In only 8 days the Phillies will back playing games at the Bank! It doesn't really seem real that Baseball season is almost here! It has been a very interesting spring as more roster spots have opened up as we get later in camp. Right now I have 19 roster spots locked up with 6 still up for grabs! That's a crazy amount of spots still left open with as many 13+ players vying for those 6 spots. It should be an interesting battle as the Phillies close up camp and head North next week!
Projected Opening Day Roster
Lineup: Hernandez, Bourjos, Hererra, Franco, Howard, Rupp, Galvis, Goeddel, (Hellickson)
Bench: Ruiz, Ruf, Blanco, Sweeney, Lough
Rotation: Hellickson, Nola, Morton, Eickhoff, Morgan
Bullpen: Hernandez, Bailey, Gomez, Hinojosa, Garcia, , Oberholtzer, Stumpf
Hererra has missed the last week and a half with a finger injury. He has said it will not keep him from being ready for Opening Day but there will be doubt until he is back on the field. Mackanin said he may pinch hit tonight and may be back in the lineup as soon as tomorrow. It looks to be trending in the right direction, but it is something worth monitoring.
Asche is a different story as he has not played in Grape Fruit League games yet with a oblique injury. It doesn't seem he is far away from playing, but he is going to need a lot of AB's until he is ready. And its very unlikely he gets those before Opening Day. He should return sometime in mid-April.
Still on the Bubble
Darnell Sweeney UTL: Sweeney may be the main benefactors of the rash of injuries in the OF. He hasn't had a great spring (hitting just .207) but he's young, talented and most importantly he plays the outfield. This is a big year for Sweeney as he should have an opportunity to earn playing time before the wave of prospects hit Philly. It could be his only chance to prove he belongs with this team long term.
David Lough OF: Injuries are unfortunate but it does give a guy an opportunity that he otherwise wouldn't have had. Lough is a lifetime .255 hitter (303 GP), is a plus defender in the OF and has had a very good spring (.314 BA and .912 OPS). If Hererra is ready for Opening Day, Lough will battle with Hunter for a roster spot. But there's a chance they go outside the organization to fill the spot. His major legue experience give him the leg up on Hunter for know.
Adam Morgan LH SP: Morgan is in a battle with Velezquz for the 5th spot. This may be a gut feeling but I think he will win the spot. He's a lefty and has already proven he can get outs at the major league level. Morgan has been solid this spring, giving up just 2 runs in 9IP. The former top prospect doesn't have the stuff he had before his shoulder problems but he's is a gamer who can get hitters out.
Dalier Hinojosa RH RP: He was claimed off waivers last year from Red Sox and pitched very well for the Phillies down the stretch. The righty gave up just 2 ER in 23.1 IP. Mackanin has even gone as far as saying he's a consideration to be the closer.
Luis Garcia RH RP: Personally, I'd be surprised if he doesn't make it. But it sounds like he's on the bubble. The 28 year old has back end stuff but has always struggled with command. He had a 3.51 ERA last year but his struggles this spring may leave him off the roster.
Daniel Stumpf LH RP: Stumpf is another rule 5 pick trying to squeeze his way on the roster. He is your typical loogy who struggles again righties but dominates lefties. Last year in the minors lefty's hit just .167 off of him. I don't think any of the many lefty relievers have separated themselves. So you go with the young guy who needs to be in the roster in order to keep him in the organization.
First 4 Out:
Cedric Hunter OF: Hunter was a 3rd round pick by the Padres in 2006 and become on the team's top prospects when he made his debut in 2011. Unfortunately his time in the majors didn't last long. He did hit .250 but that was only in 4 AB's. Over the last 5 years Hunter has bounced around several different organizations. This has allowed him to accumulate 1,151 GP and 4,235 AB's in the minors. If the 28 year old does make the team, it would be a great story!
Vince Velasquez RH SP: "Vinnie from Philly" has been great this spring and some may see him as the front runner for the 5th spot. He has a 3.21 ERA and leads the team in strikeouts this spring. The 23 year old has the much higher upside but I think he could benefit for some additional seasoning at AAA. Even if he starts the year with the Pigs, he will be part of the rotation very early in the season.
Elvis Araujo: The big lefty had a solid rookie year even though it was cut short by injury. He ended the season with a 3.38 ERA in 34.2 IP. He came into camp as a favorite to land one of the bullpen jobs. Unfortunately his spring hasn't gone well as Araujo has a 9.64 ERA in 4.2 IP. Even with his struggles this spring, he should get serious consideration due to his success last year but the team can afford to have him start the season in the minors and see what Stumpf has.
Edward Mujica: He has pitched great this spring (1.50 ERA) and is definitely a viable option but I think they are running out of spots. He is in a battle with Garcia and Hinojosa for the final righty in the pen. With nearly 500 ML appearances, he would add another veteran presence to the pen.
Other Options: There isn't a shortage of options for spots in the bullpen. Ernesto Frieri is also in the conversation due to his previous major league success, but his 7.94 ERA this spring indicate that he isn't a good candidate to return to his previous form. There are also a few lefties competing with Stumpf and Araujo for the final spot. I would like to See Bobby LaFromboise make it, he has yet to allow a run in his 7.1 IP this spring. Fellow Lefty James Russell could also be a factor.