We were all shocked when the University of Tampa upended the Phillies in the first spring training game of the season. The Lakewood BlueClaws made sure they did not have the same outcome. They hammered Brookdale Community College last night 18-0 in an exhibition game. They were paced by a three-run homer in the first inning by Rhys Hoskins and later in the game by a two-run rbi double by Cord Sandberg.
Tonight starting at 6:30 we get a chance to watch an intrasquad game at Bright House with the Clearwater Threshers as they get ready for opening night on Thursday night against the Dunedin Blue Jays. From what we can tell, last year’s second round draft pick, left-hander Matt Imhof will likely take to the hill for the Threshers on Thursday.
We watched a lot of spring training baseball in March at all levels of the Phillies organization. Here are my Phillies minor league spring training top prospects by position:
Catcher: Andrew Knapp wins easily and will start the season with Clearwater. He is the catcher of the future. His highlight was hitting two home runs in a game.
First base: Rhys Hoskins. He got off to a fast start as we watched him hit a three-run home run in the first inning of the first spring training game. Ironically, he did the same thing last night in an exhibition game in the first inning of his first game as a Lakewood BlueClaw.
Second base: As you know I am a big fan of Carlos Alonso who returns for another season at Reading. He did not disappoint in spring training games. Watched him hit a long home run in a game during the final week of the ST and play a perfect second base in that game.
Third base: Maikel Franco: He should be in the Phillies starting lineup. I can recall watching three homers he hit after he was send down from the major league camp.
Shortstop: J.P. Crawford: J.P. spent a lot of time on his fielding working on his backhand early in camp at short. Soon he would have back issues and go on the disabled list. He has no competition at short in the organization. He is the Phillies shortstop of the future.
Outfield: Aaron Brown, Roman Quinn and Dylan Cozens get my votes for the three spring training camp outfield All-Star spots. I will never forget watching Brown for about 15 minutes playing right field and he showed all his tools in that short time frame. He should be fun to watch with Clearwater. Starting at Reading, Quinn is a lock as the Phillies centerfielder of the future with his speed and Dylan Cozens will have a big season hitting homers at Bright House for the Threshers.
Super-sub, Willians Astudillo: No one played the games better than Astudillo who is on the Clearwater roster. I watched him move a runner to scoring position on a ground out, hit an rbi sacrifice fly, an rbi double and a long home run. He did it all while catching, DHing and playing at first.
Starting Pitching: I will be watching Severino Gonzalez and Adam Morgan with Lehigh Valley; Aaron Nola, Jesse Biddle, Zach Eflin, Tom Windle and Ben Lively with Reading; Matt Imhof, Brandon Leibrandt, David Whitehead, Miguel Nunez and Colin Kleven with Clearwater and Ricardo Pinto, Ranfi Casimiro and Elniery Garcia at Lakewood. They all impressed in camp. The most fascinating starter was Franklyn Kilome as he toyed with the Yankees and speed guns in several spring training games. He not been assigned to a team yet.
Relief Pitcher: Hands down, Clearwater Threshers closer Edubray Ramos was the most fun to watch. The sharp downward tilt of his slider in the strike zone was the best in camp.
The biggest surprise in camp was the assigning to middle infielder Grenny Cumana to Lakewood to start the season. He was in the starting lineup last night in the exhibition game: vs Brookdale (exhibition) – Canelo 6, Sandberg 7, Tocci 8, Hoskins 3, Tromp 9, Grullon 2, Romscha DH, Campbell 5, Cumana 4 / Davis LHP. Grenny is only 19 but has all the tools to be a major league second baseman.
Yes, I did watch the Phillies opening day 8-0 loss to the Red Sox. It was not easy to say the least. If the Phillies are ever to return to respectability, it will start with some of the guys listed above who will form the core. They are the guys to watch as the Phillies minor league season opens on Thursday.