The Philadelphia Phillies had a disappointing 2020 season, but they did see the emergence of several expected and unexpected rookies on the roster.
While the Phillies have a farm system that lacks talent that will help within the next couple of years, the young wave of players that made their debuts with the team last season could all assume impactful roles moving forward.
Alec Bohm was the highest-ranked position player in the Phillies farm system and excelled in his first season as a major leaguer. In 44 games, he slashed .338/.400/.481 and led the majors with a .452 batting average with runners in scoring position.
While Bohm’s future at third base is questionable, there is no questioning his hit tool. He was a key cog in the Phillies offense in the month of October and will continue to complement Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins in the middle of the lineup for years to come.
Spencer Howard was the Phillies highest-ranked pitching prospect coming into the season, but despite being considered major-league ready, he struggled in the six starts he made. Before being ruled out for the season due to a shoulder injury, Howard went 1-2 with a 5.92 ERA in 24 1/3 innings pitched.
While Howard did not make the immediate impact that Bohm did, he still could have a bright future with the team. He was a top pitcher for a reason, and flashes an impressive four-pitch repertoire that could help him eventually a near-top of the rotation pitcher.
No one outside of that duo was hyped coming into the season, but the Phillies got production from other rookies.
JoJo Romero was a crafty starting pitcher in the minors and was not known to throw at all above the low 90s. But in his debut against the Atlanta Braves in late august, Romero struck out the side and, perhaps more surprisingly, hit 97 miles per hour on the radar gun.
The 24-year-old southpaw continued to impress over his next handful of outings, pitching to a 2.89 ERA over his first nine appearances. But Romero struggled down the stretch and allowed six earned runs in just three outings.
Despite these struggles, though, Romero still looks to be at least a part of a Phillies bullpen that hopes to improve in 2021 and beyond.
Elsewhere in the bullpen, Connor Brogdon struggled greatly during his first cup of coffee in the majors. In three August appearances, he allowed three home runs and five earned runs in just 2 2/3 innings of work.
But, after spending some time at the alternate site in Lehigh Valley, Brogdon came back and pitched extremely well. In six games, Brogdon allowed zero earned runs and just one hit. He also struck out 14 batters in just 8 2/3 innings of work, flashing potential to become a high-leverage reliever for the Phillies in the future.
These four players all could play a big part in a 2021 Phillies team that is not likely to have high hopes heading into the season.
If the team loses Realmuto, Bohm will need to step up and continue his excellent September production from the plate. As Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler hold down the top of the rotation, the Phillies will need Howard to step up and stabilize the middle of the rotation, along with Zach Eflin.
And, just as importantly, Brogdon and Romero will be counted on to bolster a bullpen that was likely the worst in baseball history. Even if the Phillies sign multiple relievers, these two will have a role moving forward.
Other Phillies prospects that made their debuts in 2020 could have an impact moving forward, although their roles are not as clear as the four mentioned above.
Ramon Rosso struggled out of the gate, but flashes stuff that could allow him to be the Phillies long reliever in 2021. Garrett Cleavinger only appeared in one game, but struck out 14.5 hitters per nine innings the previous season in Reading.
The Phillies will need to rely on these players, as it does not appear that they will be able to patch all of their holes in free agency with a self-imposed budget. Their offseason plans will become clearer in the coming weeks, with the MLB Winter Meetings starting on Monday.
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