Top prospect, shortstop J.P. Crawford is one of 16 non-roster invitees to Clearwater announced Wednesday by the Phillies. The full list:
- Bryan Holaday – C
- Logan Moore – C
- Chace Numata – C
- Rhys Hoskins – 1B
- Brock Stassi – 1B
- Scott Kingery – 2B
- J.P. Crawford – SS
- Taylor Featherston – INF
- Cameron Perkins – OF
- Andrew Pullin – OF
- Cesar Ramos – LHP
- Victor Arano – RHP
- Pedro Beato – RHP
- Dalier Hinojosa – RHP
- Michael Mariot – RHP
- Colton Murray – RHP
Those 16 will join four previous non-roster signings:
Obviously the other highlights are Hoskins and Kingery, highly touted prospects in the upper levels of the farm system. Neither is likely to make the Phils out of spring training and are really here to showcase some skills against better competition.
More competitively will be the catching ranks, where three invitees will battle with Andrew Knapp and Jorge Alfaro for a backup job in the majors. Knapp has the inside track, since Alfaro is more likely to be a full-time backstop (for Lehigh Valley), but the Phils certainly aren’t letting him take the job easily.
Stassi could actually find himself on the major league bench in 2017, but his lack of position flexibility may hurt. Featherston has been here before; the Phils will pit him against Florimon and Gomez, and the winner may get the last bench spot.
Perkins and Pullin will both have an opportunity to take a bench spot in the outfield, but it’s a crowded field. Nava is there, as well as Aaron Altherr, Dylan Cozens, Tyler Goeddel, Roman Quinn and Nick Williams. The most likely scenario? After the Phils acquire another bat, Quinn and either Altherr or Nava take the final outfield spots. Lehigh Valley’s starters are Cozens, Goeddel and Williams, pushing Perkins and Pullin into tough spots.
As for the pitchers, Arano is the sexy name and could find himself in Philly later in 2017. But his placement here is probably akin to that of Hoskins and Kingery. Instead, there should a battle for a possible bullpen spot between the other names listed above, plus the likes of Joely Rodriguez, Edubray Ramos and Jeanmar Gomez.
And then there’s Crawford. He was invited in 2016, hitting .150 in 20 at bats before being sent back to minor-league camp. This time he’ll probably hang around much longer, even being a dark-horse candidate to make the club out of spring. But don’t count on it – barring a trade, Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis are your likely opening day double-play tandem.