30 in 30: Philadelphia Phillies

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The Philadelphia Phillies have been flat-out horrific since their 2012 season. After a 102-60 record in 2011, they have yet to have a winning record and haven’t made the playoffs since. A decade ago they were dominating the league. Now, they’re just… well, irrelevant.

It’s officially rebuilding time in Philadelphia. Rhys Hoskins leads the charge for a young Phillies team looking to reach 80 wins for the first time since 2012.

The Phillies average age in 2017 was an astonishing 27.4 years old, the second youngest team in the MLB. Young studs Odubel Herrera (26 years old), Cesar Hernandez (27 years old), and Rhys Hoskins (24 years old) lead this team heading into 2018.

During the offseason, the Phillies made was acquiring minor league prospect pitcher Enyel De Los Santos from the Padres in exchange for Freddy Galvis. They stacked up on pitching prospects throughout the offseason, and dumping Galvis made room for the uprising J.P. Crawford at shortstop. De Los Santos is a respected prospect who went 10-6 with a 3.78 ERA for the Padres AA affiliate.

The Phillies filled their farm system with young pitchers throughout the offseason, planning for the future. Sixto Sanchez, Franklyn Kilome, Adonis Medina and Enyel De Los Santos highlight their stacked group of pitching prospects. Sanchez is the best of the bunch, throwing a superb 2.45 ERA in the minors last season. He’s an efficient strike-thrower who can toss the heat. His fastball reached 98 miles per hour at one point during the season.

Their top prospect of all is outfielder Mickey Moniak. Moniak, a former first overall pick, is only 19 years old. His stats in the minors thus far have been ordinary, but the man can ball. At such a young age, the Phillies can take their time developing such a young player. Don’t expect to see him in the majors this season, but keep his name in mind for the future.

Looking into their current pitching staff, it’s a little shaky. The only true bright spot is Aaron Nola. Nola is an absolute beast when he’s healthy. Many consider him to be among the best pitchers in baseball, and rightfully so. In 27 appearances last season, Nola netted a 3.54 ERA and a record of 12-11. Nola is only 24 years old heading into this season, and all signs have pointed up thus far. His dramatic improvement from a shaky 2016 season shows his potential to be an ace for the years to come.

Other than Nola, the starting rotation is a little shaky. Following Nola are Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta and lastly Ben Lively. After Nola, the bottom four averaged an ERA of 5.03 during the 2017 season. In all honesty, that is atrocious. Absolutely atrocious. The bright side? They’re all young. The five starters’ average age is 25.2. So although they may not be good yet, they’re on the right track.

The Phillies bullpen is one of the strongest pieces of the team. Led by Neshek and Luis Garcia, the pen may be due for a good 2018 season. Garcia finally became the reliever the Phillies have been waiting on for years. After logging a 4.24 ERA through his first four seasons, Garcia BALLED in 2017, logging an ERA of 2.65 through 66 appearances and 71.1 innings pitched. Garcia is heading into this season regarded as the number one reliever in Philadelphia.

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Pat Neshek, who joined the Phillies prior to the 2017 season, was traded by the Phillies to the Rockies for three prospects: shortstop Jose Gomez, and pitchers Alejandro Requena and J.D. Hammer. All three of these prospects have value, and the Rockies gave them up because of their playoff push. Neshek’s deal only had one year left, and he left Colorado to reunite with Philadelphia on a two year, $16 million deal. The 37-year-old had a career year while in Philadelphia last season, putting up insane numbers. During his 43 appearances for the Phillies, Neshek had a 1.15 ERA and only allowed two home runs and five walks. He threw 40 innings. Those stats are down-right crazy! To put it into perspective, Mariano Rivera never had a season of an ERA less than 1.30, and he is often considered one of the best relief pitchers of all time.

Hector Neris took on the closing job in 2017 and played well. With 26 saves in 29 opportunities, Neris took the closer role and secured it. He rode a filthy splitter to 88 strikeouts in 74 innings, also allowing a .239 average to his opponents. Tommy Hunter, a 2017 free agent pick up, allowed a 2.61 ERA for the Rays in 2017. He also allowed a stellar .202 average. The Phillies bullpen, led by these four, hope to have an outstanding 2018 season.

Now we look at the position players. The Phillies signed first baseman/catcher Carlos Santana to a three year, $60 million deal through 2020. Santana is a switch-hitting slugger from the Indians. Santana batted .259 in 2017 with the Indians. He also hit 23 home runs and racked up 79 RBI’s.  He also had an impressive .818 OPS and a .455 slugging percentage. They pair Santana with another slugger in Maikel Franco, who hit 24 home runs in 2017.

Santana is a Gold Glove-caliber first baseman as well. He is a well-rounded player that helps out the infield in a big way. Ultimately, this means Rhys Hoskins will play mostly in left field. Santana can also play catcher, but the Phillies will likely continue to put 24-year-old Jorge Alfaro behind the plate this season. Santana fills the first baseman role that’s been empty since the Ryan Howard days.

Rhys Hoskins will become a full-year starter for the first time in his career in the majors.He’ll be playing left field most of this season, as long as the team stays healthy. Hoskins came up late in the 2017 season and thrived. In just 50 games Hoskins went yard 18 times and batted 48 runners in. In a full 162 game season, Hoskins would’ve been projected to hit 58 home runs and total 155 RBI’s. Three words can be used to describe that statline: Oh. My. Goodness. Hoskins is a stud and can go on to be “the guy” for years to come in Philly.

That being said, Philadelphia could be in for another long year. Their young guys just haven’t completely developed quite yet. However, the future is bright. I mean, sooner or later the young guys will develop, right? It may take a couple of years, but the Phillies are headed on the right track.

 

Record prediction: 73-89

 

(Image via Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

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