In a little over a week, teams will have the opportunity to expand rosters and include up to 40 players (the entire 40-man roster). For a team like the Phillies, it would be time to add some young talent and give fans reason to be excited for 2017.
This year, not quite.
Sure the Phils may promote a couple youngsters, but expect the team to make more conservative moves this year. There are reasons. Let’s go through each position to figure who may get the call to Philly.
Typically teams call up a catcher, since it’s always nice to carry a third backstop for injury purposes. And three catchers are on the 40-man – Cameron Rupp, Carlos Ruiz and Jorge Alfaro – which would mean Alfaro (.285/.328/.454) is a good bet to come to Philly. Problem is the Phils may let him stay in Reading as the Fightin’ Phils attempt to win the Eastern League championship (through mid-September).
So maybe it’s Andrew Knapp (.265/.329/.382) who goes to Philly. Then again, Lehigh Valley is in a playoff race as well.
It’s more possible the Phillies bring Logan Moore into the fold. The 26-year-old Scranton native is a light-hitting catcher with defensive skill. He’d be a fine third catcher for a few weeks, though the Phils would have to make room for him on the 40-man roster.
Maybe, after the minor league seasons end, Alfaro and/or Knapp get a taste of Citizens Bank Park.
When Andres Blanco is ready (likely first week of September), he’ll return from the disabled list. Beyond Blanco, Taylor Featherston could return as a utility infielder. It’s possible we’ll also see the return of Darin Ruf, depending on if the Phils want to keep him in Lehigh Valley for the playoff run there. Also in Lehigh Valley is Darnell Sweeney, though his output this year hasn’t helped his case for a promotion.
Then there’s J.P. Crawford. Now at .255/.342/.327 with the Iron Pigs, Crawford was hitting better in July and August until he was sidelined with a rib cage injury. That setback could be the nail in his coffin for 2016. Also against him: The Phillies wouldn’t be able to protect another advanced prospect for the 2017 Rule 5 Draft (think someone like Andrew Pullin). In short, the Phils aren’t risking anything by not promoting Crawford. If anything they’re giving him more time to prepare for 2017.
And 2017, more than likely, is when we’ll see Crawford for good. Maybe on opening day. Maybe two months later.
Nick Williams seemed ready for a quick late-season look, and while the Lehigh Valley playoff run shouldn’t stand in his way, that should be considered. Also to be considered: his not-astounding performance in triple-A (.265/.294/.434), his high strikeout rate (117 K/19 BB) and, for whatever it’s worth, those past disciplinary issues.
Also he’ll need regular plate appearances, which would force Pete Mackanin to make tougher decisions in the everyday lineup. And it also means no other young outfielders coming up (Roman Quinn, Dylan Cozens). Imagine the Phils will add a returning Cody Asche. Maybe Williams. Nothing more.
Adding Williams, again, means taking someone off the 40-man roster. Jimmy Paredes could be a victim of that movement.
Typically teams add a couple pitchers, since arms tire out toward the end of the season. This year’s team is no exception – injuries and poor performances have cooled some of the high (and pretty unrealistic) expectations we had earlier this season.
One sure name to watch is David Buchanan, who has turned in an 8-8 mark with a 4.13 ERA for Lehigh Valley. He could be added right away, or after the Iron Pigs’ playoff run, but either way, expect him.
Also expect Luis Garcia, the 2016 Blue Route Award winner, to come back to Philly to aid the bullpen. Colton Murray and Dalier Hinojosa are also possibilities. There’s an outside chance Jimmy Cordero is added to the roster.
The Phillies don’t necessarily stack the deck on Sept. 1, adding maybe three or four names at first, then adding a couple more when the minor league playoffs end.
Imagine that, on Sept. 1, the Phils bring Garcia and Moore up to Philly. Maybe Buchanan, depending on playoff positioning. Asche and Ruf are solid bets to join the team in September, as well, and maybe on the first. Then, two weeks later, there’s a chance we get our first taste of Williams, or Knapp or Alfaro, along with another pitcher or two.