Breaking Down the Phillies Bench Candidates for 2018
CLEARWATER - The Phillies have pretty much set their Opening Day Lineup and then some. The Phillies infield will feature Carlos Santana, Cesar Hernandez, J.P. Crawford and Maikel Franco. The outfield will consist of Rhys Hoskins, Nick Williams, Aaron Altherr and Odubel Herrera. The catching situation will be two from Jorge Alfaro, Andrew Knapp and Cameron Rupp. Behind them, many questions remain.
The Phillies appear to be looking to find a bench that is very versatile in case the club may carry extra pitchers. The Phillies could head north with either seven or eight pitchers in the bullpen. If there are eight bullpen arms, the Phillies will look to field a versatile bench that includes players who can play infield and outfield alike. Their camp has many names that could fit that bill.
Here is a look at the candidates competing for bench jobs in 2018:
Florimon impressed with the Phillies last season after his contract was purchased from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Unfortunately for Florimon and the Phillies, his season was cut short when he dislocated his ankle landing on first base awkwardly. When healthy, Florimon helped the Phillies both offensively and defensively.
In the 15 games Florimon played for the Phillies, he batted .348 and played six different positions. While on defense at second base, shortstop, third base, center field, left field and right field, Florimon played strong defense. Florimon could have an advantage over other players the club had not yet seen.
Rosales is older than every other position player in camp. Rosales is 34 years old and will turn 35 years old in May. But with his age comes a resume full of experience at several positions. Rosales has played all four infield positions as well as left field and right field. He even has two pitching appearances in the major leagues.
Rosales could serve as a backup to shortstop Crawford and second baseman Hernandez, while also spelling Franco at third base. Depending who the Phillies carry, they may not have an outfielder behind Hoskins, Williams, Altherr and Herrera. Rosales could serve as the fifth outfielder, too.
At the plate, Rosales batted .225 last season with seven home runs and 36 runs batted in.
The Phillies are in a tough spot with Joseph. The Phillies have Santana and Hoskins as options at first base and as of right now Joseph cannot help them out at another position. Joseph did take some ground balls at third base before the first official workouts. So far between the exhibition game against the University of Tampa and the home opener in Clearwater, Joseph has served as a first baseman and designated hitter.
The Phillies probably cannot afford to carry a bat that will serve little more than a pinch hitter. The Phillies could always send Joseph to Triple-A, but ultimately they may need his 40-man roster spot if they are not going to be able to use him.
Once a top prospect with the Boston Red Sox, Middlebrooks has bounced around the last few seasons, with stops in Milwaukee, San Diego and then Texas, where he played 38 games in 2017. Middlebrooks also is in on a minor league deal.
Middlebrooks has mostly been a third baseman in his career, with only brief appearances at second base, third base, and shortstop. Middlebrooks played first base for the Phillies in Friday's Grapefruit League opener in Dunedin. With other options, Middlebrooks likely will have to win a spot with his bat.
A very popular player in his time with the Baltimore Orioles, Flaherty also brings to the Phillies some defensive flexibility. In 2017, Flaherty spent time at second base, third base and shortstop, as well as an appearance each in left field and right field. Flaherty also appeared as a pitcher.
Flaherty will look to set himself apart from the others with his glove. The Baltimore Orioles website Camden Chat seemed to see Flaherty as the link that kept the Baltimore Orioles infield together while they suffered various injuries. Flaherty will look to do that for the Phillies, though hopefully all remain healthy.
2017 would have been the perfect opportunity for Quinn to show that he belongs in the major leagues. Quinn got the home opener start in center field on Saturday. But Quinn also took some ground balls in the infield early in camp. Quinn was drafted as a shortstop by the Phillies and made the switch to the outfield early in his Phillies career.
The Phillies may not take a fifth outfielder, but if they feel that Quinn can help the Phillies at shortstop in a pinch, they might be willing to consider Quinn. Quinn has a minor league option remaining so they could send to Triple-A Lehigh Valley if they hope to get him some more experience at different positions.
Like Quinn, Valentin may have missed a golden opportunity in 2017 due to injury. Valentin was somewhat close to making the Phillies out of Spring Training. Valentin reported to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, but by May 12, Valentin was done for the season.
A switch-hitting middle infielder, Valentin is a useful player. If the Phillies can feel comfortable with Valentin on their bench backing up the middle infield, they will not need to create a 40-man roster spot for one of the veterans in camp, potentially protecting a prospect they would prefer to keep.
The veteran Cowgill has played with the Diamondbacks, the Athletics, the Angels and the Indians at the major league level. In 2017, Cowgill did not see any major league action as a member of the San Diego Padres organization. Cowgill batted .235 in Triple-A in 2017.
The Phillies may use Cowgill as Triple-A depth. If he impresses, he could be considered for a fifth outfield spot, but as we see with the aforementioned candidates, competition will be stiff thanks to their versatility.
Ortiz made his major league debut in 2017 with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Ortiz is a left-handed hitter who had just one single in 12 at bats for the Pirates. At 28 years old, Ortiz may not be much of a prospect anymore. Ortiz homered in the Grapefruit League opener on Friday.
Ortiz hit .270 with 15 home runs and 30 doubles last season at Triple-A Indianapolis. Unlike other bench players, Ortiz bats left-handed. Ortiz may have to report to Triple-A Lehigh Valley and earn a promotion in-season.
Headed for Triple-A
There are a handful of position players that are in major league camp but probably will not break camp with the Phillies. They include outfielders Dylan Cozens and Andrew Pullin and infielders Eliezer Alvarez, Scott Kingery, Heiker Meneses and Mitch Walding.