We are back once again with the 97.3 ESPN Phillies mailbag.  Each week we take your questions and answer them on the Sports Bash with Mike Gill.  Tune in each Tuesday afternoon to hear us answer your question on the air.

Do you think Cornelius Randolph has played his way back into the organizational plans? 
~Russell
Do you think we’ll see Cornelius Randolph in Philly this season?
~Jim

 

In 2015, Barack Obama was still president.  Birdman won the Academy Award for Best Picture.  Most recent Phillies First Round Draft Pick Mick Abel was in seventh grade.  And the Phillies drafted Cornelius Randolph with their first round pick.

For the most part, the path for Randolph was less than impressive.  When Double-A Reading's season ended in 2019, Randolph finished his second full season at Double-A batting .247 with an OPS of just .723, an improvement over 2018's .646 season, but underwhelming.

Randolph did not sniff the Alternate Site in 2020, and the Phillies ultimately sent him to Australia to play this Winter.  I don't know if it was the kangaroos, but something was different in 2021.

Randolph was not given a look in Major League Spring Training, and reported to minor league camp.  Assigned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, Randolph was not really seen as more than filler.  And sometime, on May 24, there appears to be a real chance that Randolph could see some Major League time.

So far this season (15 games), Randolph is batting .377, including five doubles, four home runs, and four walks for an OPS of 1.119.  Randolph picked up Triple-A East Player of the Week this week batting .591 with three home runs and nine runs batted in.

But the one telling thing happened this week: Randolph started a game in center field.

For Mickey Moniak to move to left field, the Phillies are clearly trying to see if Randolph might have a path to the majors should he keep up his play.  In recent weeks, the Phillies felt forced to bring Scott Kingery back to the Phillies as an outfielder: something they would have preferred to avoid.

Like Moniak, Randolph is currently 23 years old. Unlike Moniak, Randolph will be a minor league free agent at season's end.  So if the Phillies are going to give Randolph a look, this is the year.

So I would say YES on this question, particularly it the Phillies fall out of contention and need an extended look.,

Why do they have their 23 Year Old 2019 First Round Pick in Single A? Please answer without citing the lost 2020 Minor League season. Thank You!
~Glenn

Glenn appears to be referring to infielder Bryson Stott.  Stott is at High-A Jersey Shore, where he has played both shortstop and second base.  He has performed well at the plate so far, batting .278 with four home runs and seven runs batted in in 17 games.

You said not to cite the lost Minor League Season, so I will cite this: Stott has already skipped one level, despite never playing a full minor league season.  Skipping more than one might be too much right now.

Stott last played at Short-Season Williamsport, in the now-defunct New York-Penn League.  The next level after that under the old arrangement would have been Class-A Lakewood.  This year that level is at Clearwater.

Now that Jersey Shore (formerly Lakewood) is now the High-A affiliate, he is one step away from Double-A Reading.  I think that Stott will be there sooner than later.  Like Alec Bohm in 2019 (Bohm played at Class-A Lakewood, Class-A Advanced Clearwater, and Double-A Reading), I can see him moving up two more levels this season.

And who knows - if he's developed enough, maybe the Phillies will consider using him in September, depending how their season is going.

Stott seemed to hang in there well at Major League Spring Training.  But I think the Phillies still need to figure out what his position will be in the Major Leagues.  That still remains to be seen.

Spencer Howard looked great the first 2 innings, striking out 5. Do you think he has a future in the bullpen or do you see him continuing as a starter?
~Evan

You are correct, Evan.  In innings one and two Howard looked great.  But then almost suddenly, Howard's velocity dipped.  The Philadelphia Inquirer had him as high as 97, but then dipping all the way to 93 with his fastball by the third.  As noted in the Inquirer, Howard blamed running the bases as the problem.

The Phillies were in the process of what they say is "stretching him out" as a starter.  That is essentially building his stamina up so he can go deeper into games.  Right now, he does not appear poised to go deep if a little run to first base is too much effort.

So I think your question is something that is going to be fleshed out over the course of the next several weeks.

But I would agree: if he is that electric in shorter appearances, the conversation should turn towards making him a reliever.  Having never thrown more than 112 innings in any professional season, the answer to this question is something the Phillies need to figure out.