Tuesday was a long day at the Carpenter Complex baseball fields watching all the moves at the major league camp in the morning and the activities of the early reporting players at the minor league camp in the afternoon. It was a never ending story of the Phillies organization in action during the first day of full squad major league workouts at 2015 spring training.
Mostly everything went well and ran on or ahead of time as the boys of summer moved from field to field on a tight schedule of drills. What caught my eye at one point was outfield coach Juan Samuel standing in left field with Rule 5 pick Odubel Herrera as defensive drills took place on Schmidt Field. It is clear Herrera will get every chance to make the opening day 25 man roster. Based on how he performs in the spring games, Herrera might even be in the Phillies opening day starting lineup.
Watching Charlie Manuel and Mike Schmidt tells you a lot about the Phillies concerns. Over on Roberts Field, Charlie and Mike were studying the stokes of Maikel Franco and Domonic Brown in batting practice. Manuel moved later to Ashburn Field to follow Ryan Howard and in what appeared an attempt to correct a flaw in his swing.
It was good to see Adam Morgan on the mound throwing live batting practice but the Phils seem to have an overabundance of starting pitching every where. They have built a great deal of starting pitching depth at the major league and AAA levels. Let’s count them. Start with the top five right at the MLB level now. Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Aaron Harang, Chad Billlingsly and Jerome Williams. That leaves a lot of other starters on the major league spring training roster looking for spots somewhere in the system. They include David Buchanan, Joely Rodriguez, Ethan Martin, Jonathan Pettibone, Adam Morgan, Kevin Slowey, Sean O’Sullivan and Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez.
I counted 13 starting pitchers fighting for 10 spots on the major league and AAA Lehigh Vally rosters in the major league camp. This count does not include the likes of starters Hoby Milner and Severino Gonzalez from the 2014 Reading roster and the reported minor league free agent signing of veteran P.J. Walters.
The starting pitching log jam is also exacerbated by the pickups of Zach Elfin and Tom Windle in the Jimmy Rollins deal with the Dodgers and Ben Lively in the Marlon Byrd trade with the Reds. All indications are that these three will be joined by Phillies former first round draft picks Jesse Biddle and Aaron Nola to make up the 2015 Reading AA starting rotation. This likely means that the chances for starting pitchers from the Phillies A ball level rosters in 2014 to move up will be limited, barring injuries, releases or trades during spring training and later.
So after the first day of the full squad major league camp I will be watching if Odubel Herrera can crack not only the 25 man roster which is all but assured but can he actually make the opening day starting lineup most likely in left field? Can Ryan Howard and Domonic Brown hit enough to fill the void in the offense caused by the loss of Jimmy Rollins and Marlon Byrd? And what the heck will the Phillies do with all the starting pitchers they have collected in spring training at the major league and AAA levels.