Philadelphia Phillies: Spring Training Preview

Source: Elsa/Getty Images North America

Source: Elsa/Getty Images North America

Positional Battles

At this point there are a few positions within the Phillies lineup, that are locked in stone. Maikel Franco will be the every day third baseman, Odubel Herrera will hold down center field, Carlos Ruiz will be the man behind the plate, and about 80% of the rotation is set. With all of that in mind, let’s take a peek at some potentially interesting position battles that could develop this spring.

Shortstop

This position could be the storyline of the spring. Freddy Galvis is currently penciled in to be the everyday shortstop for the Phillies in 2016. Things could change quite quickly by opening day. The catalyst for those changes could be top prospect J.P. Crawford, who is ranked as the 5th-best prospect in baseball.

Crawford was the 13th overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft, and has impressed people within the Phillies organization at every level. In his three minor-league seasons, Crawford has hit .290/.382/.408 with 18 home runs and 111 RBIs. He’s also tacked on 50 swiped bags in his short career.

The general consensus among baseball minds, is that Crawford will begin the season with Double-A Reading, with the potential for a promotion to Triple-A Lehigh Valley taking place as soon as mid-summer. Still, it’s entirely possible that Crawford outplays Galvis in Spring Training, thus earning the shortstop job outright.

This will be a situation to monitor as Opening Day draws closer.

Fifth Starter

Another interesting area to watch this spring is the Phillies rotation. I mentioned earlier in this slide, that 80 percent of the Phillies rotation is locked down by Aaron Nola, Jeremy Hellickson,and Charlie Morton, with Jared Eickhoff slated to hold down the fourth spot. That leaves one spot with like, six different pitchers fighting for it. Among those arms are Alec Asher, Brett Oberholtzer, and last year’s fifth starter Adam Morgan.

There are those that believe Morgan has the upper-hand on the job, because he held it last season. Morgan produced a 5-7 record with an ERA just shy of 4.50. Not exactly stellar numbers.

Alec Asher has spent most of his career in the minors. The 24 year-old has compiled a 28-31 record with a 3.53 ERA in 456 innings of minor league pitching. He got a big league trial run with the Phillies towards the end of last season, but was not able to capitalize as he went 0-6 with an ERA of 9.31. It’s expected that Asher spends the season in Triple-A Lehigh Valley with a possible call-up in September.

Finally, we get to Oberholtzer. This is the man who I believe (just one man’s opinion) has the inside track to the fifth and final spot. Far and away, Oberholtzer has the most experience of this trio of starters. He has spent parts of three seasons in the majors with Houston. While his numbers aren’t super impressive (11-20, 3.94 ERA), it’s the experience that gives Brett the advantage in this race.

This should be a very fun, interesting storyline to watch play out over the course of the spring. I, for one, definitely look forward to see who comes out on top.

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