Finding Phillies Roster Spots for September (or August) Call-Ups
The Phillies announced yesterday that starting pitching project Jake Thompson will make his Major League Debut on Saturday evening in San Diego. While the Phillies are projected to miss the playoffs easily, Phillies fans remain engaged in their team, looking forward to their young players. However, the Phillies must make some subtractions from the 40-man roster before they can make any additions. That might be difficult, if the team is looking to retain as many young players as possible. Thompson will be added to the 40-man roster thanks to the spot vacated by Andrew Bailey. The 40-man roster is now full.
Possible to Probable Call-ups not on 40-man Roster:
Nick Williams. Williams may be at the top of the list for a promotion to the Major Leagues. The Triple-A affiliate of the Phillies, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, recently tied for first place in their division in the International League. While there may have been a push to let the players on the team go into the playoffs together, the subtraction of Thompson may cause the IronPigs to fall out of that contention.
Andrew Knapp. The Phillies (and almost every other team in baseball) add a third catcher for the month of September. The very taxing catching position has been something the Phillies have gotten extremely lucky with. Reducing the time of Carlos Ruiz and Cameron Rupp getting a good share but not all of the playing time has kept both healthy. For the second year in a row the Phillies may go the whole season without a catching injury. Knapp is probably the third catcher because he is at the highest level thus far.
J.P. Crawford. Crawford is someone who could see time in the Major Leagues, but at the same time could be skipped over. Because of Crawford's young age and proximity to when the Phillies drafted him, Crawford does not need to be put on the Phillies 40-man roster this offseason. That means the Phillies could keep other players around, and the Philllies could bring Crawford to Spring Training without having to add him. If the Phillies decide he is ready for the shortstop job, he could be added prior to Opening Day when the Phillies are ready to break camp.
Possible to Probable Call-ups on 40-man Roster:
Adam Morgan and David Buchanan. These are not two names that are ready to excite Phillies fans. However, two factors could make them likely call-ups come September. One is that they occupy 40-man roster spots and they could easily be called up. Two is that the Phillies will be looking for people to take innings after the starters Velasquez, Eickhoff, and Eflin look to control their workloads. The same could be said for Thompson, even though he is new to the Phillies rotation. Expect to see these two who have more experience get some starts and for some of these arms to perhaps even shut it down completely.
Elvis Araujo, Colton Murray, Dalier Hinojosa, Phil Klein. For the same reason as the starters above, the Phillies need to add some arms to fill innings. Even if the starters take their turns in the rotation, they could depart daily in the fifth or sixth inning, necessitating more bullpen innings. These names are all at Triple-A and on the Phillies 40-man roster and could come up to help carry the load.
Unlikely to get a call in 2016:
Jorge Alfaro, Dylan Cozens and Rhys Hoskins. After multi-home run games for both of them last night, the Double-A Reading Fightin Phils have two 30-home run bats and the Reading Fightin Phils are ready to run over the Eastern League. The trio of Alfaro, Cozens, and Hoskins batting third, fourth, and fifth, respectively, has created a lineup that is absolutely dominating the Eastern League. Hoskins has 33 home runs, Cozens 32, and the next closest player in the Eastern League has 20. That would be Reading Fightin' Phils veteran Jake Fox, who is by no means a prospect but is a fan favorite who excels in the minor leagues.
Alfaro is on the Phillies 40-man roster already, but has battled injuries. Chances are the Phillies let these three anchor a Fightin' Phils lineup that has a chance to go deep in the Eastern League Playoffs. After they do so, the Phillies may let them call it a season. All three could be in Phillies Major League camp to start 2017 Spring Training.
Ben Lively and Nick Pivetta. Lively occupies a spot in the rotation for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs while Pivetta has remained in the Double-A roation this season. Both have had good seasons, with Lively moving up from Double-A Reading to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. But, both would need to be added to the roster and there are just too many people they would have to bump right now.
Who the Phillies May Subtract:
Jimmy Paredes. The Phillies use Paredes as a platoon hitter in the corner outfield spots. They have not used Paredes at any infield position, despite his history playing third base and other infield spots. Paredes is batting just .210 and the Phillies could easily grab another comparable sub in the offseason as a minor league free agent if they really need it. The Phillies are going to need his roster spot for someone like Williams, particularly if Williams is coming up to play in the outfield.
Peter Bourjos. Had he not be injured in Miami diving for a ball, Bourjos may have already left town. Bourjos is a nice defensive backup player at this point in his career, and despite his hot streak does not hit a whole lot. There will be a team out there who could use Bourjos. The Phillies probably do not straight cut him, but when they put his contract on waivers, someone may grab him and the Phillies lets the claiming team have his services. If he clears, a small trade for cash considerationsmay be in order.
Aaron Nola. No, the Phillies are not going to cut Aaron Nola. But, what they can do is make the decision to shut him down for the year. In doing so, they can move Nola to the 60-day disabled list, freeing up a 40-man spot for right now.
Darin Ruf. The Phillies must acknowledge that this may be the end of the line for Ruf. Since losing his right-handed first base spot to Tommy Joseph in May, Ruf has hit .286 with 15 home runs and 50 runs batted in for Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The Phillies will be flush with first base and outfield options for the rest of the way, and Ruf's play in 2016 at the big league level shows that the Phillies have other players who can do what he does. The Ruf run probably ends this offseason anyway, so they could let him go to make room for others.
Taylor Featherston or Darnell Sweeney. Both are utility players who have not hit very much in the Major Leagues. Sweeney is still listed as a "prospect" in their Top 30 pipeline on MLB.com, but Featherston is under the radar at this point. The Phillies could try to slip someone through waivers and retain control, particularly as rosters expand and teams are adding players
Phillies need to clear four spots if they are going to add Williams, Crawford, and Knapp. Alec Asher will return from his 80-game PED suspension and needs to occupy one more. Paredes, Bourjos, Nola, and Ruf may be the easiest four players to move off of the roster at this time. If they do not feel they can move four, then Crawford could be sent home to prepare for Spring Training.