IronPigs: Fitting In Free Agents (2017 Roster 2.0)

Quinn from Reading. Photo: Kram

Quinn from Reading. Photo: Kram

Often when looking at the minor league system we talk of players who might be “blocked” at a higher level.  A classic Phillies example would be first base:   For many years, it would be difficult for a minor league prospect to rise up through the system and get promoted to the Majors because we all knew Ryan Howard would be playing that position.

This season it may work in reverse, to some respect, when we look at the opening-day AAA roster.  With the preponderance of high-level prospects scheduled to start the season with the IronPigs, there may not be room for many minor-league free agents.  Usually this time of year I’m planning on quality veterans to contribute to our AAA squad, but this season I’m having trouble fitting them in.  We’ll also see that unlike last season, the Phillies don’t have a ton of 40-man flexibility because they used spots to lock up younger players and protect them from the Rule-5 draft.

To be sure, that’s a good problem to have.  It’s time for some of the younger players to start contributing on the 25-man, but it’s also early in the season.   It’s a good idea, though, for Phillies’ management to have players signed that they like, at this stage of the Spring, so that depth is available for injuries, trades, opt-outs and the like.  Hence, the Non-Roster Invitees on MiLB initial deals.  But do we have room for them anywhere?

As per usual, my predictions below are based on an overabundance of assumptions, but unlike my first roster prediction this time I’ll count the positions to show where the crunches might come.

First, let’s get to know the new players in Clearwater with the Phillies right now:

  1. Joaquin Benoit (RHP, reliever, 40-man)
  2. Clay Buchholz  (RHP, starter, 40-man)
  3. Pat Neshek (RHP, reliever, 40-man)
  4. Howie Kendrick (RHB, OF, 40-man)
  5. Michael Saunders (LHB, OF, 40-man)
  6. Pedro Beato (RHP, reliever, MiLB-NRI)
  7. Sean Burnett (LHP, reliever, MiLB-NRI)
  8. Cesar Ramos (LHP, swing, MiLB-NRI)
  9. Ryan Hanigan (RHB, Catcher, MiLB-NRI)
  10. Bryan Holaday (RHB, Catcher, MiLB-NRI)
  11. Pedro Florimon (SH, Infield, MiLB-NRI)
  12. Hector Gomez (RHB, Infield, MiLB-NRI)
  13. Chris Coghlan (LHB, Outfield/Util, MiLB-NRI)
  14. Daniel Nava (SH, Outfield, MiLB-NRI)
  15. Wander Perez (LHP, reliever, MiLB)
  16. Jorge Flores (RHB, SS, MiLB)

Discussion:  Now, the 40-man guys you can pretty much pencil in for the Phillies–they wouldn’t have been given that benefit if the Phillies weren’t planning on having them on the 25-man roster to start the season.  And, the pure MiLB guys Perez and Flores look like AA players.  The others are the candidates to make the Phillies, get assigned to the IronPigs, or leave via opt-out or something similar.


Let’s look at the “locks” for the IronPigs 25-man opening day roster:

  1. Jorge Alfaro, C
  2. Rhys Hoskins, 1B
  3. JP Crawford SS
  4. Taylor Featherston 3B
  5. Dylan Cozens OF
  6. Roman Quinn OF
  7. Nick Williams OF
  8. Jake Thompson SP
  9. Mark Appel SP/RP
  10. Alec Asher SP
  11. Ben Lively SP

Barring injury or trade, I don’t see any way the above players aren’t IronPigs on April 1.

Slightly “less-than locks” and why:

  1. Brock Stassi 1B:  Working out in LF now to gain flexibility, there’s a clear scenario where he makes the Phillies as the last player off the bench.
  2. Logan Moore C:  An excellent option at an important position.  He could be a second or third catcher for the IronPigs, or he could be in Reading with Chace Numata to start the season.
  3. Jesmuel Valentin 2B:  If the Phillies want another back up middle infielder to help Blanco, Valentin is already on the 40-man.
  4. Tyler Goeddel OF:  He also has a chance to stick on the Phillies’ bench, but I bet they want to see him play more consistently, and that might have to come in Allentown (or even Reading initially if he gets squeezed in a numbers crunch and is having a poor spring.)
  5. Daniel Nava OF:  He’s a switch hitter and will be in contention for a final Phillies spot.  They may want to try to keep him around a while for depth.  With 509 MLB games, I’d imagine he has an opt-out at some point.
  6. Zach Eflin SP:  He’s almost certainly an IronPig, but I have him in the second group because I’m still worried about his knees.  He’ll be fine, but if he’s a little behind he could get stashed on the DL and kept in Florida where it’s warm for EST in the opening weeks.
  7. Adam Morgan SP/RP:  There aren’t a ton of leftys available for the Phillies or in the upper minors.  Morgan may be headed for the ‘pen, which may find him in Philly.  Or, he could be in our ‘pen. Or he could be traded.  Slightly less than a lock but I do expect him to start with the IronPigs.
  8. Nick Pivetta SP:  He absolutely deserves to pick up where he left off with the IronPigs last September, but if he gets caught in numbers behind Thompson/Asher/Appel/Eflin/Lively not to mention Morgan, then he could open with Reading temporarily, as Asher did last season.  There have been whispers of him going to the ‘pen but I don’t see that happening right away.
  9. Andrew Knapp C:  Has a legit chance to stick in Philly, and has been working at 1B to add positional flexibility; he can play a little in left field as well.  As a switch-hitter he can add value on the bench.  It also wouldn’t be completely beyond the realm of possibility that the Phillies keep three catchers to start the season, for this very reason.
  10. Cameron Perkins OF:  We love Cam!  We’re just not sure where he fits.  Hearing good things early in Spring, though, so most likely an IronPig once again.

Counting to 25

OK, now we’ve got to remember that there will probably be seven relievers on the Pigs’ 25.  And I’ll need to make some decisions just to get the numbers to work.  I can’t really put a ton of guys on the Phillies because they have 40-man limits to follow.  As we start putting it all together, you’ll see that we don’t have a lot of room to squeeze in the free agents.  I think I’m going to have the Phillies keeping home-grown or more established guys over the outside guys in most instances.

 

Featherston Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Featherston Photo: Cheryl Pursell

IronPig 25, 2/22/2017:

  1. Jorge Alfaro C
  2. Logan Moore C
  3. Rhys Hoskins 1B
  4. Jesmuel Valentin 2B
  5. JP Crawford SS
  6. Taylor Featherston 3B
  7. Pedro Florimon INF
  8. Hector Gomez INF
  9. Dylan Cozens OF
  10. Roman Quinn OF
  11. Nick Williams OF
  12. Cameron Perkins OF
  13. Tyler Goeddel OF
  14. Jake Thompson SP
  15. Alec Asher SP
  16. Zach Eflin SP
  17. Ben Lively SP
  18. Mark Appel SP
  19. Adam Morgan RP
  20. Luis Garcia RP
  21. Pedro Beato RP
  22. Dalier Hinojosa RP
  23. Colton Murray RP
  24. Michael Mariot RP
  25. Cesar Ramos RP

Phillies:  Knapp and Stassi

Outside looking in:  Hanigan and Holaday, Pivetta, Nava, Sean Burnett

 

Discussion:  In this scenario I did keep both Gomez and Florimon–although I don’t think either is anywhere near a lock to stick around.  I’m just not sure there’s anyone in Reading who is lined up for depth right away–although that could change as the season rolls along.

Knapp has a 40-man spot and adds a ton of flexibility, so he’s easy to keep in Philly and they won’t keep a veteran there.  I think they’re probably happy enough with Logan Moore’s defense to put him anywhere needed, which makes the veteran catchers expendable–and Alfaro is already on the 40-man if they need a guy right away.  Still, you could put Moore in Reading with Chace Numata to start and keep Hanigan or Holaday around initially–or even have the ‘Pigs with any three of those catchers.  The thing is, Alfaro is going to play almost every day regardless.  Could Alfaro start the season in Reading like JP did last season?  I doubt it, or they wouldn’t have had him in the bigs to end last season.

Stassi hit the cover off the ball in winter ball, and seems to be impressing Philly right now, so I’ll give him that promotion with the understanding that he’s able to play Left Field in a pinch.  He’ll need a 40-man spot which I’ll get from DFA-ing Garcia or Morgan, whom I’ve predicted will go unclaimed through waivers and accept an early-season spot with the IronPigs (because I like them.)

Nava either opts out, gets released or something along those lines.  Pivetta will get a couple Reading starts until we can find room for him.  Burnett has an early opt-out which he will take.


OK, who did I forget?  There’s always one or two.  And, things move fast–this could all be moo* by the time you read it.  Use the comment section to correct me or add your own roster prediction.

See you at the park,

@Kram209

cover photo by Kram.  

*Not “moot”–it’s “moo” because cows don’t care.

 

 



Categories: Kram's Korner - From the Club Level, Lehigh Valley IronPigs

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  1. Opting Out: How Phillies Invitees May Impact IronPigs Roster (v 2.1)

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