Spring Training Preview: The Philadelphia Phillies Offense

It's time for Maikel Franco to take the next step for the Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies begin workouts this week in Clearwater, Fla. as Spring Training officially kicks off. Though starting pitching is a major question mark, there's still some uncertainty  hovering around the offense - particularly in positional battles for backup catcher and slots on the bench.

Here is the second of the Philadelphia Baseball Review's two-part introductory series highlighting the names that'll be in camp. This part deals specifically with the 28 positional players that'll see action this spring.

You can see the Phillies Pitching Roster Preview here.

Asterisk indicates the player is a non-roster invitee to camp.

CATCHERS
C Jorge Alfaro (24): Enters camp as the Opening Day catcher after having performed well following a call-up last season. In 29 games he hit .318 to go along with a .874 OPS.

* C Edgar Cabral (22): Young and still unpolished, he hit .260 last season with four homers and 26 RBI while splitting 91 games between Clearwater and Lakewood. Will likely begin 2018 with the Threshers.

C Andrew Knapp (26): Missed five weeks last year with a fractured right hand. He'll battle Cameron Rupp throughout the spring for the backup role behind Alfaro. Hit .257 last season.

* C Matt McBride (32): A career .201 hitter at the major league level, he's little more than organizational depth at this point. A local product, born in Bethlehem, PA. and went to college at Lehigh.

* C Logan Moore (27): Born in Scranton, he's been with the organization since 2011. He's been invited to camp the past three years, but at this point, he's little more than organizational depth. A career .223 average in the minors is all you really need to know.

C Cameron Rupp (29): Hit just .181 over the final two months of the season last year. He's at a point in his career now where he needs to prove he can be an asset at the big league level. In five seasons he's yet to turn a corner and he goes down on strikes way too often (114 times in the last two seasons).

INFIELDERS
2B Eliezer Alvarez (22): A decent infield prospect, he was acquired from the Cardinals last September for hurler Juan Nicasio. He struggled at times at double-A last year (.247/.321/.382), so it's likely he'll begin the 2018 campaign in Reading. Nice speed coupled with a .285 career average over 323 minor league games.

SS J.P. Crawford (23): No need to look over his shoulder anymore, he'll open the season at shortstop. His glove has never been a question, but he's struggled at the plate and looked foolish at times last year against lefties (2-for-23 with 10 strikeouts). Still considered a top prospect, he'll be a focal point this spring.

* 2B Ryan Flaherty (31): Could battle for a utility role on the 25-man roster, so at-bats are important this spring. He can play nearly every position on the diamond which is good, but his bat is subpar at best. Career OPS of .639.

3B Maikel Franco (25): The pop is there (24 homers last year), but he's yet to really show himself as a complete player. Mental blunders plagued him a bit last year. If he can elevate his average from .230 last year to around .260 and improve his discipline at the plate he has the chance to be a near top tier third baseman. Needs to take a step forward this season.

2B Cesar Hernandez (27): Perhaps one of the most underrated middle infielders in baseball. He put together a stellar 2017 and should be hitting at the top of the order come Opening Day.

1B Tommy Joseph (26): Has pop, but with the addition of Carlos Santana and the emergence of Rhys Hoskins, there's just nowhere for him to get regular at-bats. He's also put up disappointing numbers the last two years and doesn't get on base enough (.297 OBP over two seasons). May hang on to a slot on the bench but barring an injury his days as a regular are over.

* 2B Scott Kingery (23): One of the Phillies top prospects, new manager Gabe Kapler will certainly give him decent playing time this spring. He's big league ready now (26 homers, .889 OPS last year), but blocked by Hernandez at second. He should force his way to Philadelphia at some point this season, but with Hernandez under contract until 2020 it'll be interesting to see how the Phillies handle the situation.

* 3B Heiker Meneses (26): A career minor league average of .245 over 10 seasons, he's little more than organizational depth at this point.

* 3B Will Middlebrooks (29): Put up a great season at triple-A last year while in the Texas organization, but he's a .228/.272/.391 hitter in 347 games at the major league level. Could compete for a bench spot, but little more at this point.

* SS Adam Rosales (34): Another guy known for his versatility and little else, he's a career .227 hitter over 10 big league seasons. He'll be in the running for a final spot on the 25-man roster.

1B Carlos Santana (31): The shiny new toy from Cleveland, he'll provide a solid bat in the top portion of the order. Also takes some of the pressure off Hoskins. Knows how to take a walk and get on base, something the Phillies have struggled with in the past. Expect near 30 homers and 80 RBIs.

2B Jesmuel Valentin (23): Missed most of last season with a separated left shoulder. Expect him to begin the season at triple-A Lehigh Valley.

* 3B Mitch Walding (26): Hit 25 homers last year at double-A Reading, but also struck out 127 times in just 99 games. He's an all-or-nothing type of hitter, but not likely to make an impact in Philadelphia. Could be a darkhorse to lead the team in homers this spring for a week or so, but that's probably it.

OUTFIELDERS
OF Aaron Altherr (27): Fresh off a bounce-back season, he enters camp as a more than capable fourth outfielder. He's also arguably one of the organization's top trade chips if they decide to go that route in their search for starting pitching.

OF Dylan Cozens (23): If everything went right in 2016 (.276, 40 homers, 125 RBIs) than nearly everything went wrong in 2017 (.210, 27 homers, 75 RBIs). He's at that point where he's starting to slip in the organization's prospect rankings, so if he wants to turn his trajectory forward he'll need to start with a solid spring showing. He'll open the season at triple-A Lehigh Valley.

* OF Pedro Florimon (31): Appeared in 15 games with the Phillies during the second half last year and enters camp in a battle for a bench spot. The 30-year-old owns a .209/.269/.308 slash line at the major league level.

OF Odubel Herrera (26): Can be a bit aloof at times and goes through some cold spells, but it's hard to argue with the end result. If he can be more selective at the plate and steal a few more bases (25 in 2016, just eight in 2017) he could be one of the better outfielders in the National League.

OF Rhys Hoskins (24): He appears to be a special player, but it'll be interesting to see how he handles the expectations of being a 30 homer, 100 RBI type guy. He sputtered a bit last September (.227 average) and struggled against lefties (.171 average), so it'll be interesting to see what he does over a full season. Together, he and Santana have the potential to form one of baseball's best offensive tandems.

* OF Danny Ortiz (28): Put up some nice numbers at triple-A last year in the Pirates' organization (15 homers, .270 batting average), but figures to be nothing more than minor league depth with the Phillies.

* OF Andrew Pullin (24): Has some pop in his bat as evidenced by his 20 homer, .815 OPS campaign last year. Could be a call-up at some point this year if depth becomes an issue at the big league level, otherwise he'll start the year at triple-A Lehigh Valley.

OF Roman Quinn (24): Health continues to be a major concern as he dealt with ulnar collateral ligament damage in his non-throwing arm last year. He has the tools (especially speed) to be an impact player, but he's played more than 80 games just once since being signed by the club in 2011. Will likely open the year at triple-A Lehigh Valley

OF Nick Williams (24): If there's one player under the radar (outside of Philadelphia) that could have a breakout season it's Williams. He pieced together a stellar 2017 campaign highlighted by a .811 OPS with 12 homers and 55 RBIs, plus he had seven assists from the outfield and didn't commit an error. With his age and skillset, this will be an important season to take a step forward.
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Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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