Much has been happening in baseball with the MLB Winter Meetings and all but still the Phillies soldier on. After dealing their No. 1 starting pitcher last summer, Cole Hamels, they ditched their top-0f -the-line, 25 year old closer, Ken Giles at the Meetings. Can Aaron Nola and Jerad Eichkoff become the future No. 1 and No. 2 of the staff? That is what we will find out during the 2016 season. We already know that newly acquired starters Jeremy Hellickson and Charlie Morton have likely seen their better days.
The Phillies continue to play in the Rule Five draft pool after getting Odubel Herrera last season. Tyler Goeddel seems like a good pick for the outfield if he can continue to show the pop that he showed in the last month or two of the 2015 season in the Tampa Rays system. And they alway can use a good lefty to get a lefty bat out from time to time. A role Daniel Stumpf will get a tryout to fill.
The Offseason All-Star games are taking place now and a couple of Phillies prospects made them. In the Dominican Winter League Jimmy Cordero, acquired in the Ben Revere trade with the Blue Jays, was the only pitcher of 21 used in that All-Star game Sunday to give up runs and he took the loss in a 2-0 game. He faced five batters, walking one, giving up three hits and two runs. Don’t think he is ready yet to take over for Ken Giles as the Phillies closer as one Phillies beat writer suggested last week.
Rhys Hoskins sent half way around the world by the Phillies continues to impress for the Sydney Blue Sox in the Australian Baseball League. He has been selected for the ABL All-Star game to be played Wednesday at 3:30 a.m. ET. Rhys leads the ABL in doubles and is the top ten in just about every other hitting category. He is the only player that I can find in baseball to hit over .300 with an OPS over .900 in three different leagues in the 2015 season. Still, MLBPipline.com does not consider the 22-year old on the Top 30 List of their Phillies prospects. I do!
Disappointed that three young prospects of the Phillies were dealt in the recent trades by the new Front Office. We watched all of them all this summer in Clearwater. So were other MLB teams watching them too.
I was most impressed with Jonathan Arauz who was included in the Ken Giles deal. He started the season as a 16-year old with the GCL Phillies before turning 17 years old later in the season. He will be a major league All-Star middle infielder for the Houston Astros at some point in the future. Book it! Former Houston first round pick pitcher Mark Appel thrown into the deal by the Astros better gets some outs for the Phillies.
The improvement in pitcher Sam McWilliams was dramatic from the 2014 season to this summer for the GCL Phillies. In 2014 his fastball sat in the high 80’s and in 2015 it was in the low 90’s. The 6′ 7″, 20-year old’s upside is unlimited! The Arizona Diamondback got a top-of-the rotation major league starter in a few years while the veteran starter Jeremy Hellickson, the player the Phillies pick-up for him, will be long gone from the Phillies rotation.
Pitcher David Whitehead is an interesting story. He actually was more effective early in the 2015 season for the Clearwater Threshers than he was later in the Floride State League season. In his first start of the 2015 he was brilliant striking out eight in his six inning as we watched in Dunedin. He was traded to the Pirates for struggling veteran starter Charlie Morton.
We will have to waited to see if the so called “haul” that the Phillies Front Office has acquired since the summer works out. Only time will tell. So far only starting pitchers Jerad Eickhoff for the Phillies and Jake Thompson for Reading, both picked up in the Cole Hamels deal, have looked special on the mound. Also in the Hamels deal outfielder Nick Williams looks like a major prospect but is a free swinger and did not walk at all in 39 at bats in the the Eastern League post season but did hit three homers.
So the Phillies go into the 2016 season without a No. 1 starting pitcher and a credible closer. Unless Nola and Eickhoff quickly emerge as top of the rotation pitchers and they can find someone to set up and close out of the pen, 2016 its going to be a long season at Citizens Bank Park as the Phillies rebuild looks to continue for many years into the future.