Phillies Mailbag: Hitting, Minor League Starters, Moniak
We are back once again with a 97.3 ESPN Phillies mailbag. Each week we take your questions and talk about them on the Sports Bash with Mike Gill Tuesday afternoons. Send your question at any time to @FrankKlose on Twitter.
Something I think is flying under the radar, the hitting. Not consistent, right now we are 5th runners left on base. Still early but do you think we will make moves to improve at CF or 2nd?
Dave does bring up a good point: In the first four games, the Phillies have averaged just over three runs a game. The five runs from the Phillies on Monday night was the best out of the four games. But I would caution against worrying just yet.
The Braves starting pitching is nothing to scoff at. Max Fried is a solid young starter. Charlie Morton has an impressive veteran track record, and Ian Anderson is expected to be a stud as well. There is no starter better than Jacob deGrom.
In short: The Phillies have faced some pretty good pitching so far.
The 2020 Phillies averaged 5.10 runs per game, which was good enough for fifth overall in MLB. Most of that Phillies lineup is back, and this season the Phillies will get more Alec Bohm. The number probably would come down a little bit thanks to pitchers hitting.
So I would expect that the Phillies will fare just fine in 2021. The Braves top three starters and the best pitcher in baseball is what the Phillies faced thus far. It should get easier for Phillies hitters as the season moves on.
What’s the AAA rotation shaping up as?
This is a good question, because in 2020 the Phillies were caught really short handed when injuries hit the club. The Triple-A rotation should include some potential relief throughout the year. However, the Phillies will not likely have Spencer Howard in a starting role.
The Phillies believe that the Howard's innings should be limited in 2021. So he will be prepped to be a reliever for the big club, at least to start.
That leaves the following:
Adonis Medina. Medina had a cup of coffee with the Phillies after being in the Alternate Training Site. The experience was not ideal for the Phillies prospect, seen as second top prospect behind Howard. Medina will be taking regular starts in the rotation to make the best of a year's missed development.
Ranger Suarez. The Phillies seemed poised to give Suarez the fifth starter's job last offseason, ahead of Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez. The lefty Suarez unfortunately met a tough fate: a battle with COVID-19. Suarez never really found his footing last season and was optioned to the minors. The same happened this Spring with another injury. So the Phillies will send Suarez there to profile as a starter.
Enyel De Los Santos. Yes, De Los Santos is still around, believe it or not. The Phillies designated De Los Santos for assignment last year, and he is not a member of the 40-man roster. But this Spring some liked what they saw from De Los Santos, and he could get a chance to be in starting rotation to show the Phillies that he should be considered if the Phillies need a starter.
Francisco Morales. Morales is the number four Phillies prospect on the MLB Pipeline in 2021. Morales is currently in the Alternate Training Site. Thanks to the suspended 2020 minor league season, it's unclear where he will begin the year. It could be Triple-A if the Phillies like what they see in the Alternate Site. Despite the development lost, the 21 year-old could move quickly through the Phillies system. Reading might be a little more realistic in 2021 to start.
Mark Appel? This is an interesting story. The one-time Lehigh Valley IronPigs starter could be headed back. Matt Gelb and Evan Drellich of the Athletic reported that Appel decided to come back to baseball. He's throwing in the high 90s.
Someone TBD. I would not be surprised if the Phillies added a veteran type who has pitched in the major leagues already. I think there's a
Why Not Mickey Moniak?
Hang in there. The Phillies were certainly impressed by what they saw of Mickey Moniak in 2021 Spring Training. Expectations are high from fans because he was picked first overall in the 2016 draft.
There could be some people who feel that because he was drafted that high, he should be in the major leagues right now. But regardless of who drafted him - and the current baseball operations administration did not - they want to see his development through. Moniak never did play in Triple-A, thanks to the canceled 2020 season.
The Phillies have another first round pick in Adam Haseley to let "show what he can do", as I've seen some say on Twitter. And Roman Quinn is still around. The Phillies do not have a Mike Trout to take over center field, but they need their center fielder to bat eighth. They'll be fine.
And Moniak can head to Triple-A and play every day, and the Phillies can help prepare him to potentially take over a starting job someday.
Phillies Major Award Winners Since 1980