Commentary

Phillies All-Star options set to increase in coming years

ASGTake a trip to the Phillies’ official website. Take note of the banner across the top of the screen, yes, the one telling you how many days left to vote for your favorite All-Stars. They even have a box dedicated to encouraging you to vote for the Phillies! Yes, this is a league wide marketing strategy to encourage as many fans as possible to vote and increase online clicks. But the fact is that the Phillies do not deserve our votes right now. Not a single member of this squad appears in the top five vote getters for the infield positions, nor have any outfielders managed to break the top 15 in National League voting. However, due to MLB rules, one player from each team must be represented at the All -Star Game. With a farm system made up of future studs, however, this year, or next year at the latest, should be the end of this unfortunate trend.  But which Phils could get the nod this year?

Odubel Herrera

Easily the most exciting and dynamic offensive player on this team, the former rule-five draft pick will be the only position player given consideration for the All Star Game. His .305 average ranks sixth among NL outfielders, while he is among the top five in hits, stolen bases, walks and on base percentage within that same group.

He would be a valuable reserve that could get on base and get himself into scoring position with relative ease should the NL team need a scoring threat late in the game. Of course, space on the squad is limited to the best of the best, which Herrera embodied throughout April and May, but a bit less so throughout June. If Herrera can help right the sinking ship that is the Phillies, he’ll improve his own odds as well.

Jeanmar Gomez

The Phillies’ breakout closer was dominant to start the year. He was being used at such a high rate that there were calls for Pete Mackanin to slow his roll and preserve the 28-year-old’s arm. Gomez has been used sparingly over the last couple of weeks, primarily because the Phillies have struggled to take, and subsequently hold, a lead. His 19 saves are good for fifth most in the NL, putting him in good company atop the leader board. Unfortunately for Gomez though, the NL has a handful of closers with ERAs that sit below 2.00 while his is 2.89. In a one game playoff for home-field advantage in the World Series, NL manager Terry Collins will probably want a relief corps that is battle tested and he could choose relievers with better numbers. But, given that a Phillie must be present, it stands to reason that Gomez has a good of a chance as anyone on this team.

Yes, this is all familiar. Reading through this is just as depressing as actually watching the team play games of late. But have you checked out the other Phillies teams? The Double-A version that is currently 57-23 and tearing up the Eastern League? Or even the Triple-A IronPigs, holding tight at 46-35. Many of those players are on their way to Philly and they’re going to make a splash very soon. These are guys that will be filling out All-Star lineups for years to come.

The Phillies have had their #1 prospect fizzle out in the bigs before (looking at you Domonic Brown…) but forget that notion when it comes to J.P. Crawford. It might be good advice to pencil him into your 2020 All Star lineup, but I’ll take it a step further. Use a sharpie. He’ll be there, even with the recent emergence of several top tier shortstops.

Not only will you catch Rhys Hoskins and Dylan Cozens home run balls at CBP very soon, there is little doubt that you will also be catching them in the Home Run Derby in the next decade (half-decade?). Pure mashers, they have smashed 22 home runs each at AA Reading to lead all of minor league baseball. Hitting from opposite sides of the plate, this power combo could be the heart of a lineup, raking their way toward the postseason and into the hearts of every Phillies fan that loves hearing “That ball is outtttta here!” Jacking big flies is also a good way to garner some national hype and receive votes for starting or reserve roles in the mid-summer classic.

And then there’s the hustle machine Nick Williams and his versatile skill set on his way toward the big leagues as well.

More excited about the prospect of a hurler donning red pinstripes taking the mound against the best hitters in the American League, look no farther than the current roster. Aaron Nola and Vincent Velasquez could make their case in the years to come, both showing flashes of brilliance that will put them in the conversation sooner rather than later.

But, if you must look deeper, get excited for Nick Pivetta. While he might not be the sexiest prospect in the sense that he’s not cracking any league-wide lists, he’s going to strikeout a lot of hitters. Those hitters could easily be in an All-Star Game, but more importantly, he’ll be doing it deep into the season. Pitching beyond 125 innings in the last two seasons, he’s on pace to surpass that total again as he gets stretched longer and longer, prepping him for the longer MLB season as well as creating durability that will aid him in the Phillies’ postseason runs that are on the horizon.

Additional options on the way toward the majors include eventual-closer-in-the-making Franklyn Kilome and Triple-A ace Jake Thompson, who was 3-0 wit a 0.76 ERA in five June starts for Lehigh Valley.

So, Nation, while the Phillies will not send more than one representative this season, it should be the last time they are faced with having to send a token representative for a long time.

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