Pressure raised a notch for youth on Phillies roster

The Phillies added Carlos Santana this past offseason
The addition of Jake Arrieta means the Phillies are pushing ahead their timeline to compete, but it also places pressure on the youth peppered across the roster to perform.

It's a pressure that didn't exist in November when it seemed the organization was willing to wait until 2019 to compete for a postseason berth. Adding top-tier free agents though, especially a pair as reliable as Carlos Santana and Jake Arrieta, alters expectations.

What once was thought to be the final year of a rebuild is now the first year of a possible postseason run. That said, the pressures surrounding a player like Maikel Franco, who is still looking to show he's deserving of an everyday role are multiplied exponentially.

"It'll be interesting to see how they approach things around the mid-season mark," said one National League source, speaking on condition of anonymity. "They want to get a final look at a guy like Franco or [Nick] Pivetta because they want to see if they can use them in their long-term plans, but on the same hand, they may be competing for a shot at the postseason. It's that balance ... the leash they give guys that'll be interesting to see, especially if they are in the thick of the race come the second half."

The wildcard in all of this is Gabe Kapler. The first-year manager has no track record or allegiance to anyone on the roster, making all of this even that much more interesting.

Arrieta's Debut
Jake Arrieta will pitch Saturday in a Minor League game at the Carpenter Complex in his first game action in a Phillies uniform.

"He looks great to me," pitching coach Rick Kranitz said Wednesday after watching a bullpen session. "He always stays in shape. There's no question about that. What I was looking for today was how the ball was coming out of his hand; it was coming out great. I didn't expect anything different, but it's always great to get eyes on him."

Arrieta threw about 40 pitches Wednesday and should throw somewhere near 50 on Saturday.

Assuming all goes well, it's likely he'll appear in at least two Grapefruit League contests before the Phillies break camp.

Friday Split
The Phillies will play a pair of split-squad games on Friday with one at home in Clearwater against the Toronto Blue Jays and the other in Lakeland against the Detroit Tigers.

Vince Velasquez will be on the mound against Toronto while Nick Pivetta will get the start versus the Tigers.

Phillies lineup in Clearwater vs. Toronto:
2B Cesar Hernandez
CF Odubel Herrera
​​​​​​​LF Nick Williams
1B Carlos Santana
3B Maikel Franco
​​​​​​​C Jorge Alfaro
​​​​​​​RF Collin Cowgill​​​​​​​
​​​​​​​P Vince Velasquez
​​​​​​​SS Roman Quinn

Phillies lineup in Lakeland against Detroit:
SS J.P. Crawford
3B Jesmuel Valentin
​​​​​​​LF Rhys Hoskins
​​​​​​​CF Aaron Altherr
​​​​​​​RF Ryan Flaherty
1B Adam Rosales
​​​​​​​P Nick Pivetta
​​​​​​​C Andrew Knapp
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Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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