The Phillies are humming two weeks into Spring Training. The offense is clicking, and the pitching is showing off the improved depth Dave Dombrowski acquired this offseason. While there’s still plenty of time for change, the roster is becoming more in focus everyday.
Changes from previous projection are italicized
Here’s Full Scale’s second roster projection for the 2021 season:
Catchers (2): JT Realmuto and Andrew Knapp
The Phillies gave Realmuto $115.5 million last month to be the starter for the next five years. Arguably the best catcher in baseball, JT will be carrying the load at catcher. He did fracture his thumb a few weeks ago, but the team has said he should be ready for Opening Day. He got his hard cast off today, but still isn’t able to hit or throw. His backup will be Andrew Knapp and should JT not be ready for Opening Day, the presumed starter.
Rafael Marchan is out for the foreseeable future with a hamstring injury. If Realmuto is not ready for Opening Day, that could throw a wrench into the team’s plans. The Phillies also brought in Jeff Mathis, a defense-first veteran, on a Minor league deal just in case.
Infielders (4): Rhys Hoskins, Jean Segura, Didi Gregorius, and Alec Bohm
No changes to who is going to be starting on the dirt for the Fightin’s. Hoskins, coming off offseason elbow surgery, seems to be right on schedule for Opening Day. He’s been taking a lot of live BP recently, so I expect him to make his Spring debut some time next week. Jean Segura will be the starter at the keystone and has hit the ball hard to start Spring Training.
The Phillies gave Gregorius $28 million to come back and play shortstop for them. He has yet to make his Spring debut due to Visa issues, but he’s been in camp for about a week; you’ll see him next week. Bohm, coming off a strong rookie campaign, will also be manning the hot corner again. He showed improvement defensively, which has continued in his reps during Spring Training. Playing average defense out at third only improves his star profile.
Outfielders (5): Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen, Odubel Herrera, Roman Quinn, and Mickey Moniak
Harper and McCutchen are locked in at the corner spots. They’ve been entrenched there for two years, and that won’t change in 2021. The real question is who’s going to be playing centerfield. I made my argument for Haseley, and thought it was his job to lose, if he could stay healthy. Joe Girardi said after the game today that Haseley will be out four weeks with a groin strain. That injury is going to open the door that much more for Odubel Herrera to make his Big League return.
The embattled CF was invited to mini-camp this season, and he could earn a spot with his play. I left him off initially because I didn’t see him on this team given the roster crunch already, but he’s making the most of his chance. He’s looked good in the field and at the plate, hitting a long home run the other day. Mickey Moniak has looked stronger this spring, as evidenced by his two homer game on Thursday. Being on the 40-man roster definitely helps his chances. Once Haseley comes back, the Phillies will have some interesting decisions to make in the outfield.
Utility (2): Scott Kingery and Brad Miller
This hasn’t changed from the first projection. Both Kingery and Miller are going to play important roles on this team in 2021. Kingery is going to play all over the diamond, and could see extensive time at CF with Haseley’s injury.
Miller fits in with the group and is a great clubhouse guy to have. He doesn’t have the positional flexibility of Kingery, but arguably the better bat. The Bamboo Bomb will hopefully be a constant sight as the season gets underway.
Starting Rotation (5): Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, Zach Eflin, Matt Moore, and Chase Anderson
The top three in the rotation are all returning from last year. Nola and Wheeler were the anchors of this staff, and the same is to be expected in 2021. Eflin looks to build on his 2020, and his spring debut couldn’t have gone better. He, for one, does not lack the confidence, saying just last week that he sees himself as a No.1 starter.
Moore and Anderson are both newcomers to the rotation. Moore was effective in his first start for the Phillies, pitching a couple innings of scoreless ball. Anderson has been one of the more consistent pitchers in the Majors over the last few seasons, but is coming off a down year. He looked really good in his start on Friday, pitching 2 innings while recording 3 strikeouts.
Bullpen (8): Archie Bradley, Hector Neris, Jose Alvarado, Sam Coonrod, Connor Brogdon, Brandon Kintzler, JoJo Romero, and Vince Velazquez
What a 180 for a bullpen that was historically bad in 2020. More than half of the projected bullpen would be new additions to this team; led by Archie Bradley, who will slot into the closer role. Alvarado and Coonrod both made their debuts in Friday’s game and showed exactly why they were brought in. Both flashed that high-90’s fastball that enticed DD to bring them in.
In his short time with the big club last year, Brogdon showed some real promise. Today, he was sharp in his return to game action. He could be on his way to a big breakout season in 2021, and the Phillies would be all the better for it. Plus, his changeup is absolutely filthy.
Kintzler is on a minor league deal, and has looked good so far in Spring Training. Tony Watson has yet to make his debut, which is curious. Prior to Haseley’s injury, I tabbed Watson to make this team over Romero. However, the roster crunch is more and more evident. It will be hard for all of these NRIs to make the team. Watson not pitching for the Phillies leaves him off the list, as of now.