Selecting the Baseball Betsy and Ross Phillies Pitching and Position 2020 Prospects of the Year was not easy. The Phillies minor league season ended before it really began last March.
The 2020 season ended because of Covid 19 when the major league camp’s Grapefruit League was stopped on March 12th while the minor league camp workouts were just beginning.
For our selections, we had to rely on what was reportedly taking place at the Summer Alternative Camp in Allentown and Fall Instructs in Clearwater. They were both closed to the fans so we had to rely primarily on videos available and posts quoting Josh Bonifay, Phillies Director of Player Development. We considered only players who did not play for the Phillies during the 60 game, MLB season.
We selected pitcher James McArthur and catcher Logan O’Hoppe as the two Players of the Year in the Phillies minor league system even though no minor league games were ever played. However, both of them are positioned to move up quickly in the organization in 2021.
Catcher J.T. Realmuto is a free agent and likely gone and the Phillies have a great need for starters at the back end of the rotation with Jake Arrieta having left as a free agent.
We watched McArthur in a start with the Threshers late in August of 2019.
We watched O’Hoppe in the Australian Baseball League that continued into the January playoffs of 2020 on the internet and continued watching him in Spring Training warmups.
McArthur was a big game pitcher for the Threshers going 3-0 in his final three starts of the 2019 season. He pitched 17.2 inning allowing only one run and striking out 16. He pitched the Threshers into the FSL playoffs only to see them cancelled because of the potential for a hurricane.
McArthur was praised by Bonifay in a MLB.Com blog on his pitching in the 2020 Fall Instructs. The article was written by staff writer Jonathan Mayo where he wrote:
“A little bit more off the radar, at least for now, is right-hander James McArthur. A 12th-rounder in 2018 out of Mississippi, the 6-foot-7 hurler spent much of 2019 in the Class A Advanced Florida State League. He has more feel for pitching than pure stuff but really impressed with his ability to use the pair of breaking pitches he was specifically working on.”
Bonifay said about McArthur from Fall Instructs, “He was outstanding with the ability to command the zone with all three pitches. He executed his fastball, curveball and slider and he had punchouts on both the curve and slider. He has a good changeup, too . He made some tweaks in his delivery and he was extremely polished.”
O’Hoppe was voted by the players as the best catcher in the Australian Baseball League last season. He led the Adelaide Giants to the ABL finals. During the regular season he hit five homers in 22 ABL games.
Before being sent to the Phillies Alternative camp last summer, O’Hoppe did get a memorable at bat with the Phillies in an exhibition game prior to the start of the MLB season against the Yankees. Read HERE.
In Alternative camp action, Bonifay was effusive in praise of the 20 year-old in an MLB.Com interview. He said O’Hoppe, “was phenomenal with his work before and in games”.
“He really made great improvements in his bat-to-ball skills,” Bonifay said. “He’s physically matured and showed he can hit velocity. He’s improved his swing decision and ability to impact the ball and his receiving continues to improve, all while showing he’s a great teammate.”
Reports are O’Hoppe hit several long home runs in the Alternative camp games.
Two names then to follow in upcoming spring training in the Phillies camp will be James McArthur and Logan O’Hoppe. The Phillies need starting pitching and catching. These two battery mates could fill those two spots at some point during in the 2021 season.