Now that Jimmy Rollins is appearing in a Dodgers uniform, reality has now set in that the old 2008 World Series winning core group is all but finished. All that remains of that core are Carlos Ruiz, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Cole Hamels. How far into the season Hamels and Howard stay is a regular topic of many current and future Phillies stories. SEE HERE.
The Phillies invited ten of their top prospects to a week long orientation seminar at Citizens Bank Park. SEE HERE. Some of these guys are likely to make up the future core of the team. Many prospects have been invited to this annual event in previous years but few have made much of an impact at the major league level. See Here. So the question remains which prospects will make up the core of the Phillies when the team is projected to compete for the post season in the 2017 or 2018 seasons?
Since only prospects who have played at least a minimum of a half season at high A Clearwater were invited, the list is still incomplete. That leaves some gaps in the future Phillies core especially at the positional level. Certainly Roman Quinn is the Phillies center fielder of the future as is J.P. Crawford at short and Maikel Franco will play at one of the corners in the infield.
I have suggested moving Cody Asche to left field and the jury is still out on Domonic Brown who looks to start in right field this season. Brownie, as GM Ruben Amaro Jr. calls him, will start his ninth season in the Phillies organization. This season it will in right field and he has yet to prove he is a major league player anywhere. Except for the first few months of the 2013 season which earned him an invited to the All Star game, he has struggled in all facets of the game. Soon his time must be up trying to learn the Phillies Way.
In two recent blogs we have talked about Grenny Cumana at second base and Rhys Hoskins at first base and how impressive they were at instructs but they are likely two or three years away and did not qualify for this week’s seminar. This upcoming season will help decided if they are truly candidates for the new Phillies core.
Two other prospects caught my attention at instructs but they also did not qualify for the orientation seminar even though they are of similar ages as the attendees. They could be part of the new Phillies core for the 2017 or 2018 seasons: catcher Andrew Knapp and corner outfielder Aaron Brown.
The 23 year-old switch hitting Knapp had a strong season with Lakewood hitting .290 including a slash line of .309/.371/.487 in just over 200 at bats against right handed pitching. His bat stood out at instructs where he bounced a ground rule double over the .401 sign in center at Bright house Field. SEE HERE. In that game he also threw out two runners trying to steal second.
The Phillies may fast track their third round draft pick last season outfielder Aaron Brown. He will turn 23 year old to start the second half of the upcoming season. He finished strong after his call-up to Lakewood where he put up a slash line of .309/.339/.473 in 55 at bats. He showed he is a gap hitter with speed when he ran out a triple in instructs. SEE HERE. He was moved to right field with Lakewood after playing in center at Williamsport.
The Phillies have a group of minor league outfielders on the prospect bubble but they have yet to show they will become part of the Phillies core of the future. 2015 will be a crucial year for outfielders of the likes of right handed hitting Cameron Perkins and Aaron Altherr and left handed bats Kelly Dugan and Dylan Cozens. So far the jury is still out to see if they will be impact major league outfielders.
Slowly but surely the new Phillies positional core is taking shape at all levels of the organization as we approach major and minor league spring training camps. Let’s hope the core will be ready for the push to the post season that acting team President Pat Gillick has projected will take place in the 2017 or 2018 seasons.