It was Aaron Nola, the Phillies opening day starter, who made his spring debut on the mound joined by regulars Andrew McCutchen and Jean Segura in the field as the Phillies started the long spring training grind to Opening Day on April 1st. Joyce fighting for a Phillies bench job made a great sliding catch in right and hit a long two-run homer.
For us the real stories of spring training are the young minor league prospects trying to make an impression on the Phillies brass in the second half of the games. In Monday’s 4-4, seven inning tie game with the Baltimore Orioles it was Rodolfo Duran hitting and Jakob Hernandez pitching who had to catch Phillies Manager Joe Girardi’s attention.
Duran went 2 for 2 as the DH with a double and single to left center in his two at bats. His double landed at the base of the wall in left center and his single was a line drive.
A catcher by trade he last played for the Clearwater Threshers in 2019 where we watched him injured himself swinging at a pitch which ended his season early that season.
Duran has tremendous power. In a combined 162 game he played for Lakewood in 2018 including the SAL playoffs and the Threshers in 2019, Rodolpho hit 27 home runs.
Duran showed on Monday he is ready to have a big season in 2021. His bat is ideally set for hitting long balls likely in Reading this season.
Lefty reliever Jakob Hernandez showed on Monday that he has major league stuff out of the pen. In the sixth inning of the seven inning game he struck out the first batter and ended the inning by inducing a Bryson Stott to Luis Garcia to Brad Miller 4-6-3 double play.
Hernandez pitched in Reading in 2019. We would not be surprised to see him work out of the LehighValley bullpen to open the 2021 season.
Duran and Hernandez are two prospects to keep close tabs on in the upcoming season.