When Phillies General Manager said, “In our situation it would probably bode better for the organization not with [Howard] but without him.”, the first base job was officially declared open. The only problem was no other team considered themselves better off with him either. Csnphilly.com’s Jim Salisbury in today’s story tell the Ryan Howard story. See Here.
With Ryan Howard likely to remain on the Phillies roster where does that leave him? He has two years remaining on his contract with a $10 million buy out for 2017. I have always said that Howard and Darin Ruf should be platooned at first this season but that does not seem to be in the cards. I just can’t forget Ruf hitting .388 with 21 home runs against left-handed pitching at Reading back in 2012. On the other hand Howard has been swinging wildly at left-handed pitchers’ sliders out of the strike zone to many times in recent seasons.
With Howard likely at first base for the foreseeable future, who will take his job when the Phillies do compete with a new core two or three years from now? At AA, 25 year old Art Charles is expected to play first base there. Art has the power against right handed pitchers. Last year with the Clearwater Threshers against right handed pitchers, he hit 18 homers for a .252 average and an .832 OPS.
The problem was Charles hit only one homer agains lefties, batted .169 with a .474 OPS against them. Another problem was he struck out one of every three at bats last season. If he could only put the ball in play more often and hit lefties better he could be a major league prospect. In any event he will hit a lot of home runs at Reading’s First Energy Stadium against right handed pitchers this upcoming season.
The Clearwater Threshers first baseman looks to be the third round draft pick from the 2012 draft, Zach Green. He will play at baseball age 21 this season. In an injury prone season in 2014 he hit only two home runs at Lakewood’s First Energy Park in 44 games. The previous season Art Charles hit only two homer there as well. Right handed hitting Green should have more luck at Bright House Field this season as did Charles in 2014 when he hit 12 homers there.
Green had a down season last year but did finish strong hitting .282 with two of his six homers in his last ten games of the season. In 2013 he led the half season NY-Penn League in homers with 13.
Rhys Hoskins will challenge Green for the Phillies first baseman of the future. He will play at baseball age 22 this season and might be the best of the bunch. He hit nine homers in Williamsport last season in 245 at bats but hit only .237, He did hit .313 with two homers in his last ten games. He, like Ryan Howard, was a fifth round draft pick. Hoskins stood out in Fall instructs.
The Phillies have released their primary first baseman on the GCL Phillies from last season, Trey Williams. I would think they are trying to make way for Luis Encarnacion to play at first base for Lakewood this season. They signed him out of the Dominican Republic for a million dollars back in 2013. He projects as a first baseman after tries at third and left field in GCL.
The battle for the top first base prospect in the Phillies system between Green and Hoskins should be interesting to watch when the minor league spring training camp games start March 17th. By mid-season the first baseman of the future might become clear. We do know that the Phillies want to move Ryan Howard sooner than later if they can find a team willing to take him.