A couple of young September call-ups have provided a spark in the waning games of the this season. Back in June, our own Tim Malcolm wrote a piece detailing the a crowded outfield. At that point, Nick Williams was hitting .290 in Lehigh Valley, Aaron Altherr was sidelined with a wrist injury, and Roman Quinn was in Reading. A lot has changed since then. Williams, who was expected to get a call before the end of the season, didn’t, but Quinn did. What does that mean for the outfield as the end of the season nears? Decisions, decisions, decisions for GM Matt Klentak and skipper Pete Mackanin for 2017.
One of those September sparks has come in the form of 5’10, 170-pound outfielder Roman Quinn. Quinn made the jump from Double-A Reading straight to the show when his squad was defeated in the first round of the playoffs by the Trenton Thunder. In what was a historic year for the Fightins (one that led to the best record in all of professional baseball) Roman Quinn demonstrated his talents at the leadoff spot all season. Let’s take a look at what the outfield could look like next season, starting with Roman Quinn.
Quinn, a 23-year-old native from Florida, has made his presence felt in the early going of his career. Since his call-up, Quinn has started every game in all three outfield positions. The 170-pounder delivered three consecutive two-hit games after his MLB debut concluded with an 0-for-3 performance. Quinn brings a variety tools to the Phillies. He’s a switch hitter who can hit, bunt, steal bases, play all three outfield positions, and displays sneaky power. Three of Quinn’s six hits have gone for doubles. If you’ve watched Quinn play, you can’t help but notice his absolutely blazing speed. Now, think about that in equivalence to his arm. On Wednesday night, Quinn tracked down a fly ball in center field and tried to gun down a runner at home. Although he didn’t throw the runner out, the ball came in at a fastball’s pace of 96 mph, the strongest of any Phillies outfielder this season. Quinn is impressing manager Pete Mackanin with his play, which could mean a leapfrog of Triple-A and straight into the lineup for opening day of 2017.
People remember what you’ve done recently, not what you did first. In this case, people will remember Odubel Herrera struggling mightily after the first two months of the season. His All Star appearance is a distant memory because of his poor play this season. CSN Philly Insider Jim Salisbury wrote an article in early August detailing Pete Mackanin’s frustrations with Herrera’s plate discipline, focus, and defense. The skipper has benched Herrera on a couple of occasions this year and also said he’s not the first choice for centerfield – at the time, Mackanin preferred Altherr. Going into the offseason, the club will likely recall Herrera as a declining player with poor focus and lack of plate discipline. I truly believe Odubel Herrera will not be the 2017 roster.
Aaron Altherr, on the other hand, will be in the starting outfield to begin the 2017 season. An unfortunate wrist injury on Spring Training held him out of action until late July. Altherr’s first 30 games back were decent, he hit .230 while knocking in 19 RBIs. Unfortunately, he has struggled in September, hitting just .152. Altherr has played 42 games this season and his numbers are almost identical to what they were last season, in 39 games. The only numbers that are down – extra bases. Almost two thirds of Altherr’s knocks last season went for extra bases. At just 25-years-old, Altherr still hasn’t received a fair shake as an everyday starter. Barring any more injuries, Aaron Altherr will be patrolling right field next season on Opening Day, and rightfully so.
Peter Bourjos had one huge month that catapulted his average from .192 to as high as .278 in July. In the month of June, Bourjos hit .410. Since then, Bourjos hovered around .250. The 29-year-old will be a free agent at after this season. A .250 hitter with speed that plays good defense isn’t the worst thing in the world. I could see the Phillies re-signing Bourjos as a 4th or 5th outfielder for 2017.
Tyler Goeddel, a Rule 5 pick up from the Tampa Bay Rays, looks to be staying put in the Phillies organization after remaining with the club all year. After having a solid month of May, hitting .288 in all of his 22 stars, the 23-year-old has played sparingly, starting just 26 games since June 1st. Goeddel will mostly likely start next season in Reading or Lehigh Valley.
Cody Asche, who started the season on the DL with a strained oblique, is hitting just .215 on the year. He was optioned to Triple-A in early August. After Lehigh Valley’s season ended last week, Asche rejoined the team on September 10th and has played in three games. The once highly touted prospect drew comparisons to Chase Utley when in the pipelines. Asche has good minor league numbers, but at the big league level, is a career .241 hitter. He really doesn’t have much to offer the Phillies for next season. He could be strung along as a 5th outfielder until some of the minor league guys are ready.
As much as we want to see it, I don’t believe Nick Williams is ready for Philadelphia. At the Triple-A All Star break, Williams was proving his case for the call up, possibly for this September. Since the break however, Williams has gone cold, hitting just .214. Williams has drawn just 2 walks since July 1st, which covers a span of 205 at-bats. His lack of plate discipline suggests that he needs more finishing in the minor leagues. The Phillies – and fans – should remain patient with him.
Dylan Cozens had a record breaking year with the Reading Fightins. His 40 home runs and 125 RBIs are all time highs for any Reading player. So why isn’t Cozens in Philadelphia right now and why won’t he start the year with the club next season? His strikeouts. Cozens has struck out 186 times in in 134 games. Once he lowers those strikeout numbers, Cozens will be mashing homers at CBP.
That rounds out the list of potential outfielders for players within the organization. Recently, the Phillies were linked to a few of veteran free agents that could certainly bolster the lineup for next season. Two of the players the Phils are interested in according to reports are Ian Desmond and Martin Prado, both of whom are free agents this off-season. Both players are in their early 30s and would provide a veteran presence not only in the lineup, but in the locker room as well. Desmond provided more power between the two, hitting .289 with 22 home runs and 82 RBIs for the Texas Rangers.
Two other possible free agents I could see the Phils pursuing is Orioles’ outfielder Mark Trumbo or Toronto outfielder Michael Saunders. Trumbo, who achieved his second All Star berth this season with the O’s, has banged out 42 home runs and 100 RBIs. Michael Saunders, who plays primarily left field, has blasted 23 home runs in a high powered offense in Toronto. The trio of Desmond, Trumbo, and Saunders are no older than 30. It is a good age for guys that can contribute for the next couple of years until Williams and Cozens are ready to take off. They are more bridge-players, so to speak.
I think the Phils will want a veteran bat with some pop, therefore going outside the organization to find their third starting outfielder. My starting outfield prediction to start the 2017 season:
LF – Ian Desmond/Mark Trumbo/Michael Saunders
CF – Roman Quinn
RF – Aaron Altherr