day major league rosters with other teams such as Gavin Floyd , Michael Bourn, Lou Marson, Carlos Carrasco, Brett Myers and J.A. Happ and also appeared on the Reading AA roster.
What the list does show is how difficult it is to make an opening day roster in major league baseball. In the minor league camp an estimated 175 players reported to start the minor league training at the Carpenter Complex. Some of them have been released, others will be sent back to the academies in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela for more work. Still over 125 players are on the Phillies minor league U.S. based team rosters including those players who have been sent down from the major league camp or are on the disabled list. Most of them however will never appear on an opening day major league roster.
To pick which of the minor league players who will appear on an opening day MLB roster some year is not easy. I have listed my top 20 Phillies players that I have seen play in camp this year and can project someday on an opening day major league roster. Another two, relievers Kenny Giles (A+) and Keivy Rojas (A-), I did not see pitch in camp but did see pitch last year. They impressed me as major league prospects but I did not include them.
My Top 20 future MLB opening day roster projections include catchers Tommy Joseph (AAA) and Cameron Rupp (AA); catcher/left fielder Sebastian Valle; third basemen Cody Asche (AAA) and Maikel Franco (A+) ; shortstops Edgar Duran (AA) and Roman Quinn(A-); second base men Cesar Hernandez (AAA) and Andrew Pullin (Ext. Spring) shortstop/second baseman Angelo Mora (A-), first basemen Art Charles (A-) and Chris Serritella (A+); outfielders Carlos Tocci (A-) and Dylan Cozens (Ext. Spring); outfield/first baseman Darin Ruf (AAA); pitchers, starters Ethan Martin, Adam Morgan, Jesse Biddle and relievers Justin DeFratus (AAA) and Jake Diekman (AAA).
The guys listed above will be the ones that I will be watching closely to see how they progress this season in the Phillies minor league system. I will be also watching closely for any other player to have a break out minor league season as Darin Ruf had last season. If the Phillies Front Office choses to rebuild through the farm system rather than always relying on free agents in the future, these will be the guys who will have to do it for them in some way either on the their 25 man roster or trade bait to fill in the missing pieces.