The Phillies are 35 games through their 2017 season, and things are looking down for the rebuilding ball club. A blend of harsh scheduling, bullpen woes, and the Washington Nationals have pushed the faltering Phils into 4th place in the National Legaue East, which is also tied for the 2nd-to-worst record in the entire National League. But no matter how much our favorite baseball team fails to meet the lowest of expectations, us Phillie junkies can’t take our eyes off the squad.
I am constantly preaching about the minor league system that the Phillies are developing while we become angry over Bryce Harper walk-off home runs and drama in the ‘pen. If you can look past JP Crawford’s .155 batting average and the idea that he’ll be in Philadelphia this season, then there is much to be excited about within the farm system. Crawford’s team has won 10 straight games (no thanks to him), but many of the others on the cusp of breaking into major league baseball have proven that they should be considered viable options as starters of the future.
Two of the Phillies’ farmhands were selected to MLB Pipeline’s Team of the Week, which recognizes the minor league players (encompassing all leagues/levels) who have performed the best in a given week. Lehigh Valley’s Dylan Cozens, who hit 4 home runs last week, and Lakewood’s JoJo Romero, who pitched 8 innings of 1-hit baseball in his only start of the week, were just the latest Phillies to find themselves on the team.
Cozens, who hit just .136 with 4 home runs in the entirety of April, has been on fire in May. His .360 average for this month has brought his total BA to a modest .221. He has also crushed 5 long balls in 14 May games. After hitting 40 home runs as a part the Reading Fightin’ Phils in 2016, Dylan will have to slug his way to the big leagues.
The Phillies have only two outfielders that will most likely be considered untouchable at the trade deadline in Aaron Altherr and Odubel Herrera. So if Howie Kendrick, Michael Saunders, and/or Daniel Nava find themselves playing in new uniforms come August, then Cozens may get a look to fill a hole in one of the corner outfield spots.
As for Romero, who has been fantastic in 6 starts for the Lakewood BlueClaws this season, he has a much longer road ahead of him to Citizens Bank Park than Cozens. However, his 2.20 ERA and 1.10 WHIP suggest that he could be promoted to Clearwater sooner rather than later.
The 2016 4th-round pick has struggled to pitch deep into games throughout his young professional career, but the 19 innings that he has pitched in his last 3 starts could be considered signs of healing from the Vince Velasquez disease. (Sorry, I had to.)
The MLB.com article about the team of the week as a whole included an impressive stat about Romero, whose first start of the season inflates his ERA:
“Romero has pitched to a 1.26 ERA across his past five starts totaling 28 2/3 innings after he was tagged for four runs in four innings in his season debut.”
Wouldn’t it be great if JoJo became a major leaguer and the Phillies actually had a serviceable left-handed arm on their pitching staff? Think about that next time the Phillies lose 12 of 15 after a 6-game winning streak.
But on a more serious note, congratulations to Dylan Cozens and JoJo Romero. I think I speak for many Phillies fans when I say that I hope to see them in the big leagues soon. We could use both of them.
Photo by Allyson Foutty (via Flickr)