Hey Eagles, take notes. The Phillies have cut the amount of players that they still have in major league camp down to 53 after a number of moves this morning.
The Phils optioned 4 players to minor league camp, including OF Dylan Cozens, RHP Drew Anderson, LHP Elniery Garcia, and RHP Alberto Tirado. They also reassigned RHP Victor Arano to minor league camp. The terminology is different for the first 4 players compared to Arano because those players were part of the Phillies 40-man roster, which they still are even when optioned back to the minors. Arano was a non-roster invitee to spring training, so he is now being reassigned, as opposed to the others being optioned.
This doesn’t spell the end by any means for any of these players, as they are all young guys with plenty of baseball ahead.
The biggest name on this list for Phillies fans is Dylan Cozens. The 22-year-old outfielder figures to be a big part, literally and figuratively, of this team’s future, but that will come a little farther down the line. The 6’6” Cozens led the entire minor leagues with 40 home runs in 2016 while playing in 134 games for the Reading Fightin’ Phils. With those 40 bombs came 125 RBI, a .276 batting average, and a .941 OPS. According to Baseball America, Cozens is currently the #10 prospect in the Phillies organization. Cozens will be an interesting player to follow over the next year, as on that list of top 10 prospects, he sits behind 3 other outfielders, those being Roman Quinn at #8, Nick Williams at #4, and Mickey Moniak at #2. Out of those players, Quinn and Williams will be playing right alongside Cozens at Triple-A Lehigh Valley this season, while the 18-year-old Moniak, the first overall pick of the 2016 MLB draft, still has a few years to go before he makes an impact at the higher levels of the organization. With Odubel Herrera locked up through the next few seasons, and with Williams, Quinn and Cozens holding down the Ironpigs’ outfield, the Phillies have plenty of outfield depth in their organization. Cozens will have to carry that monster 2016 season into the 2017 campaign to get himself an eventual place in the outfield for the Phillies. Hopefully his 2017 spring training numbers don’t carry over to Triple-A, as Cozens had just 4 hits in 21 at-bats in his abbreviated spring appearances. If he can continue to hit the ball out of the ball park in the minors, though, we could see him in red pinstripes sometime in 2017.
Drew Anderson is another name who Phillies fans might recognize. Not a top ranked prospect, Anderson started to catch the attention of the higher-ups early on in camp. The 22-year-old righty ended up appearing in 2 games for the Phillies this spring, spanning across 5 innings with 7 strikeouts during that span. Drafted in the 21st round of the 2012 draft out of Galena High School in Reno, Nevada, Anderson has spent time jumping around the lower parts of the minor leagues for the Phillies over the last 4 seasons, including 15 starts combined for the Clearwater Threshers and Lakewood Blueclaws in 2016, in which he went 3-4 with a 2.70 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 70 IP. Anderson will likely end up with the Fightin’ Phils in Double-A with an eventual chance of getting to Lehigh Valley once some of the young arms from the Iron Pigs get their call to the big leagues.
Elniery Garcia is a 22-year-old lefty who appeared in 3 games for the Phillies this spring, in which he threw 4.2 innings to a 9.64 ERA and actually came out of those games with a 1-1 record. A couple up-and-down appearances won’t do much to hurt Garcia’s chances of success, as he has enjoyed some nice seasons in the minors for the Phillies since coming over from the Dominican Republic in 2012. Over the last 3 seasons, from 2014-2016, Garcia has pitched in 52 total games for 4 different teams in low-A ball for the Phillies, with 44 of those games being starts. Over those 52 appearances, he has pitched to a tune of a 22-15 record, including a 12-4 record last season with Clearwater. He threw a total of 268.1 innings over those 3 seasons with a 2.85 ERA and 185 strikeouts. Garcia and Anderson seem to have a similar path ahead, as they will wait in the wings while the more talked about prospects start to head to the big leagues later on in the year once the Phillies figure to get rid of a couple veterans (Here’s looking at you, J-Hell and Buchholz).
Alberto Tirado, the last of these players who are on the 40-man roster, followed the same path as Garcia into the Phillies organization. Also 22 years old, he came over from the DR in 2012, and he has peaked at Clearwater and Lakewood, which is where he spent last season. in 22 games, including 11 starts, Tirado was 7-1 with a 3.90 ERA in 64.2 IP and 102 strikeouts. That’s a lot of strikeouts in that many innings, guys. Tirado projects as a reliever down the line, and he will head back to minor league camp looking to keep up those big strikeout numbers and eventually work his way up the organization.
Victor Arano, the lone non-roster invitee in this group, did not see any spring training action for the Phillies, but he had a lot of success out of the bullpen for the Threshers and the Fightin’ Phils in 2016. Between the two teams, he appeared in 46 games, all out of the bullpen, in which he accrued a 5-2 record with a 2.26 ERA and 95 strikeouts in 79.2 IP. From 2013-2015, he was mostly a starter in the lower levels of the Phils organization, but with an ERA North of 4 in those games, the righty made the switch to the bullpen last season and ended up having much more success. The 21-year-old will continue to see time out of the bullpen down on the farm and will look to turn it into a spot in the Phillies bullpen sometime soon.
With these moves, there are 53 players left in camp. Of course, only 25 of those guys can be in Cincinatti on April 3rd, so we will see how the Phillies go about shaping up their roster heading into the 2017 season.
It’s always fun for me to do an article such as this on Phillies prospects that aren’t amongst the most talked about in the organization simply because we see how bright the future is for this team. Even the players that no one has heard of yet are enjoying very nice minor league careers, and sooner or later it is all going to spill over to the big club. I promise. #TrustTheProcess.
Photo: Brandon G (Via: Flickr)