We are back once again with a 97.3 ESPN Phillies Mailbag.  Each week we take your questions and answer them on The Sports Bash with Mike Gill.  Tune in Tuesday afternoons to hear your questions answered on the air.

How much does the Acuna injury factor into Dave Dombrowski’s aggressiveness at the deadline?

First, it's worth acknowledging that it's a real blow not just to the Atlanta Braves but all of baseball that Ronald Acuña Jr. tore the ACL in his left knee and will be out for the rest of the season.  The Braves, already down starting pitcher Spencer Strider, arguably lost their two best players for the season.  It's a real blow to the Braves.

I also want to acknowledge that in 2001, when Acuña tore the ACL in his right knee, the Atlanta Braves won the World Series without him.  Is it much harder to win without the reigning National League MVP? Of course.  Is it harder without your ace pitcher?  Absolutely.  But the Braves have a lot of talent and should not be counted out.

As for the plans of Dave Dombrowski, Phillies president of baseball operations? I would imagine that they remain largely the same.  I think there is indeed a greater sense of urgency this year after last year; each year the team's window to compete gets closer to the end.  But I don't think that what the Braves are doing will affect the Phillies.

What I think will happen with someone like Dombrowski is that he will carefully look at the market and look for ways that the Phillies can improve what they have.  It might not mean that every spot on the roster will be perfect, but he will take advantage of opportunities that might happen to be available.  How big he goes could depend on the asking price of available players.

The Phillies find themselves in a good position prospect-wise.  The Phillies now have five of MLB's Top 100 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline.  Shortstop Starlin Caba joined Andrew Painter, Mick Abel, Justin Crawford, and Aiden Miller this week.

Maybe that would make Dombrowski feel better about moving one player for the right price.  But no matter who he acquires, it will be about whether or not the Phillies are set for the playoffs more so than what the Braves are doing.

Do we go after an outfielder like Jazz Chisholm? I'm almost out of patience with Johan Rojas, Cristian Pache, and Whit Merrifield, although Merrifield can play multiple positions.
What’s more important: an outfielder or righty reliever at the deadline?

We are still more than two months away from this season's trade deadline, which will be July 30 this year.  I think there's the possibility that the Phillies could add at either outfield or bullpen.  But I think things need to play out a little bit more to come up with an answer.

First, I am not sure if Jazz Chisholm is the right fit for the Phillies.  To bring in Chisholm would be a long-term commitment in the outfield.  He is not a free agent until 2027.  Do the Phillies need to make such a commitment right now?

Both Brandon Marsh and Johan Rojas are probably not definitively candidates to be replaced long-term.  Nick Castellanos has two years remaining on his contract after this one.  Would either Marsh or Rojas depart the Phillies?  I think there is definitely a place for Marsh and I do not think the final word is out on Rojas just yet.

Further, a trade for Chisholm probably would cost the Phillies their top outfield prospect in Justin Crawford.  Do the Phillies hope to have him around when Castellanos is a free agent?   I suppose compared to other prospects Crawford might be the most available.  But I am not sure that they would trade him for someone like Chisholm.

An outfielder might be a good idea, depending on the health of Trea Turner and how it affects the bench players.  Some could claim bench spots; others might demonstrate they are not worthy of them.  But that story is still being written.

But I'm not sure it would be Chisholm.

As for a reliever?  That would help any team.  But again, the right fit could depend on the performance of the players that they have.  To me, the big wild card is Seranthony Dominguez.  Dominguez has a 1.35 ERA during his last seven games, with four walks in those seven appearances.  His control will be a big thing to look for.

Gregory Soto also needs to do better than a 1.96 WHIP.  The Phillies traded for him coming off of an All-Star season in Detroit.  I think he needs to show that he is better than his performance has been.

Last week we looked at the idea of Mason Miller, who would be a young closer, who so far has been dominant.  It still remains unclear if he is available.

I think the Phillies could pursue a reliever, depending upon who is available, whether they pursue an outfielder  That is a piece always worth adding.

When will Aidan Miller move up to Lakewood?

This is the one Phillies prospect getting the most attention, thanks to regular updates during Phillies broadcasts.  Third baseman-turned shortstop Aidan Miller is batting .313 for the Threshers, with four home runs and 21 runs batted in to go with his .950 OPS.

That's a fine start for the 2023 Phillies first round draft pick.

While I think he is playing well, I am not sure that he is so dominant that he needs to be promoted immediately.  He is showing that he is able to excel at the game's lowest professional level above rookie ball.

I think they'd like to see how he does at shortstop, too.  As Miller acknowledged in a Tampa Bay Times profile this year, he prefers to play shortstop, but he played a lot of third base because the teams on which he played "already had a shortstop."   The Phillies are giving him a chance at his preferred position.

So I think they'd like to get a good look at that.  The original plan was for Miller to split his time at third base and shortstop; so far they have liked what they have seen for the most part and kept him at shortstop.  It is unclear if they still would like to see him play some third base at this level.

The absolute earliest I can see him jumping to Class-A Jersey Shore would be after the 2024 draft has concluded.  There will be some players that will rise to the Low-A Threshers, who are either in rookie ball, now known as the Florida Complex League moving up to Clearwater after the draft, and some newer draftees might head to Clearwater, should they say, have extensive collegiate experience.

That might mean a promotion for player like Miller, should he continue to show he can play very well at that level.

The 2024 MLB Draft is scheduled to run July 14 through 16.

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