Welcome to my inaugural edition of “This Week in Phillies Baseball” where I’ll be taking a look at Phillies news, notes, stats and other developments from the past week.

The Coronavirus outbreak has caused Major League Baseball to shut down operations for the time being. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t baseball to discuss. The most recent developments out of the Commissioner’s office are that some players are going back home while some are staying at the Spring Training sites to continue to work out with their teammates.

Prayers go out to everyone impacted by the pandemic. Hopefully, we can provide some positive distraction with discussion of Phillies baseball. So, here are some news and notes out of Clearwater this week:

Seranthony Dominguez had a setback in his attempt to come back healthy this year from a strained UCL (ulnar collateral ligament). This type of injury often requires Tommy John surgery. Dominguez chose to rest instead and it’s feared that strategy may not have worked. With the uncertainty to the Phillies bullpen, especially after last year’s numerous injuries, Dominguez was counted on to be a big part of this year’s relief corps, which may not happen now.  If he has to go under the knife we probably won’t see him until the middle of the 2021 season.

Projected number three starting pitcher Jake Arietta left his start on March 12th after only four innings due to a stiff shoulder. Arietta said it was nothing major but it’s definitely something for us to keep an eye on. While it may be unreasonable to expect him to reproduce the numbers he did while winning the Cy Young Award back in 2015, Arrieta is still being counted pn heavily to help the team in its quest to return to the postseason. This injury is another question to add to the rotation. Others include: Which is the real Aaron Nola – the 2018 or the 2019 version? Can Zack Wheeler stay healthy and live up to his contract? Can Zach Eflin provide stability and consistency over a full year Who is the 5th starter – Nick Pivetta? Vince Velasquez? Ranger Suarez?

On Pi-Day (March 14th), the Phillies celebrated by signing 18-year-old Venezuelan center fielder Yhoswar Garcia to a bonus reportedly for $2.5MM. Garcia is said to have a good feel for the bat and had a good throwing arm. He’s expected to grow into power as his body develops. It will be interesting to watch a player with his nickname – “The Drone” – grow in the system over the next few years.

Prospects Autin Listi and Deivy Grullon were reassigned to minor league camp this week. In Listi’s case, there is no room for him on the roster to play everyday. It makes more sense for him to get regular playing time in games at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Grullon’s demotion leaves Andrew Knapp and Christian Bethancourt to battle it out for the backup catcher spot. While Knapp’s offense has been below average, the team does like how he handles the pitching staff and he does have veteran intangibles. Grullon is the more exciting option based on his power potential but it wouldn’t make sense for him to languish on the bench at this point in his young career.

With Spring Training brought to a halt, here are some stats and other notes on the hitters that stood out to me:

Scott Kingery – Kingery struggled in his 31 at-bats, slashing just .194/.278/.323 with one home run and one stolen base. However, Kingery was moved over to second base this spring and looked good in the field.

Rhys Hoskins – Hoskins slash line looks like what we could expect from him during the regular season – .241/.371/.483, and the Phillies really need him to take a step forward as a middle-of-the-order run producer.

Didi Gregorius – Gregorius struggled as he tries to get back on track from last year’s injury. He produced just three hits in 27 Grapefruit League at-bats.

Jean Segura – Segura is looking to put his 2019 struggles in the rear view mirror now that he’s healthy. He looked great this spring, slashing .333/.467/.417, and has definitely improved his conditioning as he sets to move to third base.

Roman Quinn – The big thing with Quinn, as always, is his health. He’s dynamic on the base paths and plays stellar defense. Quinn just hasn’t stayed healthy during his career. With the injury to Andrew McCutchen still lingering, Quinn had the opportunity to replace him in center field this spring. The stoppage may be yet another detriment to his playing time. You really gotta feel bad for this guy.

J.T. Realmuto – He didn’t let the arbitration hearing impact his bat this spring with a slash line of .304/.407/.739 while blasting two homers and knocking in five runs.

Logan Forsythe – Forsythe is in camp as a non-roster invitee battling for a bench spot and is making the most of his chance with three home runs while batting .348 with a .464 on-base percentage.  The 33-year-old has been a solid player for his career and is able to play all over the infield defensively, giving Joe Girardi options when he needs to give the starters a day or two of rest.

Alec Bohm – The team’s top prospect has hit .409 in his 13 games but with no extra-base hits. Bohm is usually a slow starter when moving up a level in competition, so the high average is a good sign. Don’t worry about the lack of power. We’re talking about a potential .300 hitter with 30 home runs annually.

Josh Harrison – First the good news – half of Harrison’s hits have been home runs. Now the bad news – he’s only had four of those hits in his 22 at-bats. He’s competing with Forsythe for the backup infielder job. There is definitely a scenario where both could still make the big-league team.

Adam Haseley – It’s been only 21 at-bats, but Haseley’s only slashing .143/.217/.190 and is being outplayed by Quinn, who was his major competition for the starting center field role. Haseley has options and could benefit from some time in Triple-A, where he only had 78 at-bats last year before his rushed promotion.

Bryce Harper – Harper came into camp focused and ready to improve on his initial season with the team. He leads the Phillies with 11 RBI and three home runs to go with his .333 average. I see Harper making a serious run at the National League Most Valuable Player Award this year.

Mickey Moniak – The former top overall pick from the 2016 Draft is in his second spring training with the Phillies and is hitting .353 in Grapefruit League play. The more important numbers for him are this – he’s had five walks to only three strikeouts. While he still has room for improvement, he has been making that progress and is still very young at 21 years of age. Moniak probably won’t make the roster out of spring training. But if he keeps progressing as he has over the last two years he could see a promotion later this summer, especially if he plays well for Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

We’ll take a look in detail at how the Phillies pitching staff perfomed this spring, along with any updates that may materialize, during next week’s recap.

I hope everyone enjoyed the updates from my first column. Feedback and comments are appreciated! Be safe and stay healthy out there, and keep busy until the first pitch!

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